************ Sermon on Psalm 139:13-14 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on April 25, 1999
"Lord, I Am Your Masterpiece"
"Who am I?" I can pull out my driver's license, social security card, passport, alien registration card, birth certificate, credit cards, medical card, library card, blood donor card – and they all prove to you that I am Adrian Dieleman, born in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. There is no one else in all the world who can be me.
Maybe you have heard of the latest crime being committed: identity theft. It happened to an uncle of Ruth's in Long Beach – someone in Massachusetts stole his identity to open various credit card and store accounts. This past week I was waiting in the eye-doctor's office and read an article in Good Housekeeping about Identity Theft. The author writes:
Title: The Great Name Robbery
The great name robbery ( Good Housekeeping):
Flipping through my mail last August, I came across an envelope from Comp USA and, intrigued by its weight, slit it open. Out spilled a credit card in my name and a letter thanking me for my recent purchases. Since I'd never even been inside a Comp USA store, I dialed the toll-free number with a mounting sense of dread. "Oh, yes," chirped a customer-service representative. "Our records show that you charged four thousand four hundred dollars in our store on August fourteenth."
Once I'd convinced her that I'd made no such purchase, she told me how to extricate myself from the charge: Call Comp USA's fraud department and obtain an affidavit, to be signed, notarized, and sent to my bank along with a photocopy of my driver's license. Sound like a hassle? Yes--but within minutes it got much, much worse.
"Hmm, have you opened any new credit-card accounts recently?" asked the store rep, who'd sympathetically offered to pull up my credit report on her computer. When I said no, she told me that numerous inquiries had been made into my report--which meant someone had been filing applications for credit. Sure enough, within the following week, I received 11 more store credit cards, each one charged to the limit, for a grand total of $35,000. At each store, the impostor had purchased thousands of dollars' worth of electronics or jewelry--merchandise that is easily resold. Within just five days, the time it took for the first credit card to arrive at my house and for me to pick up the phone and start fighting back, the shopping spree was over. The fake "me" had vanished.
Because of the quick work of an insidious stranger, I spent more than 40 frustrating hours over the next several weeks cleaning up: I called the police, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the Social Security Administration, the three major credit bureaus (to have a "fraud alert" posted in my file), and 12 different stores to cancel credit cards and request affidavits.
And the crisis is far from over. I may have trouble for years to come when I apply for a mortgage or a car loan, not to mention a credit card. Moreover, I have to contemplate the fact that someone could still be using my identity for even more horrific activities than theft. As one of the police officers I spoke with warned: "You'll have to carry the police report with you the rest of your life. Someday, you might get pulled over for speeding, and when the cop runs your license number, he could collar you for a murder someone else committed in your name."
"Who am I?" Because of identity theft it is possible that I am not even me – that someone else is me.
"Who am I?" Obviously to say who I am it is not good enough to point to my identification: driver's license, social security card, passport, alien registration card, birth certificate, credit cards, medical card, library card, blood donor card.
"Who am I?" At heart, this is the question that David was asking in our text. What is his answer? Is he David the shepherd boy, the son of Jesse? Is that his answer? No! Listen to David's answer in our text:
(Ps 139:13-14) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. (14) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.David's answer: "Lord, I am your masterpiece."
I Looking in the Wrong Place
A "Who am I?" In the last church I served 5 adopted kids started to ask that question. They filed the necessary papers with the state's adoption board and ended up meeting their birth mother and birth father. Each one of them were disappointed with what they discovered and told me that as far as they were concerned their adoptive parents were their real parents.
"Who am I?" I read somewhere there comes a time in every kid's life when she or he becomes convinced – for whatever reason – that they are adopted. And most seem almost disappointed to discover they share the same chromosomes as their parents and siblings.
B "Who am I?" At heart what we are really asking is a question about dignity and value. At heart, what we are really asking is:
- "What makes me, me?"
- "What makes me special and unique?"
- "What gives me value and worth?"
"Who am I?" This is a vitally important question to most teens. They want to know their place, their standing, their worth, their value, their dignity, in the world.
C "Who am I?" "What gives me worth?" Unfortunately, to answer this question too many teens look in the wrong place.
Consider, for a moment, Dylan Klebold, 17 years old, or Eric Harris, 18 years old – the two boys who gunned down and killed at least 14 people (not counting themselves) at Columbine High School in the Denver, Colorado suburb of Littleton. They found their identity, their sense of worth, in a group that idolized Hitler, listened to Marilyn Manson Compact Disks, glorified guns and violence, hated Jews and blacks and athletes, and wore trench-coats emblazoned with swastikas. Too late we find they were looking for self-worth in the wrong place.
Other teens look for their identity, their sense of worth, in their outside package – in their appearance; if they are beautiful or handsome they think they are worth a lot; if they are homely or ugly they think they are worth nothing. The outward package too is the wrong measure of self-worth.
"Who am I?" "What gives me worth?" Let me point out some other wrong answers:
- Popularity – hanging out with the right people and the in-crowd doesn't give me worth.
- Money – buying more and more things or having a big bank account doesn't give me worth.
- Clothing – wearing the latest fashions doesn't give me worth.
- Grades – getting A's instead of D's doesn't give me worth.
- Physical Fitness – having a finely tuned, hard body doesn't give me worth.
- Sports – being the star of the basketball or volleyball or football team doesn't give me worth.
- Involvement – being busy in dozens of things doesn't give me worth.
- Job – my job or occupation doesn't give me worth.
- Title – the letters in front of my name or behind my name doesn't give me worth.
- Position – being elected student body president or home-coming queen doesn't give me worth.
