The pilgrimage that takes place during these songs of ascents is both an invitation and a command of and to the people. This is also true for blessing – we are invited to bless the lord and commanded to bless the lord. Our feelings about the need for perfect honesty or authenticity don’t change that. Bless the lord. Lift your arms and eyes.
00:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside Church in Bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us. Good morning, everybody. My name is Evan, I'm one of your senior pastors. so grateful that you're here with us today as we close out, our series out of Eugene Peterson's book, long obedience in the same Direction. if, well, before I get into it, I want to ask you, if you're not busy on Wednesday at noon, I want to invite you back to this space. We'll also have this online at all of our normal livestream locations. but I wanna invite you into this room. We're gonna have an Ash Wednesday service, from 12 to 1230 on Wednesday, if you have a lunch break or, or can come out. we're gonna share communion together and really reflect as we begin the lint season leading up into Easter.
00:48 Good Friday and Easter. Reflect on Jesus, reflect on the cross, and really set ourselves, towards what God would do in our church for the next, six weeks or so. So wanna invite you right back here, Wednesday at noon for that service with our staff. Well, if you have a Bible, I want you to turn to Psalms 130. It's also gonna be on the screen. Full disclosure this morning. I had, this is my message notes as of this week. It was a good message. I had prepped it, and then I, as I was reading through what we've been walking through, which are the songs of Ascent, Psalms 123 134, a phrase caught my attention that I couldn't shake, and I felt like this was the message that needed to be brought to us today. And so, as we go to Psalms one 30, I want to share these two phrases, these two thoughts, that are gonna be where we spend our time today.
01:50 First is God's Not Mad at You. And the second is, God's Not Done With You. As we've been walking through these 15 Psalms, these songs that the people of Israel would sing to each other as three times a year, they would make their pilgrimage, their journey to Jerusalem for the festivals and worship. they would recite these songs, these psalms, and remind each other what they could expect when they got to Jerusalem, what kind of God they worshiped, who they were in the sight of God. And so they're not as much songs to sing as they are prayers that create a soundtrack to a journey of pursuit of God. And soundtracks are important. I heard once that when they were, when Spielberg was creating, directing Jurassic Park, there were questions whether it would work. You know, this is one of the first films that they used extensive CGI to create these dinosaurs.
02:48 And as they were in the early stages of production on this film, the general feeling was it was, it was coming off a little cheesy and not gonna work. And, and then they had hired, the master of composing John Williams. And if you remember Jurassic Park, the original, the theme song Jurassic Park, is not just like a nice movie soundtrack. It's like a beautiful hymn, everybody, no. and if the soundtrack made it all come together, right? And this is the nature of these prayers, we can pursue God. But when we have these beautiful prayers, in our arsenal, they create the soundtrack to our pursuit of God. They set our course, they set our direction, they set our pace as we pursue a life in God. And so, I wanna read Psalm one 30 and have that in mind.
03:44 Just be thinking through the Jurassic Park theme song the whole time,
04:52 God, we want you to visit us and reveal your heart, reveal your character through Jesus. So speak. We're listening and we love you. The name of the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Amen. growing up at our church, we had an interim pastor, at the church I grew up in, and I don't know how long he served, maybe a year, maybe a little bit longer. and I, I don't know if I should share his name or not. His name was Wally, which is a great name for a pastor, pastor Wally. But Pastor Wally for a guy at my age, I was like five or six. he was a big guy. He was a loud guy. And he'd kinda walk around, you know, with his chest out, kind of like this in the hallways. And he scared me to death, I'll be honest,
05:38 And I remember walking around, you know, as a kid, usually my family, whatever. But there was a sense of like, if Wally's in the hallway, you kind of hide behind, a parent, you know, cuz he seemed larger than life. And, there was a, a sense of intimidation and this idea that like, I don't ever want him to notice me. You know what I'm saying? Have you ever been intimidated by someone and you just, you would rather their attention be on somebody else? I think this, that, depending on how you were raised in your view of God, that many times we think of God as this big, loud, intimidating presence that best for us. If he would just focus his attention somewhere else and we'll worship him and, and we'll go to his church and, and we'll read his word. But any kind of interaction with him stirs up feelings like maybe he wouldn't be happy with me. And maybe that's been your view of God. Maybe when you consider your shortcomings or your failures, the life you've lived, you come to the conclusion that certainly a holy God will be disappointed.
06:56 I think sometimes our view of God is, is that he loves us and that love is just enough to where he'll tolerate us. That maybe because he loves me, because John three 16 is true, that God still loved the world, that he sent his only son. Maybe because of that he will look upon me and have enough mercy not to lash out in anger and destroy me. And I think that's a sad view of God, and it's a wrong view of God. And I can't help but think as we look, through scripture, that for many the view of God was one of, of anger because of how far away from perfection the people would get. And there were so many laws. I mean, the 10 Commandments were just the beginning. Then on top of that, the people came up with some 800 more laws that were, were nuanced and, and, and, and very, you know, granular laws attached to, to the 10 Commandments.
