spreading the fame

It is unbelievable to think that there are hundreds of people groups around this planet that do not know the name of Jesus or bowed their knee to His name. Unreached people are all around you. They might be in your family, at your work, next door to your home, or even in your church.

In our nation you do not have as many unreached as you do have unengaged. Unengaged are people who do not hear or see a gospel. Instead, you see people busy building their names and kingdoms. Personal fame is the name of their game. However, what you observe from history is that it takes one to two generations before your name disappears and becomes forgotten. This land has acres of rectangle lots where people are buried, but few know anything about those 6 feet below those tombstones. What will be remembered about you 100 years from now? Where will you be 100 years from now? That’s what matters. There is One whose fame will last the test of time. Do you know Him?

In Psalm 145, we hear a majestic masterpiece. It is a song that is composed of beautiful Hebrew acrostic hidden to our English eyes.  This psalm is what is called a doxology. A doxology is praise based on doctrine—worshiping God from in spirit and truth. People praise God based on what they know about Him. What you can know about Him is revealed to you in His Word through His Spirit.

This is David’s last psalm recorded in the Book of Psalms. It is his crescendo of praise—his swan song. It is like that of a powerful rock ballad that hammers an explosive ending that just when you think it is coming to an end there is encore multiplied by encore. Praise [Heb.Hallel] means to radiate and shine—boast and brag. This is a song needs to be integrated in our souls and ringing in our ears. No matter where you are at today—discourage, overwhelmed, confused, bored, ready to worship—this song is for you.

 

Prelude [1-2]: David begins his song with a high and low. In the high David says to God, “I extol You, my God and King.” To extol means to lift high. It is to make God’s name the highest, greatest, best, most known and most famous. In the low he says, “Bless Your name” To bless [Heb. barak] means to make low—to literally bow the knee. It is an expression of humility to God’s authority. This reverent kneeling is not just a one-time deal. David says, “I will bless You everyday… forever and ever” Now not everyday is the same. Some days are harder than others. Some days have challenges. He says, “I will bless God no matter the circumstances.” The idea of praising God is to lift Him higher and bow me lower. This is worship. How do we spread the fame of God’s name? Note these 5 stanzas of praise to God:

 

Stanza 1: Greatness of God [3-7]. God’s greatness is seen in His power and authority. His greatness cannot be contained. His greatness is limitless and awe-inspiring. Even your greatest thought about God is puny compared His reality. He cannot be fully realized or comprehended. He boggles our minds. His greatness is unsearchable and indescribable [v.3]. Trying to comprehend Him is like floating on a raft in the middle of the ocean. You can not know its depth, width, breadth or height. So it is with God.

The greatness of God is spread by “One generation shall declare your mighty acts to another.” [v.4] Do you share what God has done in and through you? There is a mandate for parents in these verses—that parents would declare God’s mighty acts to their children. Do you tell your children about the great things God has done? This fires me up about being a parent. Tell and retell God’s great works. Don’t be the last link in your family. Pass the spiritual torch to the next generation. What is the greatest inheritance you can give to your children?

There are many ways we can declare God’s greatness. You can begin by declaring it to yourself [v.5]. Meditate means to ponder, to converse aloud with yourself, to remind yourself, to stir up your memory, to preach to yourself. The idea of meditation is to hear your own thoughts make statements about God. Take a moment to think about His greatness. What does David meditate upon? The “glorious splendor of God’s majesty.” [vs.6-7] He weighs in on the worthiness of God’s greatness. Do you need peace and comfort for your soul, counsel through a tough marriage, rough workweek or nagging sin issue? Meditate upon God’s great power and work.

The more I know about God the more I amazed that I do not know very much about God. Getting my Masters Degree taught me that I could spend the rest of my life just scratching the surface of God’s greatness. As I learn about God it cannot keep silent. The greatness of God is too exciting to keep secret. David needed to talk about God. It was on the tip of his tongue Does your conversation lead to God? If you were to map out your talk do they funnel towards God? This is the basis of our fellowship in this church. Our unity and community is in our talk about the greatness of God.

 

Stanza 2: Grace and Mercy of God [8-9]. These verses are a classic expression of praise for God’s character.[1] God’s grace is His favor that He gives to those who do not deserve it. His mercy is withholding of His wrath from those who do deserve it. He is patient with those who arouse His anger with their sin. He is loyal with a long-lasting love. God is a good King. He does not rule with dread to those who are in His kingdom and escape His wrath by the blood of His Son. God’s grace is not cheap little gifts from the dollar store, but priceless gifts poured out from a warehouse stocked full to the ceilings. In response, all of His works and all His people will praise Him [v.10].

Stanza 3: Sovereignty of God [10-13]. God is enthroned in the heavens and His kingdom remains forever. He rules over all things. He has the authority to do as He pleases. He has the power to carry out all He promises to do. Does that bring comfort to your soul? God is not a maverick. He is not random. He doesn’t second-guess Himself. He does not make mistakes. He holds all things together.

The sovereignty of God is key to evangelism. Since, God is your Creator that makes Him your absolute authority. You are responsible to Him. He owns you. Stop your rebellion and return to Jesus Christ. You will stand before Him as your King. That is the essence of the gospel.

