Charles’s quotes

"It is surely ours to combine these elements of mourning for sin and joy in our salvation in one complex and composite experience which keeps us perpetually humble and yet perpetually joyful too."— Rev William Still

Showing posts with label Exodus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exodus. Show all posts

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Lord, You call us to serve You.

Exodus 31:1-32:14
Lord, You call us to serve You. How are we to serve You? How can we serve You? - Our sin keeps on getting in the way. We start off well - and then, we take our eyes off Jesus, and things start to go badly. Lord, we need Your Spirit. He is the Holy Spirit. How can we possibly serve You - if we are not learning to walk with You in the way of holiness. Before we pray, "Help us to serve You better", help us to pray, "Lead us in the way of holiness."

Often, Lord, we come to Your House with so little expectation of Your blessing.

Exodus 29:10-46
Often, Lord, we come to Your House with so little expectation of Your blessing. Where does this attitude come from? - It doesn't come from You. You are the great God. You fill our hearts with 'great expectations.' When Satan comes to us, filling our hearts with apathy - the 'couldn't-care-less' attitude, help us to tell him that You are the great God (Psalm 135:5) - great in holiness, power and love, the faithful God who comes to us with great promises of blessing. When, Lord, we are blessed by You, help us to give all the glory to You.

Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off.

Exodus 27:20-29:9 
Sometimes, Lord, our lights are switched off. Sometimes, they're switched on. The light of Your love is never switched off. It's always switched on. Your love is 'all the time' love. There is no love like Your love for us. It's the only 'always and forever' love. Thank You, Lord, for the light that never stops shining - the light of Your undying love. This is the only light that is always shining.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Saved By The Lord - And Obedient To Him

Exodus 18:1-20:26
The Word of God tells us what God has done for His people: “the Lord saved them” (Exodus 18:8). The Word of God teaches us that being saved by the Lord places us under responsibility to be obedient to Him (Exodus 19:4-5). the vital connection between salvation and obedience is brought out clearly in the giving of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17). Before speaking to His people about what they must do if they are to live as His obedient people, God reminds them of what He has done for them: “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt” (Exodus 20:2). We must never forget how much the Lord has done for us. If we lose sight of His love, His grace and His mercy, so wonderfully revealed to us in our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, our ‘obedience’ will be nothing but legalism. Real obedience comes from real salvation. It comes to us from the God of our salvation.

Holy To The Lord

Exodus 28:1-30:38 
In all our worship and in all of life, we are to be “holy to the Lord” (Exodus 28:36). Holiness lies at the heart of God’s instructions to His people. God speaks of the special blessing of His “presence” at “the tent of meeting – “My glory will make this place holy” (Exodus 29:42-43). The holiness of God is full of love. He lives among His people as the God of redemption: “I brought them out of Egypt so that I might live among them” (Exodus 29:45-46). In the Lord’s presence, there is grace – “in the Lord’s presence … the sins in their lives are removed” (Exodus 30:16). This redemption, given to us by the grace of God, is to be an ongoing experience through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Our salvation is never to be taken for granted in an arrogant way. Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we do receive assurance of God’s salvation – but we must never forget this: “Holy to the Lord” (Exodus 30:37).

Preaching God's Word: Old Testament


Exodus 1:1-2:25
Circumstances change. God does not change. Joseph was no longer there. God was still there. Joseph had become part of the past. God was making plans for the future. Joseph had been a highly significant man within the history of Israel. Now, the scene was set for the emergence of a new spiritual leader, a man of even greater importance within the history of God’s people. That man was Moses. It was a new situation. There was to be a new spiritual leader. Joseph’s time had ended. Moses’ time was about to begin. It was a new situation, a situation which required a new leader. The arrival of Moses was not immediate. Nevertheless, the perfect plan of God was in process. God was at work. He was preparing His people for Moses. He was preparing Moses for his God-given work of leadership.
Why was Moses’ life preserved at the time of his birth? Was he just lucky? No! There is something else here. The hand of the Lord is at work. God looks upon this newborn baby and says, ‘This child must not die. I have great plans for him. I have a special purpose for his life.’
The times were difficult for the people of Israel. The loss of Joseph was a great loss (1:8-11). It was not an insurmountable loss (1:12). When things get tough, the Lord’s people rise to the challenge. They do not rise in their own strength. They go to God in their weakness. They look to Him for His strength (2:23).
What was happening at this time? God was preparing His people for a new situation. He was also preparing Moses to be the man who would lead them into this new situation. Oppression was to be replaced by redemption. The people needed to be prepared for this. They needed to become a prayerful people. They needed to become a people who were learning to call upon the Lord. They needed to learn to look to the Lord for His help. God was preparing His people. He was leading them to pray for and for and expect His deliverance. God is bringing His people to an end of themselves. He is bringing them to the point where they long for His deliverance. When God’s people pray, God’s purpose moves forward (2:23-25).
The stage is set for a mighty work of God. The Lord’s people face a crisis-situation. They are being oppressed by the Egyptians. God sees what is happening. He is making His plans. He will give His people a better future. It seemed like God was doing nothing about Israel’s problems – ‘a long time passed’ (2:23). God was not standing back, paying no attention to what was going on. He was busy, preparing Moses to be the leader of His people. He was taking steps towards the great event of deliverance from the oppressors. God was looking ahead to the Exodus and the journey from the land of bondage to the land of promise. Remembering ‘His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ (2:24), God was about to fulfil this promise with a mighty demonstration of His saving power. When nothing seems to be happening, we must not give up. God has not given up on us. He waits for us to call upon Him. He waits for us to pray for His blessing.

Exodus 3:1-22
The people had prayed. Now, God was about to answer prayer. Moses had not yet taken centre stage. He was still waiting in the wings – ‘keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro’ (3:1). Soon, the time of preparation would be over. The time of ministry was soon to begin. The call of God would bring Moses into a new situation. No longer would he be a shepherd, looking after sheep. Soon, he would be a shepherd of souls. He will care for the people of God. He will lead them into their new situation, the situation of redemption. The time of Joseph had ended. The time of Moses was about to begin. The time of oppression was almost over. The time of deliverance was drawing near.
The story of Moses continues. It is not merely a human story. Moses was called to be a servant of God’s people. He was to be their leader. He would play an important part in bringing God’s blessing to the people of Israel. He was not to be a ‘lone ranger’. He was to ‘assemble the leaders of Israel’ (v. 16). He was to share with them the Lord’s vision for His people’s future. God was taking them away from their ‘misery’. He was leading them on to blessing. He was taking them out of Egypt. He was taking them to a new land - ‘a land flowing with milk and honey’. Moses was not to go to Pharaoh as a ‘lone ranger’ – ‘you and the leaders must go to the King of Egypt’ (v. 18). There are important lessons for God’s servants in every generation. We move forward together. We move forward as ‘one body in Christ’.
The story of Moses is the story of God at work in human history. God is working out His purpose of salvation. This is the great story of which the story of Moses is only a part. Moses was called to serve the Lord. We are called to serve the Lord. As we look together at the Old Testament story, with its many changes in circumstances, we must learn to see that the one constant factor is God Himself. Joseph comes. Joseph goes. Joseph is replaced by Moses. Moses comes. Moses goes. Moses is replaced by Joshua. Through all the changes, God remains the same – the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua. This God is our God. He had plans for His people, Israel. He was giving them a brighter and better future. He has plans for us. He holds our future in His hands. He is leading us forward into His future – a future filled with His blessing.
The Exodus was a mighty miracle of God’s love and power. It was not, however, the end of Israel’s problems. They were to face forty years of wilderness wanderings. In all of this, God did not lose sight of His saving purpose. He did not abandon His people. He will not abandon us. God had great things planned for His people. He was leading them on to better things. He is preparing a great future for us. He is leading us to a place that is far more wonderful than ‘the land flowing with milk and honey’. He is leading to His eternal Kingdom. In all the changing circumstances of our life, we must never lose sight of this – the God of heaven is building ‘a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed, a Kingdom which shall stand for ever’ (Daniel 2:44).
In announcing His purpose of redemption, God identified Himself with the mysterious words, ‘I am who I am’ (v. 14). In this Name, we have the divine promise; ‘I will be there for you. I will be present for you. I will be effective for you’. In this Name, we have a declaration of God’s faithfulness. God’s promise is utterly reliable. We can stand upon His Word, confident that He will never fail those who put their trust in Him. The words, ‘I am who I am’ may be mysterious. They are not, however, an evasion of the question, ‘Who are You?’ They are God’s way of saying to us, ‘I am there for you. You can count on Me.’ We learn who God is as we walk with Him. We observe what He does for us. We learn that He is the God who is completely trustworthy. We learn that He is the God who is worthy of all praise, glory and honour.
When we walk with God, walking in the pathway of His redemption, we leave behind the life that is depicted in the word, ‘Egypt’. ‘Pharaoh’ has no power over us. We have been set free by the Lord, the God of our salvation. As we walk with God, we learn that we have no need to go back to the world’s way of living. Our trust is in the Lord, the God of grace. He fulfils His purpose in us. With Him, we ‘walk in newness of life’ (Romans 6:4). We are ‘changed’ by Him, as He leads us on ‘from glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3:18). Walking with Him, we are travelling towards the full revelation of His glorious salvation. With this glorious destination ahead of us, we ‘rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory’ as (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Exodus 4:1-31
In Moses, there is great weakness. In the Lord, there is great strength. By himself, Moses was completely out of his depth. With God, Moses went from strength to strength. He had God’s promise as well as God’s command: ‘Now go, and I will help you speak and will teach you what to say’ (v. 12). Moses was not to be left on his own. As well as having the help of the Lord, he also had the help of his brother, Aaron: ‘I will help both of you speak and I will teach you what to do’ (v. 15). Moses and Aaron were not to work in isolation from the other ‘leaders of the people of Israel’. They were to share with them ‘everything the Lord had said’ (vs. 29-30). God’s Word to Israel was a Word of power – He ‘did miraculous signs for the people’ (v. 30). It was also a Word of love – ‘the Lord was concerned about the people of Israel’ (v. 31).
Before the Exodus could take place, two obstacles needed to be overcome – the apathy of the people (v.1) and the resistance of Pharaoh (5:2). These obstacles need to be dealt with in the right order – first, the people of God, and, then, the working of God in the world.
How did God prepare Moses for overcoming these obstacles?
* He assured Moses that He – the Lord – had called him to this work and that He – the Lord – would be with him (vs. 1-5).
* He sent Moses as a man whose sin had been forgiven (vs. 6-7).
* He gave His Word to Moses (v. 12).
Once the people had given their support to Moses (vs. 29-31), the stage was set for Moses to turn towards Pharaoh. Before we turn our attention to Pharaoh, we must ask ourselves an important question: ‘Is our response like Israel’s response – “the people believed … they bowed their heads and worshipped” (v. 31)?’ or “Is it more like Pharaoh’s response – ‘Who is the Lord that I should obey Him … ?” (5:2)?’

Exodus 5-12
It gets worse before it gets better. Things seemed to be going from bad to worse for God’s people. They became ‘discouraged’ (6:9). They were unable to look beyond their present difficulties. They needed the Lord’s Word of encouragement – ‘The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I use My power against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of there’ (7:5). Before there was salvation for Israel, there was judgment for Egypt. The judgments upon Egypt (‘the plagues’) were a call to repentance. If there had been a willingness to listen to God’s Word at the beginning, these ‘plagues’ would not have happened. More disobedience meant more ‘plagues’. Each ‘plague’ was a call to repentance as well as a judgment on disobedience. Each ‘plague’ could have been the last – if Pharaoh had said ‘Yes’ to the Lord. Pharaoh said ‘No’, and the ‘plagues’ continued.
Let’s think about the hardening of Pharaoh. Scripture tells us that God Himself said, ‘I will harden Pharaoh’s heart’ (4:21; 7:3). What does this mean? It means that the more Pharaoh heard God’s Word, the harder his heart became. God was saying to Pharaoh – ‘Let My people go’. The effect was quite the opposite. The more Pharaoh heard this Word, the harder his heart became.
This is a Word which must hear. We must receive its message to us. This is speaking about something which happens today. This is Gospel-hardening. The more people hear the gospel, the harder they become. The Gospel does not come to such people as a hard Word. It comes us a Word which speaks of God’s love. It comes as a Word that is designed to lead them to know the love of God. Some people hear the Gospel of God’s love, and they become harder and harder. The more they hear of the free grace of God, the more they retreat into legalistic morality and become hardened against the Gospel. This is a matter of eternal importance. Do not become Gospel-hardened. Let the Gospel break down your hardness.
Gospel-hardening is progressive. The more the Gospel is heard, the harder the Gospel-hardened person becomes. Nevertheless, it must be emphasized that Gospel-hardening is not irreversible. The process of Gospel-hardening can be gloriously and marvellously reversed. How is this process of Gospel-hardening to be reversed? There is only way. It is through the Gospel itself which can reverse this process. The Gospel itself shows the way from hardness to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. You can be converted. As God’s Word comes to you, in all its seriousness, you are called to decision. You can become more hardened against the Gospel. You can allow the Gospel to break down your hardness. This is the ‘either-or’, presented to us by the Gospel. There is no middle course. Will the preaching of the Gospel make us harder against Christ? Will the preaching of the Gospel lead us to Christ? The Word of God comes to us, in the power of the Spirit, inviting us to come to Christ. We are called to come to Christ. Along with this call to come to Christ, there is also the warning concerning the consequences of refusing Him. The call to receive Christ as Saviour is a matter of the greatest urgency. This is impressed upon us in two very serious passages of Scripture: ‘He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing’ (Proverbs 29:11); ‘Today, when you hear God’s voice, do not harden your hearts’ (Hebrews 4:7).
Under their Egyptian taskmasters, the people of Israel had to work hard. This hard work was done unwillingly. They did not want to be the slaves of the Egyptians. They hated every minute of the hard work which was forced upon them by the Egyptians. Israel’s constant desire was for freedom from their captivity in Egypt. When we work as servants of Jesus Christ, we are to serve Him with gladness. We are to serve Him with love. We serve the Lord in the knowledge that our true freedom is found when we are captives of Christ: ‘Make me a captive, Lord, and then I shall be free’.
To the outward observer, hard work has similar characteristics, whether it is done by prisoners of war or those who are doing the kind of work they really want to be doing. When, however, we go to the heart of the matter, to the matter of the heart, we find that there is a radical difference between work which is done willingly and work which id done out of love for Jesus. Our attitude towards Jesus Christ is absolutely crucial in the whole of life. What we make of life, with its many different circumstances, is vitally related to our attitude to Jesus Christ. This lesson is emphasized more clearly as we look at Israel’s situation in the fuller context of the work of God. While Israel was working hard for the Egyptians, God was working hard for the Israelites.
The activity of God is seen in the series of connected events known as ‘the plagues’. Outwardly, ‘the plagues’ can be described in a simple and straightforward manner. In 7:14-24, we read of the turning of the Nile to blood. In chapter 8, we read of the plagues of frogs, gnats (or mosquitoes) and flies. Chapter 9 tells us about the death of the Egyptian cattle, the plague of boils and sores and the hailstorms and thunderstorms. This is followed, in chapter 10, by the plague of locusts and the three days’ darkness. The final event in the series is the death of the Egyptian first-born (11:1-12:30).
More plagues meant more opportunities for repentance. God was calling upon Pharaoh to change his mind. He needed to change his mind about God. He needed to change his mind about the people of God. The call for repentance was ignored. Pharaoh put on a show of repentance (9:27-28; 10:16-17). He didn’t really mean it. He was a man of unbelief (9:35). God confirmed him in his unbelief (10:20).
The inner meaning of ‘the plagues’ is quite different for the believer and the unbeliever. For unbelieving Egypt, ‘the plagues’ are God’s pronouncement of judgment. For God’s believing people, ‘the plagues’ are a part of His way of showing to them His salvation.
The same set of circumstances can produce hardness of heart in the unbeliever while leading the believer on to greater faith.
The first nine ‘plagues’ provide the build-up to and the backcloth for the most powerful of all ‘the plagues’ – the death of the Egyptian first-born. The final ‘plague’ – the death of the Egyptian firstborn – marked the end of the road for Pharaoh – ‘the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart’ (11:10). God was saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ God was going to bring His people out of Egypt – with or without Pharaoh’s permission. There were good things happening – ‘the Lord made the Egyptians kind to the people. And Moses was highly respected by Pharaoh’s officials and all the Egyptians’ (11:33). This, however, did not change the fact that Pharaoh was resisting God. This resistance did not hinder God’s great plan of salvation.
In this tenth and final ‘plague’, the issues of salvation and judgment become absolutely clear. In this ‘plague’, we see the radical difference between the believer who is saved by the powerful love of God and the unbeliever upon whom the judgment of God is decisively pronounced. For unbelieving Egypt, there was the death of the first-born. For God’s believing people, there was the Passover. As we think together of God’s activity in salvation and judgment, we must relate both salvation and judgment to the love of God. Salvation speaks to us of the wonderful thing God has done, is doing and will do for His believing people whom He loves with an everlasting love. Judgment speaks to us of the seriousness of man’s rejection of the love of God. Those who repeatedly reject the love of God deliberately place themselves under the judgment of God. The ten ‘plagues’ speak to us of God’s judgment. They also speak to us of the God of love who longs for sinners to return to Him. The very fact that there are ten ‘plagues’, rather than a single decisive judgment, serves to underline the love of God. Each of the ‘plagues’ came as the invitation of God’s love, inviting Pharaoh to turn from his sin. Each ‘plague’ came as a call to Pharaoh to obey the Lord. Time and time again, the invitation of God’s love- so freely given by the Lord – was rejected.
The Word of God says to us, ‘Don’t be like Pharaoh. Don’t reject the love of God.’ The Word of God points us unmistakably to the Lord Jesus Christ who shed His blood for our sins. The heart of the message of the Gospel is contained in the words of 12:13 – ‘when I see the blood, I will pass over you’. This text contains a clear prophetic reference to the death of Jesus Christ for sinners. We can come to understand the significance of Jesus’ death for us by looking at what happened on the night of the Passover. On the Passover night, the angel of death passed over, in mercy, only those households over whose doors the blood had been sprinkled. This merciful ‘passing over’ had nothing to do with the character or the works of those in the houses. It had everything to do with the blood under which they had taken refuge: ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you.’ The angel of death was not instructed to check out the character-traits or the religious observance of those in the houses. The angel of death was to look for the blood on the doors: ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you.’ The only criterion for ‘passing over’ was the blood. It was not the blood and something else. It was not a matter of ‘Look for the blood and then take a peep through the window to see what’s going on inside’. There was no peeping needed. There was no peeping allowed. The blood was the all-important factor – ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you.’
The same principle is true today. We are put right with God on the basis of Christ’s death for us. Believing that Christ shed His blood for my sins, I am forgiven by God and declared to be righteous in His sight – ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.’

