September 23, 2012

Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah

The Devil wants to oppress man and make him an animal; God wants to rescue His people and free them from all external and internal oppression.

Scripture: Psalm 77

Sermon Notes:

  1. This Psalm speaks wisdom for times of trouble and distress.
  2. Jesus Himself faced distress through prayer (Heb. 4:7-8).
  3. As the dominant cultural philosophy becomes cynicism, Christianity is increasingly persecuted.
  4. The Greek Cynic had little faith in human sincerity; he despised all comfort and security, seeking to live 'naturally' as a virtue. He believed that the earth belonged equally to all, and that social conventions were the source of human misery.
  5. Cynicism became extinct as Christianity spread in the Roman empire, bestowing dignity to man as God's image bearer.
  6. Today cynics are promoting a) the equality of all sexual choices to young children; b) abortion of pre-born girls as support for woman's equality and sexual freedom; c) environmentalism to bring man into a state of nature, and to bring advanced countries down to par with developing countries, and d) a view that man is no more than an animal.
  7. Our culture has thus embraced cynicism about questions of what humans are and what the good life entails.
  8. There is a fifth form of pragmatic cynicism, which entails avarice and careerism: the desire to pursue wealth and comfort for their own sake.
  9. These cynics refuse to consider the benefits of life under God and how we could pursue the God-blessed life.
  10. There's no area of life which God doesn't speak to and which won't be transformed when you bring it into submission to God: culture, education, work, family, etc.
  11. Because the Christian worldview is being eclipsed, we are seeing an increasingly dark world. However, Jesus has won the victory. The night is always darkest before the dawn.
  12. God is actively engaged in redeeming the world, and we are to be busy about that work in our respective callings.
  13. We need to start with God in seeking solutions.
  14. God is the God who hears (v. 1). We can resist comfort (v. 2) but God won't leave us.
  15. God is distant and absent (v. 5) when the psalmist is self-focused (v. 6); he wasn't looking to the God who is near.
  16. In verse 10 the psalmist appeals to God's power to act.
  17. God is merciful to sinners; this is consistent with His unchanging nature.
  18. After verse 9, in the Lord's strength, the psalmist is full of light and strength.
  19. God is not a theological concept; He's the One who acts in history.
  20. In verses 16-20, we have a scene of transport, portraying the great clash between the Creator and the forces of chaos which oppose His righteous rule, the “turbulent waters” (cf. Psalm 2).
  21. The Devil wants to oppress man and make him an animal; God wants to rescue His people and free them from all external and internal oppression.
  22. God's character is honoured as the people of God live in accordance with it.
  23. It is the unseen footprints of our God that lead us into the promised land.
  24. He who called us is faithful. He will surely do it (1 Thess. 5:24).

Application Questions:

  1. How does Hebrews 4:7-8 comfort us when facing trouble?
  2. What is cynicism? How does our culture reflect cynicism?
  3. What kind of cynicism is a particular temptation for Christians?
  4. What approach to distress led the psalmist to despair? What approach leads to victory and exaltation?
  5. Do we act in our workplace as if the chief end of our work is to glorify God? How can we improve in this area?
  6. How does God's vision for His creation and our lives contrast with that of the cynic?
  7. Are we honouring our God by living in accordance with His character?
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