Return To Your Rest, My Soul (Psalm 116:7)

laughter (7-15-18)

We continue to dive into different Psalms this summer to encourage us to read them on our own regularly. Psalms are powerful examples of people praising the LORD in their trials, trusting Him when He feels far, having joy in difficulty, being fully honest with the LORD. The Psalmists don’t wear capes—they are honest/sinful/real like all of us. Learn from theLORD thru them! 🙂

Psalm 116

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress & sorrow.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
6The Lord protects the unwary
[unaware, careless, uncautious, thoughtless];
when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

Let’s dive here for the remainder of our time this post…

My dear friends, to have true soul-rest
we don’t need a vacation, better house/car/body, more money, etc.

We need to constantly remember how the Lord has been constantly good to us.

Many rightly call this “counting our blessings,”
and they agree in principle with its importance.

But we often don’t actually do it, or we don’t spend a chunk of time
considering how the LORD has been good to us.

  • In other words, we swish the water around in our mouths but don’t drink it,
    & so we aren’t hydrated; we walk around dehydrated,
    swishing but then spitting out the water.

So let’s deeply consider some of the many ways the LORD has been good to us,
so our souls can be hydrated by Him, so our souls can have rest in Christ:

After being deeply hurt, nothing is funny, you think you’ll never laugh again…
& then you do.

Something dumb is funny—maybe a pun or a Dad joke!—
and you find yourself laughing, and laughing hard
(awkwardly long after others around you
have finished with their polite chuckles).

It’s like the emotional dam has broken
and you laugh deeply until your stomach muscles hurt.
The laughing hasn’t made your problems go away,
but there is a surge of joy/strength/optimism
that there is sunshine up there behind the clouds.
The clouds are there, dark as ever, but so is the sun—
the clouds might block the sun, but the clouds haven’t extinguished the sun (oh what a life-giving Truth this is to behold in our pain).

The laughter is a deep & precious & merciful gift from the LORD.

Oh don’t miss this, loved ones: laughter is designed by the LORD!
It can be used for evil, but it can also be used for good!
HE designed laughter, and designed a world
where certain things are genuinely and lovingly hilarious.
Science shows the health benefits of laughter to the human body.

This is one of the simple & overlooked ways that the LORD has been good to us.

Genesis 21:1-6: Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said,
a d the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised.
Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age,
at the very time God had promised him…
5Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said,“God has brought me laughter,
and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.”

Psalm 126:1-3: When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.

Return to your rest, oh my soul, for the LORD has been good to you…

Another example: Hard day & you come home and smell dinner,
even if you have to make the dinner!…or you go out to eat—
how it perks up your spirit.

You smell & enjoy a good meal, not where you rush thru it and gulp it quickly
without really tasting it, but a meal where you savor the bites,
notice the spices/seasoning, appreciate the hard work that went into it
& realize that regardless of who cooked it/purchased the meal,
the LORD has catered & provided it for you personally…

What a blessing from the LORD,
a good meal where taste buds are satisfied and the body is nourished.
The average American eats over 80,000 separate meals in our earthly lives,
not including snacking,
& this is an easily overlooked way that the LORD is good to us.

1 Kings 19:8 So [Elijah] got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food,
he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

Nehemiah 8:10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food & sweet drinks,
and send some to those who have nothing prepared.
This day is holy to our Lord.
Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Acts 9:19 “…and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Saul spent several days w/the disciples in Damascus.”

Return to your rest, oh my soul, for the LORD has been good to you…

Another example: Ever received an encouraging text message,
email, letter (remember those!?), or kind word from a friend
that flooded your soul with refreshment,
like a wilting houseplant that perks up almost immediately from a drink of water?

And not just a nice comment, but a bulls-eye word of encouragement
that was just what you needed to hear,
exactly what you didn’t even know that you needed!?

Or when a friend, who had no idea at all what you were going through,
contacted you and said, “You know, out of the blue I just started thinking about you,
no idea why, and I just wanted to reach out and encourage you today.” Wowza!

