This week we’re excitedly honored to host J.R. Favela, the Planting Pastor at Citylight Church Amarillo! J.R. returns to Citylight Manayunk to deliver the BIG IDEA that “God Speaks.” Working through Psalm 19, J.R. shows us that God is specifically telling us to:

  • Listen
  • Cherish
  • Turn



The Psalms, Vol. 1 by Allen Ross

Gentle & Lowly by Dane Ortlund

Sermon Transcript

Introduction: Good morning, lets pray. As I mentioned
earlier, my name is J.R. and I am the planting pastor at Citylight Church
Amarillo; I’m kind of like the cousin you never knew you had. Back in 2016,
I moved to philly for seminary and ended up coming to Citylight. And for the
next 4 years, I was discipled by the people in this church, met my wife, did a
residency, and then felt the call to church planting and was supported by
Citylight MYK. Specifically, we felt the call to go back to my home city of
Amarillo, and replant a predominantly Mex-American church on the
Eastside. Which is not only predominantly Mex-Amer, but also has the
largest refugee pop in Texas. So we connected with a sister A29 church,
and spent about 2 years there, and launched in August. And since our
launch, we have seen the God use our baby church; we’ve interacted with
non Christians interested in Christianity; people who left Christianity are
coming back, and we have seen people disconnected find their home with
us. Thank you for your support, you are helping us plant gospel fruit in a
hard-to-reach place. But as we’ve engaged with so many different types of
people, one thing that people have found interesting is the fact that is
unique because the God of the Bible is not is not a distant God; he is not like
an absentee-parent or in-out of our lives. Instead, it shows us that God
revealed himself to us; he has made himself known! Think about, as
Christians we have this familiarity with God; we have the privilege of
saying, “I know God and he knows me!” And share this with you because
our passage this morning is going to take the idea of God revealing himself,
dive into it in a deep and specific way.
But before dive in deeper, lets get to know our Psalm a little better. This
Psalm or poem was written by King David, he was the king of God’s OT
people Israel. And in the Psalm, David poetically praises God for revealing
himself with words like, “declare,” “voice,” and even “words.” You see, what
has caused David to erupt into praise is that God has made himself known,
specifically through giving us revelation; or in other words, through
speaking to us. And that truth is something that we can’t ignore. We can’t
just ignore, or shrug off, or even be indifferent to the fact that the God has
spoken to us. Because it is pretty fair to say that if the living God of the
universe has spoken to us, then what he has said must be important. So
with all that in mind, our big idea of the sermon and text this morning is
simple: God speaks. And as we look at our passage we are going to see that
in his message, he says 3 things:


I.Listen (19:1-6)
A. The first part of God’s message to us is to listen. In the opening
of our passage, King David makes this poetic statement. He
says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” Now, I know that
in the church we can tend to use that phrase “glory of God,” a
lot and not really ever define it; so here is a simple definition.
When we refer to the glory of God, we are talking about his
intrinsic value; basically his importance.1 So what is blowing
King David’s mind is the fact that God has designed every
molecule of creation to sing of his beautiful superiority and
power. Let’s just reflect on how crazy that truth is. Did you
know there is estimated to be over 400 billion stars just in our
galaxy and there is an estimated over a billion galaxies; God
created all of that. Also, did you know that there are over 352
quintillion gallons of water in the ocean and God created that.
Let me make this personal, God could have designed our bodies
to receive energy in any way, but he chose it through food; he
created us to receive energy from tamales, tacos, and posole
(glory to God for that!). You see, our text is showing us that no
matter where you go in this universe, creation is singing: “Who
is like our God? He is the most important person in existence –
ever – no one else could even come close; he is the best being in
this world.” That is awesome.
B. But as we move towards the end of this section, King David
brings in this analogy of the Sun. Now, what is interesting about
this analogy is that for many of the ancient people groups, the
sun was an important religious figure. You see, many ancient
religions worshiped the sun because they believed that it
created and sustained the universe, and that it was the god of
justice; that it brought wrath down on the wicked. And the Bible
teaches us that this religious reality is something that we all
deal with. Because of our first parents Adam and Eve’s rejection
of God, their sin, the world was broken and now, it is our
natural inclination to give all our love and devotion not to the
creator who deserves it but to creation or things we would call
idols. And as I think about it, one of the roots of this issue really
comes from a neglect of God’s awareness or presence. For
example, this past week, I met up with a friend of mine who had
left Christianity but wants to come back. And my friend was
1 Special thanks to Allen Ross and his commentary The Psalms, Vol. 1, for help with this


