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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Special Announcement: Returning to One Worship Time for LEFC - Sundays at 10:00am

Dear Church Family,

I am pleased to share with you some more good news about another exciting change taking place at Lanse Free Church starting this coming weekend. It’s a moment I think we’ve all been waiting for!

Starting this Sunday, August 1st, we are going back to having just one worship time on Sunday mornings, beginning again at our old familiar time of 10:00am.

We’ve been kind of coming together in one-month-increments here. In May, we removed some of the spatial barriers inside our building, in June, we went from three worship times to two. In July, we were able to make masks optional for all, and we restarted the coffee fellowship time and enjoyed a meal together at the end of Family Bible Week.

Now in August, the next step for coming together as a church family is to go from having two worship times back to one worship time each Sunday starting at 10:00am. 

We are not doing this because we have shrunk. In fact, I think we’ve grown over the last year as we have many new families worshiping with us regularly. We are going to one worship gathering because we are one congregation, and it’s important for us to have as consistent fellowship with the whole church family as we can. I’m looking forward not only to reunions but also to everybody getting to know one another better as the Lord leads.
 
I’m also looking forward to having more time in our worship gatherings to preach full messages instead of the mini-messages that I’ve been doing the last year and half and to have more time for missions spotlights, worship at work interviews, and more congregational singing. We won’t have to hurry up and finish one worship service because there is another one coming up in a half an hour. We can linger together in worship and stick around afterwards for fellowship and prayer together.

We’re also going to have, once again, a volunteer staff in one of the nursery rooms starting this Sunday at the same time as the older kids are invited to Children’s Church. The Prayer Room is also set up as an un-staffed nursery room with a speaker in it to hear the service if your little one gets fussy and you want a peaceful place to calm them down yourself.

Even though we are returning to one worship time at 10:00am, we are still going to offer options for outdoor seating–the tent when the weather is good and radio transmission at 89.5FM to your vehicle in the parking lot. On communion Sundays like this coming Sunday, make sure you not only get your outdoor bulletin but your prepackaged communion elements, as well. Indoors, we’ll have the fans running and the windows and doors open for as much ventilation as possible. Some of you may want to wear masks for another layer of protection. We want everyone to continue to feel both safe and loved and also to feel invited to participate fully in the life and ministry of the church.

As always, if you are feeling sick or have been around others who are sick, please stay home or in your vehicle and utilize the worship at home resources provided online. If you have not yet been vaccinated and are medically eligible, please prayerfully consider getting immunized as a way not only of protecting yourself but safeguarding others around you.

As Autumn approaches, our leaders are prayerfully considering  when or if to restart other ministries that were put on hold. Please pray for and with our leaders as we make those plans for the Fall. We are definitely having the Good News Cruise on August 21st so that’s something else to look forward to.

In everything we do, we want to continue to live out our mission of glorifying God by bringing people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ through worship, instruction, fellowship, evangelism, and service. 

The main thing for us is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing is the good news of Jesus Christ.

I can’t wait to worship Him with you again, Lord-willing, this Sunday at 10:00am.

Church, see you at church!

-Pastor Matt

Sunday, July 25, 2021

“Praise Be To The LORD My Rock” Psalm 144 [Matt's Messages]

“Praise Be To The LORD My Rock”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 25, 2021 :: Psalm 144

You might easily guess that I initially picked Psalm 144 because of the first phrase of verse 1. 

And you would be right.

Psalm 144 is a royal psalm by King David written at a time when he apparently faced a foreign threat from treacherous enemies. 
 
King David and his nation were either under attack or soon to be under attack, and  so he took out his pen and paper and wrote a prayer song about it.

A prayer song that asks God to powerfully fight for King David and on his behalf.
A prayer song that anticipates great blessing to follow after the Lord goes to bat for David and Israel.
A prayer song that begins with praise, praise that the LORD is David’s Rock.

Psalm 144 begins, “Praise be to the LORD my Rock.”

And that’s our title for today.

And you can see how it fits with what we’ve been learning the last seven days at Family Bible Week.

“Praise be to the LORD my Rock.”


King David prays (Psalm 144, verses 1&2), “Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.”

There’s a lot there, isn’t there?!

A lot of themes that we have seen before, again and again, as we’ve studied the psalms this past year.

Our entire series is called “Fortifying Truth,” and we’ve been at it for about twelve months. This is the 43rd message in this psalms sermon series.

King David is about to go into battle, and he is going into battle praising God.

We said it a couple of weeks ago, but it’s just as true today: Life is a fight.

Life is a fight.

There can be many moments of peace and rest in our lives, but make no mistake, we live in a world at war, and we are also caught up in it. A spiritual battle rages around us and in us. And we ourselves are called to fight the fight of faith.

And King David was literally a warrior, physically and militarily a man at war, not just spiritually.

The nation he ruled was under fairly constant attack from the surrounding nations.

And it looks like it was all going down again, so David wrote out this prayer song to prepare for the battle.

And he began with praise.

Do you begin your prayers with praise?

Do you go into each day of battle with praise and worship?

Do you begin each day, knowing that you’re headed into battle once again and start off with praise?

It’s a really good life strategy that King David has adopted here.

He knows that he’s in for a fight, so he goes to the Lord and starts with praise.

“Praise be to the LORD (Yahweh) my Rock.”

I want to divide up this psalm into three parts and put a heading over each one, each something about the LORD which is worthy of our praise. Here’s the first one covering verses 1 through 4. 

Praise the Lord because...

#1. THE LORD IS MY ROCK (VV.1-4).

Yes, I did. I picked this psalm for today because of that word “Rock” in verse 1.

All week long, we have taught the kids that they need to build their lives on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ and His teachings.

The LORD is my Rock.

What does it mean to you that the LORD is a Rock?

It obviously does not mean that He’s a dumb as one!

It doesn’t mean that the LORD is unfeeling or unthinking.

Verse 2 says that He is loving. And verses 1 and 2 show that He is very active.

The LORD being a rock does not mean that He is inert.

It means that He is stable. That He is solid. That He is dependable. That He is secure.

That He is safe.

The Hebrew word translated “Rock” in verse 1 could be translated “Rocky Summit” or “Rock Ledge.”

The idea, apparently, is that the LORD is a safe place from which to do battle, the high ground, the stable high ground, a rocky summit.

Like verse 2 says “my fortress, my stronghold, my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge.”

For David, the LORD was His safe place.

