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Worship Series: Lord’s Prayer
Worship Theme: Now and Forever. Amen.
- CW 223: As We Begin another Week
- Change My Heart, Oh God
- From Evil, Lord, Deliver Us
- CW 441: O God Our Help in Ages Past
- CWS 745: May the Peace of God
Watch the livestream beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.
Message: Now and Forever. Amen.
Pastor Jake Schram
When I was a child, my three new neighbors led me into their house and down the stairs. As my eyes adjusted, it seemed they had led me down into a dark pit of despair. “I thought I asked you what your favorite part of this house was.” I exclaimed. They grinned at me, told me to be patient, and kept leading the way. Hidden in the back of one of the rooms was a small door, set in the back of a wall. When they opened it up, inside was a nice little cubby hole. It was extremely small, but could fit one person sitting, perhaps two if they scrunched together. Inside three objects had been placed. They explained to me that this was their safe place. That anytime one of them was angry or afraid they could come here and chill out for a while. Each of them had placed one of their favorite items in the secret place so that they could relax and stay hidden from the stormy relationships, weird events, and problems that the world so often hurls at us…at least for a little while. I have to admit, as I walked away that day, I was a little jealous. I wish I had a safe place like that. Today, we are going to go on a little adventure through the Bible to see that we do have a safe place like. But this place won’t just be safe for a little while. It is safe now and forever. It is a place worthy of eternal praise.
If you were hoping for a suspenseful sermon, you are out of luck. Our text immediately gives away the answer to what this safe place is already in the first verse. It tells us, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.” The Lord is our safe place. Let’s learn some more about this Lord. “Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Whoa, this Lord, our safe place, has been around forever. Since before any mountains existed. Actually, before anything in the world existed, God was there. So God has been around since before the beginning. But how long will he be around? Our text gives us the answer. It says from “everlasting to everlasting.” God has been around since before the beginning and he will be around after the end. A safe place for all eternity. Now these words are not meant to be a philosophical discussion. They are facts that will have practical application…in a little bit. First, we have to compare something to the Lord: human life.
“You turn people back to dust, saying ‘return back to dust, you mortals.’ A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night. Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning.” The Bible tells us that when people die, their bodies return back to the ground. They decay back to dust and the soul returns back to him for judgement. Already we see God is eternal, our bodies are not. A thousand years in God’s sight is nothing. It’s like a day, a drop in the bucket of eternity. Yet for humans, no one has ever made it past a thousand years. No one. The oldest recorded human life we have is a guy named Methuselah at 969 years. Our longevity doesn’t compare to God. And what about now. Most of us live to be in our 70s, maybe 80s if we have the strength. Maybe you can stretch it out to like 120 years, but it’s still nothing compared to eternity. We all fall into that sleep called death. Even though we are like new grass in the morning, fresh and supple in our youth, it doesn’t last. Grass turns brown and dies. We get old, we wither, and we die. And it’s a message we don’t like to hear, but it’s true. You’ve all seen it. We’ve all got to prepare for it. And the time goes fast, right. That was one of my least favorite sayings growing up. That time goes so fast. And older people would say it to me all the time. I’d be like, “What are you talking about? I sit in school and the seconds cannot move fast enough.” Something changed along the line. Like a switch went off. I’m only 30 and I catch myself saying it all the time. Where has the time gone? Because nothing in this life lasts. Nothing.
I was looking for a cord to something the other day and as I was digging, I came across a long lost flash drive. I was curious. I was wondering what could be on there. The fact that I couldn’t remember shows how fast time flies. Was it just old homework assignments? Was it going to be some silly thing I typed up one day? Perhaps it was going to be full of pictures? Or maybe even a lost will granting me a million dollars? See, I guess there is some suspense in this sermon after all. As I plugged in the flash drive, my computer crashed. I’m just kidding. It was completely fine. The flash drive ended up being an assortment of things: some assignments, some silly things I had typed up, and some pictures. I decided I had just enough time to quick peak at the pictures.