former military, tough, really didn’t take anything from anyone.
So as we were eating, I was surprised that he sharing about his
anxieties; saying that it terrifies him that there are things that
all his training and attitude couldn’t prepare him for or save him
from (family, friends, etc.). And what really stuck out to me is
that he had no problem admitting God created all things, but
struggled with the idea that God is in control, that he is aware
of what goes on. You see one of the devastating effects of sin is
blinds us to the fact that God is in control; and pushes to love
idols that are only good for one thing: to fail us!
C. But look at what King David says towards the end of the section.
He says that even though nothing escapes the rays of the sun,
we have to remember that God is the one who put it there. He is
saying that truly nothing escapes the sight of God; he is near
and everything that goes on in the world, even the brokenness,
God sees and cares. One of the beautiful truths of our text is
that you never have to worry that the world will stop spinning;
because God created, rules over, and sustains it; he never takes
a day off. And, you never have to worry that evil and your
brokenness goes unnoticed, because God sees it and cares
about it. Think about it, no matter where you go in this universe,
the soundtrack of all creation sings to us on divine frequency
level; to our very souls it tells us: God is the only one who
deserves our love and devotion; because he is both powerful and
present! Our passage shows us that God speaks, and our lives
should be characterized by what he has to say!
D.Implication: So lets apply this, here is a question for you guys:
What is stopping you from listening to the soundtrack of
creation?” Maybe if you’re honest, what is stopping you is pain;
pain from feeling some tragedy in your life. Maybe its anxiety;
seeing how this world is falling apart around us, wondering if
everything will just fall apart. Or maybe, its just bitterness, from
being hurt by the church? No matter what the reason might be,
I want to encourage you with this: creation sings that God is
powerful and aware. You can actually take a day off and rest,
because he will never stop sustaining this universe. And he
cares about what you go through, all the brokenness you have
faced, he sees it and he cares. Just rest in that truth! Family,
lets embrace the good news that God is both powerful and
aware; this is the song of creation.
II.Cherish (19:7-11)


A. As we move on in our passage we see that the next part of God’s
message to us is to cherish. Now, if we are going to understand
the depth of these verses, we need to focus in on the two major
phrases of the first verse: “law of the Lord” and “reviving the
soul.” The phrase “the law of the Lord” was typically used to
describe the Torah, or the first five books of the OT. But really,
it’s a phrase that refers to all of Scripture or the entirety of the
Bible. And as we read the description of the Scriptures that
David gives, we see that the Bible is filled with many different
things: God’s commandments, true morality, and even perfect
wisdom. And from this description, the assumption that many
people have about the Bible is that is it is filled with moral rules,
life hacks, and even solid wisdom. And while it is not less that
than it is way more. The Bible is God telling us who he is and
that we were meant for a relationship with him. The Bible so
perfect because it is God’s literal speech that shows us he is the
epitome of: goodness, perfection, and love; what it calls holy.
And that is why it is “reviving to the soul”; because it shows us
that true joy and satisfaction, life, can’t be found in our
horizontal relationships; only in our vertical relationship with
God. It is from that vertical relationship with God, that joy and
peace overflow into our horizontal relationships. Basically, the
Bible shows us that God is both powerful and good!
B. And while this truth is awesome, it really highlights one of our
biggest struggles. You see, back in the day, the biggest struggle
people had with Bible and Christianity was that God
supernatural or all-powerful. But now in the 21st century, most
people have no problem with admitting God is supernatural,
they just don’t believe he is good; that he has our best interest
in mind. And want to know the first example of this, it was back
in the garden of Eden. In Gen. 3, we see that the serpent doesn’t
tempt Adam and Eve by saying that God isn’t real, he tempts
them by saying God isn’t good. And was because of that
rejection of the truth (God is good)/sin, the world was broken
and we were separated from God. So now, we have become so
familiar with anxiety and bitterness. Anxiety is says that God
won’t get it right and bitterness is that God didn’t get it right.
Because of sin, we naturally doubt what God has lovingly
revealed about himself.
C. But look at the good news in our text for doubters like you and I,
King David says that the Scriptures are valuable and sweet; that
they should be cherished. The reason why is because it shows


the best example of God’s goodness and love; the Cross. Look
what Paul says in Romans 5:6-8, For while we were still weak,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will
scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good
person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for
us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The
Scriptures show us that God’s answer for ours and the worlds
brokenness is the Cross; that he has our best interest in mind.
God loving tells us in Scripture that even though we are jacked
up and messed people, God in his love sent his son to live, die,
and resurrect so we can be made right with him (the gospel). So
we can see and taste that the Lord is good! The best news that
you or I can ever hear is that God is powerful and good. Family,
His word tells us of His goodness and power from cover to
cover; let’s cherish His Word!
D. ImplicationI : So lets apply this, here is another question:
“What would it look like for you to cherish God’s word?” I think
one of the best ways we can cherish God’s word is to use the
Bible to fuel our worship. Just here me out; just like King David;
as we spend time in our schedules to read Scripture; we can
take time to just reflect on what the passage is showing us
about who God is. Just hear how Dane Ortlund takes this idea
and speaks about his reflect on the Gospels in the NT. “Yes he
(Jesus) is the fulfillment of the OT hopes and longings. Yes he is
the one whose holiness causes even his friends to fall down in
fear, aware of their sinfulness. Yes, he is a mighty teacher, one
whose authority outstripped even that of the religious PHDs of
the day. To diminish any of these is to step outside of vital
historic orthodoxy. But the dominant note left ringing in our
ears after reading the Gospels, the most vivid arresting element
of portrait, is the way the Holy Son of God moves toward,
touches, heals, embraces, and forgives those who least deserve
it yet truly desire it.” And you may be thinking, “where do I
start, its barely the new year and I am already behind.” An easy
place to start with Citylight’s one year Bible reading plan with
devotional ( That plan walks
you through the scriptures so that you can see. His
righteousness, fairness, kindness, and even his love for
imperfect and rebellious people like you and me. Family, God’s
word, it reveals to us his heart; for rebellious and hurting
sinners! Lets cherish it!
III.Turn (19:12-14)


