Sermon – Your Days are Numbered (Psalms 139:1 – 139:24) – Cornerstone Church Kingston
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Sermon 27 of 75

Your Days are Numbered

Tom Sweatman, Psalms 139:1 - 139:24, 1 March 2020

Tom speaks on God's love and intimate knowledge of His children in Psalm 139.

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This transcript has been automatically generated, and therefore may not be 100% accurate.

You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you know you lord know it completely. You hem me in behind before, and you lay your hand upon me Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me, Even the darkness will not be dark to you. The night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother's womb I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.

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, Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written you in your book before 1 of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, Scott? How vast is the sum of them?

Where I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand When I awake, I am still with you. If only if only you god would slay the wicked, away from me, you who are bloodthirsty. They speak of you with evil intent. Your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you?

Lord. And and the boar those who are in rebelling against you. I have nothing but hatred for them. I count them my enemies. Search me god and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts, see if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

Dean. Thanks very much for reading God's word to us. And a very warm welcome for me. My name is Tom Sweetman. I'm the assistant pastor here at the church, and it's great to see so many of you here.

And as has already been said, a particular welcome to you if you've come down for the Thanksgiving Service today. At Cornerstone, we always love to spend a good portion of our services looking at the bible. And we do that because the bible makes some very amazing claims about itself. It claims to be not just part of a library of ancient religious literature. It claims to be the breath of the living God, the Word of God, And even though this song was written many hundreds of years ago, it still has wonderful news for us today and lots to say, to the subject of of new life.

So let's bow our heads and ask for God's help together as we look at his word. Help us father, we pray to hear from you. As we look at this incredible psalm, which has been read and spoken on in thousands of services such as this. We thank you that it contains wonderful words, your words, words that reveal you to us, Words which challenge and convict us, and words which ultimately point to the Great Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to see him this morning.

We pray, amen. Well, I want to say of Toby and Alana and Theodore, that their days are numbered. Now, to be told that your days are numbered is usually very worrying, isn't it? You might think of the gangster film where the chief the chief gangster says to his enemy, your days are numbered. You haven't kept me sweet.

And soon, you're gonna be sleeping with the fishes. You're gonna die in some horrible fashion. Or we might think of the work colleague who after another mistake says to 1 of his friends, you know, I think my day's at this company. Are numbered. Rarely, if ever, do we use that phrase positively?

And that is why to say that to these lovely babies right at the beginning of their lives, As we have gathered to celebrate beginnings, your days are numbered, is a bit morbid, isn't it? As I say, this is a thanksgiving, this is a celebration of new life. Why would we even want to think about that? But here's the thing, this phrase your days are numbered, wasn't invented by gangsters, and it wasn't invented by anxious work colleagues, It's a bible idea, and in the bible, it is very, very precious to know that your days are numbered. Have a look at what we just read on the screen.

This is Psalm a hundred and 39, and here's verse 15. My bones were not hidden from you when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless, all my days were written in your book and planned, before a single 1 of them began. Do you see? Before the universe, even began, God knew the exact moment that you would be born.

Before he created anything at all, he knew the exact moment in which we all would die. We cannot live 1 second longer or die 1 second sooner than he has planned. And the question is, how do we get to a point where that becomes a precious thought? How do we arrive at a position where that is not troubling, but rather something to give thanks for? Well, there's only 1 way, and it's to understand what sort of God has numbered our days.

You see, if there is no God at the heart of this universe, and all that there is which governs the universe, is an unthinking, unfeeling, biological clock, then I would suggest to you, it is not good to know that your days are numbered. Or if we are in the hands of a God, who is a dictator hanging over us, waiting to snatch our lives away, whenever he wants to, Then I would suggest it's not a nice thought to know that your days are numbered. I would suggest it's a hopeless, horrible thought. This is the key thing. Whether we find this verse precious or not depends on how we understand the God who said it.

And therefore, that will be our focus this morning. Psalm a hundred and 39 is a song that was written by King David, and as I said at the beginning, it is very popular in services like this and rightly so. But the truth is, this Psalm is not mainly about King David, and it's not mainly about babies. It's about God. This is a song about God.

