by LA UBF   11/23/2011     0 reads




Psalm 65

Key Verses 3-4

"When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions. Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple."

Happy Thanksgiving! You might be wondering why this was chosen as the Thanksgiving message for today when the word 'thanks' is not even mentioned in the passage. I don't know why it was chosen. I simply followed the Daily Bread schedule. But as we look at this passage we can find important works of God to be thankful for everyday. At thanksgiving we spend the time sharing the good things of our houses with family and friends and even here today at this house and spiritual family. In the key verse it says that God fills us with the good things of his house. 

This passage is a good follow up to our previous Sunday message on Colossians 3. In his message, M. Isaac pointed out that the foundation of our thanksgiving is the life in the Lord. 

Colossians 3:1-4 say,

[1] Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. [2] Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. [3] For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. [4] When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

We believe that by faith we died with Jesus. And Colossians says that we have been raised with him, our life is hidden (kept secured) in him, and he, in fact, is our life and will appear with glory. This is the reality. Did you understand that you have already been raised with Christ, so that the power of his resurrection is working now in and through you? Since our life is already at the highest point, we have to just live up to it.

Today's passage tells us how we came into that blessed life. It is like the inner workings of that foundation. What is it? Let's look at verses 1-4.

1 Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; 

   to you our vows will be fulfilled. 

2 O you who hear prayer, 

   to you all men will come. 

3 When we were overwhelmed by sins, 

   you forgave our transgressions. 

4 Blessed are those you choose 

   and bring near to live in your courts! 

We are filled with the good things of your house, 

   of your holy temple.

He begins by giving the direction to praise God, for he is worthy of praise, and for all the people to keep their vows to him. Then verses 2-4 tell us why he is worthy, what he's done for us. He hears the prayers of all people (2), forgives sins (3), and then bring us into the life with him, represented by living in his house and being filled with the good things of his house.

Notice the progression. He hears prayers, forgives sins, and then brings into his house, sharing all the good things of his house. This tells us of a God who listens and is mindful when we go to him, who is merciful and forgiving, and who blesses with what is truly blessed and good--he gives himself. He brings into his house and shares everything with us. It is the life in Jesus. 

Don't you enjoy when someone shares and fills you with the good things of their house? How many here have been invited to M. Mari and Terry's house? Didn't they fill you with good food, prayer support, and the love of their wonderful sons? How good was it? I missed my turn because I was out of town for a business trip, but Cari went with the kids and I felt filled with the good things of their house just from hearing from all of them how it went. So I felt like I didn't miss anything. I remember when several growing disciples were baptized in William's pool. And we like to give from our house too. My father in law gave m money to buy a grill. So at Cari's suggestion, I gathered our fellowship members and a few others for BBQ. And it made me very happy to do so. And I can't wait to do it again.

Living in God's house means being made part of his family. It refers to the life in Jesus. What are the good things of his house? The worship based on Colossians talked about it. He gives us life in Christ, and not just any life, but eternal life. And that life is hidden (kept secure) in Christ while we wait for his return. He fills us with the power of his resurrection. He fills and shares his glory. In so doing, he sets us free from our earthly nature, from immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language. He fills us with his love and righteousness and holiness, and peace and his Holy Spirit so that we don't have to go to a physical house to enjoy these things from him, but in bringing us into the life with him he fills us with his Holy Spirit and makes his home in us. 

This is possible because he first forgave our sins. I made a long list of thanks topics for this year, and I hope all of you did too. But today's passage filled me with thanks for something I took for granted, and that is that he forgave my sins. In forgiving my sins, he opened the way to bring me near and to have life in him. This is our great thanks topic. It is the focus of this psalm. He forgave our sins and brings into the life with him. All the other things mentioned, such as verses 9-13, are what follows. 

I hope you also have being doing the daily bread recently. The passages from Luke's gospel from Monday and Tuesday really drove this message home in my heart.

In Luke 5:17-26, Jesus heals a paralytic. Let's think about this event by reading the verses: Luke 5:17-20.

[17] One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. [18] Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. [19] When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. [20] When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”

It was a big event. And these men had faith, Jesus acknowledged that. And their was seen through them making such a great effort to bring their paralyzed friend before Jesus, literally right in front of him. And what did Jesus say when he saw their faith, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." It means that to Jesus this is what was best to give that man to honor their faith. Do you think this was what these four friends were expecting? Put yourself in their shoes. Maybe their heard Jesus' words, "Friend, your sins are forgiven," and then were waiting for him to fishing, thinking, "…And???" 