07:55 And so by the time, of, of Jesus, you have hundreds and hundreds of rules and laws, religious rules that had to be kept. And if you're in a society where there's 800 plus rules that you're supposed to observe and keep every day, you're gonna end up feeling like you're not good enough. And so what happens is Jesus comes on the scene, and what he does is he portrays God not in a new way. God has always been who God is. But he reveals that the God who they have people have always served isn't actually disappointed and angry at his people. And we get a picture of God, the perfect revelation of who God is in the person of Jesus. And Jesus shows us a God of surprising compassion for everyone who loves him. But even going back into the Old Testament in numbers chapter six, we find this blessing that was given to Moses, the leader of the Israelites out in the desert.
08:59 And this blessing would've been prayed over the people generation after generation. Number six, verse 24. This is the blessing that Moses prayed over the people. The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make his face to shine on you and be gracious to you. The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Doesn't sound very angry, A God full of gracious compassion, a God turning towards you, A God who sets his face and is affection towards you. That sounds like the kind of God that Jesus revealed. And I read that, and I think, well, that's a nice sentiment that Moses is praying over his people in hopes that God might hear it. Maybe God will agree with that sentiment. Maybe God will fulfill what Moses is praying. But then I look back two verses before in verse 22, we find out who actually created this prayer, this blessing to be read over the people. Verse 22 says, the Lord said to Moses, tell Aaron and his sons, this is how you are to bless the Israelites. You say to them, you catch that God's the one who writes this blessing. God's looking out at his people and he says, you know what? I want to bless them. I wanna be gracious to them. I wanna set my face towards him. I want to turn my affections always towards these people. Moses, here's what you're gonna pray as a blessing.
10:27 And so from even before the people receive the words of this blessing, the intention of God is to set his face and his affection toward them. This is crazy. And you say, well, Evan, they're, you know, they're, they're really good people and I'm not. They're, they're perfect and I'm not. but if you
11:18 The Lord set his face towards you. The Lord give you peace. God's intention towards his people, his blessing. we got a puppy. I was not all the way on board with this, but it happened.
12:14 I mean, this is wonderful. And then we, we, one day, a a a small animal comes into the house and starts the process all over again.
13:10 Now here's the thing. My kids are much more troubled than this dog. Like, like, not even no comparison. They cost more
13:57 Hey, not, not look kindly on by Craigslist,
15:12 And so we cower around the house, you know, we, we kind slink into church and ugh, hope God doesn't notice me today. I know my heart. I know what I've done. I know. And we, and we, we, we cower around from the presence of God because we think he's so angry. And this is the last straw. And my friends, it couldn't be more far from the truth because you are the beloved of God. He put his name on you. He's deeply invested in your future and your joy. There's no comparison. God's commitment to us is what gives us confidence that we can approach him. He's not mad at us. There's two passages of scripture made more. These are the two I'm aware of two scriptures that are, are plastered on our walls here at the church. One is actually one of the songs of ascent out of psalms. I'm not even gonna tell you which one it is. I'm not gonna tell you where it is. That's like a little fun scavenger hunt after service.
16:33 B 13
16:36 Which says,
16:40 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today,
16:43 Yeah, good job, good job. Hey, you came to church, you sat in the back row and then you had to read for the whole group. Congratulations,
16:57 Hebrews 13, A Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. You know what that tells me? It tells me, we don't have to wonder what kind of God we get when we show up.
17:06 We don't have to wonder today is God gonna be upset? We don't have to think of God as this moody character who, who depending on the week, he's either in a good mood or a bad mood and will receive something that corresponds to how he's feeling today. No, he's the same yesterday, today, and forever. And he has established in himself the decision to treat you in a certain way, not with anger, but with everlasting kindness. The Psalmist wrote this. He said, your anger lasts, but at night. But sure, loving kindness endures forever. We don't have to wonder what God we're gonna get because he has established himself forever towards us. The apostle Paul was writing to Timothy, who is being mentored by Paul. And in second Timothy chapter two, Paul starts to say, these little sayings back and forth, if this happens, then this happens.
18:11 If this happens, then this happens. And he gets to the last one. And he says, if we are faithless, and the readers would've heard the end of that sentence to be, he will be faithless to us. He will abandon us. Instead, Paul w writes something that is really shocking for his readers. He says, if we are faithless in second Timothy two 13, he remains faithful for he cannot deny himself. See, we think that we look to ourselves and our performance to decide whether or not God's gonna be faithful to us. We examine our own history, we examine our own thoughts, we examine our own lies and say, based on what I'm seeing, will God accept me based on what I'm seeing? Do I deserve the faithfulness of God? And Paul and me and God would all say, listen, I've got news. My faithfulness towards you is not based on what I see when I look at you.
