Archive for January 2010

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Gimel

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G’day and welcome to Partake! Welcome back to Scriptural Delights, our series going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Here is our fifth podcast. Today we look at the third of its twenty-two letters – Gimel, verses 17 to 24.

17 Do good to your servant, and I will live;

I will obey your word.

18 Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

19 I am a stranger on earth;

do not hide your commands from me.

20 My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times.

21 You rebuke the arrogant,

who are cursed and who stray from your commands.

22 Remove from me scorn and contempt,

for I keep your statutes.

23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,

your servant will meditate on your decrees.

24 Your statutes are my delight;

they are my counselors.

The Psalmist plea in verse 17 is not an uncommon one in the Old Testament. The Psalmist is turning his eyes away from his own situation, and onto God and what God wants for him – total obedience! Now it could be that the Psalmist’s life was in danger of physical death from one of his enemies. It is equally true that the Psalmist is also speaking of his spiritual life, which is only in fellowship with God. Salvation, is not through keep the rules of the Law but rather the Law was there to show the futility of man’s efforts to save himself. Salvation could only come from God alone, which it would do through the Messiah who was to come. It was due to God’s mercy that the Psalmist had fellowship with him, which the Psalmist wants to offer himself in total obedience to God.

Verse 18 shows this, because when the Psalmist sees the beauty of the Law, he sees God doing wondrous things! Its as if scales or cataracts fall from his eyes so that he can see clearly. Once he was blind, but now he can see! It’s a WOW factor! The Psalmist earnestly seeks to serve God, because it is due to God alone that he has spiritual life, indeed any life at all!

The Psalmist continues to build up metaphors about his relationship with God through His commands, laws, statutes and decrees! Truly the Psalmist sees obedience to God as paramount as a worthy response to God’s grace and mercy towards him. For if obedience is worship, the Psalmist is keen to make his life a life of total worship to God! The Psalmist recognizes that life on earth is only temporary, that’s why he calls himself a stranger on earth (v19)! There is a better place for him and only God can provide the way there, through His grace and mercy. It’s a relief from the worries and strains the Psalmist is enduring.

Despite all that’s going on around him, such as in v23 where other rulers plot against him, he puts his hope in God alone. In keeping God’s laws and obeying Him, the Psalmist is careful against become proud that he is in fellowship with God. It is in humility that the Psalmist maintains his fellowship with God. This is seen in asking forgiveness for times of disobedience, where he was full of scorn and contempt.

With the possibility of other things to distract him, the Psalmist occupies himself with the reading of the Law and being in communion with God alone. By seeking the counsel of God through Scripture, the Psalmist’s worries disappear because his eyes turn towards God instead of on the problems. God is the solution to problems, following God, obeying God and walking with God are the Psalmist priorities. The promises of God are a sweet healing ointment to a troubled soul and a fragrantly pleasing aroma to the senses. The Psalmist knows that reading Scripture and obeying God through it, provides a stable relationship between himself and God.

When Jesus says in Matthew 6v25-34, “Do not worry…” he stipulates that we are to seek God’s righteousness and be dependent upon God to supply all needs. Let tomorrow worry about itself, Jesus said, and seek God at all opportunity. Remember who you are, he says! You are of infinite worth to God, much more than plants and animals! Allow God to permeate every aspect of your life and let God be seen in every aspect of your life!

Part of seeking God’s righteousness, is in reading the Bible and seeing how He guides and speaks into our individual situations. For the Psalmist, God’s words were his counsel.

What worries and concerns are you going through today? Ask God to help you and ask others to ask God on your behalf. By asking, you show humility and dependence upon God. As humans, we are born dependent on God and others and as we grow through life, we are also dependent upon God for all things and dependent upon other people as well. By showing our need to be helped by other people and dependence upon them, we show our need and dependence upon God.

Jesus Christ was the greatest example of that. As a baby he was dependent on milk from his mother and to have his bottom wiped, yet maintained his divine dignity. In dying, he was dependent on others to offer him a drink as he hung on a cross (Matthew 27v48). In his death he was dependent upon God the Father to raise him to life again, just as He had promised to do. Three days later, Jesus rose from the tomb of death to new life.