Exodus 13-15
The purpose of the Passover was to build a bridge between the past, the present and the future: ‘Remember this day – the day when you left Egypt, the land of slavery. The Lord used His mighty hand to bring us out of slavery in Egypt’ (13:14). The Lord was in control. This is what we must remember when we think about these events. Once the people of Israel came out of Egypt, the Lord continued to be in control of their journey. In 13:17-18, we read that God closed one door – ‘the shortest route’ – and opened another door. God’s perfect way may not always be ‘the shortest route. It is His way. His way is always the best way.
The Exodus could be described as the Great Escape. It was the escape of the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt. It should be pointed out that the word, ‘escape’, does not begin to describe what really what happened in the Exodus. This was more than the Great Escape. This was the Great Deliverance. It was not so much the escape of Israel. It was the deliverance of Israel by God. This was not about what Israel did for herself. This is a declaration of what God did for Israel. It is the action of God on behalf of His people, Israel. It is this divine work of redemption that stands at the very heart of the book of Exodus. This is not about what we can do for ourselves. It’s about what God has done for us in Christ. Our whole attention is directed away from ourselves to Christ.
There are three high-points in the book of Exodus – the Passover, the Exodus and the giving of the Ten Commandments. It is most important that we understand the order in which these events took place. This is of great importance to us if we are to understand what God is saying to us concerning salvation in Christ.
The meaning of the Passover is summed up in the words: ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you.’ The full meaning of these words is found in the death of Jesus, ‘our Passover Lamb’ – ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29).
The tremendous event of the Exodus is described thus: ‘By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the bondage … by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of bondage’ (13:14, 16). Here, we catch a glimpse of something even greater than the Exodus. God raised His Son from the dead. When God put His mighty work of deliverance into effect, Egypt could not hold His people any longer. The power of God was greater than the power of Egypt. In Christ’s resurrection, we see something greater. The power of God is greater than the power of death. Death could hold Christ no longer. God raised Him from the dead.
The Ten Commandments are not given before or apart from the Passover and the Exodus. They come after these great events. They are given on the basis of the Passover and the Exodus. The Ten Commandments are introduced with a declaration of God’s work of redemption: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage’ (20:2). It is no nameless, faceless, unknown God who addresses the people of Israel in the Ten Commandments. It is the God of the Passover. It is the God of the Exodus. This is the God whose great work of salvation finds its fulfilment in the death and resurrection of Christ. In our thinking about the Ten Commandments, we need to keep the death and resurrection of Christ at the very centre of our attention.
The people of Israel were to remember. They were to remember the Passover. They were to remember the Exodus. They were to remember the Exodus. They were to remember the giving of the Law. We too must remember. We must remember Christ crucified for us. We must remember, with thanksgiving, that we have received the forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ our Saviour. We must remember that Christ has been raised from the dead for us. We must remember, with gratitude, that Christ has come to live in our hearts. We must remember that the Law of God has been given to lead us to Christ. We must remember, with rejoicing, that, alongside God’s Law which shows us God’s will, we have God’s Spirit, who enables us to do God’s will: ‘we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit’ (Romans 7:6); ‘God has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills but the Spirit gives life’ (2 Corinthians 3:6).
In 14:31, we read of ‘the great power of the Lord.’ As we consider His great power, we worship Him: ‘I will sing to the Lord. He has won a glorious victory … The Lord is my strength and my song. He is my Saviour. This is my God and I will praise Him … ’ (15:1-2). In the work of God’s redemption, we see His love and His power – ‘Lovingly, You will love the people You have saved. Powerfully, You will guide them to Your holy dwelling’ (15:13). Here, we see the greatness of God’s power. It is power which serves the purpose of His love. The Lord is King – ‘The Lord will rule as King for ever and ever’ (15:18). He is not a tyrant. He is not a dictator. He is the King of love. He loves us. We are to love Him – living for Him and looking to Him to fulfil His promises in our lives.

Exodus 16-19
The Lord provides. Through the provision of manna and water, the Lord sustains His people. Strong in Him, they press on to victory. This is a picture of the Christian life. Before we can be soldiers of Christ, we must receive our strength from the Lord. We come to Him, looking for strength – His strength. Jesus is the Bread of Life. He is the Living Water (John 6:51; 4:14). Strengthened by Him, we will not be defeated. We will be victorious – ‘more than conquerors through Him who loved us’. His love will give us the victory. Nothing will be able to separate us from His love (Romans 8:37-39). In the provision of manna and water, we see love. In the victory over the Amalekites, we see the victory of love: ‘Love has the victory forever’. In the Exodus, God revealed His love for His people. In the wilderness, He continues to show His love for them. In love, He gives them the victory.
In 16:1, we read of a journey from ‘Elim’ to ‘the Desert (or Wilderness) of Sin’. ‘Elim’ was a good place to be. It had ‘twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees’. In one sense, ‘the Wilderness of Sin’ was simply a geographical location - a wilderness which lay between Elim and Mount Sinai. ‘The Wilderness of Sin’ is more than a geographical location. It is a word of warning. We read about ‘the Wilderness of Sin’. We hear God’s warning, ‘Do not go into the wilderness of sin.’
What happened when the people of Israel went into the Wilderness of Sin? – ‘The whole congregation of the people murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness’ (16:2).
Murmur – what a horrible word! The very sound of the word is sinister. They murmured. There was something wrong in ‘the Wilderness of Sin’. There was something wrong with the people. In one sense, the place was just a place – a place in which the people were to learn how to trust God. There was, however, something wrong with the people. They were murmuring. They had been redeemed. They had been delivered from their slavery in Egypt. Now, they wanted to go back to Egypt. They had been redeemed. They had made some spiritual progress. Now, they wanted to go back to the way things were before they had been redeemed by the Lord. What about you? Do you feel like you want to go back to ‘Egypt’? Do you feel like you want to return to a worldly way of living? Where are you now in relation to God? Are you determined to go on with God? Perhaps, if you are honest with yourself and with God, you may have to say, ‘I am in the wilderness of sin.’ To acknowledge honestly that you are in the wilderness of sin is the first step towards getting out of this wilderness. It is the first step in your return to the Lord. It is the first step in your walk with Him. God does not want you to remain in the wilderness of sin. He wants to lead you out of the wilderness of sin.
In 17:1, we read, ‘All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the Wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord’.
They moved on ‘according to the commandment of the Lord’. God wants us to move on with Him. He does not want us to stand still. He wants us to move on in our obedience to Him.
They moved on ‘by stages’. Some were the first to make the move. Others came along behind them. It is still the same today. Some make the first move. They go on with God, making significant spiritual progress. Others lag behind. It seems that they will never make any significant move towards God. What about you? Are you going on with God? Are you holding back from following Christ?
The people of Israel had moved on from the Wilderness of Sin. They still had problems – ‘there was no water for the people to drink’, ‘the people found fault with Moses’ (17:1-2). They were still murmuring.
How did God respond to His murmuring people? He was gracious to them. Twice – in chapter 16 and chapter 17 – God provided for them. This is the ‘amazing grace’ of God. He is so patient with us. He is so faithful in His love for us. He does not want to leave us in the wilderness of sin. He does not want us to remain trapped in the wilderness of murmuring. He wants to lead us into rest – ‘Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matthew 11:28). He wants to lead us into rejoicing –‘These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full’ (John 15:11). Are we ready to follow Him?
The Word of God tells us what God has done for His people: ‘the Lord saved them’ (18:8). The Word of God teaches us that being saved by the Lord places us under responsibility to be obedient to Him (19:4-5).

Exodus 20
The vital connection between salvation and obedience is brought out clearly in the giving of the Ten Commandments. Before speaking to His people about what they must do if they are to live as an obedient people, God reminds them of what He has done for them: ‘I am the Lord your God who brought you out of slavery in Egypt’ (v. 2). We must never forget how much the Lord has done for us. If we lose sight of His love, grace and mercy, so wonderfully revealed to us in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, our ‘obedience’ will be nothing but legalism. Real obedience comes from real salvation. It comes from the God of our salvation.
The Ten Commandments are not ten different, unconnected laws. Together, they make up one single, undivided Law – the Law of God. The Ten Commandments are not a collection of Moses’ ideas. They are not simply a set of moral principles imposed by Moses on the Jewish people of his day. Together, the Ten Commandments present us with one, single, undivided revelation of the character of the God of perfect holiness. As we read of the pattern of holy living, set out in the Ten Commandments, we catch a glimpse of the holiness of the God who has given us His Law.
The Ten Commandments are frequently misunderstood. Some people think they can choose the commandments they like and ignore the ones they don’t like. They tend to prefer the commandments they think they can use to condemn other people. They are not so keen on the commandments which highlight more directly their own disobedience to God.
We are not at liberty to treat the Ten Commandments in this way. We must hear the one, single, undivided Law of God with honesty and humility of heart. We must allow God’s Law to show us our guilt. We must allow God’s Law to point us to Jesus, our only Saviour. In the Ten Commandments, every one of us is condemned, over and over again, as a guilty law-breaker. The Law of God does not provide any way for guilt to be removed. It is only through faith in the Saviour that our guilt is removed. We are not saved by works of the law. We are saved by the grace of God through faith in Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us. Those who are saved by grace through faith are saved for good works. We are not saved by our own good works. We are, however, called to show the genuineness of our faith in Christ by living a life of good works. We are not put right with God through the law. We do, however, turn to the Law of God to guide us in our life of obedient faith. The Law of God gives shape, form and content to our obedience. The life of obedience is not motivated by an attempt to put ourselves right with God. Rather, it is a life whish arises out of a sense of gratitude to God for all that He has done for us in Christ.
As we look at the shape given to our obedience by the Law of God, we must note that our obedience is to be grounded in love – ‘loving Him who first loved me.
‘Love to God will admit no other god.
Love resents everything that debases its object by representing it by an image.
Love to God will never dishonour His Name.
Love to God will reverence His day.
Love to parents makes one honour them.
Hate, not love, is a murderer.
Lust, not love, commits adultery.
Love will give, but never steal.
Love will not slander or lie.
Love’s eye is not covetous.’
(1) No other gods
This is the foundational commandment. If we were obedient to this first commandment, obedience to the other commandments would naturally follow. It is because we disobey God’s first commandment that we break the other commandments also. This commandment is not merely about ‘believing’ in God. It is about giving our full allegiance to Him alone. It is about letting God be God. Do not make a ‘god’ of pleasure Do not make a ‘god’ of money. Pleasure is a false god. Money is a false god. Jesus said, ‘You cannot serve God and money’. This is more than a commandment. It’s a statement of fact. Christ gave His all for us. He calls us to give our all to Him.
(2) No graven images
There are two important principles here – right thinking about God and true worship of God. The Word and Sacraments belong together. A sacramentalism which has no real interest in learning is of no value. We need to receive teaching from God’s Word if our worship is to be God-centred and God-honouring.
(3) No taking God’s Name in vain
The problem with religious people is this - familiarity breeds contempt. We must beware of overfamiliarity. We must not take God for granted. Overfamiliarity lies at the root of the blasphemous use of God’s Name. The devil’s plan is to make the Name of Jesus Christ mean absolutely nothing. The devil is glad when he hears the Name of Jesus Christ being used, over and over again, as an idle word. He takes delight in hearing the Name of Christ being used as a senseless and sinful expression of anger. Those who love the Lord must not speak words which bring dishonour to our Saviour’s Name. We must speak words which declare the wonder of His saving grace.
(4) Remembering to keep the Lord’s Day holy
We do not bring glory when we worship now and again. This is not concerned only with Communion Sundays. It is not concerned only with occasional worship – once a month, fortnightly. It is concerned with every Lord’s Day. When we gather in the Lord’s House for worship, the Lord speaks to us concerning our priorities. He asks us where we have been since the last time we worshipped Him in His House. What about last Sunday? What about the Sunday before? He invites us to make a new beginning with Him. He invites us to be serious about worshipping Him.
(5) Honour your father and your mother
The responsibility begins with the parents. They are to be the kind of parents whom their children will be glad to honour. Children are unlikely to honour parents who send them to Sunday School while never attending Church themselves. If we expect our children to honour us, we must set a good example for them to follow. If we expect them to honour the Lord, we must give them a godly lead.
(6) You shall not kill
You may not have harmed anyone physically. What about character assassination? What about secret anger? What about the spiteful jeer? What about the unrestrained outburst of violent, abusive speech?
(7) No adultery
Plain speaking about such matters is not popular. God is not silent about such matters. He is not indifferent about them. Marital infidelity has drastic effects. Often, whole families are lost to the Church because of marital infidelity. Our society is strengthened when the marriage bond is held in honour. Are you guilty of adultery in thought? Confess your sin to the Lord. He will forgive.
(8)  No stealing
Perhaps, you say, ‘I’m not a thief.’ What about time-wasting? Are we good stewards of our time? What about our responsibility of Christian giving? Are we robbing God in this matter?
(9) No lying
‘A lie has no legs.’ It requires other lies to support it. Tell one lie and you are forced to tell others to back it up. Don’t say, ‘I don’t tell lies.’ What about passing judgment on others when you know next to nothing about them? What about false rumour, exaggeration, misrepresentation, and gossip? We are not to twist the meaning to make ourselves look good and other people look bad. We are to people of truth. In our commitment, we must remember love. We are to look for the best in other people. Remember; ‘It is easy to splash mud but it is better to help a man to keep his coat clean’. In our use of the tongue, we must remember this: ‘A sharp tongue is the only tool that grows sharper with constant use.’ We must take care how we speak. We must never forget this: Once a word has been spoken, it can never be taken back again.
(10) No coveting
If you have the desire to sin but there is no opportunity, give thanks to God. If you have the opportunity to sin but there is no desire, give thanks to God. God help us when the desire and the opportunity are both present at the same time.
Our thinking needs to be right – ‘Sow a thought. Reap an action. Sow an action. Reap a habit. Sow a character. Reap a destiny.’
Don’t covet this world’s riches. So many make the mistake of conforming to the world’s standards rather than maintaining the Lord’s standards. Many do not give to the Lord, as they know they should, because they’re too fond of the things of the world. We must choose – worldliness or godliness?

Exodus 21:1-23:33
Our obedience to God is to take shape within the varied circumstances of everyday life. At the heart of our obedience, there is to be compassion. Our compassion is to be an expression of God’s compassion (22:21, 28; 23:9). At the heart of our obedience, there is to be worship (23:14). Taking compassion and worship together, we come to the very heart of our obedience to God. It is not compassion without worship. It is not worship without compassion. The spiritual and the social belong together. We need spiritual foundations leading to social effects. The social does not stand on its own. There needs to be spiritual depth. The ‘spiritual’ does not stand on its own. It is empty formality if it does not lead to a change in our way of living from day to day.

