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How Great Thou Art

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
July 5, 2021 2:00 am

How Great Thou Art

Growing in Grace / Doug Agnew

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July 5, 2021 2:00 am

Listen as Pastor John Jackson preaches message called -How Great Thou Art- from Malachi 1-1-5. For more information about Grace Church, please visit www.graceharrisburg.org

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I'll be reading tonight from the book of Malachi, chapter 1, verses 1 through 5.

It's a whole lot shorter than the book of Ruth chapters. Hear the reading of God's Word and may it be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. An oracle, the word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi. I have loved you, says the Lord, but you ask, how have you loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother, the Lord says?

Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals. Edom may say, though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins. But this is what the Lord says, they may build, but I will demolish.

They will be called the wicked land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord. You will see it with your own eyes and say, great is the Lord, even beyond the borders of Israel. Let us pray. Dear Heavenly Father, we stand to honor and glorify you in your word.

We pray even now that it would be effectual in our hearts. We pray, Holy Spirit, that you would not only speak through me, but through the proclamation of your word to each one of us showing us our great need and your love in Christ who met our needs by giving himself up for us and transferring his righteousness to our accounts that we might not only glorify you in our everyday lives, Father, but as we proclaim the gospel, other people would hear the good news and hopefully be saved before Jesus comes again. Lord, bless the ministry of your word in our hearts, we pray in Jesus' name, amen. You may be seated.

You've heard of the wedding singer? Well, I'm the holiday preacher. It seems the last time I preached was on the PM service on Easter. So I take it as a great opportunity and a blessing that I can come to you all again this evening. It's good to see so many of us here this 4th of July night that you have all joined together with the saints to worship our God. To be honest, I've seen personally in my own life some incredible fireworks, but given the choice, I don't know if you all know it, seven years, you know, the Sabbath is on, or 4th of July is on the Sabbath, so it was seven years ago. If it was left up to me and I had the choice between going to a celebration on 4th of July or coming to church, I would much rather be here worshiping the Lord with you all.

So it's a blessing. It's all to say that I love to read God's word. I love to study his word.

I love to sing psalms, hymns, praise songs. I love to worship the Lord, and I love the koinonia through the Holy Spirit, the fellowship of believers. But I must say there that sometimes I'm half-hearted in my worship. Referring to Doug's sermon this morning, I praise God that he has not left me alone, but he convicts me of my sin. The Israelites back in those days in the post-exilic times were half-hearted in their worship as well. After the return, God called them on their half-hearted worship.

When I think of his holding them accountable, I was reading, before Doug even asked me, I was reading and going through the book of Leviticus, and I was convicted in my heart of my sacrifice of praise, so to speak. Doug, a while back, he asked us if you like to hold out your hands for the benediction. I was convicted that I don't raise my hands in praise. Why don't we? Because we're Presbyterians, that we don't raise our hands in heaven.

Thank you for bearing with me. I guess I'm like one of those prophets that cries, and I really don't know why. In heaven, with all of our being, we are going to praise God.

There will be nothing that can hold our hands down. If everyone's going to be casting their crowns, our whole being is going to be given to worshiping our God and our Savior. I hope you look forward to that, and I hope as a result of this sermon, you might even consider raising your hands in praise. A long time ago, a minister who made a great impact on my life, he raised his hands during the doxology in their service of worship, and he explained that he raises his hands because it's a sign of surrender. Just like in the ancient Near Eastern pictographs, the people who come before the king have their hands raised, and actually, in one hand, they also have their wallets.

They're all in all. May we give him our all in all, and may he convict our hearts as we go through the book of Malachi. Half-hearted worship is just one of the issues in the book of Malachi.

There are others. There's tithing. Most people know the book of Malachi from those verses that speak about the storehouse and tithing and giving unto the Lord, but there's also texts that have to do with marriage. Gentlemen, if you're feeling like your prayers are hitting the ceiling, then maybe it's reflective of the fact you're not loving your wives. That's what we're going to hear about in the book of Malachi.

May God convict us. I hope that ultimately you'll stick with me as we go through the book and this being our beginning and that Malachi will become a treasure trove for you. You won't read through it any longer without remembering the structure, the rhetorical disputations, the topics that I've just mentioned, and even in its placement, the last call of the word of the Lord through the prophet Malachi before 400 years of silence. Kind of like between the 6th and the 7th seals, there was a period of silence before the day of the Lord, the great day of the coming of the Lord. Malachi has become one of my favorite books, and I hope it will be for you as well. Let me give you a little bit of background just to set the stage and the context for the book.

