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Sermon outlines
by Edward Thomason
GOD IS ABLE TO COMFORT US 
Our God is able lecture series... 3rd of 3 lessons

Source: written by Edward E.Thomason Ė Preachtoday.com
Date preached: _______ place: Church of Christ
Objective: Evangelistic

Sermon Plan Theme: Our schoolmaster 


God is able to COMFORT us 
text: Psalm 8, 139

1. Our earth is no stranger to tears.... From the beginning of time until the end of time, our world has been and will be filled to the brim with sorrow and heartbreak. There is no doubt - that there are some here tonight that are grieving and hurting.... the loses and crosses that are a part of our daily lives sometimes seems endless and exhausting. As Godís people, we seek comfort... and the wonderful news is that God is able to comfort us -- if we will let him. As the apostle Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 1:3 "Blessed be God, even the father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort."

2. Welcome.... Again it is a delight to be back with you for this series of lessons that have been given the simple but grand title: "God is able..."

3. As we stated last evening this is a grand topic that has a breath taking scope beyond our ability to fully grasp it especially in such a brief period of time... (even a life time is too brief to fully comprehend how wonderful and powerful and good and gracious our God truly is...)

4. As we stated last night, Our God is active, alert to our needs, and able to do far more than we could ever begin to imagine... In Psm 34:8 we read, "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." That quote is "a key text" in our studies this week. I hope each of us will heed the advice of the Psalmist and take the time to "taste the goodness" of God in our lives. Everyday he sends his sunshine and blessings into our lives - even if we are not always aware of it. As we learned last night, GOD IS ABLE to CHALLENGE US to trust him more, especially at a time in our nation when it is easy to trust more in our education, our economics and the enticements of this world than in God. (More in the earthly things below than the heavenly things above.) And as we will learn tonight, Our GOD IS ABLE TO COMFORT US when difficulties and sorrows arise in our lives... And tomorrow night, (Lord willing) we will discover that GOD IS ABLE TO CHANGE US and mold us into the kind of people that he would have us to be.

5. Yes, we should taste and see that God is good.... We need to take the time to count our blessings and savor Godís goodness! We need to open our eyes and understanding to see for ourselves just how good and gracious God truly is.

6. Having said that, Let us begin this evening with a Psalm that not only gives us another glimpse of the power and greatness of Our Almighty God 

(Please turn in your Bibles to:)
I. Psalm 8
...

  A. In this psalm, the author is like an astronomer, sitting on a hill side gazing at the wonders of the heavens above.... As he considers "all" the vastness of Godís creation / he also reflects upon the fact that not only is the name of God superior to all upon the earth... But even the breath-taking glory of God exceeds all that is found in the heavens above.

  B. Ps 8:1, "O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. . ." Notice that David used the most endearing term when he spoke of the Lord God. He is not just "the Lord God," but he is "our" Lord God. Who among us can possibly fathom such a thought as that? How can the All powerful, Almighty Creator of the vast Universe be so close and so personal as this? "Our God?" Yet, this is the wonder that is being expressed throughout the Psalms! He is our Lord, He is our Shepherd, He is the Father of the fatherless (Psm 89:26), He is our God, our rock, and our Salvation! He is up close and intimate with his creation.

  C. Psm 8:3-4 "When I consider the heavens, the works of thy fingers, the moon and stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? David marveled at the greatness of God as seen in his creation, Someone has said that, the spiritual minded person sees God in all things while the carnal minded man sees him in nothing. Thatís about right... we have to want to taste and see the glory of God) Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart they shall see God ." Mt 5:8. Some may never taste or see the goodness of God, because they refuse to even acknowledge that God exists. But in this Psalm, David was not just in marvel of Godís creation, What truly amazed him was that God would even be "mindful of man."-- He asked: "What is man that thou art mindful of him?" (Who am I that you would care?) Our world is just a speck in the great universe and each man is only a small speck of dust upon the earth. Why would God even care about man, let alone exalt him with "glory and honor" as he states down in verse 5 of this Psalm?. David must have been wondering, "Why in the great scheme of things would God even care about one like him?" What makes me so special to God? After all, I am weak, sinful, sometimes even rebellious and presumptuous... why is God patient and loving toward me of all people? Have you ever gazed at the sky and wondered why God would care about you personally? As we enter this new century where the population has already risen to over 6 billion souls... We must wonder with the Psalmist, "Why does he still care?" And why should he care about me personally? Obviously, His love is as great as his glory! We can marvel along with the apostle John who stated in ( I John 3:1): "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God...." John was amazed, the Psalmist was amazed, and each time we gather to worship our God - we too should stand amazed!