Exodus 24:1:27:21
‘The glory of the Lord’ (24:16-17) – God is to be glorified in all that we do. Symbolic of God’s glory is the frequent reference to ‘gold’ or ‘pure gold’. God’s glory is to shine brightly among God’s people. If God is to be glorified among us, if our lives are to be like ‘pure gold’, we must be like ‘pure virgin olive oil’, keeping our ‘lamps’ burning for Him (27:20-21).
God will not be glorified if we are not looking to Him to keep our lamps burning for Him – ‘Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning’, ‘Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land with the Father’s glory. Blaze, Spirit, blaze. Set our hearts on fire.’
The blessing we read about here is not simply for those who are already God’s people. It is also for those who will be reached for Christ and won for Him as the Lord’s people rise to the challenge of carrying Christ to ‘this land’ and to ‘the nations.’

Exodus 28:1-30:38
In all our worship and in all of life, we are to be ‘holy to the Lord’ (28:36). Holiness lies at the heart of God’s instructions to His people. God speaks of the special blessing of His ‘presence’ at ‘the tent of meeting’ – ‘My glory will make this place holy’ (29:42-43).
The holiness of God is full of love. He lives among His people as the God of redemption: ‘I brought them out of Egypt so that I might live among them’ (29:45-46). In the Lord’s presence, there is grace – ‘in the Lord’s presence … the sins in their lives are removed’ (30:16). This redemption is given to us by the grace of God. We are assured of God’s salvation through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
This assurance must never lead to arrogant presumption. We must never take God’s grace for granted. We are to pray for an ongoing experience of God’s grace. It is through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit that we ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18). We must never presume upon the continued blessing of the Holy Spirit. We look to God for grace, never forgetting this: ‘Holy to the Lord’ (30:37).

Exodus 31-33
The history of Israel is like a rollercoaster ride. It’s full of highs and lows. We read of the Lord giving His Word to Moses (31:18). This is followed by the people rebelling against God (32:1).
Though the sin of the people is very great, the mercy of God is even greater. To those who had rebelled against Him, God continues to speak His Word of grace – ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you peace’ (33:14).
Often, we feel like God won’t want to have anything more to do with us. God is the God of grace. He is also the God of glory. He reveals His glory to us (33:18-22). His full glory is too much for us. He gives us a glimpse of His glory. He does not overwhelm us by showing us too much of His glory. He shows us just enough to create in us a thirst for more of His glory.
What we have here is grace and glory together. When the glory seems too much, the grace of God breaks in. The God of grace assures us that we belong to Him. In grace, He shows us His glory. It is the glory of His love. This love is the greatest love of all. There is no love like the love of God.

Exodus 34:1-35
Moses received the Word from the Lord and brought the Word to the people. With God’s Word of grace – ‘the Lord, a compassionate and merciful God …’ – there is also His Word of warning – ‘He never lets the guilty go unpunished …’ (vs. 6-7). Hearing God’s Word of warning, together with His Word of grace, Moses pleads with God for mercy – ‘Lord, please, go with us …’ (v. 9). The Lord promises to give his blessing again – ‘I’m making My promise again’. This promise of His blessing is accompanied by His call to obedience – ‘Do everything I command today’ (v. 11).
‘I am making a covenant with you’ (v. 10). The word, ‘covenant’, emphasizes the gracious, undeserved character of God’s promise. God’s promise does not come to a deserving people. It comes to God’s forgiven people. The difference between being deserving and being forgiven is very important. The person who thinks he deserves God’s blessing knows nothing of confession of sin. He has never come to God as an undeserving sinner, saying, ‘Father, I have sinned against you.’ The forgiven sinner is the person who has confessed his sin to God. It is to such people that God says, ‘The best is yet to be.’ It is with this confidence in God that we are called to move into the future.
When Moses came to the people, from God’s presence, his ‘face was shining’ (vs. 30, 35). This was a sign of the power of the Spirit filling him, giving him strength, equipping him for the work of ministry.

Exodus 35:1-36:38
The work of God requires the work of a large number of people who pool their resources together to see that God’s work is done. When there is this willing spirit among God’s people, God’s work moves forward. This willing spirit comes from the Lord Himself – ‘The Lord has filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God.’ Through the Spirit of God, we receive gifts which are put to good use in the service of God (35:31). We are to use these gifts in the service of the Lord (35:34). When God’s work is done in God’s way – ‘as the Lord has commanded’ (36:1) - , there will be God’s blessing: ‘The people are bringing much more than we need for doing the work the Lord has commanded us to do’ (36:5).

Exodus 37:1-29
Many times over, we read the word, ‘gold’. Beyond the gold, there is the great God, the God of glory, the God who is worthy of all praise. We look beyond the furnishings of the place of worship to the God, who is worshipped. In our hearts, we say, ‘My God, how wonderful You are.’
Many people place great value on gold, but they do not worship God. They make much of the glory of gold, but they do not give glory to God. How sad it is that so many people value the things of this world yet they do not acknowledge the greatness of the god who created our world.
We must learn to look beyond this world. We must learn to say, in our hearts, ‘I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold. I’d rather have Jesus than riches untold.’
The Lord must always be more important to us than anyone or anything else. We must not let ‘gold’ become our ‘god’. We must look beyond the ‘gold’. We must look to our God.

Exodus 38:1-40:38
All of this may seem so strange to us. There is one thing – among all the many details – which we must not miss. They ‘made everything that the Lord commanded’. They ‘followed the Lord’s instructions’ (38:26, 29, 31-32, 42-43).
God’s people are called to be obedient to Him. We are not to do what we want. We are to do what He commands. We are to follow His instructions. There can be no ‘anointing’ if there is no obedience. The two go together – obedience and anointing. We are to do everything the Lord commands us. We are to follow His instructions (40:16, 19).
Such obedience to God will involve putting His Word at the centre of our lives. His Word is not so much a Word of demand as a Word of ‘promise’. It is not so much a Word of law as a Word of ‘mercy’ (40:20). Our obedience to God is grounded in our experience of His ‘promise’ of ‘mercy’. Having received the ‘mercy’ of God, promised to us in Jesus Christ, we follow the Lord’s instructions (30:21, 23, 27, 29, 32).
When we have ‘finished the work’ God has given us to do, we must look to Him to send His blessing – ‘the glory of the Lord filled the tent’ (40:34-35).
In all the strangeness of the world of Old Testament worship, there are deep, spiritual lessons for us. There are lessons which enable us to go on with the Lord. We receive His mercy. We obey His Word. We experience His glory.
God is good to us. He shows His mercy to us. He puts a new Spirit within us. He gives to us the Spirit of obedience. He sends His glory so that we might rejoice in His presence and be strengthened by His presence.


Burdensome Religion And Joyous Faith (Psalm 1:1-2)

Burdensome religion and joyous faith are worlds apart. They are exact opposites.
“I have to” – How shallow and superficial is “I have to” religion. The man or woman who thinks like this hasn’t even begun to appreciate the great love of Jesus Christ.

What a far cry this is from a truly heartfelt and joyful Christian faith!

When someone is really interested in something, it’s never a matter of “I have to.”

- Does a young man, desperately in love, “have to” meet his sweetheart?

- Does a football fanatic “have to” travel miles to watch his team?

- Does a music lover “have to” buy the CDs and go the concerts of his favourite band?

- Does a keen golfer “have to” play golf?

Do you get the point?

The real question is not “Do I have to?” It’s “Do I want to?”

It’s much better to do something good because you want to – not just because you have to!

Have you begun to appreciate something of the great love of God, which is revealed in His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have, you will count it your great privilege and wonderful pleasure to come to His Table and remember His love for you, with joyful and heartfelt thanksgiving.

There are times when even the strongest of Christians don’t feel on top of the world. There are times when attendance at worship seems to be more of a duty than a delight.

When we feel like this, we need to be reminded of the facts of the Gospel. Jesus died for us. Jesus was raised again for us. As we remember these great facts, our feelings will, once again, be stirred to worship our Saviour with our whole heart.

When you don’t feel like worshipping the Lord, that’s the time when you most need to come and join the people of God as they offer their thanksgiving to the Lord.

- Come to Church when you want to because you want to.

- Come to Church when you don’t want to, because you need to.

When you don’t feel like worshipping the Lord, you will find all kinds of excuses for yourself.

When I was married, the minister said that both prosperity and adversity can lead to marital breakdown.

In times of adversity, a man may forget his wife. He may say, “I can’t afford to keep a wife.”

In times of prosperity, a man may forget about his wife. as he becomes more prosperous, he may become fed-up with the wife he loved when he wasn’t so well-off.

Prosperity and adversity can lead a man away from his God.

Prosperity may make a man say, “I have no need of God.”

Adversity may make a man say, “It’s all God’s fault.”

Prosperity and adversity provide us with tests which can either make us or break us.

The man whose real interest is Christ will grow into a deeper sense of heartfelt gratitude to his Saviour. The man whose interests centre on other things will, perhaps gradually yet nonetheless definitely, forget about his Saviour.

The contrast between religion as an tedious burden and Christ as a source of joy is brought out well in Psalm 1.

In the first Psalm, we learn about happiness. We learn about the way to find happiness. The basic message is this: the man who finds happiness is the man who loves the Lord. The man for whom religion is a tedious burden will know nothing of true happiness. He hasn’t found true happiness because he hasn’t learned to trust and obey.

This is the lesson we must learn: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”

A striking contrast is drawn between the happy man and the unspiritual man who doesn’t take God seriously.

When the Psalmist draws this contrast, there’s no suggestion of a “holier-than-thou” attitude. We’re not to look down on other people. We’re not to consider ourselves superior. Such religious arrogance has no places has no place in the hearts of those who have tasted the goodness of the Lord. We are sinners. We have been saved by God’s grace. What right have we to despise others? The Good News of Christ’s love has brought great blessing into our hearts and lives. we dare not keep this blessing to ourselves. We are called to live a holy life – but we must never forget that our holiness comes from the Lord. It comes from His love. This is the love which is always reaching out to others, inviting them to receive God’s forgiveness and calling them to walk in the pathway of holiness.

In Psalm 1, we learn about (a) the habits of the man of God (vs. 1-2); (b) the stability of the man of God (vs. 3-4); and (c) the future of the man of God (vs. 5-6). At each point, a contrast is drawn between the man of God and the worldly man.

The aim of the first Psalm is to press for a decision. The Psalmist doesn’t say, “Here’s an interesting contrast between two different ways of thinking about life.” He wants his readers to stop walking in the world’s way and start walking in the Lord’s way. He wants us to say, “From now on, I will walk in the way of the Lord.”

(a) the habits of the man of God (vs. 1-2)

The Psalmist emphasizes the importance of right conduct.

In verse 1, he does this negatively – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly … “

In verse 2, he does this positively – “his delight is in the law of the Lord … “

The way of disobedience is a way that gets progressively worse (v. 1).

First, there is “walking in the counsel of the wicked”, which means letting oneself be guided by the advice of the evildoers.

Next, there is “standing in the way of sinners”, which means conforming to the example of sinners.

Thirdly, there “sitting in the seat of the scoffers”, which means actively participating in the mocking of sacred things.

The way of obedience is directly related to the revealed will of God in the Word of God – Hear, Read, Study, Memorize, Meditate (v.2).

(b) the stability of the man of God and the instability of the worldly man(vs. 3-4)

Which describes your life?

Here, the Psalmist uses the language of biology (v. 3). He shares with us the fundamental law of the divine biology- A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. He uses the language of the harvest to show us that the life that is lived apart from God is empty, meaningless and worthless. This is so different from the meaningful and valuable life of faith.

(c) the future (vs. 5-6)

The Psalmist states quite categorically that those whose lives haven’t been built on Christ will not stand in the judgment. The godless man’s meaningless existence will be seen in its complete futility. On that Day, the things that really matter will be seen as the ultimate meaning of life. These things are faith and obedience.

Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny.

We’ve only one life to live. Only what’s done for Jesus will last.

Where do you stand in relation to all that Psalm 1 says to us?

