By Stephen Wong
27 Nov 2011 Sunday
Worship song:Jesus Thank You
|Verse 1||The mystery of the cross
I cannot comprehend The agonies of Calvary
You, the perfect Holy One, crushed Your Son
Who drank the bitter cup reserved for me
|Chorus||Your blood has washed away my sin
Jesus, thank You!
The Father’s wrath completely satisfied
Jesus, thank You!
Once Your enemy, now seated at Your table
Jesus, thank You!
|Verse 2||By Your perfect sacrifice I’ve been brought near
Your enemy You’ve made Your friend
Pouring out the riches of Your glorious grace
Your mercy and Your kindness know no end
|Bridge||Lover of my soul,
I want to live for You
Scripture Reading: Psalm 136 1-12
1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
4 to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
5 who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
6 who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
7 who made the great lights— His love endures forever.
8 the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
9 the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.
10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.
Good morning! Let us pray.
Heavenly father, you are so precious to us. You are the God who spoke to us and to our forefathers through the prophets. And in these last days, you have spoken to us through your beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the exact representation of Your Being. He is the radiance of Your Glory. He is the exalted Lamb of God, by whose blood, and death on the Cross, washes us clean from every stain of sins. So that we can stand in Your Holy presentence, and to worship you. Father as our journey through Your Words today, please speak to us. Our hearts are ready, our hearts are willing, and our hearts are hungry, only you can satisfy us with Your Words, because you are God. Incomparable, indefensible, infinite, love of God. We worship you in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Happy Thanksgiving! I’m very thankful that I can be with you today. I’m very thankful for God, and for who He is, and for all that He has done. I am very thankful for you, my brothers and sisters. I’m very thankful for each and everyone of you. Because Jesus Christ died for you. And He loves you infinitely and unconditionally. And I thank God for the very breath that I take.
Now you may be wondering, breath? But I breathe all the time. Why would you thank God for your breath? Well, when you don’t have something, the value appreciates.
One of my friends, he and I were swimming in the ocean. It was a quiet day. And nothing seemed very unspectacular about the ocean. It was quiet and calm. And then all of sudden, my friend was caught by a tide, and the current just dragged him down, all of sudden; he had to hold on to his breath as the current took him down lower and lower. And you can imagine the thoughts that he had on his mind. This may be my last breath. God was good. And my friend still lives. And he shared with me. How he appreciates the value of every breath that he takes.
So I appreciate the value of breath too. (ah, ah…breathe deeply) Thank you God for the breath of life. So I’m very thankful.
Today we are in the Psalms. There are 150 Psalms. So it’s a very long book. But it’s a beautiful book. In the Psalms, we have a number of writers. Probably about half of them are attributed to King David, and are about his life, or inspired by him, or written by him. About a dozen of them are written or attributed to Asaph who is one of the men who served King David.
And then we have 37 of them that were written by somebody whose name shows up a lot in the literature, author unknown.
But you know we don’t have to worry about His identity, because you and I know who it is? Right, the author is the Holy Spirit Himself. So we have the source, the truth coming directly from heaven to us, to our hearts.
Ok, there are several types of Psalms. There are worship Psalms; there are wisdom Psalms; there are Psalms of sadness; there are Psalms that are liturgical for the temple and for the kings. And then there are Psalms of thanksgiving. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This category is the Psalm category that we are in; we are going to be thanking God for creation, for salvation and for His remembering love. But this is primarily about Israel’s hymn book. It’s about hymn. And who is the hymn? The hymn is Jesus. This book tells us about his divine sonship, tells us about his seal for Father’s house. It tells us about His passion, His crucifixion; it tells us about His resurrection on the third day; it tells us about His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His ultimate glorification as eternal priest, and eternal King. This is about Him. And so we are going to learn about Him.
Ok, our keywords for our passage today. There are 26 verses. So it’s not surprising that we will see “His love endures forever” 26 times. “Giving thanks” explicitly appears 4 times. But it could be inferred many times as many times as the verses appear. We also see there are kings, King Jesus, as well as the king, of the earth, a God who does great wonders. And people who think they are great and then of course the object of love, the people of Israel.
Ok our divisions are three, and alluded to them, God’s creative love, God’s redemptive love, and God’s remembering love.
1. God’s creative love.
Let’s dive from the first verse. And it says here “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.” The first thing we notice is that it’s Lord, Yahweh, His covenant name. The God almighty says, I would like to make you a special person in my relationship. I want you to be my friend. I want you to be part of my family.