God is totally reliable and will help you when you ask. Maybe not in the way you expect, but due to His mercy and grace, He who is the wisest of all, will help you in the best way possible. God has promised and He always keeps his promises.

Thank you.

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POD - Psalm 119v17-24

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Psalm 119v17-24 (g Gimel)

(as read by Jessica)

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17 Do good to your servant, and I will live;

I will obey your word.

18 Open my eyes that I may see

wonderful things in your law.

19 I am a stranger on earth;

do not hide your commands from me.

20 My soul is consumed with longing

for your laws at all times.

21 You rebuke the arrogant, who are cursed

and who stray from your commands.

22 Remove from me scorn and contempt,

for I keep your statutes.

23 Though rulers sit together and slander me,

your servant will meditate on your decrees.

24 Your statutes are my delight;

they are my counselors.

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Beth - Psalm 119v9-16

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9 How can a young man keep his way pure?

By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart;

do not let me stray from your commands.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, O LORD;

teach me your decrees.

13 With my lips I recount

all the laws that come from your mouth.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes

as one rejoices in great riches.

15 I meditate on your precepts

and consider your ways.

16 I delight in your decrees;

I will not neglect your word.

Welcome back to Scriptural Delights, our series going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Here is our fourth podcast.  Today we look briefly at the second of its twenty-two letters - Beth

From verse 9, it would seem that the young man is the writer himself.  He is seeking wholeheartedly a way to keep himself pure and upright before God. He is pleading most earnestly not to stray from obeying God and God's commands!  The commands are so embedded with him that they form his very being, such is this young man's desire not to sin against the Lord.

He then goes on to complete this section, celebrating with great joy the virtues of Gods Word, commands and laws!  He is full of praise because God teaches him!  He rejoices at the depth of following God and being obedient to Him!  He meditates, reflects, contemplates God's ways and promises not neglect God and God's promises.  Where in verse 11, he says "word" that is better translated as "promise", number 8 in our list of meanings in the second of this series.  He will keep God's promises within himself as a reminder of God's goodness and holiness.

It is a reminder to us all that when we are struggling with some aspect of faith, to remember God's promise to us.  When the evil one comes knocking and says that God has abandoned you, remember that God has not abandoned you, will not abandon you and has a grip on you!

The Psalmist describes the benefits of reading and meditating upon the Bible. God's words become a delight as he follows God's decrees. A sense of wonder is instilled as God's word is meditated upon. Strength overcomes tiredness as he listens to God speaking through the Bible. These are also true for the Christian disciple!

The promises of God are valid and they are trustworthy!  God is both capable of both trusting and being capable of being trusted. The young man writing this would be familiar with the Covenant God had made with Moses.  He would have known that the commandments were given so they would know how to relate socially to God.  He would know that the judgments were given in order that people could relate socially to each other.  Finally, he would remember that the decrees dictated their religious life so that God could be approached by humanity on His terms.  And for all that, the Psalmist knew that salvation was from God's grace and not through blind obedience to a list of rules.

In Jesus Christ, you have His promises written on your heart if you are a follower of Him.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, you have God the Holy Spirit within you! When you are struggling, ask Him for help!  Read your Bible faithfully and consistently, all of it - not just the favourite parts!  God the Holy Spirit will remind you of things contained within it, just when you need it or need to give it to another person!  Remember key Bible verses and use them to be obedient to Him and to lovingly direct others to be obedient to Him! We are to feed our minds with that which is pure, and then it will be easier to control your thought life.. There is an old saying, that if you put garbage in, you will get garbage out. Thoughts come from the outside, its what you do with the thought that matters! Sinful desires often start out as thoughts and are easily inflamed, played upon or enlarged quickly.