If I don't do it now, then some of these things are going to be a little out of sync and it's not going to really strike home hopefully. There are four chapters in the book of Malachi in English. In Hebrew, there's only three.

Well, that's interesting. There's 55 verses out of those three chapters in Hebrew, and 49 out of those 55 mention the Lord, the Lord Almighty, the Lord of hosts. As well, the book of Malachi could be described as probably one of the most orderly books of the whole Bible. It's broken down, and this is the way I'm going to go through them in the next series. It's broken down into what we call rhetorical disputations.

What do I mean by that? A rhetorical disputation is a form of structure and outline that you can see in the text that is making a point. So there's essentially six issues, topics, formed in an ABC, CBA, chiastic format so that we can understand specifically what God or what issues, what topics he's addressing. So it's kind of hard to get lost in the book when you break it down. Now, you might not see that if you don't read the introductions in your Bibles, and some of your Bibles don't even talk about the disputations.

But as I go through it, hopefully you'll be blessed as a result of it. Those points of a disputation are four. There's an assertion, and this is going to be my four points of our sermon tonight. There's an assertion, that is, what the Lord is saying, an objection by the people, or if you're reading in your English versions, it might say, how can you say? So there's an objection to the assertion, like in our text, the first assertion is, I have loved you. The objection is, how have you loved us? And then the response by God is a clarification, and then finally, there's an implication or a summary statement wrapping it all up.

So those are the four points of a disputation. This was written during a post-exile period. Most of us not only have not ever read or heard the book of Malachi preached or studied it in a Bible study.

We really don't know much about the post-exilic period, personally. There's a lot to be said about it, and it's really interesting to start learning about that time of the return from exile and the building of the kingdom and the hesitations, the complacency and the apathy, which we're gonna talk about. But then there's also the intertestamental period that the Maccabean kings and the Hasmoneans, and there's just so much that we don't ever hear about in the intertestamental period that leads up to the fullness of time when God sent one to come to this world to redeem us. So this is really a prelude to the coming of Christ, setting the stage for the environment and the hearts, helping us to understand Israel of who we are. Just as God was speaking to Israel then, he's speaking to Israel now today. Malachi is just as applicable then, I mean today, as it was then, because we, through faith in Jesus Christ or Abraham's seed, we are true Israel. So the whole point of the book of Malachi, if I was to summarize it, would be in a time of spiritual disillusionment because of their circumstances, Israel has grown weary of God.

She's grown weary and has stopped upholding the law. So Malachi, God through Malachi is speaking and proclaiming a wake-up call to their lethargy, their spiritual apathy. Doesn't it sound like us today?

It might. It might represent the struggles of the church in the 21st century in our culture. The PCA General Assembly just this past week, if you read Eugene's letter, there's issues having to do with the revoice movement and that's seeping into the PCA. This is a reformed church. Now they're dealing with it but yet it's hard-pressing the church. There's other issues that are hard-pressing against the church to compromise. We all face that in our daily lives.

Just as they had turned away and had become complacent and were compromising, we as well are tempted to do the same. So what is the point of our text today? Chapter one, verses one through five. When times are hard, we need to remember God's love to his people. As the psalmist said, it's in remembering what God's mighty acts are and what he's done for us.

Keeping Christ is the sign in the forefront of our minds, the cross, that we coming to church and worshiping rather than participating and giving ourselves over to the ways of the culture, we remember and we'll stay faithful. Our assertion, point number one, is God loves us. The scriptures say, I have loved you, says the Lord. In Hebrew, it's interesting that it's different than English and that verbs don't have tenses like we read into them.

We have a past, we have a present, we have a future, but they have a verb with aspects and voices that you add onto it. That doesn't mean much to y'all, but it does mean something when you look at different versions of the Bible. In different versions of the Bible, you might read something to the effect of what the ESV says, I have loved you.

Is that what it says? And then some might say, some versions of the Bible might say, I love you. I have loved you.

I love you. And then of all texts, the Good News Bible, a lot of us don't like reading it because it's such an interpretation of the Old Testament. It's probably the most accurate, the Good News Bible of all. It says, I have always loved you. So the beginning, the first disputation begins with this assertion by God, I have always loved you, speaking to his people who have become placent are in Israel after the return from exile. I have loved you. Jeremiah 31 says, I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with loving kindness. God has drawn us with his love. If God loves us, everything flows from it. His care, his protection, his concern. He will do everything that we need, not always what we want, but he'll console us in our grief. He'll be faithful to us in hard times. He'll honor his word to us. His promises will never fail because he makes them come into being. He will redeem his beloved and make sure that she is with him at the marriage feast of the Lamb. While we might turn away, we might falter and stumble, God who loves us, who has always loved us, has never been unfaithful to his promises and he will remain faithful to the very end and make sure that his beloved is at the table. Don't you look forward to that final day when we can be with him forever and ever at the marriage supper, the feast of the Lamb. We see this in the Bible that God loves us.