Now usually when we meet perhaps celebrities, you know the NBA stars, or when we meet some very rich affluent people. How many of them will say, I would like to make a covenant with you. I want to become your friend, and you become my friend. How many? Well, we know that the most important person of the whole world, God, He says “I want to be your friend, and I want you to be my friend.” “Me? Me? Who am I?” says the psalmist. “That you should be mindful of me.”
OK. He also says that He is good. Jesus said no one is good.
“Wait a minute. I didn’t commit any crime. Look, the police had no record on me.” We didn’t commit any crime against the law of this country. But what about the Law of God?
“Well, I am ok. I am ok. People like me, and I am ok.” “I am sorry, that is not enough.” “You want me to be perfect?” “Yes, you have to be perfect.” “But no one is perfect!” And that’s the problem.
“Oh I see, God is perfect and for us to have a friendship, we have to be perfect too. But that’s impossible. No one is perfect. How can we be perfect?” And God said “I have a solution for you--my son. And by His blood, by His sacrifice, by His grace, you can be made perfect with His righteousness.” “Really? For me, for you.”
“Wow. OK. You must think quite highly of me. No matter. will try to understand this. I will try to accept this. It’s quite overwhelming, I would say..” Ok, He says, in the next verse, “Give thanks to the God of gods,” He says “in the past, you may have worshiped other things. You may have worshiped idols”. “Well, I don’t kneel down to statues. Look, if you come to my home, I don’t have statues.”
And God says “It’s not those types of idols necessarily I am concerned about, I am concerned about the idols of popularities, the idols of self, the idols of prestige, prosperity, the idols of the things of this world. You love the world too much, Stephen.” “I thought you made this world, so could I love it a little bit?” “Well you know Stephen; I love you with everything that I am. But you just love me a tiny mini bit but you love the world a lot.”
“I see, I get the picture, so you want more love, well how about if I give you half of my day. Is that ok? That’s ok right? It’s more than what I am already giving you, Right? You want my whole day? You want my whole week? You want my whole life? But is that too much to ask? Oh I see, you give me your Son. You did not withhold anything from me, I think you are reasonable, God. OK. I desire to withhold nothing from you, all my gods, all my idols, including myself, the self that I worship. I'm going to release them, I'm going to place them before you, and I'm going to forsake them. I hate them just as much as you do.”
OK, the next verse goes on to say: He is the God of wonders. Give thanks to the Lord for His wonders. We know that in the Old Testament, Isaiah tells us that He is a wonderful Counselor. A God who does wonderful things and His wonders last. Other things that people do will not last. They may deceive you or they may thrill you for a short time. But God's wonders they satisfy and they endure. He goes on and then to say: “OK, you want to know why I am ,so wonderful?” Here is why, “By His understanding, He made the heavens.” Are you impressed by the heavens?
Do you take the time to look up at the heavens? Do you take the time and say: Wow! That is a beautiful cloud! Wow, the color of the sky is so amazing! Wow, the sunsets and sunrises...God has painted the heavens with his own finger for your enjoyment. Wow, that is better than any blockbuster or DVD/movie I have seen. It changes and it amazes me and fascinates me, and I can't stop watching. Wow, you are a wonderful God! You think that is wonderful？ He says: I'm the one who spreads the earth upon the waters. Just like how may spread a blanket upon your bed. It’s all my Mighty Power: I spread out the earth upon the waters. The earth rises above the waters and the most beautiful mountains, the most gorgeous jungles, valleys and landscapes, all created by our artistic and creative God. You know God was very happy by Himself, but it was love that drove Him to create you and I, and it was His love that drove Him to the world around us, for your enjoyment and pleasure, to thrill you and to give you a life more abundant.
So then He says ok, you may think that heavens and earth were pretty spectacular, what about the lights and the sky, the sun, how big how large how bright! And what about the stars? We are just blown away, year after year, by the discovery of so many stars. Amazing! Amazing! So many billions of stars and God says: “I number them and I name them, I know them all.” “You know all those billions of stars? Wow!”
And you know He knows each one of us, billions of us, through the centuries, He knows each one of us, He knows our names, He knows our hearts and He knows the numbers of hairs on our heads. That’s how important you are!! That is how treasured and how precious you are to God. Wow, You are a wonderful God, You do make me wonder, and I am fascinated by You God.
So I’d like to move on a principle for this, it is very, very simple. It says : All things were created by Him and for Him. He says “I am the Creator—have no doubt about that, just look at my creation, its perfection. You can see that is all by my design.” What’s the purpose of my life? “Why did I create you? To bear my image.” “So you mean I am not created to live for myself? For my own dreams, my own desires and ambitions?” No, you and I have been created for Him. “Ok let me try to digest that a little bit.” The question I have for you is we know He is a wonderful Creator, so how knowing that He created us to bear His image, how is that going to change your life from now on? Well I want you and I to read a prayer together.The next line tells us how to respond to this Creator God--in adoration, in confession, in thanksgiving and in prayer. So let’s read it together: Adore God for creating everything from nothing, confess any tendency to worship the created, thank God for sustaining you everyday, pray to God to increase your desire to bless others.