Proverbs 16:24: Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

My dear friends, where did that bulls-eye come from?
Out of the blue? That means out of the sky—exactly! Who is up there?
Not a bird or a plane, but the Super God-Man! 🙂

In archery, bulls-eyes don’t happen accidentally/randomly.
They happen intentionally, from a skilled archer.
Oh what an overlooked way that the LORD is good to us–
encouraging words from other Christians!

Acts 15:30-32: So the men were sent off and went down to Antioch,
where they gathered the church together and delivered the letter.
31The people read it and were glad for its encouraging message.
32Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets,
said much to encourage and strengthen the believers

Acts 20:1-3:When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and,
after encouraging them,
said goodbye and set out for Macedonia.
He traveled through that area,
speaking many words of encouragement to the people,
and finally arrived in Greece, where he stayed three months.

1 Thessalonians 4:18: 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

There’s so much more we could say about the ways the LORD has been good to us.
Let’s keep this sermon going by telling each other about His faithfulness!
Oh how we need His help to notice & rest in His goodness to us:

James 1:17-18: 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,
who does not change like shifting shadows.
18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth,
that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

My dear friends, everyone wants soul-rest,
and everyone spends their lives seeking it in one way or another
(even if they don’t believe they have a soul!).

But only Christ can truly give rest to our souls;
everything else is just a sugar substitute like nutri-sweet.
That’s why He said,

Matthew 11:28-30: 28 “Come to me,
all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

But in order to get soul-rest from Christ we must rest IN Christ,
and the only way to rest in Christ is to receive by faith & grace
His finished work on the cross for us.

Soul-rest comes not from what we can buy with gold
but what Christ bought with His blood—
free forgiveness & new life for all who believe!

And the only way to rest in Christ is to think about Him, to consider Him—
Who He is and what He has done to be the good Savior to bad sinners like us.

Don’t swish Christ around in your mouth & then spit Him out

  • drink Him in deeply by faith,
  • think on Him,
  • go to Him,
  • humble yourself before Him in prayer & confession,
  • grab His free salvation thru the cross and empty tomb by faith,
  • apply His perfect act to your sinful acts for forgiveness & cleansing,
  • shout for joy for His awesomeness—
  • enjoy Him!
  • Don’t run from Him, rest in Him…
  • don’t hide from Him, hide in Him.

Thus Psalm 116 continues:

For you, Lord, have delivered
me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

 10 I trusted in the Lord when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”;
11 in my alarm I said, “Everyone is a liar.”

12 What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?

13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.
14 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants.
16 Truly I am your servant, Lord; I serve you just as my mother did;
you have freed me from my chains.
17 I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord.
18 I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,
19 in the courts of the house of the Lord—in your midst, Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord.

Closing Challenge

My friends, this sermon & all my other sermons are meant to be intensely practical:

by the grace of God & the power of God thru the Word of God

  • to inform the mind & awaken the heart
  • to strengthen our mouths, hands & feet
  • to carry out Christ’s mission for us.

There’s a place for a local church doing coordinated/organized deeds out in a city,
but as I’ve come from a local church in Chicago
with over 10 pastors & 30 paid employees,
I know how much work is needed by many to make happen those organized deeds.

Those organized events are like the holidays in a Christian’s year,
but our mission is most often lived out day in and day out—
our real impact/service in a city is not thru the holidays
but thru the “ordinary” holy days—

  • a seemingly average Thursday,
  • a seemingly mundane Monday,
  • a frantic Friday,
  • a scattered Saturday…

The majority of good works a local church does in a city
is thru individual Christians following the Lord Jesus
& daily living out our faith in Him,

by practically responding Monday—Saturday
to what we learn on Sunday morning.

My dear friends, this week let’s live out what we’ve learned today—
let’s guide our souls to return to their rest
by contemplating & celebrating how the LORD has been good to us.

Let’s show the non-Christians in our spheres of influence
what Jesus’ soul-rest looks like,
let’s look for opportunities to tell them about what He did (&does!)
to give real rest to our souls,

  • let’s live like our past is paid for by Christ,
  • like our future is secure in Christ,
  • like our present is lived out with Christ thru His Spirit & on His Word,

let’s rest in His finished work on the cross
& invite the rest of this city to do so as well.

meal (7.15.18)