A. Now, to finish up our passage, see that the last part of God’s
message to us is to turn. In this last section, we see King David
finish out this Psalm with a prayer request. And his request
really is birthed out of this convicting awareness of sin. He
mentions things like, “who can discern, who can be innocent?”
You see, David knows that the world is broken, and he knows
that he is broken by sin and that has placed him under
judgment; he can’t fix it and he is crying out for help. And really,
that tension that David feels, is the life experience of the human
race! The book of Romans teaches us that all of creation, even
humans, groan under the oppression of sin. And deep down, we
know that the world is broken; we know that we are broken on
the inside and under God’s judgment. And we see the evidence
of this brokenness every day. Have you wondered why when we
mess up or stub our toe; we cuss? It is because we know that
things aren’t the way they are supposed to be. Even, have you
ever wondered why we cry when we are frustrated or at
funerals? It is because we know that things aren’t the way they
are supposed to be. Basically, our text shows us that the cry of
humanity is to be freed from sin and the wrath that it brings.
B. But here is the issue. Many of us would agree that there is
something wrong with the world or even ourselves; we tend to
think the answer is good advice. You know, even before I
became a pastor, I would meet a lot of people who came to
church because “I want to keep my kids out of trouble” “I have
struggles in my marriage” “I want my business to succeed.”
Don’t get me wrong, loving your family and faithfulness in
business are great things; but if I can be honest with you, good
advice won’t save us from sin; if it did, wouldn’t it have already
worked by now? But here is what is so unique about God’s
message to us, it is not good advice, it is good news. It’s the
good news that the perfect-just creator God saw us in our
brokenness and slavery to sin; and in his love sent his son Jesus
(only blameless one) to live the life we could never live, die the
death we deserve, and resurrect so we could be set free from
sin and know the joy of loving the God who speaks. You see,
good advice only leads to despair and a false sense of pride;
what we truly need is good news.
C. So maybe you are here this morning and you find yourself in the
same place as King David. Maybe you have come to the end of
yourself because you see how your failures have affected your
family, marriage, or people you care about. Maybe you feel like


you are in ditch of despair because no matter how hard you true
to be better, even do good for God, you keep struggling with the
same sins. Or maybe, some of you just feel the heaviness of
living in this broken world (shootings, economy, ect.) Here is my
encouragement to you: God is not distant, he knows and he
speaks to us. And his message is: turn. And the way we do this is
through repentance; basically, confessing the ways we have
loved everything else but him and believing that only through
Jesus we can be made right with him. Turn to him and know the
blessing of being freed from the oppression and pain of sin; and
know the hope loving him, and looking forward to the day when
he makes all things new. God speaks, and his message is to turn
to him.
D. Implication: Last question for all of us: “Will you turn to God?
Now the answer to this question is going to look different for
many of us in this room. If you would consider yourself
Christian/religious, would you repent and believe in Jesus?
Confess the ways you have rejected God and believe that its only
his Son’s death that you are made right with God? But, if if you
consider yourself Christian; the answer for you would be
dependency. Don’t buy into the false Gospel of “just do better”;
would you live a life of coming to God with your brokenness and
failure; and allow God to pour out his grace and mercy on you
through his Gospel? I love the way the old school puritan
Thomas Goodwin describes the beauty of us turning to God. He
says, If you heart be hard, his mercies are tender. If your heart
be dead, he has mercy to liven it. If you be sick, he has mercy to
heal you. If you be sinful, he has mercies to sanctify and cleanse
you…So we may come boldly to find grace and mercy to help us
in time of need, a mercy for every need.”2 Family, let the thing
we hold on to be the news that God’s arms are open wide for
rebellious, hurting sinners like you and me!
To finish up, I just want to bring everything we talked about together. The
truth that I pray we hold on to from our text is that our God is not distant or
inattentive; he is near and he has speaks. He not only tells us of his power
and glory, but that he has heard our cries under the slavery of sin, and his
answer was the life, death, and resurrection of his son; and that is our hope.
Citylight, lets be a family that never takes that truth for granted; lets be a
family who tells the world the good news: our God speaks. Lets pray.
2 Thomas Goodwin, Heart of Christ, 60.