II God Gives Me Worth
A "Who am I?" "What makes me, me?" "What makes me special and unique?" "What gives me value and worth?" David knows where to go, where to look, for the answer. He says:
(Ps 139:13-14) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. (14) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.The truth about our identities – who we really are – comes from God Himself. He is the One Who created each of us. He is the One Who gives us our true identity.
B Our identity comes from God. This means it is not something we earn. It is not something we make for ourselves or give to ourselves. It is not something we can take credit for. Our identity comes from God and not from our parents, or our friends, or our grades, or our jobs, or stolen identification papers ...
C "Who am I?" What does our text tell us? Listen again to what it says:
(Ps 139:13-14) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. (14) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
The starting point is that I am not an accident: I am made by God. And that makes me God's masterpiece; everyone of us is God's masterpiece because we have been made by God. To fully understand this we have to go back to Genesis 1. Genesis 1, as you know, tells us about Creation. And over and over again it uses the word "good" to describe what God has made. It becomes clear that God did not make junk. Seven times God pronounces that His creation, the work of His hands, is good. "God saw all that he had made and it was very good," says the end of the creation account (Gen 1:31). Included in this goodness is humankind. We are part of God's good creation. We are God's masterpiece?
In our Scripture reading there are two wonderfully descriptive words that are used to picture God's act of making or creating what is in the womb. The first word is found in verse 13. David says that God "knit me together in my mother's womb." The second word is found in verse 15. There David says "I was woven together in the depths of the earth."
Did you catch the two words? I am thinking of the words "knit" and "woven."
Topic: ManWhat a painstaking process: collect the hair, spin the yarn, and then knit the finished product. The Bible tells us that God "knit me together in my mother's womb" and that "I was woven together in the depths of the earth" (Psalm 139:13,15). God took as much care knitting me in my mother's womb as those who knit with dog hair take in knitting a scarf or a mitten.
Subtopic: Created in God's Image
Title: Knitting With Dog Hair
Summer is a sleepy time for the publishing world, but one book Knitting with Dog Hair has become a surprise cult hit. Inside is a complete guide to each stage in creating clothing from "a dog you know and love rather than a sheep you'll never meet" as the book puts it - from picking up the hairball under the sofa to spinning the yarn. At the back of the book are patterns for scarves, mittens and jumpers, with the finished results proudly modeled by the dog owners. There's even an exhaustive guide to which dogs provide the best yarn. Readers learn that the Rottweiler, "calm and intelligent by nature", has a very short, fine undercoat that can be spun when mixed with longer fibers.
The word for "woven" is actually the word for "embroider." It is the word used to describe the work of Aholiab – who was an embroiderer in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen (Ex 38:23). He used this skill to fashion the cloth for the Old Testament tabernacle. You ladies know what embroidery is – the little fancy stitches that are used to make lace or a doily or to decorate a piece of cloth.
David pictures the work of God within the womb as a knitting process. This tells me that God makes us according to a plan – His plan. He makes us so all the parts fit together just right and support one another. God also embroiders us within the womb. This says something about how intricate and complex we are. This past week I came across these Fabulous Body Facts:
Topic: BodyWe are God's masterpiece. We have been knitted and woven together by God.
Title: Fabulous Body Facts
Nostrils switch on and off every three to four hours, so that one is always smelling and breathing while the other closes down and rests.
In almost every language on earth the word for "mother" begins with the "m" sound. This may be due to the fact that babies all over the world learn the consonant "m" first.
Women smile more than men. For immediate proof of this, leaf through any high-school yearbook.
In right-handed people, the middle fingernail of the right hand grows fastest. In left-handed people, the opposite holds true.
Scientists have found that within the "nonmusical" population the left ear is better at recognizing melodies than the right ear; however, the right ear of trained musicians is superior.
David speaks not only of being made by God. He also speaks of the wonder of that act:
(Ps 139:14) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.What does David have in mind here? David remembers how God made Adam. I am awed every time I read about man's creation:
(Gen 2:7) the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground ...Like Adam, every human is made, formed, created by God. Like Adam, we all have been made from clay (Job 33:6); "all come from dust, and to dust all return" (Ecc 3:20). We have been fearfully and wonderfully made. Look through Genesis. You will see there that all of the universe and everything in it was simply voiced into being. But not man. Man alone was made by the hand of God and formed from the dust of the earth. We are God's masterpiece.
God made us. And, He gave us life and breath. Go back to the creation of Adam. What did God do after He formed Adam from the dust of the ground? He
(Gen 2:7) ... breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.And, what God did for the dust that became Adam, He does for every person. Of everything in creation we alone have been granted life by means of the breath of God. The life-giving Spirit was breathed into us alone. We have been fearfully and wonderfully made. We are God's masterpiece.
But that's not all we can say. Turn once again to the creation of Adam. What do we read there? God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness" (Gen 1:26). "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him" (Gen 1:27). Man, and man alone, is made in the image of God. We have been fearfully and wonderfully made. We are God's masterpiece.
Finally, I want you to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ took on our flesh and our blood. He became one of us and one with us. Imagine that: the second person of the triune Godhead becoming man! If anything shows we are God's masterpiece, this is it – that Jesus became like me to save me.
"Who am I?" "What makes me, me?" "What makes me special and unique?" "What gives me value and worth?" Not the right group, appearance, popularity, money, clothing, grades, physical fitness, sports, involvement, job, title, position – none of this gives me value and worth.
"Who am I?" "What makes me, me?" "What makes me special and unique?" "What gives me value and worth?" The answer: I am God's masterpiece fearfully and wonderfully knit together in my mother's womb, someone Jesus came for and died for.
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