Damariscotta Baptist Church
Monday, May 21, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

10/28/12 Sermon

 

Psalm 34:1-8

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer Amen.

24/7/365………Does everybody know what that means?
 

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the term as meaning “constantly"………..24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

And the phrase has its origins from a Sports Illustrated article in 1983 when basketball player Jerry Reynolds was talking about his jump shot.

Reynolds said my jumpshot is "good 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year".

Of course, since then many businesses have used the phrase to speak about the number of hours they are open.
 
The convenience store 7/11 comes to mind. They were one of the first to be open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It originally was open from 7 in the morning to 11 at night.

But after a football game one Saturday night in Texas the store was so busy that the manager decided not to close. That became so popular that other 7/11 stores decided to remain open 24/7/365---constantly open.

Now I thought about that phrase when I looked at the 1st verse of our scripture today.
 
I will bless (extol or worship) the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually (constantly) be in my mouth”
 

In today’s terminology that means “Bless the Lord 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Now when we reed this scripture and this call to bless the Lord continuously you get the idea that when the psalmist (believed to be David) wrote this he must have been in a really good mood.
 
Things must have been going his way. He had a little zip a dee do dah going on with Mr. Blue Bird sittin’ on his shoulder.

Surely he didn’t literally mean that we’re to bless the Lord 24/7/365; especially when things aren’t going well. I mean to do that is impossible, right?

To bless the Lord when things are difficult----well that’s either just insane or it’s sticking your head in the sand.
 

But that’s what we see the psalmist telling us. He clearly is telling us that no matter what, good times, bad times, happy or sad, we’re to bless and praise the Lord 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

But is that possible? And it if is, how????

How can we bless the Lord when we’re going thru difficult times? How can we bless the Lord when our health is struggling, when we’ve lost a loved one, when we’re going thru difficulties in relationships, worries over our children, loss of a job, discouragement and frustration in our present situation whatever that might be?
 
How do we not lose heart and bless the Lord in the downturns of our 24/7/365?

Well when we look at this psalm, what we see is that “blessing the Lord at all times” comes about as a result of how one lives out their faith.

In this scripture we see a way of living that the psalmist has. And thru this way of living, he’s enabled to bless the Lord 24/7/365.
 
But what is this way?
 
Well the first thing we see is found in verse 4 of this psalm. It says: “I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears”.
 
What we see here is that the psalmist has a way of life that is about seeking the Lord.
 
Seeking the Lord is a directional way of living. It’s more about the journey itself than the destination.
 
And that’s something we can struggle with in our way of living in this world.
 
We’re much more destination people than we are directional people. We’re more interested in getting somewhere than focusing on the journey itself.
 
And as a result when difficult things come our way, we see them as unwanted intrusions. When problems arise we feel cursed and victimized. This leads us to fall into despair.
 

I mean, we’re a culture that wants everything easy and smooth. And when it’s not we go looking for something to bring a calming of the waves.  

We look for pain killers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, alcohol, tobacco, drugs to try and ease whatever is causing our journey to be topsy turvy.
 
We do everything we can to eliminate the problems.
 

But when we seek the Lord in our life we see our lives as a textured journey that has a variety of dark times and dry times right alongside the joys and assurances.

And when we understand our lives in this directional way as a journey, not seeking a numb, comfortable destination free from any pain, when difficulties come our way, we won’t be helpless victims in despair.
 

Instead we will know they are part of the journey and that as we seek the Lord, we are given direction and hope.

It’s like being lost on a mountain where the trail got covered with an unexpected snowstorm. You’re comfortable little fun hike just got ruined. And now there are no markers to help you on your way. You feel despair and helplessness.

Now you can quit and throw up your hands as victims and look up to God and say why me, how could you ruin my life (but with that mentality you would never bless the Lord 24/7/365).
 
Or you can choose to pull out your compass and follow the magnetic power in that needle shows you the way.
 
God is like that magnetic needle that we are always seeking. And so when trouble comes our way we don’t despair because we know that life is a journey with unexpected trouble and that God is the directional power who helps us and guides us thru the uncertainties.
 

As we seek God He leads us to new paths of life and opportunities.

For example, an accident or health issue can be a new path where you slow down and get closer to God, growing in your spirituality as you are seeking God.

A loss of a job can be a time for a new vocational adventure more fulfilling than you ever imagined when you seek the Lord.
 
A family crisis can be a time of healing in a family and an opportunity to draw closer to God as you seek Him.   
 

We can indeed bless the Lord 24/7/365 even in difficult times when we see that life is a journey and that God is with us, showing us a way to hope and new life when we seek him.

Now along with seeking the Lord, the psalmist also has another way of living that can lead us to bless the Lord 24/7/365.
 
And we see this in verse 8….The psalmist says “blessed is the one who takes refuge in the Lord”.

In the KJV, it says blessed is the man who trusts in God.

