Almost every year we have a Testify service. When many people think of a testimony service they think:
- Do not make eye contact… How can I escape this service w/ talking? No pressure friend!
- Unwieldy chaos of people who just want to have a microphone in hand and gain attention.
- Unprepared pastor remarks blame-shifting to the Holy Spirit.
- I have found that many people who attribute being Spirit-led as a badge of honor do not understand 1) that every believer should be Spirit-led, so they don’t have the market cornered against other believers, 2) Spirit-led is not replacement for planning and preparation.
The reality is I love and strive being part of a church that is not centered around a single personality. I’m a believer of 1 Corinthians 14:26 & Ephesians 5:19 & Psalm 107:2 where members of the body are encouraged to speak and sing to one another; we come to church not just as spectators but participants. Further, the church is always in a Revelation 12:11 age – “they have conquered [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony”. Christians need reminders that we are victors, even when all around us looks like we are losing and life is falling apart. The virus doesn’t last forever, the enemy is already defeated, and the grave doesn’t have the final word.
So, here’s the plan.
- I will read and share some opening reflections from Psalm 107.
- You will have opportunity to share a brief statement testimony – popcorn/random style – in open praise to the LORD.
- I will share some closing reflections from Psalm 107.
- We will hear some testimonies from some of our ministry outreach teams.
- We’ll reflect on what God is teaching and respond in a final song.
EXAMINE Psalm 107
PSALM 107:1-9, 29-32
1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
This psalm opens with a declaration of thanksgiving to God (107:1-3), and then describes four scenes
- Those in a spiritual desert (107:4-5). They are wandering and wasting away in hunger and thirst. Every step taken is uncertain if it is leading them further from help or on a path to help.
Yet, if hunger brings us to our knees to seek the Lord, it is more useful than feasting; if thirst drives us to the fountain of living water, then it is better than the deepest well of worldly joy; and if lostness leads to the Way, the Truth, and the Life, then it is better than every breath on earth.
- Those in a spiritual dungeon (107:10-12). They sit in darkness and the shadow of death. Waking up each day they see their affliction with chains and prison bars.
Sin looks liberating but always ends up limiting and locking us in a prison of pride and pain. Only Jesus has the key to set us free (Luke 1:79; 4:18ff).
- Those in a spiritual deathbed (107:17-18). They are knotted up inside feeling the weight of foolish choices and life’s regrets.
Only through repentance and faith can regrets transform into redemption. God can rewrite our story if we are willing to give Him the pen.
- Those in spiritual deep (107:23-27). The sailors found their nautical expertise of no help in the staggering waves and stormy sea. Likewise, we may believe we can work harder and persevere longer to figure our way out of problems, but we are at the mercy of our circumstances.
Often, we need the Wave Walker and Storm Stopper to simply speak, “Peace. Be still.” (Mk 4:39).
Often, we need the Wave Walker and Storm Stopper to simply speak, “Peace. Be still.” #Psalm107:29Tweet
While these are four different scenarios, they are likely all are describing the same reality, namely the disastrous relationship Israel living in exile for its disobedience and rejection of the LORD.
- Notice all the descriptions of their plight: redeeming adversity (v. 2), trouble and distress (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28), darkness (vv. 10, 14), affliction (vv. 10, 17, 41), labor (v. 12), destruction (v. 20), oppression (v. 39), and sorrow (v. 39).
- Notice the solution to their problems: “they cried to the LORD, and he delivered them” (107:6, 13, 19, 28). The word “cry” Hebrew: צָעַק /tsaw-ak’ has a distinct intensity and is more like a loud shriek in adverse or catastrophic circumstances.
- Notice the repeated call for praise at the LORD’s deliverance: “Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man” (107:8, 15, 21, 31).
Last, the opening declaration of praise is also a directive to speak. “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so” (107:2). The term “redeemed” is theologically rich, referencing the LORD’s personal actions to rescue, reclaim, and restore (cf Deut 7:6-8; Isa 43:1; 44:22-23; 48:20; 62:12). And the redeemed of the LORD come from all the corners of the compass, from every tribe, tongue, and nation (Ps 107:3; Rev 5).
In all, the LORD is profoundly good, and we are His perpetual recipients of His steadfast love. The Redeemer is so wonderful, the ransom price so immeasurable, the redemption so comprehensive, that the believer is obligated not only to feel grateful but speak thanksgiving and inspire others to do the same.
Open testimony with brief statement
TESTIFY: “The LORD is good because _____.”
TESTIFY: “God has redeemed [is redeeming] me from _____.”
35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.
36 And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;
37 they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.
38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.
39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
41 but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.
43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.
This last section of the psalm is a beautiful description of God’s redemption. It portrays the power of God’s transforming grace. And while God’s work is miraculous it is also practical. Israel was exiled for 70 years but the sovereignty of God orchestrated circumstances to use an evil king Cyrus to permit God’s people to return to their homeland (cf Ezra 1). God hand of discipline is firm but His heart of steadfast love is forever. His purpose is not to crush but cleanse. He restored Israel from a spiritual wasteland to a fruitful harvest; and the psalmist is not only talking about farmland but the features and faces of people.
Likewise, our lives can be burdened, and our churches be barren of spiritual fruit. The burdened and barren can find abundance in the LORD when they cry out to Him.
- God has called each of us to a purpose and spiritual harvest field. Where are you working – tilling soil, digging up fallow ground and sowing seed for the LORD (Hos 10:12)?
As a church, it will be encouraging to hear of some harvest fields we can join the LORD:
TESTIFY: “I am working in God’s harvest fields through _____.” (call up front)
- BOC (Danton/Chambless) – see pictures/video from Pastor Steffan Carr
- Youth (Tony Bell)
- Brightview Seniors (Fred Delp)
- Women’s Min (Donna Delp)
- Men’s Min (Joe Dine)
Maybe this Psalm describes you: emotional desert and spiritual deathbed. You’re in good company with fellow strugglers and sinners relying upon the redeeming grace of God. Your first step is to “cry to the LORD.”
- You can do so at your seat or front altar, with me praying for you as desired.
- You can contact a friend or pastor this week.
- May the LORD be with you.
Christian… let the redeemed of the LORD sing… and say so…
- Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone
 Scene descriptions with explanatory adaptations from John Phillips, Exploring Psalms.