Do you have an area of your life where you are particularly vulnerable to disobey God? Then learn what God has to say in the Bible about that area of life, and memorise some verses about it! Jesus Christ, the only person ever to live a fully obedient life to God, used the Scriptures constantly! We can do likewise, because if we are followers of Jesus Christ, we have God the Holy Spirit inside us to help us recall what we have read and endeavoured to memorise!

Thank you

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Cope

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A Strategy to Cope

Preached at Poulner Baptist Chapel

24th January 2010

Hebrews 3

1 Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess. 2 He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God's house. 3 Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. 4 For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. 5 Moses was faithful as a servant in all God's house, testifying to what would be said in the future. 6 But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

7 So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice,

8 do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert,

9 where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.

10 That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.'

11 So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.' "

12 See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.

15 As has just been said: "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion."

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the desert? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.

The first thing we do is to consider Jesus or as the NIV here puts it “fix our thoughts”. Now remember, that these are Hebrew believers. I guess we would call them Messianic Jews today. They believed that Jesus was their Messiah, Saviour and Lord. They were obviously coming under pressure from their Jewish friends and leaders to deny this Jesus and return to the fold. They would have been told how great Moses was. In the previous chapter we read how Jesus is greater than the angels, because He is God, but was made a little lower than the angels when he became a man.

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Aleph

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1 Blessed are they whose ways are blameless,

who walk according to the law of the LORD.

2 Blessed are they who keep his statutes

and seek him with all their heart.

3 They do nothing wrong;

they walk in his ways.

4 You have laid down precepts

that are to be fully obeyed.

5 Oh, that my ways were steadfast

in obeying your decrees!

6 Then I would not be put to shame

when I consider all your commands.

7 I will praise you with an upright heart

as I learn your righteous laws.

8 I will obey your decrees;

do not utterly forsake me.

Welcome back to Scriptural Delights, our series going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Here is our first of twenty two letters - Aleph!

I wonder what you regard as being successful in life? Is it the amount of money in your bank accounts? Or perhaps it is the long and successful career? Now while there is nothing essentially wrong with those sorts of things, the Psalmist writes that the key to living a successful life is to be obedient to God and doing, as He has decreed. God has spoken and given His decrees, law, commands and statutes!

Look at the picture the Psalmist writes. Walk according to the Law of the Lord. Keep His statutes. Seek Him wholeheartedly. The person who is blessed doesn’t do wrong against other people (that is what is meant in verse 3) and is obedient to God’s decrees. The successful person considers how to best apply God’s commands in their life, letting them permeate every facet of their being! A successful life is one, which is utterly obedient to God and God’s commands, precepts and decrees. Not only in the doing of them, but also in the underlying attitude. God’s commands are not only things to be done, but also things not to be done! When we sin, and we all do, sometimes is because we do something that is wrong and contrary to God’s law. But there are also sins that are because we fail to do something in order to fulfil God’s commands.

God’s commands it should be noted are not to become objects of worship themselves! God alone, the giver of the commands, is to be worshipped and adored! Some people I meet are all for the laws of God but forget about the giver, Almighty God!

God, as revealed in the Bible, is to be followed with commitment to God but also with consistency or as the Psalmist says “steadfast”. Obedience to God brings about praise to God and does not end in disappointment or shame. Obedience brings joy and a glow to the face!

And how can we be fully obedient to God? Is it through our own strength, wisdom and actions we can fully satisfy all of God’s laws? No! Because we will fail if we try to obey God in our own strength! Read verse 8 again! God will help you to fulfil all His commands if you ask Him! God will not abandon or forsake you, but wants to help! God is personal, and not distant – He will help! Amazing!! To have a successful life is to be obedient to God and His decrees, cries the Psalmist.

What has all this to do with the Christian in the 21st century?  Jesus Christ is the only man who ever fully obeyed God in every facet of life. He was the only man to truly be successful and by claiming Him to be our God, then we too can be successful. If you need help to be obedient, just ask Him!

