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God’s Forever Settled Word

Psalm 119:89 • December 31, 2023 • g1281

Pastor John Stewart teaches a message through Psalm 119:89 titled “God’s Forever Settled Word.”

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Pastor John Stewart

December 31, 2023

Sermon Scripture Reference

Obviously it’s New Years. Tomorrow we begin the new one. I imagine most of us are working feverishly on our resolutions to start tomorrow and be abandoned by 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. tomorrow. I gave up on resolutions long ago; I was tired of the failure.

But there is a resolution, or better stated as a divine purpose of God, in the hearts of His people. That’s to endeavor to read through His Word. If you haven’t read through God’s Word, it’s a good time to start. I don’t think you have to do it in a year, but some people do. My wife mows through it in a year and sometimes in nine months. It drives me crazy. She’s amazing!

The full counsel of God’s Word was given to us, because God knows exactly what we need to live faithfully and fruitfully in this fallen world. To read the Bible more consistently, more attentively and more prayerfully is not a suggestion from God; it’s God’s primary will for us. People ask me all the time, “What is God’s will?” I usually say, “Open The Book and read it and then do it.” That was Biblical Counselling 101. “We’re done. No charge. It’s all free.” But it’s true.

I know the battle. I get up every morning with the intention to dive into the Word. “Oh, I’ve got some emails and texts.” The distractions are endless. Be prepared for them. The opposition is relentless. It’s for real. It’s to keep you from doing the one, needful thing: to be in God’s Word and sit at His feet and feast on His faithfulness.

The battle began in the first book of the Bible. By the time we get to Genesis 3, the serpent begins to tempt the first woman, Eve. Almost the first words out of the devil’s mouth are, “Has God indeed said?” Genesis 3:1. He’s been bringing up what God said and the purpose of it from the beginning to bring doubt, hesitation and failure to get into God’s Word.

Human loss and depravity is guaranteed. We come into this world separated from God by sin. I couldn’t believe that when I took my first child home from the hospital, I said to my wife, “We’re bringing a new sinner into our home.” That’s not the right thing to say to your wife with her precious daughter. And she is precious and still is.

But the militant loss of this world is established on rejection, neglect and failure to seek the Lord in His Word. That fuels everything. The Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105. I wake up every day thinking, Where am I? How did I get here? Where am I going from here? The Word shows me. It reminds me I am in God’s family. Therefore, it’s great that I get to sit at God’s feet, and get a sense of direction where He is leading that I might follow.

Now our text is Psalm 119:89. This whole psalm is loaded with truth. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” Think about that. What is “forever”? We have no comprehension of that word. It’s an interesting word, but it’s outside of our ability to really comprehend how long and how magnificent it is—or even how terrible it is, because “forever” for people who don’t know the Lord is eternal punishment. “Forever” is the whole deal for humanity. The only way to get ahead in life and “forever” is to cry out to the Lord.

But in crying out to the Lord, He also provides help for daily living. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” It still shines in the darkness of this evil time. It truly is a guaranteed, trustworthy “lamp to [our] feet.” “Lord, where am I? What am I doing?” His Word will shine on you and me right where we’re at. It’s also “a light to [our] path.” “Lord, where do I go from here, and how do I get there? Do I turn right? Do I turn left? Do I stay still?” The Bible has the ability to speak all of that into our understanding and our living.

The birth in eternity. Eternity—we can’t even grasp it. God’s Word is rooted in the history of the existence of God. He didn’t make it up as He was going along. It flows out of Him as the essence of what He has to say to creation. And it will do so without end.

Sadly, as many Christians miss it as those who aren’t Christians, because they don’t read His Word. They don’t get into His Word. We have a busy counselling ministry here at Revival. We have about five or six pastors who are almost going every day of the week. They have home visitations, people coming in every week, marital problems, personal problems—all kinds of very real issues. People need help. I need help. Who doesn’t?

But where does our help come from? It comes from God’s Word, first and foremost, that is “Forever…settled in heaven.” Thank God, we don’t have to make it up as we go. Thank God, we’re not guessing or trying to “find a pig in a poke” or do whatever. We are able to open God’s Word and to have God speak to us. In ministry, our goal is that He would speak through us as we represent Him Biblically and faithfully.

Psalm 119 is one of the masterpieces of God’s Word. It’s the longest psalm or chapter in the Bible. It has 176 verses divided into 22, eight-verse paragraphs. Every verse, except perhaps five—depending on whose Hebrew we trust—mentions God’s Word specifically and applicably in one way or another. It’s amazing. It’s very much a psalm pointing people to the capability of the wonders of the Bible.

