20th May 2020 APC
Psalm 107 “God’s Wonderful Goodness”
Welcome and Introduction
Good morning everyone and welcome to our midweek prayers and reflections.
Today we continue our series looking at some of the wonderful songs and poems we have recorded in the bible. These Psalms are the prayers of God’s people and have been used for centuries as a vehicle for expressing our feelings to God. On Sunday we thought about the mystery of God in Psalm 139 and today we will be reflecting on the goodness of God through Psalm 107. I hope this Psalm will inspire you to cry out to God to help you and to give thanks to Him for all His kindness and goodness to you over the years. Take time to read this Psalm for yourself over the next few days. But before we read and reflect on it together, let’s take a moment to talk to God, let’s pray…
Almighty and everlasting god, we join with the Psalmist of long ago in giving you our praise and worship – you have done marvellous things for us and we are glad. You are the source and sustainer of our lives, from you all things come and to you all things lead! Wherever and whoever we are you are always with us surrounding us with your love. Though we forsake you, you do not forsake us. Though we fail you, you do not fail us. Despite our repeated faithlessness, still your faithfulness continues unchanging and undiminished.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your constant kindness, your unfailing love, your ceaseless provision for all our needs. We thank you for your mercy, your forgiveness, your amazing forgiveness offered to us in Jesus Christ. We thank you for the joy, the hope and the life you have given to us in Him.
So now we offer to you this time of worship, our praying, our reading, our listening and thinking as a token of our thanksgiving and a symbol of the joy you have given to us through Christ.
Loving God, you have done marvellous things for us and made us glad. In you we put our trust now and for ever, Amen.
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever, AMEN.
Bible Reading s
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story--
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.
17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.
23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.
33 He turned rivers into a desert,
flowing springs into thirsty ground,
34 and fruitful land into a salt waste,
because of the wickedness of those who lived there.
35 He turned the desert into pools of water
and the parched ground into flowing springs;
36 there he brought the hungry to live,
and they founded a city where they could settle.
37 They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest;
38 he blessed them, and their numbers greatly increased,
and he did not let their herds diminish.
39 Then their numbers decreased, and they were humbled
by oppression, calamity and sorrow;
40 he who pours contempt on nobles
made them wander in a trackless waste.
41 But he lifted the needy out of their affliction
and increased their families like flocks.
42 The upright see and rejoice,
but all the wicked shut their mouths.
43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.
Ephesians 1: 3-14 Praise for Spiritual Blessings in Christ
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession, to the praise of his glory.
Reflection Psalm 107 “God’s Wonderful Goodness”
So what was it like? Usually when someone asks us this question our eyes light up with excitement and we spill out everything we can possibly remember…It might be the holiday we’ve just returned from. A first date with the boy or girl of our dreams, the new car we’ve just bought, the latest movie we’ve seen or whatever. New experiences are often exciting. We want to know about them, we’re bursting to tell someone else about them.
This is a bit like how the writer of Psalm 107 felt about God. They are just bursting to let others know about their experience of God…So what does this Psalmist tell us about what God is like?
1 What is God like?
The Psalm writer here tells us that God is good and that his love endures forever. What I found particularly interesting during my study of this passage is the Hebrew word the Psalmist uses to describe God’s goodness and love. It is a word used throughout the Old Testament and it is very important for us to understand its meaning because it tells us so much about the nature of God. It is the word ‘hesed’.
‘Hesed’ is the word used to describe God’s covenant love. It means love and loyalty. It implies commitment, faithfulness and a generosity of Spirit. In some ways it is similar to the vows people make at their marriage ceremony. It is a binding commitment to love and to cherish someone in every circumstance of life. So too God makes a binding agreement with us when we embrace Christ by faith. He says to us ‘from now on I am committed to loving you, no matter what.’
Nowhere do we see the meaning of this word played out better than in the book of Ruth. In that book all the characters display this characteristic of ‘hesed’. They all go the second mile in their relationships with one another. E.g. Ruth commits herself to caring for her mother in law Naomi after the death of her husband. For Ruth this even means sacrificing the religion she was brought up in as a Moabite and following Naomi’s God, the God of Israel. Boaz a relative of Naomi goes the extra mile by encouraging Ruth to glean corn in his field, by allowing her to eat with his workers and by agreeing to marry her and maintain the heritage of her dead husband. If you want to know what God’s love is like, then read Ruth from cover to cover and see how the characters act unselfishly, and sacrificially towards each other.
