Summary: God doesn't want us living in the past nor in the future, rather God wants us to live in the present. Today is the only day we have for sure, so let's view it as a blessing from God and rejoice in it, living it to the full.
A. There was an article a few years ago in which a man gave his idea of a perfect world. He said:
1. “In a perfect world you would feel as good at 60 as you did at 17. And you would be as smart at 60 as you thought you were at 17."
2. “In a perfect world professional basketball and baseball and football players would be complaining because schoolteachers were signing multi-million dollar contracts.”
3. In a perfect world potato chips would have calories, but if eaten with dip, the calories would be neutralized.”
4. “In a perfect world, mail would always be early, and the check in the mail would always be for more than you expected it to be.” (Steve Shepherd, “A New Year-A New Life” sermoncentral).
5. Let me add: “In a perfect world, every year would be better than the year before it.”
B. The truth is: this is not a perfect world and it never will be!
1. Because last year was such a difficult year, it won’t be too hard for this year to be a better one.
2. But even if this year isn’t better than last year, that doesn’t mean that we can’t live life to the full and grow in Christ in the New Year.
C. Psalm 118 contains the words to one of my favorite choruses: (sing it with me)
1. “This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made.
I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.
This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord has made.”
2. What a simple song! But what profound meaning it has!
D. This morning, I want us to revisit this important biblical text and understand the context where we find the words of that chorus.
1. We need to put ourselves in the place where King David was.
a. At that moment in time, he was a man in a time of crisis with much conflict around him.
b. The humanity within him likely cried out, “Give up. You’re finished. There’s no hope.”
c. But the Spirit within him demanded that he affirm God’s goodness and love.
2. So, David was able to maintain a hold on two contrasting realities: the difficulty of his existence, on one hand, and the goodness of God, on the other.
a. He sandwiched the challenges of his existence between these opening and closing affirmations.
b. Psalm 118 opens with: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.
c. Then Psalm 118 concludes: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” (vs. 29).
E. What we find in between those verses includes the difficulties that his enemies brought.
1. They had surrounded him, on every side (vs. 10-11).
2. They had swarmed him like bees, but they died out as quickly as burning thorns (vs. 12).
3. He was pushed back and about to fall (vs. 13).
4. The Lord disciplined him severely, but did not give him over to death (vs. 18).
F. Yet, in the midst of those difficulties, the Lord was with him. David declares:
1. “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.” (vs. 6)
2. “The Lord is with me; he is my helper.” (vs. 7)
3. “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.” (vs. 8)
4. “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” (vs. 14)
5. “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things.” (vs. 15)
G. So, what did David do in response to his situation and to what the Lord had done?
1. David says, “I will not be afraid.” (vs. 6)
2. “I will proclaim what the Lord has done.” (vs. 17)
3. “I will give thanks to the Lord.” (vs. 19)
4. “I will exalt my God.” (vs. 28)
5. It is toward the end of this Psalm (vs, 24) that we find that wonderful little verse that inspired the song, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
H. And so Psalm 118 gives us a wonderful example of how people of faith can face each day.
1. We can certainly identify with the up-and-down experience of the Psalmist.
2. As we gather as a church for worship, we are often filled with a jumbled bag of emotions.
3. Our pain and frustrations cause us to lament, while at the same time we see and know the faithfulness of God and are therefore filled with praise and thanksgiving.
I. This was a favorite Psalm of the great reformer, Martin Luther.