  D. Our Godís great love and compassion, for all of mankind, was expressed more fully by the sacrifice of His Son Jesus. Jesus walked among us as "the Great Physician." He came to heal our broken hearts and broken lives with the silver threads of Godís love and to cleanse us from our sins and make us whole again. But when you stop and think about it, you have to be amazed that God would even care, much less be compassionate toward mankind. It would seem to us, from our human nature and perspective that the callused rebellion of man down thru the centuries would be enough to even cause Godís gracious heart to become hardened and uncaring.... Donít you sometimes find it difficult to keep turning the other cheek when someone wrongs you again and again? Donít we all find it "extremely difficult" to even want to forgive those who have deeply hurt us (let alone actually do it?) Yet, man has wronged and hurt God again and again down thru the many centuries... More specifically - lets just stop and think of how many times and how often we personally have hurt and offended God by our weak, sinful and rebellious ways. And the heartbreak that man has experience down thru the centuries is also enough to cause even God to become conditioned to manís sorrow and become callused and uncaring. Those of you who work in hospitals and among the hurting or down trodden in life as social workers or care givers.... know that a person can begin to become conditioned to the point that he doesnít feel as much empathy or compassion as he once did. And yet God, and our Lord Jesus, were there in the beginning when man first sinned, when man first spilt his brotherís blood on the ground, when man first felt the heartbreak of standing at the graveside of a son. God and Christ have witnessed successive generations, standing beside open graves weeping as death continually overshadows our lives. Our Lord like our Heavenly Father, was there when the Egyptians slew the innocent Israelite babies and they heard the cries of the people and saw the pain inflicted as their fellow man, their taskmasters increased their burdens. Our Lord like our Heavenly Father, watched as David (the Psalmist himself) wept when his child died. Deity watched as wicked men, callously stoned and killed the prophets of God. Yet, when Lazarus died, John 11:35 says that "Jesus wept." He had witnessed death and sorrow from the beginning of time, yet he still wept at the tragedy of it after all those centuries. But this says something about how different God is from man! We become callused, conditioned, cold-hearted and impatient with our fellowman - sometimes even with our own brethren. But 2 Peter 3:9, reminds us that the Lord is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. His untiring love for his fallen creation. His continual compassion never ceases. Our God is able and our God is willing to comfort us because he loves us.

II. Let us turn now to another great Psalm - 139

  A. Psm 139 is a deeply personal psalm as David considers the greatness of Godís care and concern for him personally. In fact, in verse 6, he admits that "such knowledge is too wonderful for me." (His way of saying, I canít grasp it all! and admittedly I canít either!) But we, like David, can take great comfort in knowing that Godís tender care and guiding hand is in our lives encircling us... from the day of our creation in our motherís womb even to beyond this life and the realm that lies ahead. What comfort and encouragement such grand and lofty thoughts are to us when we realize that from the moment of our creation, God is present with us and cares about us. 

Listen as we read...
  B. Ps 139:1-6 says, "O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it." These first verses acknowledge that God knows us inside and out.  Our hidden thoughts and our secret actions are all known by God. Every aspect of man is "searched" (sifted and examined in detail) by God. Even our "thoughts" (intentions, v-2) are known "afar off" (long before.) a. Just as God knows what we need before we ask, the Psalmist seems to imply that God even knows what we will ask before we ask. If this is what the psalmist is saying, then we must agree that such foreknowledge is "too wonderful for me." (Beyond comprehension.) God is also "acquainted" with all our ways. The word "acquainted" has to do with winnowing or sifting thoroughly. b. God goes to great pains to know everything about us. There is not a single word that comes from our mouths that God is not aware of and will not hold us accountable for. (Matt 12:36). If our friends and loved ones had the same intimate knowledge about us that God has... (knowing our every thought, word and deed), it would terrify many of us.... if not all of us! (We live in a generation where privacy is a major issue.) We donít want someone spying on us, ease dropping on us, knowledgeable of us... "Our business is not anyone elseís business." (As far as we are concerned!) You may recall that there was a great uproar when this yearís census was distributed. Some of the questionnaires were thought to be too nosy... -- An intrusion by the State into our lives! A violation of our right of privacy. You see, we like to be anonymous. We like to remain private. But if we will admit it... there are also some secret regions of our hearts where we may think we can house and store - unwholesome thoughts, deeds, bitterness or guilt -- and no one will ever know about it. (Do we have secret sins, secret thoughts - where we donít want anyone to intrude - including God?) There may be times in our lives when we, like the wicked as recorded in Psm 10:11, have said in our hearts... "God has forgotten: he hideth his face, he will never see it." (How wrong we are!) It should be a frightening thought for us to realize that God has an "all seeing eye" and that every detail and every secret thought of our lives is known by God! However, the psalmist saw Godís intimate knowledge of us - NOT AS A THREAT... but as protective and reassuring! The word "beset" in verse 5 means to besiege: "Thou hast beset (besieged) me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me." Godís presence in our lives is like an army that circles a city. The Psalmist envisions God aggressively encircling his people, not to harass them, not to be intrusive in their lives, but to protect and care for them! Such assurance is found in the words "and laid his hand upon me." V-5 (Like a friend who seeks to console or like a father who places his hand on his childís shoulder or head to bring courage in a time of fear, Godís hand is upon his people in their time of need, grief, or fear --- to comfort and protect.) Such detailed knowledge of us shows just how much God cares. Havenít there been times when we were with friends or family and someone lets us in on some intimate part of their life... and we thought to ourselves, "Thatís more than I really wanted to know?" I mean itís not that I donít care about you... but I donít care that much! But God is not like us... there is nothing about our lives that he does not want to know about -- because he does care that much!

