Reviving the Soul
Psalm 19 (NIV)
1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.ƒn4Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.
7The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The ordinances of the LORD are sure and altogether righteous. 10They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb.
11By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12Who can discern his errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 14May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
INTRODUCTION: What do you do with an ¡§Alexander¡¨ kind of day?
One of the all-time great children’s books is "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." It is about a boy around 8 years old named Alexander who has one of those days where nothing goes right.
He says, "I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
At breakfast Anthony found a Corvette Sting Ray car kit in his breakfast cereal box and Nick found a Junior Undercover Agent code ring in his cereal box, but in my breakfast cereal box all I found was breakfast cereal. I think I’ll move to Australia.
In the car pool Mrs. Gibson let Becky have a seat by the window. Audrey and Elliot got seats by the window too. I said ’I was being scrunched,’ I said "I was being smushed.’ I said, ’If I don’t get a seat by the window I am going to be car-sick.’ No one even answered. I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
At school Mrs. Dickens liked Paul’s picture of the sailboat better than my picture of the invisible sand castle. At singing time she said I sang too loud. At counting time she said I left out sixteen. Who needs sixteen? I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
I could tell because Paul said I wasn’t his best friend anymore. He said that Philip Parker was his best friend, and that Albert Moyo was his next best friend and that I was only his third best friend.
’I hope you sit on a tack,’, I said to Paul. ’I hope the next time you get a double-decker strawberry ice cream cone the ice cream part falls off the cone part and lands in Australia.’
There were two cupcakes in Philip Parker’s lunch bag and Albert got a Hershey bar with Almonds and Paul’s mother gave him a piece of jelly roll that had little coconut sprinkles on the top. Guess who’s mother forgot to put in desert.
It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. That’s what it was because after school my mom took us all to the dentist and Dr. Fields found a cavity just in me. ’Come back next week and I’ll fix it,’ said Dr. Fields. ’Next week,’ I said, ’I’m going to Australia.’
On the way downstairs the elevator door closed on my foot and while we were waiting for my mom to go get the car, Anthony made me fall where it was muddy and when I started crying because of the mud, Nick said I was a crybaby and while I was punching Nick for saying crybaby my mom came back with the car and scolded me for being muddy and fighting.
’I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,’ I told everybody. No one even answered.
So then we went to the shoe store to buy some sneakers. Anthony chose white ones with blue stripes. Nick chose red ones with white stripes. I chose blue ones with red stripes, but then the shoe man
said, ’We’re all sold out.’ Then made me buy plain old white ones, but they can’t make me wear them.
When we picked up my dad at the office he said I couldn’t play with his copying machine, but I forgot. He also said to watch out for the books on his desk, and I was careful as could be except for my elbow. He also said ’don’t fool around with the phone,’ but I think I called Australia. My dad said please don’t pick him up anymore. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.
There was lima beans for dinner and I hate lima beans. There was kissing on TV and I hate kissing. My bath was too hot, I got soap in my eyes, my marble went down the drain, and I had to wear my railroad train pajamas. I hate my railroad train pajamas. When I went to bed Nick took back the pillow he said I could keep and the Mickey Mouse light burned out and I bit my tongue.
The cat wants to sleep with Anthony, not with me. It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.
Alexander’s mother is right, there are some days like that, even in Australia. Even for us Christians. There are some days that just seem to be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days.
What can we do about them? How can we handle them? How can we keep a perspective of hope that enables us to stand firm when the world around us is falling apart? You go to a doctor to get physically well, you take viatmins to stay healthy. You work out in a gym to stay in shape. You read a book or work on a crossword puzzle to keep your mind going. You paint or sew to tap your creative side. But what can you do to feed your soul? Where do you revive your soul especially in the midst of an Alexander type day? David shares 5 ways in Reviving the Soul
WAY 1. DISCOVER the wonder of God¡¦s creation. David reminds us in Psalm 19:1, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky displays what his hands have made. -- (GOD¡¦S WORD) Michelangelo would pray, ¡§Lord, make me see your glory in every place.¡¨ The beauty of a sunrise or sunset declares the glory of God and feeds my soul. The majesty of a mountain range or calmness of an ocean beach declares the glory of God and feeds my soul. The birth of my children and the beauty of my wife declares the glory of God in my life and feeds my soul.
Most people¡¦s awareness of a supreme being comes from their observation of the wonder of God¡¦s creation. For God has this knack of answering Michelangelo¡¦s prayer and making us see his glory in every place. When you need to revive your soul, discover the wonder of God¡¦s creation. Take time to go to the beach and watch the waves, or the sun rise and set.
WAY 2. ENCOUNTER the power of God¡¦s Word. It is interesting that only one general reference to God is made in the first 6 verses of this psalm, and then 7 times God¡¦s personal name LORD is used in the last 8 verses. Although discovering the wonder of creation makes us aware of a supreme being, it does not necessarily reveal who this supreme being is. To know God personally, it calls for God to make Himself known us. David increases the value of reviving the soul when he calls us to encounter the power of God¡¦s Word in Psalm 19:7-9, 7The revelation of GOD is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of GOD are clear and point out the right road. 8The life-maps of GOD are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of GOD are plain and easy on the eyes. 9GOD’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of GOD are accurate down to the nth degree. -- (The Message)
When airplanes fly, and the fog gets heavy, often they will need to fly by the instruments. Ever made a landing like that? You look out the window, and you look down, and you only see clouds and fog, and the plane keeps getting lower. You start saying the Lord¡¦s Prayer and singing ¡§Nearer My God to Thee.¡¨ And the pilot, he keeps checking his instruments, and before you know it, you are safe at the gate.
