Psalm 26

    “I love the house where you live, O Lord, the place where your glory dwells.”          Psalm 26:8

Wayne Jackson, in his “Examine me Lord — A Study of Psalm 26:Christian Courier”  quotes from George Rawlinson (1812-1902) regarding Psalm 26 that it has “all the notes of David’s style, is full of his thoughts and imagery, and is allowed to be his by almost all critics” (1950, 192).  He argued that the Psalm belongs to the time when the ark was at Mount Zion.  There is certainly nothing in the Psalm to suggest otherwise.

The Oxford scholar contended that a literal rendition of v. 8b is “the place of the tabernacling of your glory.”  In the wilderness, the place of God’s “glory” was in the tabernacle’s “Holy of Holies” (Exodus 40:34; Numbers 14:10).

That last thought caught my attention.  The glory of the Lord tabernacled in the House of the Lord.  It was there that He was revealed in all His awesomeness.  The focus is on the revelation of the Lord’s Nature as the one who redeems His people.  Earlier in the Psalm David writes, “For your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in Your truth” (Psalm 26:3).  That word Tabernacle refers to the Lord dwelling among us.  It caught my attention because it reminded me of the prologue of John’s Gospel where we read John’s testimony regarding the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the Only Begotten, of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).  The word translated as dwelling in John’s Gospel is actually the word tabernacled.  What David was pointing to in Psalm 26 became reality in the Lord Jesus Christ.  In Christ we see the glory of God revealed, full of grace and truth.  What a tremendous, faith building promise from God.  Here is grace and truth that exposes our sin and atones for it in His cross.  Here is our reconciliation with God through His shed blood.  His call to us is that we receive His grace through faith in Christ.

 

Looking Ahead in Faith

 

                “The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind.  The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest, like a young lion among flocks of sheep, which mauls and mangles as it goes, and no one can rescue.”

                                                                                                                                                                Micah 5:7-8

                In reflecting upon the closing of the fifth chapter of Micah’s prophesy one thing becomes abundantly clear.  This is that the Prophet is looking ahead to the age of the coming Messiah.  Micah is describing the characteristics of the Kingdom of the coming Messiah as a perfect fulfillment of the covenant blessings of God to His people.  In Genesis 12:2-3 God says this to Abraham.

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.”

That promise was deeply rooted into Micah’s consciousness.  As he thought and prayed about the situation that Judah faced in his days Micah could not get away from the thought that an all powerful, faithful God would not make a promise to His people that He could not, or would not keep.  All that they were about to face would serve to lead to the fulfillment of this promise.  They would be scattered into exile.  Many of them would not return, some would but others would remain scattered.  God’s promise would remain true.  When the Messiah came and set up His Kingdom they would be part of it.  Micah focuses his attention upon it and he sees three key points which must guide our understanding of the Lord’s purposes for those who are part of His Church.

1)      The remnant will be like dew from the Lord.  In Palestine the dew is heavy, and during the dry season it is a great blessing.  It comes without our working for it.  So too does the grace of God come upon us as a consequence of the Kingdom of God.  Wherever we are there is blessing upon the people.  Christians are a blessing as they pray for and minister to the people they encounter.

2)      The remnant will be like a lion among us, mauling and mangling all it encounters.  Again the image suggests something which is uncontrollable.   Having the Church among us brings us to a point of decision.  How we respond to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, as it lived and proclaimed by His people will determine how God treats us.  To reject Him is to experience a cursing, a judgment from God.

3)      Micah goes on to say that the final element of this Kingdom of the Messiah will be that the people of that Kingdom will be refined by God.  He will remove and destroy everything that we find ourselves trusting in that is not Him.  At the heart of the Gospel is the call to repent and to seek first, and only, the Kingdom of God.  That is, to seek Him alone.  We live in a culture that seeks so many other things.  Our hopes, dreams, and security are anchored on all kinds of “other things”.  We must seek Him alone.

Micah saw this for us.  He calls us to really be part of the Messiah’s Kingdom.  There really is no other way forward for us.

Real Health

“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.””  Luke 5:31-32

Miroslav Volf, in his book Free of Charge (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2005) writes about grace and forgiveness.  In a powerful chapter asking the question “How shall we forgive?”  Volf presents a moving description of just what real humanity is all about.  The Lord Jesus Christ revealed to us a genuine humanity in His Incarnation.  He became fully human while remaining fully God.  He then went willingly to the cross in order to die for us.  As Volf writes,

“Christ died to remove the stain of sin that sticks to me as long as I live.  Christ died in my place.  I don’t need to die to be freed from sin.  And because Christ died, I also don’t need to die when I forgive, when I unbind a sinful deed from the person who committed it against me.  Indeed, it would be preposterous for me to think that I could ever do such a thing — die as a substitute for my neighbours sin.  When Christ died, we all died in Him.  But my death is only my own, it can never be another’s.  In regard to the sin of another, as in regard to my own sin, Christ does everything alone.  When I forgive an offense directed against me, I don’t die, and therefore I don’t forgive exactly as God does.”

