Be Magnified – Sermon – 14 June 2020

Welcome by Heather, Michelle, Morgan & Nina

Introduction

In previous weeks we have talked of how eager we all are to get back to normal; how we can’t wait to sing together, eat together; be together; how we just want this isolation to be over.

When the Ontario government announced that churches all across the province could re-open at 30% capacity, reality began to sit in. There are so many more obstacles to overcome than receiving permission from politicians. Obstacles such as: child care, washrooms, music, protecting seniors and the vulnerable, to just name a few. It didn’t take long to realize that ‘normal’ isn’t something we are going back to for a long time. I think I probably always knew that, but it really sunk in for me this week. Now it is more than head knowledge – now I know it in my heart.

This process of truth moving from head to heart is a pattern repeated throughout our lives. We know the truth, and then one day we KNOW the truth. A relative is gone; a friendship is no more; a diagnosis is real; a marriage is over. It is at times like these, times when our hearts become heavy, we can turn to the Psalms. The Psalms are a collection of poetry written 3,000 years ago that were originally used in Israelite corporate and personal worship, and have been used ever since by followers of Yaweh and followers of Jesus. They are poems that capture the state of our hearts; God’s words of comfort, admonishment, sympathy and confrontation from the Old Testament book Jesus quoted more than any other.

In the service this morning, we will go to the Psalms to lead us in worship. I will provide some comments to help guide you if you need it, but feel free to set them aside if God is speaking to you through these ancient words. This is a time of reflection; a time of listening; a time spent in the presence of God.

Psalm 34

1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.

15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.

17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the broken-hearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.

21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.

Remarks:

This is a psalm that reminds us who God is, and that His plans for us go beyond whatever difficulties we are facing today. It reminds us that He is always with us, and that He has always been the One we can trust. God is our saviour. Even when all seems lost, we can know that we already have victory because in Him we already have all we need.

This psalm also calls us to turn to Him when we are broken hearted and crushed in spirit. It doesn’t say we should never feel this way, but actually affirms that we will – that this is part of what it is to be human. It also affirms that we are not abandoned, that we are just as “saved” on our darkest day as we are when we feel like we are on top of the world.

Reflect:

Read this psalm a second time slowly, stopping when you get to a word or phrase that particularly speaks to you. You could even underline it if you are so inclined. Pray that verse back to God in the way these psalms were intended to be prayed. Take your time. It’s even ok if this is as far as you are able to go in this service of worship. Praying Psalm 34 from your heart is enough.

Song – Be Magnified (by Randy Rothwell)

Before you play this song, I want to give it a few words of introduction. It is based on the King James version of Psalm 34:3, “O Magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

I first encountered this song 25 years ago when my life was in the midst of a great transition. I was no longer working in the business world, but my calling to be a pastor was still fuzzy – it took a while for me to be able to see this as a serious possibility. A worship CD by Randy Rothwell was one of my favourites at the time, and this song captured the state of my heart. I had been a Christian from childhood, but my view of God had not matured. I saw God more as one who existed in the shadows, to be called on in an emergency, but most of the time He was best kept on the sidelines and out of the way. As my life changed and my view of faith began to be challenged, this song captured the longing of my heart. No longer did I want to follow a God who I could keep conveniently small. God needed to be magnified, and so this modern-day psalm became an anthem for me, even to this day.

Be Magnified (by Don Moen)

I have made You too small in my eyes
O Lord, forgive me;
I have believed in a lie
That You were unable to help me
But now, O Lord, I see my wrong
Heal my heart and show Yourself strong;
And in my eyes and with my song
O Lord, be magnified
O Lord, be magnified

CHORUS:
Be magnified, O Lord
You are highly exalted;
And there is nothing You can’t do
O Lord, my eyes are on You
Be magnified
O Lord, be magnified

I have leaned on the wisdom of men
O Lord, forgive me;
And I have responded to them
Instead of Your light and Your mercy
But now, O Lord, I see my wrong
Heal my heart and show Yourself strong;
And in my eyes with my song
O Lord, be magnified
O Lord, be magnified

Reflect and Respond:

Does Jesus need to be magnified in your life? Does He need to be magnified by your life? Do these words of confession, faith and hope speak to you? Spend some time praying to God using these words, or your own.

Psalm 139:1-18

1 You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand—
when I awake, I am still with you.

Remarks:

I’m not sure I need to add many words to this Psalm. It is a beautiful example of ancient poetry, but it is so much more. It is one of those scriptures we need to know and turn to often. If you can’t memorize the words, then at least memorize the reference (Psalm 139).

During times of loneliness, hopelessness and grief, it is easy to feel like no one really understands you, and no one really cares – that you don’t matter. Psalm 139 reminds you that this is not the truth! There is One who cares, One who notices you, One who knows and loves you. So much bad religion could be eliminated if we would only believe these words to be true: we are known and loved by God, and nothing can ever change that!

You may have noticed that I ended the passage before the end of the psalm. For some of you, that might be the most critical part, so if you are experiencing persecution, conflict or oppression in your life, then by all means read this psalm to the end. It is important to know that God wants us to turn to Him and trust Him no matter what the circumstances and no matter how we are feeling – even if those feelings seem ugly. After all, He knows us completely! We are not surprising Him, and He isn’t going anywhere!

Reflect and Respond

Do you have trouble believing these words of Psalm 139? Do you believe God has better things to do than deal with your problems or your broken heart? Or have the circumstances of your life left you to believe that no one cares, not even God?

Then re-read this psalm once again; today and every day until you believe it. You cannot be transformed by the Holy Spirit until you can believe the possibility that God really does love you.

Prayer

Dear Lord, we give thanks for the treasure of your truth preserved for us in the Psalms. We recognize that as we pray them back to you, we are connecting also with those who have followed you through the centuries. Help us to not just be inspired by these words, but to seek to believe them wholeheartedly; to drill these truths deep into our souls.

We confess that far too often our relationship with you is superficial; at a distance; holding back from You. We place other things and ideals and pursuits in Your place – we even place ourselves and our concerns above You and Yours. Forgive us of this idolatry that hurts us and leaves our souls dry and thirsty. May we instead be immersed in You; satisfied by Your unfailing love; growing in our awareness that our desires for You could never match your desire for us

We pray today for the sense of hopelessness some of us may be feeling in the midst of this pandemic. The answers to how we should respond are not obvious, and all of them seem flawed. Turn us instead toward You as we seek first Your heart above all else.

We are Yours; we are loved; we are lifted up as your Image bearers in this world. May we as your children be unified as we pray together:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
forever and ever, amen.

Benediction

Be magnified, O Lord
You are highly exalted
And there is nothing You can’t do
O Lord, my eyes are on You
Be magnified

amen

 

This Post Has One Comment

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    Lizanne

    I love all the verses today; they really go to the heart of things. So great to see Heather, Michelle and the girls and all of our friends each week; so lovely! Love seeing each other at the stores, at least, we all have to get a few things, now and then! Friends are priceless! from Lizanne

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