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Teaching the Awesomeness of God (Psalm 66) – A VBS closeout sermon June 29, 2008

Posted by roberttalley in Praise, Psalms, Religion, Sermons.
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TEACHING THE AWESOMENESS OF GOD

Psalm 66

 

We teach the awesomeness of God when we praise our God (verses 1-4, 8).

Praise is described (66:1).

Praise is described as a joyful shout (65:13 and 66:1a). This is the same type of noise that Israel was commanded to shout when they marched on the seventh day around Jericho.

Praise is described as a group activity (66:1b, see also verse 8). There are no solo parts in eternity. All praise and all prayer and all glory and all honor to God will be a group activity.

Praise is defined (66:2-4).

Praise is the glory of God (66:2). It may be in a musical form (verses 2 & 4) or it may be in the form of a prayer (verse 3) but whatever form the praise of God takes, it is the purpose for which we exist and when we do not praise the LORD, we have missed our true calling in this life.

Praise is submission to the awesomeness of God (verse 3). God is like a volcano that as the same time inspires awe when we see its power and causes fear when we realize that we are in the path of its force. When we praise God, we call attention to what He has done and what He can do and what He is now doing and what He will do. When we praise God, we are willingly submitting ourselves to Him.

We teach the awesomeness of God when we show (“Come and see!”, verse 5) His dealings with men (verses 5-12). One of the main differences between the awesome power of a volcano and the awesome power of God is that God consciously deals with humankind. The power of a volcano is unthinking, governed by the laws of nature, without intention, without any purpose that comes from the volcano itself. The power of God, however, is intentional. There is purpose behind His power.

His purposes include deliverance of His people from danger (verse 6, referring primarily to the parting of the Red Sea; and verse 9). Now it is wonderful that we see the awesomeness of God in creation but according to Romans 1 that is just enough knowledge to condemn us but not enough to save us.

“The earthquakes in New England occasioned a kind of religious panic. A writer, who was then one of the ministers of Boston, informs us, that immediately after the great earthquake, as it was called, a great number of his flock came and expressed a wish to unite themselves with the church. But, on conversing with them, he could find no evidence of improvement in their religious views or feelings, no convictions of their own sinfulness; nothing, in short, but a kind of superstitious fear, occasioned by a belief that the end of the world was at hand. All their replies proved that they had not found God, though they had seen the greatness of his power in the earthquake.” Edward Payson, D.D.

You see, although we can see God in creation, if we do not see God in the awesomeness of His dealings with men, we cannot understand His purposes. God chose an group of Jewish slaves and delivered them from Pharaoh for the purpose of displaying His power to save those on whom He shows His favor. The reason we tell during VBS the stories of God’s awesome power in creation and in the Old Testament narratives and in the works of Christ and even in the church in the New Testament is not because they are age appropriate but because they are the way that God has chosen to reveal Himself and if our children are ever going to learn the awesomeness and the majesty and the glory of God, they are going to learn it from the stories of God’s work that we tell them and from the praise that those stories evoke from our hearts.

His purposes include the revelation of His greatness in comparison with the rulers of this world (compare verse 7 with Revelation 1).

His purposes include the refining of His people to the point of abundance (verses 10-12; see also 23:5, “my cup runneth over”).

We teach the awesomeness of God when we turn to God in our troubles (verses 9-20). At the end of this psalm, we see that God’s deliverance is not only corporate (verses 8-12) but also individual (verses 13-20, especially verse 16, “Come and hear!”).

Just as we teach together through our praise of God, we teach individually through our thanksgiving to God (66:13-15). We give to Him of whatever it may be that we have in thanksgiving for how He has delivered us from our troubles in answer to our prayers.

Before thanksgiving comes dedication of our hearts and lives to God (verses 13,15). In the burnt offerings, we see his approach to the altar with the common and general sacrifice. Again, therefore, he says at the altar: I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings (#Ps 66:15). This is the general offering, brought from the best of his flock and herd. This is an offering of dedication, of submission to God.

Next, in his paying vows, we see he has brought his peace offerings with him. Then follow the peace offerings: “With the incense (fuming smoke) of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats.” The peace offering is a costly public confession of thanksgiving.

Rev. Daniel Baker’s Addresses to Young Men is quoted by Spurgeon as saying, “It is a bad fireplace where all the heat goes up the chimney: true religion spreads joy over all around. Yet the fire warms first the chimney in which it burns, and grace comforts the heart in which it dwells. Nobody will be warmed by a cold hearth.”

We teach what it means to have a relationship with God (66:16-20).

This passage implies what had to proceed both the burnt offering and the peace offering, that is, the sin offering. Of course, the sin offering is what we most often think about as Christians when we think of a blood sacrifice and it is the primary picture that we have of the sacrifice that Christ paid for us on the cross. He died as the sacrifice for my sin. That is what we will celebrate next week during the Lord’s Table. Christ paying the penalty for my sin. This is beautifully expressed in two songs that are in our hymnbook.

“He Lifted Me” (verse 1)

“In lovingkindness, Jesus came. My soul in mercy to reclaim; And from the depths of sin and shame, Through grace He lifted me!”

Love Lifted Me (verse 1)

“I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore. Very deeply stained with sin, sinking to rise no more. But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry, from the waters lifted me, now safe am I.”

How did He lift me from sin? By dying for my sin that I might have salvation. In the same way, God will not accept your dedication until your sin problem is taken care of, there is not true thanksgiving if you are not holy before God both in relationship and in life.

Confess yourself a sinner before God.

Submit yourself to His will.

Thank Him and praise Him before all.

In doing these things you and I can teach to others the awesomeness of God.

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