What sort of God has numbered our days? Psalm hundred and 39. Tells us what sort of God has numbered our days. There's 4 points I want to make, all of them fairly brief, and here's the first 1. What sort of God has numbered our days, well, he's the god who knows everything.

That's the first point. He's the god who knows everything. Look at verse 1 to 4 again on the screen. Hopefully, that's gonna come up. There we go.

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, you, lord, know it completely.

Now, whenever you see the word lord in this Psalm, This is not talking about a general God. This is not a kind of builder bear God, where whenever you read the word lord, you can kind of assert whatever type of God you like into that definition. Okay? Whenever you see the word lord, it's talking about the 1 true God. And capital l o r d is actually just a translation of the name Yahweh.

So Lord is not just a title, it's the personal name for God. This tells us straight away that the god we're talking about is not a distant force. He is a personal being, who we can know. But it's more than a personal name, it's a family name. It's a family name for God's children.

And that is quite important for understanding this whole psalm, because Within this song, there are general things that are true for all of us, but then there are special promises that are made from this God to his people. General things and special things. Light verse 10, he will guide his people and hold them fast, or verse 1. He knows them in a kind of fatherly way. He doesn't just know about them.

He knows them in a relational way. It's been wonderful for us to to get to know over the past few months, Toby, and Alana, and Theodore. And the the more time that we spend with them as a church, the better we get to know them. We start to see the curious quirks of their personalities. We start to see that expressions that they make, whether they're grumpy or happy, whether they like food or don't, whether they smell regularly or not often.

You know, we get to know little things about them, But Jack and Laura and Pete and Leanne and Steph and Lawrence know them in a special way. They know them in a family way, just like Yahweh does with his children. He knows them, verse 1. He is familiar with our ways. He perceives our thoughts, He discerns our movements.

He is familiar with all our ways. He knows our words even before we speak them. Now, to some ears, this may sound kind of unpleasant to have a God who knows you so well, But for a Christian who knows what this God is like, family, personal, kind God. Then this is great news. Because it means that our days are in the most stable, trustworthy hands that you could imagine.

And we want, and we're here to pray that these little ones grow up to know God in that personal family way. Secondly, first thing, he's the god who knows everything. Secondly, he's the god who is everywhere. He knows everything, and he is everywhere. And again, our first reaction to that might be, well, that's uncomfortable, isn't it?

If God is everywhere, and in 1 sense, it's supposed to be a bit uncomfortable. This is not a cliche that you would put on your fridge God is everywhere, including in this kitchen. You know, this is not a it's not a it's not a cliche. This is serious. The awesome God fills heaven and earth, and he cannot be escaped.

You see, we can be very good at running away from our problems, can't we? We're very good at running away from difficult things. We do it in all kinds of ways. If there are people we meet in life we don't like, then normally we can escape them, at least for a little while, but we cannot escape the presence of almighty God. It's meant to be a bit uncomfortable.

But again, for the Christian who knows what this God is like, it becomes wonderful. He's not like a teacher who is standing in the corner of the playground, drinking his coffee, just watching you across the astroturf, waiting for you to make a mistake so he can come over and tell you off. He's not with you always in that sense. He's not like big brother who is monitoring your thoughts at all time, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to wipe you out. That's not the sort of god who's with us everywhere.

Look, what this means for his people in verse 7 and 8. Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, Even there, your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. It's just wonderful poetry, isn't it? And what he's saying is that the wings of the dawn and the far side of the sea is like saying, from extreme where east to extreme west, from the furthest east to the furthest west you could imagine, God is there. And the point is if we know him in this personal sense, He is there, why in order to hold us fast, and to guide us. He is with us always to bless us.

1 of my favorite hymns puts it this way, here's a couple of verses from it. When through the deep waters, I called thee to go, the rivers of sorrow shall not overflow. For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress. Even down to old age, All my people shall prove, my sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love. And then when gray hairs shall their temples adorn, like lambs they shall still in my bosom be born.

This is no big brother following you around This is a shepherd with his sheep. It is a father with his son. It is a savior with his people. From the very first cry of newborn life to the moment when gray hairs spring up across your temple, he is with you always. Fear not, I am with you always.