19:12 My faithfulness is based on what I see when I look at myself. And all I see is faithfulness, faithfulness, faithfulness. So when you come into this place and when you seek me, you're gonna find me and you're gonna find me the same as I've always been with my affection and my faith set solidly on you. I'm not mad. We don't have to wonder. And this is a gift for all those who've had faith that is shaking, who've questioned, who've had doubts, who wrestle with what the Bible says, and how we should live. And all these questions I tell you, we have an anchor in the faithfulness of God. We can wonder about a lot of things and wrestle over a lot of ideas. But I don't want wrestle over this. God is for you. God is towards you. God's affection is set on you.
20:10 Jesus took out some ads at the Super Bowl. Did you see that?
21:26 I watched the ads. I'm like, Hmm, interesting. I wanna know that guy more. Not because of the ads, just because I want to. I I'm curious, I'm curious about the, and I'm a I'm a pastor man. I'm, I'm supposed to be the expert, right? But I feel like there's so much more to learn. And, and we have these, these voices all the time that tell us what Jesus is and what he's really like and, and all these things. And I, I, I want to stay open, but I want to be very, very clear on this, that God is for you. And if Jesus was here, he would extend his mercy and his grace towards you and towards your neighbors. And this is like a non-negotiable for us guys, is that Jesus reveals a God who is madly and passionately in pursuit of you. I have confidence of this. So he is not mad at you. And, and then finally, he's not done with you back in the Old Testament. There's a story of Moses, and he's a Hebrew baby that's born and his life is threatened. So he's hidden away and ends up getting found and raised by Pharaoh's daughter in Egypt.
22:47 After he comes of age, he, he ends up defending one of his fellow Hebrews, one of the slaves who is being beat, beaten by an Egyptian taskmaster. And so he kills the Egyptian and, and now accused of this murder, he, he flees and he runs off and he ends up in this land called Midian as a humble shepherd. He's tending flocks until late in his life. He's 80 years old. The Bible tells us tendon in his flocks, got quite a story, right? Story of drama and intrigue. And, and now he's just like living out his days with the sheep. And then he is standing there and he looks over, and you probably know the story. He sees a bush that looks like it's on fire, but it doesn't get consumed. And it's the presence of God revealed in this burning bush. And he begins to hear the voice of God calling out to him and saying something really surprising. Basically, Moses, I'm not done with you, Moses. You've got more to do. There's more value in who you are. And so God puts him back into action to deliver his people. You know, I've talked to a lot of people in recent years,
24:06 Especially those who've grown up around church and they've decided that at least for now, they're done with God. And I understand that. I find it maybe even more sad when people come to the place where they believe that God is done with them. God's still in process with all of us. And I think we put an expectation on ourselves, both, that we should already have everything figured out, or that we should have so much to offer that, that God would be impressed enough with us to use us. But the thing is, God, using broken people is actually a sign of his power. I mean, he could use, he could use the best and the brightest and that would be cool. But man, when he uses the broken, that speaks to how great his grace and mercy are. That speaks to how amazing this strength of God that he would come to people like me and come to people like you when we're far off and far away from him. When we are, as the Psalm say, stuck in a miy pit. And he would take us and he'd set us on a rock and he would use this. It's this old song, Brent and I used to sing actually when we were kids,
25:33 Says, if you can use anything, Lord, you can use me. If you can use anything, Lord, you can use me. Take my hands and my feet. Touch my heart. Speak to me. If you can use anything, you can use me like Moses in the wilderness. I think sometimes we find ourselves in these wilderness seasons where we are certain that whatever we had to offer is no longer of use to God and he's done. But the message for us today is that God is still at work in you. God is still interested in bringing to life what you thought was lost to breathing His spirit on you, healing you, and taking broken things and using them for his glory. Philippians one, six says, God is the one who began this good work in you. And I'm certain that he won't stop before it's complete on the day Christ Jesus returns, he's still at work. So to borrow from another preacher, as we close today, I want to ask you this, what would you do if you were confident God was with you? How would you live in relationships in life if you really, really believed that even in your current state? In this moment, God is for you.
27:00 Cause I'm telling you, I don't know all of you, but I know me and I know that if God's affection and his heart is for me, then surely it's for you too. And so would you bow your heads and close your eyes. Father, for those who are carrying around this persona, this feeling that they're, at any moment could, could trip the last straw and, and call down your anger, God, that you would, remind us that we're not, we're not just passing through in this place. We belong to you, sons and daughters of the living God, that you're not angry, you're not disappointed, both great care and compassion. You're with us and you're for us. And Father, for those who feel like their best days are behind them who feel spent and exhausted like Moses in the wilderness, would you whisper that there's still good things ahead? Your spirit would fall afresh on those or burnt out, feeling lost,
28:22 Alone. Rest on your church, rest on us. Jesus, thank you for revealing God to us. Thank you for showing us that God is full of compassion and affection for us in Jesus' name.