Sermon / Pr. Lucas Albrecht / Wednesday Prayer Service July 12th 2017 - / Psalm 66 / How awesome are your deeds
Text: Psalm 66
Theme: How awesome are your deeds!
Intr – Awesome pomegranate.
I know, it's kind of weird putting these two words together. But I did that because these are two English words I appreciate very much. For some reason they sound so nice to my ears! I like the sound when speaking them loud, even though a word like 'awesome' is pretty hard for a Portuguese speaker to pronounce.
I don't know exactly why I appreciate 'pomegranate". While at Kimballs' NYC home in 2006 I came across this word when Pastor Paulo Brum and I were visiting with them. We drank pomegranate juice for the first time. I have to confess that the liquid sounded not as good as the word. But it was ok. Yet the word stuck with me since then. Pomegranate.
But I know exactly why I appreciate the word awesome. Its sound and how it's pronounced. The first time, and many times since, I heard it with 'wonderful', 'awesome' God. "God is awesome!" Then I learned that in English when you want to refer to our Great, Caring and Loving God, you have a sound word. Awesome. It's just awesome His love to mankind, His care for our lives, His work through Christ to give us peace, love and salvation.
This is how Psalm 66 describes GOD. He is awesome in is deeds. Also, “Say to God, How awesome are your deeds!”
A Bible commentator observes that in recent years, the word awesome has been watered down quite a bit. In his opinion, it has lost much of its power due to its indiscriminate use. “We should not loose the sight of the fact that it here refers to the majesty of God, which produces a reverent fear in those who behold it”. That’s why he would suggest here a translation like “awe-inspiring”. And that’s the sense in which we will use awesome in this sermon.
In the context of Psalm 66 we will see it connected particularly to ordeal times. This is a Psalm that can be sung by any believer in any time of hardship. And if we pay close attention to the text we will see that the first 12 verses deal with plural wording. The congregation, the Church – we - can sing this song in times of hardship. Then in verse 13 it abruptly switches to singular. “I will come into your house with burnt offerings”. You and I can personally sing this song in times of hardship; for our God is the Lord of all and yet He is Your God, as the First Commandment states early on.
I think we may assume that we would have hardly a single year without singing it for that matter, “a Psalm that can be sung by any believer in any time of hardship”. Perhaps a semester, or even month. For sin brought us into hardships on a regular basis. We have problems into our families, in our work. In our Church, in society. We have the ultimate hardship every one must undergo – death.
Then how does the psalmist suggest we should overcome those difficult times? Do you see any of these in the text?
-If you can think and dream, than you can accomplish it.
-God helps the one who help themselves.
-Change and God will change you.
-Be strong. You are unique and special. You have special talents that will bring you up out of the pit.
-It is your attitude that determines your attitude.
Thank God those are not there. Especially the last one which being true would send us into a downward, helpless, despairing spiral.
But the text does say – say to God, How awesome are your deeds! The psalmist points to God particularly pointing to His deeds. His action, His works already accomplished. Why does he do so?
Il: If you are a Rider fan, why do you believe they can make it to the Grey Cup this year (even with the 1-2 season starter)? Because they did it before.
Why do you believe you, or your loved one, can get past the sickness they’re in? Because you’ve seen that before.
How can you know that you, singular, and the Church, plural (as we mentioned above) will be able to survive and remain faithful to God’s Word facing the cultural war that has been fought on our faith and principles? Because it has happened before. In the first century; in the fifth century; in the XVI century. And so on.
That is the point the Psalmist is making here. He points to God’s deeds and says implicitly: “ Hey folks! Hey you! He did it once. He did it twice. He did it over and over again. He was then. He is now. He will always be. He will do it again!” Because: He is awesome in his deeds! He is the singular that modifies the plural.
What’s that about? I’ll explain. In verse 2 we read “so great is your power”. Great here, in Hebrew, is singular. But power is a plural word. In Hebrew, singular adjectives sometimes modify plural nouns which follow them. That’s why the translation renders power, singular. The singular modifies the plural.
Comparatively, this is our God. He is singular, unique. But when he acts, he can modify a multitude of things. And he brings it down to a singular person – Jesus Christ, his son, who endured the hardest hardship ever by laying his life down for us. His awesome work of love on the Cross brings peace to our hearts, strength to hard times and praise in our lips to thank Him for his awesome deeds. And it is so unique that in this case we don’t say “He did it once, he will do it again”.. He did once and for all!
When we face hardships, we can always remember that God uses those hardships to test and to strengthen us. Sin and suffering do not come from Him; neither He is pleased is seeing our suffering. But through difficult times he is our Lord and Savior. Keep always in mind: A trial is something that strengthens your faith. A temptation is that thing that makes us lose it. So whenever we face temptation, we can be on the verge to be led astray. But whenever we face trials we know we are on the verge of becoming stronger by His awesome deeds.
Then, it's just awesome to realize how He shows His love in everything all around. From a pomegranate's seed to the top of the mountains; from a regular day to days of crisis; from the top of His Word to the bottom of our hearts - so that we could say from the top of our lungs: Awesome! How awesome are your deeds!
And, it's just awesome the opportunity we have every day, from the dawn to sunset, to thank him for being nothing less than awesome in every step we make in our path guided by His hand. Whether water or fire, as the psalmist mentions - the extremes (hot and cold) -, we can hear His words through the prophet Isaiah: “Fear not”. I am your Lord. I am with you. We can surely say with Psalm 66: “Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me”.(v.20)
Cc - I remember of joking with the Kimballs that if someday they’d come to Brazil and find a store called 'Awesome pomegranate', then they'd know I have my own business. Now probably that will never happen. But I pray to God that inside my chest I can always, we can always have opened the 'store' of our hearts with this big and sound sign: God is awesome. How awesome are your deeds, o Lord! Amen.
 BRUG, J. A commentary on Psalms 1-72, p.603
 The Lutheran Study Bible, p.909.
 BRUG, J. A commentary on Psalms 1-72, p.603
 Isaiah 43.