ďHow Awesome Are Your Deeds!Ē††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† June 22, 2014
SI:† Weíre spending the summer in the Psalms.
The Psalms were the hymnbook of the Hebrew church.
†† And like any hymnbook, there are different lyrical styles, different genres.
Psalm 66 is a praise song.
†† It doesnít mention any problems the Psalmist is having.
†† He doesnít ask God to deliver him from his enemies or his illness
†† or his depression.† He doesnít confess his sins.†
From beginning to end he just praises God,
†† and wants other people to praise him too.
INTRO:† Iíve always dreamed of visiting Switzerland.
†† The main reason I want to go there is because itís the land of my ancestors.
Iíd love to see the village they were from and the landscape around it.
†† Iíd also love to see John Calvinís church in Geneva, Cathedral of St. Peter.
But, I know itís a pipe dream because of the enormous cost of the trip.
†† Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world,
†† Geneva is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
I saw an article on line by hotels.com
†† that ranked cities according to something they called the Club Sandwich Index.†
†† It was simply the average cost of a club sandwich in tourist destination cities.
Orlando ranked at about $10.† Geneva is at $32.60.
†† Even if I had the money for a trip like that, I wouldnít enjoy myself.
†† If I had to pay $32.60 for club sandwich I would lose my appetite.
The reason things are so expensive there is mostly the decline in value of the dollar.
About 12 years ago, you could get two Swiss francs for a dollar.
†† Now it takes $1.25 for just one Swiss franc.
Well, just as the value of money sometimes declines,
†† so also the value of words sometimes declines.
The word Iím talking about is awesome.†
†† Verse 2† How awesome are your deeds.
†† Itís the overarching theme of the entire Psalm.
But if there is any word that has declined in value in itís the word awesome.
The formal definition of awesome is:
†† ďInspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence,
†† admiration, or fear; causing or inducing awe.Ē
But you know the word awesome has become a slang word for good or fine.
How was your trip to the beach?† Awesome!† Howís your car running?† Awesome!†
†† Howís that hot dog?† Awesome!†
Are you saying you have an overwhelming feeling of reverence and fear
†† in the presence of that hot dog?†
Wordís change.† Thatís the nature of language.† Nothing to be done about that.
†† But keep in mind that this word awesome is intended to say more than good, or†
†† even really, really good.† Itís a worship word.† Awe, reverence, wonder, fear.
The Psalmist says, This is what you are to do.†
†† Shout to God, sing to him, say to him:† God, how awesome are your deeds.
Do you do that?† Are you able to do that?† Do you know what that looks like?
There are three types of people here this morning who need Psalm 66.†
There may be some of you who have never, honestly felt like praising God.
†† You come to church.† Maybe you come because your family comes, habit.
†† But you donít really get it.† You donít sing songs, or if you do, donít feel them.
The Holy Spirit can use this Psalm to draw you to Jesus Christ and give you
†† a new heart that delights in praising him.† So be open to him.† Donít ignore him.
†† You might not get another chance.†
There may be some of you who used to feel like praising God,
†† but lately youíve lost your voice.† You arenít moved to praise like you used to be.
Remember that verse in Revelation 2 about losing your first love?
†† Thatís how it is for you.† You feel like you are just going through the motions.
It might be because of willful sin in your life,
†† it might be an idol you are worshipping instead of Christ,
Deep down you want to regain your voice of praise because you do
†† know the Lord and you are a Christian, but you are in a spiritual slump.
The Holy Spirit can use this Psalm to revive your first love.†
And there are a lot of you, hopefully, who love the Lord and love praising him.
†† Even this morning youíve been moved by the words of our songs.
†† For you this Psalm will be a joy.† It will be an affirmation.
The Holy Spirit will take these inspired words, work them into your heart,
†† and deepen your vocabulary of praise.† Enjoy yourself this morning.
†† Echo back these words to the Lord as we study them.†
And through you life and witness, Lord will draw other people to himself,
† †and his praise will be increased.†
Look at this Psalm under three headings, three commands.
