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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Saturday Sermon: Prayer in Passing

Psalm 90:12-17

And so we begin a New Year, and I want to start this New Year by going back and looking at something old. The book of Psalms, so rich with worship and good theology, is arranged into five books: book one – Psalm 1-41 / book two – Psalm 42-72 / book three – Psalm 73-89 / book four – Psalm 90-106 / book five – Psalm 107-150. So Psalm 90 is the start of book 4, but the books are not in chronological order. This is actually the oldest of the 150 Psalms, written by Moses, either at end of the 40 years in the wilderness, or perhaps even earlier, when Moses was in the wilderness, awaiting his return to Egypt to deliver the Jews. Psalm 90 is unique, in that that it is the only psalm attributed to Moses, and as such it makes a unique contribution in what it tells us about Moses himself, something we do not see anywhere else.

Many believe the background is from the sin of Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 13-14). The unbelief of the ten spies and the people was a rebellion against God, Moses and Aaron. The Exodus generation, except all those under 20 and Joshua and Caleb, would die in the wilderness. This meant Moses had to see about 1 ¼ million people die during those 38-40 years, or about 87 deaths per day. After seeing a whole generation die away, including his brother and sister, Aaron and Miriam, this is the context Moses writes from. His prayer is for God’s work to continue on and that people would see it and be blessed despite the fact that Moses himself will not see it. He had made what might seem like one little mistake (Numbers 20:8-12) but he still wrote this prayer as it being good for the work to carry on. If anyone back then knew how to pray it was Moses, so lets pay attention to what and how he prays. Moses was saying this prayer even as his life was passing. We as Christians are also just passing through and this should be our prayer in passing. The time on this earth is passing away, and we need to pass our time in prayer.

Now some theologians, scholars and pastors believe that this wasn’t written in the wilderness, after the Exodus, but before the Exodus, when Moses was in the wilderness for 40 years before he went back to Egypt to deliver the Jews. Even if this is so, it still brings us to see Moses and his anguish of soul. To see and know of all his people who were in the bitter bondage of slavery, you can imagine what it must have been like for Him to know he had been a part of the Egyptian people who were persecuting the Jews, and now he had to wait to go and bring them out. Perhaps Moses wrote this near the end of the forty years, and so having endured all those years of grief, God sent him back to Egypt, back to his people, not the Egyptians, but his true people, the Jews, and then deliver them, back to the wilderness, and into the promised land.

How this is represented with godly men who shepherd the flock of God today. How we anguish in our soul to see so many in the bitter bondage to the slavery of sin. And how even more so when we see people who have been delivered by such a great deliverance, mightier than the Exodus, and yet they wander around their own self made wilderness, never entering into the promised land, the rest that God has for them in Christ. They have seen His hand of deliverance, they have worshipped Him as He has taught them, and they see His presence like a cloud by day and a fire by night, yet they don’t believe they can move on to conquer the foes who are in front of them, they think they cannot defeat the giants. They have seen so much they have to see it to believe it, that everything must be in place before they can move. They don’t realize that, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31). Christ has defeated sin, hell, and death, and in Him we can defeat anything that would keep us from crossing the Jordan, from entering into all God has for us, both now and for eternity.

Our sin has held us back, and it all stems from the sin of unbelief. This is not the day or the year or the time for unbelief to stop us. This is a time to believe that God has delivered us from sin, death, and hell. He is delivering us from our sinful flesh and enabling us to redeem the time we have on earth. And He will deliver us all the way home to heaven, to a place where we will have been delivered from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, and even the very presence of sin for all eternity. Our promised land is the joy of Jesus Christ forever!

Here is a very brief outline of Psalm 90, with our focus today being verses 12-17.

Verses 1-6 – the transitory nature of man contrasted with the eternal nature of God

Verses 7-12 – reason for transitory nature, which is sin

Verses 13-17 – prayer to build upon and magnify His eternity through their mortality

This sermon today is going to be an interactive venture; we are all going to pray these things as we go through and discuss them. Corporate Prayer is a theme I want to stress this next year.

I pray I learn to count the days / I pray you will make the days count
Teach me to number them (teach me to be efficient)
I ask you to magnify and multiply them (help me be effective)

Vs.12 – people
So, IOW, the perplexities of verses 1-11 lead to this lesson
Verse 12 is the lesson of Kadesh-Barnea (or prayer that they make the most of their journey)

Make the most out the opportunities you have, don’t waste time, but not necessarily about being busy, but about doing God’s will with all of our time.

Teach me to count the days that you may make my days (life) count. The way you are productive may change, it will change, but we need to do what we can when we can.

Vs.13 – presence (Psalm 6:3 – how long)
Revival / Deliverance / Mercy

Vs.14 – promptness
In the morning means do it soon and we will be happy
External (rejoice) and internal (and be glad) joy – all our days

Vs.15 – proportionate
400 years of slavery / 40 years of testing and torment, not based on merit but mercy
Out of Egypt / Out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land
Plural and perhaps it wouldn’t include Moses but his people yet to be born

Vs.16 – providence and prolonging, progress (the work of God among them)
Prayer that God would reveal His power and presence among them. Like Paul’s prayer as pastor’s pulse (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5), we pray that the work would carry on, with encouragement and experience, that people would see His working on and in us and glorify God. That we would see God working in our lives and our children would recognize God at work.

Vs.17 – prosperity – Establishment – An illustration of grace and redemption
(Beauty) (vs.16) (Blessing) (vs.17) – The work of God (vs.16) through the work of man (vs.17) – Let them see your beauty through our blessing – Repeated for emphasis

Pray for grace to help us so that His glory would show forth from us (Matthew 5:16 / Philippians 2:15), that we would see God work and they would see God’s work. Father let Jesus shine upon us and then shine through us. Lord do it so that others can see you did it, this is for your Glory. This prayer is not about what you can get out of Him, but what He can get out of you; this is a prayer for God to get the most out of me.

This is a prayer that we may act in accordance with His character. We pray that we not sin against Him but be an instrument for Him. This life will soon be past only what is done for the Lord will last. Father, let us see the beauty of Christ and live in the power of Christ so that we, with our lives, in word and in deed, may show the beauty and power of Christ. This is our prayer.

“Living For Today With An Eye For Tomorrow”©

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At 1:13 AM, Blogger Even So... said...

This sermon was preached live on January 6, 2007...you can hear it by going to our audio sermon page...just click on the link below the profile box...

At 2:01 AM, Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

JD, can you please go here and take a look at his comment back to me? Maybe I'm just confused, but I think he's got it all wrong but I can't quite figure out how to explain it - or maybe I've got it wrong and he's got it right so you can straighten me out.


At 9:51 AM, Blogger Even So... said...

wow, nearly two years later and we get a seriously deranged spammer....don't even ask...


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