The Heavens Declares the Works of God

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge. (Psalm 19:1-2, ESV)

There are times in our life when we need to be reminded that all things declare the glory of God. When you are surrounded by hard times, you need to look no further than to the creation of God to see the glory of God. Sometimes life is hard, well actually, more often than not life is hard. What we so desperately need is to fix our eyes on the God who created all things. For when we see his glory and how stupendous he is, we can relax and know that the one who created all these things is the same one who is looking over us and sorting all things in accordance with his will.

The question for us is are we looking to his glory or ours?

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Filled with Worship

Video

The title doesn’t make sense because I completely forgot to mention in the sermon that Paul is effectively “eulogising” about God. Eulogy is derived from a Greek word to bless.

The video also includes the children’s talk from the service as well.

Satisfied by your likeness

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. (Psalm 17:15, ESV)

This is a prayer of David. He cries out to his LORD for his enemies are many. David says that they have surrounded him, that they close their mouth to pity, they are like lions eager to eat him. Yet even with all of this, his heart cry is that when he awakes he will be satisfied with God’s likeness. Worth noting that David is not saying he will be satisfied by being like God, but rather he will be satisfied by seeking God’s likeness, image, representation, or form. In other words, no matter what is going on in David’s life right now, there is one thing, one thing that he longs for, it is for the face of God.

I remember hearing a story by Ray Cortese who said that he knew of a man whose wife died. The man had a small son, and for weeks after the death of this small boy’s mother, he would sleep in his father’s bed. Throughout the night as the father was sleeping he would roll over away from his son. His son because of the trauma would wake up, he would look to his father and only see his back. This small boy would proceed to wake his father up and say to him, “your face Dad, I need to see your face”.

I wonder how many of us live in this reality? How many of us need one thing, one thing more than anything else, the Lord’s face, the Lord’s presence near to us, for our joy and satisfaction. If we only have that one thing, we can live through all circumstances, we can live through anything if we only have the Lord’s face. This was David’s reality, he faced a tremendous amount of trauma, and yet he would be satisfied if he had one simple thing, the likeness of God when he awoke in the morning. This was real for David and he did not have the incarnation to look at, how much more, should we, who live after the incarnation, look for our satisfaction in the likeness of God? We can look and see Jesus in the gospels and all throughout his words and be deeply satisfied.

Your face, Lord, I need to see your face…

To be Satisfied in God

1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16, ESV, emphasis mine)

One thing that has been impressed upon my mind as of late is the importance of finding our satisfaction in God. When we consider the story of redemption, one gigantic theme that runs throughout is the removal and restoration of our satisfaction in God. When Adam and Eve were created they were created with the express purpose of glorifying God. There are two aspects of glorifying God; worship (external glorifying of God) and satisfaction (internal glorifying of God). To worship is to express our praise towards God. To be satisfied is for God to be our greatest delight.

This is a beautiful self-feeding cycle. You find your delight in God because of what he does, so you express praise towards God because of the joy that is overflowing from within you. As you express praise towards God you find that you delight in him more, which causes you to worship him more, which in turn causes you to delight more. As I have been pondering this over the last few months I have begun to gain a ‘delight’ and ‘satisfaction’ radar in the Scriptures. What I am noticing is that over and over again, the Word of God talks about men and women finding their deep satisfaction in God. Psalm 16 is a classic example of this.

The Psalm is entitled by the editors of the ESV, “You Will Not Abandon My Soul”. Granted, there is a reference to this in verse 10. But do yourself a favour, go back to the Psalm above and re-read it. Look at those sections I have added emphasis to. I am serious, stop reading and go up and do it. Now consider, David (the author) says ten times, in one way or another, that his chief joy and satisfaction is found in the LORD. This Psalm is not about his soul not being abandoned – though this is undoubtedly true – it is about his soul finding pleasure in the LORD.