There wasn’t anything more trustworthy nor more trusted in David’s life.

The LORD was where David ran when He was in trouble.

The LORD was where David turned.

And David was never disappointed!

The LORD was David’s Rock!

Do you see all of the pronouns, “my” and “mine.” It’s very personal for David.

The LORD was David’s Rock!

Isn’t that wonderful?!

Where do you turn when life gets rough?

One of my mentors in ministry taught me that the psalms of refuge help us to make sense of addictions.

What do you turn to when life gets tough?

For many years, I turned to comfort food when life was stressful and rough.

I’ve found myself in recent years turning to social media for affirmation of myself.

To what do you turn when life gets tough?

Where do you run?

What is your refuge?

There are lots of options out there.

David didn’t always choose rightly, but here he was.

He praises God for being his rock.

His stability, his security, his solidness, his safe place.

And his source of skill in battle. David knew that he got that from the LORD. Look at verse 1 again.

“Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle.”

The LORD gave David his skill with weapons and for warfare. David was not successful at warfare all by himself; it was a gift from God. God had promised it to David in 2 Samuel 7. And David says in verse 2 that the LORD “subdues people under” him.

The only reason why Israel survived and thrived was the grace of God.

It wasn’t because David was so great. Look at verse 3.

“O LORD [O Yahweh], what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.”


David knows that he is unworthy of the LORD’s aid and attention.

David does not have an exalted view of himself here. He knows that his life is short and ephemeral and fleeting, especially compared to God. 

And yet, the LORD has him in mind! In fact verse 2 says that LORD loves David. “He is my loving God...” From the Hebrew word “hesed” for loyal love.

That’s what it means for the LORD to be your Rock!

It’s more like when a spouse says that their spouse has been a rock for them.

It’s personal. It’s loving. And it’s solid. You can count on it.

Do you see why David praises God here?!

He is in awe and marveling, wondering, that God would treat him like this.

And so he praises Him.

Do you run to the LORD for safety and security and stability?

And do you praise Him because He is so safe?

Life is scary. It just is. If you haven’t figured out that life is scary, it will come or you’re lying to yourself.

But the LORD offers Himself as a refuge, a safe place to run.

And when we run to Him, we are invited to ask Him to rescue us.

That’s going to be part number two (covering verses 5 through 11).

#2. THE LORD IS MY RESCUER (VV.5-11).

If you’re taking notes this morning, that’s point number two.

Praise the LORD because:

The LORD is My Rock.
And the LORD is My Rescuer.

In verse 5, King David asks Yahweh to go to war for him. Look at verse 5.

“Part your heavens, O LORD, and come down; touch the mountains, so that they smoke. Send forth lightning and scatter the enemies; shoot your arrows and rout them. Reach down your hand from on high; deliver me and rescue me from the mighty waters, from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.”

These enemies could not be trusted.

They raised their hands to swear an oath, but their right hands were deceitful and their mouths full of lies. No matter what they said, they were against David.

And so David asks the LORD to be against them.

And to rescue him.

Now, my sense is that this is poetic language. David uses similar figurative language in 2 Samuel 22 and in Psalm 18.

He doesn’t actually expect God to literally jump out of heaven and set off the mountains like volcanos and zap his enemies with lightning.

Though He certainly could, and God did do some of these things at times in the Old Testament.

This language sounds a bit like what happened at Mount Sinai, doesn’t it?

So David may be saying, “Show up for us like you did at Mount Sinai!”

But I think it’s mostly figurative language to say, “Do whatever is needed to give us the total victory over our enemies, O LORD.”

I especially get that out of verse 7 when he says, “...rescue me from the mighty waters.”

Remember that we’ve seen again and again in the Psalms that the mighty waters symbolized chaos and evil and death to the Hebrews.

And David asks the LORD to rescue him from all of that.

Do you ask the LORD to rescue you?

Do you ask the LORD to come to your aid?

To fight on your behalf?

Remember one of the most biblical prayers that you can ever pray is, “Lord, help!”

Every Saturday afternoon, when I sit down to write the sermon, that’s my big prayer. “Lord, help!”

And it’s one of the most heartfelt and authentic prayers that I pray each and every week. Because I know that I need God to show up or we won’t have a sermon that is worth anything where it counts.

“Lord, help!”

“Lord, rescue me!”

“Love, deliver me!”

When was the last time you prayed a desperate prayer like that?

What are you facing right now? What has you stressed out? What has you worried and scared or angry or depressed?

Is it bigger than you?

Because the LORD is a Rock, you can run to Him.

And because the LORD is a Rescuer, you can ask Him to deliver you!

David fully expects the LORD to rescue him, and so he gives Him praise. Look at verse 9.

“I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, to the One who gives victory to kings, who delivers his servant David from the deadly sword.”

Has David been rescued yet?

No, look at the next verse, verse 11.

“Deliver me and rescue me from the hands of foreigners whose mouths are full of lies, whose right hands are deceitful.”

Nothing has changed for David. He’s still at risk from the hands of foreign kings whose oaths cannot be trusted.

He’s still crying out for deliverance.

And yet He knows that the LORD is a Rescuer, and so He plans in advance to fire up his guitar, his ten-stringed lyre and praise the LORD.

“I will sing a new song to you, O God.” 

A fresh song. Because I know that I will be rescued.

Can you see the application of this principle to our salvation?

The LORD is a Rescuer, and there is no greater example of that than the rescuing that Jesus did on the Cross and at the Empty Tomb.

He did come down in the Incarnation, though He did not make the mountains smoke (one day again He will).

Instead, He climbed the hill of Calvary and stretched out His arms and died for you and me.

And He won the greatest battle that was ever fought when He died in our place and then came back to life to give us eternal life forevermore.

Have you asked the Lord Jesus to rescue you from your sin?

And if you have, are you singing a new song today because the LORD is your Rescuer?

David believes with all of his heart that the LORD is going to rescue Him and save Israel. You can tell because of what he says next at the end of Psalm 144, in verses 12 through 15.

David anticipates the great blessings that will come on Israel when the LORD does His thing. Look at verse 12.

“Then our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants, and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace. Our barns will be filled with every kind of provision. Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads. There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets. Blessed are the people of whom this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD.”

There’s a reason to praise God!

He is not just our Rock.
He is not just our Rescuer.
He is our Reward.

#3. THE LORD IS MY REWARD (VV.12-15).

These last four verses paint a picture of a totally blessed people.