May God grant that you will stand with Christ – to trust Him, to obey Him, to serve Him, to love Him and to live for Him. May this be the desire of your heart, the conviction of your mind, the resolve of your will, the words of your mouth and the actions of your life.
A Word Of Hope And A Word Of Warning From Psalm 2
The book of Psalms has been a precious possession of the Christian Church and the Christian believer. More than any othe book in the Bible, the book of Psalms has influenced the life of the worshipping congregation and the life of the individual believer. The Psalms have become an integral part of Christian worship. The Psalms have provided numerous patterns for the believer’s personal prayer life. Again and again, the Psalms point beyond themselves to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is especially true of Psalm 2, which is one of the Messianic Psalms, one of the Psalms which point clearly to the Christ. This Psalm has been called the “Messiah’s Psalm.” It is the Psalm of “God and His Anointed” (or God and His Christ). This twelve-verse Psalm can be broken down into four three-verse sections. The first section introduces us to “the kings of the earth.” The second section introduces us to “the heavenly King.” The third section introduces us to God’s Anointed (or Christ). The final section leaves us with a warning. vs. 1-3 This opening section speaks to us of rebellion against God. As the Psalm continues, it becomes clear that rebellion against God and His Christ is futile. It becomes clear that God alone is the Lord of universal history. It becomes clear that the kings of the earth have a limited power, a derived power. “Do you not know that I have power to release you and the power to crucify you?” – This was the question put to Jesus by Pilate. “You would have no power over Me unless it had been given you from above.” This was the answer, given by Jesus, to Pilate’s question (John 19:10-11). In the first two sections of Psalm 2, we have a direct contrast between the power of man and the power of God. vs. 4-6 When we move from the first section to the second section, we discover an abrupt change of scene and mood. The agitation and rebellion on earth are confronted by the sublime peace that reigns in heaven. The helpless kings of the earth are confronted by the siperior might of God, who is the King of heaven. It’s like a race of pygmies being brought face-to-face with a giant! When we understand this contrast between the power of man and the power of God, we learn to put our trust in God. Even when we are living in an extremely troubled world, a world filled with strife and rebellion, we will live with confidence in God, who is greater than all our circumstances. As we think of the contrast drawn in the first six verses of Psalm 2, it becomes clear that it is not a contrast between a pasive power of a God who sits in heaven, doing nothing, and the active and busy power of the kings of the earth. Our God, the King of heaven, is not a passive God. He is the active God. He is the God, who has set his king on Zion (v. 6). Thuis has reference to the installation of the king of Israel as God’s anointed. vs. 7-9 As we read the description of the Lord’s anointed, it becomes increasingly clear that this description, while applicable to human kings, who were chosen by God, looks forward to the coming of Christ for its ultimate fulfilment. The ‘prophecies’, found in vs. 7-9, have not yet been completely fulfilled. These verses speak of the triumph of the Messiah. This triumph is the triumph of the Crucified. In principle, this triumph was achieved at Calvary. It will not, be fully revealed until Christ’s Second Coming, when it become clear that He is “King of kings and Lord of lords.” The message of Christ’s Second Coming comes to us as a word of hope and a word of warning. vs. 10-12 This closing section contains elements of both hope and warning. Here, we have a message for the rulers of the earth. The would-bve lords of the earth are being confronted by the living reality of God and His Anointed (or Christ). In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, we learn that no human glory can compete with the glory of God. If a “mighty” man is to be saved, he must humble himself before Almighty God and serve Him with fear and trembling. There is only one way to be saved. We must travel the humble way of the Cross. This is the way of bowing at the feet of the Saviour in humble submission. The ultimate meaning of this Psalm concerns the recognition of God as Lord of the earth. Man’s relation to God is serious. He who lives his life in the fear of God will keep his life. He who who does not fear God will lose his lfe. He stands under the judgment of God. This warning can become the route to hope. Take the warning seriously and you will enter into the blessing promised in the Psalm’s final words: “Blessed are all who trust in Him” (v. 12).
A Spiritual Autobiography (Psalm 3)
Here, we have David's spiritual autobiography. God is saying to us, "What about you? Do you have a spiritual autobiography?" Here, we learn about David's distress and David's deliverance. God is saying to us, "Come to Me in your distress. Come to Me and receive your deliverance." This Psalm can be subdivided into four two-verse sections. vs. 1-2 : his complaint vs. 3-4 : his confidence vs. 5-6 : his security vs. 7-8 : his prayer and his rejoicing. The Psalm begins with David'd distress. Every one of us knows what this is like. We have been where David was. As we look at this Psalm, let's note how David handled his experience of distress. He took it out of his own hands. He placed it in the hands of God. vs. 1-2 : David's Complaint David's complaint was not addressed to man. He brought his complaint to God. It was not a bitter complaint, spoken against God. It was a humble and honest plea for understandimg and help. In the context of worship, he offered his prayer to God. Forsaken by men, he clung all the more firmly to God. This Psalm became very meaningful to me at a time of complaint. I was wondering whether it was really worth continung as a Christian. Unless I heard the voice of God, reassuring me, there and then, I felt that I was on the verge of turning back. My complaint was addressed to God. I spoke to God about my feelings. He spoke to me about His faithfulness. I read the first two Psalms. It seemed to me, at that time, that they had nothing to say to me. I read Psalm 3. I was given the grace to keep on going in the way of faith. * What is God teaching us? - Let's be humble before God and honest with Him. - Let's not take our complaints about God to men. Rather, let's take our complaints about men to God. - Let's not speak against God. Let's speak to Him. - Let's not allow our complaints to drive us away from worship. Let's keep on worshipping the Lord. Let's bring our complaint to the Lord. Let's bring it to Him as a plea for understanding and help. vs. 3-4 : David's Confidence David's confidence can be summed-up in one three-letter word: GOD. - God is his shield. God is protecting him from danger. - God is his glory. God gives him true honour. David is convinced that the Lord will "lift his head." He didn't just turn to God because he was in dire straits. His whole life was rich in prayer and faith. - He had trusted God in the past. - He trusted God in the present. - He would trust God in the future. In my own time of testing, when I first came across this Psalm, I needed to be directed to God. I knew all about my own weakness. I didn't need to be reminded of that. I needed to be pointed away from myself to the Lord - my shield, my glory and the lifter of my head. That was what kept me going. He kept me going. "'Twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace shall lead me home." * What is God teaching us? - Let's be constant, in faith and prayer. We're not to turn to God only when we face times of great difficulty. - Let's recognize our weakness. Let's turn to God and find our true strength in Him. vs. 5-6 : David's Security David's security lay in the assurance that that God is greater that all his enemies. Remember the words of Scripture - "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). With such a faith, David was able to exchange his own weakness for God's strength. He was able to exchange his own fear fior God's courage. The words of Psalm 3 lifted me, Just when I needed the most, these words were given to me by God. My response was to offer my praise and thanksgiving to God. * What is God teaching us? - God is greater than all our enemies. - God is greater than all our circumstances. vs. 7-8 : David's Prayer and Rejoicing It's so important to note David's response to life'e trials. He prayed. "What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear. What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer." Note the character of David's prayer. He prays for deliverance. He prays for salvation. His prayer is a personal prayer - "Help me, O my God." He prayed with assurance - "Deliverance belongs to the Lord." His prays for others - "Thy blessing be upon Thy people!" In my own time of testing, it was my reading of Scripture that sent me to my knees to pray with joy. * What is God teaching us? Pray for salvation. Make it a personal prayer. Pray with assurance. Pray for others.
“Thoughts in the Night”: An Evening Psalm – Psalm 4
“In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for Thou alone, O Lord, makest me dwell in safety” (v.8). Here, in its closing verse, we find the central theme of Psalm 4 – peace, the peace of God. This Psalm can be divided into four sections. v. 1 : prayer for help vs. 2-3 : reproof of his enemies vs. 4-5 : exhortation of his enemies vs. 6-8 : confidence in God It is in the closing section (vs. 6-8) that we come to the heart of this Psalm’s message for us – the peace of God and confidence in God. The Psalm points us to the peace of God so that we might have confidence in God. Before we come to the Psalmist’s confident affirmation of the peace of God, we must first take a look at his struggle to cope with the opposition that comes from those who mock him (v. 2). He is able to cope with this opposition because he has come to rejoice in God as a prayer-answering God (v. 1). v.1 : prayer for help The Psalmist had learned that his own experience of the divine mercy was the strongest support on which he could always rely in times of trouble. On many occasions, the Psalmist had experienced this divine mercy. God had heard his prayer. God had answered his prayer. God had helped him. This was the firm foundation on which he was able to take his stand in the face of fierce opposition. vs. 2-3 : reproof of his enemies v. 2 – From his faith in the divine mercy, the Psalmist derived spiritual authority with which he was able, with clarity ancd conviction, to reprove the doubts and reproaches of his opponents. His directness of speech comes from his realization that when anyone slanders the man of God, they are also slandering God. Note that reproof opens the door for return. He is calling upon them to return to the Lord. By asking the questions, “How long, O men, will you turn my glory into shame? How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?”, he is saying, “Is it not time that you stopped slandering God and started worshipping Him?” v.3 – Here, the Psalmist is giving his testimony. He’s no longer reproving. He’s evangelizing. To his bacslidden friends, he has asked the question, “How long will you ignore God’s grace?” Now, he is saying to them, “God has been gracious to me. Can you not see this? He is my Saviour. He can also be your Saviour.” vs. 4-5 : exhortation of his enemies v. 4 – Here, the Psalmist offers some pastoral advice to his backslidden friends. They have made themselves his enemies. He says to them, “Tremble, and sin not!” (v. 4a). They are to tremble before God. They are to fear God. They are to stand in awe of God. With a wholesome fear of God and a true reverence of God, these men are to turn from sin. God is calling them to repentance. When they are in the quietness of their own beds, they are to think seriously about their relation to God (v. 4b). Why does he specify the night time? He knows that our thoughts are easily distracted when we are out and about among peole. He knows that, when we are on our own in the quietness of the night, we can think more seriously about the things that really matter. These men are being called to get alone with God so that they might examine themselves with true honesty. v. 5 – God is not looking only for outward ceremonies. He’s looking for pure sacrifices, offered in a spirit of faith, humility, sincerity and heartfelt repentance. There’s something more important that the outward sacrifice. It’s the state of the heart before God. The Psalmist is urging his backslidden friends to return to the Lord. He’s calling them to get to know the love of God in their hearts ands lives. vs. 6-8 : confidence in God v. 6 – Many are content with material prosperity. They enjoy the worldly blessings, which they have received from God. They never think of giving thanks to God. The Psalmist prays that the light of God’s countenace may shine upon us. He prays that God may look upon us with a Father’s love. Those who put their trust in prosperity have a form of happiness. It is not, however, true joy. Those who seek happiness in a worldly way of living need to be reminded that true joy is found in God alone. v. 7 - “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold; I’d rather have Jesus than riches untold.” “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” The joy of the Lord is the believer’s most priceless possession. The Psalmist speaks of light, joy and peace. We will only know the joy of the Lord when when the Father’s love shines upon us. We will only know the peace of God when we have the joy of the Lord, lifting our hearts. v. 8 : We have received the Psalmist’s testimony concerning the grace of God in his life. Let’s turn to the Lord with sincerity of heart. Let’s come to Him and enter into the joy of His favour. Let’s receive the gift of His peace into our hearts. God’s peace in our hearts – What a wonderful blessing this is. This blessing can be ours through faith in Christ. May God grant that His peace will be given to each one of us.
More Than A Morning Prayer: Psalm 5
“Morning by morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; morning by morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation” (v. 3). These are the words which have led to Psalm 5 being described as “a morning prayer.” It should, however, be noted that this is the only mention of “morning” in this Psalm. This Psalm is not only for the “morning”! Psalm 5 leads us to the Lord. It gives us a profound understanding of His character, It speaks to us about His holiness. In the first ten verses of this twelve-verse Psalm, we see two contrasting pictures. We see the believer before God. We see the unbeliever before God. We see the faithful. We see the faithless, We see the righteous. We see the wicked. We see ourselve standing in the presence of the holy God. Here’s a summary of the Psalm. * vs. 1-3, vs. 7-8 - a picture of the believer * vs. 4-6, vs. 9-10 – a picture of the unbeliever. * vs. 11-12 – a statement of confident expectancy concerning the rich blessing of God which alone can bring joy to the hearts of God’s people. vs. 1-3, 7-8 Here, we see the believer as a man of prayer. In prayer, we see the believer’s true relationship with God. (a) It is a relationship of dependency. The believer depends on God. He depends on God because he needs God. We see this need for God and dependency on God in the intensity of the Psalmist’s prayer. He unburdens his heart to God. He speaks of his “groaning” (v. 1) and his “cry” (v. 2). This is not the comfortable prayer of a man who hardly cares whether or not his prayer is answered. This is “the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man” (James 5:16). This is the kind of prayer that God hears and answers. This is the kind of prayer that has “great power in its effects” (James 5:16). (b) It is a relationship of submission. It couldn’t be said that the Psalmist’s God was too small. It couldn’t be said that he took God for granted. It couldn’t be said that he brought God down to his own level. Look at how the Psalmist speaks of God – “my King and my God” (v. 2). He worships God. He praises God. He bows down before His God and King. Do we worship God like this? (c) It is a relationship that is personal. The Psalmist is aware that the Lord is God. He knows that the Lord is King. He doesn’t think of God as the unknown God. He doesn’t think of God as a dictatorial and tyrannical king. He speaks of my God and my King. Do we know God like this? (d) It is a relationship marked by regularity. The Psalmist didn’t regard his relationship with God take or leave. He didn’t just come to God when he felt like. He prayed regukarly. Being a man of faith was a full-tine commitment. “Morning by morning”, he came to God in prayer. “Morning by morning”, he waited on the Lord. Dop we seek God like this? (e) It is a relationship of grace. This is the most important thing that we can say about our relationship with God. The Psalmist knew that he had this relationship with God only “through the abundance of God’s steadfast love” (v. 7). Because of this grace, he had learned to fear the Lord. “‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” In John Newton’s hymn, we hear an echo of the words of Psalm 130:4 – “there is forgiveness with Thee that Thou mayest be feared”. The Psalmist seeks to live his life in (i) the assuranc of forgiveness (his fears are relieved); and (ii) the fear of God (with a true humility of heart and reverence towards God). Do we know the true fear of God which relieves false fears? vs. 4-6, 9-10 Here, we see the unbeliever. More than that, we see the God of perfect holiness, and we learn that He is also the God of perfect love. God is holy. He is opposed to all that is evil. God is the Holy One. He is the enemy of all wickedness. We are not only concerned with the unbeliever. We learn about God’s verdict concerning sin. The words of verse 9 – “Not a word from their mouth can be trusted; their heart is filled with destruction. Their throat is an open grave; with their tongue they speak deceit” – are quoted by Paul in Romans 3. These words are applied to every one of us. Concerning all of us, God’s verdict is “guilty.” We dare not allow ourselves to be swept along by the worldly attitude, which doesn’t take seriously. We must learn to see our sin in the light of God’s holiness. At the Cross of Christ, we see the anger of God in the service of the love of God. We look at Christ, crucified for us, and we learn that “God is not willing that any should perish. He wills that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We learn of God’s judgment upon sin and His love for sinners. God speaks to us about the seriousness of our sin. Why does He do this? Does He want to drive us to despair? No! He wants us to see the seriousness of our sin so that we will turn from our sin to Him. He wants us to see how much He loves us. He calls us to “turn our eyes upon Jesus.” He wants us to look at Jesus Christ, crucified for us. He wants us to see that His love is the greatest love of all. He wants us to begin a new life with Christ at the centre. He wants us to turn from all earthbound thinking and living. He wants us to pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” vs.11-12 “But let all who take refuge in Thee rejoice. Let them ever sing for joy.” We turn from our sin. We turn to God. In Him, we find true joy, true love and true blessing. What the world cannot give to us, we find in Christ. We come to Him in our emptiness. He fills us with His fullness. Christ is our great Saviour. The Name of Jesus is the Name that is above every name. In Him, we have received “every spiritual blessing” (Ephesians 1:3). His love is the greatest love of all. He fills our hearts with true and lasting joy. In Psalm 5, we have a more than a morning prayer which we offer to God. We catch a glimpse of something that is far wonderful than that. We catch a glimpse of the eternal salvation which God has provided for us, through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of sinners.
The Good News of salvation (Psalm 6)
(1) The Psalmist’s need of salvation. He comes to God in his need – “My soul is in anguish” (v. 3); “I am worn out from groaning” (v. 6); “My eyes grow weak with sorrow” (v.7). He looks to the future, and all that he sees is “the grave” (v. 5). (2) The Psalmist’s prayer for salvation. He looks to the Lord for salvation – “Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (v. 4). He prays that God will not come under the judgment of God – O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath” (v. 1) He prays that God will have “mercy” on him – “Be merciful to me, Lord” (v.2) He trusts in God’s “unfaliling love – “Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love” (v. 4). (3) Repentance and Faith In the Psalmist’s prayer, there is repentance - “Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping” (v. 8) – and faith – “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer” (v. 9). (4) Assurance of Salvation Coming to the Lord in repentance and faith, the Psalmist receives assurance of salvation – “the Lord accepts my prayer” (v. 9). (5) A Word of Warning and a Call to Repentance “All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace” (v. 10). What are we to say about this final verse? Is the Psalmist gloating over his enemies? I believe that he’s saying something much more positive than that. He’s warning them, “This is what will happen if you refuse to repent.” He’s calling them to return to the Lord. The future need not be filled with shame, dismay and disgrace. Like him, their hearts can be turned back to the Lord. Their lives can be turned around for God. They need not remain God’s “enemies” for ever – “when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10). We have been saved by the Lord. Let’s keep on proclaiming the Good News of Christ – “it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). Even the “enemies” of Christ can be saved by grace – “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). —— We have come to God as sinners. He has heard and answered our prayer for salvation. Let us pray for others that they will bring their sin to the Saviour and will receive His salvation. When we pray for others, let us be bold in our prayers. The Good News of grace reaches beyond those whom the world may describe as ” a righteous man” “a good man” (Romans 5:7). We look at the Cross of Christ, and we remember this: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6) – This is the Gospel of our salvation. As we rejoice in God’s salvation, let us make this our earnest prayer: “O that the world might taste and see the riches of His grace! The arms of love that compass me would all mankind embrace.” Having received God’s salvation, let us commit ourselves to sharing the Good News of His love: “’tis all my business here below to cry: ‘Behold the Lamb.’”
Personal Salvation (Psalm 7)
The Psalmist was being pursued by enemies who were intent on his full and final destruction. He puts his trust in the Lord. He looks to the Lord for salvation – “O Lord my God, I take refuge in You; save and deliver me from all who pursue me, or they will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me” (vs. 1-2). Following his opening words, we read about human sin – “O Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands – if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me or without cause have robbed my foe -then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust” (vs. 3-5) – and divine judgment – “Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice. Let the assembled peoples gather around You. Rule over them from on high; let the Lord judge the peoples. Judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, according to my integrity, O Most High. O righteous God, who searches minds and hearts, bring to an end the violence of the wicked” (vs. 6-9a). In thinking about what God is saying to us through this Psalm, we do not not limit ourselves to looking at David and his pursuers. We look at human sin and divine judgment. This is the bad news concerning ourselves. We look also at personal salvation. This is the Good News concerning our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Human Sin * “O Lord my God, if I have done this and there is guilt on my hands – if I have done evil to him who is at peace with me” (vs. 3-4). Looking beyond the immediate situation of David and his pursuers, we ask, “What are these words saying to us?” Here, we must be honest with ourselves, and we must be honest with God. There is no “if” about it! We are sinners. we are guilty. * “Let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let him trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust” (v.5). We do not look only at David and his pursuers. We look into our own hearts. We have a pursuer. His name is Satan. He is the devil. He is our “accuser” – he “accuses us before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10). When we are honest with ourselves, and honest with God, we must confess that Satan has every right to accuse us. “Every one of us has sinned and fallen short of God’s glory” (Romans 3:23). Satan has won the victory over every one of us. This is the bad news concerning every single one us – without any exceptions. Divine Judgment The bad news continues. Sin brings judgment. We cannot escape God’s judgment. We must confess our sins. We are “the wicked” (v. 9). “God is the righteous Judge.” God’s wrath “rests upon us (v. 11). We hear the bad news about human sin and divine judgment. We wonder, “Can ‘the wicked’ become ‘the righteous’?” (v.9). Is there a way in which guilty sinners can escape the righteous judgment of God? Is there a way in which we can be victorious over our pursuer? Personal Salvation We come to God with our questions. We ask about salvation – “Can my sin be forgiven?” We ask about victory – “Can I triumph over Satan?” God gives to us His answer. Yes! There is a way of salvation. Yes! There is a way of victory. Here, in this Psalm, we have God’s answer to two very important questions - “What must I do to be saved?“ - “What must I do to be lost?“ * In verses 9-10, we learn that it is the “righteous God” who “makes the righteous secure” – “My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.” What must I do to be saved?” – “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31); “God is righteous and He declares righteous those who have faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:26). Trusting in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3), we receive the forgiveness of our sins – “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin” (1 John 1:7). We also enter into Christ’s victory over Satan – “They overcame Satan by the blood of the Lamb … ” (Revelation 12:11). Personal salvation is not about ourselves. It’s about our Saviour. We don’t save ourselves. Jesus saves us. 
In verses 11-16, we have God’s answer to the very important question – “What must I do to be lost?” “God is a righteous judge, a God who expresses His wrath every day. If He does not relent, He will sharpen His sword; He will bend and string His bow. He has prepared His deadly weapons; He makes ready His flaming arrows. He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment. He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head.” We don’t enjoy reading this kind of thing. It doesn’t make us feel good about ourselves. It makes us realize that we have no right to feel good about ourselves. Before we can begin to appreciate the Good News of our Saviour’s love for us, we must give up on trying to feel good about ourselves and start listening to the honest truth about ourselves. What must I do to be lost? Do nothing. Just keep on trying to feel good about yourself. Just keep on turning a deaf ear to what God is saying to you about your sin. Just keep on refusing to take seriously God’s call to repentance. Just keep on living the way you have been living. God speaks to us with many warnings. He speaks of His righteous judgment. God speaks to us of His undeserved love. He calls us to return to Him. What happens when we keep on refusing to listen to what God is saying to us? We dig a hole for ourselves – ” He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made” (v. 15). We bring judgment upon ourselves – “The trouble he causes recoils on himself; his violence comes down on his own head” (v. 16). The way of sin is a hopeless way – “He who is pregnant with evil and conceives trouble gives birth to disillusionment” (v. 14).
Is there a better way? Is there a way of salvation? Is there a way of victory? Jesus is the Way. He is the true and living Way (John 14:6). Thank God that this Psalm doesn’t end with the dark words of verse 16 – “his violence comes down on his own head.” Beyond the bad news concerning human sin and divine judgment, there is the Good News concerning personal salvation – “I will give thanks to the Lord because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” (v. 17). The Psalmist moves from the inevitability of divine judgment (v. 16) to the assurance of personal salvation (v. 17). This is the work of divine grace. What are we to say about this? Is there a smooth passage way from divine judgment to personal salvation? No! Between divine judgment and personal salvation, there is the Cross of Jesus Christ. This is costly grace – Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. It is also free grace. We come in the emptiness of our sin and we receive the fullness of God’s salvation. At the Cross of Christ, we see both the judgment of God upon sin and the love of God for sinners. From the Cross of Christ, we hear the call to turn from sin and receive salvation. We look at ourselves. We see human sin. We look at the outcome of our sin. We see divine judgment. We look at the Cross of Christ – “We see Jesus … He suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). This is love. This is the greatest love of all. This is divine love. It’s sacrificial love. It’s victorious love. It’s eternal love. “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is God’s answer to human sin. We look at our sin and our hearts are sad. We look at our Saviour and He makes us glad. How does our Saviour turn bring us our sadness and into His gladness? Is it an easy passage way – from sadness to gladness? No! For Jesus, it meant going to the Cross. It meant going to the place where He cried out, in deep spiritual agony, “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). When we hear the words, “God so loved the world … “, let us never forget what it meant for our Saviour who “loved us and gave Himself for us” (Galatians 2:20) – “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When we consider our personal salvation, let us never forget our Saviour’s costly sacrifice, and let us say, from our hearts, “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”

The Glory of the Lord in His Creation (Psalm 8)

This Psalm is a hymn of praise. It proclaims the glory of the Lord in His creation. The focus is not so much on the glories of nature. The great theme is the glory of Him who created nature. The Psalm begins and ends with the praise of God – “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (v. 1); “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (v. 9). The whole Psalm is filled with the fear of God and joy in God. The words of verse 2 – “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” – are quoted in the story of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem – “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, ” ‘From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise’?” (Matthew 21:16). The reference to “children and infants” refers also to those who are withouit spiritual learning since they have not received spiritual instruction. How are we to receive real spiritual understanding? Each of us must become a babe in Christ by being humble before God, our Creator and Redeemer. The way of humility is the way in which we come to a proper understanding of God and ourselves – “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (vs. 3-4). In verse 3, the emphasis is upon God rather than nature. This leads us on, in verse 4, to the question, “What is man?” This question is grounded in the question, “Who is God?” – ” Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19). How are we to come to a right understanding of ourselves? We must not come to God as know-it- alls. We are to come to Him as worshippers. We learn, from this Psalm, that God’s revelation and our self-understanding are intimately related. The revelation of God enlightens our self-understanding. A true understanding of ourselves cannot be achieved if God is disregarded. By faith, we see ourselves from God’s perspective. He is our Creator. We are His creatures. We learn, from this Psalm, that God is midful of us. He cares for us. He is gracious towards us. He loves us. How are we to respond to God, our Creator? – We come, with awe, before His majesty. We come, with joy, because of His love. From verses 5-8, we learn that human dignity is a gift of God. This isn’t a song of praise to man. It’s a song of praise to God – “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). May God help us to worship Him with both awe and joy. As we rejoice in the Lord, let us not forget that He is the awesome God. As we bow before His majesty, let us not forget His love. Remembering how much He loves us, our hearts will be filled with true and lasting joy.

A Harvest Sermon (Psalm 8)
There is a physical harvest. There is a spiritual harvest. Can we expect a spiritual harvest in this generation? Or Must we give up hope and turn our backs to the wall? Ours is a time when nothing can be taken for granted. Many people are entirely dismissive of the whole idea that there is a God to whom we ought to offer our praise and thanksgiving. If ever there was a time for Christians to stand up and be counted as those who belong to Christ, this is it. If Christians remain silent, if Christians are ashamed of their Lord and Saviour, there will be a harvest, but it won’t be a godly harvest. It will be a harvest of unrighteousness. What is happening in our time? – It’s the same thing that’s happened so many times before. It’s the same old story, a story which can be read in the pages of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. There is a great turning away from the truth. People only listen to what they want to hear. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Can this situation be turned around? It will not be easy, but we must not be discouraged. Our God is the living God. He is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in His love for us. He is mindful of us. We matter to Him. He is the God who forgives sin. He is the God who delights to show mercy. He is the God who longs to reveal His compassion to a generation that needs Him so much, but doesn’t know it. To understand the character of God, we need to go back to Genesis 1. God is our Creator. He created us because He loves us. To understand the state of the world today, we need to go back to Genesis 3. There, the choice is made – my will rather than God’s will, “I did it my way” rather than “Let go and let God have His wonderful way.” This what produces a harvest of unrighteousness. Reversing this trend will not be easy, but we must not lose hope. We must learn to say, with the Psalmist, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy Name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1, 9). Unless God’s people are deeply committed to praising Him, we cannot even begin to hope for a real spiritual harvest in this generation. Our attitude towards God should be a combination of two qualities which are often set against each other. They are fear and joy. There is to be the fear of the Lord. There is to be the joy of the Lord. We must never forget that God is our Creator, and we are His creatures. We must never forget that He is holy, and we have fallen far short of His holiness. We are “less than God” (Psalm 8:5). We must never forget this. We dare not take things into our own hands and try to “play God.” There needs to be the fear of the Lord. Without this, there will never be a harvest of righteousness.We must never forget that God loves us. He is the God of love, grace and mercy. The Psalmist tells us that this God, the God of love, grace and mercy, “crowns us with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:5). We must learn to rejoice in the Lord our God, the God of our salvation. There will only be a harvest of salvation where God’s people are learning to rejoice in Him and give thanks for His salvation. The Psalmist speaks about nature – the “heavens … the moon and the stars” (Psalm 8:3). He speaks also about dominion – “God has put all things under our feet.” In our generation, understanding of nature has increased enormously. Read scientific books. They are so much more sophisticated than books which were written even one generation ago. Our power to control our world has never been greater. We can do so much more than was even thought possible a generation ago. What has been going on in recent years? Some would say, “Progress, progress, progress, almost unlimited progress.” We must, however, be awkward and ask, “Is this the whole story? Has it been nothing but progress?” The honest answer must be, “Yes. There has been progress, but all is not well.” The world has become a very man-centred place. Many people have forgotten God. He has been left behind. So many have no time for Him. What must we do to stop our society going down the drain? What must we do to stop our society going to the dogs? We must give to God the place of highest honour. The world has its idea of what it means to be wise. The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). If we are to use the fruits of our physical harvest, the results of our scientific and technological progress, in a way that leads to a truly spiritual harvest, we must not forget God. We forget God at our peril. We lose sight of God, and we lose sight of all that is really important in life. We lose sight of God, and we lose sight of all that is truly wholesome. Putting God at the centre of our life – personal life, life in the family, life in the Church, life in society – , this is the way to a spiritual harvest which brings glory and praise to God. If, in today’s world, we are to enjoy a spiritual harvest which will be both satisfying to ourselves and glorifying to God, there are two things we must do. We must confess our sins. We must trust Christ for salvation. We look at our human situation – personally, locally, nationally and internationally – , and we say, “Apart from God, our situation is hopeless. Without Him, it will be nothing else but the downward slope.” We look then to the Cross of Christ, and we see that there is hope. If the Cross of Christ teaches us anything, it teaches us this, “No situation is too hopeless for the grace of God. However hopeless our situation may seem, it can be changed by the power and love of God.” There can still be a spiritual harvest, even in our difficult and distressing times, but it will not come unless we put Christ at the centre of our lives.

Praise God for His Deliverance (Psalm 9).
 * The Psalmist worships the Lord (Psalm 9:1-2).
 * He does not speak proud words. He sees all things in the light of the holy God (Psalm 9:3-8).
 * At the heart of this Psalm, there is a declaration of the character of God (Psalm 9:7-8).
 * The majesty, righteousness and judgment of God - Have we lost these important aspects of God's character? Have we turned God into a sentimentalized 'god' of our own making? Let's not take God for granted. Let God be God. This is very different from insisting that God must be what we think He should be.
 * We read about God's trustworthiness (Psalm 9:9-10). 
 * We praise God. We make it known that He is to be praised (Psalm 9:11-12). 
 * In our worship, we speak of God's judgment as well as His salvation. (Psalm 9:12). 
 * In our worship, we look to the Lord for mercy and, with joy, we praise Him for His salvation (Psalm 9:13-14). 
 * As well as emphasizing that God is trustworthy, we must also emphasize that He is not to be taken for granted by proud unbelief (Psalm 9:15-16).
 * We must take seriously the radical contrast between the "wicked" and the "needy" (Psalm 9:17-18). Who are the "needy"? - Here, God's Word is speaking to us of the godly who recognize their spiritual need of the Lord's saving grace. By contrasting the "wicked" and the "needy", God is calling us to come to Him, in our need, and receive, from Him, his salvation.
 * There are two prayers which we must pray. - We must ask that God will make it known that He is Lord (Psalm 9:19).  We must ask that we will recognize that we are "but men" (Psalm 9:20).  When we recognize that God is God and we are but men, we are ready to be led to the Cross where we learn of both God's hatred of sin and God's love for the sinner. Thus, we come to the point where we are able to share, with the Psalmist, in worshipping the Lord (Psalm 9:1-2). We worship God as those who have come to trust in Him as the God of our salvation (Psalm 9:9-10).
 * Trusting in the Lord, the God of our salvation, our worship is heartfelt worship (Psalm 9:1). Trusting in the Lord, the God of our salvation, our worship is joyful worship (Psalm 9:2).

It's either one or the other - turning towards God or turning away from Him (Psalm 10).

"Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?" (1). This question can be turned around. God puts the question to us, “Why, in your times of trouble, do you stand far off?” In this Psalm, God is inviting us to think about the kind of people we are becoming. Are we turning away from God? Or Are we turning towards Him? It’s either one or the other – turning towards God or turning away from Him. * We read about “the wicked man” who “hunts down the weak” (v. 2). He thinks only of himself – “He boasts of the cravings of his heart.” There is no place for the Lord in his life – “he reviles the Lord. In his pride the wicked does not seek Him: in all his thoughts there is no room for God”(vs. 3-4). Things are going well for him – “His ways are always prosperous.” He doesn’t give thanks to God – “he is haughty and Your laws are far from him.” He thinks that everything will keep on going his way – “He says to himself, ‘Nothing will shake me; I’ll always be happy and never have trouble.’” (vs. 5-6). The wicked man shows contempt towards other people – “he sneers at all his enemies” (v. 5) – “His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue. He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent, watching in secret for his victims. He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless; he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net. His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength” (vs. 7-10). The wicked man thinks that he can do what he likes – “He says to himself, ‘God has forgotten; he covers his face and never sees.’” (v. 11). Are we becoming like the wicked man? God is calling us to turn back to Him. * “Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless” (v.12). God is calling us to return to Him. He’s calling us to turn away from the way of the wicked. He’s calling us to walk with Him. When we pray, “Do not forget the helpless”, we begin by praying, “Lord, remember me, I need Your help.” We read about “the wicked” (vs. 13, 15). We read about “the victim” (v. 14). What is God saying to us? He’s saying to us, “Don’t be like the wicked man who reviles God. Don’t be like the wicked man who says to himself, “He won’t call me to account” (v. 13). He’s saying to us, “Be like the victim – ‘The victim commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless’ (v. 14).” He’s saying to us, “There will be judgment – ‘the wicked and evil man will be called to account for his wickedness’ (v. 15).” He’s calling us back from the way that leads to judgment. He’s calling us to acknowledge that He “is King for ever and ever” (v. 16). He’s calling us to come to Him with “the desire of the afflicted” (v. 17). He’s speaking to us His Word of encouragement, assuring that we need not live in fear of man (vs. 17-18). Saved by the Lord, let us walk with Him in the pathway of victory.

God's Way of Salvation (Psalm 11)

This Psalm begins with a tremendous statement of faith - “In the Lord I take refuge.” The whole Psalm should be understood in the light of this tremendous statement of faith. * From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist is able to overcome the temptation to doubt God (vs. 1-3). - His enemies say to him, “”Flee like a bird to your mountain.” The Psalmist replies, “In the Lord I take refuge.” - The “wicked” are out to get him. The Psalmist looks at them, and says, “In the Lord do I take refuge.” - It seems that “the foundations are being destroyed.” The Psalmist looks to the Lord, and says, “In the Lord I take refuge.” * From the vantage-point of faith, the Psalmist views the whole of life in the light of God. 4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them. 5 The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates. 6 On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur; a scorching wind will be their lot. 7 For the LORD is righteous, he loves justice; upright men will see his face. —– “In the Lord I take refuge.” There is only one refuge. The Lord is our refuge. He is our salvation. There is only one place of safety – “in Christ.“ — Ephesians 1:3-14 Spiritual Blessings in Christ 3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ. 11In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. — “It is by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). By grace, we are in Christ. Through faith, we are in Christ. * “He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock” – This is grace. * “Rock opf ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee” – This is faith. Grace and faith belong together. - We are not saved by grace apart from faith. - We are saved by grace through faith. The grace of God reaches us as we receive Jesus Christ in faith. - We are not saved by faith apart from grace. - We are saved by grace through faith. Faith has no meaning in itself. Faith finds its meaning only in relation to the grace of God. Faith is God’s way for us to come to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ. “By grace you have been saved through faith” – This is the Christian’s unshakeable foundation. With this unshakeable foundation, the Christian can face the attacks of the enemy with confidence. — 1 … How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain. 2 For look, the wicked bend their bows; they set their arrows against the strings to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart. 3 When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do ?” The devil is at work. He seeks to sow seeds of doubt into the heart of God’s people. He suggests to us that God’s gracious foundation for our faith can be destroyed. This is nothing new. It’s as old as Genesis 3:1 – “Did God say … ?“ The devil says to us, “Has God really forgiven your sins?” He says, “Has God really saved you?” The devil wants to get us on the run. He wants us to run away from him. We must not let him get the upper hand. We are to resist him in the strength of Christ’s victory over him. When we “resist the devil” in the strength of Christ’s victory, “he will flee from us” (James 4:7). To believe the devil is to believe the lie. The truth is that, when take our stand in Christ, the devil has no alternative but to ruin from us. Christ’s victory over the devil becomes our victory over Christ has won the victory over the devil. Through faith in Christ, His victory becomes our our victory over the devil. Here are three important lessons concerning this victory. * Through His death on the Cross, Christ has won the victory over the devil. He has won this victory for us. Hebrews 2:14-15 14Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. * On the basis of the victory that Christ has won for us, we can stand our ground against the devil. Isaiah 28:16 16 So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed. * When we take our stand in Christ, the devil can do nothing else but flee from us. He is strong when we try to stand against him in our own strength. When, however we remind him of Christ’s victory over him, he can do nothing but bow before Christ’s superior power. Rejoicing in the victory that Christ has won for us, let’s remind the devil that he’s a defeated enemy. James 4:7 “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” — Our faith is built on a secure foundation. How do we know this? – “The LORD is on His heavenly throne” (v. 4). Knowing that the Lord is King, we are assured that God’s way of salvation is the one way of salvation. Salvation is by grace through faith. This salvation is centred on Jesus Christ. It is in Jesus Christ that we find the grace of God. It is Jesus Christ in whom we put our trust. Jesus Christ is God’s way of salvation. Through Jesus Christ, we have received salvation. There is no other way of salvation. God’s Kingship is revealed in His way of salvation. There is only way of salvation. It is God’s way of salvation. By grace through faith – This is God’s way of salvation. When we refuse to accept God’s way of salvation, we refuse to acknowledge His Kingship. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). We dare not attempt to dispute this point with God. Who are we to argue with God? We may attempt to save ourselves. We will not succeed. When we attempt to save ourselves, God looks upon us and He sees our sin. In ourselves, we are not “the righteous.” We may think that we are “righteous.” In God’s eyes, we are “the wicked.” This is the truth concerning every one of us: “There is no one righteous, not even one … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). There is only one way in which “the wicked” can become “the righteous.” We must come to the God of perfect holiness through faith in Jesus Christ. We must remember that “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). This is God’s way of salvation. We don’t tell God that He has to save us because we think that we have earned the right to be saved. He tells us that we are sinners. He tells us that we need to be saved. He tells us that “Jesus Christ is able to save to the uttermost completely those who come to God through him” (Hebrews 7:25). We have the great promise of the Gospel. In Christ, there is full salvation for all who come to God through Him. Alongside this great promise, there is also the warning of the Gospel. We read the solemn words of verse 6 – “On the wicked he will rain fire and brimstone; a scorching wind will be their lot” “Fire and brimstone” – What are we to say about this? We must note that the Psalm doesn’t end with “fire and brimstone.” It ends with the words: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7). God doesn’t want to leave us where He finds us. He doesn’t want to leave us trembling in fear of “fire and brimstone.” He speaks to us of these things so that we might see our need of the Saviour. He speaks to us of these things so that we might”flee from the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7). He speaks to us of these things so that we might find our way to the Cross of Christ. He speaks to us of these things so that we might learn to confess our sins and receive God’s forgiveness: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Unbelievers have ridiculed “fire and brimstone” preaching. We cannot, however, allow their scornful attitude to lead us to dismiss “fire and brimstone” preaching. We dare not say that such preaching belongs to the past. * We must note that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone.” * We must ask, “How does the Bible preach “fire and brimstone”?” - The fact that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” means that this emphasis on divine judgment must not be excluded from our preaching in today’s world. - The way that the Bible preaches “fire and brimstone” teaches us that we must always preach with a view to leading men and women to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour. * Jesus Christ is the only way out of judgment. * Jesus Christ is the only way into salvation. We hear the Gospel. We hear its promise. We hear its warning. The Gospel places us at a cross-roads. Each of us must decide. We must come to Christ. We must trust Him as our Saviour. We must come to Him, believing that He died on the Cross for us. We must come to Him and receive His free gift of the forgiveness of our sins. It is only through faith in Him that we will come to know, for ourselves, the truth of the final words of this Psalm: “upright men will see His face” (v. 7).