Too often we forget that the chief purpose of our redemption completed in Christ is not to get us into Heaven. Rather, it is to restore broken men and women into their place as worshippers of God. Let us apply our hearts with renewed vigour to finding our satisfaction, joy and contentment in the LORD, and to worship him out of what he has done for us.

Who Shall Dwell on Your Holy Hill?

O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
Who shall dwell on your holy hill? (Psalm 15:1, ESV)

In Psalm 15:1, David effectively asks the question, “Who can dwell in the presence of God?” He then provides us with the answer, ‘He who walks blamelessly and does what is right…’ (vs. 2) For the rest of this Psalm David then proceeds to explain what the person looks like who can enter the presence of God. To summarise his description only one word is needed, perfection.

The only person who may enter the presence of God is a perfect person. This leaves us with a problem. How can we enter the presence of God since we are so full of sin? The answer is called the imputed righteousness of Christ. When God places our sin upon Jesus he also places Jesus’ righteousness upon us. What does this mean? It means positionally (the way God sees us) that we are perfect. It means we can enter into the presence of God as blameless and righteous. Because we enter not with any righteousness of our own, nor any perfection obtained by us, but purely by Christ’s righteousness. This means that to whatever degree of righteousness or perfection you think have earned, to that degree, you cannot enter the presence of God.

Build Your House on Jesus

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.”  Lk 6:46–49, ESV.

How often have you heard this – or the parallel passage in Matthew – spoken of very simply as meaning that we must make sure our foundation is Jesus.  The rationale goes that Jesus is the Rock and therefore, like the wise man, we must make Jesus our foundation.  Like the song:

So, build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ
Build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ
Build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ
And the blessings will come down

rockThe problem with this teaching and this song, for that matter, is that it completely misses the point that Jesus was trying to make.  Consider the context; in both Luke and Matthew this saying comes directly after a great set of teaching by Jesus called the sermon on the mount.  Jesus had just finished teaching to the disciples what it meant to show true obedience to God.  He finishes with an amazing conclusion to drive home his entire sermon, and that conclusion is…do what I say!  Yet for some reason we take his teaching and make it…make me your foundation.

Now please do not mistake me, I am not saying that the idea that Jesus should be our foundation is wrong, for surely Paul says that, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11, ESV)  But Jesus is not trying to show what the ultimate foundation of teaching is.  What he is driving home – and the point of this story – is that if you want to have a solid foundation you must do three things; come to him, hear him and do what he says.

I am unsure at what point we got this concept wrong but it drastically changes the way one understands this story.  Jesus wants to show us what a person is like who comes to him, hears him and does what he says.  He is like a man who has a solid foundation, ensuring that no matter what happens he is safe and secure against the storms; because he is built well.  Do you achieve this by only believing in God?  No, for “Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19, ESV)  What does Jesus say is the recipe for a solid foundation?  Coming to him, listening to him and obeying him.

Is it enough to come?  No, for what is the point of coming to him if you are going to ignore what he says?  This has happened (and is happening) all too often in the church, where individuals – and entire churches – have come to Jesus and then continued living their life as they please.  It requires coming to him and listening to what he has to say.

Is coming to him and listening to him enough?  No, for what is the point if you come to him, listen to him and then ignore what he has to say?  Instead, we must come to him, consider everything that he is saying and then do what says.  If we miss our any of these parts of the process we completely destroy any hope of having the foundation that Jesus spoke of.

Do you wish to have a solid foundation?  Do you want to have the sort of life that when a flood arises and the stream breaks against it that it cannot be shaken?  Then, ensure that your life is built well, and how do you ensure that your life is built well?  By coming to Jesus, listening to Jesus and obeying Jesus.  Too often in the western church, we have settled for antinomianism* that lets us lay claim to Jesus – coming to him – while ignoring the commitment that comes with it – hearing and doing.

I would love to see us stop using this passage in the way that it is so often used and start using it the way Jesus intended it, Lord willing we will start seeing more people not just coming to Jesus, but hearing and doing.

 

* – one who holds that under the gospel dispensation of grace the moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation