Sermon preached on Sunday, October 6, 2013 at Garden Valley Chapel during our morning worship service based on Psalm 33.
Take your Bible if you will and open it to the book of Psalms 33, Psalms chapter thirty-three.
The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-5 –
3…we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; 5and hope does not disappoint…
Now the first thing we have to understand concerning this hope which we have: it is a hope for the present not for the future.
In fact what Paul is explaining here is your present sanctification which God beautiful brings about by His gracious power in the your life.
Paul prays in 1 Thess 5:23 -
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely...
That is exactly what God is doing in your life...sanctifying you. Romans 5 simply gives us a brief summary of what that looks like.
We exult in tribulation. That has the underlying meaning of being under pressure. Imagine being squeezed as an olive in a press in order to extract the oil and juice.
It is the kind of tribulations that we experience for living Christlike lives and that is “according to the will of God” (1 Pet 4:19).
Yet we despair not. We exult in them because those hardships are evidence of faithful living and they yield blessings.
What are those blessings? First perseverance. This word carries the idea of endurance, the ability to continue working in the face of strong opposition and great obstacles.
Perseverance in turn produces proven character. In essence, this is “proof” - it is proof that God is at work producing spiritual character in the midst of tribulations.
He is as a metalsmith who uses intense heat to melt silver and gold in order to cleanse them of physical impurities.
Proven character in turn produces hope. Hope is increased as we go through the process of tribulation.
All of this is experienced in the believer’s life while he is in this life in this world - on this side of glory.
*The reality is that God’s children are destined for affliction in this life.
Paul put it plainly, “you yourselves know that we have been destined for this” (1 Thess 3:3).
You see there will be trials, there will be problems, there will be tribulations, there will be difficulties, but if you have this hope you will never be put to shame, you will never feel ashamed, you will never be disappointed, you will never feel that you are let down.
“Hope does not disappoint.”
Consider Paul while he is in a cold cell and in chains, and with no hope of deliverance. He was abandoned by virtually all of those close to him for fear of persecution and facing imminent execution.
He writes in 2 Tim 1:11ff -
11 ...I was appointed a preacher and an apostle and a teacher.
12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed;
[“I am in the midst of these trials and troubles, and tribulations, but I am not ashamed. I am not ashamed of my position or of my calling, I am not in any sense disappointed. I am not above suffering in this life.”]
for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.
His hope does not put him to shame; he is not disappointed, he is not let down by his faith and by his belief.
You can be in the thick of it and yet still exult in tribulations, my beloved.
Martyn-Lloyd Jones said -
“A man who is not clear about the Christian faith is liable to put to shame by circumstances.”1
I mean who is in charge right now? Who is in control? Who alone is sovereign? Do you know whom you have believed? Who is ruling here, circumstances or God? Is it Satan or is it God?
We stand tall when we make bold and tremendous statements of truth concerning God when all is well, but do we shrink back and not proclaim those things that God reveals to us in His Word when things are hard?
Hope fills you, hope gives you words, hope causes each one of us to glory in tribulations. Hope makes you sing, my beloved.
This has been the universal testimony of the saints and the martyrs throughout the centuries. It is this hope which was there before them and which enabled them to dies such glorious deaths.
Where death is not dying.
So I ask you my beloved, where is your hope this day? Are you certain in whom you have believed? Do you have reason to sing and stand tall and mightily proclaim the praises of Him whom you have believed in?
True hope stems from the unshakable confidence that God is absolutely faithful to His promises, and therefore all those promises are as sure and certain as God Himself.
Hope is forward-looking, far-reaching, and heaven-bound. It is not dependent upon earthly realities.
If you want to erode hope, simply be preoccupied with the present circumstances without ever gazing upon God and His truths.
Although hope is cultivated by hardship and trial, it is the sweetest of Christian virtues. Hope is the very thing that enables us to endure every trial in life with our joy intact.
That is why Peter refers to hope as living (1 Pet. 1:3). And the writer of Hebrews says, “this hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast” (Heb 6:19).
God is our hope, my beloved and that is where the psalmist will take us and remind us: He alone is the source of our hope.
And so let us open our Bibles to Psalm 33.
Psalms has been called “Israel’s Hymnbook” yet this particular psalm opens it up for all [all nations, all people, all generations] to join in praise – “sing for joy in the Lord” – all you who are righteous, all you who are upright.
It is a praise psalm for everyone.
I invite you to stand as I read this beautiful psalm. Read Psalm 33.