Stanza 4: Faithfulness of God [14-16]. God is generous. God is a provider. He comforts those in need [v.14]. He nourishes the needs to those He has a covenant relationship [vs.15-16]. Considering the faithfulness of God can be the greatest counsel to your needy, broken, and empty spirit. He will fill your hand and satisfy the hunger in your soul. As I think about the people of North Africa and reaching them with the gospel I am overwhelmed by their physical needs. However, the gospel will provide them more satisfaction than drilling a well for fresh water, protecting from radicals, rapists and terrorists, or reforming nations with decent dictators who will care for their own people. The gospel changes somebody from the inside out, forever.

Stanza 5: Righteousness of God [17-20]. God is working all things together for your good and His glory [cf. Romans 8:28-29]. There are many people around the world that consider their current circumstances: sisters and mothers raped, families displaced by genocide, immense poverty and suffering at the hands of tyrants, “Is there any justice?” Does it seem like Satan is winning the war? In the Lord, justice is at home in His righteousness. Everything the Lord does is right [v.17]. His righteousness looks for your sincerity [18], your reverence [19], and your love [20] even in the face of worldly danger. God’s righteousness will deal with injustice.

Coda [21]: The coda is the final movement of a musical piece. The coda of David’s psalm answers the question: How do we spread the fame of God’s name? By proclaiming His praise to every person [v.21; cf. Revelation 5:6-10]. How will they believe if no one tells them?

So this is why our hearts are set the unreached. Why not stay in North America? Good question. The answer from Psalm 145 is simple; Have a passion for God and compassion to make the name of Jesus famous to the forgotten and unengaged peoples of the world. 100 years from now we will not be remember, but God’s name will still remain. Will they know Him?


[1] Cf. Exodus 34:6; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15; 103:8; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2.

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marks of the messenger

This week I read through the book Marks of the Messenger by J. Mack Stiles. It is a concise book that’s not easy to put down. I highly recommend this book to any teacher, youth leader, missionary, church leader, or follower of Christ desiring to live a gospel-centered life. I am seriously considering the possibility of having our children’s ministry leadership read the book this coming year as we share the gospel with our community and core families.

A messenger is marked by his character–the character of Christ. Jesus asks His followers to be so concerned about what I am doing, but more about who I am becoming. people of faith [18]. Jesus is not. The greatest obstacle to healthy evangelism is pragmatism: “doing evangelism” before we ever think who we are meant to be as evangelists [19].

Living a gospel-centered life is God’s expectation for His followers. “The gospel,” in modern language, means, “Breaking News!” And the news is good news, because there was bad news before [27]. As Timothy Keller often says, “The gospel is not the ABC’s of the Christian faith, it is the A-Z’s.” The cross of Christ and the gospel message that streams from the cross is the river that rage my entire life. People need to see their sin in all its horror, not so they are motivated to “clean up their act,” but so they fall at the feet of Jesus knowing that He is their only hope [31].

Have you heard people say that Christianity is a crutch? They’re far too optimistic. We don’t need a crutch; we need spiritual defibrillators [27].

One of the greatest dangers is to assume those passing in the church hall, sitting in the pew next to you, or your small group companion understands the gospel. We must ask the hard questions, probe deeper, and see if the gospel is really taking root in peoples lives. Stiles, in his book, mentions Kevin Roose, a Brown University student going undercover at Liberty University all the while other students assuming he is a follower never asking him about his faith. A follower to many Christian is–one who goes to church, prays and says they believe in God–nothing more than moralism and cultural adaption. The gospel goes deeper than that. It changes the core of a man. At least that is what God intends for the gospel to do.

The challenge for healthy evangelism is to stop trying to clean people up through rules rather than bring them to the cross [44].

The imperative of the church and its followers is to display the glory of Christ as it shares the gospel. The church does not exist to make me happy; it demonstrates the truth of Christ to a watching world [103]. The church is the gospel made visible [Mark Dever, The Church, 767].

What is the gospel? Check out these posts about the gospel:

gospel gumbo

lies we believe about following Christ

5 terrifying truths about Christianity

plan G

what’s IT?

the smoke of a thousand villages

 

“I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages – villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in this world.” (Robert Moffat who inspired David Livingstone).

In 1816, Robert Moffat was sent out to South Africa and his fiance Mary Smith followed him 3 years later. After spending a year in Namaqualand, with the chief Afrikaner, whom he converted, Moffat returned to Cape Town in 1819 to marry Mary Smith. She proved to be a remarkable woman and most helpful wife.

In 1820 Moffat and his wife, left the Cape. They had a daughter, Mary Moffat (who was later to marry David Livingstone).

The saying above has inspired many missionaries to take the gospel to unreached people over the years. Today it has become increasingly easy communications and transportation, but  Coca-cola seems to have done a better job at making itself known worldwide than the gospel. I HAVE SEEN, MANY TIMES, THE HOUSE LIGHTS OF MANY HOMES AND CITIES–WITHOUT A MISSIONARY OR VOICE TO SHOW THEM THE WAY TO CHRIST. 

“We have all eternity to celebrate our victories, but only one short hour before sunset in which to win them.” – Robert Moffat