  C. Ps 139:7 says, "WHITHER shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? The question "Where shall I go or flee from Godís presence?" is not suggesting that the Psalmist is trying to run away from God. His questions are asked in order to show that there is no where man can go that God is not present. This should bring a measure of comfort and assurance during the trying and difficult circumstances of our lives. No matter where Godís child may be, "even there his hand will lead and right hand will hold him" (verse 10.) I suppose that one might attempt to flee from Godís presence as the prophet Jonah once tried, but it will be to no avail. -- God, not only knows all things (omniscient). He is everywhere present (omnipresent).

  D. Psm 139:8-10 says, "If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell (Hades), behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me." Whether above the earth (ascending into heaven) or below the earth, descending into the grave and "hell" (Sheol or Hadies - the place for departed souls) God is also there! The poetic expression, "Wings of the morning" (v-9) is possibly a reference to the "speed of light." (In other words...) Even if one could move at the speed of light, No one can out run God as he speeds across the skies, Nor can he submerge into the deepest crevice of the ocean bottom and be beyond Godís reach. What comfort such a thought might be to a pilot, an astronaut or sailor on board a submarine! Wherever Godís child may go, Godís hand will lead and hold him.

  E. Psm 139:11-12 says, "If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee." The Psalmist knew, as all of us know, that sooner or later, dark times will cover us... there is no escaping the trials and tribulations (dark times) of this life. But when the inevitable does come, he knew, as we should know, and be assured of... Our God can see in and thru the darkness. (He created light for creationís benefit - not his) This is why we can walk thru the valley of the shadow of death (Psm 23) and fear no evil... because our God, our Shepherd is there to guide us and comfort us with his rod and staff. He can see thru the shadows - where we cannot see and his hand is there to lead us and hold us...

  F. The Psalmist goes on to explain that our God is able to comfort us because he is acquainted with us from the womb to beyond the tomb

  G. Ps 139:13-18 says, "FOR THOU hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. Of course, it is easy to see that these verses have doctrinal significance as they relate to the issues of abortion today. But aside from that they also hold our minds in awe as we consider how acquainted God is with us from the womb to beyond the tomb. Again, As the Psalmist said earlier, "Who can possibly grasp it all!" Again, it is just "too wonderful." The Psalmist said, the eyes of God were upon him even when his substance was not yet perfect or complete. (In other words...) In the fetus stage of his motherís womb he was being fearfully and wonderfully made by God (Vs- 13-16.) Interestingly, the latter part of verse 16 could have a reference to what we now call the DNA sequence. "in thy book all my members were written which in continuance were fashioned..." Our physical nature was designed from the moment of conception and then fashioned in continuance. (And God observed it all!) While we may never be able to fully comprehend the greatness of God, his revealed and unrevealed thoughts are both precious and numberless (Vs-17-18.) It is the last part of verse 18 that presents an especially comforting thought to consider: "When I awake, I am still with thee." As we awake from sleep each morning our first thoughts should be of Godís presence. (What a blessing it is to know that when we pillow our heads at night God is with us - he never sleeps and he will be with us when we wake.) But more may be implied: As we awake to eternity on the other side of death - we have the assurance as Godís child - that we will still be with God! -- Illus: It has been said that a bird can sing in the midst of a storm because she knows that she has wings to carry her upward when or if the branch beneath her feet begins to break. God can be our wings. To carry us upward when it seems that our world has been pulled out from under us. We too can sing even in the midst of our storms in life by trusting in God, his love and his ability to comfort us.

Conclusions:

As we bring this lesson to a close, turn for moment to a few excerpts from Psalm 34 and look at verses: 15-18:" The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry... The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is near unto them that are of a broken heart;"  There is great comfort knowing that the "eyes of the Lord" are upon the righteous (That God is watching us and knowledgeable of every aspect of our lives - including our pain and sorrow...) And there is comfort knowing that his "ears" are open to the prayers of the righteous. (The prayer of a righteous man can still avail much... even in the 21st century.) Perhaps the most comforting thought expressed by this Psalm is that the Lord is near those who have a broken heart. We mentioned earlier that some here tonight may already be broken hearted or hurting. There is no doubt that sooner or later the darkness of sadness and loss will overshadow all of us. Let us take this passage to heart, and remember as we stand beside a hospital bed, or near an open grave.... that when our hearts are breaking, we can lean upon the one who stands nearest to us. -- And that one who is always near when our hearts break is Our God.-- In Him we can find courage, hope, strength and COMFORT. "O taste and see that the Lord is good..."

END OF THIS MINI SERIES

 

 

 

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