David believes that the LORD will not just rescue His people, but make them flourish.

Their people will flourish.

Their sons and daughters will flourish. I love the picture here.

“... our sons in their youth will be like well-nurtured plants...”

They are going to be sturdy, strapping, healthy young men.

“...and our daughters will be like pillars carved to adorn a palace.”

Notice that they are not just beautiful, they are strong.

They are pillars.

I hope that Family Bible Week has been used by the Lord some to grow up our sons and daughters in spiritual strength and flourishing.

David’s vision is not just the people flourishing, but the provisions. V.13 again.

“Our sheep will increase by thousands, by tens of thousands in our fields; our oxen will draw heavy loads.”

These are Old Testament pictures of blessing. Eden-like blessing returning to Israel by God’s grace.

People, provisions, protection. V.14.

“There will be no breaching of walls, no going into captivity, no cry of distress in our streets.”

You know what this is a picture of?

It’s a picture of heaven.

This was only partially fulfilled in the Old Testament. In fact, because of Israel’s repeated and down-ward spiraling disobedience, they did have breaching of walls and going into captivity and cries of distress in the streets when they were carted off to Babylon.

The fullest fulfillment of these words is still to come in the kingdom to come!

“Mid toil and tribulation and tumult of her war
She waits the consummation of peace forevermore;
Till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blest
And the great Church victorious shall be the church at rest.” (Samuel J. Stone)

We’re still waiting for that!

But we are sure that it is coming.

Because He who started a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

When the whole world experience the blessing that David is predicting in verses 12 through 15.

Because the LORD is our Reward.

Notice that He is not just our Reward-er.

He Himself is our Reward. Verse 15.

Blessed are the people of whom [all] this is true; blessed are the people whose God is the LORD.”

The blessings are not separated from the LORD.

He is the source of the blessing and the greatest blessing Himself.

This is what we have to look forward to!

HE is what we have to look forward to.

“Blessed [happy!] are the people of whom this is true; blessed [happy!] are the people whose God is the LORD.”

That’s how you get ready for a big battle.

That’s how you get ready for your next day.

You start with praise.

And you praise God that He is your Rock, a safe place to run.

And you praise God that He is your Rescuer, and you cry out for His help.

And you praise God that He is your Reward, and you expect to be blessed because you belong to Him. 

Because He is yours.
And because You are His.
And because He loves you.

"Praise be the LORD my Rock."


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 to Summer 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise You" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99
34. "Not To Us, O LORD" - Psalm 115
35. "Blessed" - Psalm 32
36. "Sit At My Right Hand" - Psalm 110
37. "Your Love Is Better Than Life" - Psalm 63
38. "Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the LORD" - Psalm 112
39. "If the LORD Had Not Been On Our Side" - Psalm 124
40. "Shout for Joy to the LORD, All the Earth" - Psalm 100
41. "You Have Raised A Banner" - Psalm 60
42. "Unless the LORD Builds the House" - Psalm 124

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Unless the LORD Builds the House” Psalm 127 [Matt's Messages]

"Unless the LORD Builds the House”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 18, 2021 :: Psalm 127

Psalm 127 is another one of the Psalms of Ascent, those traveling worship songs that the families of Israel would sing to one another as they traveled together on pilgrimage up to the holy feast days in Jerusalem. There are fifteen of them total. Psalm 127 is the 8th of the Psalms of Ascent, and the 7th that we’ve studied together in this sermon series.

It’s attributed to King Solomon. One of only two psalms that he gets credit for in the Psalter. The other is Psalm 72 that we looked at back in April

As you might guess in dealing with Solomon, this psalm is often classed as a Wisdom  Psalm. It’s not a prayer like many of the other psalms. The singers aren’t singing directly to God.

No, it’s more like they are singing to each other.

It’s like a reminder song.

Psalm 127 is a reminder song.

I mean, we know the truth of Psalm 127 if we’ve been around the Lord for even a little while, but we so easily forget. We so easily lose sight of this truth.

So we sing this song to ourselves and to each other to remind each other what is true.

It is a short but beautiful song with strong images that really stick in your head.

It begins with an image that fits our theme for Family Bible Week to a T.

And it also begins by repeating to emphasize and repeating to emphasize and repeating to emphasize one haunting, ominous word: “vain.” 

Psalm 127, verse 1.

“Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”


The scary word there is “vain.” It means “empty” or “meaningless” or “pointless.”

And Solomon is going to repeat it three times in just two verses.

He says, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat–for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

I don’t know about you, but I hate it when I do something in vain.

When I spend a lot a time on a project just to find out that it isn’t going to happen after all? That was part of what made the cancellations of COVID so maddening.

When you invest a lot of money in something, and it turns out to be throwing good money after bad.

When you stand in line for a long time, and it turns out to be the wrong line.

Now, often we can chalk some of that up to a learning experience and good can come out of what may seem, at the time, pointless.

But this psalm says that unless the LORD builds the house, its builders are truly engaged in an exercise in futility.

It is pointless to build and build and build if the LORD is not in this building project.

Do you get the picture? A crew of burly men excavating the foundation, pouring the footers, laying the block, framing the walls, roofing the house–and then ...failure. The foundation collapses, or the walls cave in, or the house is finished, but the man dies before taking occupancy, or a tornado hits, or the family moves in but then the bank forecloses. Laboring, working, stretching, putting forth all that effort–in vain.

Unless...Yahweh builds the house. And then it’s another story.

Or the second image is some watchmen keeping watch on their city. V.1 again.

“Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.”

So he’s obviously not just talking about buildings and houses. These are metaphors.

And the second metaphor is about security. It doesn’t matter if you have 2 watchmen or 200 watchmen or 2000 watchmen, unless the LORD is protecting you, your city will be overrun with intruders. If you have a missile defense shield but God is not watching over your city, you will be destroyed.

Unless...Yahweh watches over the city.

Solomon knew an awful lot about building projects and defending cities.

So that’s where he turns for his metaphors.

This isn’t just about buildings and cities.

It’s about all of life.

It’s about any human endeavor. 

Unless the LORD is in the endeavor, it is all done in vain.

That goes for Family Bible Week.
That goes for the Good News Cruise.
That goes for all of our other ministry endeavors here at Lanse Free Church.

But it isn’t just about church either.

This is all of life. 

Including all of our work lives. I think Solomon has great insight here into what we do all day, and what we do all week in our jobs.