Usually, when we study this passage, we come to the conclusion and say, sin forgiveness is greater or more important than even physical healing. This is what the Bible says and it is true. But how much do we really understand this truth? I realized that I did not understand it much at all. What does it really mean that sin forgiveness is the better blessing, especially in this case? A paralyzed man is so pathetic. He can't do anything like a normal person. He can't even get up to use the bathroom. It's too sad. And this is why such an event brings out how valuable sin forgiveness is. At that moment, Jesus said, "Your sins are forgiven," and stopped there. 

Put yourself now, not in the shoes, but on the mat, of the paralyzed man. What kind of thoughts or expectations might you have had when your four friends picked you up and carried you to Jesus whom everyone heard was doing many miracles, teaching the word of God, and healing the sick? What might have gone through his mind as he was being lowered, a thought passing by with each sway, his breath getting shorter and faster. Then, when in front of Jesus, seeing him face to face, he says, "Friend, your sins are forgiven." 

How do those words sound to you? Would you be filled with heavenly joy and thanks? Would you feel the relief of the burden of sin being rolled away? I asked myself these questions. And I was challenged because this is what Jesus did for this man when he saw their faith. But I honestly can't answer. I've never been remotely like a paralytic physically. But I am a sinner. I know this full well (and you all know it too). And as I think on it now, it gives me great joy and peace inside. And that paralytic was physically healed too, but first Jesus put the joy and peace of sin forgiveness, of God's love and mercy, in his heart first. And then he gave him a physically healing due to the Pharisees. So it was good they were there too. It helped me to set aside all other expectations or wants I have, and simply be thankful that he forgave my sins.

Jesus died and rose again to save people from their sins. And he blesses us by then bringing into God's house and into the life in him. Verse 3 says, "When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions." They sinned so much that they were overwhelmed by them. That's how bad things got. Even one sin can overwhelm us, condemning us. Sometimes just one sin makes me want to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Sometimes I yell too much at home and am harsh. And sometimes I apologize. Noah has said many times, "It's okay, Daddy. You're tired from work." But it's not an excuse. God is "slow to anger and abounding in love," but I am often quick to anger. So it's striking to me here he says, overwhelmed by "sins"! And at that time God forgave them. So although we have so many things to be thankful for today, in our families and in this ministry here, we can all be thankful that we have life in Jesus, brought to him because he forgave our sins. God is worthy of our praise and thanks because of this. Since he has done this, he brought us into the life in him.

And then think about what Jesus did next in Luke 5, after healing the paralytic. He called a tax collector named Levi. Everyone had come out to see Jesus, but one man did not. Levi. He was still sitting at his tax booth. And no one wanted to be with him, especially at his tax booth. But Jesus went out and saw him, and then said to him, "Follow me." He invited Levi into the fellowship with him. And what happened to Levi? He got up, left everything and follow Jesus. He became one of the 12 apostles, also called Matthew, who wrote Matthew's gospel. Levi shows the blessing and change of the life in Jesus. Completely different. He used to take from others. Then he became a person who gives the gospel message to many and who brings many to God. Thanks to God that he calls us as his servants. So then we can set aside our expectations and give thanks to God for forgiving our sins and bringing into his house and enabling us to live for him and give the gospel message to many. 

Again, verse 4 says, "Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple." 

Next, let's read verses 5-8. 

 5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, 

   O God our Savior, 

the hope of all the ends of the earth 

   and of the farthest seas, 

6 who formed the mountains by your power, 

   having armed yourself with strength, 

7 who stilled the roaring of the seas, 

   the roaring of their waves, 

   and the turmoil of the nations. 

8 Those living far away fear your wonders; 

   where morning dawns and evening fades 

   you call forth songs of joy.

God, who forgives our sins, is our Savior and he is the Creator of the earth. It is amazing to think that the Creator is mindful of us to hear our prayer, to forgive our sin and bring us into the life with him. Have you thought about why God is mindful of you? It might be something if a professor is mindful of a particular student. This reminds me of something M. Isaac said to me a long time ago. He came up to me, paused, looked at me, and said, "I don't know why Mother Barry pays attention to you." It struck me because I immediately thought, "Yeah, right, I don't know either!" (And apparently others also didn't and complained to M. Matthew.) But Jesus, the Lord, the Creator, pays attention. He hears our prayers. He saves us. He calls us to be with him. How much more amazing is it to see that he answers with awesome deeds of righteousness as the Creator, although we are sinners? 

