A Christmas Sermon

God Meets Man

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 19

1    The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2    Day after day they pour forth speech;

night after night they display knowledge.

3    There is no speech or language

where their voice is not heard.

4    Their voice goes out into all the earth,

their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

5    which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

6    It rises at one end of the heavens

and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is hidden from its heat.

7    The law of the LORD is perfect,

reviving the soul.

The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,

making wise the simple.

8    The precepts of the LORD are right,

giving joy to the heart.

The commands of the LORD are radiant,

giving light to the eyes.

9    The fear of the LORD is pure,

enduring forever.

The ordinances of the LORD are sure

and altogether righteous.

10  They are more precious than gold,

than much pure gold;

they are sweeter than honey,

than honey from the comb.

11  By them is your servant warned;

in keeping them there is great reward.

12  Who can discern his errors?

Forgive my hidden faults.

13  Keep your servant also from willful sins;

may they not rule over me.

Then will I be blameless,

innocent of great transgression.

14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart

be pleasing in your sight,

O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

It is that time of year again.  Some love this time of year, while others have grown to dislike it.  For some comes that oh so familiar phrase of Ba-hum-bug, while others sing carols and wish for a kiss under the mistletoe.  It is the time when we expect all stories to turn out well. Whether you are cheering  for Tiny Tim to change the heart of old man Scrooge, or for Jimmy Stewart to realize that his life has not been a waste in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” it is the time of year when we believe all can and will turn out well.  It is that time of year we call Christmas.  It is the time we bring gifts for one another to show one and all that we really truly care for them despite the fact we have treated them like dirt and we in-turn should be receiving a lump of coal for the way we have treated those around us.

But the fact remains, no matter how commercialized this time of year has become, or how far in debt we become giving gifts to those we say truly matter. Or perhaps we just give gifts to others to score a point a two in our favor. No matter what our circumstances might be, it is still a time to remember the God of heaven, who humbled himself, gave up all that he had so that he could become one like us.  To suffer like us, to be tempted like us. To cry like us, and live the life that you and I could never achieve on our own.

Yes, it is Christmas time, and perhaps there is no better way to express our admiration, our gratitude toward the wonderful gift that was given to us over 2000 years ago, when the God of heaven came down and was born as a little baby.  We know the story of how His mother rapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger.  Certainly not a great beginning for a King.  Overlooked by many, ignored by more and denied even a roof over his head with the bleating of sheep and the baying of donkey, Christ received his first visitors, humble shepherds, the outcasts of Jewish society. Shepherd that tended sheep on the same hills that His great ancestor King David had also wandered as a boy as he to tended the sheep. The shepherds came and kneeled before their King and Maker then left singing praises to their King. Perhaps one of the songs they sang that early morning was Psalm 19.

Turn with me again to Psalms 19. Psalm 19 is a song that honors Christ as our creator and redeemer. For Christ was our creator before he was our redeemer.  Although the plan of salvation had already been conceived Christ was our creator and Psalms 19 starts by paying tribute, by singing praises the one that created us.

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy-work. 

2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard.

4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set tabernacle for the sun,

5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

Perhaps this best known and most popular of the nature psalms best describes and is a grateful meditation on God’s revelation of Himself in the world of nature.

Who of us on a beautiful clear day marveled at the depth of the sky, the glory of God’s creation?  Who of us hasn’t looked upon the starry heavens and wondered how it all came to be. That with such power and wonder, he spoke and heavens came into being.  The Sun to guide us by day and the moon and stars to guide us by night.  By their very splendor and order the heavens disprove evolution.  They are not the work of chance, but are the work of a creator God.

As each day passes unto the next, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.  God could have created a great light switch and said, “Adam, you want it dark, just switch off the switch and it will be dark.” But no, God created the sunrise. With the sun just peeking out from behind the horizon and then slowly and magnificently makes its appointed way across the sky to once again dazzle us with the beauty of a slow sunset painted across the western sky.

The beauty, the arrangement, the order are all arguments for the existence of a God, so that even a heathen may look upon them and wonder about God and his great power.

The Sun to rule the day and the moon to mark the time from one month to another and one year to the next.  All in perfect order beg for an understanding that there is a God that created it all.

All nature sings of the glory of God, yet not with a voice that can be heard by human ears, but with an understanding of the intellect of the great and fearful works of God.

And as all things grow and live by the light and heat of the sun, so all things grow spiritually with the light that shines from the heavenly Son, the Son whose name is Jesus, the Christ, that was born upon the lowliest of conditions, in a manger, with sheep, donkey and outcast shepherds to welcome the King, the creator, as a new born baby.

Psalms 19 continues as the work of the creator and our joy and recognition of his power and glory in creating this earth now turns to his power of redemption.

7 The Law of the LORD is perfect converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple 

8 The statues of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

But this song goes beyond creation and the creating power of the Creator, it also goes into the redemptive power of Christ, who is not only our Creator, but is our Redeemer.

While we talked of nature in the first 6 verse and its grandeur, permanence and purpose of the glory to God, to the contemplation of even a clearer revelation of God.  How can there be an even clearer picture of God’s glory. David in grand form turns our attention to an even clearer revelation of God in his law.

