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WHO AM I, O LORD, THAT YOU SHOULD LOVE ME?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

19 JANUARY 1997

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Genesis 6:5-9
Psalm 139:1-24
Luke 6:27-28

Who am I, O Lord, that You should love me?

I suppose almost every person who comes to have a personal relationship with the Lord ponders such a question in his or her mind.

We know who we are, and we know what the Lord has forgiven.

We look around the world, and see how other people are.

We see the cruelty, the pain, and the suffering inflicted on humans and animals.

Why hasn't God just wiped us out, as He did in the days of Noah?

Of those days, God said, "the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart." (Genesis 6:5-6)

I can't help but see that the world is very much like this today.

Why hasn't God blotted us out now, as He did then?

Who am I, O Lord, that You should love me?

In those days, I suppose Noah must have felt very much like this, too, especially when God said that Noah had found favor in His eyes.

God saw that Noah was different from the other people.

God saw the sensitivity of Noah's heart, and the way he must have tried to overcome the evil that surrounded him.

The Lord considered Noah to be blameless in his time.

Noah walked with God. (Genesis 6:7-9)

When I first read this, I said in my heart, "Lord, that's what I want to do. I want to walk with You."

But when our heart and soul is this sensitive, we also see our own faults, and we are aware of our impure thoughts.

We know we're not really blameless, even though we may be trying very hard to be just that way.

Thus, I can hear Noah saying, who am I, O Lord, that You should love me?

And I suppose, many a time David must have felt like this, too.

He committed many grievous sins, and yet each time that he repented, God forgave him.

David must have pondered these things over and over again in his mind.

Perhaps that's why he wrote so many of the psalms; he wrote down his feelings.

He put his heart and soul to music, and wrote it down, both the good and the bad, that others might come to understand.

Just as he did, he wanted others also to ponder the question, who am I, O Lord, that You should love me?

We can see many of these thoughts and feelings in Psalm 139:

1. O Lord, Thou hast searched me and known me.

2. Thou dost know when I sit down and when I rise up;

Thou dost understand my thought from afar.

3. Thou dost scrutinize my path and my lying down,

And art intimately acquainted with all my ways.

What David is telling us, is that nothing we do is hidden from God; He knows everything, absolutely everything.

Do you think God would be absolutely happy with everything you did just this past week?

How about over the past month or year? Would He be happy with everything?

And what about the things we say?

4.  Even before there is a word on my tongue,

Behold, O Lord, Thou dost know it all.

This means that God knows even our innermost thoughts.

Do you think He would be happy with all these thoughts?

5. Thou hast enclosed me behind and before,

And laid Thy hand upon me.

In spite of all these things we think and do, God still cares; and David cries out:

6. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;

It is too high, I cannot attain to it.

Itís when we come to this understanding, that we say in our hearts, who am I, O Lord, that You should love me?

It's almost as if at this very moment, David came to the conclusion that we should just accept God's grace with the love it is given, for there's really no place to hide from Him.

But this understanding does not mean that we can deliberately continue in our sinful ways. 

We are to desire to change our former ways into the ways of God, and we are to use the unction of the Holy Spirit to help us do this.

7. Where can I go from Thy Spirit?

Or where can I flee from Thy presence?

8. If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there;

If I make my bed in Sheol [or in death], behold, Thou art there.

9. If I take the wings of the dawn,

If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10. Even there Thy hand will lead me,

And Thy right hand will lay hold of me.

11. If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,

And the light around me will be night,"

12. Even the darkness is not dark to Thee,

And the night is as bright as the day.

Darkness and light are alike to Thee.

The vast majority of people always seem to be searching for something better than they already have, and the last place they seem to look is to God.

They would rather try to hide from the Lord's presence, which is really everywhere, than to come to Jesus for the peace and joy they are seeking.

Who am I, O Lord, that You should love me, even from the very beginning?

13. For Thou didst form my inward parts;

Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb.

14. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Wonderful are Thy works,

And my soul knows it very well.

15. My frame was not hidden from Thee,

When I was made in secret,

And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.

16. Thine eyes have seen my unformed substance;

And in Thy book they were all written,

The days that were ordained for me,

When as yet there was not one of them.

The Lord loves us even before we know of Him, and even before we repent and seek His salvation.

Just reflect on how much love this takes, and how personally it's directed toward us.

17. How precious also are Thy thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

18. If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.

When I awake, I am still with Thee.

Even when we sleep and dream of being with the Lord, He confirms it when we're awake.

His love has no limits.

Is this why you love me, O Lord?

But then David slips back into being human and worldly.

When he looks at his enemies, David forgets how much God has forgiven in him.

For only God knows if they, his enemies, are beyond salvation.

David is making the same mistake that most Christians seem to make; he is trying to conform God's love into accepting his former (sinful) way of life.

He wants God to justify his worldly ways, and even worse, to participate in them.

19. O that Thou wouldst slay the wicked, O God;

Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.

20. For they speak against Thee wickedly,

And Thine enemies take Thy name in vain.

21. Do I not hate those who hate Thee, O Lord?

And do I not loathe those who rise up against Thee?

22. I hate them with the utmost hatred;

They have become my enemies.

Here we have made the full circle.

God's love is for everyone, not just for a few.

Perhaps only a small portion of the people actually accept His love, but He offers it to everyone, even to His enemies and ours.

Do you remember what the Lord tells us about our enemies?

We're to love them and do good to them, and if they curse us or God, we are to pray for them (Luke 6:27-28).

Who knows? One day, even our enemy might repent, just as Paul did; and they, too, will say, "Who am I, O Lord, that you should love me?"

23. Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me and know my anxious thoughts;

24. And see if there be any hurtful way in me,

And lead me in the everlasting way.

The everlasting way is in the perfection of God; the heavenly will of our Father, in which there is no more pain, suffering, or death, and where only perfect love prevails.

It is this state of being that we should seek to have on earth as it is in heaven.

Do you remember the refrain of the Hymn we sang a few weeks ago?

Here I am, Lord!

Is it I, Lord?

I have heard You calling in the night.

I will go, Lord,

If you lead me.

I will hold your people in my heart.

This is allowing the Lord to lead us in His everlasting way, just as David requested at the end of his psalm.

Today is the day for each of us to commit ourselves to the Lord, unconditionally - as unconditionally as He extends His love to us; and to receive His forgiveness and be changed into a new person in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Who am I, O Lord, that You should love me?

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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