And in our homes. And in our neighborhoods. And in our civic and political efforts.

Anything we pour ourselves into–which might look good at first but will ultimately be in vain–if the LORD is not in it.

There is a rebuke here.

This song is not just a reminder song. It’s a rebuke song for those times when we have excluded the LORD from our plans and efforts.

To the degree that we have factored out the LORD, this song rebukes us.

“In vain”
“In vain”
“In vain”

“Unless the LORD.”

Now, notice that this does not say that we should not put forth effort. It doesn’t say, “Just let go and let God.”

This song does not rebuke us for trying, for working, for doing our bit. In the Proverbs, Solomon praises hard work.

The builders still need to build.
The watchers still need to watch.
The disciplemakers still need to make disciples.

But if they try to do it without the LORD, then ultimately it’s in vain.

Solomon should know. He certainly made this mistake many times!

So there is a rebuke here to make sure that we do things the LORD’s way. To make sure that the LORD is involved in every endeavor in our lives at church, at home, at work, at play.

We should pray for our endeavors and invite Him to work powerfully in the things we are working on.

But I also think that verse 2 takes the rebuke even deeper and turns it into a great gift of grace.

Look at verse 2 again. I think this is the beating heart of the psalm.

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat–for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

I have two points of application from Psalm 127 for you today, and here’s the first:

#1. REST IN THE LORD’S LOVE.

The rebuke is not just about how we need to include the LORD in our efforts.

The rebuke is also that we need to stop trusting in or hoping in our efforts at all and start relying on Him and His efforts alone.

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat...”

As if it’s all up to you!

I preached this Psalm once before on Father’s Day in 2001. I looked it up yesterday because I knew that I had preached it before. 20 years ago last month. Heather and I already had Robin and were expecting Andrew in December. We were purchasing the property in Lanse upon which we were going build the house we live in today, and Wild West Day was coming up at the end of July. 20 years ago.

And here was the title of my message on Psalm 127: “It’s Not Up To You.”

We tend to believe that it’s all on our shoulders.

That if we don’t do it, it ain’t going to get done.

And so we get to work, and we get anxious, and we get feverishly busy trying to make it all happen.

And we begin to think that it’s all up to us.

Does that describe a dynamic inside of your heart?

We even do it with salvation. We anxiously do good works hoping that we can do enough good works to outweigh our sin and bad deeds. As if it’s all up to us.

But Solomon’s song says that that is foolish.

The New Living Translation says it like this, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat...”

Again, he’s not against hard work. He’s against hard worrying.

It’s not up to you.

You can rest.

Look at the reason why at the end of verse 2.

“...for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

You are loved. So you can sleep.

You can rest because you are loved.

It’s not up to you. If it was all up to you, it would be in vain.

But it’s not. It’s up to Yahweh. And you belong to Him.

You’re His beloved. Remember what we saw last week in Psalm 60? He says over you, “MINE.” And He says, “BELOVED.”

And so here He says, “REST. Rest in My love.”

Stop striving. Stop worrying. Stop fervently building, watching, doing, doing, doing as if it all depends on you.

Rest. Rest in the LORD’s love.

Now, there is a little ambiguity in the last phrase of verse 2. Some of you have a footnote that shows it. 

It may not be saying that the LORD gives sleep to His beloved. It may be saying that the LORD gives to His beloved even while they sleep. That’s another way of taking the Hebrew, and I think it’s true and captures the gist of the psalm either way.

God is so gracious!

He gives to us even when we are sleeping.

He works even when we are resting.

So, it’s okay to rest.

It’s okay to take a break.

It’s okay to practice the Sabbath.

In fact, we should. When we go and go and go acting as if everything depends upon  us, we are not honoring the LORD and His gracious provisions for us.

The last year and a half, I have fallen many times into thinking that if I don’t do this or I don’t do that then this whole church thing is going to fall apart.

And you know what, if that was actually true, then it wasn’t really the church. Because Jesus said that He would build His church.

If it was all up to me, then I was “holding the church together” in vain.

So again and again, I have had to take my hands off. 

And I have practiced Sabbath. I have taken breaks. I have done more releasing the whole thing into God’s hands than I have ever done in the last 23 years as your pastor.

I still fall into it over and over again. I need the reminder of this song.

Sing this song to me when you see me taking on more than I should.

Remind me, “He grants sleep to his beloved.” “He gives to His beloved even while they sleep.”

Rest in the LORD’s love.

That’s true for salvation. Before we are saved, we aren’t just spiritually asleep, we are spiritually dead. And we can’t save ourselves by our own efforts.

But the LORD is so gracious! He sent His Son to do for us what we could never do for ourselves. So we don’t trust in our good works but in His work on our behalf.

Rest in the LORD’s love.

This is true for every area of your life. Your work. Your civic responsibilities. Your voting. Your finances. Your home-life. This is true for parenting. 

It is not up to you.

Rest in the LORD’s love.

I got stressed out about writing this sermon on not getting stressed out!

So I fired up Spotify and listened to one of my favorite songs by the late Keith Green that captures the dynamic of Psalm 127:

“Just keep doing your best
And pray that it’s blessed
And He’ll take care of the rest”


Sing this song to each other and yourself: “He grants sleep to those he loves. / He gives to his beloved even while they sleep.”

Point number two is to focus on the granting/giving part there. 

#2. REJOICE IN THE LORD’S GIFTS.

“He gives to His beloved even while they sleep.”

They aren’t doing anything to deserve it. They are sleeping!

And still He gives them wonderful gifts full of blessing.

Like...children.

Solomon wants to illustrate this idea of God’s graciousness, and looks around and he says, “I’ll tell you what kind of gifts God likes to give. He doesn’t just like to build a “house” as in a building, but a “house” as in a dynasty. God loves to bless His people with more people.” Look at verse 3.

 “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.”

There are not our achievements. They are gifts from God’s hand.

[By the way, there is a play on words here. The word for “builders” and the word for “sons” sound almost exactly like in the Hebrew.]

In the Old Testament, children were often seen as a sign of God’s blessing. They were, in fact, promised to Abraham as part of God’s covenant with Him and His offspring.

God promised to send children to Abraham like sand on the seashore or like stars in the night sky.

Children are a blessing. Verse 4.

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.”

Imagine being a warrior with a bow but no arrows.

Children are a valuable asset.

This is often missed in our culture today.

