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Psalm 19 - How Great Thou Art

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Date: February 2, 1997

NT Text: Psalms and others

Sermon Title: HOW GREAT THOU ART! -- CSB Sunday

Major Recent Event: Miracle of healing



Our Christian Service Brigades are inviting us today to stop and think about the mystery and awesome greatness of God. Sometimes when we think about God, Nature and the Universe, we're struck by the majesty and greatness of it all. There are times when we feel utterly insignificant when we contemplate the vastness of God's creation. At the same time we are filled with a sense of awe and wonder because God has chosen mankind to be the crown (i.e. the masterpiece) of his creation.

Today we have heard some stories that imply a sense of gratitude to God for the great outdoors. I remember when I was about your age (directed to CSB). Back in Paraguay, where I grew up, we called our boys club "Jungschar". I vividly remember the many camping and fishing trips that we made. These were fun times of learning different survival skills. We went swimming with our friends in the river and did all those things that boys will do for as long as they're boys. Things that our leaders and parents never found out about -- fun stuff, you know.

During those camping trips, one of my favorite things was always sitting around the camp fire and telling stories. I don't remember many specific stories that our leaders told us, but I remember clearly how God seemed to be right there with us during those times. Sometimes, after everyone was gone to bed, my friend and I would lie on our backs staring into the milky way and get lost in a conversation about the God behind it all. And in the middle of the night we started to quietly hum the song: How Great Thou Art.

Imagine yourself for a minute lying in your sleeping bag in a beautiful green meadow in the middle of the night. The moon hasn't come up yet... there are no mosquitoes... just a gentle warm breeze rustling the leaves of a tree. Suddenly you see a wonderful display of shooting stars -- God's very own fireworks. All your worries and grief are lost in a moment of worship. Your thoughts are fully focused on the wisdom and power of the maker of the universe

Please turn with me to number 535 in your brown hymnals and let us sing the first two verses.

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds thy hands have made,

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,

thy pow'r throughout the universe displayed,



Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee;

How great thou art, how great thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee;

How great thou art, how great thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander

and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;

When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur

and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;



(Keep your books open -- we'll sing the last two verses a little later).

Stuart K. Hine, who wrote this song many years ago, invites us to observe the greatness of the Creator in nature. God's power and majesty can be found in the sparkle of the stars, in the sound of the rolling thunder. God's awesome greatness can be found as we walk through the forest and observe the squirrels and birds and butterflies. Wherever we turn, there is God's signature written in the language of love and beauty.

The Psalmists found evidence of God's majesty in the displays in the sky. I read as one example among many Psalm 19:1-6 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. 3 They have no speech, there are no words; no sound is heard from them 4 Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, 5 which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6  It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.

John Ruskin wrote, Nature is painting for us, day after day, pictures of infinite beauty if only we have the eyes to see them. How true! We need to stop and see... That is sometimes a monumental task in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives. We need to take time... turn of the noises around us... and tune in to God's gentle voice speaking to our souls.

It is amazing what we will discover when we stop to soak up the pictures of God's infinite wisdom and power. John Erskine suggests for example that, Generations of mankind have discovered that gardening is work for philosophers, and that the daily planting and weeding will make a philosopher out of him who never was before. I mean philosopher in the true sense, not simply a placid soul who can accept life without protest, but a mind awakened, fertile, discriminating.

Finding God's awesome majesty in nature is a gift that is available to anyone who his tuned in to God. At times in our lives, God seems strangely absent, but the problem is not that God has disappeared. We simply don't expect to see God in certain corners of our lives. God is there, in every instance and situation of our lives, if we will only stop and look for signs of the Almighty.

Stuart Hine, the author of our hymn, didn't stop at his discovery of God's awesome power in nature. If our admiration for God stops with nature we fall into the danger of worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

God deserves our praise not only for the majestic displays of his power in nature. God deserves our praise for His gift of salvation that he gave to us in Jesus Christ.

Verses 3 & 4 invite us to sing God's praises for his gift of salvation. Let us sing the last two verses (# 535)

And when I think that God, his Son not sparing,

Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in;

That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin.


When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation

And take me home , what joy shall fill my heart!

Then I shall bow in humble adoration

And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

Salvation through his Son Jesus is the greatest gift that God could ever give us. May our souls be filled with awe and wonder that our lives may be a display of God's awesome power. May every breath that we take exclaim: "HOW GREAT THOU ART!"

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