Testify (Psalm 77)

Psalm 77:1-20
1  I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.
2  In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.
3  When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. Selah
4  You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
5  I consider the days of old, the years long ago.
6  I said, “Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.” Then my spirit made a diligent search:
7  “Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?
8  Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time?
9  Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?” Selah
10  Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.”
11  I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12  I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13  Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God?
14  You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples.
15  You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah
16  When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled.
17  The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side.
18  The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; your lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook.
19  Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.
20  You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Today’s message will be both lecture and laboratory; I will share reflections from a text, but also encourage the congregation to be hands-on engaged in sharing thoughts and testimony. Our church has a practice of periodically opening the floor for testimonies, and today we have such an opportunity. The goal in our worship gathering isn’t to 1. promote a ministry (announcements), or 2. catch people up (get a friend and get in a group!), but a testimony is to speak about the evidence for God in your life and to promote God.

Our text is Psalm 77. I meditate frequently on the last few verses of this psalm and Nahum 1:3, speaking of God’s way in the whirlwind and storm… and God’s footprints were unseen. I’m sure many are aware of the popular poem “Footprints,” where it references two sets of footprints with God walking with us but in hard times only one set of footprints – Why? Did God leave? – No, it was then God carried us.  

This psalm helps us to acknowledge life is hard but God is good. I share this not just as a preacher with a quote, but as your pastor, acknowledging our church family and ministry is experiencing a challenging season and transition. We are navigating

  • Life happenings. Everyone has something going on.
  • Viewpoints of caution, concern, and challenges of current health pandemic.
  • Viewpoints of diversity on social and political issues
  • Transitions of multiple church members, staff, ministry teams, and overall prospects.

Based on this psalm, I would like to encourage us toward three actions:

Look up at the greatness of God’s power (Psalm 77:11-18).

Psalmist cries out to God. The verb implies repeated and perpetual expression. It is not a passing sorry that has caused distress, but a defining anguish of circumstances.

Psalmist displays definitive action toward God. The verbs זכר (“remember”), שׂיח (“ponder”), חשׁב and הגה (“reflect”), and דרשׁ (“seek”) appear a total of ten times between vv.4-13, indicating the energy that the speaker is turning toward the Lord (זכר “remember,” appears four times). The reminder is, it’s ok to cry, just direct your despair to the Lord. He knows what to do.

Psalmist transitions inward desperation to outward and upward reflection (vv. 11-13). Remembering the Lord’s deeds, wonders, works, and meditating on God’s mighty deeds.

Psalmist declares God’s power in all creation – personally to redeem Israel (v.15) and generally over waters, clouds, skies, thunder, lightning, wind, and earth.

When we consider GOD, many ancients associated deity to an element in nature. 

  • Apollo: god of light and truth
  • Ares: god of war
  • Atlas: god of astronomy; condemned by Zeus to carry the world
  • Cronos: god of time
  • Eros: god of attraction and procreation
  • Hades: god of underworld
  • Heracles (Hercules): god of sport, health, and strength
  • Morpheus: god of dreams and sleep
  • Poseidon: god of sea and storms
  • Thanatos: god of death
  • Triton: messenger of the sea, son of Poseidon
  • Zeus: sky God, king of gods

Today, moderns may not express worship in the exact ancient manner, but its idols continue to be pleasure, money, food, lust, etc. Yet, when the psalmist refers to GOD, it portrays one who is Creator-Sustainer-Satisfier. In our testimony, let’s direct praise to the true greatness and incomparability of the Lord.

TESTIFY: “God is great and mighty because _____.”

Look back at the faithfulness of God’s provision (Psalm 77:19-20)

The psalmist reflects back and forth about God’s general greatness in power over nature and earth, to His specific and personal power. God redeemed the children of Jacob and Joseph (v.15). “His way was through the sea” is a reference to deliverance from Egypt. God’s salvation in the Exodus account is retold numerous times, meaning to encourage God’s people of His faithful provision, especially in times of hardship and suffering. God’s footprints may not be seen, but His heart surrounds His people and His hands carry them. Tangibly, God’s provision and love was evident through the hands of Moses and Aaron.

In an effort to look back at God’s provision and honor one God has placed in our church family to help lead us in worship, let’s hear a testimony from Kera Day, who is completing 10 years of ministry at spbc as she moves into her next season of life and ministry.

TESTIFY (KERA):

  • What have been your favorite memories with SPBC (1-2 general vs. 1-2 specific)?
  • What has God been teaching you lately, and how can we pray for your next life season?

TESTIFY:

  • How has God been challenging and teaching you through personal Bible study and/or recent sermons?
  • How has the history of SPBC encouraged your faith, hope, and love?

TESTIFY:

What has been a specific way God has provided for you and answered any recent prayers?
What has been a struggle for you that you are asking prayer and committing to the Lord?

Look forward at the trustworthiness of God’s promise (Psalm 77:19-20)

In concluding this devotional and testimony time, I want to draw your attention back to the middle of the psalm. The psalmist asks in v.8 “Are God’s promises at an end for all time?” While the psalmist may or may not be certain of an answer, we know the answer by reading the Bible. Reading hundreds of years of history in the Bible about God’s forgiving grace and faithful care among His people, tell us that God’s promises are never-ending.

  • “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom 8:31-32)
  • “no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9)
  • “For all the promises of God find their YES in Christ. So, we utter our AMEN to God for his glory.” (2 Cor 1:20)
  • “for this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do so much more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Eph 3:14-21)

TESTIFY: “Lord, I hope for and pray for our church family… _____.”

APPLY/THINK

Pray for church.

Participate in the Great Commandment & Great Commission.

Peacemaking in a world of chaos and conflict.

“Do It Again”

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