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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Even When We Can't See It, Our God is a God Who Acts!
Text:Psalms 103:6-14 (View)
Occasion:Lord's Supper
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2022-01-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Psalm 103:1-22

Text: Psalm 103:6-14

 

EVEN WHEN WE CAN’T SEE IT, OUR GOD IS A GOD WHO ACTS!

  1. He Acts for the Oppressed

  2. He Acts in Grace

  3. He Acts in Love

 

Psalm 65: 1, 2, 3, 6

Hymn 25: 1, 3, 4, 6

Psalm 23:1-3

Hymn 2

Singing: Hymn 59:1-2

Table 1: Hymn 62:1

Table 2: Hymn 62:2

Table 3: Hymn 62:3

Psalm 103:3-5

 

Words to listen for: dragged, snap, blood, curses, valley

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. What is the legacy of God’s people?

  2. What is wrong with our vision of justice?

  3. Why do we need both mercy and grace?

  4. How are we more blessed than Job?

  5. What wonderful three things can we learn from verse 9?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Christ our Lord,

What do you think about silence?  

Maybe you live in a house with lots of noise, constantly assaulting your ears.  The cries of a newborn baby, the constant practicing of piano or stringed instruments.  Maybe your Mom singing to herself as she cooks dinner, or your brothers and sister running around the house giggling.

There is a lot of noise in our lives...what happens when that noise stops?  Many of us breathe a sigh of relief.  Finally, some peace and quiet.  It might be nice for parents to have a few moments for themselves after all the children are put to sleep for the night.  Silence can be a wonderful thing.

But what if it is silence from God?

Silence from the noises of this world are one thing, but silence from God is something entirely different.  In fact, for most of us, it has the complete opposite effect.

What happens to our calm and our faith life when God doesn’t seem to be speaking to us anymore?  We try to read His Word, and we feel nothing.  We sit in church and get nothing out of the sermons.  When we pray, we feel that our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling.  What are we supposed to do then?

Beloved, even when all is hopeless, hope against hope.  Hope against hope. Because we have something stronger than our perception.  We have something better than what our eyes can see, and what our hearts can feel.  We have God’s promises!  In our text this morning, we see wonderful promises.  Beautiful promises.  And, what is absolutely best, they are true and sure promises.

I therefore preach to you the Word of God under the following theme and points:

EVEN WHEN WE CAN’T SEE IT, OUR GOD IS A GOD WHO ACTS!

  1. He Acts for the Oppressed

  2. He Acts in Grace

  3. He Acts in Love

 

Even if we can’t see it, our God is a God who acts.  He acts for the oppressed.

We might be tempted to think that our all-powerful God should have an all-powerful people.  Doesn’t this necessarily follow?  God, who is all-knowing and all-powerful, should pick the best and the brightest to be in His kingdom.  That just makes good earthly sense.

But our God does not act in ways that we expect.  The ways of the Lord are surprising and delightful.  Throughout God’s history of dealing with mankind, we can see the weakness of the people that God chooses.

Adam and Eve, created in true righteousness and holiness, in a perfect world, fell into sin and dragged all of humanity down with them.

Noah, a man righteous in his generation, as soon as he planted a vineyard, he took too much wine and become drunk, lying unclothed in his tent.

Abraham.  A man of faith, listened to his wife, and had a child through his maidservant Hagar.  He lied not once, but twice about the identity of his wife because of fear of earthly rulers.

I do not have time to get into the failures of Isaac and Jacob.  Of Joseph and Moses.  But on the one hand, the legacy of God’s people is weakness.  Intense weakness rising from fear.  But on the other hand, God’s people show the world exactly who He is.

They are the PERFECT illustrations of God’s might and love.

Because anyone can do amazing things with an amazing group of people.  But it is only God that can use the weak and the damaged.  The poor and the helpless.

  • Only God can gather together a small and weak nation and use the weak to shame the strong.  Destroying the might of Egypt with a group of slaves.
  • Defeating the Midianites with 300 men, carrying torches, jars and trumpets.

It is through our weaknesses that God’s power shines forth, strong and mighty.  The Lord works through the weak and oppressed, and He works FOR the oppressed.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

The LORD works righteousness for the oppressed.  He works righteousness for them because they couldn’t possibly work righteousness for themselves.

We can’t possibly be righteous in ourselves.  We read of that in our form earlier in the service.  We do not come to the table of the Lord to declare that we are righteous in ourselves.  For if this were the case, then none would be sitting at the table.

If I had to administer this sacrament in my own strength, I would not dare step foot in this church building.  But God graciously grants me the strength to preach to you and to bring the visual gospel to you all.  God grants to me and to you the righteousness of His Son.

A righteousness that allows us to come to the table, though we are weak with fear and with sin.  This is a righteousness that does not come to us because we feel it so strongly.  It does not come to us because of anything in us, but rather, it is there, applied to us, imputed to us because of the character of our God.  He is the one who works for the oppressed.

He also works justice for the oppressed.  This is something that is a little harder to accept with our human limits.  If God is truly working justice, we think, then the oppressed would no longer be oppressed.  God would snap His fingers and save them.  Save them from the enemies that attack them from the outside.  Save them from the doubts and fears that gnaw on the inside.

If God works justice for the oppressed, then the life of the believer would be easy.  But our difficulty understanding this is because our vision is too small.

Our vision of justice is temporary, immediate, and ultimately, small.  Justice in relatively small earthly matters pale in comparison to the justice that will one day come from the hand of our God.  God is acting to bring about cosmic justice.  Lasting justice.  The destruction of the Devil, and all evil.  There will be a lasting peace one day, and the injustices we experience now in our daily lives are just the birth pains of that true justice beginning to emerge.

