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God’s Greatness and Our Gratitude (Julius Hovan)

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By Julius Hovan

 

Welcome to Words of Life, a radio program designed to bring you good news about the Lord Jesus. And we are so glad that you have tuned in today.

I don’t know what time of the year you will get to hear this broadcast. Maybe it will be broadcast much later in the year, but where I am broadcasting it we are in Thanksgiving week.  And it is a time when all over the world and certainly here in the nation of America that we are recognizing the gifts and blessings of God in such abundance and we are offering our thanksgiving to him.
It is impossible for us to really think about our great God and not be lost in wonder, love and praise as the hymn says.

The psalmist in Psalm 95 invites us into his presence, into God’s presence and to give thanks and to offer praise. This invitation we will see is based firmly on the next verse.  Let’s read verses one and two of Psalm 95.  If you are where you can, you can get your Bible and follow along with us.  Psalm 95Oh, come let us sing unto Jehovah. Let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

Oh, indeed, what a great God we serve and can praise. We are grateful because, listen to verse three:

For Jehovah is a great God and a great King above all gods.

Oh, did you hear those words, my friends? We can be grateful because God is great. He is not just great, but he is the greatest, the giver of every good and perfect gift and the best of those of all, the wonderful Lord Jesus his precious Son, the supplier of that one Paul described as the unspeakable gift. Words were not adequate to describe him. And so, indeed, we can say this God of ours is worthy of our worship. He is worthy of our praise. He is worthy of all of those things that would come into our lives, that would cause us to have and express the joy of the Lord.

As we think about this greatness, I think there are several ways in which this greatness is revealed. Verse five puts it this way. Let’s read four and five together.  In his hand are the deep places of the earth. The heights of the mountains are his. The sea is his and he made it and his hands formed the dry land. 

My friend, we see the greatness of God because he is the one who creates.  There is no argument in the Bible about God being creator. It states it simply in the opening words of the Word of God.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

And that sixth verse immediately follows in Psalm 95.

     Oh, come let us worship and bow down and let us kneel before Jehovah our maker.

In the book of  Jeremiah the Old Testament prophet says this in verse 17.

Ah, Lord Jehovah, behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm there is nothing too hard for you.

My friends, what a person this is, this God of ours as we think about what he has done, what he is doing, what he promises to do. Jeremiah says it well. There is nothing too hard for this great creator God of ours.

Nehemiah, that man that came out of captivity and went back to Jerusalem to help rebuild the wall says this about God in Nehemiah chapter nine and verse six.  You are the Lord Jehovah. Even you alone, you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all the things thereon it, the seas and all that is in them and you preserve them all and all the host of heaven worship you. 

For the Old Testament saints of God, all life revolved around God as the creator. In contract, our society today wants to leave creation to chance. Oh, this just happened. It was an accident or an explosion or it is just fate.  This choice is a life related to the person of a loving God who created not a theory that is without a plan and purposeless.  This God or ours is, indeed, creator.  And as we contemplate the marvels of creation, we see the sovereignty of God and the wisdom of God and the power of God.  Look up at the stars some dark night. Get away from the city lights and just look up into the vast heavens. Man has not yet explored the depths of them.

A young man returned to his country home after being away at a year of college and, of course, he gained such great knowledge during that time and began to doubt his faith in God as he had been reared in that Christian home. He spied a pumpkin on a little, small vine growing along the vine and close by there was a massive oak tree. And on this oak tree were those little bitty acorns and he kind of laughed and made fun and he said, “Well, father, if it was me, I would have swapped places. I would have put the pumpkins on that big oak tree and I would have put the acorns down here on this little vine on the ground.” Well, about that time an acorn fell off the tree and fell on his head.  And his dad said, “Well, I guess you are glad God put the pumpkin on the ground and not the acorn on the ground.”  If we will look at the magnitude and greatness of creation, this God is worthy of our gratitude and our worship.
But he is not only the God who creates, but, as we saw in verse four, in his hand are the deep places of the earth and the heights of the mountains are his. He is not only the creator, but he is the one who controls. God did not create the world, wind it up like some great big old clock and leave it to wind down and just hopefully it could hold together.  He continues to uphold the world by the power of his hand.

Many years ago there was a popular song that said, “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” My friends, this verse of Scripture bears that out.  The 148th Psalm puts it this way beginning in verse seven.

     Praise Jehovah from the earth, sea monsters and deeps, fire and hail and snow and vapor, stormy wind fulfilling his words, mountains and all hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, beasts and cattle, creeping things and flying birds, kings of the earth and all you people, princes and all judges of the earth. 

What a picture of those young men and virgins, oh, men and children. Let them praise the Lord.  Do you see the value?  Do you see why these are willing to put forth the effort of praising our great God? The apostle Paul in teaching and the other writers of the New Testament echo that for we read in the 14th chapter of the gospel of the writer of Acts when he tells us this in verses 15, 16 and 17, Acts 14 beginning with 15. Paul is there. And he said, “Sirs, why do you do these things?  We are men of like passions with you and we bring you good tidings that you should turn from these vain things unto the living God.”