As I was going through, two pictures stood out. Was that me? I wasn’t huge on taking pictures of myself, but here it was, a progress point of my old workout goals. My goals were to get to a point where I could curl 60 pound dumbbells (eventually I would get to 70), 10,000 crunches in a day, among other things I’m looking at this and wondering, are those abs? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8? Then I looked down at my present-day stomach. Let’s count the abs. One. And that’s it. Just a one-pack. Where did the time go? Now I’m not telling you this because I’m trying to brag about myself then. I’m not telling you this to body shame myself now. Lord knows after the health problems I’ve had, it’s a miracle I’m standing. But I am telling you nothing lasts. You could workout and fight time as long as you can, but eventually time will wear you down. How many of you out there are grandparents? Go on, show me your hands. It’s something to be proud of. How many of you sometimes saw/see your grandchildren run around like a bolt of lightning and you have to stop and catch your breath? Often that’s just part of getting older. I’ve heard a person’s peak shape is 27 years old and that things start going downhill at 35. It’s harder to stay in shape. things break down. Nothing lasts.
You may say, “Well Pastor Jake, that makes sense for the body, but what about other things?” Maybe you’ve saved up and although you were poor when you were young, you live quite comfortably now. My question for you then is, how will you enjoy that money the day after you die? It just doesn’t work like that. It’s the sad unnatural truth that one day the people you know will one day die. That one day you are going to die. Unless Jesus comes to wrap things up, every one of us is going to die. All of your stuff, your money, the food you ate, the house you had, the way your body functioned. It’s all part of temporary enjoyment. A simple drop in the bucket of eternity.
It’s painful. It’s gross, but you all know it to be true. You know people that have passed away. And this is a problem. A problem that stems way back to the garden of Eden. Adam and Eve sinned even though they had the choice not to and it sent all humankind into this downward spiral. It’s easy to blame them, but we haven’t made things much better have we? All of our sins have been added to the pile. I know I’m sinful because my heartstrings so often tell me not to share, not to care, not to be accountable to anything or anyone, but only my own desires. That I’m entitled to whatever I want at the cost of everyone else. But deep down we know we are guilty. That little voice inside us nags us. And we know we are accountable to someone, something. Verses 7 and 8 proclaim, “We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.” Now think about that for a second. If every single mistake you ever made was visually and audibly recorded in high definition for everyone to see (this includes your personal thoughts you are too ashamed to mention), how would you expect someone to respond to all of that? I’d be terrified of someone seeing all that. I’d be terrified to see it myself. This is what God sees… and yet in the words of the Psalmist, “Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.”
That’s the beauty of our Lord. He sees all of this stuff and loves us anyway. He’s our safe place. A place where all of our sins are remembered no more. The devil screeches at God, “Look! Look what your kid did. Look at the awfulness of it.” And God says, “I’ve seen it and it’s been taken care of. I sent my son to die for that.” The guy who wrote today's Psalm is a man named Moses. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. He was asked to lead his people the Israelites into the promised land. And throughout the journey and wandering in the wilderness, a lot of people got old and perished. Even Moses wouldn’t be allowed to the promised land. But he didn’t lose heart because he knew who his safe place was. His struggles were temporary, God is forever. He knew that God would greet him with open arms in the true promised land of heaven when his time came. That’s why in verse 13, Moses asks God to relent, to have compassion on his people. He knows who he is going to. Our text has something really interesting that shows us this. If you look at the very beginning of our text, what’s the first word used? Lord. If you look in verse 13, who does the psalmist ask to relent? The LORD. Do you notice any differences? One is all capital letters. Now the first word in the original Hebrew is pronounced Adonai. And this pretty much shows power/authority over something. Our God is powerful and rules. The LORD in all capital letters comes from the Hebrew word, “Yahweh” which is the name God uses for his free and faithful love. It shows he is the God of keeping his promises. This is the God who promised to send Jesus to wipe away all our sins. It’s the same God, but the name switch here shows you this is the God who will relent from his wrath. This is the God of love who would send his son to die on the cross. This is the God Moses trusted in. This is the God who would grant us something in our lives that is lasting, something we can take with us past death and that grants eternal life: that gospel message of Jesus. That’s the reason we have a safe place in God. He satisfies us every morning with his unfailing love.
But there is still a tiny bit more to this text. Verse 12 asks the Lord to do something for his people. “Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Our days are numbered. If nothing lasts, how can we use them in wisdom? There is one thing lasting: faith. While you have time on earth, you can do something in this short time to gain souls. Mark 16:15 says, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” We talked about death today. And death can be scary. But the reason we addressed it was so that you know you have something lasting that’s stronger than death. And we can use our worldly wealth that won’t last to help people see the Gospel of Christ. God is our safe place now and forever. Amen.