When life gets foggy and even on its clear sunny days, we need to check the instruments that guide life. We live by encountering God¡¦s Word and its power in living life. All that David describes in verses 7-9 are images of what happens when we encounter God¡¦s Word like reviving the soul.
WAY 3. FOLLOW the path of God¡¦s Word. Look at how David describes the value of flying by the instruments of God¡¦s Word in Psalm 19:10-11, 10More desirable than gold, even than the finest gold; his words are sweeter than honey, that drips from the comb. 11Thus your servant is formed by them; observing them brings great reward. -- (New Jerusalem Bible)
David is saying there is nothing more valuable than the path of God¡¦s Word, and nothing tastes better than God Word. The Revised Burkey Version would say his words are sweeter than frango mint chocolate. Until we follow that path of God¡¦s Word, we often miss out on the soul reviving power of fulfilling God¡¦s purpose. If we haven¡¦t tasted it yet, we rarely know what we are missing.
When I was a child my favorite meal involved eating spam. If back then you had asked if you could have anything to eat, what would you want ¡V it was my mom fixing us spam to eat. My mom is a great cook. Then one day my dad introduced me to something called a Fillet Mignon, and I haven¡¦t asked for spam since.
You can get a good deal of spam advice and input in life, but if you want to get beyond existence, if you want to revive the soul you not only encounter the power of God¡¦s Word, you follow the path of God¡¦s Word.
WAY 4. FIND forgiveness from life¡¦s faults. David moves from the power of God¡¦s Word to the problems that overwhelm him in life. He asks in Psalm 19:12-13, 12How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13Keep me from deliberate sins! Don¡¦t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin. -- (New Living Translation)
In driving it¡¦s called the blind spot. It¡¦s that part of the road that you just cannot see as you drive. Wise drivers adjust their mirrors to minimize those blind spots, but because what you can¡¦t see, you can still hit. Blind spots are dangerous in driving, they are even more dangerous in life.
David asks God to forgive the blind spots, the sins lurking in his heart. He desires to be cleansed and made whole. One of the greatest gifts God gives us in life, though it doesn¡¦t seem like a gift at the time, are dear friends who gently and kindly point out our blind spots. When you have bad breath, they offer you a mint. And I was once told if someone offers you a mint, you should probably take it. Maybe there¡¦s someone you need to offer a mint to their blind spot in life, but if you are going to hand out a few mints, be ready to receive them as well.
Reviving the soul happens when you find forgiveness from life¡¦s faults. This leads to WAY 5. KNOW the Redeemer who is the foundation for life. Of all the ways David offers to revive the soul. This one is at the top of the list. If you take this one away, it is impossible to receive sustenance for the soul that will last a lifetime and then some. His request starts as a prayer, but focuses on the one who is the expert at reviving souls. Look at how he closes this psalm in Psalm 19:14, Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. -- (New American Standard Bible)
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel is one of the greatest artistic triumphs in history. From 1508 to 1512, the artist Michelangelo lay on his back and painted the Fall and the Flood. But Michelangelo’s magnificent art started to fade almost immediately. Within a century of completing his work, no one remembered what his original frescoes had really looked like. Painter Biagio Biagetti described it in 1936: "We see the colors of the Sistine ceiling as if through smoked glass."
In 1981 a scaffold was erected to clean the frescoes that adorn the chapel. With a special solution, Fabrizio Mancinelli and Gianluigi Colalucci gently washed a small corner of the painting.
They invited art experts to examine the work. The result was stunning. No one had imagined that beneath centuries of grime lay such vibrant colors. This was not the Michelangelo known by art critics. That artist was the master of form, his paintings resembling sculpture more than painting. This "new" artist was also the master of color¡Xazure, green, rose, and lavender of amazing nuance.
Their success prompted the restoration of the entire ceiling. The task was completed on December 31, 1989. It had taken twice as long to clean the ceiling as the artist had needed to paint it. But the result was breathtaking. For the first time in nearly 500 years, people viewed this masterpiece the way it was intended, in all of its color and beauty.
Restoring the master¡¦s workmanship is what God desires when He revives your soul. Jesus is the one who is the Rock and the Redemer. Jesus is the one who gives forgiveness through His life on the cross. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh, and the one the Word of God the Bible points to us. God revives our soul to make us more like this Jesus.
CONCLUSION: Back on our feet.
The same root word David uses for reviving the soul in Psalm 19, he uses in Psalm 23 when he speaks of the Lord is my shepherd who restores my soul. When a shepherd restores a cast down sheep, it doesn’t just happen immediately. It takes time to restore a cast down sheep. First a shepherd will come to the sheep laying on its back with its legs sticking straight up in the air. The first thing the shepherd does is lovingly massage the four legs to get some circulation back up in the four legs. Then he begins to talk in a reassuring tone to the sheep, "You’re going to make it." Then he gently turns the sheep over, puts his hand under the sheep’s belly and lifts it up because it cannot stand up on its own because of its wobbly feet. He will lift up the sheep and hold it there while the sheep begins to get some equilibrium. The blood begins to flow in the legs again and it begins to get some stability. When the shepherd realizes and can feel that the sheep can stand on its own feet that it’s got it’s equilibrium back, then that shepherd will lovingly and gently let the sheep go.
What a picture of what God wants to do for you! When you’re on your back and flailing around and the grief, guilt, or grudges are overwhelming you and you think you’re going to die in that position, the Lord is your Shepherd. He lovingly comes with reassuring words and tender hands, picks up His little lamb, sets him up straight until he can get on his own feet again and carries it until it’s got that stability back. Jesus Christ wants to restore your soul. If you’ve been cast down for any reason, He’s the only one who can help you get back up on your feet again. When He restores your soul, He restores your confidence and your joy and peace and strength. We can restore a lot of things -- cars, paintings, sound recordings, buildings -- but only God can restore a soul. Amen.