Beautiful as the manifestations of God’s glory in the heavens may be; magnificent as the splendor of the sun, moon, and stars may appear; still more beautiful, more magnificent, is the picture of a character directed by God’s law, “The glory of God is most fully seen in a perfect harmonious character.”  The character of our lives that shines forth with heavenly radiance when we follow God’s law.  Not from force but from wanting to because of our great love for He who created us.

“The testimony of the Lord is sure” (Long).  “Converting the soul” (Short).  One is in almost breathless haste, slowing down to a pause as the poem proclaims the joy and sweetness of the law and announces the fact that obedience brings a “great reward.”

Although the first 6 verses have a parallelism to it, it is difficult to find a more nearly perfect example of Hebrew parallelism than those in verses 7 – 10.

What is Hebrew Parallelism?  Well in a kind of simplified way of looking at it is as in a: “This for that” this statement, brings this result, and the effects are this.  Kind of an X+Y=Z things.  Let’s take a look.

Name for the law       its nature        its effect

            Law                            Perfect            Converting

            Testimony                  Sure                Making Wise

            Statutes                       Right               Rejoicing

            Commandment          Pure                Enlightening

            Fear                            Clean              Enduring

            Judgments                  True                Righteous

 

Our word Law is from the Hebrew word Torah, which means, “teaching, instruction, direction.”  This concept is outlined in Deuteronomy 31:9 and Proverbs 3:1.  As the sun illuminates and gives life to the material earth, so the law lights and energizes the spiritual world. Psalm 1:2.

Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.  The law is perfect and converts the soul.

And Converting is from the Hebrew word Shub, which means to restore or to refresh and invigorates.

How many times have we seen a new believer come into the church after discovering Gods law and what it can do for them?  They find the law perfect and it converts or refreshes and invigorates their lives.

The Testimony as used in Exodus 25:16, 21, and 22. Means to bear witness. The revelation of God is God’s witness or testimony.  God law is a testimony, His own affirmation concerning His nature, attributes and consequent commands.

God’s law is sure. Meaning everlasting, to be firmly established. We often use the word Amen, which has the same meaning. We end our prayers with Amen meaning we firmly establish this to be our will, our testimony of what we are asking or praising God for.

God’s law is his amen to us, the testimony of his will for us.  And In it, it will make us wise.  We will grow up in the law.  Each of us in order to find the blessing of the law will take on a childlike spirit. The type of spirit that is essential to gaining wisdom.  Matthew 11:25  At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, an hast revealed them unto babes.  

It is only when we cast off our pride and gain the teachable spirit of a baby that we can be made wise in the law.

There is more, several more but let’s look at just one more.  Statues. Piqqudim means orders, or another name of orders is precept and the word precepts occurs 24 times in the old testament and is translated as in marching orders or guidelines in every instances with the exception of 3 times.  How much easier it is to accomplish a task when we have our marching orders.  Our guideline to follow.  It keeps us from falling off the path or wondering off task.

Isn’t that what God’s law is supposed to do.  Guide us.  As the sun gives light to world, so God’s commandments light man’s pathway in the search for truth.  Because his law is right and just, his should set our hearts to rejoicing and praising God for what he has done for us.

You see, no matter what trials come upon our life.  How people may misuse and abuse you.  When we follow God’s law, it is more valuable than pure gold.  Gold is regarded as an article of great value among men, but spiritual riches gained through following God’s precepts are far superior to material wealth.  And it leave a sweet taste in your mouth, sweeter than honey or the honeycomb.

Christ came to fulfil the law. John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world but that world through Him might be saved. God sent his Son to do for us what we ourselves were unable to do, and that is to live a life dependent on God.

So David in verse 11 says.  Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is a reward.

Our salvation is not dependent upon our keeping the law. Our salvation is a free gift of God’s grace which we accept on Faith. Our keeping of the law is an outward expression of our acceptance of that gift of grace.  And our reward will be everlasting life and wearing the crown of victory.

Verse 12 Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.

No matter how well you or I live our life, we are going to make mistakes.  We will not live up to the letter of the law.  We do this daily in many ways without even knowing we have fallen short.  So it should be our daily prayer that we seek forgiveness from God for these faults that are secret, even from ourselves.

Verse 13:  Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me

You see, over 2000 years ago, Christ was born a baby, without kingly honor and glory.  He was born a baby so that the victory over sin could be won.  And because He came, was born, lived the life you and I could not live.  He died on a tree and rose again on the third day that you and I can gain the victory over sin. We can pray to God and ask him to send his angels to camp round about us and to keep us from sin.  And if sin has power over you in any way what-so-ever, he will give us the power to overcome that sin.

David’s words and ours should be this each and every day.  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

What a beautiful prayer and song by David.  Our every word, our every thought should be to sing praises to Christ for the great gift he gave us, when he was born as a little baby.

And where else should our strength come from.  But the one who created us with his own hands and allowed himself to be born into the humblest of settings and then willingly spilt his blood for us so that we won’t die the second death, but instead live with Him forever.  Who else but Christ can give us the victory over sin?  That is why we celebrate his birth each year.  It is to draw our attention back to Him, to Him who created us and then redeemed us.

Oh great and merciful God in heaven.  Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, for you are my strength, and my redeemer.  Amen

Shall we pray.

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