Month: March 2018

A Psalm of Thanks (Psalm 145)

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What a Psalm absolutely bursting with expressions of praise and thanksgiving! God is forever to be praised, everyday God is worthy because of His greatness which is immeasurable (vs1-3)

What David knows about God, what we have experienced of God needs to be passed on, the story of our walk with God and all we have discovered about our great God needs to be told to others and told to the next generation (vs4).

Our public praise and thanks achieves many things simultaneously;

  • God is honoured and glorified,
  • We keep a right perspective
  • Our faith is strengthened (as we recount how God has acted on our behalf)
  • And others are encouraged by our testimony to put their trust in this great God we are praising

So consider, what has God done in your life, in the life of our church?

Consider also, how you can glorify and thank God, how can you pass this experience you’ve had of God on to the next generation and to others who either don’t know God or could be encouraged in their faith by your testimony?

‘The Glorious Splendour of God’s Majesty’ (vs5 in the ESV)

David says in verse 5 that he meditates on the ‘glorious splendour of God’s majesty’. What is that? Spend time now thinking about God’s majesty, picture it in your minds eye, imagine God on His throne surrounded by angelic beings and worship and then worship God for what you see.

God’s wondrous works (vs5 in the ESV)

David also says in verse 5 that he meditates on the ‘wondrous works’ of God. Again, consider some of what this includes and worship God for it;

Creation – consider that our God made the earth, all creatures & all humankind. Look at creation today, look at people and be amazed by the beauty of it, it’s intricacy and design and praise God.

Relationships – consider that God made us with the unique capacity for relationships. We were made by God in order that we could have a relationship with God! You and I have the ability to hear God, speak to God, be loved by God and to love God. In addition to this, we were made with the unique capacity for relationships with one another. Thank God for His design and His purpose.

Redemption – consider this, that God responded to our rejection of Himself by graciously loving those very ones who had rejected Him and setting in place His plan to redeem us from the consequences of our own sin, at great personal cost to Himself.

Provision – consider all of God’s provision for your needs!

Protection – consider that God is ever mindful of us, always protecting us. I know that one day in heaven we will appreciate more fully how remarkable and continuous that protection has been.

Incarnation – consider that God chose to willingly leave heaven, leave His rightful throne and subject Himself to time and space, to the brokenness of our post-fall existence and that God did this all so as to save us from our sin and to give us His perfect life!

Wisdom & Guidance – consider that God lights our path for our lives and that God with His omniscient wisdom guides us through life.

Mercy & Grace – consider that God has not given us what we deserved, more than that consider that God has poured out on us what we never earned or deserved!

Adoption – consider that God didn’t just rescue you from the penalty of your sin but also established an eternal unchangeable family bond with you that bestows honour and privilege and peace. God made me His beloved child.

Love – consider that God loves you with an everlasting love. A consistent and committed covenant love that fills the heart to overflowing and settles the soul with ultimate peace. You and I were made to respond to this love lavished on you by Father God.

Proximity – consider that God has promised to never leave nor forsake you, that Father God sent the Holy Spirit as our Helper to make us aware of God with us, to remind us of Father God and to enable us to live as God want us to. Thank you God for making me the temple, the place in which You dwell by the Spirit, thank You for proximity to You!

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As we race towards Launch Sunday, may we consider God’s glorious splendour and His wondrous works, may our mouths ‘speak the praise of the Lord, and may all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.’ (vs21). Amen.

 

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Not to us… (Psalm 115)

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The big idea in this Psalm is comparing the futility of worshipping any other so-called gods with worship, trust and reverence of Almighty God.  It’s a reminder to God’s people that no other so-called ‘god’ is God, but merely something (an idol) made by human hands, dead and lifeless and therefore not worthy of any praise or fear or trust.  Finally it’s an exhortation to trust Yahweh and to worship Yahweh exclusively.

However, in light of our church’s Launch Sunday this coming Sunday it is verse 1 that has my attention;

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1 in NIV)

May God and God only get all the praise, glory and honour on our Launch Sunday.  This day, this celebration is not about us, not about any person or even any church, or thing that’s been constructed.  This Sunday is about God, about His glory and His majesty and about praising and thanking Him!

Because God alone is worthy of praise and honour, God alone has provided, has loved us and has been utterly faithful and true to all His promises.  God alone, not us, has sustained us and brought us into this place.

LORD, may You be magnified in Your glory, may You be praised, worshipped, thanked and adored, and may people revere You and place all their trust in You and You alone.  Amen.

Joyful & Loud (Psalm 100)

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Here we have another Psalm containing yet another exhortation, to MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE to the LORD! The type of praise envisioned in Scripture is praise that’s from the HEART, it isn’t primarily about emotion but rather about deep seated passion that rises from a heart that knows it has been forgiven and has had the lavish love and mercy of God poured out into it.