If you are a Christian listening to this, you have God inside you through the person of the Holy Spirit! Part of His role in your life is to guide you and help you to live a life of obedience to Jesus Christ the Son, so that the praise, honour and glory go to God the Father. Will you ask the Holy Spirit to do that for you? And if you have done wrong, ask God for forgiveness of that sin and do not let it trap you in its snare! Be quick to ask forgiveness and do not fall for the tempter’s traps.

Be blessed by God, and to show that you are blessed, live a life of obedience to Him!

A question for you to ponder and act upon: What areas in my life do i need to give fully to God, so that I can be seen to be obedient to Him, in everything I do, in all my attitudes and thoughts?

For the next one, please do read Psalm 119v9-16.

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Words for Scripture

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Welcome back to our series based on Psalm 119. This is the second in our series. Throughout Psalm 119, the writer has 8 different words for Scripture or "Law of the Lord". When the Psalmist says "God's Law", "Law of the Lord" or Torah, he does not mean, as some think, just the Mosaic law, but rather all of the revealed will and mind of God in the Old Testament scriptures. We, of course, don't know how much of the Old Testament was written when the Psalmist was writing Psalm 119, but we do know that he would have had at his disposal at least the first 5 books, the Pentateuch. That's Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy to you and I. Additionally, it is also quite probably some of the historical books and maybe even the book of Job.

So with that brief introduction lets investigate these 8 words. Of course our modern translations don't always use these words, but rather, these are root meanings of the original Hebrew words.

1. Commandments: This word, commandment, signifies a direct order from authority. It is not simply power to influence but rather the right to give orders and an attitude of assuredness.

2. Law: The first word to share is "law" and it is the most common of all the words used here in Psalm 119. It has as its foundation the word "teach" or "direction" and can be synonymous with one commandment or a whole book of laws to be followed. It shows that God's revealed will is not simply for observation only but is primarily for obedience!

3. Ordinance: Within the Old Testament, this would be judgements or decisions as laid down by a supremly wise Judge. But its more than judgements, because it also signifies the justice of being dutiful and responsible.

4. Precepts: this word is drawn from a person who is a manager or inspector, looking into a situation and getting ready to act. This word reflects the finer detail or specific instructions as laid down by the Lord.

5. Promise: Very similar in nature to "Word", its root or foundation is from "to say" or "promise to do or say". God's promises are true - He keeps His promises! For a quick example: throughout the Old Testament, God's people, Israel, had the promise of the Messiah - not only for themselves but for the whole world! In the New Testament, we see this promise fulfilled - with Jesus Christ being the long-waited for Messiah.

6. Statutes: When the Psalmist speaks of statutes, he writes about the permanence of Scripture, as an enduring reminder of the Lord and His goodness.

7. Testimonies: This means that what God says is a reliable witness, a witness that is faithful, dependable and true. Rules & high standards for practical and obedient godly life with warnings against disobedience abound within this expression.

8. Word: This the most popular expression used by the Psalmist, simply means God's revealed truth in any shape, form, commandment or statement.

Of course for those of in the 21st century, Scripture or "Law of the Lord" is not confined to the first five books of the Old Testament or even the whole Old Testament. No! Scripture for us also includes the New Testament. We have the benefit of being able to read and study the Old Testament with the understanding and eyes of the New Testament. So many Christians only look at, study and preach the New Testament. But Scripture is all 66 books, all revealing God's timeless truths.

Here in Psalm 119, the Psalmist equates 8 key words about God's revealed word: Law, Testimonies, Precepts, Statutes, Commandments, Ordinances, Word and Promises. They are not meant to be seen as 8 individual words, but rather 8 distinct aspects of God's revealed word in Scripture. For the Psalmist, at least the Pentateuch and probably some of the histories. For Jesus and the first Christians, the Old Testament and later on some of Pauls's writings as attested to by Peter "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3v15-16)

Hopefully by the end of these series of studies, you will have found a new delight in reading your Bible: all 66 books of it including perhaps some that you have never read before!

And now for you to ponder: Ask yourself how you view the Bible, how you read it, why you read it and do you listen to God speaking to you as you do so?

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