************ Sermon on Psalm 95:8-9 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on December 13, 2015

Psalm 95:8-9
"Today, If You Hear His Voice"
Sunday School Christmas Program

The name of tonight's program is "The Greatest Gift." What is the greatest gift? JESUS.

If there is a gift there must also be a giver. So who is the greatest giver? GOD.

God, the greatest Giver, has given us Jesus, the greatest Gift.

But now I want to ask you the most important question ever. Do you believe this? Or are these just words? Do you believe God is the greatest Giver and do you believe Jesus is the greatest Gift? You sang so many beautiful songs tonight. And you read so many beautiful words from the Bible. Are these just words or do you believe what you sang and what you read? DO YOU BELIEVE IN JESUS?

I want to tell you, girls and boys, do not be like Israel. Listen to these two verses from the Bible:
(Ps 95:7-9) Today, if you hear his voice, (8) do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, (9) where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.
Did you hear that? Do not be like Israel at Meribah and at Massah.

What did Israel do? I want to read to you from Exodus 17. This tells us what happened at Meribah and Massah:
(Ex 17:1-4,7) The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. (2) So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?" (3) But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?" (4) Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me." ... (7) And [Moses] called the place Massah [which means "testing"] and Meribah [which means "quarreling"] because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"
Did you hear that? Because there was no water for them to drink they grumbled against God and against Moses. They said they would rather be slaves in Egypt than be in the wilderness with God. In fact, they wanted to stone Moses to death for leading them out of Egypt and into the wilderness.

In Psalm 95 God says the Israelites "tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did" (Ps 95:9). What did they see? They saw God visit the ten plagues on Egypt and on Pharaoh. Do you remember the plagues: the plague of blood, the plague of frogs, the plague of gnats, the plague of flies, the plague on livestock, the plague of boils, the plague of hail, the plague of locusts, the plague of darkness, the plague on the firstborn. They saw this. They saw God setting them free from the slavery and bondage of Egypt. They came to the Red Sea and the sea was in front of them and the Egyptian army was behind them and they saw God do something else. Anyone remember what they saw God do? God parted the waters for them and drowned the Egyptian army.

What did the people see? They saw God saving His people. They saw God doing miracle after miracle. They sang about these miracles. They told their children about these miracles.

Now, remember the warning that our Bible reading from Psalm 95 says to us?
(Ps 95:7-9) Today, if you hear his voice, (8) do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, (9) where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.
Don't be like Israel. Don't test and try God.

Isn't the story of Israel in the wilderness a sad story? They had just been given the greatest gift any nation or people could be given. They were given the gift of salvation. Yet, they complained and quarreled; they tested and tried God.

What was wrong with Israel? Psalm 95 says they "hardened" their hearts. What do you think that means? I want you all to put your hands over your heart. PUT MY HAND OVER MY HEART. Do you feel your heart? Do you feel it beating? Do you feel it pumping blood? Now, imagine that this is your heart. HOLD UP STONE. If this is you heart it would be a hard heart, wouldn't it?! If this is your heart what doesn't it do? It doesn't beat. It doesn't pump blood. Because it is a dead heart. The children of Israel "hardened" their hearts. Their hearts were hearts of stone. Their hearts were dead.

Just before you walked in tonight I used the opening words of Psalm 95 as our call to worship:
(Ps 95:1-2) Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. (2) Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
The children of Israel loved these words. They said them and sang them as they entered the Temple for worship. But they didn't believe them. They didn't really believe that God was their Savior. In their heart they weren't really thankful for salvation. Because their hearts were hard. Because their hearts were dead. That's what the Bible means when it says they "hardened" their hearts.

Feel your heart again. Do you have a hard heart -- like Israel?! HOLD UP STONE. Or, do you have a heart that is thankful for Jesus and salvation? Did you mean the words you sang and you read?

Don't be like Israel, girls and boys. Don't have a hard heart like Israel, girls and boys. Believe in Jesus.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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