Even in the church, I see a lot of Christian couples deliberately choosing childlessness for no good medical or missional reason. They just don’t see the value in bearing and raising up children.

It is a lot of work! Those blessings can be “a handful before they are a quiverful.” (Derek Kidner).

And Solomon sure saw the hard parts of parenting up close!

But he says, “Sons are like arrows.” Verse 5.

“Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”

Whether that’s standing up for their dad in court, which happened at the gates, or standing with him as they defend the gates militarily against approaching enemy forces, this Dad will not regret having them. He knows that they are blessings.

My children are a blessing to me.

Our church is full of blessings like this. We have had 5 babies born in the last 14 months in our church family. And there are a bunch of toddlers that are just a little bit older than that.

I love that we get to celebrate the blessing of children this week at Family Bible Week. The kids have had a hard year and a half, and I’m glad that we get to focus in on ministering to them over the next week.

Rejoice in the LORD’s gifts.

Rejoice in the LORD’s blessings.

Like children and other gifts from the LORD's hand.

Not because you deserve them.
Not because you earned these gifts through your frantic efforts.
Not because it’s all up to you.

But because it’s all up to the LORD.

Unless the LORD builds the house...
Unless the LORD watches the city...
Unless the LORD provides the children...

It’s all in vain.

But if the LORD does build the house...
If the LORD does watch the city...
If the LORD does provide the blessings...

Then it will be wonderful.

And that’s what kind of a God He is.

He gives to His beloved even as they sleep.

He says, “You are mine, mine, mine, mine.”

And “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6, CSB).

We know that!
You know that!
I know that!

But we need reminding.

We need to sing this song to each other and to our hearts.


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 to Summer 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise You" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99
34. "Not To Us, O LORD" - Psalm 115
35. "Blessed" - Psalm 32
36. "Sit At My Right Hand" - Psalm 110
37. "Your Love Is Better Than Life" - Psalm 63
38. "Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the LORD" - Psalm 112
39. "If the LORD Had Not Been On Our Side" - Psalm 124
40. "Shout for Joy to the LORD, All the Earth" - Psalm 100
41. "You Have Raised A Banner" - Psalm 60

Sunday, July 11, 2021

“You Have Raised A Banner” Psalm 60 [Matt's Messages]

“You Have Raised A Banner”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 11, 2021 :: Psalm 60

Honestly, I picked Psalm 60 for today because it’s so weird.

It’s so exotic.

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this psalm, and I always think that verses 6 through 8, especially, are so poetic and powerful and esoteric and just plain weird.

And I’m drawn towards those weird parts of the Bible because I’ve learned over the years that if you read and study them long enough, and stare at them long enough and listen to them long enough, those weird parts of the Bible often become the most beautiful and precious parts of the Bible to you.

So while we’re still in this series on the fortifying truth of the Psalms, I wanted to get to this one and spend some time really listening to it.

Psalm 60 is a “miktam” attributed to King David and intended for teaching to others. So when you are in a similar situation, this prayer song of faith can be an instructive model for your own prayers.

David intended it to be used by the director of worship music in the temple and set to the tune that we have seen before in other psalms, “The Lily of the Covenant.” And some of those songs have been very happy (like the wedding song of Psalm 45) and some have been very sad like the lament of Psalm 69

So, I’m really not sure what this music might have sounded like.

This particular song starts out sad but ends all happy, faith-filled, and confident.

And the turning point of the song is verse 4, when King David prays to God saying, “But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.”

So that’s our title for today, “You Have Raised a Banner.”


Life is a fight.

Life is a fight, is it not?

There are moments of peace, yes, but when we are honest and are telling ourselves the truth, so much of life is a fight. And like it or not, we have all been born into a world at war. An unseen war in the heavenlies. 

All around us rages a spiritual battle. And not only are we caught up in the middle of it, but we need to choose sides. 

Life is a fight.

For King David that was literally true. So much of his life was taken up by literally fighting.

David was a man of war leading a country at war.

And sometimes they won, but other times they lost.

When Psalm 60 begins, they have just lost. Israel has, apparently, lost a big battle. Maybe more than one.

And the nation is reeling from their defeat.

Remember two weeks ago when we read Psalm 124 and what a victory song that was?

“We have escaped! We have escaped!”

“The LORD was on our side!”

Well, this song is the opposite. When this song begins, the Lord had not been on their side. He had not shown up to deliver them. He allowed them to lose and to lose badly.

Let’s read. Psalm 60, verses 1 through 3.

“You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us; you have been angry–now restore us! You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures, for it is quaking. You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger.”

Last week, we looked at a song (Psalm 100) that started out happy and joyful and carried through happy and joyful and thankful to the end. But we said last week that we also need the sad songs of the psalter because not every day is a happy day, and this song, Psalm 60, starts out very sad.

David feels rejected.
David says that God has "burst forth” upon Israel.
David says that the land has been shaken and torn open and fractured and is quaking.

I don’t think that means literal earthquakes, though that is possible.

I think he’s using an earthquake as a metaphor for how shaken they all feel because God has let them lose.

And make no mistake, it is God who has allowed this disaster. Verse 3 again.

“You have shown your people desperate times; you have given us wine that makes us stagger.”

Perhaps the cup of God’s wrath (cf. Psalm 75:8). When you drink this cup, you can’t function any more, so you lose your sense, and you stagger around and lose, and lose, and lose every battle. You don’t want to go to war drunk.

But that was part of God’s discipline of Israel at this time.

David says that God was angry (v.1), “You have been angry.” That’s why Israel was on the ropes. They were under judgment. They were feeling God’s displeasure.

And when that sad and scary thing happens, it’s good and right to sing about it!

When you feel like this, sing about it! And pray about it! Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Sometimes we think that when we feel like this, we should just be quiet until the feelings pass.

But these are divinely authorized words to use when you feel like God has rejected you. When God has burst forth upon you. When God has let the earth shake and fall down around you. 

Talk to Him.

And, if you belong to Him, ask Him to fix it again.

Did you notice that? Did you hear how David mixes both his lament and his supplication in the same song? He both cries out in pain and asks in faith? Listen again.

“You have rejected us, O God, and burst forth upon us; you have been angry–now restore us! You have shaken the land and torn it open; mend its fractures...”

David asks for help even though he knows that they don’t deserve it.

We don’t know all of the details about the situation in which David wrote this psalm.

There is a lot in the superscription, which we will look at in a minute, but there is also a lot we don’t know. For example, we don’t know what they had done wrong to earn the Lord’s displeasure so that he would discipline them with defeat.