Please hear this: God’s Word is not in doubt and it’s not in dispute. God knows what He’s doing. We don’t. And because we don’t, we have fears, doubts and worries. God said what He meant and meant what He said, and that truth is the anchor of hope and life in time and for all eternity.

There are different translations of verse 89. The NIV says, “Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” The ESV says, “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” The NLT says, “Your eternal word, O Lord, stands firm in heaven.” It is the idea of God’s Word being settled. It means that it is established. It is set in place with purpose. It can’t be changed or modified; it doesn’t need to be. It is fixed where it is. The Bible is as good as it gets. There is no other that compares to it. Most of us have it sitting on our laps right now. Thank God for that. But too few of us put it on our laps all week.
If you need help, we’re glad to help you. But I’ll give you advance notice that if you come to us, to the six or seven guys who do most of our counselling, we’ll listen to you, pray with you, care about you, we want to help you. And to that end, we’re going to take you to God’s Word as quickly as we can to let the Lord start to speak into the darkness and difficulty that we all have.

The benefit of reading the Bible day by day—I don’t think you have to read through it in a year—but we need to be in it daily. It’s so we have insight from heaven. Then we have sight and foresight on earth to navigate through the difficult days in which we live.

God’s Word is settled; it’s immutable and unchangeable. It will never be improved upon, because you can’t improve upon God and His Word. Man’s words may fail. And if you’re like me, they often do. But believers can trust in the Bible, because it’s God’s Word and it doesn’t fail. We may not like what it says. We may not agree with what it says. In counselling, that’s a pretty frequent circumstance. But the truth is that it’s the only way to get right out of wrong. Every single word of the Lord is flawlessly accurate and truthful.

Think about that. There is not anything that you will get from the Word that is not perfect, that is not pure, that will fail to accomplish the reason for which God put it in your heart. Proverbs 30:5 says, “Every word of God is pure.” Isaiah 40:8 says, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” God’s Word is living and active. It has a life in itself. It’s not the ink on the paper; it’s the substance, the power, the validity, the necessity of the One who gave us His Word, so that by His Word, He can speak directly to us the things that we need to hear. Then our faith will grow, we will grow in moral purity, we will grow in functional wisdom and understanding of how to navigate through this crazy world in which we live.

The prophet Isaiah, speaking for God, said, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” God says that His Word never fails; it has a 100% success rate in accomplishing everything, in the very thing for which He gives it to us.

The psalmist says in Psalm 33:1 that “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations.” Even Jesus promised personally that “Heaven and earth…”—in their current setting—“…will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away,” Luke 21:33.

We know that we’re temporary. I’m getting old enough that temporary is more present than it’s ever been. But God’s Word will never pass away. It stands settled forever in heaven. David said in Psalm 18:30, “As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.”

There is nobody who doesn’t need direction or protection or correction or any of the “tions.” There are a lot of “tions” that we all need. But there is only One who can provide all that everyone of us needs all the time, every day and especially when we’re alert to the fact that we need help. He is the helper.

There are a couple of other verses in Psalm 119 that stirred my heart this week as I was reading through it. The psalmist says in verse 152: “Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.” Even the psalmist, as he is penning these words, has conviction that what he is writing is from forever and will stand necessarily trustworthy forever. He further declares, in verse 162, “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure.”

When I find myself in trouble or in need, I’m acutely aware of my sense of need but not always aware of the specificity of my need. Yet as the years pass, I become more aware that the one thing I need is not a thing, but a Him, the Lord. I need the Lord. You need the Lord. That’s our ministry. Pastor Miller gets in the pulpit and teaches from God’s Word. Whoever comes into the pulpit 99% of the time is teaching from God’s Word. We’re not trying to talk about it but giving education applicable and in line with what God said, what He meant and how He wants it to be applied in our lives.

In the New Testament, the message is similar. In Matthew 24:35, Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” It’s hard to imagine. We may know that our stay on earth is temporary, but home base is also temporary. Yet the words of the Lord are settled forever in the heavens.

The Word of God is eternal. Peter says that “The word of the Lord endures forever,” 1 Peter 1:25. I know that’s a difficult thing to grasp, because everything we think about as human beings, everything we put our hands to, everything we kind of perceive as we navigate in this temporary mortal coil is just temporary. But that’s why God’s Word so powerfully impacts our hearts, our minds, our thinking, our living, our attitudes, our words and our deeds. It’s because God’s words are forever.