Now notice how Paul describes this living God.   “He is the one who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, who in the generations gone by suffered the nations to walk in their own ways. And yet he left not himself without witness. He did himself good and he gave you from heaven rain and fruitful seasons fill your hearts with food and gladness.”   Paul introduced these people to the creator God, who controls. And what a precious God he is indeed. He provided you the seasons to plant and to cultivate and to harvest and to find rest.

Have you ever wondered why the seasons come and go like they do?  Why don’t we have winter for 12 months and then summer for 12 months. God was wise, was he not? The God who creates, the God who controls, the God in verse seven of Psalm 95. He is our God. We are the people of his pasture, the sheep of his hand. Oh, that you would hear his voice. He is the God who cares for us. We are his people. We have reason to be thankful intensely and intimately with the person of our great God.

It is the picture here of the shepherd and the sheep. That is Psalm 23 where the shepherd leads and feeds and protects and disciplines and heals.

It is said that a Frenchman sent by Napoleon to the dungeon felt completely forsaken and all alone. In his despair he scratched on the wall of his cell these words.  “Nobody cares.”   A green shoot burst out through a crack in the wall and it grew up toward the window. And so he took his little meager ration of water each day and shared it with that little green plant. And, at last, that little plant, lifting its head up towards the light of the window, bore a beautiful blue flower and the man in the jail, in the dungeon underneath the word  “nobody cares,” scratched the word, “God cares.”  Reason enough to be thankful because God cares. The creator, controller God, cares about you, my friends.

Some of you are in difficult circumstances today. Someone hearing my voice is in a country where it is hard to be a Christian or where poverty runs rampant and difficulties plague you in rearing a family or whatever it might be. You need to know in spite of that God cares and one day, one day for those who are followers of Jesus, there is going to be a great time of reward.

Now listen to verses seven and eight, very sobering words that I want you to consider in this message today. Verses seven and eight of Psalm 95.    For he is our God.  We are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. Listen. Oh, today that you would hear his voice. Do not harden you heart as at Meribah in the days of Massah in the wilderness when your fathers tempted me and proved me and saw my work. 

This creator God who controls the universe and our world and who cares for all of us individually is the God who calls us. What is more often sent forth and less heeded than the call of God? Unfortunately believers and, yes, certainly unbelievers, often times ignore when God speaks to them.
A man by the name of Pryor was visiting in the Maidstone prison and he was given the opportunity to visit a man by the name of Horatio Bottomley. Mr. Pryor shared his conversion experience with Mr. Bottomley. He said, “I was attending a meeting in Bristol. The preacher was a man by the name of Ray Atkin. He was the speaker on that occasion.  And I felt when he got through that I might make a decision to accept the call of God to be saved and to become a follower of Jesus Christ.”

Horatio Bottomley hung his head. He said, “Sir, that is quite remarkable. I, too, was at that meeting. I, too, heard Mr. Atkins speak. I, too, was impressed with the need to make Jesus my Savior and to follow him, but I decided against it and I went my own way and I lived my life without God  and it has been a wasteful life as always one without God must be.”

Oh, to reject the call of God. Thank God for his earnest, patient call. You have heard it before, no doubt, and not heeded it.  You can still heed the call today. You could be thankful that God has been patient and allowed you to live. And you have tuned in to Words of Life today in order that you could one more time hear about Jesus and hear about the love of God and the sacrifice that Christ gave at Calvary for you.

We have sought to describe God to you today from the Psalm. He is first of all our creator God. He is the God who controls the planets, the universe and the seasons of the year and the earth on which we live. Ah, he is the God, powerful though he may be, who cares about us wherever we are.  And, yes, he is the God who calls us, gives us opportunity and time to receive the gospel message of Jesus Christ the Savior of sinners.

But before we leave this psalm, there is a very sobering, sobering conclusion in verses 10 and 11. For this God whom we have described as creator, controller, the caring God, the calling God is the God who also chastens. Listen to the words. God is talking about his Old Testament people Israel.    “Forty years long was I grieved with that generation and I said it is a people that do err in their heart and they have not known my ways. Wherefore I swore in my wrath they would not enter into my rest.”

Oh, it is not natural for us to thank God when he corrects us. We don’t like that particularly. Children never do when they are punished by their parents. Chastening does not come easy. It is easy to teach and to follow teaching that God provides for me. I like that.  Or the government provides for me. I am glad about that. But what about God? He provides for you, but he is also the God that chastens.

We are reluctant to thank him for punishment and for discipline and it is a vital part of a life of faith. We must learn that as well. It enlarges us. It blesses us when we have gone our own way. We have left God out of our plans, out of our homes, out of our routine. He brings difficulty and problems to awaken us, to get our attention and to pull us back to him. He calls. But, oh, if necessary, he chastens.

What has he brought into your life to try to bring you back to him?  Think of this creator, controller, caring God who calls and chastens you and I believe you will be with the psalmist and you will say, “Oh, come, let us sing unto Jehovah. Let us make a joyful noise the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms, for Jehovah is a great God and a great King of above all gods.”
May he be your God today is our prayer.

 

Julius Hovan is minister of the Bohon Church of Christ, Kentucky




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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4