When that sort of God is with you everywhere, It's great news, isn't it? And today we're here to pray that Toby and Alana and Theodore will never be able to remember a time when they weren't walking with the Lord, who is with them always. He knows everything. He is everywhere. And thirdly, he created everyone knows everything is everywhere, created everyone, very simple points.

Have a look at verse 13. And 14. Hopefully, they'll they'll pop up on the screen. For you created my inmost being, You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. And, this is 1 of those truths that is true for every 1 of us here. The God of Psalm a hundred and 39 created everyone. Now, again, just like with the other points, There might be people today who who don't like that idea. In fact, 1 of the common objections to the Christian faith these days is that you cannot have science and Christianity.

These things don't go together, and people will say things like, well, look, I'm really pleased you've got faith. And I'm happy for you, and I wish I could share it, but I'm afraid I'm a scientist, as if to say, I have discovered something in science, which means I cannot live the way you do. But when you put that way of thinking under the microscope, it doesn't hold fast for very long. I've used this quote before, but I think it is really helpful. It's by a chap called John Bloom, who's a professor of physics at an American university.

He says this, what challenges Christianity is not the scientific data but the naturalistic interpretations of the data that many insist must be given. The trend that I see over time is that the more we study and understand the creation through science, the more clearly we see that it must be the handiwork of God. And then he says, and I put this bit on the screen if it will come up. With almost every new discovery, the overwhelming sense grows, that life is not simply chemistry, but rather life is stupendously complex, information processing systems, From the telescope to the microscope, God's creation is declaring his glory. Toby and Alana and Theodore are declaring God's glory, he made everyone.

And the truth is, when we look at them, whoever we are, Something in us knows that is true. And that is why, and I say it respectfully, babies give atheists quite a tough time. Because as they hold them, and look at their fingers, and laugh at their expressions, and treasure their faces they have to also say, that this is actually nothing but a collection of atoms. Despite the way that I am engaging with this thing, it is simply complicated chemistry, a bit like a cup of coffee or a cardboard box or a chair. Chemicals arranged in a certain way.

But you see the problem with that is, when we take a baby in our arms, we don't treat them like a cardboard box. Our world view is kind of betrayed by what we actually do. We hold them, and we look at their fingers, and we laugh at their expressions, and we treasure their faces. Basically, despite what we say, what we do says we know verse 14 is true. God made everyone, and they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And in Psalm a hundred and 39, King David is saying, yeah. The God who knows everything is the God who is everywhere and he is the God who created everyone, and that is a precious thought. Because that means that my days are not in the hands of a chaotic universe, they are not in the hands of blind chance, they are not in my own hands, thank goodness, They are in the hands of the God who made me. And again, I'll prayer for these babies. Is that they would know the God who made everyone as their own personal lord.

He knows everything. He is everywhere. He made everyone. And lastly, he judges every deed. He is the god who judges every deed.

Have a look with me at verse 19. If only you God would slay the wicked, away from me, you who are bloodthirsty, they speak of you with evil intent Your adversaries misuse your name. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord? Now, these are probably not the sort of verses you would put in a card. Are they?

I don't know if you've brought a card for the families today. Maybe you even had a look on bible gateway and chose a nice rosy verse which would be suitable. I'd be super surprised if anyone wrote a card with these verses in them or had these ones on your fridge. Okay? But actually, this is an essential part of this psalm.

King David didn't just know God, he loved God, and because he loved God, he hated evil. And that is really important for understanding this. When David says, do I not hate those who hate you It's not because he gets a kick out of seeing people perish. It's not because he thinks he's the judge of the earth who can execute justice on the wicked He knows that's God's job. That's God's job, he says, in verse 19.

But still, why does he talk Why is he talking this way? Well, it's a bit like, not a perfect illustration, but it's a bit like this. Think think of somebody in your life who is very, very precious to you. Might be a friend or a family member or a spouse, somebody who is very precious to you. How do you react when you find out that someone has bullied them or been rude to them, or offended them, or hurt them in some way, even though it hasn't been done to you, It hurts big time, doesn't it?