Such a HEART cannot help but to worship willingly, JOYFULLY and in a way that overflows and is abundant. Such a HEART cannot help but worship God LOUDLY, boldly letting anyone who will listen know how the worshiper feels about our LORD and KING. (vs1-2) May our worship never be reserved and quiet but may it always be fuelled by a revelation knowledge of who God is and what He has done in our lives.

Such a HEART wants everyone to KNOW that Yahweh is God (vs3) and so urges you and I to come into God’s presence with thanksgiving & praise, ready to bless God for all that He is and all that He has done for us (vs4).

Our story of God’s faithfulness, our testimony, is that GOD IS GOOD, God is entirely steadfast & trustworthy, all generations can testify to this! (vs5)

As we look ahead to Launch Sunday and the Easter Weekend just beyond that – let’s be those who’s HEARTS overflow in passionate, joyful, loud, thanks and praise declaring to all that our God is good, faithful and trustworthy. We can declare this because we have experienced all these things personally and corporately as a church. Let’s declare His goodness to the world!

 

Declare His glory! (Psalm 96)

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Sing, sing sing!  Sing songs written by others but sing your own songs of thanks and praise – ‘a new song’ (vs1).  The Psalmist is exhorting us to sing to God, to bless God in songs of praise and thanksgiving for WHO God is and for WHAT God has done (vs2).

We are not to be silent but we are to sing, we are to declare to anyone who will listen the praises of our God (vs3-4) because God is great and He is greatly to be praised.  He deserves our praise, He is worthy of our praise, and the world needs to know it.

No one can compare to God, no other so-called ‘god’ who is really nothing can compare to the ONE who is everything. All-surpassing greatness is His, splendour and majesty are His, God and God alone is worthy of our praise (vs5-6).

Let all people all over the whole earth, people from every tribe, language, tongue and nation praise God (vs7-9).  So, give (ascribe) to the Lord the glory that is due to His name, worship Him, bowing down before Him.

Let the whole of creation praise Him, let the heavens praise Him, let the seas praise Him, let the fields praise Him, the trees and all of creation praise Him – the LORD reigns over all, the LORD is worthy of all praise from everything!

As we race towards Launch Sunday, let’s do all that this Psalm exhorts us to do.  Let’s make His praise glorious, let’s sing, let’s ascribe to the LORD greatness and declare to all who will listen how great God is.  I can’t wait for Launch Sunday and the opportunity to make God’s name famous with our story and our thanks.

Let me tell you… (Psalm 34)

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This Psalm is just absolutely jam-packed with gems about God and how God interacts with us his people.  It is a psalm full of personal and experiential knowledge of God’s nature and character.

It’s almost like David is explaining in the rest of the Psalm why he says in verse 1; “I will bless the LORD at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”

David wants you and I to join him in magnifying the LORD with him, wants us to join in and exalt God’s name (God’s character and attributes) together.

My God answers prayer! (vs4-6,15,17)

David can testify that he called out for God, he enquired after God in threatening life situation after threatening life situation (David was a fugitive fearing for his life for 15yrs!) and he can testify that God answered when he called.  More than that God delivered him from all the threats that put fear into his heart.  ‘This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles’ (vs6)!  And because of this testimony David can declare that the face of those who look to God for their help – their faces are radiant (vs5).

What are you facing today?  Call out to your God who answers, who delivers, who saves.  Put your trust in the trustworthy ONE, so that your face may radiate on the day that God delivers you.

Angelic Help (vs7)

Angels are ministering spirits sent out by God to serve and protect God’s children (Hebrews 1:14).  David can testify to angelic protection, a heavenly body-guard for those who fear God.  This reminds me of the moment in Israel’s history when Elisha’s servant feared because of the formidable Syrian army amassed around the city and the servant was afraid and Elisha prayed that God would show him the mighty heavenly host that was arrayed around them to protect them and declared to his servant; “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us (angels) are more than those who are with them” (2 Kings 6:15-17).

Know this.  God the Holy Spirit is with you (Hebrews 13:5) and God has sent an angelic body-guard to encamp around you!  So, do not fear.

Taste and See (vs8)

We learn in lots of ways, from what we read or hear from others, through modelling etc but experiential learning is one of the most powerful sources of learning.  David urges you and I to do as he has done – do ‘taste and see’ that God is a faithful deliverer.  This is an invitation an exhortation to find out for ourselves to experience that God is good!

Such knowledge of God hewn out of the experience of everyday life is unshakable and precious!  There are no short cuts but this is the exhortation of Scripture for you and I to discover for ourselves what David has discovered – God is good.

Complaint to Praise & Prayer (Psalm 28)

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Confident Complaint!

David begins this psalm with a declaration of faith (God is his God) and an expression of  his feelings toward God whom he calls, “my rock”.

