"Every experience God gives us, every person he puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only he can see." Corrie Ten Boom
Over 21 years ago we were sitting at home wondering and waiting to hear if the church here would call me to be the pastor. Now let’s turn things around and talk about today from the standpoint of 21 years ago. I could not have dreamed of all that would happen in the last 21 years. I’m sure I didn’t think I would even last this long if I did come to Wilro Park. Yet here we are after 21 years with who knows how many years are still in front of us.
If I ask what has changed in the last 21 years, the answer is nothing and everything. Back then I was 34 years old and had no gray hair, today I am 55 and am graying slowly and gracefully (I hope). Then our girls were 2, 7, and 9. Today we have 4 adult children. God has blessed us with a beautiful little boy. As always, God knew exactly what he was doing.
My text today is taken from one of the most well-loved psalms. Sing a hymn - "All Creatures That on Earth Do Dwell." Hebrew - "A Psalm for giving thanks." Even though there are many thanksgiving psalms, this is the only one specifically titled that way. In Old Testament times, the Jews used it as part of the Temple worship. So these simple words have blessed the hearts of God’s people for nearly 3000 years.
I would like to focus our attention on the last verse, which gives us 3 reasons to praise God: "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations"(Psalm 100:5). It is fitting that our hearts should be filled with praise to God for all his blessings.
1. The Lord is Good
This speaks of God’s character, that God is good and all he does is good. I do not know all your personal circumstances. Some of you are in difficult places and wonder if things will ever get better. While I don’t know the particulars of your situation, I do know this: God has been good to you.
"God is good" - "All the time." "All the time" - "God is good." What a powerful and important affirmation that is. Not just that God is good. This much we already know, but to declare out loud and in one voice that "all the time" and in every circumstance our God is good. Everything we see around us confirms this truth. Sometimes God’s goodness is seen quickly, other times slowly as we ponder the mysterious ways of God. Eventually we come to realize that nothing leaves God’s hand that does not touch his goodness in one way or the other.
I’m sure we could all make a list of reasons to give thanks to God: For family, friends, good health, good grades, a good job, a good report from the doctor, and so on. However Psalm 100 asks us to praise God simply because he is good. This is the highest form of praise, when we praise God not for what he does but for who he is.
What do we mean when we say, "God is good?" "Good" - We use the word often enough, but what exactly does it mean? “Being good means sharing what you have with others. Those who share their food with the needy, who give of themselves to the sick, who visit prisoners, who care for the elderly, who reach out to the hurting and the needy, they are being good.”
On a much grander scale, we can see the goodness of God in the creation of the universe. God did not create because of any lack within himself. He created us because he desired to share his own image with us. He did not have to do that, but he did, because that’s the kind of God he is. "He made us, and we are his." The very fact of your existence proves God’s goodness. He cared enough to create you and then he cared enough to send his Son to die for you. Surely God is good all the time. And all the time God is good.
2. His love endures
Some translations - "mercy" instead of love. If God’s goodness speaks of his character, mercy speaks of God’s nature. Mercy is God’s goodness in relation to sinners. He forgives sins both now and in the future. Because God’s mercy endures forever, it has no beginning and no end. Before time began, he was the eternal Father of Mercies. Since God is eternal, his mercy extends as far into the future as the mind can conceive. And then infinitely farther. When eternity is finally done—if such a thing can be contemplated—God’s mercy will still endure. It never runs out, is never exhausted, and when you feel you have used up your allotment of mercy, you discover that there is an infinite river flowing from God’s throne.
God’s mercy is not like the weather. It does not change with the seasons. It does not depend on you or on anything you may do. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more and there is nothing you can do to make him love you less. His mercy is so great and his love so free that it is truly infinite and everlasting.
We see God’s love and mercy most clearly at the cross. Plaque - "I asked Jesus, ‘How much do you love me?’ ‘This much,’ he answered. He stretched out his arms and died." Fix your eyes upon the cross of Calvary. Gaze upon the dying form of the Son of God. There you will find grace unmeasured, mercy undeserved, and love beyond degree.
3. His faithfulness continues
The final phrase speaks of God’s promise to us. We can face the future with confidence because his faithfulness continues from one generation to another. Some translations -"his truth endures." That’s entirely correct because God’s truth and his faithfulness both spring from his unchanging nature. Consider what it means to say that his truth endures:
He is true in himself. There is no deceit and no falsehood in him. No error can be found in his nature. He is true in his dealing with his creation. He is true in his dealing with humanity. He is true in all his promises. Where can you find a promise he has not kept? What has he spoken that has not come to pass?
No changes, however great, can produce any changes in him. All things are moving according to his divine plan. There are no mistakes with the Lord. You may think it otherwise, but it is not true. You may say, "All things are against me," but it is not so. All things are for you but you do not yet see it. God is ordering all for the best.
Consider the final phrase: "through all generations." It literally means "from generation to generation." Exodus 20:6 - God shows his love to "a thousand generations" of those who love him. It’s a way of showing us that God’s love and faithfulness go far beyond any human understanding.
Suppose we line up a grandfather, a son, a grandson, and a great-grandson on the platform. This text tells us that what God was to the grandfather, he will be to the son. What he is to the son, he will be to the grandson. What he is to the grandson, he will be to the great-grandson. And so it goes across the centuries. Generations come and go, one after the other. Only God remains forever.
This is our hope at the edge of death. I do not know how far we have to go until we reach the end of our earthly road. But this I know—that road is paved with God’s love and faithfulness. And we need not be afraid.
I am so glad that God’s faithfulness transcends the generations. I am 55 years old heading for … what? 55? 60? 75? Maybe 80 or even 90 years old if God blesses me with long life. But I won’t live forever. As the years roll by, I find myself realizing how much of my life is wrapped up in my children.
Will God still take care of them? What about their children? And their grandchildren? Will God still be there for them? The answer is yes because God’s faithfulness doesn’t depend on me but on the character of God that spans the generations. That means I don’t have to stay alive to ensure that my children will be okay. God will see to that. After I am gone from this earth, and even if all my prayers have not been answered, I can trust God to take care of my family. What a comfort this is. I can do my best to help them while I’m here, and after I’m gone God’s faithfulness will continue for them and for their grandchildren, and even for their great-grandchildren.
While I was thinking about that, a strange thought came to my mind. If I were dying and had just 30 seconds to pass along my highest values to my children, what would I say? 4 things came to my mind: Take care of your mother, Love each other, Marry Christians, Serve Jesus Christ forever
The wonderful thing is this: God has promised to be faithful to every generation. If my values are weak, that promise becomes punishment; but if my values reflect God’s values, then that promise becomes my best hope for the future.
Because God is faithful, we can trust him with the generations yet to come. Here is great hope for parents who worry about their children. The God who cares for us will take care of our children—and their children’s children—too.
3 Things I Know
As I grow older I realize that I am less and less certain about some things … and more and more certain about others. Here are 3 things I know for certain: The Lord is good, His mercy endures forever, His faithfulness continues from generation to generation.
If you are weary, if you are tired, if you are discouraged, if you need a fresh start, if you know your life is going nowhere, if you want your sins forgiven, if you want to know God, then drop what you are doing and run to the cross. Run to the cross! Don’t delay, don’t put it off, don’t make any excuses. Drop everything and run to the cross of Christ. Lay hold of the Son of God who loves you and who died for you. Lay all your sins on Jesus. Trust him and him alone as your Saviour.
That is all I have to say, but it is enough. May God give you faith to believe and wings to fly to the cross. Let’s all lay hold of Jesus and hold on tight. He is a wonderful Saviour to those who trust in him. Amen.