When someone sins against us, we think it's too hard to forgive them, especially if they do it more than once or twice. Once, King David asked the question, " 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (Psalm 8:3-4). David was Israel's golden king. But he was also a terrible sinner. He committed adultery with the wife of one of his most loyal soldiers, and then later murdered him to cover it up. But David repented and prayed. And the Lord forgave him so that the Christ, the Messiah, came from David. 

In this way, he is called here the "hope of all the earth and of the farthest seas" (5). God wants to save all people for they're his. And this is a great thanks topic because he is holy and not a sinner like us. Why should he forgive us? Why should Jesus die for us? It is his mercy and love. Did he go to Levi and say, "Levi, you rotten tax collector. What are you doing?" Instead, he said, "Follow me." And Levi got the message. He repented right away, got up, and left everything and followed Jesus. 

Lastly, he provides for us. Let's read verses 9-13.

 9 You care for the land and water it; 

   you enrich it abundantly. 

The streams of God are filled with water 

   to provide the people with grain, 

   for so you have ordained it.[c] 

10 You drench its furrows 

   and level its ridges; 

you soften it with showers 

   and bless its crops. 

11 You crown the year with your bounty, 

   and your carts overflow with abundance. 

12 The grasslands of the desert overflow; 

   the hills are clothed with gladness. 

13 The meadows are covered with flocks 

   and the valleys are mantled with grain; 

   they shout for joy and sing.

God makes and shapes the land all for the purpose of providing for his children. Notice how many times he says, "You". You do this…and you do that… all of the natural things are meant to serve people. ANd he does this so his people can come to him and live. 

Two words stands out in these verses: "abundantly" and "abundance". His mercy and provision are abundant. One thing I am very thankful for is seeing our Downey ministry abundant with children. We overflow with kids now. How many babies were born this year? (Joseph and Becky's baby girl; John and Providence's son, Daniel; William and Sarah's daughter, Miah). This is wonderful because we live in a time where people are thinking about money and careers and other such concerns and not having kids. And in many countries the birth rate is drastically declining. 

We have many more thanks topics for our ministry this year. 

1. The CBF and JBF ministries are getting more organized and improving

2. Establishing families by faith in God and for his purpose; Roman and Lani

3. New discipleship groups going on. It's very wonderful to see new people doing something. 

Thanks to God for his daily provisions for us and mercy in abundance. 

Let's look back at verse 1. "Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled." We can show our thanks to God and be faithful to him. 

Thinking about Thanksgiving as a national holiday, we remember the pilgrims in 1621. M. Isaac mentioned Abraham Lincoln, but the nation has been celebrating since the time of the pilgrims. At that time they fled from England to be free to worship God, without being under the regulations and control of the King of England who was also the head of the church. They came to worship. And they prayed for God's help because they didn't know how to eat and they believed God answered their prayers through the help of the Indians. Now we also have the prayer topic to restore the worship of God in this country and lead many to worship him in other countries. We seem to be doing the opposite of the pilgrims. Rather than going to places where we are free to worship, we are sending people to places where Jesus is not worshiped and known and we are proclaiming the good news and leading others to worship. So let's pray according to God's grace and provision for becoming a ministry that sends out and gives. Let's pray we may send pioneers from among us to all over the world. 

This passage helped me to see how blessed I am through life in the Lord. I especially see that my great thanks topic is that he had mercy on me, heard my cry and forgave my sins, and brought me into the life with him, sharing all the good things of his house. This exposed my heart which was filled with covetous desires which were working like a sickness in me, making me feel sorry for myself and not giving my heart to fully serve the Lord. I really wanted to find a way to make more money, but felt so condemned when I couldn't. And I was so busy to serve the Lord. I became somewhat depressed. But I am truly thankful that he gave me strength and helped me so that I didn't stop my duties in the Lord. And I am thankful that he provided everything my family needs every day. 

God is worthy of praise. He hears prayer and all can come to him. He forgives our sins and brings us into the life with him.