So when you get up in the morning and the Holy Spirit reminds you that Pastor Stewart said, “You better get in the Word. It’s the first day of the year,” get after it! Remember that what you take from it, you’ll never lose; it’ll never pass away. You may forget to do it, you may forsake it, but its value and power and its place in your heart will never vanish away.

As people come in for counselling and help, we’re so blessed that we have a tremendous staff of capable pastors, guys who are Biblically anchored. Many of them teach from the pulpit when Pastor Miller isn’t here. And we’re willing to do it and thankful to do it. Sometimes we’re excited to do it; sometimes it’s not quite so exciting but difficult. But it is a choice opportunity to sit with one of God’s children, or one who isn’t but needs to be.

I can think of numerous families who came in the last year because they were desperate to get some kind of guidance for their marriage. Within five or ten minutes, it was obvious to me the reason they weren’t getting the guidance from God they thought they needed was because they didn’t belong to God. Then guess what we do? We share the Gospel with them and share the scope, the importance and the absolute necessity of everyone personally responding in faith to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; that He can become their Lord and Savior too.

There is nothing greater in the ministry than getting a front-row seat in the ugliest of circumstances and to be able to bring God into it by His Word; to be able to point people to the Wonderful Counselor Himself. Then to see Him birth new life and hope in their hearts that will never fade away.
And then to watch them change. There is no aspect of your existence or mine that is beyond the ability, the interest and the desire of God to come in and to raise up a standard of righteousness and hope that will change a person right where they sit. It will bring change that will endure forever.

The writer of Lamentations says, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not,” Lamentations 3:22. I’ve been a big, sports fan my whole life. And I’m tired of being failed by the teams that I have so faithfully supported. I don’t pray for them; I’ve not fallen to that level yet. But the Lord is merciful, He suffers long, He is kind.

I don’t know where you’re at today. I don’t know what kind of struggles and difficulties and problems you’re having, but there is just one answer to all of us for all of it—in its breadth, its depth, its level of difficulty: it’s the Lord. Lamentations 3:23 says that His mercies “are new every morning,” because “great is [His] faithfulness.” Then in verse 24, the psalmist got it! He said, “‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!’”

Jesus is mine because I became His. And it’s the same deal for all of us. It’s a personal transaction of faith and the loving Savior reaching across the impassible divide of a fallen, sin-sick world to rescue us out of darkness and to bring us into His marvelous light.

I like our text: “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” In modern English, it comes across as one thought. The truth is that it is really two, distinct thoughts in the Hebrew. And I’m not a Hebrew scholar, but I read some guys who I trust are.

The psalmist asserts first, “Forever, O Lord.” If I’m going to hang out forever, I want to be with the One who is forever. Don’t you? Who can I trust to get there? Who can I trust once I’m there? It’s the same one. But in this moment, the second part of this verse is critically important to every one of us. “Forever…Your word is settled in heaven.”

I would dare say that no other book has ever been more attacked, more disregarded, more neglected, more abused, more despised, more misrepresented than all the others put together. The attack against the Bible is unbelievable. People often say to me, “Pastor John, what is going on in our country?!” I don’t know what’s going on in our country, but it’s not good. But I do know that at the heart of it is not only people who don’t trust the Word, but it’s people who think they are people of The Book and have no idea what’s in The Book, because they have no relationship with its author.

That’s a tragedy, because the only place that the hope and the help that this world needs is going to be found, sadly, in a decreasing number of Bible-teaching churches with the goal to become Bible-living churches. Your security at Revival begins with being part of a fellowship that makes sure that whoever comes into the pulpit will be “rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15. But your security extends to how God directs you in response. Hearing the Word is wonderful, but living it out, representing it faithfully should be nonstop.

I’m married to a woman who can’t go shopping without her sharing the Word with someone. She just has that zeal. But if you think about it, why would that be so rare? Everywhere we go we’re dealing with troubled people. We’re dealing with troubling people. For me, I want to respond to the troubling side of it. My wife wants to see past it, to bring them to the One who is the answer to all of our troubles, who is our hope and our stay.

The Bible is settled in heaven. There’s no higher place you can go. There is no higher authority—never has been, is not, nor ever will be. It’s His Word. That’s why the psalmist can say, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.”

God’s Word represents His perfect being—His flawless, all-wise, all-knowing, all-caring, all-capable existence. Before Jesus came to earth, God was no different than He is today. Think about this amazing Bible. This is where some people stumble, but if you really get into it, it’s really not just a book. God delivered it through at least 40 different, inspired, human writers. And God did so over a period of at least 1,000 years. You can do that when you’ve been around forever; you can cover space and time. And He delivered it as His entirely infallible, inerrant, eternally trustworthy truth for mankind.