What we do know is that they were feeling it.

But David wasn’t going to give up.

Instead, he was going to repent and try again.

Because David knew his God, and that gave him hope. Look at verse 4.

“But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow. Selah”

Just think about that.

God has raised a banner.

He has raised a signal flag.

Now that could be a flag signaling defeat and retreat so that verse 4 puts the sad cap on the sad song of verses 1 through 3.

But I think this banner is a banner of hope. It’s unfurled against the bow. That is, the enemies of Israel are aiming their bows at Israel, and this banner in defiance of the bows is unfurled.

Look at that! Look at that banner! 

God is giving them a rallying point.

God is identifying with His people and raising His banner over them.

And they can rally to Him.

Did you notice for whom this banner is raised? It’s not just Israel. Look closely again at verse 4.

“But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.”

This banner is not for everyone; this banner, which indicates sure and certain victory, is for those who fear God.

“The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.”

I have only two points of application for this message, and here’s the first one:

#1. REVERE THE RAISER OF THE BANNER.

Revere the One Who raises the banner.

In other words, “fear God.”

Fear God.

Obviously, Israel had failed to fear God. If they were walking in the fear of the Lord, they would not have received this loss, this setback sung about in Psalm 60:1-3.

In the Old Testament, the blessing of Israel was tied to their faithful obedience.

There were, of course, exceptions as we’ve learned from other psalms like Psalm 73. Times when bad things happened to them even when they were being faithful.

But David knew that this defeat had come because of their sins. God was angry with them (v.1).

They were not fearing the LORD.

But that was not the end.

That was the beginning of the story, but it did not have to be the end of the story.

That was the beginning of the song, but it did not have to be the end of the song.

And the same is true for you and me.

Perhaps you have not been living in the fear of the LORD.

Perhaps you have been living foolishly.

The neglect of the fear of the Lord is the beginning of folly.

Maybe that’s how your song has been going, but it does not have to end that way.

“But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.”

Revere the Raiser of the banner.

Repent and fear God.

And cry out to Him for grace. Verse 5.

“Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.”

If you have never trusted the Lord for your own salvation from your sins, I invite you to do so right now.

Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God Himself, was raised up on a Cross to die for the sins of His people.

And that’s what saves us. He saves those whom He loves.

What a precious phrase that is!

Do you know, beloved, that you are beloved?

You are beloved.

If I’m not mistaken, I believe that the Hebrew there in verse 5 for “those you love” is linguistically connected to David’s own name “yahdid.” “Beloved.”

David knows that they don’t deserve to be saved. They don’t deserve to be rescued. They don’t deserve to be helped. They don’t deserve to be delivered.

But that doesn’t stop David from asking because He knows that God has called them, “Beloved.”

And he knows that God has raised a banner to be unfurled against their enemies’ bows.

What is that banner?

It could just be the name of God. It could just be a metaphor for God’s active presence to save them.

But I tend to think that it’s actually verses 6 through 8 that is the banner.

Some translations say in verse 5 that the banner is unfurled because of the truth.

And that’s a legitimate way of translating the Hebrew. So it would be a banner of truth.

Either way, I tend to think that verses 6 through 8 is the banner. And it’s the banner of God’s promises of ultimate victory for His people and His name.

Let’s look at them. Here’s where it gets all weird and tongue twisty. Verse 6.

“God has spoken from his sanctuary: ‘In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter. Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.’”

Well, that was clear, right?

Kind of sounds like an auctioneer doesn’t it?

“Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter. Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal...SOLD! Over Philistia I shout in triumph!”

What is all of that?!

All of that is a promise.

All of that is a prophecy.

This is what God has said will most certainly happen. 

And it can be a banner unfurled for those who fear Him.

Let’s go a little slower. Verse 6 again.

“God has spoken from his sanctuary [At some point, He had given them these divine words. This is an oracle. This is a prophecy. God has sad it, and it will happen. What did He say?] ‘In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Succoth.”

God has said that He will triumph. Believe that? Okay good.

And He has said that He will parcel out Shechem. Where is that?

It might be good for you this afternoon to get out some Bible maps. Most paper Bibles have them in the back. They are always multi-colored, and they can be fascinating.

Shechem is the first place that Jacob started to settle down after he left his Uncle Laban in the book of Genesis. It’s in the North. And it’s on the West side of the Jordan.

Shechem is also the place where Joshua met with all Israel at the end of the book of Joshua to parcel out the Promised Land. Read Joshua chapter 24. 


How about the Valley of Succoth? Where is that? It’s on the East Side of the Jordan. 

And here’s something else on the East side of the Jordan. The land of Gilead. V.7

“Gilead is mine.”

“Manasseh is mine.”

What about Manasseh? What side of the Jordan was the tribe of Manesseh on?

Trick question. It was on both sides! Manasseh (son of Joseph) straddled the Jordan River.

And what was the name of Manasseh’s brother (Joseph’s other son, double portion for those tribes).

Ephraim, right? V.7

“Ephraim is my helmet.” A sign of military power and might.

Ephraim was a nickname for the whole northern area of Israel. When the nation was eventually split into two kingdoms, the northern kingdom was often called “Ephraim.”

What was the southern kingdom called?

Judah. 

Verse 7, “Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter.”

And why is that? Because who came from Judah?

King David and the Davidic line.


Is there anything missing? North, East, West, South.

I think that’s everything.

And the key word here is “mine.”

Who keeps saying, “Mine?” Is that the psalmist? Is that David.

No, it’s the Lord! “God has spoken from his sanctuary, “In triumph I will parcel out the North and the South and the East and West. Because they are mine, mine, mine, mine, mine, mine.”

I think that’s the banner.

God has said that this land would be His no matter what and nothing is going to stop Him.

And He’s going to give it to those who fear Him, to His beloved.

And David knows that is a fact even though it has hasn’t fully happened yet, so he prays accordingly.

God has said that this land would be His no matter what and nothing is going to stop Him.

And that includes all of Israel’s enemies. They are, in a real sense, His, as well. Look at verse 8.

“Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.’”
Moab is an enemy to the East.

Edom is an enemy to the South. They are probably the ones who just defeated Israel.

And Philistia was an enemy that infiltrated from the West.

Will any of these bad guys stop God’s plans and purposes and promises?

“Moab is my washbasin...”

I think that’s a bowl for washing His feet. Moab is my footbath.

