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The New Year: Psalm 90

By Les Thompson

“Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

I.  THE NEW YEAR: A TIME TO TAKE STOCK

Questions I need to ask myself:

  1. How long will l live?
  2. What will l do with my life?
  3. What have I done with the opportunities God gave me?

Moses reflects on the shortness of life, even though he lived 130 years.

Psalm 90:5,6

  • You sweep people away
  • like dreams that disappear.
  • They are like grass that springs up in the morning. In the morning it blooms and flourishes,
        but by evening it is dry and withered.

Psalm 90:9,10

  • We live our lives beneath your wrath, ending our years with a groan.
  • Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty
  • But even the best years are filled with pain and trouble;
  • Soon they disappear, and we fly away.

Martin Luther:

“Until I realized how seriously and urgently Moses prayed in this passage, I didn’t understand that we should ask God to teach us to number our days. I thought everyone was just as afraid of death as I was.

“However, out of ten thousand people, only ten might believe that numbering their days is important. The rest of the masses of people live as if God doesn’t exist and death doesn’t occur.

“But this isn’t the worst part. Some people who are about to die imagine that they’ll go on living. Others, overwhelmed by misery, still dream of happiness. Still others, who are in extreme danger, foolishly think they’re totally secure. Their delusion is the saddest part of all.”
(FAITH ALONE, reading December 30, Word, 1998)

II. THE NEW YEAR: A TIME TO REMEMBER GOD

Imagine Moses writing this psalm toward the end of his life (remember, he lived to be 130!)
Old age —with aching bones & shaking timbers— is a time to remember… one spends a lot of time in the ol’ rocker!

Moses remembers:

  • His childhood—his mother, his sister, & the bulrushes
  • His youth—his adopted mother, Pharaoh’s palace
  • His rash act—killing the Egyptian; fleeing thru the desert
  • His sitting at the well of Midian—Jethro & daughters
  • His experience with the Burning Bush—”I am that I am”
  • His return to Egypt—the wonders of God’s deliverance

Psalm 90:1,2

Lord, You have been our dwelling place [God’s acts of Providence in our lives] in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.

Illustration: One evening (children playing, teenagers off in another home) we adults sat around the table and REMEMBERED!

John — an MK (missionary kid): grew up and rebelled. He turned God off and left home to live a wild life. And then we heard how God captured him!
As John talked, I remembered my own struggles and God’s goodness.

Why number our days? Why apply our hearts unto wisdom?

III.  THE NEW YEAR AND THE REASON FOR OUR CONSTANT STRUGGLES

MOSES—40 years in the Desert of Midian!

  • Disillusioned with himself
  • A total, miserable failure
  • A worthless life… feeding silly sheep!
  • Then, even after he began following God
    —the struggles in Egypt
    —the incredible struggles leading Israel to the Promised Land
    —their rebellion, their unbelief!

Psalm 90:7-10 (NKJV)

“For we have been consumed by Your anger, And by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, Our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. 10 The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”

Luther — over 10 years trying to discover faith!

  • the lightning that nearly kills him on way back to college
  • the struggles in the monastery trying to find forgiveness
    —fasting
    —praying & confessing many times a day!
    —his terrible consciousness of sin
    —flailing himself with a whip, till he fainted
    —his sin, his sin, his sin!
    —how God must hate him!
  • Then that marvelous day, as he discovers the book of Romans: “The just shall live by faith”: ...not their works! (Ro. 1:17)
  • Then after finding God and forgiveness, all his struggles end.

Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Rings: the ring was the corrupter

Our inner struggles: the constant, daily struggle with our sins — and God’s consequent anger.
Sin brings its terrible consequences. Forgiveness, yes! But we reap what we sow.

IV. THE NEW YEAR:  SEEKING GOD’S HELP!

A four-fold prayer: Psalm 90:14-17

Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
    that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
x
xAT THE START OF LIFE
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
    for as many years as we have seen trouble.
xx…REQUEST FOR BALANCE
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
    your splendor to their children.
xx…LORD, I WANT EVIDENCE THAT YOU’RE WITH ME!
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
xxestablish the work of our hands for us—
xxyes, establish the work of our hands.
xx…LORD, IN THIS NEW YEAR I WANT TO BE USED BY YOU.

CONCLUSION

A glimpse at the Luther household
—(the monk who found his wife —a nun— in a beer barrel)
—But that is another story…

God gave Luther & Catherine six children
—Outside, a storm raged, as the Pope tried to destroy him
—Some of his followers refused to follow instructions
—Disgruntled German princes

But in that home there’s
—JOY
—MUSIC
—LAUGHTER
—FRIENDS