Summary: The focus of this sermon is the importance of living within our spiritual "wheelhouse", and how to get us back on track in our walk with God when we are feeling too high or too low about ourselves. .
Good morning. We are finishing off this series on The Psalms of Ascents. If you have been here since the beginning, you know we have been talking about how The Psalms of Ascents were believed to be psalms that were sung on the road trips that the pilgrim would make as they ascended up the road to Jerusalem for the three major feasts of the year. If you have been here for a while, you also know that we have been talking about how The Psalms of Ascents are really more than just songs. They have become somewhat of a spiritual metaphor for the spiritual life. So we know, as disciples of Christ, people who are learning to live everyday life like Jesus, these psalms can be helpful for our own spiritual journey. Today’s psalm, Psalm 131, seems to be especially suited for that. It gives us an idea of when we are getting off track in that walk with God and how we might get it back. What we want to do here is do what we have been doing for the last few weeks, which is reading through the psalm together. It is only three verses. There are no big words. (Scripture read here.)
We see here that this is a psalm that is very easy to read, a little bit more difficult to interpret and very difficult to apply because it might require some adjustments. It might require an honest look at where you are and really where you want to be or where God wants you to be. In order to do that, it is helpful to go all the way back to the book of Genesis. Go back to the garden to begin to get an idea of what it is that God wants us to be, especially how we were created. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” This passage, if you ever thought about it, really highlights the value of man and woman. To be created in the image of God, that is a big thing. As a side note, when we think of the word image, a lot of scholars debate what it means to be made in the image of God. There is a lot of discussion about it. Somebody suggested it is kind of like a blurred picture. If you take a picture with your smartphone and you don’t hold it really steady, it gets a little blurry. That is kind of the idea of an image where the likeness is more in tune to the very original. We have the image of God, although it might be a little bit blurred, we still know it is quite valuable because God has imparted on us some phenomenal attributes also known as his communicable attributes (those He freely graces to us which are sometimes referred to as his "moral attributes).
He has given us the ability to be creative as he was creative. He gives us the ability to love as he loved, to have intellect and to have reason. He has given us a unique personality. Obviously, he has given us things like the ability to see, hear, speak, and to touch. That is a short list of the many communicable attributes that God has freely imparted on his creation.
But one of the most important things that he did and that we have contained within us is the very breath of God. We read in Genesis 2:7 that it says “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” The first man, the first woman breathed in the very breath of God. It is an amazing thing to think about. This word we translate breath can also be translated spirit. Some have suggested that Adam and Eve would be considered from the very first day an inspired people, which basically means in spirited by God. Filled up with the very spirit of God. Some of you know that there are certain religious denominations sometimes called Charismatics or Pentecostals where they talk about the spirit-filled life. They talk about being spirit-filled, which often has connected with it this idea of some sort of experience. Some sort of an ecstatic-type experience where you feel totally in touch with God. You feel this sense of overwhelming joy. You feel bathed in the very presence of God. Those experiences, as some of you may know, can last any time from a few seconds to a few minutes. For Adam and Eve that experience was meant to be for all eternity. They were meant to live constantly filled up with the spirit of God. Living in constant harmony. Communing with God. Totally bathed in the presence of God. That was a very, very special thing. Someone said that Adam and Eve were considered lower than angels, but at the same time they were above all the other creation by virtue of what God imparted in them. We read on where it says “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number. Fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” They were given dominion over all of God’s creation. Everything that God said was good. Because God said it was good, they believed it was good, so they would care for the creation with respect. They would not abuse it. It is because God called man and woman not just good, but very good that the first man and first woman had a high sense of their personal worth and personal identity. They were very secure and safe in who they were. These are the people that were placed in the garden. The only requirement was to continue to worship and submission to God. That was the life of Adam and Eve and that is the life that has really been imparted to all of us since the very beginning. That is God’s desire for us. As we know, as the story goes, that ugly thing called sin kind of found its way into the world. Adam and Eve had everything they wanted, everything they could possibly need, except they were tempted by Satan with the thing they didn’t have: to be like God. When they were tempted to eat of the tree of good and evil, they went for it. Kicking off a chain of sinful and horrific events all through history that has impacted every single dimension of the world ever since. It is very difficult in a short sermon to be able to isolate all the consequences of sin. So what I would like to do in the remaining minutes is just highlight a couple results of sin.