You wanna kind of You feel it with them. You want to rise up and protect them in some sense, and stand for them. It's as if you're 1 person, you're so close with them, you've got to the point where the things that they love you love, and the things that they hate you hate. It's that kind of thing. David is saying, Lord, you are so precious to me.

You know everything. You are everywhere. You created everyone. You are my lords You are so wonderful that the things you love, I love, the things you hate, I hate. We are 1.

So these words don't come from the mouth of a hateful man. They come from the mouth of 1 who loves his God and wants to see him honored by all. And again, is that not our prayer for these babies? That the name of the lord would be so precious to them that they would hate to see it dragged through the mud. In the world or even in their own lives.

See how he finishes with that? David is not perfect, is he? He knows that. Verse 23 at the end. Search me God and know my heart, test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting. So what is it like to know that your days are numbered? Well, it depends who they're numbered by, doesn't it? If there is no God, Or if God is something other than this, I would again suggest that it's a hopeless thought to know your days are numbered. But when you read Psalm a hundred and 39, you come face to face with a great God.

A personal family god. That is the god that we are talking about. He is the 1 true lord, and it is wonderful to know him. The only problem is that in order for Toby and Alana and Theodore and you and me to know him we need a miracle. Why?

Because every 1 of us has turned away from this God. The Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, which in Psalm a hundred and 39 language means this. We have said to the God who knows everything, I don't want to know you. We have said to the God who is everywhere, I don't want you anywhere near me. We have said to the God who created every 1, I want to recreate myself without a thought for you, and we've said to the God who judges every deed, I care nothing for your standards.

You see, when we read of those evil people in rebellion against God verse 21, we think, oh, I wouldn't want to be them. You are them. And so am I? And that means that we too are gonna face his judgment. Have a look at what the Bible says in the New Testament, in a book called Acts chapter 17.

God has set a day when he would judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead. When God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, He sent a message to the world. This man is my son, and he will be the judge of all. And therefore, we've got a question to face because 1 day each and every 1 of us, our days are going to expire.

1 day, the very last grain of sand will slip through the hourglass, and our lives will have come to an end, and we will be face to face with Jesus. And the only thing that is going to matter in that day is did we come to know the God of Psalm 139 as our Lord, or did we continue to turn away from him? Because if so, now is the time to put that right. The bible contains the most incredible good news, that the God who has numbered our days has come to save us, We are told in the bible that the wages of sin is death. That is what we deserve for the way we've treated God, but that God so loved the world, that he gave his 1 and only son to pay the wages for us.

To go onto a cross and to take our sins in our place so that we could be forgiven. And so that we could know this God, to the world, and maybe to some ears here, it sounds completely foolish, doesn't it? But this is the wisdom of God. That 2000 years ago, a Galileo carpenter was crucified on a bit of wood in weakness, but he has been raised in power, and he is now the savior of the world. And that all who will repent of their sin, which simply means to change their minds, to start thinking right things about God instead of wrong things, and to trust him will be forgiven.

Jesus Christ has been appointed the son of God in power And if we turn to him, we can come to know the God of Psalm 139. Not as a general God but as the 1 who knows everything is everywhere, created everyone, will judge every deed and is a personal family God. It would be it would be wise and a joy if you would consider the claims of Jesus Christ upon your life today and turn to him. Let's bow our heads and pray together. Father, we thank you for this occasion.

And for the way we can come together to give thanks for the life of Toby and Theodore and Alana, and we want to pray for them. That they would grow up to know you as their own personal savior, that they would treasure the God who knows everything. And is everywhere, and created everyone, and who judges every deed, and that they wouldn't just know you, but they would love you. That it would be precious to them that their days are numbered because they are numbered by a great God. We thank you, Lord, that there is hope for sinners like us, that the Lord Jesus Christ came and died for sinners and rose again in power, and that everyone who calls upon his name can come to know you.

The God of Psalm hundred and 39, the loving gracious God. Help none of us to leave here without seriously considering these words for ourselves. And we ask it in Jesus' name. Oh, man.

Preached by Tom Sweatman
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Tom is an Assistant Pastor at Cornerstone and lives in Kingston with his wife Laura and their two children.

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