Summary: What does your life say about God?
A true story is told of a Ford Motor Company machinist in Detroit who became a Christian. In light of that experience he became a devout follower of God and desired to right his many wrongs.
He had been stealing parts and tools from Ford for many years. The morning after his conversion, he acted out his public confession of Christ by taking all of the stolen tools and parts back to his employer. He explained his situation and recent conversion to his foreman and asked for his forgiveness.
This response by an employee was without precedent. Mr. Ford, who was visiting a European plant, was cabled concerning all the details of this matter with a request for his response.
Mr. Ford immediately replied with his decision: "Dam up the Detroit River and baptize the whole city."
A commentator noted, "Baptism is a public proclamation; our lives should be the same."
In light of today’s sermon title, I ask, "What does your life say about God?"
Henry and Richard Blackaby have written, "Why is it that some Christians seem to go much deeper in their walk with God than others? It is because these individuals have committed themselves to pursue God until his presence is powerfully real in their lives."
For the remaining Sundays of this month, we are going to spend time in the longest chapter of the Bible - Psalm 119.
Now Psalm 119 is 176 verses long and to give you an idea of just how long 176 verses are, if I were to preach a verse of Psalm 119 every Sunday, it would take me, minus vacation, Easter, and Christmas Sundays, (5 Sundays/year), almost 3 and 3/4 years to preach it. But, I am not going to do that, unless I felt led to.
Some have suggested that this Psalm was written not by David or Solomon but by someone well after their time - Ezra. Even though the book bearing his name appears toward the middle of the Old Testament, chronologically it comes toward the end, well after David and Solomon and the time of Israel’s kings, because Ezra is a part of the return from Exile that took place in the latter part of Old Testament history.
Chuck Swindoll informs us in his introduction to the book of Ezra, that Ezra was a part of the second group of Jewish refugees who returned to Jerusalem 80 years after the first group, led by Zerubbabel, returned to rebuild the temple.
The second group, led by Ezra, came to reestablish worship. The third group came around a decade and a half later and was led by Nehemiah. Their mission was to rebuild the walls around the city.
One of the characteristics about Ezra that Swindoll notes indicates a link to Psalm 119 and also allows us to understand portions of it, especially those which speak of enemies and those who do not follow God. In Ezra 7:10 we read, "Ezra had determined to study and obey the law of the LORD and to teach those laws and regulations to the people of Israel." Ezra, in addition to teaching the laws, the ways of faith, to the people also encountered a problem during his tenure in Jerusalem.
Many of the Jewish leaders had taken up the practice of intermarriage with the various groups that lived in and around the Jewish remnant. This was forbidden by the Jewish law and caused Ezra, as we read in chapter 9, to weep and mourn before God and to, as we read in chapter 10, demand public confession and repentance of those who were guilty. And that is what happened.
Ezra was committed to following God no matter what. He was passionate about God and living for God and he devoted himself to studying, applying, and following God’s word.
I think that it is very plausible that Ezra wrote Psalm 119 because of both his desire to follow God and his disappointment and frustration with those who did not. I think that we could say with some assurance that this Psalm is Ezra’s "Spiritual Autobiography."
But, this wonderful Psalm describes any one of us who desires to follow hard after God. It can be our spiritual autobiography as well.
There are three verses that express the heart, the desire, and the passion of a person who seeks God and the security of a personal relationship with God. They reveal three characteristics, three qualities, which are essential for living a life in which God is evident.
All three verses appear in the first two sections of Psalm 119. Now I say sections because some of you might have a Bible that has section titles for Psalm 119. That is because Psalm 119 is divided into 22 sections and the first verse of each section begins with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This structure perhaps was used to enable this Psalm to be used in corporate worship, like a liturgy or responsive reading.