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Remember His Deeds (Psalm 77:11)

August 11, 2013 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: Time Management 101

Topic: Psalms Passage: Psalm 77:11

Time Management 101

Remember His Deeds
Psalm 77:11
August 11th, 2013
(One Lord: So Great a Salvation)

 

I. Thinking About the Past

When you think about the words, “your past”, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it an image? Is it a feeling? Do you think about certain people, certain places? Do those words take you back to a place of hope and happiness, or hurt and humiliation? Do you remember with a smile, or with tears.

Having a past is part of what it means to be human, and specifically, to be a human being in the ever moving waters of time. Last week we talked about this monumental topic of time, and we saw in Psalm 90 how Moses looked to God as his ultimate reference when it comes to time. We could say Moses placed himself in God’s ‘school of time management’, as he asked God, who is the Lord over time, the Eternal One, to teach him to “number his days”, that he might gain a “heart of wisdom”.

There are a lot of books out there about the ever-popular topic of time management. But biblical ‘time management’ is not about being more efficient or long and short-term planning or utilizing technological helps in order to be more productive with what seems like less and less time. Biblical ‘time management’ is about being faithful stewards (managers) of our time as we look at our time through God’s lens.

I don’t how much you’ve thought about the relationship between your past, your present, and your future. If you have not, you must. Why? Because your present is shaped by your perspective on your past and your future. AND…because God speaks directly to these topics. Let me summarize what God says about this subject: in regard to our past, God wants us to remember his deeds…in regard to our future, He wants us to rejoice in hope…and in regard to our present, He wants us to redeem the time. Over the next three weeks, we will unpack all of these points.

Let’s start doing that this morning by looking together to Psalm 77.

 

II. The Passage: “I Will Remember” (Psalm 77:11)

Listen to what Asaph the psalmist writes. Let’s begin by looking just at verse 11…

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

As we talk about remembering, we need to remember that the psalmist has written this, not as an entry in his personal journal (there is no “dear diary” at the beginning), but as a song for the encouragement of God’s people. So he is presenting himself as an example of what they should do…what we should do. WE should “remember the deeds of the LORD, his wonders”!


Let’s do this. Let look at the rest of this some and use the other verses to help us better understand how Asaph wants to encourage us in regard to remembering.

 

1. The When of Remembering: “The Day of My Trouble” (vs. 1-4)

If we go back to the beginning of the psalm we find in verses 1-4 the WHEN of this remembering. Listen to what he writes:

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. [4] You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak.

The WHEN of this remembering is right there in verse 2: “in the day of my trouble”. Clearly the writer is troubled, as he confesses in verse 4. He is crying out (v. 1), he is reaching out (v. 2), he cannot find comfort (v. 2), he is moaning and spiritually faint (v. 3), and he can neither sleep nor speak (v. 4).

Have you ever felt like this? Maybe even just a little? When we think about our main verse, verse 11, in light of these opening verses, I think we can see that the Psalmist wants us to see a connection here between the wrestling in the present, and remembering the past. For some of us, it IS the past that produces suffering in our present. When we remember, it hurts. But Asaph wants us to know that in “the day of [our] trouble”, remembering...REMEMBERING is also a path to healing, to encouragement, to assurance. “Remember the deeds of the LORD”. But why is remembering so important?

 

2. The Why of Remembering: “Has God Forgotten” (vs. 5-9)

Well look at verse 5-9. In this next section, Asaph describes for us the WHY of remembering. Look at what he tells us…look at what GOD tell us here:

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?”

As we discover in these verses, remembering is so important because our present challenges can tempt us with lies; even lies about the goodness of God, lies about His mercy. Asaph committed himself to remembering, to going back to songs he once sang, songs about the deeds of the LORD.

But in the midst of considering God's work, Asaph tells us at the end of verse 6 that his spirit began to searching for answers...answers to all of these questions in verses 7-9. Did you see the common theme in those questions? Asaph is questioning whether or not his present suffering is evidence that God has given up on him, that God has rejected him.

You see, when we are suffering, or when we are struggling with decisions or relationships or whatever, it is very easy to jump to conclusions about what our present circumstances mean. In such times, we might be tempted with the idea that God is not distant and disinterested, and that we've got to figure out things for ourselves. Or like Asaph, we might ask, “Why is this happening to me? Is God punishing me?”

But again, we know where the psalmist is taking us. “Remember the deeds of the LORD [of Yahweh]”! But what does the writer mean by remember?

 

3. The How of Remembering: “I Will Ponder…and Meditate” (vs. 10-12)

Look at verses 10-12:

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.

Notice what Asaph chooses to do here. He could easily drown in his questions, in this tidal wave of doubt, fear, and anxiety. But as we see in verse 10, Asaph chooses to appeal, to entreat, to beseech, to earnestly cry out to God. On what basis? On the basis of the “right hand of the Most High”. If we had time to search the psalms, we see that God's “right hand” is an image commonly used to describe God's power. Here's an example from Psalm 63:8...My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Asaph is appealing to the power of God in the midst of his adversity. And the reason he can appeal to God's powerful hand has to do with remember. But I also want you to see here that remembering is more than just bringing the past to mind. Look at verse 12. The psalmist writes that he will not only remember God's deeds, God's wonders, but that he will “ponder” all of Yahweh's work, and he will “meditate” on His “mighty deeds”.

