Ed Alexander - Psalm 107 - Brisbane, Australia - 2016

I liked reading Psalm 107 and it speaks of 4 different classes of people. The way their dealings with God were and what they did and what God did for them. I will divide these in to sections beginning at:


Verses 2 to 9, “Are the Wanderers”

Verses 10 to 16, “Are the Rebels”

Verses 17 to 22, “Are the Fools”

Verses 23 to 31, “Are the Sailors” Crossing the sea of life


It is interesting when a group of us come to a convention like this and very often, we find ourselves in one of those situations and we all find ourselves in the last one as crossing the sea of life. And sometimes we wander, sometimes we rebel, sometimes we make foolish decisions and all those things can have eternal consequences in our lives, and in fact, they all will have eternal consequences in our life. It is beautiful no matter what the situation was or the problem was the remedy was the same in every case. There is a remedy for every situation and it is very refreshing for me to come to convention like this for I know no one except the ones I have stayed with the last two days. And yet we have complete confidence that your situations and your problems are exactly the same as we deal with and struggle with on the other side of the globe. The reason we know that is we all have the same nature. Your culture here is a little different and the things you may deal with are a little different and we are people and you are people and if it was a computer we would call it an operating system and the operating system is the same all over the world. And it is called human nature. And it is no different and it has not changed since the day that God placed Adam on the earth.

Beginning with the first group, I will read some verses beginning with verse 3, “And gathered them out of the lands from the east and from the West from the North and from the South. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble and He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them for by the right way that they might go to a city of habitation. Oh, that man might praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wondrous works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.” I can say in one sense, I have never been in this situation of not knowing where to go. And that is because of faithful grandparents that were in this situation and did exactly what you read here.


I will tell you about my mother’s parents of how they heard the gospel. About 103 to 104 years ago, they were living in a little town, a town doesn’t describe it, it was really a community in the North part of California. They were Norwegian immigrants and they had both come to the United States as adults and spoke very little English and they had both been raised in the Lutheran Church. And yet they were not satisfied with what they had and they had begun to look and they were Wanderers and they had wandered a long way naturally and they were still wandering spiritually. My grandfather, one day, was in his pear orchard in California and he were so distressed with what they hadn’t found, he was ploughing in the pear orchard with his horses and he stopped them and he got down on his knees beside the plough and he prayed just like we read here. And he just prayed if God had a true way on the earth that He would send His servants.


And it was only two weeks later that two servants came into that little community. The first night, my grandfather went alone, because my grandmother did not speak much English and they had six children. Grandfather returned after the meeting that night and he said to Grandma, "Tonight I heard men like Peter and Paul." The next night, grandma and the children went with him and they never stopped going. And what we read here is exactly what happened and He led them forth by the right way that they might go into the city of habitation. That is a basic need in our human heart, first of all to know what is right and the feeling of wanting fellowship with others who know what is right. It is interesting later on they found the city to dwell in.


If we go to Hebrews 11 we read the story of Abraham Verses 10 to 14, “For he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received Street to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang even of one and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude and as the sand which is by the seashore innumberable. These all died in faith not having received the promises but having seen them a far off, and were persuaded of them and embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” We have all come from a country and a large majority of you folk here are from Australia and that is your country. And I know the country I am in today is not the same country I grew up in as I moved to labour in a different country six years ago.


Something happened in our country some years ago and it was a great disappointment and it just spoke to me, "This is not your country." I thought of that hymn that says seeking for a better country pilgrims we are marching on. Do not get me wrong, I do love my country and I understand more and more the country I am looking for and living for has a foundation and a builder and maker who is God. What we are looking for and we have our hope in is something that is founded in heaven and does not ever change, because the foundations are set in heaven. There is a little verse in Psalm 119, “Forever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven.” And that is what we build on and that is not popular today and really it has never been popular. When we build on that we are sure and it doesn’t matter what happens in the world and we will be sure if we build on that solid rock.


The Rebels, Verses 10 to 16, “Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the Counsel of the most High: therefore He brought down their heart with labour; they fell down and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble and He saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of the darkness and the shadow of death and break their bands of sunder. Oh, that man would praise the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He has broken the gates of brass and cut the bars of iron in sunder.” There is a little phrase I tell myself over and over and it is this, "There has never, ever been a happy rebel." Rebellion and happiness never worked together. Rebellion is in us by nature and at some time in our childhood and in our youth and it just comes out. The most unhappy person in the world is the person that always gets his or her own way and it is the same with an unhappy child it is one that always gets their own way. We look around the world and we look around society and we see so many problems that comes from rebelling against the word of God.


I was thinking of a little boy and his grandmother babysitting him and she had to go to the store and get something and put him in a car seat and ran around the driver's side and he wasn’t there. And she went around and found him outside the car and he said to her a much discussed looking, "I do it myself." I heard her say that and I thought I have been there myself not when I was one and a half years old and I have been there a lot of times myself. That is the spirit of a rebel, and maybe more of the spirit of a rebel is, "I will not do it." It tells us where the rebel is found, "Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the Counsel of the most High, therefore He brought down their heart with labour; they fell down and there was none to help."