As He has created and blessed you, you too would bear His image and be a channel of blessing to others, sustaining them by sharing the Word of God and then showing them how wonderful His creation is by the way that you live.
2. God’s redemptive love.
We are going to read here: God in history. God controls creation and we understand that but maybe He is not involved in history? And God says “I control the heavens, I control the earth, I control the depth of the sea, I am also very involved in history!” Well really? Let’s see what He did in history. He redeemed His people from Egypt. They had been slaves for 400 years. And here we have in one corner of the match, we have a 400-year reigning champion—Egypt. And the next corner, we have the 400-year loser—Israel. Who will win this match? Egypt? 400-year winning record or Israel? 400-year losing record. Who is going to win? Well we know the end of the story, don’t we? That against all odds, no one is match to God. If God is on your side, even someone with 400-year winning record cannot match you!! No one can stand against God, no one can win against God, and He has a 100% wining record. “I am so glad because I have a losing record, I have been a slave to sin for so many years, and you think that I can get rid of the sins?” He says “yes!” “But I have the addiction, I have this weakness, I have this tendency, these bad habits…” He says “no problem, I can help you with that. No matter what enslaves you, I can redeem you.” Well I am glad to hear that because I have a big problem—sin. He says “no problem, I will redeem you from your sins. Not only will I redeem your sins, but also I will take you away from the sins as far as the east from the west.” “Thank you!”
Not only does He deliver us from our sins, we must then have a better rest now, right? After our life getting rid of the slavery of sin, life will get really well. Life is going to be smooth and prosperous and happy, right? Let’s see what happens in the next verse: He divided the Red sea asunder. “So He delivers me out of the slavery, but He gives me another problem: My enemy would be pursuing me and I was escaping, and then unfortunately, when I came to where I thought I would escape to , it was the Red Sea!
What I am going to do now? I thought life will be filled with open doors, I thought that once I became a Christian, and He saved me, every door is going to be open. Now He closes my way with a Red Sea!” But just at the right time, God opens the Red Sea asunder! And He allows people to get through. That was a close shave, a great escape. Now life is going to get better right? “Do you know what happens? We end up in the desert!” He says in the next verse: He led His people through the desert. “So I escape from slavery, I get through the Red Sea, and now I have to face a desert where there is nothing!! I thought life is supposed to be easy!” Well, He provided everything they needed during the 40 years in the desert: A pillar of cloud during the day to shade them from the heat; a pillar of fire to warm them during the night and to give them light. He gave them food everyday; He fed them and protected them. And that was not all. He sustained them by His living Word.
Things are going to get better now? Not quite! “We have to face Kings now. We reached the promise land, and now we get to face the great kings. In fact, these great kings were mighty kings, cruel kings, these kings were like giants!! We are locusts.and they are giants!! We can’t do this, Let’s go back to Egypt! Let’s go back; it’s easier to be slaves of sin! Those giants are too big! Too mighty! Too tall! Too strong! I am too weak, I am too small!
And God says I will provide you with victory and that what He does. He triumphs over all these might giants. So, you think your life is full of problems. Challengers are too tall, seas are too wide and too deep, you think your life is full of difficulty. Well, starkly, the people of God have had lots of problems, many problems, but you know what was so neat,God was with them through all. Even if you are not a Christian, you would have problems too, you would have the same problems that we have, maybe even more severe problems. But you know what the redeeming factor is that we have God, the God of the universe, the creator of the universe, the redeemer of mankind, with us. So if you don’t know the savior, today is the day that His voice is speaking to your hearts. “Come, you are welcome to come to my wedding, wedding, it is a fantastic event, the church and my Son, we are going to be together forever.”
OK, so let’s move then to our principle for this section here. It’s one about faith, because life is a journey and the only way we can journey is with faith. The principle says faith knows not where it is being led, but faith knows and loves the One who is leading. So you may think ever since I became a Christian, I thought everything was going to be clearer. Everything will be more adventurous, more exciting, more thrilling. If you are not a Christian, your life will be boring. But as a Christian, your life will be full of adventure, because there are so many unknowns, so many unknowns. But the neat thing is that we get to love the One who is leading us, step by step by step, and that is the fulfillment in itself. As we journey through the wilderness, through the desert, through the tall giants through the Red Seas, we get to walk hand in hand with our beloved One.
So the question is how should you respond to God’s Redeeming Love? So I like to read together our ACTP: Adore God for His Almighty Power to save. Confess whatever keeps you from trusting Him. Thank God for His Perfect plans. Pray to God to increase your faith and your obedience. No matter what happens, no matter what is severe or difficult, know He is your redeemer and deliverer. Life may not get smoother, but life will get thicker and richer, more meaningful, more purposeful, and that’s what you want. You don’t want to live a life that is superficial and full of mediocrity; you want to live in the thicker of things, in the midst of His perfect will.
3. God’s remembering love.
This is just so exciting; because it says in the next verse that give thanks to the One who remembered us in our lower state. I love that verse because it reminds me of what Mary said when she received the news of coming Lord Jesus Christ through her. She said that “He has remembered me in my lower state. You know when you are down and out, people may step on you, and people may kick you, or may not see you any more. But when you are down and out, God says I’m here to pick you up, I’m here to dust you off, I’m here to clean you up, I’m here to make you a brand new, I’m here to give you another chance, I’m here to be with you through it all to the end. He didn’t say, go to the desert and I’ll see you at the next end. He walks with us, He walks with them, and He walks with us to the end. Then He says what does He do? He frees us from those enemies, He gives food to satisfy us, and at the end, to give thanks to the God of Heaven, His love endures forever. He says at the end of this long hard difficult journey is Heaven, a place where my son has gone ahead to prepare for you. So that where He is, we shall be also. A place that is filled with light, --the light of the glory of God. There won’t be any need for the sun or moon; it’s just the light of glory of the Lamb, the regions of the Father’s glory. The exact representation of His being, you want to know God? Then get to know Jesus Christ. So principle here very simply is: There is no lost time waiting on God’s ways, for we progress the most in His delays.
Essentially, God knows the right time for everything, God has the best plans for everything. So when things don’t fit in, when things don’t work the way you want, just wait on Him. Just say: “I don’t understand and I can’t see exactly where I am going, but I’m going to trust in you.” What I want to share with you then is this question: If it is so important to know our God is our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Rememberer, how can we keep our relationship with Him growing? How can you keep growing in your relationship with Him? I like to share some thoughts with you, the next line we will give you a better idea.
Let’s read together such beautiful words:
Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, and trust in Him.
If you want to be on fire for Jesus Christ, if you want to never drift away from Jesus, if you want to be excited about Jesus, if you want your love to be burning a high pitch with Jesus, delight in Him, delight in Him, making your joy, delight in Him, find your satisfaction in Him, and in Him alone. He is God, He created you, He redeemed you, and He wants you to be His child, you are His precious possession. He gave them the land and the heritance, and He says “I not only saved you but I’ve riches untold to bless you with through our Lord Jesus Christ, and because I love you, my creature, because I love you, my redeemed child. I want to lavish my love upon you, but for you to enter the rest, for you to enter the relationship; I want you to commit your life to Jesus Christ, my Son, the final Word, the final revelation of all truth for salvation. If you don’t know how to commit your life to Christ, speak to someone besides you. I want to just provide you very quickly some piece to help you study the Psalms more meaningfully.
One of my friends told me that she has been studying the Psalms for over twenty years, and she has found it transformed her life; she has really inspired me and challenged me. When you pick up the Psalms, (this is I would like to remember, I’m going to read for you now, you can always get on the website.) What I want to share with you is sometimes you ask people how you are doing. OK, great, I guess. People, children of God, we ought to be the happiest people on earth, because we have so much to thank God for. You know my life is not perfect, far from perfect. There are many things that have not gone my way, there are many disappointments and discouragements. But I ask myself what I am thankful for? Absolutely, I am thankful for God being my creator, my redeemer, and one who remembers me. Absolutely those are superiorly important. You know that I also thank God for His provision of my family, as we are far away from home. God provide me with them, my wife and children. And you know, whether I’m up or down, whether I’m strong or weak, whether I’m laughing or crying, God has given me my wife and children, who hug me and hold my hand and tell me they love me because of Jesus Christ. And you know, on the days I was really down, they just go to the piano singing and singing, worshiping and worshiping, and we felt that we were heaven again, heaven on earth. I pray this thanksgiving season, each of you be filled with joy of the Lord, He will be your strength. He will fill your heart and your home with His glory, and He will fill this land of China, with the knowledge of Himself. To God be all glory. Happy Thanks giving.
|Worship song: Jesus, Thank You||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Power of Your Love||video||audio||lyric|
|Worship song: Here We Are||video||audio||lyric|