We see it from the very beginning. Out of love, he created the world and he made Adam and Eve to be the crown of his creation. God didn't do it because his love was insufficient, not as if he needed someone to love. He was complete in his triune persons. God was complete in his triuneness. We were made though as an expression of his love, to receive his love, to be free in our being, to walk and to talk with God in the garden in the beginning.

And if Adam and Eve had not failed, then that cultural mandate to fill the earth, the garden would have expanded and filled the earth and we would still be walking and talking with God. But God demonstrated his love for us that even when we sinned against him, he sent his son Christ to die for us. Even though we broke the covenant and have disobeyed God and turned to another lover as the book of Hosea paints the picture, God has remained faithful to his bride from the very beginning. God came down.

He gave himself up. He forgave us in order that we might be with him forever, that we might be reinstated, that we might be made sons of God as he originally planned from the beginning. We also know that God's love is true because the Holy Spirit convicts us of it. Not only is it in the word, but the Holy Spirit convicts us.

He shed his love abroad in our hearts. That's the difference between us and people who don't believe. The Holy Spirit is not in their heart revealing to them the truth of God's word, that it is God's word. The veracity of his love for us, truly he loves us to this extent because even while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. That melts and breaks our hearts that compels us to love or to live for him. And finally, we can feel it in our hearts sometimes. It's not all the time. Love comes and goes, but love is truly shown by its faithfulness when those feelings are not there.

C.S. Lewis said, and mere Christianity, remember, though our feelings come and go, his love for us does not. It's not wearied by our sins or our indifference, and therefore it is quite relentless in its determination that we shall be cured of those sins at whatever cost to us and whatever cost to him.

God is faithful and he loves us. The objection, this is where it starts to get a little deeper. The objection is, Israel says, how have you loved us? But Israel's not saying it. If you look in your text, you might think that Israel's saying it, but actually it's God saying it through Malachi. This is what God's saying to Israel.

This is what you were thinking, or in other words, but you say to yourself how. God anticipates and he knows what resides in the hearts of Israel. There's genuine doubt. There's uncertainty of his love because of the circumstances and everything that's going on in their lives, what they've come back to. There is a series of prophecies that I'm going to read, or just reference a couple if you want to write these down, if you're writing anything down or hear them. There was expectations of Israel when they came back from exile.

After 70 years, there was something to look forward to when it was over with. In Ezekiel chapter 34, it says, verses 26 through 30, I will make them, the places around my hill, a blessing, and I will send down showers in their season. They shall be showers of blessing. He goes on to say, and the trees of the field will yield their fruit and the earth shall yield its increase. But it was a desert. It was like there was a drought and there was no food. Isaiah 54, one through three says, or verse two, enlarge the place of your tent and let the curtains of your inhabitants be stretched out. Do not hold back.

Lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. The population would swell, but instead, the people who had come back from captivity were just a few people. And it was slowly coming back in. It's like, where is Israel? Another prophecy that had been fulfilled that was written on their hearts was a nation would arise and esteem to the glorious reign of the new David.

Behold, Jeremiah said in chapter 23, verses five and six, behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous branch and he shall reign as king and deal wisely and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. The people had expectations and what was going on? They're looking out and they're wondering to themselves, God, you say that you love us and you've always loved us. What is going on?

How have you loved us? Judah still lay in ruins after the exile. The Babylonians, who were famous for their demolition, had raised essentially the city of Jerusalem. Periodically around the walls, they had been torn down. They had been breached and the stones from the walls had been thrown down into the Kidron Valley.

The city of David, according to the text that they were returning to, lay in ruins. And even then, aliens and squatters had come to live in their midst. So these people, actually Edomites that our text refers to, people from the south had come up in. When they had all left, actually this way, when they had all gone to Babylon, the people from the south came up and took over and moved in. And now as these people come up, it's like, who are these people living in our home? Who are these people in the temple complex? Who are these people who have taken advantage of the taxes or who are receiving all the benefits?

I mean, we think of illegals in the United States and we might complain like, what is going on here? These people as well had the same complaints. What is going on here, Lord? They wanted to know. Their nation was poor. The Babylonians had salted their wells and had filled them back up so that there was no water. They had razed the country, essentially cutting down all the trees and burning everything.

I'm trying to paint a picture here of scorched earth so that you can understand that the Israelites in their circumstances, you might sympathize with them as they look around and wonder, what is going on here? Those aliens and those squatters who had moved in were unwanted. Essentially, the return from exile opened their eyes to see the devastation of God's judgment. After 70 years, in fact, most of the people who had gone out in exile were not returning. It was their families. So these people, they didn't even know. Most of them didn't even know Israel, much less what to expect. So those people who were still alive who had gone out in exile were overwhelmed. Finally, in answering this question, how have you loved us?

Why and how could they ask such a question? There was no presence of God in this smaller temple. The second temple had been built and it was smaller than the first. And though the ark, well, actually, there was no glory of God. There was no ark. There was no presence, so to speak, of God in their midst.

That would be devastating. We have the Holy Spirit, as I mentioned earlier, we have the Holy Spirit to confirm to us God's love. But people who are not believers, who are without the Holy Spirit, people in the Old Testament, they did not have that confirmation of the pillar of cloud and fire, God's presence.

Of course, there was God's general providence, his taking care of the people, but that was not sufficient for them because the land had been raised and devastated and they were without. How, they say, how can you say that you love us? Show us your love. We've worked hard for our money and our taxes are being shipped off to Persia. We're ruled by foreign troops who are under a Persian rule in government. There's no hope for the future. These people are ruling us ruthlessly. There is no hope.

We're discouraged. And then after the Persians, what kingdom or empire is gonna come after that and rule over us? They were without hope and God knew it. So his response to them, they didn't say it, but the response was, the second part there of chapter two, verse two, it says, Jacob I have loved, yet Esau I have hated. That's God's response to the question how have you loved us? We would expect maybe a detailed list of God's works to prove proofs of his love in the great and mighty works of God in the Old Testament. We might expect how he clothed Adam and Eve before they exited the garden, showing that there was gonna come one, a seed of promise, who was going to clothe them in his blood, in his righteousness. Shouldn't they remember the great escape and how God delivered them from Egypt? How he delivered them time and time from foreign oppressors that he was using to draw them back to himself.

But they had forgotten all of these things. In this text, Jacob I have loved, Esau I have hated, he's pointing out his covenantal faithfulness. And I use that specifically, covenantal faithfulness, because we're gonna talk about marriage in the future, covenant marriage. We're gonna talk about God's covenant to his people and how they broke their covenant and the stipulations and the curses that came as a result of their unfaithfulness. So he's pointing to his covenant faithfulness. Before the fall, God had planned that Jacob would be chosen. The scriptures say in Romans 9 verses 11 through 12, yet before the twins were born, I had done everything good and bad.

Wait a minute. Before the twins were born, or had done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose in election might stand, not by works, but by him who calls, she was told the older will serve the younger. It had always been a part of God's plan.

I don't know if y'all know what the word supralapsarianism means, but that means before the fall, laps being a fall. Before the fall, it was, according to God's plan, Revelation chapter 13 verse 8, the lamb, it says, it describes the lamb, the lamb who was slain from the foundations of the world. Before everything came into being, God had a plan, and everything is in sync with his plan. Even the choosing of Jacob over Esau, the younger, to serve the older. God had already planned from the very beginning that after the fall, that the promise would come through Seth's line. And so the whole book of Genesis is a testimony to following the seed of promise. So if you're ever reading the book of Genesis, and you're like, what does all Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, and all this have to do with? It has to do with God's fulfilling his covenant faithfulness to his people. It refers ultimately this text, Jacob I have loved and Esau I've hated. It actually can be reinterpreted as choice versus rejection. And let me explain that. This is where it's gonna get a little complicated, and I want you to follow me because this is where it gets deep, and I'm sure there's a lot of red flags for people who probably don't like the words Jacob I loved, Esau I hated, because it has to do with predestination, and election, and of all sorts of texts.

But I wanna try and help us to grasp this, speaking of like Jacob who grasped the heel, he's the deceiver. I want us to see and grasp how God loves us. The text, we have this problem with love and hate language. Isn't a God a God of love?

A lot of people say. A lot of people who are objecting to the gospel as we're sharing it with them, they say, well, isn't God a God of love? How could he send anybody to hell? How could he hate a people group? Speaking of CRT and racism and everything that we're facing today, how could God condemn anybody?