This is what God is like. He is loving and good. He has committed Himself unselfishly and sacrificially to us in Christ. In Christ God has taken our sin upon Himself that we might be forgiven, that we might be set free from sin’s power in order to live the way God intended. And in Christ God has made a binding agreement with us to love us no matter what and to be constantly willing to go that extra mile for us. The first lesson that this Psalm teaches us is about the nature of God. His very essence is goodness and never failing love. And amazingly that committed love is unselfishly directed towards those whom He has made, you and me!! God loves you this morning and He is committed to you 110%.
2 How does God show us His goodness and love?
God shows His goodness and love to us in so many little things in life- the beauty of the natural world, the provision of fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, water and natural materials for constructing homes for our families, the privilege of having clean water, food to eat, the freedom to worship God, a roof over our head, access to good doctors and a decent medical system, friends and family to talk to and share life with. The list could go on and on. Well do we need to heed the advice of the Hymn-writer who said, “Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it may surprise you what the Lord has done.”
But in this Psalm the particular way the writer recalls the goodness and love of the Lord is in His faithfulness to listen to the cries of his people in distress and to deliver them out of trouble.
The writer recalls four different types of people in four different circumstances of life. First there are the wanderers, searching for somewhere to live, unable to provide for themselves, hungry and thirsty, almost at the point of starvation.
Next he describes the plight of the prisoner, depressed and confined, reaping the consequences of their own foolish actions, isolated and with no one to help.
Then there are those who are seriously ill, who have lost their appetite and whose lives seem to be ebbing away.
Lastly the writer recounts the tale of a fishing crew- tossed about on huge seas like a cork in the ocean. Frightened to their core that they are about to drown.
Having explained graphically the tragic circumstances of each group of individuals the psalmist repeats a wonderful phrase of reassurance and hope-
“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them from their distress.”
In each case the writer explains how God answers the prayers of these people in their distress. He provides the wanderers with somewhere to live, with food to eat and water to drink. He sets the prisoner free and delivers them from their despair. He brings healing and reassurance to those who are ill. He stills the storm and guides the endangered crew to the safety of the harbour.
I want to encourage you this morning that because of who God is, because His very essence is goodness and love, He will listen to your prayers and He will help you when you cry out to Him.
Whatever circumstance of life you are in. No matter how difficult and depressing they may seem, let me assure you that God is committed in His love for you. That love for you is more than you will ever know. It is a love that compels Him to listen to you, even if your trouble has been caused by your own foolishness or disobedience. When you cry out to God for mercy and for help He will listen, He will answer, in His time and in the way that is best.
So let me encourage you to pray to the Lord- tell Him exactly how it is, don’t be afraid to ask Him for help no matter how trivial it may seem. If it’s big enough to worry about it’s big enough to pray about. I promise you that if you cry out to Him sincerely and honestly that He will hear you and He will answer.
But of course, perhaps even more importantly than hearing and answering our prayers, God has proved His love to us by sending His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ to die on the cross to take the judgement we deserve for all the wrong things we will ever say or think or do.
Nowhere is what God has done for us through Jesus been more fully or beautifully explained than in St Paul’s opening words in his letter to a group of Christians living in Ephesus. As Paul thinks about all that God has done for him in Jesus, he simply cannot contain himself and his pen flows with joy and exuberance as he thinks of all the blessings he has received because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Here is a summary of those blessings- Chosen in Christ before the world was ever made. Adopted into God’s family. Redeemed or set free from the guilt and the power of sin in His life. Brought into new friendships with Gentiles through a common faith in Jesus. And perhaps most amazingly of all- Paul says God had placed the Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit inside him to help him, to comfort him, to guide him and sustain him.
But the best news this morning is this- what was true of Paul is true for us if we are willing to turn away from all we know to be wrong and if we trust that when Jesus died on the cross, He died to take the judgement for all the wrong things in my life.
I hope you have repented. I hope you have trusted in Jesus and if you haven’t, then let me encourage you to do it today, even before you finish listening to this service. Only when you cry out to God and ask Him for His forgiveness through Christ will you know the joy of what Paul is talking about here.