"The words of the Lord are pure words" (Psalm 12).

Reading the words of the Psalmist, “The words of the Lord are pure words” (Psalm 12:6), brought to mind the words of the Apostle Paul – “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). God’s Word is pure. God’s Word is trustworthy. Take these two thoughts together. We think of the perfection of God’s Word. Let’s also give thanks for His perfect love. There is no love like the love of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. He loves us with the greatest love of all. There can be nothing more perfect than this – the love of Jesus. Where do we learn of His love? We learn of His love as we read God’s Word – “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”, I am so glad that my Father in heaven tells of His love in the Book He has given. Wonderful things in the Bible I see. This is the greatest that Jesus loves me.” In reading the words of Paul, I note that he describes himself as “the worst.” What a wonderful contrast there is between what Paul was before he was saved by the Lord Jesus and what he became after the Lord had saved him. What a great testimony Paul had – “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:12-14). In responding to the wonderful grace which reached him through Christ, Paul echoes the Psalmist’s emphasis on the purity of the holy God who speaks to us through His holy Word – “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Timothy 1:16-17). As we receive mercy from the Lord, we rejoice in His trustworthiness. Deeply conscious of our sin, which He so graciously forgives, we become deeply conscious of His holiness, and we bow before Him in worship. The greatness of His holiness and the greatness of His mercy – the two belong together. They remind us that we, who have been saved by grace, are called to holiness. In our journey along “the High Way of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8), we have the Word of God as our pure and trustworthy guide.

"How Long, O Lord?"(Psalm 13)

The ‘how long’ questions are questions asked by a man who feels that God is far away. These questions must, however, be reversed, if we are to move beyond these feelings into the reality of knowing God. God says, ‘How long?’ The Lord is saying to us, “It doesn’t matter how long. Now is the time for a new beginning.” v.1a: “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever?” – Now is the time for forgetting the Lord no longer: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead” (2 Timothy 2:8). v. 1b: ” How long will You hide Your face from me?” – Now is the time for hiding from the Lord no longer: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). These blessings are hidden from those who, in proud arrogance, refuse to come to the Lord – “You have hidden these things from the wise and learned” (Matthew 11:25). They are “revealed” to those who “come” to the Lord with the sincerity and humility of ‘little children” (Matthew 11:25, 28). v. 2a: “How long must I wrestle with my thoughts … ? ” – Now is the time for wrestling with the Lord no longer: “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be … ‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ’since I am a virgin?’ … ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said.’” (Luke 1:29, 34, 38). v. 2b: “How long must I … every day have sorrow in my heart?“- Now is the time for sorrowing no longer: “I am the Resurrection and the Life” (John 10:25-27). Christ points us to the future. v. 2c: “How long will my enemy triumph over me?” – Now is the time for being defeated no longer: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death … Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (Hebrews 2:14-15, 18). Now is the time for believing God’s promises. Now is the time for receiving His blessings. Now is the time for coming to the Saviour. vs. 3-4: “Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.” Without God, we are overcome. vs. 5-6: “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.” With God, there is trusting, rejoicing and singing – trusting in His unfailing love, rejoicing in His salvation, singing of His goodness. From verse 1 to verse 6, the Psalmist’s mood has changed dramatically. He wishes to lead us on this movement from life without God to life with God. God has come near to us in Christ. He is Emmanuel – God with us. God invites us to come near to Him. We come to Him through Christ. Through Him, we have this great testimony: “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God' (Psalm 14:1).
There are some people who say, “There is no God.” Do we become wise the moment we say, “There is a God?” Let’s think about what we mean when we say, “There is a God.” We need to learn to move beyond the foolishness which says, “There is a God” without really listening to what God has to say to us. We need to learn to listen to God if we are to be led out of the way of foolishness and into the way of wisdom.
There are many people who do not dismiss the idea of God, but they rarely turn to the Word of God to learn more about Him. They like to draw some comfort from the words, “He’s got the whole world in His hands”, but they feel very uncomfortable when they’re reminded that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). When they’re asked if they believe in God, they tell us that “there must be something, somewhere.” When they’re asked what they believe about God, they have nothing else to tell us about Him. Their ‘god’ is not the God of salvation. Their ‘god’ is “an unknown god” (Acts 17:23).
There are also some people who have much to say about “God.” When, however, we look closely at what they say about God, we find that their ‘god’ is very different from the God of the Bible. They use the word “God”, but they do not listen to what God’s Word has to say to them.
Some people hold on to the idea that “there is a God” but they refuse to let God get too close to them. They like the idea of God. It makes sense of their life. There is, however, something about God that they don’t like. They don’t like the idea that God might have something to say to them about the way they live their life. They don’t say , “There is no God”, but there is very little about their way of life which suggests that they really believe that “there is a God.”
Concerning such people, God’s Word says this: “God is not in all their thoughts” (Psalm 10:4). We could express this in another way: “God is in very few of their thoughts.” When thoughts of “God” do come into their minds, they are rarely thoughts which bring glory to God. When our minds are not being fed with the truth of God’s Word, we are wide open to thoughts of God which do not bring glory to Him. Such thoughts do not come from God’s holy Word. They come from “the god of this world” who “blinds the minds of the unbelieving” so “that they might not see the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
What are we to say about those who say that “there is a God”, yet refuse to take seriously what He says to them through His Word? They may not actually say, “There is no God”, but their whole way of living is self-centred rather than God-centred. At the heart of their life, there is “a God-shaped blank.”
The real God is more than just an idea which makes sense of our life. He is not only the God who loves us. He is also the God who changes us. Many people like the idea that God is love, but they don’t like the idea that God calls for a change in their way of living.
We read the words, “The fool has said in his heart to say, ‘There is no God.’” Let’s not be too quick to say, “We are wise. We believe in God.” True wisdom doesn’t stop with saying, “There is a God.” True wisdom knows that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:17).
If we are to be really different from those who say that “there is no God”, we must commit ourselves to both listening to the Word of God and doing the Word of God (James 1:22).
When the Psalmist speaks of unbelief – “There is no God”, he speaks also of sin – “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). We say, “There is no God” when we do not “seek God” (Psalm 14:2). We do not seek God when we do not take time to listen to what He is saying to us through His Word.
We must note what God is saying to us in the first three verses of this Psalm 14 – “all have turned aside … there is no one who does good, not even one.” We are all sinners – every single one of us! None of us can look down on others and say, “We’re not like them” – “you are without excuse, every man of you, who passed judgment, for in that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things” (Romans 2:1). To every single one of us, the Word of God says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12, 23).
 * Is there any hope for any of us? There is no way of salvation that begins with “I” – “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law” (Romans 3:20). From the human point of view, our situation is hopeless.
 * Is there a way of salvation which comes to us from God? The final words of this Psalm are words of hope: “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” (Psalm 14:7). These words teach us that salvation comes from God – “When the Lord restores … ” They teach us that His salvation comes to those who come to Him with a deep longing to be saved by Him – “Oh, that salvation … would come … “ The human situation can be changed. Jesus Christ changes everything. He changes people.
Don’t be like the fool who tries to run away from God.
 - This can be done by saying, “There is no God.”
 - It can also be done by trying to keep God at a distance, “If there is a God, I’m not going to let Him tell me how I should live my life.”
Stop running away from God, and start running to the Lord Jesus Christ. Run to Him before it’s too late. Make sure that you can say, “I know whom I have believed” (2 Timothy 1:12). Jesus Christ is the True and Living Way to God the Father (John 14:6).
When you come to God the Father through His Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ,you will move beyond an empty faith which doesn’t make much real difference to your life. You will move into a living knowledge of Christ, who makes you “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Your faith will be more than, “There is a God.” It will be “Christ lives in me. For me, to live is Christ” (Galatians 2:20; Philippians 1:21).

How are we to approach the Lord's Table (Part One)? - "Lord... who may live on your holy hill?... " (Psalm 15:1-2).

"Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless" (Psalm 15:1-2).
These are words which could - and should - leave us utterly despondent. There's no way we can live a blameless life. There's no hope for us.
There is, however, the hope which comes to us when  we look away from ourselves to our Saviour, Jesus Christ. We are invited to the Lord's Table. He welcomes us to His Table. 
 - This is not about what we do for Christ. It's about what He has done for us.
 - This is not about being rewarded for our righteousness. It's about receiving Christ's salvation.
 * We approach the Lord's Supper on the basis of the love of Christ for sinners.
 * We approach the Lord's Supper with faith in Christ, the Saviour of sinners.
Our faith is always a reponse to His love. It is His love that creates our faith. We hear the Word of the Lord. It is the Good News of God's love. We come to the Lord's Table. We eat bread. We drink wine. The Spirit of the Lord is among the people of God. He is working in our hearts. He is leading us to the Saviour. We are drawn to the Saviour. We are drawn by His love for us. His love is greater than all our sin. His love reaches us. We receive His forgiveness. His love changes us. In Him, we become a new creation.

How are we to approach the Lord's Table (Part Two)? - "Lord, you have assigned me ... my cup ... I will praise the Lord, who counsels me ... " (Psalm 16:5,7).

Our Lord Jesus Christ drank from the cup of our condemnation. We drink from the cup of His salvation. We drink His wine. We eat His bread. We hear His Word. As well as eating and drinking, there is to be listening. Jesus is the centre of our attention. We feed on Him by faith. We receive His Word with faith. God's Word is spoken to us. The bread is given to us. The wine is given to us. We use words to speak of Jesus. The bread and the wine are visual aids. They help us to understand what Jesus has done for us. The Word points to Him. The bread and the wine point to Him. We look beyond our preaching of the Word. We look beyond our celebration of the Lord's Supper. We see Jesus. We look to Him. He is our Saviour. He is God's greatest gift. He is far greater than our preaching about Him. Our time at the Lord's Table can give us only a glimpse of His greatness. How great is our Saviour - "I thank God for His gift that words cannot describe" (2 Corinthians 9:15)!  
 * Hearing the Word of the Lord, we give thanks to Him - "You have made known to me the path of life."
 * Receiving the salvation of the Lord, we rejoice in Him - "You will fill me with joy in Your presence."
 * Looking forward to the glory of the Lord, we put our hope in Him - You will give me "eternal pleasures at Your right hand" (Psalm 16:11).

Worship (Part One) - Psalm 17

1) Worship with sincerity (Psalm 17:1-5).
2) Worship the Saviour (Psalm 17:6-9).
3) Worship despite setbacks (Psalm 17:10-14).
4) Worship with satisfaction (Psalm 17:15).
1) Worship with sincerity (Psalm 17:1-5).
God calls us to be sincere. Without sincerity, we can never offer true worship to the Lord. We are not, however, at liberty to decide for ourselves what "sincerity" means. Sincerity isn't everything. You can be sincere - and wrong. God is looking for more than sincerity. We need truth as well as sincerity.  Our worship is to be grounded in God's Word. We are to build upon truth with sincerity. Our faith is to be grounded in the "Scriptures" (2 Timothy 3:14-15). Our faith is to be "a sincere faith" (2 Timothy 1:15). This sincerity is to be grounded in the Scriptures. We come to the Scriptures, ready to hear what the Lord has to say to us. We come to the Scriptures, ready to be changed by what the Lord has to say to us (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
2) Worship the Saviour (Psalm 17:6-9).
Our faith is to be centred on the Saviour. A faith which is centred on "my sincerity" is very different from a faith that is centred on "my Saviour." True worship Him is more about Him than it is about me. We can make our faith up as we go along - and still say, "This is what sincerely believe." Our sincerity doesn't amount to very much if we find ourselves being "tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14). What will it mean to have a faith that is centred on the Saviour? It will mean this. Our faith is grounded in "the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).  We do not come to the Scriptures with our minds already made up about Jesus. A "faith" that is centred upon Jesus, the teacher and example, needs to be challenged. Does your "faith" come from your own sincerity? We can make a "god" of our own sincerity. Even God is not permitted to shake our confidence in our own sincerity. What kind of worship can we offer to the Lord our God if our "faith" is full of the self-righteousness, which makes much of Jesus, the teacher and example, while refusing to trust Him as Saviour? The answer is simple and straightforward. There is a form of "worship", which says more about ourselves than it says about our Saviour. True worship does not begin and end with a commitment to following Jesus' teaching and example. True worship begins with being saved by our Lord Jesus Christ. "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). Saved by Christ, let us follow Him. In the life of discipleship, we are "kept by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5). With such a great Saviour, leading us on to eternal life, why should we be content with a "Jesus", who is no more than a great teacher and a great example?
3) Worship despite setbacks (Psalm 17:10-14).
Where do our setbacks come from? They come from Satan. Many people profess their faith in God. They do not, however, take Satan seriously. Don't take Satan seriously - and he won't take you seriously! You will be an irrelevance! We take Satan seriously. We take Christ even more seriously! "Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4). In our worship, we will not hesitate to speak of spiritual warfare. There is an enemy. His name is Satan. We will speak, even more emphatically, of the victory of Christ. God's people need to hear the warning - "Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour" (1 Peter 5:9). More than the warning, we need to hear of Christ's triumph - "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). When Satan, our determined enemy, comes to us with many powerful temptations, let's remind him that he's a defeated enemy. Christ has won the victory for us. Let us take our stand on his victory - "this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith."  Satan will dispute God's verdict - "Did God say ... ?" (Genesis 3:1). We throw another question back at him - "Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John 5:5). Satan knows the answer to that question. That won't stop him coming back at us again and again - "the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" (Revelation 12:12). Let's keep on reminding him of this - "the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down ... into the lake of fire ... " (Revelation 12:9; 20:10). In our worship, may we have many reminders of Christ's great triumph over Satan: "Now the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God anf the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down" (Revelation 12:10).
4) Worship with satisfaction (Psalm 17:15).
Where does our satisfaction come from? Satan promises much - but the end result will be "I can't get no satisfaction." Satan will "transform himself into an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:14). Jesus tells us the truth about Satan - "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy." Satan will promise us everything - and give us nothing! Where does our satisfation come from? It comes from Jesus. He gives us His promises - and He keeps His Word,. He does what He said He would do for us: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). With Jesus as our Saviour, we have a better life than we could ever have with Satan as our master. It's a better life. It's eternal life. Jesus, our Good Shepherd says to us: "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28).
Psalm 18:1-24 
The first three verses set the tone: Worship. What a great start to this Psalm. Our attention is directed away from ourselves to the Lord: ‘my rock, my fortress and my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold’ (1-2). The great testimony of verse 3 - ‘I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies’ - did not come easily (4-5). The enemies of the Lord will be brought to judgment (13-14). ‘The cord of death encompassed me...He delivered me from my strong enemy...’ (4-5,17-19) - Rejoice in the risen Christ through whom we have the ‘victory’ over ‘the last enemy...death’ (1 Corinthians 15:20,26,54). God is leading us into ‘a broad place’ (19). Step into the future with Him. Don’t hold back! ‘Let go and let God have His wonderful way’.
Psalm 18:25-50
‘This God’ is ‘our God’. He is ‘the Rock’. He is ‘my Rock’. No one can compare with the Lord our God. He is the living God, the God of our salvation (30-31,46). In the Lord, we have salvation: ‘You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty’. In our God, we have victory: ‘You armed me with strength for battle; you made my adversaries bow at my feet’ (27,39). Do you want to enjoy God’s blessing - His salvation and His victory? God says, ‘Clothe yourselves with humility’. Together with His command, we have God’s warning - ‘God opposes the proud’ - and God’s promise - He ‘gives grace to the humble’ (1 Peter 5:5). There is a question which each of us must answer: ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? There is an answer which of us must give: ‘We are on the Lord’s side’ (Church Hymnary, 479).
"The Law of the Lord is perfect ... " (Psalm 19:7-11).
"By grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:8).
Do this. Don't do that. Is this what the word, "law", says to you? Go back to the very beginning of "the Ten Commandments" (Exodus 20:1-17) What do you find there - in Exodus 20:1-2? Before there is law, there is grace. Before there is the call for obedience, there is the gift of salvation.
"And God spoke all these words:  "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."
 * This is what you are to do for Me - This is not God's first Word to us.
 * This is what I have done for you - This is God's first Word to us.
"The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 7:7-8) - This is the Old Testament way of saying, ""By grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:8).
This has nothing to do with our reaching up to God. It has everything to do with His reaching down to us. He didn't save us because we proved ourselves worthy of His reward. He saved us because He loved us. He saved His with His mighty hand. This is the work of grace. Salvation does not arise from our good works. "Salvation comes from the Lord" (Jonah 2:9). We look away from our good works. We say, "This is the Lord's doing. It is marvelous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23). We consider what the Lord has done for us, and we say, "Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1).
Grace - this is what lies behind the wonderful words of Psalm 19:7-9 -
 7 The law of the Lord is perfect,
       reviving the soul.
       The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
       making wise the simple.
 8 The precepts of the Lord are right,
       giving joy to the heart.
       The commands of the Lord are radiant,
       giving light to the eyes.
 9 The fear of the Lord is pure,
       enduring forever.
       The ordinances of the Lord are sure
       and altogether righteous.
 * Reviving the soul: Where does this come from? - It comes from grace. It's by the grace of God that ours souls are revived. 
 * Making wise the simple, giving joy to the heart, giving light to the eyes - This is grace. Where does wisdom come from? Where does joy come from? Where does light come from? Here's the New Testament answer - "By grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:8).
 * How great is the God of grace! Giving thanks to Him for His free gift of saving grace, we look at "the Law of the Lord", and we say, from hearts full of praise to Him, "The words of the Lord are more precious than gold, than much fine gold" (Psalm 19:10).
 * How great is the God of grace! Praising God for His wonderful gift of salvation, we do not come to the words, "In keeping of the commands of the Lord, there is great reward", with any thought of our own worthiness. This is our "reward" - in some small measure, we are learning to live "tp the praise of His glorious grace" (Ephesians 1:6). 
 * How great is the God of grace! We will never glorify Him perfectly. We will always be sinners, who need to receive "redemption through Christ's blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Ephesians 1:7). 
"The Law of the Lord is perfect" - but we're not perfect. When we become deeply aware of our failure to live in full obedience to God's holy Word, may we receive with faith in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, these wonderful words: "By grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:8).

