Going Out With Good News – Psalm 96

cut outWould you say that the world is fair? If you lived in my house, you would hear that it is not. One slice of pizza is bigger than another, and it is not fair. Kids have go to bed before the grown ups, and it is not fair – for the grown ups, that is. The world is not fair. For example, some men are balding, while others enjoy a full head of hair. It is not fair

In fact, I heard a story of a father of a bride who was balding and felt insecure about it. On the wedding day, everything went well. Nevertheless, the father of the bride was self-conscious and thought that everyone must have seen his toupee. The next day, his youngest daughter saw his worried look and said: What is the matter, daddy? Why are you looking so worried? He said: I am not really worried, its just that I am sure everyone yesterday saw that I was wearing a wig. The daughter replied: No they did not, daddy. No one that I told knew you were wearing a wig[1]

The world is not fair. We see unnecessary injustices. We see bad things happen to good people, and it is just not fair. And we wonder why. We wonder where God is in the world. It seems like God is either not good or not powerful enough to do something about the world – or we simply perceive Him as not being fair.

This week is the 1st week of the church season of Lent, where we prepare ourselves and reflect on the death and sacrifice of JC. It is a season where many either take something out of their life to help them focus on the cross, or they add a spiritual discipline as an act of faith. Last week we concluded the season of Epiphany, where we were looking at the different aspects of what we do in a worship gathering. Today I would like to look at Psalm 96, and use it as a sort of bridge from Epiphany to Lent. We will ask the question: Why do we end our worship gatherings w/ a parting blessing? This will lead us into our theme for Lent of service and outreach. So grab a Bible and turn to Psalm 96.

 

Text

Psalm 96 is a Psalm about the Kingship of God. One commentator summarized it by saying that the psalmist calls all the earth to declare Gods excellence. He then encourages Israel to tell the surrounding nations and world of Gods worthiness, which will draw them to worship the true God. The psalmist concludes by describing the earth’s joyous anticipation of Gods rule over everything.[2] It is a beautiful Psalm. As we read this Psalm ask yourself: HOW IS GOD DESCRIBED? AND WHAT SHALL WE DO?

1 Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. 3 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. 4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. 5 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. 6 Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. 7 Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 8 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. 9 Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. 10 Say among the nations: The Lord reigns. The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. 11 Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. 12 Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. 13 Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness.

HOW IS GOD DESCRIBED? He is described in multiple ways in this Psalm. In v. 2, we see that He is the source of salvation. He is a rescuer. This is good news to those of us who feel trapped or stuck. Whether in this life or the next, He is the one who sets us free. v. 3 tells us that God is the doer of marvelous things. This verse tells us He not only does great things, but also does these things AMONG His people. He is Immanuel, God WITH us, moving greatly on our behalf. In other words, He is good. b/c of this, we declare in v. 4 that God is Great and worthy of praise. He deserves our praise, b/c of who He is and what He does. He is not only good and moving among us, but v. 5 shows us that He is also the maker of the heavens. He is great, and immense, and moving in the cosmos. In other words He is powerful. So we agree w/ v. 6, that He is full of splendor, glory, and strength. And in v. 10, the Psalmist tells us that God is a fair judge. In fact, the psalmist is actually looking forward to Gods judgment. Ever heard that before? Why would we look forward to Gods judgment? We look forward to it, b/c we know that God is both good and powerful. So we can know that when God judges it will be right and fair.[3] In a messed up world, w/ unfairness and sadness, illness and brokenness, we can be confident that this good and powerful God WILL make things right, in love. And to me, that is the Good news – that this powerful and good God reigns, and the world is secure, that God is good and powerful, and judges fairly.