As Volf goes on he explores our calling to be fully human, even as he demonstrated that we are unable to be so.  We are sinners in need of the forgiveness which Christ gives us through the Cross.  His gracious gift to us leads to forgiveness and freedom from sin.  Volf had earlier described the way in which his own parents had lived out the reality of a costly forgiveness when they forgave those whose inattention had led to the death of their son Daniel.  Our forgiveness cost God the death of His only begotten Son.

When Jesus calls Matthew to become a disciple he opens Himself up to the Pharisees who in their self righteousness thought that a Tax Collector could never be a saved person.  In this attitude these Pharisees were demonstration their own inhumanity.  How often do we demonstrate the same thing when we look upon others, whether it is a person who has wronged us, or a certain group or nationality, or even someone who has behaved in a way that can only be defined as reprehensible by any standard we could ever apply.  Such people are defined, by us, as outside of salvation.

These are the very people however who Jesus went to the cross for.  All they need do is hear His invitation to come to Him, just as Matthew did.  They are to come in repentance and they will receive forgiveness from Him.

What a precious, forgiving grace He purchased for us on the cross.  The question is will you repent and believe in Him so that you might be forgiven and made to be fully human?

 

 

 

An Invitation

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.  To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.  And who is equal to such a task?”

                                                                                                                                                2 Corinthians 2:14-16

Every Wednesday evening between the beginning of September and the end of June a group of us gather at First Baptist Church Brampton for a Bible Study.  It is such a joyful and wonderful thing to share together with a smaller group of Christian brothers and sisters a time of fellowship and prayer, while we look more deeply into the message of the Scriptures.  In the past few months we have been exploring the book of Psalms.  In this book we encounter the call of God that we might come to Him for refuge.  Refuge is found in faith and in prayer.  It is also found in our trusting in God’s Messiah the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here we find the promise of a coming Messiah who will be eternal God come as a human being to serve His heavenly Father.  He was to be born into the town of Bethlehem, and would be of the family of David the King.  The Psalmist tells us that this Messiah will lead His people into a deep and rich experience of the peace of God.  It is wonderful to discuss together the way in which this promise became living reality in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.  Jesus Himself points to promises like this as He describes the purpose for which He has come.  The Apostle John records that Jesus taught that He is the Good Shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep.  The Psalmist pointed to that very thing as being at the heart of the Messiah’s ministry.  In His Cross and Resurrection we are reconciled to God.

As the Apostle Paul writes about this reality in 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 he tells us that in these great promises of God we encounter the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In the message of the Gospel God brings both judgement and hope into our world.  What our experience of it will be is determined by how we respond to the Lord Jesus Christ.  If we by faith put our trust and obedience in Him we discover that He is our Savoir, who brings into our lives the abundant grace and love of the Gospel.  If we reject Him by refusing to believe in Him then to us He becomes our judge.  The question is ‘Who is He to you?

Come and join us, if you can on Wednesday nights at 7PM so that you can share in the blessings we are experiencing in our Bible Study.

Remember

“Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.  Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.”  Psalm 25:6-7

We are often asked about how we want to be remembered.  Just yesterday I led a funeral service for a dear sister in Christ who has entered into the Lord’s presence.  The service gave us an opportunity to reflect on how a person is to be remembered in life.  The word, used here in Psalm 25:6-7 can mean to mark something or to mention it.  How do you want the Lord to mark or speak about the life you have lived.  Do you want it to be based upon what you have done, the good and the bad things which characterize any life, or do you want it to be based upon His grace?

This is the beauty of the text which is before us.  David asks the Lord, Jehovah, to remember him according to His great mercy and love.  This is literally the Lord’s compassion and steadfast love or grace.  David is, I believe, examining the way in which the Lord has always dealt with His people.  We can trace through the Bible the wonderful account of how God has dealt with His people according to the principle of His grace.  He is the compassionate, gracious God who visits His people in order to redeem them from their sin.  David makes his appeal to God as one who knows that he has sinned, but who has put all of his hope into the promise of the redeeming love of the Lord.  In writing this it is entirely possible that David is focused upon God’s promise of a redeemer, or Messiah who come out of David’s House. The Lord is going to do something out of His own nature as our redeemer in order to reconcile His people to Himself.  David’s prayer is that God will remember His grace when He thinks about David.

The alternative is that God would remember David’s sin.  The youthful rebellion and ungodly behaviour that David knows marks his personal history is always before him.  We know that we always take our past with us as we move through life.  Even if we have done everything possible to leave it behind there will always be someone to remind us of it.  More than that we instinctively know that when we come to the end of our lives and stand before God in judgment that the one who is all knowing will hold us accountable.  That is unless He has chosen not to remember our sins.  This is David’s hope.  He cries out to God to remember not his sins.  This is because God has focused His attention on grace, which has been given through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  David’s hope is the hope that each one of us stands upon.

How do you want God to remember you?  Do you want God to look upon you in judgment according to all that you have done both good and bad?  Or do you want Him to look upon you in grace because your King, the Lord Jesus Christ has died in your place?