†† 1.† Praise him for his awesome deeds in creation.
†† 2.† Praise him for his awesome deeds in Israel.
†† 3.† Praise him for his awesome deeds in me.
MP#1† Praise him for his awesome deeds in creation.
At one of the overlooks at Grand Canyon National Park
†† there are a series of plaques with Bible verses on them.
When we were out there a number of years ago, I saw them and was intrigued,
†† because in this day and age, itís rare to see Bible verses on federal property.
I wondered why somebody hadnít long ago hired the ACLU and sued
†† to get rid of those plaques before they offended somebody.
Well it turns out there had been a lawsuit to get rid of themó
† †and they were removed, but then there was a reversal and a decision
†† they could stay because they had historic value.
I took a picture of one of them and we had it enlarged and framed.†
†† Itís a verse from this Psalm, verse 4.
†† ďAll the earth worships Thee; they sing praises to Thee, sing praises to Thy name.Ē
And beyond that plaque is the magnificent panorama of the Grand Canyon.
†† It does indeed inspire awe and praise.
The Psalmist starts with this most basic and most expansive aspect of praiseó
†† that all creation must worship God for his mighty acts.
That means you must open your mouth and praise God for all the good things
†† he has done, all the good things he has madeóboth great and simple things.
And call him good, and thank him.†
Why do we praise?† What does praise do for you?
†† Praise makes your enjoyment complete.
When you see something wonderful that moves you,
†† you canít enjoy it fully if you are all alone, or if you remain silent.
You only enjoy it fully when you can say to someoneóLook at that!†
†† Look at that beautiful sunset.† Look at that cute baby.†
And itís even more wonderful when the person affirms and echoes your praise.
One time I said to Allison:† Look at that motorcycle.
†† And she said:† Thatís some sweet Italian steel.
Somehow she got it right.† It was Italian.† It was sweet.
†† I knew she was mocking me.† But even so, it increased my joy in the moment.†
Why do you get more pleasure watching a big game with other fans
†† than you do watching it all alone?† Because of the experience of praise.†††
†† Did you see that play?† Can you believe it?† Yeah!†
And they echo your praises and add their own, your enjoyment is complete.†
When C.S. Lewis became a Christian, and started to read the Bible as a Christian.
He was bothered by Psalms like this that tell us to praise God.
†† They bothered him because we canít stand people who want praise all the time.
Nobody likes people who are always fishing for compliments.
Thatís what it seemed like to him.† Like God was fishing for compliments.
†† He thought that was beneath God.
†† Is God so needy that he craves our praises?†
But then Lewis realized that God tells us to praise him not because he needs it
†† or craves it, but because he knows itís good for us.
What is the chief end of man?†
Manís chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.
†† And when we praise the Creator, our purpose is fulfilled and we are blessed.
†† Because then everything else in life can be properly enjoyed.†
For those of you who have never praised God.† You may come to church.
†† You might sing, you might not, but deep down, honestly you donít feel itó
†† you donít know the Lord, this is† a warning to you.†
The warning is, youíre going to worship something.
†† Thatís our purpose.† Thatís how we were made.† Weíre worshipers.
†† If you donít worship and praise the Creator, it will be something else.
And that something, whatever it is, whether money, work, entertainmentó
†† it wonít sustain your joy.† Itís going to run out on you and youíll be empty.
†† You must become a worshipper of the living God.† Ask Jesus to come into life.
For those of you whoíve lost your voice, lost your first love.†
†† You probably already know the problem.†
†† Something has taken Jesusí place of praise in your life.†
May be respectful, may be shameful.† You know itís robbing your joy.
†† You can fix that today at the Lordís Table.† Repent, renew your covenant.
For those of you who love the Lord and love praising him, having good time.
†† Another thought from C.S. Lewis.† Run up the sunbeam to the sun.
In other words, as we see good, beautiful, useful things that God has made,
†† or when we enjoy things people have made or done as his image-bearersó
†† use that as a springboard to praise God himself.