To take refuge in the Lord means when trouble comes our way, we turn it over to God and trust that God will take care of it.
 
Refuge is a safe haven where we are protected. We have no worries or fears because God has our back.
 
And because we trust that God will take care of the situation and we’ve turned it over to God we have nothing that keeps us from blessing God 24/7/365.
 
Corrie Ten Boom a Dutch Christian who helped hide many Jews during the Holocaust tells a story about taking refuge in God and blessing God even in difficult times.

She and her sister Betsie, were arrested for harboring Jewish people in their home and were put in a concentration camp.

The barrack they were placed in was extremely crowded and infested with fleas.

One morning when they were reading 1 Thessalonians 5 that speaks to giving thanks to God in all things, Betsie said to Corrie, “Corrie, we've got to give thanks for these barracks and even for these fleas”.

And Corrie said, “There’s no way am I going to thank God for fleas.

But they did it anyway—they thanked God for the fleas.
 
Well, during the months that followed, they found that their barrack was left relatively free, and they could do Bible study, talk openly, pray and praise God.
 
It was their only place of refuge.
 

Several months later they learned why they were left safe.

You see, the guards never entered their barrack because they hated those blasted fleas…………

When we take refuge in the Lord, we turn over everything to him; all of our worries, troubles and difficulties; even our fleas.
 
We give them to God, trusting that God will take care of us. And when we do that, we are freed to bless the Lord 24/7/365.
 

Finally the last way we can bless the Lord at all times is when we live a life of remembering where God has heard us, saved us and delivered us in the past.

In verse 6 we see that the psalmist is remembering those times when he had called out to God and found that God was faithful to him.
 
What we see here is that we can bless the Lord 24/7/365 because our God is a 24/7/365 God.

Our God loves us and has been with us and taken care of us.

When we think back at all of our past troubles and difficult times and look at where we are now, we can see that God has been faithful to help us. Our survival itself is something that can empower us to bless God at all times.
 
But there’s another kind of looking back that leads us to bless the Lord 24/7/365.

In his devotional writings, Martin Luther who began the Protestant Reformation (today in fact is Reformation Sunday), found himself in the midst of feeling discouraged and forsaken with all that was going on.

Ridiculed and persecuted, he remembered and wrote something very important, something more important than anything else.
 
“If God gave up his own son for us all, how could God ever intend to forsake us in less important things?
 
The very fact that God gave us his son is a reminder to you and to me that whatever we’re going thru, we have a 24/7/365 God whose doors are always open; who hears us, who loves us and will never, ever forsake us.
 
Even when things are dark and difficult we know that brighter days are ahead. We know that, when we remember Jesus and his life.

Many of you have heard the story that Tony Campolo told about a black pastor who he was having a friendly preaching contest with.

And after Campolo had given a wonderful sermon, the old pastor patted him on the knee and said sit back and watch the master.
 
The old black pastor got up and told the story of the Passion of Christ:
 
He said:

“It’s Friday. Jesus is arrested in the garden where he was praying. But Sunday’s coming. 

“It’s Friday. The disciples are hiding, and Peter’s denying that he knows the Lord. But Sunday’s coming. 

"It’s Friday. Jesus is standing before the high priest of Israel, silent as a lamb before the slaughter. But Sunday’s coming. 

"It’s Friday. Jesus is beaten, mocked and spit upon. But Sunday’s coming. 

“It’s Friday. Those Roman soldiers are flogging our Lord with a leather scourge that has bits of bones and glass and metal, tearing at his flesh. But Sunday’s coming. 

“It’s Friday. See him walking to Calvary, the blood dripping from his body. See the cross crashing down on his back as he stumbles beneath the load. It’s Friday; but Sunday’s a coming. 
“It’s Friday. Jesus is hanging on the cross, bloody and dying,… crying out My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me…. But Sunday’s coming. 

“It’s Friday. Heaven is weeping and hell is partying. But that’s because it’s Friday, and they don’t know it, but Sunday’s a coming.”…………………….

In the midst of all of our difficulties, in whatever Friday we’re going thru we can always, always, bless and praise our Lord (24/7/365) because we remember the 24/7/365 God who has been faithful to us.
 
We know we aren’t forsaken, for we know that Sunday is always a coming.
 
In closing this morning we’re being reminded to bless the Lord 24/7/365.
 

And while it may seen impossible,….. when we seek the Lord as a way of life, when we trust and find refuge in Him, and when we remember where God has never forsaken us and sent his Son for us we can indeed bless and praise the Lord at all times.

Today if you find yourself discouraged, lost, afraid or worried continue to bless the Lord.
 
Don’t lose heart in the midst of whatever your going thru, for God is always with you and never forsakes you.
 
You may be in a Friday, but Sunday is always a coming….. and because of that let us bless the Lord 24---7----365.
 
 
 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen