Sermon notes: Psalm 73

Last night I had the honor of preaching a sermon on Depression, Worldliness and the Presence of God (Psalm 73). For those interested here’s the audio:

Psalm 73 – Tony Reinke – 7/30/06 – Audio (mp3)

Summary: Depression covers the heart when we envy the comforts and excesses of the ungodly (vv. 1-16). To help us out of depression and protect us from it we are reminded that God’s eternal judgment is near (vv. 17-22) and His presence is here (vv. 23-28).

(Tony S. Reinke, Omaha Bible Church, 7/30/2006 PM – 47:26 – 21 MB – Psalm 73:1-28, Psalm 16:8,11; Philippians 3:18-19).

Pastors wives: Let her works praise her in the gates

When we set out to sell our house in the hopes of moving to Minneapolis to pursue pastoral training I promised the family that once our house sold we would spend a family day together. It did, and so today we will.

But it’s also a great day to be reminded of the importance of my wife in this transition. By God’s grace she is simply incredible. She has been focused and works with great diligence, making sure (with everything in our world now in motion) that the spiritual priorities remain at the front. Like the Proverbs 31 woman she is competent in the real estate market, searching out properties that would suit our family well and researching neighborhoods in Minneapolis (v. 16). Her busy day is often interrupted by two small children. She is loving, caring and able to stop everything to minister to the friends and family who call frequently.

This family day is a good reminder of the blessing it is to pursue pastoral ministry with a godly partner. I simply couldn’t be blessed any further than I am. If your wife is like mine, let her praise resound at the city gate!

Spurgeon’s example of earnestness

This weekend I have the great honor to preach on the topic of Psalm 73. And in my study I was given a great example of the pulpit earnestness that we have been talking so much about over the past several weeks. It’s from the pulpit of C.H. Spurgeon:

“Please remember we are not speaking now of people in the street, of drunkards, and harlots, and profane swearers, and such like — we know that their damnation is sure and just — but, alas, I need not look far. If I glance along these seats and look into faces upon which my eye rests every Sabbath day, there are some of you, some of you who are unconverted still. You are not immoral but you are unregenerated; you are not unamiable but you are ungracious, you are not far from the kingdom, but you are not in the kingdom. It is your end I speak of now, yours ye sons of godly mothers, yours ye daughters of holy parents — your end, unless God give you repentance. I want you to see where you are standing today. “Surely thou didst set them in slippery places.”

Spurgeon sermon #486, 12/28/1862

Christ and Him Crucified

The pulpit is one run-on sermon series on the same thing. Preaching that does not preach Christ as its central focus and neglects words like “sin,” “atonement,” “wrath of God,” “substitute,” etc. is the worldly wisdom that appears quite foolish in the sight of God and remains powerless to change lives.

1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5 … For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 2:1 And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (ESV)

Preach Christ and Him crucified

By God’s grace there are a growing collection of excellent books on the doctrine of justification. I am thankful for all the contemporary works that define this essential doctrine with clarity and accuracy. As you may have seen through this bog, however, I am partial to old books and it happens to be that my favorite book on the doctrine of justification was written in 1874 by Horatius Bonar titled, The Everlasting Righteousness (0851516556). Currently it ranks as my third favorite book. I would heartily recommend it to you as passionate but short work loaded with quotes about the beauty of Christ and the Cross. Going into another weekend and sermons this is a great quote to refocus our attention on the Cross:

“We are never done with the cross, nor ever shall be. Its wonders will be always new, and always fraught with joy. ‘The Lamb as it had been slain’ will be the theme of our praise above [Rev. 5:6,12]. Why should such a name be given to him in such a book as the Revelation, which in one sense carries us far past the cross, were it not that we shall always realize our connection with its one salvation; always be looking to it even in the midst of the glory; and always learning from it some new lesson regarding the work of Him ‘in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace’? What will they who here speak of themselves as being so advanced as to be done with the cross, say to being brought face to face with the Lamb that was slain, in the age of absolute perfection, the age of heavenly glory? … the glory of heaven revolves around the cross; and every object on which the eye lights in the celestial city will remind us of the cross, and carry us back to Golgotha. Never shall we get beyond it, or turn our backs on it, or cease to draw from it the divine virtue which it contains. The tree, be it palm, or cedar, or olive, can never be independent of its roots, however stately its growth, however plentiful its fruit. The building, be it palace or temple, can never be separated from its foundation, however spacious or ornate its structure may be. So never shall the redeemed be independent of the cross, or cease to draw from its fullness.”

– Horatius Bonar, The Everlasting Righteousness (Banner of Truth, 1874/1993) pp. 61-64.

The overwhelming influence of the media and earnest preaching

We don’t live in the Stone Age or Bronze Age, our era is rightly called the Information Age. We are buried alive in books, blogs, emails, websites, magazines, etc. And so are the hearers of our sermons. So why is the message of the Bible more important than the latest war headline from CNN? The listeners to our sermons may not see a big difference between the two, especially as the Middle East is birthing the next world war and gas prices close in on $4 a gallon. And those seem to have more ‘real’ impact today on sinners then dangers of a spiritually loose life now and eternity to come. What is needed (no, required!) in the Information Age is earnest preaching. Long before blogs and websites John Angell James wrote the following:

“Will anyone deny that we want an earnest ministry to break in some degree the spell, and leave the soul at liberty for the affairs of the kingdom which is not of this world? When politics have come upon the minds, hearts, and imaginations of the people, for six days out of the seven, invested with the charms of eloquence, and decked with the colors of party; when the orator and the writer have both thrown the witchery of genius over the soul; how can it be expected that tame, spiritless, vapid common-places from the pulpit, sermons coming neither from the head nor the heart, having neither weight of matter, nor grace of manner; neither genius to compensate for the want of taste, nor taste to compensate for the want of genius; and what is still worse, having no unction of evangelical truth, no impress of eternity, no radiance from heaven, no terror from hell; in short, no adaptation to awaken reflection, to produce conviction, or to save the soul; how can it be expected, I say, that such sermons can be useful to accomplish the purposes for which the gospel is to be preached? What chance have such preachers, amidst the tumult, to be heard or felt, or what hold have they upon public attention, amidst the high excitement of the times in which we live? Their hearers too often feel, that listening to their sermons on the Sabbath, after what they have heard or read during the week, is as if they were turning from brilliant gas-light to the dim and smoking spark of tallow and rush [a candle].”

– John Angell James, An Earnest Ministry: The Want of the Times (Banner of Truth, 1847/1993) pp. 194-195.

“And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:3-5, ESV).