Is any a God of love? But we need to understand that this language of love and hate does not refer to an emotional state. We can be thrown off track if we take it literally, but words have meanings, and we gotta understand that. Just on the way home, I had to add this in here as an illustration. Just on the way home from church today after the sermon, my son Henry was driving the car, and we pulled up to Highway 29 coming on Pitt School Road, and that light is just, it's long. And my son says, I hate this light.

That's kinda what it's like. We say hate all the time, but we don't mean hate hate. He's frustrated. He's expressing his frustration. Hate can also be interpreted as a pet peeve or an aggravation. Someone might say, I hate these people because they wear their pants below their butts. I hate people who text while driving. Some people say on accident rather than by accident. Other people don't pronounce their Ts in the middle of words.

A lot of kids are growing up not pronouncing all their letters. Sometimes it's really aggravating when you go away from the TV or your computer or whatever it is, and a commercial comes on, and it just blares, and you say, I hate that, and you have to go, and you have to turn it down, and then when your show comes back on or whatever you're watching, you have to turn it back up. It's like, I hate that. George Strait, I don't know if any of y'all know who George Strait is, George Strait is. He wrote a song.

I hate everything. That's pretty funny. In the New Testament, Jesus also helped us clarify this love-hate language. In Luke chapter 14, verse 26, Jesus said, if anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and his sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.

But then he went a little bit further on. Luke answers or clarifies, and he defines love and hate for us. In verse 33, in the same way, any of you who does not give up everything, so that's what he's meaning by hating, giving up. Anyone of you who does not give up everything, he cannot be my disciple. Matthew 24 said the same thing.

If anyone would come after me, he must, and here's a word, deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. So there's something to be said to the background of this loving and hating. Yes, he's pointing out his covenant faithfulness to Israel, but we've gotta understand that. What is he actually saying when he says, I love Jacob. I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated.

It's not an emotional hatred, but it could be interpreted as a giving up, a denial, or a rejection. In Luke 16, just following that, Jesus said, no one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You can't serve both God and money. So that language might be offensive, but we need to, if we're really thinking, we're reading God's word, and we want God to speak to us, and we wanna understand him, and we wanna grow in a knowledge of our faith, we really should take a step back and pursue and try to answer some questions to understand this better, rather than letting our objections rule the day, which oftentimes it does. We should humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord that he might open our minds and our hearts, that we would love the truth of the fact that, yes, he has called us. He has worked in our hearts and drawn us to himself. So God's election was that choice. He chose Jacob, but with a purpose, and we can't forget that either. He chose Jacob for the messianic promise to be through his lineage. He had to choose one or the other. It wasn't gonna be Esau.

He was red and hairy. It was gonna be, for whatever reason, it was gonna be Jacob, him who grabs the heel, he who deceives. That was just from the very beginning, God's plan. He didn't choose Jacob based upon any merit. He doesn't choose us because we're good or because, as the Armenians say, he foreknew that we were going to choose him, which is kind of backwards.

He knew what we were going to do. No, it says in Ephesians 1, verse 11, in him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works everything out in conformity with the purpose of his will. God loves you and chose you because he loves you and he chose you. In chapter nine of Romans, there is no answer. You can't say anything to God. We cannot back talk or question God.

His will be done. And that's the way it is. God chose Jacob not because he was a great guy but to continue the line of promise with a purpose to save the nations, which is us, 2,000 years later. We're the recipients of that grace. Great is the Lord, what does the scripture say?

Beyond the border of Israel, that's us. I don't want to get to the ending here. Let's talk about the proof. And this is what our text says here. There's these three little sections here in between halfway in chapter, verse three, all the way through verse four.

It says, I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to the jackals of the desert. If Edom says, and it goes on there, this is the proof of God's statement that he loves Jacob but hates Esau. He is condemning the Edomites, these people who have moved in. Does that mean that God doesn't love Esau? That God doesn't love the nations?

Okay, you know where I'm going now. That God doesn't love Edom? No, the scriptures in fact say in Deuteronomy 23, we must not hate the Edomites. So here the scriptures say, on one hand, he loves Jacob but he hates Esau, but yet there's a text here that says we must not hate the Edomites. So where's that place God?

They are your brothers. Joshua 24, four. God would bless Edom, the scriptures say. God allowed many to come to faith in the Abrahamic comment.

God blessed Israel to be a blessing to the nations. And Exodus 12, included among the Israelites and the Edomites were Edomites in the Exodus. And number 13, there are 12 spies that were sent out representing the 12 sons of Jacob, Rachel and Leah and the two concubines. 10 came back with a negative report.