And if you are a real Christian already, then like Paul, let me encourage you to let the sheer wonder and unbelieving generosity of what God has given you in Jesus Christ, to help you to throw aside your natural reserve and shout it from the rooftops what God has done for you in Jesus Christ!
He has chosen you before you were ever born to be someone who would receive His gift of love and mercy. He has adopted you into the world wide family of God. He has forgiven all your sins and has put His Spirit inside you to help you to be the person you’ve always wanted to become- someone who lives more and more like Jesus. Surely that is something to get excited about! Surely that is something to sing about! Surely that is something to smile about and maybe even clap or dance about! Even in the midst of a worldwide pandemic!
Sure there is a time for everything, sure things should be done in decency and in order, but let’s not be afraid at times like St. Paul, at home, in the car, when we’re walking the dog or when we’re in church to really just let our hair down and tell God just how amazing we think he is and how much we appreciate everything that He has done for us in Jesus Christ!
3 How should we respond to God’s goodness and love and His answers to our prayers?
The last thing we see in this Psalm is how in each case the Psalmist describes what the response of these people should be when they realise that God has heard and answered their prayers. He repeats this wonderful phrase:
“Let them give thanks to the Lord, for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds to men.”
On September 8th 1860, The Lady Elgin sank in lake Michigan. A young ministerial student named Edward Spencer dove repeatedly into the icy waters and rescued seventeen people. The prolonged exposure permanently damaged his health, however, and he was unable to complete his studies. Some years later at his funeral it was noted that not one of the seventeen people he saved ever returned to thank him.
Thankfulness is basic to Godliness. That’s why every Sunday in church we always spend some time simply thanking God in our prayers. It won’t be long before we’ll be able to do that again!
I know that life continues to be deeply challenging for many of us right now. But let me encourage you in the midst of everything to keep looking up and to remember the goodness of your creator. It’s all too easy to allow ourselves to become swamped by our current circumstances and to start thinking negative and warped thoughts about God.
So let me encourage you this morning to take time to ask God to remind you of just how much He loves you and just how good He has been towards you in the past, how good He is being towards you in the present and be assured that because His love is unfailing, He will continue to be good to you in the future. And in the awe of those moments let me encourage you to say, “Thank you.”
Psalm 107 we learn what God is like- He is full of goodness and unfailing love.
We see how he expresses this goodness and love. By hearing our prayers and answering them. By saving us from our sins and making us his best friends through Jesus. We are reminded of what our response should be- to meditate on His goodness and love and give him our heartfelt thanks. Not only through our lips but through the lives that we live. Amen.
Prayers for others
Pray for the farming industry, asking God to protect and provide for farmers experiencing the financial strain of cash flow issues, diminishing returns and rising costs.
Pray that those involved in the food supply chain from farm gate to supermarket shelves, asking that God would keep them safe and continue to smooth this vital aspect of keeping the country fed at this time.
Pray for continued progress in expanding processes of testing, tracking and tracing the spread of coronavirus, asking that God would enable the development of systems that help combat pandemic and permit greater relaxation of lockdown restrictions.
Pray for those involved in delivering these services, asking that God would help them quickly get to grips with what is required and deliver an efficient and reliable service.
Pray for leaders in government charged with taking massive decisions while facing many unknowns, asking that God would lead, guide, reassure, rule and overrule for the good of those under their care.
Pray for those offering leadership in church life, whether in congregations or at denominational level, asking that God would give clarity of mind, peace of heart and wisely chosen words.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share with you again today. Thanks again for logging on. I hope you have found it an encouragement to know how much God loves you and to know that he hears and answers when we pray. Thanks to Jasmine, April and Jasmin for your amazing singing in the junior choir slot last Sunday. Don’t forget that Alison is coordinating another musical item from our virtual choir to go online as part of our service this coming Sunday. It would be lovely to have as many people as possible to contribute to that so if you haven’t already joined our choir please do click the button on our website to pass on your interest and contact details to Alison. Please do tune in again on Sunday to listen to the choir and to think about another wonderful Psalm together.
For now, let me close with a benediction after which I invite you to join me in sharing the words of the grace together…
The LORD bless you and keep you: The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you: The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore, Amen.”
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.