1) We’ll be looking at tonight's psalm, Psalm 33. But first of all, I’d just like to start of by asking you to have a think about something. I won’t ask you to say anything out loud, but just have a think. So, my question is, what are you grateful for, what do you give thanks for, who do you give thanks to, who are you grateful to….
2) Because, I think as humans, we have a tendency to cling to our own achievements, reluctant to share the credit with anyone else. Particularly, when it comes to acknowledging the hand of God on our lives or successes.
3) I wonder if you’ve ever been in a situation like this: where you’ve been perhaps awed by the incredible skill of a doctor, or the diligence and inspiration of an activist.
4) And then, you hear someone say, or you think perhaps yourself, oh thank God he’s alright the surgery was successful, or thank God justice was implemented. And you think, what. Because I didn’t see God down here with a scalpel, or setting his bone in place.
5) And actually, the main, or only time when the reliance, or trust in God becomes really easy is really when our problems go beyond our abilities, and we are forced to trust him. We entrust to God things like, our future, or our health, or the health of people we love, because to an extent, they are completely unpredictable, and so beyond us.
6) I have big exams coming up, in a couple of months very important ones, but I’m mindful, that I don’t forget, in the pride of all the hard work I’ve put in, or the worry and stress, that I can lean on God. That my future, at this relatively unpredictable time in the world, and my own life, isn’t just on my shoulders. I have a source of infinite love, and wisdom and comfort right there, and it’s something we can be utterly reliant on.
7) So before we discuss how we can be thankful, or trusting in God, at all times. I think there’s something very important that we have to first understand from all this, that, we are completely dependent, utterly reliant on God. So I think the question is...If the key to being truly thankful, lies in trust and reliance, how do we learn to rely completely on God.
Well, Psalm 33 gives us some great answers.
1) The first few verses are an exuberant call to praise God in song and with musical instruments, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the psalm. Then the psalmist, we’re not entirely sure who wrote it, but they begin giving the reasons, as to why we should praise God.
2) Verses 6-7 declare “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea into jars, he puts the deep into storehouses”.
3) Until we believe that God created everything, you, me, the trees, stars, oceans, we won’t accept that the world is controlled by, dependent on, his wisdom and power.
4) Believing that God created the world, it leads us to the truth of his providence in ruling the world. So to develop that thankful mindset, we must be in awe. And truly it is not difficult to be in awe. I found out last week that you produce 2.5 million red blood cells, every second! And apparently, the human eye can differentiate approximately 10 million different colours. It is not difficult to be in awe
The second reason the psalmist gives us, is that God, is the designers of our fates.
1) Verses 10-12 “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
2) We all think we are in some way steering the course of history, in many ways this is quite wrong. It is estimated that about 108 billion members of our species have ever been born. What are we amongst that, what real difference can we make.
3) Now, I do not want us to go away feeling insignificant, or unimportant. In fact, quite the opposite of that. We are important because we are part of a much greater plan, and purpose.
4) Even more incredible is that we all share in the likeness of God, we each contain reflections of his nature. In our love, kindness, mercy, empathy, compassion. We are part of a beautiful creation…
The third reason
1) Verses 13-17 “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord...from heaven he looks down and sees all mankind...he watches all who live on earth, he who forms the hearts of all, considers all they do. No king is saved by the size of his army, nor warrior escapes by his great strength.. The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, to deliver them from death”.
2) Essentially, we cannot save ourselves, I cannot alone be successful in my exams, or my later life. I do not live by my own methods and successes, but by God’s will.
3) We are today, in a world that is inundated with methods and techniques for how to live a Christian life, be a good, loving person. Take the example of self-help books, literally spelling out how you can be a better person, or another example, people commonly ask the question What Would Jesus Do?
4) And of course, many of these methods are pretty credible, often these self-help books are based on scripture or teaching, and the question What Would Jesus Do, asks us to draw inspiration from his life. But the important bit, I think, is to use these methods, enforce these habits, because we trust in God to enable them, not ourselves in our own intelligence and power.
1) So we’ve just heard in verse 13, that God sees everyone on earth, and now in verse 18, the psalmist states “the eye of the Lord are on those who fear him”.
2) What does this mean?
3) Well I think it means that God looks out for those, looks with favour, on those who fear and trust in him to deliver them from those overwhelming, and painful situations.
4) God works, not by finding those with the most power, and strength, and authority, but through those who trust, and rely in him. We do not have to be strong, or self-sufficient. But humble. Those who learn to be thankful, must first learn to trust.
1) The last verses, 18 to 22, are filled with synonyms for trust in the lord, fear, hope, “our help and our shield”.
2) The psalms generally are big on trust, indeed the Hebrew word for trust appears more frequently in the psalms than in any other place.
3) Again, it’s not that our methods, or habits, are wrong, it’s our trust in them that is faulty, our trust must be in God alone, and what is the result of this? Well go back to the beginning of the psalm.
4) Complete trust in God results in a thankful, worshiping heart, they are bound up, you cannot have one without the other.
5) The secret to being grateful, being thankful is to recognize you are in a desperate situation, and from that, delight in salvation, and. You can’t help but sing for joy.
Open our hearts to welcome your eternal love, and devotion. You who designed the stars and the heavens, and drew together the seas, who fashioned out hearts and minds. The same God, who calls us to praise, and draws near in comfort. You cry out for us to trust.
Help us to recognise our dependence, our reliance, and place our lives into your hands.
Open our eyes to see this wonderful creation, help us to never feel ashamed, or afraid, or unworthy to give thanks for it.
Lord, you have given us so much, but we pray lastly, for a grateful heart.