“My Rock” – God is personal immovable and immutable.  Because of this God can be trusted, God is worth calling out to in prayer.  If God were not God and if God were not personal or immovable or immutable it would not be worth calling out to Him in prayer!  Because God is all these things and we can confidently call out to God in prayer.

And yet David’s prayer is also a complaint.  Sometimes it feels like God is not hearing, like God is not speaking, as if God is unmoved by our situation or unaware from our perspective.

(vs3-5) In these verses David’s complaint is outlined, it feels like God is treating him no differently to his enemies, he is looking for God to act on his behalf and seemingly hasn’t seen God’s answering his prayers.

What’s happening in your life that feels like God is not hearing, not seeing, not aware, not speaking or answering?

I urge you to lift your eyes again to your God. 

Why not declare as David did that God is your ROCK, your FORTRESS (another way of translating the underlying Hebrew word).  God can be trusted because He cannot change, will not shift under your feet, God is worthy of our trust even when we can’t see what He is doing or why He is allowing something to happen.  So, call out to Him again, put your faith in God again.

Passionate Praise

The psalm changes in vs6-9 becoming a psalm of praise.  David is convinced now that God has heard his cries, his prayers, his lament.

David has been strengthened in his faith, knows God is his strength and his shield (protection), God is the One whom his heart can trust and so He finds help in his moment of need.

And so his heart exults, it jumps for joy (literal translation) and bursts into song!  What a transformation when we see God for who he is, when we enter again feeling his presence and the warmth of his love.  David had been feeling like God was no where now David’s heart is bursting with praise and thanks and love for God.

Worship is warfare!  When we feel like God is distant or disinterested, we should take drastic action, reminding ourselves of the truth about our God our immovable immutable rock who is worthy of our trust and we should begin to worship as warfare against those feelings of doubt choosing to warfare not wallow in those feelings of doubt.

In worship we declare what we believe (God is our ROCK vs1, our SHIELD vs7, the ONE who HELPS us vs7, our STRENGTH vs7 & the SAVING REFUGE OF HIS ANOINTED vs8).

We worship with faith and in worship faith is renewed.  And on that foundation of renewed faith we can ASK God for the future (vs9).  Amen.

In The Presence of the King (Psalm 24)

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Who is God?

Who can appear before such a God?

Open up for God to come presence Himself with us!

These are questions this Psalm addresses.

God’s supreme authority (vs1-2)

Everything that exists in physical time and space, every atom and sub-atomic particle, every mountain range, every square metre on the planet is God’s!  More than that every person who has ever existed, whether they acknowledge God as God or not, was created lovingly by God and for His glory and His purposes (Romans 11:36).

God is unmatched and unrivalled, God made everything and so God owns everything!  The maker of something is its owner, they are the one who gets to determine the purpose and value.  Since God created everything, God is in supreme authority.

Who can appear before such a God? (Vs3-6)

Greatness, majesty & authority necessitate respect.  So, in light of God’s greatness, who can approach His awesome presence?

This God of king David’s, is not just supreme in authority but is also Holy.  There is no sin in His presence and so to approach God requires ‘clean hands and a pure heart’ from anyone who enters His presence.

And this introduces a dilemma for you and I!

After all who can claim to have pure hands that have not ever done wrong and a pure heart too that has not ever thought or intended wrong?

No one! (declares Romans 3:10-12)

Yet, I love the unspoken assumption here; there is something hard-wired into us as God’s created image bearers that desires to be the presence of our God and Maker.  Yet we have this dilemma, we can’t be in His presence with the state that our hands and hearts are in.

Paul writing to the Romans expresses this moral dilemma and then wonderfully reveals the solution God Himself provided to it;

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)

As Isaiah proclaimed; if we repent God will purify us from our sin and make us as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18) if we ask Him to.  So thank God today for Jesus, thank God for forgiveness and therefore the ability to enter God’s awesome presence.

God wants to come close! (Vs7-10)

What an astounding idea that the God who created and owns everything is the very same God into whose presence we can come through the forgiveness Jesus offers us.

Even more astounding is this, that it is God who takes the initiative and God who wants to come and presence Himself with us!

The image in vs7-10 is of someone at the gate of the walled city of Jerusalem asking to enter and the gatekeepers calling out; ‘Who’s there?’

8 Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, 

the Lord, mighty in battle! 9 Lift up your heads, O gates! 

And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 

10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah 

The mighty one, the Ancient of Days, the King of glory, the Lord of hosts that’s who is knocking, that’s who wants to dwell amongst us, presence Himself with us!  It’s incredible good news.  This makes me think of Jesus in Revelation saying;

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice 

and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

The King of glory wants to presence Himself with you, with us.  We belong in His presence because He has removed our sin from us, given us His perfect righteousness so open the door, let Him come and presence Himself with you daily.

Invite Him now!