Salvation and Victory (Part One) - Psalm 20:9

"O Lord, save the king! Give victory to the king. Answer us when we call" (Psalm 20:9)."
Let us pray for one another. Let us pray for salvation and victory.
 * Psalm 20:1-5 - Prayer for God's blessing
 * Psalm 20:6-9 - Assurance that God will answer
First, there is the prayer. Then, there is the assurance of God's answer.
There can be no answer to prayer if there is no prayer.
There can be no blessing if there is no prayer for blessing.
Let us learn to be faithful in prayer so that we can be fruitful in blessing.
What kind of Church will we be? Will we be a  praying Church, a Church that is being blessed by the Lord or a Church that doesn't pray and isn't being blessed by the Lord? 
Salvation and victory - The blessings are there for us. Salvation and victory - "Ask, and it shall be given to you" (Matthew 7:7).
Salvation and Victory (Part Two) - Psalm 21
 * Thanksgiving for past victories (Psalm 21:1-7)
 * Assurance of future victories (Psalm 21:8-13)
Where does victory come from? - It comes from the Lord who has saved us.
"By grace you have been saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8). The work of God in us does not end with a past salvation, a memory of what the Lord has done for us in the past. His work in us goes on from there - "By grace you have been saved through faith ... for good works ... " (Ephesians 2:8-10).
 * Let us look back, giving thanks to God for our salvation.
 * Let us press on, trusting in God to lead us in the pathway of victory.

The Suffering and Glory of Christ (Psalm 22)

 * The suffering of Christ - "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Psalm 22:1).
These words lie at the heart of Christ's suffering. He suffered for us. He died for our salvation. He is our Substitute and our Saviour: "He died that we might go to heaven, saved by His precious blood." He went in obedience to the Cross so that we might be called to obedience from the Cross. He was forsaken by God so that we might be forgiven by God.
 * The glory of Christ - "I will declare Your name to My brothers; in the congregation I will praise You" (Psalm 21:22).
Christ's prayer was answered. God raised Him from the dead. Apparent defeat was turned into glorious victory. The cloud of darkness was removed. The glorious light shone through. death is a defeated enemy. Resurrection to eternal life - this is our glorious hope.
As we look at the death and resurrection of Christ, let us give all the glory to God for all that He has done for us.


The human shepherd and the Divine Shepherd (Psalm 23)

 * David, the human shepherd, points us to Jesus, the Divine Shepherd.
 * David, the sinful shepherd, points us to Jesus, the Saviour-Shepherd.
 * David, the failure-shepherd, points us to Jesus, the Faithful Shepherd.
Praise God! - We have a Divine Shepherd, Jesus, our Faithful Saviour.

"The Lord is my Shepherd" (Psalm 23:1).

 * THE LORD is my Shepherd.
Jesus Christ is Lord (Acts 2:36).  The Gospel calls us to confess Christ as Lord and to believe, in our heart that God has raised Him from the dead (Romans 10:9).

 * The Lord IS my Shepherd.
God wants us to "know that we have eternal life" (1 John 5:11-12). He rebukes our unbelief (James 1:6-8). He calls us to build our life upon the solid Rock, which is Jesus Christ, our Saviour (Matthew 7:24-27). When we build our life, we will not "blown here and there by every wind of teaching (Ephesians 4:14). Let us "stand firm" in the "truth" of God (Ephesians 6:14). Let us stand on Jesus Christ our Saviour, who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (John 14:6). Let us stand upon the wiritten Word of God - "the words of eternal life" (John 6:68), the Word of "truth" (John 17:17).

 * The Lord is MY Shepherd.
God wants each of us to have this personal testimony:  "The Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20).

 * The Lord is my SHEPHERD. 
 - Jesus Christ is "the Good Shepherd", who laid down His life for us (John 10:11). 
 - Jesus Christ is "the Great Shepherd", who was raised from the dead for ud (Hebrews 13:20-21).
 - Jesus Christ is "the Chief Shepherd", from whom the faithful receive the unfailing crown of glory (1 Peter  5:4).
Here and now, we are beginning to understand what it means to say, "The Lord is my Shepherd." We look forward to the fullness of glory which will be revealed to us in God's heavenly and eternal Kingdom - "The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Revelation 7:17).
"He restores my soul" (Psalm 23:3a).
Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
Jesus gave him this answer: "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again" (John 3:2-3).
This wasn't the answer Nicodemus had been looking for. it wasn't the answer he was expecting. It was the answer he needed - "You must be born again" (John 3:7).
The new birth - this is the restoration of soul of which the psalmist speaks.
Through the new birth, the believer
 - becomes a child of God (John 1:12);
 - becomes a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17);
 - receives the life of God (2 Peter 1:4);
 - shares Christ's victory over sin (1 John 3:9; 1 John 5:4,18).
This is a truly amazing restoration of the soul.
Have you been born again?
Has Jesus, the Good Shepherd, restored your soul?
"My cup overflows" (Psalm 23:5).

Turning to ‘the Shepherd Psalm’, we focus our attention on verse 5: ‘You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows’. We are to feast on God’s Word. We are to be filled with God’s Spirit. The ‘table’ is the place of feasting. ‘Oil’ is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. As we feast on God’s Word, we will have good cause to say, again and again, ‘God is good’: His ‘goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life’ (6). The Lord never fails us. He always comes with His life-giving Word, the Word of life, through which our life on earth becomes the beginning of life eternal, the pathway to a life in which the fullness of God’s love will be revealed in a way that we can hardly begin to imagine: ‘I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever’ (6). This is what Christ is preparing for us (John 14:2)!

The overflowing cup is not a good thing when you spill your drink and you have to clean up the mess!
The overflowing heart is always a good thing.
When your heart is overflowing with the joy of the Lord, this will bring brightness into the lives of the people you meet.
The spilling of a drink isn't a good thing.
The spilling over of the joy of the Lord is something very precious. it is something to be treasured.
This is something we must earnestly seek - the overflowing joy of the Lord.
How is our joy in the Lord to be increased?
We must think often of the Lord. We must think of what He has already done for us in this life - "Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life" (Psalm 23:6). We must think of what He will do for us in the world to come - "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6).
As we think of Him, let us thank Him. As our thanksgiving increases, our joy will increase.
When we think of the Table of our Lord Jesus Christ - His body broken for us and His blood shed for us, let us never forget this: "when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son" (Romans 5:10).
As we "rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Romans 5:11), let us not forget to pray for those who do not yet know the Saviour:
They all joined together constantly in prayer ... about three thousand were added to their number that day" (Acts 1:14; 2:41).

"I will dwell in the house of the Lord" (Psalm 23:6).

 * To the sheep, Jesus says,"Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world" (Matthew 25:34).
 * To the goats, He says, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
Jesus isn't speaking about animals. He's speaking about people.
What will He say to us on that Day depends on what we say to Him on this day.
On that Day, He will say "Come" or He will say "Depart."
On this day, will we say "Come" or will we say "Depart"?
Learning from Ephesians and the  23rd Psalm (Part One)
"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1).
 * What does it mean to say, "I shall not want"?
Are we to think in terms of overconfidence in our own ability - I shall not fail, I shall succeed?
"I, I, I" - this is man's way of thinking. It's not God-centred.
It brings glory to man. It doesn't give glory to God.
 * What do we mean when we say, "I shall not want"?
What we must remember is this - the words, "I shall not want" come immediately after the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
We're not asserting our own ability to succeed. We're affirming our faith in the Lord. Equipped with "every spiritual blessing in Christ", we shall go from strength to strength, glorifying God and living on the basis of "the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
Before he speaks of God blessing us with every spiritual blessing in Christ, Paul blesses the Lord - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). Before David says, "I shall not want", hew says, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
 * First, the confession of faith in the Lord. Then, the life of victory.
 * First, the acknowledgment that salvation is God's gift. Then, the living on the basis of God's salvation.
This is always the Gospel order.
 * The new life is God's gift to us - this comes first.
 * Then, and only then, comes the call to live the new life.
We can only say, "I shall not want", when we have learned to say, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
Before we can live the life of faith, we must receive the gift of grace.
We can only love God once we have experienced the greatness of His love for us: "In love ... (He has) freely bestowed His glorious grace on us in the Beloved (His well-beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ)" (Ephesians 1:5-6). Concerning Christ, we are to say, "He is my well-beloved Saviour."
When we consider what it means to say, "The Lord is my Shepherd", "Jesus Christ is my Saviour", we are moved to praise God - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" - and to live our life for Him.
When we say, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want", what we're saying is this: "The Lord, my Shepherd, the Shepherd of love, Jesus, my Saviour, has given me all that I need to live for Him."
Praising God and living for Him belong together. He calls us to be "holy and blameless before Him" (Ephesians 1:4). As we live this new life, the life of God's children - His sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:5) - ,we are living "to the praise of His glorious grace" (Ephesians 1:6). 
If we are to live this life, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. "Every spiritual blessing" is in Him. take your eyes of Jesus, and you are no longer living the Christian life, since the Christian life is life in Christ.
He is the Saviour, your Saviour, my Saviour, our Saviour. Without Him, we cannot even begin to live the life that is pleasing to God. With Him, we live a new life, a life that is to be lived "to the praise of His glorious grace."
What are we to say about the Christian life, this new life, this life in Christ?  
 * It is a spiritual life. It is also a practical life. Life in Christ is life in the Spirit. It is life which really makes a difference. You cannot remain the same, once the Holy Spirit has entered your life. He changes you. he changes your outlook. He changes your way of living.
 * It is eternal life. It is also life here-and-now. Through the gift of "the Holy Spirit", God has given to us "the guarantee of our inheritance, until we take possession of it" (Ephesians 1:13-14). Life in Christ has its origin in God's eternal love - "He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world ... He destined us in love" (Ephesians 1:4-5). Life in Christ finds its fulfilment in God's eternal Kingdom. This is our eternal inheritance. We "have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:12). This living "for the praise of His glory" will be fulfilled in the eternal Kingdom of God. It must begin here-and-now. This is where it starts - in our day-by-day living, here on earth.
 * Life in Christ is life in community. Paul speaks, in Ephesians 1:10, of God's "plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in Him, things in heaven and things on earth." God's plan for us is personal. He has a wonderful plan for your life. He has a wonderful plan for my life. His plan involves more than that. he brings us into fellowship with others. without them, His purpose for you and me is being hindered. We need one another. God has given us to each other so that, together, we may grow in our shared experience of salvation.
In view of this great salvation, we say, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want" (Psalm 23:1).

Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Two)

"He makes me lie down in green pastures" (Psalm 23:2) / Ephesians 1:15-23
Green pastures: Green is the colour of growth. Let's think about spiritual growth.
The shepherd leads his sheep to green pastures. Paul, the pastor of God's people, leads the people of God to the "green pastures" which He has provided for their growth.
Paul thanks God for leading His people into "green pastures" of "faith in the Lord Jesus" and "love toward all the saints" (Ephesians 1:15).
After giving thanks to God, he prays that God will keep on leading His people to "green pastures" - more faith, more love.
Thanksgiving comes first. before we ask, we give thanks. In our asking, we must never forget thanksgiving.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God" (Philippians 4:6).
Paul prayed. Paul cared. He sought to lead his readers into "green pastures" because he cared about them. God cares.
Paul's prayer reaches over the miles and over the centuries. It is a prayer for God's people in every place and every time. God answers this prayer because He cares for His people.
Again and again, the Lord, our Shepherd, leads His people into "green pastures." He has provided for our spiritual growth. He leads us in the way that will produce spiritual growth. He gives us "a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17). He "enlightens the eyes of our hearts" (Ephesians 1:18). He shows us "the hope to which He has called us." He shows us "the immeasurable greatness of His power in us who believe, according to the working of His great might" (Ephesians 1:19).
 * How does He do all of this? How does He lead us to all of these "green pastures" of spiritual growth? 
He leads us to our Lord Jesus Christ. God takes great delight in His Son. He loves to draw attention to Jesus. He loves to point to Jesus and say, "This is My Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased." 
In Jesus, we see the glory of God. Jesus is not simply a historical character from the ancient past. He is the risen Lord - Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. Jesus is not simply a tragic figure who died a violent death. He is enthroned on high, seated at the Father's right hand in heavenly glory, "far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come" (Ephesians 1:21).
 * Where do we find "green pastures"? - In Jesus Christ. 
His Name is the Name which is above every name. His Name is the Name of our salvation. He is our Lord and Saviour.
As Lord, He is "Head over everything." "God has placed all things under His feet." He exercises His Lordship on behalf of us - "for the Church" (Ephesians 1:22).
Jesus Christ our Lord is pursuing His saving purpose, his plan of salvation. He is establishing His Church, calling us on to our glorious, heavenly and eternal destiny.
The Church is described in Ephesians 1:23, as "His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all." This is a tremendous statement. When we come, by the grace of God, to the "green pastures" of God's Word, we begin to think big thoughts about ourselves as well as big thoughts about God. We see ourselves in the light of God. Our whole life is seen in relation to God's great purpose for our lives.
 * What does it mean to be the body of Christ?
A body without a head is a dead body. The church without Christ is no church at all. This is very challenging. To be led to "green pastures" is to be invited to feed on these "green pastures." God leads us to the "green pastures" of His Word with the oft-repeated invitation: You can come back here again and again and again ...
 * Christ is our Head. This reminds us of the importance of understanding in the Christian life. Paul prays that we may receive from God "a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Ephesians 1:17). If we are to feed upon God's "green pastures", we must seek understanding of God's Word.
 * Christ is our Head. He is also our Heart. Understanding God's Word, appreciating the "green pastures" of God's Word, involves more than our minds. It also involves our hearts: "having the eyes of your hearts enlightened" (Ephesians 1:18).
 * Christ is our Head. He is our Heart. He is also our Hope. The "green pastures" to which the Lord leads us are "green pastures" of hope. He wants us to understand, with our heads and our hearts, "the hope to which He has called" us. He wants us to appreciate our "glorious inheritance" (Ephesians 1:18).
 * "Green pastures" - The grass keeps growing. We cut it week-by-week, and still there is more grass to grow up. We feed upon the "green pastures", and still there is more, much more, more than enough for each of us to feed upon. Satisfied, we hunger for more.
Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Three)
"Keep looking down" - it doesn't sound like good advice, does it? Surely, we should be saying, "Keep looking up"!
Let me share with you Paul's words from Ephesians 2:6 - "He raised us up with Him, and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." 
We are seated with the Lord in the heavenly places. From there, we look down on everything that's happening here on earth. This isn't about trying very hard to keep looking up. It's about believing that God has seated us in the heavenly places. From there, we look down on life on this earth. We see the big picture. We're not bogged down in our circumstances. We've been raised up to the heavenly places. This isn't about our striving. It's about God's salvation. It's not about us. It's about our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. 
When we read about "still waters" (Psalmn 23:2), we're not only reading about peaceful waters" We're reading about dangerous waters. Still waters can mean stagnant waters. When we see stagnant waters, we wonder what dangers lie beneath the surface.
From the standpoint of being seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we look down on a world filled with many dangers. Remembering that we are seated with Christ in the heavenly places, we keep things in the proper perspective - the perspective of certain victory.
What is the alternative to certain victory? - confusion and  defeat.
How can we move forward victoriously rather than retreating in confusion and defeat?  - We must have both realism and faith.
With realism, we recognize that there will be conflict and danger. It will not always be peaceful waters. There will also be dangerous waters.
When we rejoice in the greatness of God's love (Ephesians 2:4), we must not forget what we are in ourselves (Ephesians 2:1-3), and we must not forget that there is a devil (Ephesians 2:2).
With faith, we affirm that, in Christ, we have the victory. We shall not be dragged down into the stagnant waters. We shall be renewed by the Living Water, which is the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39).
We need realism and faith - not an unrealistic faith which imagines that the Christian life will be easy; not an ubelieving realism which resigns itself to losing the battle for faith.
We see this combination of realism and faith in both Jesus and Paul.
  (a) Jesus - "led by the Spirit ... tempted by the devil" (Luke 4:1-2).
 (b) Paul - By "the riverside ... a place of prayer / going to the place of prayer ... (opposed) by a spirit of divination" (Acts 16:13,16).
The salvation experience - salvation that lasts, not salvation that's past - goes on to moral transformation (Ephesians 2:10) and heavenly glory (Ephesians  2:7).
Salvation - It's not standing still. It's moving beyond stagnant water to living water. It's moving on to our heavenly rest in the Lord, who is "the fountain of living water" (Jeremiah 17:13).

Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Four)

"He restores my soul" (Psalm 23:3) - Christ, Cross and Church
(1) Christ
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full on His wonderful face." 
This is what we must do if we want to grow spiritually. We cannot grow spiritually if we are preoccupied with ourselves and our own interests. We can only gow spiritually if, again and again, we turn to the Lord Jesus and His words; "Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).
When our life is centred upon Christ, there is always a contrast between the way things used to be and the way they are now. In Ephesians 2:12-12, Paul puts it this way: "Once you were separated from Christ, now in Christ Jesus you have been brought near." No longer far off, now brought near - This is what Christ has done for us. We look to Christ, and we say, "He restores my soul."
(2) Cross
We are "brought near in the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13). We are "reconciled to God through the Cross" (Ephesians 2;16). When we think of Christ, we think also of His Cross. Christ was more than a great teacher and a great example. He is "the Son of God who loved us and gave Himself for us" When we consider the Cross, we look to Christ and we say, "He is our peace" (Ephesians 2;140. Enjoying peace with God through Christ, we say, "He restores my soul."
(3) Church
From Christ and the Cross, we move on to the Church. We don't begin and end with the Church. We must be grounded in Christ and His Cross. We are the Church of Christ, ever thankful for the Cross. We don't think of Christ and His Cross in terms of personal experience only. "He is our peace", bringing us peace with God and putting us at peace with one another. Those who have come to the Cross, trusting Christ, now belong to the Church. We need to get the right balance between personal experience of Christ and the life of fellowship in His Church. 
Leave out peace with God and you have superficial religion.
Leave out peace with one another and you have a religion appears highly spiritual but it's not very practical.
Christ - especially Christ crucified - is very precious to us. He is our peace. He is our "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:30). He is our life (Colossians 3:4). He is our hope (1 Timothy 1:1; Colossians 1:27). He is the atonement for our sins (1 John 2:2).
Note "our" - not simply "my". Our experience of Christ's blessings grows stronger as we share in fellowship with others who have also come to enjoy those blessings through faith in Christ.
Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Five)
"He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake" (v. 3b).

In Ephesians 3, Paul is preaching "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (v. 8). From the beginning of chapter 4, he gives teaching regarding the way in which we are to live the Christian life - "I ... beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called" (4:1).
This pattern of teaching - "the unsearchable riches of Christ" followed by living the Christian life - is precisely the pattern we find in Psalm 23.3 - First, "He restores my soul", followed by "He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake."
In Ephesians 4:1-5:14, Paul gives practical teaching regarding the Christian life. Once you have received "the unsearchable riches of Christ", you must live the Christian life. Once your soul has been restored, you must follow the Lord in the paths of righteousness. 
In 4:1-16, he lays special emphasis on the unity of the Church. We are to move forward together. It is a sad situation when some are making real spiritual progress while others are lagging far behind them. God wants to lead us in the paths of righteousness for His Name' sake - not just some of us, but all of us.
From 4:17, he emphasizes the moral standards according to which the Church of Jesus Christ is called to live. We are not to live like unbelievers (4:17). We are not to be like those who are spiritually asleep (5:14).
God wants to lead us in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. He will not rest content with the beginnings of spiritual restoration - "He restores my soul." 'I've been born again. I can give my testimony. I can tell you what the Lord did for me." The Lord listens to all of this, and He says, 'That was then. What about now?' Are you walking in the paths of righteousness now? or, are your best times - spiritually speaking - well and truly behind you? This is challenging teaching from both David, the Psalmist, and Paul, the Apostle - If your soul has been restored, then you must walk in the paths of righteousness. If you have received the unsearchable riches of Christ, then you must live a life worthy of your high calling.
How does God lead us in the paths of righteousness?  He leads us forward together. He sets each one within the fellowship of His Church. In the life of Christ’s Church, the ministry of the Word is to take central place. In Ephesians 4:11, Paul draws attention to the ministry of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Building on the teaching of the apostles and prophets, the teaching of Scripture - Old Testament and New Testament, we are to preach the gospel, teach the Word of God, apply the teaching of Scripture to the specific circumstances of the people who gather to hear the Word. All of this is vitally important for the spiritual growth of the Church.
The purpose of such ministry is described in Ephesians 4:12-16. As the Lord leads us in the paths of righteousness for His Name's sake, what is He seeking to achieve in our lives?
There are three very important lessons here: (1) Spiritual growth is growth in Christ. (2) Spiritual growth is growth into truth and love. (3) Spiritual growth is growth in service.
  (1) Spiritual growth is growth in Christ (Ephesians 4:13,15).
We must remember that He is the Head, and we are the body (Ephesians 4:15-16). He leads, and we are led. He leads us in the paths of righteousness. we are led in the paths of righteousness. remember this: He leads. we are led.  
 * How does He lead us in the paths of righteousenss?
 - He does this by leading us to Himself. Christ is our righteousness. he is our righteousness at the very beginning of faith, when we are justified by faith, put right with God through faith in Christ.  
 - He is our righteousness throughout the whole course of the Christian life. Through Him, we are sanctified. He works in us, making us more like Himself.
 - He will be our righteousness in God's eternal Kingdom. This is the glorious hope to which we look forward. We shall be like Him. By God's grace, we shall "attain to ... the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).
 (2) Spiritual growth is growth into truth and love (Ephesians 4:14-16).
We need truth. we need love. Not one without the other, but both together.
There is a devil. He is always trying to lead us away from the truth and into error (Ephesians 4:14). If he cannot lead us away from the truth, he will try to lead us away from love and into indifference.
"Speaking the truth in love", we must "give no opportunity to the devil" (Ephesians 4:15,27). God says to us, "Put off your old nature .. put on the new nature, ... created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (Ephesians 4:23-24).
The devil says, "You are not a new creation." We must not believe the lie of the devil. We must confront him with the truth of God - In Christ, I am a new creation. God has restored my soul. Now, He is leading me in the paths of righteousness.
If we are to be led in the paths of righteousness, we must learn to "walk in love", to "walk as children of light" (Ephesians 5:1,8). If we are to walk in the ways of the Lord, we must have no time for the "silly talk" of the world, the "empty words" of "the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 5:4,6).
We must build our lives on the sound wisdom of God's Word of truth. love for God will only grow when it is nourished by the Word of God. This strengthening of our love for God is essential if we are to be led in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. This is God's purpose for us. He nourishes our souls with His Word. He strengthens our love for Him. He leads us in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. 
  (3) Spiritual growth is growth in service. 
We are to be workers for God - not only workers for God, but workers with God; not only workers for God and with God, but God working in us and God working through us.
God has given us the ministry of the Word, ministry based on the Scriptures, the testimony of the apostles and prophets, so that we might be equipped for the work of ministry.
In Christ, we are not to called to laziness or idleness. we are to workers for the Lord, servants of the Lord. We are to work for Him, always remembering that it is He who is at work within us as we offer our lives to Him in service.
There is a great difference between knowing the right things and doing the right things. A working man sets his alarm clock. he knows that, when the alarm sounds, he must get up and go to his work. If, however, he keeps ignoring his alarm, he will soon be unemployed. He will no longer be a working man. If he doesn't learn his lesson, he will quickly move from being unemployed to being unemployable.
In God's Word, there is an alarm which calls us to wake up and start working for Christ. Here is God's alarm - "Awake, o sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light" (Ephesians 5:14). God's alarm is sounding - for you, for me, for all of us. It is not only an alarm to the unconverted. It is also an alarm, which calls Christians to wake up, to be alive to God, to walk in His light. He will not lead you in the paths of righteousness unless you are willing to be led. For His Name's sake, let Him lead you in the paths of righteousness.  

Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Six)

Psalm 23:4 speaks of "the valley of the shadow of death."
We should not, however, restrict ourselves to thinking only about death. We may think here of the valley of deep darkness, every dark experience in our life.
David's world was no ideal world. It was one of dark valleys (Psalm 23:4) and sinister enemies (Psalm 23:5). Our world is no different. It's a world of dark valleys and sinister enemies.
Like David, we have fallen into dark valleys. Like him, we have been overcome by sinister enemies. Like him, we must learn to trust in the Lord for deliverance and victory.
David tells us, "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (through the valleys of deep darkness, through every dark experience of life), I will fear no evil." 
"I will fear no evil." We are called to speak these words in the face of evil. Evil is real. We can't pretend that it isn't there. It is there. It won't go away. Our enemy, the devil, is determined. He doesn't give up easily. Evil is real. It's very powerful. Nevertheless, we are called to speak these words of faith: "I will fear no evil."
How can we gain the victory over evil? How can we avoid being overwhelmed by the devil? In our conflict with Satan, the enemy of our souls, there are two things we must do: First, we must not underestimate the devil. Second, we must not overestimate the devil.
We dare not underestimate the devil.  
Paul warns us, in Ephesians 6:12, that "we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principlaities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
We must not overestimate the devil.
Both David and Paul assure us that we can be victorious over this deadly enemy, Satan. David says, "I will fear no evil, for You are with me." The Lord is with us. The presence and power of the Lord is greater and stronger than the presence and power of the devil. Warning us of the deadly opposition we face from Satan, Paul says to us, "Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Ephesians 6:10-11).
We need not fear evil. We need not be defeated by the devil. The Lord is within us. He has given us "the whole armour of God" with which to fight against the enemy.
David gives this testimony - "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." Paul describes for us  "the whole armour of God." He lays special emphasis on how we are ro use each piece of armour in our battle against our enemy, Satan. We are to use the whole armour of God. There is nothing missing in the suit of armour which the Lord has given to us. It's all there - all that we need to fight aginast the devil and win the victory over him.
David speaks of God's rod and God's staff. They bring comfort to him, In the Christian life, the Word of God and the Spirit of God belong together. We have the Holy Scriptures and the Holy Spirit - not the one without the other but both together.
In Ephesians 5:18, Paul says, "Be filled with the Spirit." In Colossians 3:16, he says, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly." In Ephesians 6:17, he describes "the Word of God" as "the sword of the Spirit."
This is the comfort which we have  - the Spirit of God takes the Word of God, and uses it to give us strength to face the enemy and triumph over him.
In our earthly life, we are not guaranteed an easy time. there will be valleys of deep darkness. there is an enemy - the devil. We are surrounded by evil. There are many dangers. Without the Lord's help, our situation would be very desperate indeed. Even with the Lord's help, even when we are armed with the whole armour of God, there will be many battles to be fought. These battles will be dfifficult and demanding. we need not, however, resign ourselves to defeat. we are strengthened with the strength of the Lord.
If this strength is to be ours in ever-increasing abundance, we must learn to pray.
Paul says, "Pray at all times in the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17).
Don't just pray when you feel like it. Make prayer an important part of your life.
"Keep alert with all perseverance" (Ephesians 6:18). Don't give up when things get difficult. Don't give up when everything seems to be too easy. Keep on praying.
"Make supplication for all the saints" (Ephesians 6:18). Don't just pray for yourself. Pray for others. Support each other in prayer.
"Pray also for me" (Ephesians 6:19-20). Pray for the preacher of the Gospel. pray for the teacher of God's Word.
If we, the people of God, are to be helped through the valleys of deep darkness, there needs to be a real Word from the Lord, a Word which is boldly provclaimed, a Word which is preached with the utterance given by God Himself.
Strengthened with the strength of the Lord, let us echo the words of Psalm 23:4 - "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
Learning from Ephesians and the 23rd Psalm (Part Seven)
The Lord's Table, The Lord's Cup And The Lord's House
As we think together about these things - full of blessing for each of us - may our life be filled with "peace, love and faith" (Ephesians 6:23). May we be given that strong faith in the Lord which looks beyond the earthly horizon to the heavenly glory which awaits the Lord's people.
  (1) The Lord's Table
When we read the words, "You prepare a table for me" (Psalm 23:5a), our thoughts turn to the celebration of Christ's death for us. Here on earth, this "table" is set "in the presence of our enemies." We rejoice in the love of God - yet still we must contend with our enemies. There will come a Day when God's purpose of love will reach its perfect fulfilment. There will be no more enemies only a Heavenly Celebration which will far surpass our earthly celebrations of Christ's love. In heaven, we will know His love as a perfect love, an undying love, a steadfast love which endures forever.
  (2) The Lord's Cup
In love, God invites us to receive an everlasting blessing - "You anoint my cup with oil, my cup overflows" (Psalm 23:5b). He invites us to drink from the Cup of our Lord Jesus Christ. By faith, we receive Christ and His salvation. He anoints us with the oil of the Holy Spirit. He fills our lives with an overflowing blessing. the salvation of God is more than our earthly experience can ever contain. There will always be an overflow - the overflow of heavenly glory, the overflow of life forevermore - "How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore" (Psalm 133:3).
  (3) The Lord's House
The Lord's Table is set in the Lord's House. In the Lord's House, we partake of the Cup of the Lord. In the Lord's House, seated at the Lord's Table, drinking from the Lord's Cup, we rejoice in God's "goodness and mercy" (Psalm 23:6).
We look beyond the Lord's House here on earth to "the house of the Lord" in heaven above. The Lord's House here on earth can sometimes appear like a wasteland. We must look beyond this wasteland. God's purpose is heavenly and eternal. He has a glorious destiny prepared for us: "Eye has not seen, neither has ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man what God has prpared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9).
Out of the wasteland, God is building His Church, a Church which will bring glory to His Name.
Here on earth, there are many struggles and many conflicts. there will come a Day when all of that is behind us, and there will be peace, perfect peace, the peace of God which passes all understanding.
The Lord's Table set for us by the Lord Himself
The Lord's Cup served to us by the Lord Himself
The Lord's House prepared for us by the Lord Himself
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[ believe also in Me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me ... Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid" (John 14:1-6,27).
 * In love, Jesus is preparing a place for us. 
 * In faith, we come to Jesus who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life."
 * In peace, we lay aside the troubles of this world and we rest in the Lord and His Word to us - "Let not your hearts be troubled; neither let them be afraid."

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