Moses and the people of Israel still experienced hardship.  They were not victorious in every battle against the Canaanites.  King David, the human author of this psalm was not victorious in every battle in which he fought either.  There were real sufferings in their lives.  Moses lost his nephews, Nadab and Abihu.  David lost many children due to rebellion and sin.  But they still believe in a God of justice.  They believed in a God of justice because that is how our God revealed Himself.  They hoped against hope.  They knew that God was planning something far more than they could conceive at the time.  They knew that one day justice would come in a way that matters the most.

Not because God’s people DESERVE anything.  The oppressed do not DESERVE justice in themselves, but our God still acts.  He acts out of grace.  Our second point.

God’s people, the oppressed, weak, and sinful people are the perfect witness to the world, because they display God’s grace.

As we come up to the table in a few minutes, please realize that your weakness does not prevent you from coming, but rather, the acknowledgement of your weakness is what enables you to come.

Hear these words of welcome to the table from Psalm 103:8

The LORD is merciful and gracious.  Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

Let’s unpack these perfections of our covenant God very briefly.

The LORD (that is, Yahweh) is merciful

Because He is merciful, there is hope for pardon.  For it is through mercy that though our sins be red as blood, they will be washed white as snow.  Mercy looks upon our misery and refuses to turn away.  Mercy looks upon our misery and comforts us.  Forgives us.  Gives us a new start.

YAHWEH is merciful and gracious.

Because He is gracious, there is hope for blessings.

Both mercy and grace as absolutely necessary.  Because, you see, mercy takes away our punishment.  We have been forgiven because of the mercy of God.  Christ died for our forgiveness.  And this takes away our sins and makes us neutral before the eyes of God.  Though we have sinned, accumulated so much debt before Him, mercy wipes all that debt away.  It is paid for.

But being neutral before God is not salvation.  Being neutral means “not hell,” but salvation is so much more than “not hell.”  Salvation is the blessings and gifts of an unfading inheritance, kept in heaven for us.  God’s faithfulness watching over our lives.  The hand of the Good Shepherd, guiding us to green pastures and still waters.  The gift of the Holy Spirit Himself to dwell in us.  God ACTS IN GRACE.

YAHWEH is merciful and gracious, slow to anger

We might be quick to sin, but our God is long-suffering.  His mercy looks upon our misery, and He shows mercy.  He does not destroy us.

A classic example of suffering in the Bible is the patriarch Job.  And some of us may feel, at times, that we are similar to him.  That God has turned His face against us, and has abandoned us.  Job even went further, and accused God of slaying Him.

But, do you remember how that verse in Job ends?  Job 13:15 → Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him.

Job still had hope, because he knew the character of His God.  He knew that YAHWEH was merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love.  He wasn’t seeing the evidence in his life, and so he mourned.  He complained.  He struggled.  But he did so, knowing that one day things would change, because God was faithful

And we have more evidence of this than Job.  We see how God has showed us His grace in an even more powerful way than Job.  Job’s life was completely changed. All that was taken from him was restored.  He ended up with more than he started with.  But so have we!

When we entered this world, we came in with nothing but the original sin that clung to us from Adam.  But our God has blessed us.  He publicly claimed us as His own in baptism.  Each week from this pulpit yet again, He gives you His promises of grace.  Job’s earthly blessings were taken away and then he was given more earthly blessings.

But for us...God took away our spiritual CURSES in Adam, and gave us spiritual BLESSINGS in Jesus Christ!

This is the character of our God.

Yahweh is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.

This is a wonderful, full, complete, and comforting Hebrew word - the steadfast love of God, the HESED of God.  This is the love that David desired to show to the family of Saul.  The HESED of God - It is kindness, it is love, but it has tied up in it the concepts of mercy and grace.  Of loyalty and goodness.  And it is always practical.  It is not a love to keep in the heart, but a love to share with those around you.

Our God is a God who acts.  He acts in grace.  And He acts in love.  Our final point.

Our God is a God who acts in love.

He is our Loving Father.  We can see this displayed wonderfully in verse 9

He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.

Chiding is what a parent does to a child.  And we can be thankful for this.  Look with me briefly about what is said in this verse

He will not always chide

This means, first of all, that He does chide sometimes.  The Lord disciplines those He loves.  For if God would simply let us go our own way, casually living in this world of sin, giving in to the things that hurt us, both now and eternally, He would not be a good father.  But He does chide us sometimes.

Secondly, this means that God is only chiding us, and not anything more.  Our Heavenly Father disciplines us, He does not punish us.  He does not punish us for our sins.  He does not repay us according to our iniquities.  For the punishment of sin is death.  And this is a punishment that Jesus Christ took upon Himself for our sake.  Our God leads and guides us THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death. He does not abandon us there, but keeps us close with His rod and His staff.

Thirdly, this chiding is only temporary.  We will not be disciplined by God forever.  But there will be a day when we will be perfectly obedient children, eating at the marriage feast of the lamb.

People of God, beloved, we sin greatly.  This is no question in our minds.  And what would seem to fit with our great sin is God’s great wrath.  Everlasting punishment.  But instead, what He gives us is great love!

As high as the heavens are above the earth, so GREAT is His steadfast love, His HESED, to those who fear Him.

If our sins be like mountains, then the love of our God will be like Noah’s flood.  God’s steadfast love covers over all of our sins.

Child of God.

Do not stay away from the table of the Lord because you are a sinner.

Do not doubt that you belong if this week you failed to serve God in the way that He has commanded.

But come to the table.  Come, those of you who are weary.  Come, those of you who are worn. Come, those of you who feel that God is silent.

Trust in His promises rather than in your perception.

Lift your eyes up, and focus on the God who made you.  Who formed you in your mother’s womb.  The God who died on the cross for you.

And the God who will, one day, welcome you into eternal, perfect fellowship with Him at His heavenly table.

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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