Sermon Overview & Prayer: "The View from the Hilltop of Time"

PRAYING THE SERMON - Psalm 126

These excerpts from Psalm 126 and CJ’s sermon, as well as these written prayers, are intended to fuel your meditation on this psalm and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream…The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. (Psalm 126:1,3)

We took no part in it. It was done for us-we woke up to find it was true. (Alec Motyer)
          PRAYER – Heavenly Father, as we enter 2021, we pause to stand humbly on the hilltop of time to look back on grace received, to cherish the sustaining grace of God upholding us now, and to anticipate future graces yet to come in 2021. remember and to reflect on where we once were. And while some memories of our past bring regret, let even those memories be informed by the wonder and glory of your mercy, deliverance, forgiveness, and transforming grace. Please plant Ephesians chapter 2, deeply into our hearts and minds. And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us...made us alive together with Christ.

And may we water those seeds daily by adding our voices to the chorus, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad”.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negeb! (Psalm 126:4)

Perhaps as you look around your life presently you find yourself spiritually in a dry place at the beginning of 2021. No one is exempt from this living east of Eden. And it would be most appropriate for us to pray this not only for ourselves but for the Church and for our country that is presently in so much turmoil.
          PRAYER – Lord, I can at times feel blinded, confused, and unable to breathe because of the dryness of this extraordinary season in this fallen world. The life-smothering dust of worldliness and ungodliness seems to be settling everywhere – on our nation, on the church. Holy Spirit, please remind me again and again that you sovereignly rule and reign over all. May your Word water my soul with faith and hope. Because your goodness and grace are not confined to the past, but describe who you are, I thank you for the assurance of sustaining and delivering grace.

Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! (Psalm 126:5)

Normally fruitfulness comes only after the hard work of plowing and sowing and watering and weeding and waiting, so we must not only pray, we must also sow. So, what field of your heart and life do you need to presently sow God’s word, prayer, obedience, service, time, money – particularly if you are in a season of spiritual dryness or even a season of heartache and heartbreak?

          PRAYER – Holy Spirit, show me areas of my heart and life that lie fallow, and in need of plowing, watering, or weeding. Thank you for mercifully and graciously calling me to take steps (not leaps) of faith. With the help of those to whom you have joined me, help me to prayerfully put my hand my hand to the plow in the one or two areas that need sowing. Grant me grace to persevere with faithfulness. And thank you for the promise of fruitfulness.

So this psalm, speaking first to its own times, speaks still. Miracles of the past, it bids us treat as measures of the future; dry places as potential rivers; hard toil and good seed as the certain prelude to a harvest. (Derek Kidner)

When Jesus read Psalm 126.6: “He who goes out weeping..”, He knew the “He” in this verse was him. He would then proceed to a hill called Calvary where he would sow himself through his death. He was the seed that had to fall into the ground and die-resulting in massive fruit...he has been reaping ever since and sinners like you and me are among the sheaves he has reaped with shouts of joy.
          PRAYER – Lord Jesus, we offer our eternal gratitude that we are among the harvest of souls, reaped from what you sowed on the cross. May our thanksgiving inspire obedience and faithfulness. And may we be an answer to the prayer for laborers into the harvest. Show us where we can sow the seed of the gospel. Show us where we can nuture and water.  Please grant a harvest of souls among our families, our friends, our loved ones. Bring shouts of joy, and glory to your name, as these sheaves are gathered into your kingdom!

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:

In this psalm, the author considers his past, present, and future and the work of God in each. He delights in the past work of God when he delivered his people so suddenly and powerfully that it felt like a dream; God’s people rejoiced and even the pagan nations that witnessed it acknowledged God’s work. Then, looking out at the present situation, the psalmist prays that the Lord would act and bring restoration to his people once again.  Finally, the psalmist looks to the future and affirms the role of man in sowing obedience to God, even in tears, with confidence in the character of God to take that sowing and return a bountiful harvest. Christ lived this out, suffering and dying in perfect obedience so that by his death and resurrection many brothers and sisters might be adopted in a great harvest!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: 

  1. Why might you make it a habit to reflect on God’s grace in your past (Eph 5:1-2), like CJ, John Newton, and the psalmist?
  2. What are some specific moments of God’s grace in your past that strengthen your hope and faith for God’s work in future?
  3. CJ challenged us to consider specific areas where we might intentionally sow in 2021. What area(s) is the Lord putting on your heart and what is your plan to follow through?
  4. When considering your specific areas from the question above, who could you work with to multiply those efforts in your community group, our church, and our community?
  5. The Psalmist’s confidence was in God’s character and his delight and prayer was in the welfare of God’s people. How might you imitate the Psalmist in your daily prayers this week?