Rebellion always leads us to captivity and in society, open rebellion often leads to jail. Hidden rebellion leads to bondage. We think if we can get what we want, we would be free and we find out getting what we want leads us to terrible bondage. We have been studying the book of Romans recently and in chapter 6 speaks about being free from sin and being free from righteousness. The thought that was so impressive to me, "We are either servants of sin or we are servants of righteousness, we are never going to be free and that is because we do not have power in our human nature to be free. We are weak and we are easily led and we do not have the power to be free so if we rebel, it will not be long and we will find ourselves in bondage to sin."


I love what it says, "He brought them out of the darkness and the shadow of death and break their bands of sunder." Everything they could not do for themselves and God just stepped in and did it. And to me, a beautiful picture of that is the prodigal son. And I think of him walking home and he was thinking, "I just want to be with my dad and I hope dad would just give me a job and everything will be well." His father saw him coming down the road and his father ran to him and immediately the bondage was broken. The bondage, the poverty, the hunger and the darkness that he had got himself into, because of his rebellion and it just needed to be broken. And it was only the father that could do that.


Now the fools. In America, fool is a very strong word and one of the strongest words my Dad could say to us is, "Why are you being such a fool?" Being foolish is not the same as being ignorant, it is not the same as not knowing what to do. Being a fool is more knowing what we should do and not doing it. Back home, we say, "Just do not do dumb things," that is kind of being a fool. Being a fool is doing senseless things. Verses 17 to 22, “Fools because of their transgression and because of their iniquities are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble and He saveth them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions. Oh, that man would praise the Lord for His goodness and His wondrous works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of Thanksgiving and declare His works with rejoicing.”


About 30 years ago or more, we went to convention in the southern parts of California and was close to the city called Santee. We had a real problem there with feral cats and they would make their home under the convention buildings. One of our jobs at preps was to trap the cats. If the cats looked cared for, we would send them on their way and if they were wild looking, we would take care of them. We would use a little tin of tuna and we would put that in the trap and in the morning, very often there would be a cat in the trap. I learned a lesson I will never forget and that was the tuna was never eaten. The thing that lured them into the trap, once they got in the trap, they wanted no part of it. That has been a tremendous lesson to me, the things in life that lure us into a trap and it can be a life changing trap and the things that are tempting to us are the things we cannot have. And we can have them, we find they are nowhere near as good we thought they were. The fool is one who knows what is wrong and still goes ahead. And we have all been there. The beautiful thing is that the trap is not in the spiritual sense and it does need to be fatal. For most of those cats, it was fatal.


"Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble and He saveth them out of their distresses. He sent His word and healed them and delivered them from their destructions." Isn’t that wonderful and we fall into a trap of our own making and our own foolishness and if we beg to God, God will send us help. It is not going any other way except by His word. Help comes through the word, and if we are willing to obey His word, He will save us no matter what distress we may be in. Experiences may be life changing and I think about David and David said so grievously, he fell into a trap and he knew better. He was in the trap for around a year and he tells how he felt when he was in the trap. Then God sent His word to him through Nathan and David repented and God brought him out of the trap. It was a life changing experience. David could never say he got out of that experience without any adverse effects, but the Lord saved him. We may make some mistakes that might be some life changing results from that.


Verses 23 to 31, “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep. For He commandedeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths, their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit's end. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble and He bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then pave glad because they be quite; so He bring them unto their desired haven. Oh, that man should praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful work to the children of men.”


I was thinking of a group of three people in the Scriptures who found themselves in life threatening storms. The first two groups we read about is in Jonah and the sailors that were with him in the ship. Jonah was in a storm because of his own foolish choice. The storm was the definite result of his choice and he rebelled against God and the sailors were in the same storm not because of their own choosing, they were in the storm because of the choice of another. Then I was thinking of the disciple Mark 6 when Jesus told them to cross the sea and they got into the boat and they began to row and the storm came up and they were in the storm despite being in the will of God. They were doing exactly what they were told and this terrible storm came up. What that tells me is three things. We can be in the storm because of our own choices, and we could be in the storm because of someone else’s choices and we can be in the storm when we are 100% doing what we have been asked to do. The answer is always the same and they cried unto the Lord in their distress. You know there has never been a storm and no matter how severe, there has never been a storm that has never had an end. Sometimes we are in the middle of a situation and we feel it is never going to end, but we know there has never been a storm that has not had an end.


There is one thing that is very interesting to me and when you read the book of Jonah, did you ever think how they got all the information together? They had to have Jonah’s information and no one else could tell what happened down in the belly of the whale. And no one else could tell what happened between Jonah and the Lord and the gourd and they needed Jonah’s information and they must have visited with the sailors. After Jonah was thrown overboard, and it says the sailors made vows and sacrificed. And they were headed to Spain when this happened, and so someone came back from Spain with the story of what happened on the boat. I love to think of the possibility Jonah and those sailors and getting together and talking about the wonderful works of God. They have the same experiences and looked at it from slightly different angles and the end result was they praised the Lord for His goodness. We come from many different backgrounds and experiences have been looking at life from different viewpoints like it says we would come to a desired haven and through the help of God. Amen.