“Upon Edom I toss my sandal...”  Edom is my shoe-rack.

And Philistia, "I will shout in triumph." Or the Hebrew actually indicates that Philistia will do the shouting. They will one day shout in victory that He is their Lord.

And if that is the banner that God is raising, then what should we do?

Here’s point number two of two:

#3. RALLY TO THE RAISED BANNER.

Get back up and fight again. By faith, fight again.

Because God is not going to lose.

That’s where David goes with this as he rounds out his prayer song. Listen to the rhetorical question in verse 9.

“Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?”

It’s time to go back to war, and it’s not going to be easy.

The city is fortified, and they beat us last time. Who will lead us back? V.10

“Is it not you, O God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? [Help us to see Your banner! And rally to Your banner. And fear You!” v.11] Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. [If we trust in ourselves, we’re in big trouble. If they trust in me, King David, then they are in big trouble. But what if, what if we trust in You? V.12] With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.”

Don’t put your trust in mere humans.

They will always disappoint you at some point.

Don’t put your hope in politicians or pastors or any other people.

“The help of man is worthless” as a banner. Don’t rally to the banner of man.

But, instead, rally to the raised banner of the promises of God.

Because God will not lose.


And if we rally to Him, then we, too, will experience the ultimate victory.

Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Life is a fight.

But I’ll tell you a secret: God wins.

And He’s raised a banner that says it.

Now, let’s go back up to the top of the psalm and look at the superscription.

It might surprise you.

You might think it will say, “When David fought such and such a king and lost so badly he had to write this song.”

But it actually says:

“When he fought Aram Naharaim and Aram Zobah, and when Joab [on his orders] returned and struck down twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.” 

“With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.”

Now our enemies today in the New Covenant era are not flesh and blood. They spiritual enemies: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

And we fight them with spiritual weapons, especially weapons of prayer and of love.

But the ultimate victory is just as assured.

Rally to His raised banner!

You know, it’s interesting. You might think the banner verses of Psalm 60 were just for David and just for that particular moment in his life.

But the superscription says that this psalm is for teaching. It’s actually the only psalm with that particular designation. 

And David really meant it.

Because he uses these words again. Read Psalm 108 when you have a chance.

It ends like this:

“God has spoken from his sanctuary: ‘In triumph I will parcel out Shechem and measure off the Valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter. Moab is my washbasin, upon Edom I toss my sandal; over Philistia I shout in triumph.’ Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? Is it not you, O God, you who have rejected us and no longer go out with our armies? Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. With God we will gain the victory, and he will trample down our enemies.”

You know, maybe it’s not so weird after all.

Maybe it’s just what we need to remind ourselves every single day.

“With God we will gain the victory.”


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 to Summer 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise You" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99
34. "Not To Us, O LORD" - Psalm 115
35. "Blessed" - Psalm 32
36. "Sit At My Right Hand" - Psalm 110
37. "Your Love Is Better Than Life" - Psalm 63
38. "Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the LORD" - Psalm 112
39. "If the LORD Had Not Been On Our Side" - Psalm 124

Sunday, July 04, 2021

“Shout for Joy to the LORD, All the Earth”

“Shout for Joy to the LORD, All the Earth”
Lanse Evangelical Free Church
July 4, 2021 :: Psalm 100

Psalm 100 issues a clear and simple call to loud and joyful worship of the LORD.

The very first verse says, “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.”

And that’s the title of this message:

“Shout For Joy to the LORD, All the Earth.”

I love the King James Version of verse 1. It says, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.”

I’ve always taken that as an encouragement when my voice gets croaky, and I can’t hit the notes of the worship songs. The Lord doesn’t call us to sing beautifully here. Here He just says that we need to make a “joyful noise.”  

And the emphasis is on both joy and noise.

“Shout for joy.”

The Hebrew word there for “shout” means (now get this) “shout.”

To raise a cry. To sound an alarm. To make a blast of noise.

It means to get loud about the Lord.

Do you do that?

Do you raise your voice in worship?

For some reason some Christians are quiet when they worship, and there is a time and place for that. Not all Christian worship is loud worship.

But some Christian worship better be loud worship.

Or we’re not obeying Scripture. 

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.”

I’ve seen some of you at sporting events. I know that some of you can make a noise. 

Obviously, we need to consider the people around us and not actually hurt their eardrums with excessive decibels.

But if we don’t sometimes get really loud, we are not being obedient.

The LORD is worthy of our exuberance. He is worthy of our ebullience. He is worthy of our enthusiasm.

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.”


Now, of course the joy part is just as, if not more, important than the loud part.

See how the psalmist gives us a triplet of joy in verses 1 and 2?

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” [Our joyous shouts.]

We don’t know who wrote this psalm, but we clearly know what he wants us to do with it!

He wants us to be full of joy and express that joy to the LORD.
Now, just as there are times to be quiet in worship, there are also times to be sad. 

This is not saying that all of our worship needs to be sung in “a major key.” Not all of our songs should be happy or confident or thankful.

We’ve seen again and again that there are other songs in the Psalms set in what we call “a minor key.” We need to learn to lament. We need the sad songs of the Psalter because not every day is a happy day.

This psalm is not calling us to “fake it until you make it.”

But it is clearly calling us to loud and joyful worship.

The songwriter knows that we have ample reason to kick it up a notch in praise.

In fact, the whole earth does!

He doesn’t just call on Israel to shout for joy, but to all the earth.

All of the lands. All of the peoples of the earth.

All ethnicities. All tribes. All nations. Even those who live in the good old U.S. of A.

We all have good reason to rejoice.

And here’s the reason. It’s the LORD Himself.

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs."

Our joy is in a specific God. The LORD. Capital L-O-R-D. Behind that is the covenant name for God, Yahweh, the God Who is. The “I Am.”

Yahweh. The God Who made the world. Last week, in Psalm 124 He was described as “the Maker of Heaven and Earth.”

Yahweh. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Yahweh. The God who made promises to Israel.

Yahweh. The God of the Bible. 

Not just any god; this particular God. Yahweh. 

Shout for joy to Him.

Why? This psalm gives us two big reasons why. Here’s number one:

#1. BECAUSE THE LORD IS GOD. 

Look at verse 3. “Know that the LORD is God.”

Know that Yahweh is God.

This is not just saying that God is God.

This is saying that Yahweh is God.

It’s not just saying that there is a certainly a god up there, out there, over there.