The Bible is all that we need. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t other interests and concerns in life. But none of those concerns, those needs, those enrichments, those “whatevers” can replace the irreplaceable truth that we need the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is God almighty. He is the Rock of our salvation and the shepherd of our souls.

In a world that seems to be ceaselessly unsettling, He is not unsettled one bit. His Word is not unsettled at all. It can be unsettling to us in one sense: it awakens us from our sinful, dark existence without Him, our confused sense that we belong to Him when we’ve never had a personal relationship with Him. That can be unsettling. But He’s the answer to that unsettlement. “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” Joel 2:32.

Forever settled. What is it in this world that isn’t unsettled right now? Because the God of this world, Satan, has an entirely different mission. He has come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, “John 10:10. I’ve done way too many memorial services for people who didn’t know the Lord. The heartache, the heartbreak, the sense of impossibility—how do you speak into that? Not by judgmentalism but by “speaking the truth in love” to those who can still listen.

No one will ever find a future or hope beyond this. There is no future and there is no hope apart from Jesus Christ. The number one way He gave us to be secured and to be secure in that is in God’s eternal, written Word. It is the Word of salvation to all who have believed or will one day believe in Him. And that Word is going to be there no matter what, because it cannot be unsettled.

I want to finish with a story from Matthew 7 that is at the end of the sermon on the mount that really paints a graphic picture of how truthful and essential this is in the will and purpose of God for all mankind. In the story, Jesus talks about two men who are doing exactly the same thing. They’re building homes. They’re establishing families, finding their place and making their mark upon their human existence. And as they’re building, they both face exceedingly severe storms that come into all our lives as well. We all have been in, are in or soon will be in another storm of life.
But the ends of the two men were very different. Both heard the Word of God, but only one man took heed of God’s Word and put his faith in what God said. As a result, his home withstood the storm. The other man heard the same message; same delivery system, same truth. But he did not heed the message. And the tragic end was that “it fell. And great was its fall,” Matthew 7:27.

Tragic. Unnecessary. I don’t know the math, but Jesus said, “Narrow is the gate which leads to life,” but “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction,” Matthew 7:13-14. I fear that what it means is that there are too few people who will heed the Gospel, take seriously God’s Word. There are way too many who do not heed. The Bible says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path,” Psalm 119:105. There won’t be a day on this mortal earth where we won’t be able to understand, secure and grow in our standing before God by feasting upon the faithfulness of His Word. It’s a rare thing.

But I’m not talking to everybody outside this church. I’m talking to those who are sitting here, listening to my voice. If you are not a habitual, determined, voracious reader of God’s Word, please, please, please—He’s so wonderful!

About halfway through the next service, people are going to start to get hungry, because it’s getting close to lunchtime. But all of us are drawing near to His time, and the only way to get from this moment to that moment, whenever it may be, is to be feasting upon His faithfulness until that day. And even that we might be able to represent Him and help others come to the same glorious conclusion, because we’re not just hearers of it but doers of it and we’re living it. People see the difference and smell the difference and sense the difference. And we should “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you,” 1 Peter 3:15.

If you don’t know that when you die you’ll go to heaven, God wants to change that. The Scripture says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,” 1 John 5:13. God wants us to know. And the way to know is to just bow your head and say, “Lord, I need You. And I know I need You.”

I’m not going away. I’m thankful I work for a boss who isn’t going away. I work with a team of people in different ministries. This is “the good fight of faith” that we’re here to fight. It’s a very personal battle.

If you died today and don’t know that you’d go to heaven, I beseech you to cry out to the Lord. If you need help with that, we’re here to do just that. We’re here to give answers to help you. We’re all pointing you in the same direction, to the one true, living God, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that you might believe in Him.

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About Pastor John Stewart

I met the Lord in 1986 at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. After years of professional and financial success and what seemed to be the attaining of the “American Dream,” my life had become a nightmare of misery, self-indulgence devoid of any real sense of purpose. After seeking answers through psychotherapy, self-help and various religious philosophies the Lord found me, saved me and changed me. My salvation was radical in every way as I experienced forgiveness, new life, meaning and purpose in life and hope beyond anything I knew could exist. That living hope still burns bright within my heart today after many years of walking with the Lord and almost 30 years of pastoral ministry.

Sermon Summary

Pastor John Stewart teaches a message through Psalm 119:89 titled “God’s Forever Settled Word.”

Pastor Photo

Pastor John Stewart

December 31, 2023