Oh, they look too big and they have cities with walls and they were afraid. But two came back with a favorable report. And who were they? Joshua and Caleb. Joshua was from Ephraim. Caleb was a Kenizzite.

You know what a Kenizzite is? It's someone from Edom. So here we have even in the, people who are receiving the promised land were some people who were not even Israel. By God's grace, just like Ruth. Ruth said to Naomi, your people will be my people. So she was adopted into the people of God. So God blessed Jacob to be a blessing to the nations.

God's plan of salvation through Jacob was to save those who would believe on Christ and become children of Abraham. So as we look at this proof, we gotta realize though that Edom was condemned. The Edomites were being condemned because nothing escapes God's attention. A day of reckoning was gonna come for these Edomites because essentially they had sold out to the Babylonians to save themselves. They were cheering when Judah was taken into captivity and falling. They were informants to the Babylonians to help find those people who were in hiding. They helped cut off the escape routes when the Babylonians were coming and Judah was trying to run away and be saved, essentially.

They were the thieves. That is, the Edomites were the thieves and the deceivers and the traitors. They were the enemies of God's people. So he was gonna bring upon them judgment, yet in a bigger picture, we see this condemnation of Esau and we gotta realize that it's not literal in the respect that he hates Esau and hates Edomites, but it's figuratively speaking that they were not chosen. And in fact, the descendants of these people were found even in the book of Mark, a couple chapters right before what we read tonight, in chapter three, the name Edomites was changed to Greek, which is Idumean.

And there are Idumeans in chapter three of Mark who were following Christ around and who were believing him and observing his miraculous works. So here are people who have been rejected and condemned, yet being saved. The Edomites, or the Edoms, the proof of Edom's guilt shows us the justice of God and his love and his condemnation. It's better to be condemned or be convicted of your guilt than, as I mentioned earlier, than to receive the silence of God.

So I'm wrapping it up here. I'm trying to bring it all together here for you to see that we should praise God for the conviction of our sins. Speaking of the sermon that we heard this morning, has God convicted you of your sin recently?

No. Conviction is good. My son doesn't like it when I hold him accountable to something that he's doing. He'll lie or he'll tell a story.

He'll do all that he can to get out of it. And then, well, not always, but he has. And then when I hold him account to it and show him that he's wrong, then it's a great relief and he's thankful because that burden is gone.

Conviction is good. It shows you that God has not left you, that he cares for you, that he's concerned. When we look at Israel coming back from the exile and all that they were going through, all they needed to do was to trust in the Lord.

All he wanted them to do was to trust in him. If God loves you, he disciplines you. If he's convicting you of your sin, then that's good.

The scriptures say in Hebrews chapter 12, my son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines those whom he loves and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Thank God for his love and his discipline in our lives. So what does all this mean?

What's the implication? Great is the Lord. Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel. Great is our God. As the Psalmist said in Psalm 117, praise the Lord all you nations, extol him all you peoples, for great is his love towards us and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord. We praise God because it's always been a part of his plan to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance and I would go as far as to say before the creation of the world, even us whom he has called, not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles, Romans 9, 23 and 24. God is great, and it's always been a part of his plan and we should remember that he called my people who were not his people.

He called her my loved one who was not his loved one. God loves us. When we were enemies, Paul said to the Ephesians, when we were enemies, he loved us. He sent his son to die for us even though we were like the disciples who could not stay awake through the watch of the night. We're like those disciples.

We fail in all of our strength. We fail, we fall short even though we've sinned against him. God has been faithful and he loves us.

In fact, the scriptures say in Romans 5, 8, God demonstrated his love for us and that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, let us never forget when times are hard, we need to remember God's love to his people. Let us pray. Dear Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that you love us with an everlasting love, that you loved us so much that you sent your son into the world to die for our sins in place of our sins so that we would not perish but have everlasting life with you. I pray, Father, that in these coming weeks, that, Father, we would remember the extent of your love for us, that, Father, even though we are hard-pressed on all sides, to sin, to turn away from you, and to trust in ourselves or to join in with the culture, to compromise, Father, you would remind us of his nail-scarred hands and his side, the blood that was shed for us, that was exhibited in the table for us today. May it be a means of grace to cause us to persevere, and may the Holy Spirit use it to strengthen us and keep us in that hour of trial that we might stand. Oh, Heavenly Father, bless your church, we pray, in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-24 20:38:17 / 2023-09-24 20:55:02 / 17

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