Summary: A comparison of the suffering of godly and ungodly people. A new and distinctive translation of Psalm 107 as a psalm of general truth.
PSALM 107 PART 1 NEW FORMAT
Do you have friends and relatives who have little time for Jesus Christ? Do you have friends and relatives, both men and women, who think that they are macho, and who think that Christianity is for sissies, and not for macho men and women such as they think they are? Do you have neighbors who, if you invited them to come to Sunday School and church with you Sunday morning, would tell you that Sunday morning is the only morning that they have to sleep in; but they would get up before dawn on a Sunday morning to drive hundreds of miles to go hunting and/or fishing? Do you have friends, neighbors, or relatives, who really see no practical purpose for being a Christian? In their best moments they are just indifferent to the claims of Christ. In their worst moments they might scoff at your religion, calling it pie in the sky when you die. Are you concerned about their salvation? Do you want to see them coming to Christ?
I want to assure you this morning that God is more concerned about their salvation than you are. And throughout the course of the lives of your friends and relatives He has been doing something about it. What He does first is to let them carry on life as usual, to try to cope with life as best they can. Generally speaking, they think that they are managing fairly successfully. As long as they have a good job, good health, and fairly normal, healthy children - they think that they are coping. But then God allows unusual stress to come to their lives, troubles which stretch them beyond the point of coping. And then they often do one of three things. What most non-Christians do under unusual stress is merely to seek some form of medical help. Rather than go also to the Great Physician who treats causes, they often go only to a human physician who sometimes only treats symptoms with pills, which often only aggravate the cause.
If they see the hand of God at all in their trouble, they usually do one of two things. They either become bitter against God, or they cry out to God for help. When they become bitter, God just lets them carry on in their own strength and bitterness for another period, and then he allows them to have more stress. If they cry out to God for help, He answers them, and sends them at least temporary relief; which is often all that they really want. You see, what God is seeking is an eternal covenant relationship, which involves a commitment to the Lordship of Jesus Christ; and a commitment to love God as a heavenly Father. What they are often seeking is merely temporary relief. More often than not, after the temporary relief has come, they go back to the same old reliance upon self. In other words, they practice what has been called fox-hole religion.
Now all these acts of God in bringing people in and out of trouble are acts of loving-kindness. You see, one of the kindest things God can do for any person, Christian or non-Christian, is to wean him from trusting in his own finite human resources, and to lead him to trust in the infinite divine resources of Jesus Christ. And God=s loving-kindness is so great, that no matter how bitter Christians and non-Christians become, and no matter how much they cry to God for help in their troubles and then forget him in their good times, He keeps at this loving task of weaning them from trust in self to trust in Christ.
And some times, but not always, they come to the realization that they are being utter fools in resisting His love, that fox-hole religion is both unstable and foolish.
Today God may be working in this way with some non-Christians on your street. Tomorrow he may be working in this way with some non-Christians among your friends, relatives or associates at work. God will not stop His ways of loving-kindness with these individuals.
God knows that trust in self in foolish, and that trust in Christ is indispensable to proper living. And so through troubles God continues to encourage all people to experience proper trust in Christ. This is part of the reason why there is so much trouble in the world. God is teaching individuals and the whole world that reliance on self is sin, and that the wages of sin is death. He is weaning individuals to trust in Christ, a gift which brings eternal life.
Psalm 107 discusses this process.
You will find in your bulletin this morning a translation of Psalm 107 which I have prepared from the original Hebrew. Psalm 107 talks about people who practice fox-hole religion, and contrasts them with Christians who recognize God as their heavenly Father who is to be obeyed, and who recognize that Jesus has redeemed them to be His slaves.