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Ramzi Adcock: “Giving Thanks to God”

August 25, 2006

From the staff at Jesmond Parish Church in the United Kingdom, here is another sermon on the Psalms–this one being Giving Thanks to God by Mr. Ramzi Adcock. This sermon is on Psalm 147 and continues that theme of praise that we have seen in the other sermons of their end-of-summer series on the Psalms; Mr. Adcock lists these three implications that can be drawn from the Psalmist:

1. God keeps his promises
2. God only delights in humility
3. To hear from him is the greatest privilege

This is what Mr. Adcock had to say about the first of these implications:

First, GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES

Because God is powerful, we know he can keep his promises.

Look at verses 2 and 3:

The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.

A bit of background will help us here. In the OT and especially in Isaiah the Jewish people were warned again and again that if they kept living in rebellion against God, ignoring God, if they did not trust him then God would judge them by having their land occupied, and they would be taken away from Israel into “exile”, which means living away from your own country. That is exactly what happened to them.

But God also promised that he would end the exile. The Jewish people found both of these things hard to believe, but they did happen. God was powerful and he did what he said he would do – he brought them back from exile. This song was probably written after the exile, after they had come back – the song celebrates the event!

Look at verse 12:

Extol the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion, for he strengthens the bars of your gates and blesses your people within you. He grants peace to your borders and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

God was powerful and he had kept his promises to them. If God can control the clouds, then what is a king or a kingdom to stand in his way? As they looked back on the event, they are being reminded to trust him for he is powerful and he keeps his promises.

So, what about us, now in Newcastle in 2006? We may feel very different to the Jewish person who wrote this psalm, but we are not. God bringing his people together in Jerusalem, the holy city is a picture in the rest of the Bible of the God people, the church, gathering together in heaven. That is what John wrote about in Revelation 21:1-4.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

That picture of God gathering his people, being with them, comforting them is exactly the picture we see in verses 2 and 3. The difference with them is that they had their holy city, but we are still waiting for ours. But the lesson is the same. He is powerful and he keeps his promises.

I don’t know if you have times where you doubt that? Where you find it hard to believe that is going to be the case. Where you feel so aware of your own sin or your own weakness and think I’ll never keep going till he comes back. Remember: the strength is not in you – it is in God. He will do it!

Look again at verses 2 and 3:

The LORD builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.

It is a wonderful picture. A picture of a God who is looking for us and who will heal us. Though it is painful, a wound, like a broken arm, is easy to bind up. But a broken heart – that takes time, to be there, to love them, to wipe tears from their eyes. It is a wonderfully tender picture of a powerful God who non-the-less loves us, each one of us. What God has promised to do for us he will do if we trust in Jesus.

I don’t know what you are going through at the moment. Maybe you’re feeling depressed, doubting, tired; let down by God right now or wondering if continuing this life of faith is worth it.

In the middle of all that we are called to believe in and act on a promise about the future. A promise that God will come, either by our own death, or the return of Jesus – whichever is the sooner – and free us from our sin and from death, and the pressures of living in this world. And if we believe in Him and trust that he will do what he promises, that will effect every decision we make in life.

God is powerful and he can keep his promises.

I tell myself that we can face the future because we can always trust God to “do the right thing” by us. As this sermon says, He is worthy of our trust in this because He has the power to be able to always do the right thing.

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