But the one thing we have not unpacked, the one thing the writer has not made clear to us is...what are the deeds of the LORD? What are Yahweh's “wonders of old”? What is God's “work”? What are God's “mighty deeds”?

 

4. The What of Remembering: “You…Redeemed Your People” (vs. 13-20)

Look with me at the final verses of this psalm, beginning in verse 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. [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.


As we can see very clearly from verse 20, the deeds of the LORD that Asaph has in mind here are best exemplified in the works and wonders surrounding God's deliverance of His people from Egypt (as it says in verse 15...you with your arm redeemed your people).

And if we were to look back at Psalm 18, we would see see how David also uses this storm imagery to talk about the power and presence of God. Here in Arizona we have the amazing privilege of being able to experience some pretty powerful thunderstorms. And so we, of all people, should be able to get a sense of what Asaph is trying to communicate here. And beyond that, verse 19 reminds us that, even though unseen, it was God who made a way of escape for His people...right through the very heart of the sea, “through the great waters”.

But before the psalmist gets specific about the deeds of God, did you see the conclusion he begins with here in verse 13: Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? His description of God's wonders is simply a way to showcase this conclusion. “How do I know is holy, that there is no god who is great like our God? Well let me tell you how I know!”

 

III. Eternal Sunshine from the Light of the Past

Brothers and sisters, friends, Asaph was crying out to God in verse 1. But this morning, he is crying out to us from 3000 years ago. Think about what he's shown us. We've seen that in difficult times we can and should cry out to God. And even though we will be tempted by questions about God's plan and God's provision, it is through remembering His deeds, that is by carefully thinking about and meditating on His work, specifically His past work of redemption, that we will find healing, encouragement, and assurance in the present.

In the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the viewer is presented with a couple who, after a very tumultuous relationship and a bitter break-up, have their memories of one another erased by a company that specializes in helping people forget.

The title of the film is taken from a poem by Alexander Pope in which a love affair turns sour, and forgetfulness becomes the heroine's only comfort:

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd;

The past can be very painful in the present. But is this what we should seek: to simply forget? To pursue and somehow achieve a “spotless mind”?

The wonderful promise of the word of God is in fact “eternal sunshine”. But in stark contrast, that 'sunshine' comes through remembering, not forgetting. We cannot erase memories of our failures or the failures of others, but they can be dwarfed by and re-envisioned through memories of God's victory.

3000 years ago Asaph wrote about God's redemption of His people from slavery to the Egyptians. But 2000 years ago, the fullness of that exodus event finally manifested itself. Listen to how the Apostle Paul speaks about it in I Corinthians 5:7...

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Do you see the past and present elements of that verse? The Corinthians' life now should be different (they should “cleanse out the old leaven”) because of an incomparable past reality (Christ 'has been sacrificed'). Paul wants them to turn from the influence of sin in the present, because Jesus, as the book of Hebrews puts it, “once for all” (9:12, 26; 10:10), has set them free from slavery to sin.

Whether you know it or not, there are past realities by which you have chosen to define yourself in the present. And many times, those choices are not at all obvious to us. Sometimes those realities from our past are painful. But sometimes those past realities are pleasant. And in some cases, past successes can produce pride in the present; sometimes past comforts can produce indifference in the present.

But no matter what has happened to you, regardless of the ways you were commended or condemned, TODAY, God wants “your past” to be defined by His past...specifically, His past work of redemption...specifically, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

You see, even though you were once slandered by someone close to you, through the cross, Jesus has spoken to you words of life. Even though you once suffered, Christ has suffered so that you might be healed. Even though you once failed, Jesus has succeeded in satisfying God's justice and beating back death. Even though you were the star quarterback and voted most likely to succeed, the cross not only reveals your absolute neediness because of sin, but also calls you to hopeful humility in the fame, in the glory of Jesus. Even though you grew up in the midst of conflict, Jesus died to give you eternal peace. Even though you were made to feel marginalized and rejected, the cross means acceptance and belonging...forever. Even though you grew up well-off, the cross reveals your spiritual poverty, and it offers you true riches in the love of God. Even though death once took a close friend or maybe even a parent or sibling, death could not hold Jesus Christ; and in the reality of that victory, there is hope.

We could say, biblical ‘time management’ is about being faithful stewards (managers) of our NOW as we look at our THEN through God’s lens. How different would your life be if you sought to define yourself, not according to “your past”, but according to His past? By God's grace, through faith, His past can be “our past”. Listen to the mixture of past and present in Paul's confession from Galatians 2:20...

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

There are wonderful things about our pasts that God uses to shape us today. Again, I'm not advocating that we forget everything that happened 5, 10, 20, 50 years ago in favor of what happened 2000 years ago. But what happened way back then must always give us new eyes to see the recent past. When we are no longer defined by choices and circumstances from our past, how we live in the present really does change. Remember His death. Ponder His resurrection. Meditate on this gospel. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.

More in Time Management 101

August 25, 2013

Redeem the Time (Ephesians 5:15-17)

August 4, 2013

The Time Keeper (Psalm 90)