Youíre probably doing it already, but donít hold back in sayingó
†† God is good.†
MP#2† Praise him for his awesome deeds in Israel.
In the first four verses, the Psalmist praises Godís glory in creation,
†† but then he gets more specific, he turns to the people of God, to Israel.†
For Old Testament believers, the biggest story of Godís salvation was the Exodus.
†† Thatís what made them Godís people.†
†† And still, hundreds of years later they were still praising him for it.
Thatís what the Psalmist focuses on here, on the Exodus.
†† He divides it into two parts and each part gets a stanza.
Those two parts are a once for all deliverance and an ongoing discipline.†
First, verses 5-7 he praises God for his once for all deliverance.
†† ďHe turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on footó
†† come, let us rejoice in him.Ē
†† Whatís that a reference to?† The parting of the Red Sea.
The Israelites were in Egypt 400 years as slaves.
†† Moses told Pharaoh:† The Lord says, let my people go.
There were the Ten Plagues, and then the death of the firstborn, the Passover.
†† And that very night the Israelites left Egypt.
†† They came to the edge of the Red Sea and the Egyptian army came after them.
Pharaoh decided he would rather slaughter them than let them go.
†† But the Lord parted the sea, the Israelites, two million, passed though on dry land.
†† And then the water returned and drowned Pharaohís army.
The Red Sea stands as the culmination of that once for all deliverance.
†† The Israelites were once slaves, then they were suddenly free.
†† They were ruled by a cruel king who would rather kill them than let them go,
†† and then, with one miraculous act of God, that rule was broken, Lordís people.
Thatís the first part of the Exodus that he praises God foró
†† his once for all deliverance.†
Second, verses 8-12, he praises God for his ongoing discipline.
†† What happened after the Red Sea?†
†† Were the Israelites immediately transported to the Promised Land?
†† Did they step out of the Red Sea and take their next step into Canaan?
No.† They spent 40 years in the wilderness.† Thatís the rest of the Exodus.
†† Why did the Lord do that to them?† The Psalmist explains.†
†† ďO God, you tested us, you refined us like silver.Ē
God used hardships to get rid of their grumbling make them holy people.
You know how refining works.† The silversmith heats the silver in the crucible,
†† he melts it.† And in that melting, the impurities rise and he skims them off.
Then he lets it cool, and then he does it again, more heat, more impurities removed.†
†† Then he does it again.† And there comes a point where he looks into the liquid
†† silver and it is so pure that it reflects his face like a mirror.†
The Psalmist remembers that.† All that the Lord did to refine Israel
†† You laid burdens on our backs, you let men ride over us.
But heís not complaining.† He says, Praise our God.†
†† Even though we were a bunch of ungrateful grumblers, he didnít abandon us.
†† He refined us, he disciplined us, he made us ready for our inheritance.
Someone has said that it took one night to get the Israelites out of Egypt,
†† but it took 40 years to get Egypt out of the Israelites.
Now, Iím sure you see the application for us.† Who is the new Israel?
†† We are.† The church is the Israel of God (Gal. 6).
What was our once for all deliverance?† What was our Red Sea event?
†† The cross.† Look at the front of your bulletin.† Colossians 1:13-14.
†† Weíre no longer slaves under Pharaoh.† Weíre never going back to Egypt.
And now, praise God, weíre under his ongoing discipline.
†† Because he loves us, and heís not giving up on us.
And heís going to melt us in the fire and skim off the impurities
†† and keep doing that until he sees reflected in us the face of his Son Jesus.
Thatís something to sing about.†
If youíre a Christian, lucky youóyouíve been caught up in the greatest story ever.
†† Youíre counted among the number of the chosen ones who the Lord has
†† rescued from slavery and who he is perfecting in wilderness of life.†
If you arenít, what are you waiting for?†
†† Slavery and misery is chasing you.† Christ has parted the Red Sea for you.