SO WHAT SHALL WE DO? vs. 1-2, call us to praise Him. b/c He is good and does great things, v. 9 similarly encourages us to worship Him and praise Him for all He is and does. vs. 7-8 in the NLT tells us to: Recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong. Give to the Lord the glory he deserves! But we are not called to that alone. v. 3 encourages us to proclaim His glory to the nations, to let those around us know of the cool things God is up to. In v. 10, we are to proclaim that the Lord reigns, to let our friends and neighbors know that the world is secure in His power, and that God is good and will make things right in His goodness. And to rejoice, as v. 13 says, that the Lord comes to judge w/ fairness, to celebrate that fact that God is good and fair. Simply put we are to proclaim and live our lives in a manner that displays the greatness and goodness of God, to live out His good news

 

Today

But if we are honest w/ ourselves, this is easier said than done. It is real easy say that God is fair and good and strong, but there are days when it sure does not feel that way. It feels like a pat answer in the face of loved ones suffering from cancer. It feels like an impotent encouragement in the midst of abusive relationships. It feels inauthentic to those living w/ injustice. Sometimes it feels like God is either not good or not powerful enough to do anything about the things we face. Sometimes it feels like He is not fair, life is not fair

Sometimes we feel like the offensive lineman who was playing for the Green Bay Packers under the famous coach Vince Lombardi. During one practice session, things were not going well. Lombardi singled out one big offensive lineman for his failure to put out. It was a hot and muggy day when the coach called his guard aside and laid into him w/ his awesome voice Lombardi said: Son, you are a lousy football player. You are not blocking, you are not tackling, and you are not putting out. As a matter of fact, it’s all over for you today, go take a shower. The big guard dropped his head and walked into the dressing room. 45 minutes later, when Lombardi walked in, he saw the big guard sitting in front of his locker still wearing his uniform. His head was bowed and he was sobbing quietly. Vince Lombardi, always the flexible but always the compassionate warrior, did a 180 and walked over to his football player, and put his arms around his shoulder. Lombardi said: Son, I told you the truth. You are a lousy football player. You are not blocking, you are not tackling, and you are not putting out. However, in all fairness to you, I should have finished the story. Inside of you, son, there is a great football player, and I am going to stick by your side until the great football player inside of you has a chance to come out and assert himself. With these words, Jerry Kramer straightened up and felt a great deal better. Kramer went on to become a 5 time pro-bowler and one of the all-time greats in football. He was voted the all-time guard in the first 50 years of professional football.[4] Sometimes we feel like Jerry Kramer exiting the field that day. Life has beaten us down, or we are in a discouraging season, and it feels unfair. But that is not the end of the story.

We serve the God who is w/ us, who sticks w/ us and is coming to make things right. And whether it is in this life or the next, we will experience the healing we pray for, the freedom we crave, and the rightness promised to us. The good news is that the Lord reigns and the world is secure. The good news is that God IS good. The good news is that God IS powerful, and He WILL judges fairly, and make things right. And in the mean time, He empowers us. He empowers us w/ courage and strength to make it through. b/c He is good and powerful, we can overcome b/c of our faith in His sovereignty.

In the season of Epiphany we celebrate Gods presence among us. And now that messiah has come, we are called to worship Him. And so, we fellowship together to celebrate that He is here. We offer prayers and songs, b/c we acknowledge that He is to source of life and the object of our focus. We study His word together so that we might be reminded and encouraged by His person and work. We take the Lords Supper so that we might retell the story again and again of His redemption. And we leave w/ a parting blessing b/c we are charged to leave these walls and tell the world of His greatness and His goodness – to tell those around us that there is a God who cares, that there is a God who is good, to tell the world that our God is with us and bringing redemption. When we stand and receive a parting blessing we posture ourselves as being sent. We have good news to share, and good news to live out, that God IS good, and God IS great. When we stand together to receive the blessing, we do so in unity. We declare that we are not alone in this calling, but are sent together w/ this common mission.

My friends, we serve a great good, a good God. So my prayer for us is that we would live into this reality, that we would live confident lives that display His sovereignty, and that we would always be telling those around us, Christian or non-Christian, of the cool things He is doing. Lets proclaim His greatness to the world!

 

Amen.

[1] http://www.smalleymarriage.com

[2] Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 96:1–13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 96:11–13). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[4] http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-steve-ely-stories-encouragement-69174.asp

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