It is saying that the God Who is has the name Yahweh.

Know that the LORD is God.

Know it.

The Hebrew word there emphasizes certainty and confession and acknowledgment.

Know it in your bones and proclaim it with your mouth.

Yahweh is God!
Yahweh is God!
Yahweh is God!

Do you know that?

This psalm just preaches itself. It doesn’t take a lot of explaining. It’s clear and simple. The commands are so straightforward: “Shout, worship, come, know, enter, give, praise.”

Know that LORD is God.

Why is that worth shouting about?

Well, have you heard of any other gods? And what they are supposedly like?

And do you know Who Yahweh is? What He is like?

For one thing, He made you and me. He didn’t have to, but He did. Verse 3.

“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his...”

The old King James Version translates this, “It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves...”

You didn’t make yourself.
You couldn’t do it.

You are not your own cause.

You and I are a creations. Do you think of yourself as a creation?

You and I were made by a Maker, and His name is Yahweh.

Praise God!

Shout for joy to the LORD, for the LORD made us!

If you are happy that you exist, give the LORD the praise.

I’m happy you exist. I’m happy to look out over this crowd and see these faces. So many faces, and praise God that He made you.

Now, if you make something, to whom does it belong?

It belongs to the maker, right?

“It is he who made us, and we are his.”

We are His creation.
So we are His possession.

And so He takes care of us. V.3 again.

“Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Now there, I think he’s specifically singing about Israel, about true believers brought into covenant relationship with God. Not just made but saved.

His by creation and by redemption.

“[W]e are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”

Now, I have to say that that is not very flattering to you and me, but it is wonderful to say about the LORD.

Sheep are, to put it mildly, dumb.

They don’t know what they are doing most of the time.

And so they need to be cared for.

They are extremely dependent creatures.

I think the Lord might have created them in the first place just to show us what we are like.

We are needy.

We don’t like to think of ourselves as needy.

But we are needy. We need a Shepherd.

And, praise God, we have One!


“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, 
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul. 
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; 
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

That’s what it means to be “His people!”

That’s what we have to praise God for.

I’m so thankful that God is God and I am not.

And I’m so thankful that I am dependent on Him.

The United States may declare its independence from England.

But you and I should declare our dependence on the LORD.

Shout for joy to the LORD because the LORD is God.

In verse 4, the psalmist gives us four more commands to praise and thank God.

There is no mistaking what he wants us to be doing. Verse 4.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

Now, this is couched in the culture of the temple courts. And the progression is from outside to inside closer and closer all the way in to God’s presence.

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”

Be thankful. Rejoice!

He sounds like our last Hide the Word verse doesn’t he?

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”

Why?

#2. BECAUSE THE LORD IS GOOD.

Because the LORD is God and because the LORD is good. Verse 5.

“For the LORD is good [Tov] and his love [Hesed] endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

We so badly need a shepherd.

But we don’t just get a shepherd.

We get a good shepherd.

We get the best shepherd.

He is TOV. He is good in every way.

And He is trustworthy. 

We are dependent, and He is dependable.

He is immutable.
He is unchanging.
He is steady.
He is perfectly dependable in every way.

Everyone else will let us down.

Every other god out there.

Every other person out there.

But the LORD is good and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations.

You know what that is echoing once again?

Exodus 34:6&7 when the LORD passed in front of Moses revealed Himself and the meaning of His name. Exodus 34:6, “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands [of generations!, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”

The application of this is obvious:

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.”

“Shout for joy to the LORD, everybody.”

Because we sure have it good!

We are so blessed!

If you belong to the good shepherd.

Make sure that you belong to this King over all.

He made you. He has every right to you. But you don’t have a right to Him unless you repent and put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Bible says in John 1:12, “...to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.”

That’s to those who receive Jesus and believe in His name.

Believe in what He did on the Cross and at the Resurrection.

If you believe in Him, then you belong to Him.

You are one of His people, the sheep of His pastor.

And He is your Shepherd. And He is GOOD. He is SO good.

Yahweh is TOV, all the time.
All the time, Yahweh is TOV.

Always and forever.

“Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!” (Robert Grant, "O Worship the King")

The LORD God and the LORD is good.

So get loud about it!

“Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth!”


***

Fortifying Truth - Psalms - Fall 2020 to Summer 2021

01. Majestic and Mindful - Psalm 8
02. All Our Days - Psalm 90
03. "The LORD on High Is Mighty!" - Psalm 93
04. "The LORD Is My Shepherd" - Psalm 23
05. "Praise the LORD, O My Soul!" - Psalm 103
06. "The Blessing of Aaron's Oily Beard" - Psalm 133
07. "A Dying Thirst for the Living God" - Psalm 42
08. "Our Fortress" - Psalm 46
09. Unrestless - Psalm 131
10. "Sun and Shield" - Psalm 84
11. "With Songs of Joy" - Psalm 126
12. "His Love Endures Forever" - Psalm 136
13. "How Many Are Your Works, O LORD!" - Psalm 104
14. "My Soul Waits for the Lord" - Psalm 130
15. "Remember David" - Psalm 132
16. "My Son" - Psalm 2
17. "Search Me" - Psalm 139
18. "Cleanse Me" - Psalm 51
19. "A New Song" - Psalm 96
20. "Hear My Prayer, O LORD." - Psalm 86
21. "May All the Peoples Praise You" - Psalm 67
22. "A Wedding Song" - Psalm 45
23. "My Feet Had Almost Slipped" - Psalm 73
24. “Rejoicing Comes in the Morning" - Psalm 30
25. 'The Waters Have Come Up To My Neck" - Psalm 69
26. "Cast Your Cares on the LORD" - Psalm 55
27. "“My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" - Psalm 22
28. "You Will Not Abandon Me To the Grave" - Psalm 16
29. "He Will Rule" - Psalm 72
30. "Taste and See That the LORD is Good" - Psalm 34
31. "Since My Youth" - Psalm 71
32. "Your Statutes Are Wonderful" - Psalm 119
33. "The LORD Our God Is Holy" - Psalm 99
34. "Not To Us, O LORD" - Psalm 115
35. "Blessed" - Psalm 32
36. "Sit At My Right Hand" - Psalm 110
37. "Your Love Is Better Than Life" - Psalm 63
38. "Blessed Is the Man Who Fears the LORD" - Psalm 112
39. "If the LORD Had Not Been On Our Side" - Psalm 124