†† You can follow him to freedom and deliverance.† Today is the day of salvation.
You can leave this morning with a new song of praise.† Donít delay.
And for you backsliders.† The Lord hasnít given up on you, just like he didnít
†† give up on those grumbling Israelites.† Heís refining you.†
†† But donít rob yourself of joy in the process, repent and rejoice.†
MP#3† Praise him for his awesome deeds in me.
The end of this Psalm gets personal.†
Apparently the Psalmist had been in some sort of trouble or had a deep concern.
†† We donít have any idea what it was, whether it was health or financial trouble.
†† Maybe he was concerned about the direction of his children.†
He prayed and God answered.†
He responded to that answered prayer with a generous offering
†† and then by saying to all his Christian friends, all his fellow church membersó
Listen, let me tell you what God has done for me.†
I want us to look very carefully at his exact words,
†† because there is a surprise at the end.
Vs. 16† ďCome and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.†
Heís praising.† Look at that beautiful sunset.† Look at that amazing touchdown.
†† Heís opening his mouth and expressing it to people.
Vs. 17† ďI cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.Ē
I was in trouble.† I had this deep concern.† I prayed.† I asked for Godís help.
Vs. 18† ďIf I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
Sin estranges us from God.† If I have sin in my heart, I have no reason to expect a holy God who hates sin to listen to me.†
Vs. 19† ďbut God has surely listen and heard my voice in prayer.Ē
He did listen.† He did answer my prayer.† Now, what is this man going to say next?
Think about the logic so far.†
†† God doesnít answer the prayers of people with sin in their heart.†
†† He answered my prayer.
†† Therefore, I must be a pretty good guy, basically sin free.
Noóthatís not his conclusion.
Vs. 20† ďPraise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.Ē
Itís all grace.† Sin in my heart estranges me from God.† Itís rebellion.
†† Itís a stick in Godís eye.† Heís under no obligation to listen to me and answer.
But he did.† He didnít reject my prayer or withhold his love.
†† Itís all grace.† This is the real engine of praise.
Yes, you praise God for his awesome works in creation.
†† All the good and useful and beautiful things he has made for us.
Yes, you praise him for his awesome works in Israeló
†† his great salvation through the cross of Jesus.
But those things really come home when you realize all the wonderful, kind things
†† he has done for you, in spite of the sin in your heart, in spite of your imperfect
†† devotion and mixed motivesóAll because of his grace.†
And when you get a hold of his grace to you, his grace to me,
†† that becomes engine of praise.
Weíve had a great weekend in our home, Adrienne came Friday evening,
†† so itís been all of us back together again around the table.
In the course of conversation, Eliza and Adrienne were telling us about two
†† girls they know, both preachersí daughters,
†† Presbyterian, PCA, preachersí daughters, who are wanderingóprodigals.
They are turning their backs on Christ and their parents.
I canít really describe how much stories of prodigal preacherís kids bother me.
†† There are all sorts of emotions when I hear them, both good and bad.
I canít help wondering about the effect on the manís reputation and ministry.
†† I think about both the grief and the shame it is probably causing him.
Then I start to think about stories I know from church history,
†† how some of the worst apostates have been children of manse.†
Makes me worry for my own children, because I know I have often, and still do
†† cherish sin in my heart and Iíve sinned and failed as a father.†
And then I look at my children, who are walking with the Lord and there is only
†† one explanationóGodís grace.†
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.
Those of you who donít know him, donít you want this?† His grace?
†† Nothing more humbling and purifying than to look at good things you have
†† and realize they have absolutely nothing to do you with you at all.† All God.
Bow your head and heart and ask Jesus to come into your life today.†
Those of you who have lost your first loveóyou know his grace.† Youíve tasted it.
†† Donít you want more of it?† You know you do.††††
†† In just a moment, weíre coming to the Table.† Ask him to restore love he will.†
For those of you who are happily walking with him, before you leave todayó
†† say to one of your friends, let me tell you what the Lord has done for me.