Lectionary Year B
March 9, 2003
Step VI - Contemporary Address
(JFC) This Psalm might provide some faith data for preachers and auditors to face the
past momentarily and honestly, to appreciate the present in God's presence and to venture with God's teachings on into the future with peace and courage.
B. Describing the Audience
(JFC) Any congregation insecure in these strategic days when war threatens (2/03)
could conceivably find some hope for facing the realities of the past, the present and the future, all in God's care and sustaining.
(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "God's Promised Presence in the
Past, the Present and the Future"
The 25th Psalmist knew he had a past he wanted to live beyond. He sensed he had a present moment in which he could pray to God. His prayer included some future hopes.
I. God and Sinfulness
A. God also knew the Psalmist had a past. God understood how the Psalmist wanted to leave his past, his youthful mistakes, etc. He had sinned back then and there. God well recalled the Psalmist's past sinfulness, to be sure. God remembers ours, as well. You know what sin is in the Bible. It's called in Judges 20:16 and Proverbs 19:2, "missing the mark". That's one of the classical definitions of sinning. We aim to do right yet we miss the target. We do the wrong we wish not to do, as Paul writes in Romans 7:18ff.
B. And, God can forget and forgive our sinfulness, as Exodus 34:6f, Job 7:21 and I Kings 8:50, Isaiah 43:25 and Jeremiah 31:34 tell us. In the New Testament, perhaps the best passage is Jesus' saying in Mark 10:45, when we translate, avnti. pollw/n, "for all people".
II. God Can Be Trusted and Praised
A. Trusting, xj;b', God is one favorite indoor sport of believers, especially in days when secular/political leaders prove less than trustworthy. Wendell Berry had an article in the Sunday New York Times a few weeks ago, pointing out the absurdity of our national administration's trying to make peace by going to war. God is more trustworthy.
B. When the Psalmist states he "lifts up his soul to God" he means he praises/worships God. We do that weekly here in God's House with God's people and by God's Spirit's leading us to do it. Refer to Luke 4:8 and John 4:23.
III. God Teaches, Leads and Saves
A. God teaches and leads us. See Exodus 33:13, Acts 2:28 and John 14:26. By telling us divine commandments and decrees and by showing us an example in Jesus of Nazareth, God is our teacher and leader, supreme. God wants to teach and lead all, Psalm 25:22.
B. God saves us, for, as the Psalmist says, "You are the God of my salvation". Saving us, delivering us from trouble, assuring us of eternal bliss is what God does. It's God's main job. And, God accomplishes that job for everyone, for, as Ecclesiastes 9:4 states, in a paraphrase, "When we realize we are joined with all the living (and, I must add, as a New Testament believer, 'with the dead, too') we have hope." Hope sustains us unto eternity.
Viktor E. Frankl (1905-1997), a Psychiatrist and Auschwitz survivor, says, "Everything can be taken from a man but...the last of human freedoms--to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Well, maybe. However, a better bet is to let God remember us more than our sinfulness, to let God teach, lead and save us. We can trust and praise such a God. Psalm 25 says we can.
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