The Christmas hymn ‘Joy to the world’ is well known and loved. But did you know that it comes from Isaac Watts’ paraphrase of Psalm 98? Maybe you wouldn’t think that a Psalm like Psalm 98 has much to do with Christmas? Watts certainly thought so. In fact he saw in it much more than Jesus’ first coming (as a baby), but also his second coming (as King).
While the search for the meaning of life continues in many ways, including the fruitless exploration of outer space, Psalm 139:1-24 gives us a far different perspective. The psalm, written by King David, is a masterful and profound piece of poetry and a leading favourite of God’s people. There are many reasons why this is so, the main being that God’s intimate knowledge of us leads us to a wonderful knowledge of Him.
The Psalms are a great source of information and encouragement to the belever and Psalm 127:1-5 is no exception. The psalm was composed by King Solomon, who simply should have put into practise what he wrote! Life is busy, very busy, with work, houses, family and sleep all part of the picture. But all of it – without the Lord – will only lead to frustration. The Psalm tells us that much and puts life into perspective, but it also points forward to the One who came from heaven for us to build us and incorporate us into His house – forever!
Who would want to be a parent these days? The task has always been a hard one, but in these days there are so many more complicating factors and influences. This message examines the high calling of parenthood, some helpful texts from Psalm 78, Psalm 127 and Psalm 128 and a challenge to all to pass on the faith to the next generation.
Guest speaker, Rev. Ian Brown, preached from Psalm 51. King David was slow to recognise his sin (2 Samuel 11) until confronted by the prophet Nathan (2 Samuel 12) but some never do – and deceive themselves (1 John 1). David repents before God who is both just and merciful – sin is dealt with through Jesus (Romans 3:23-26). What is our response to God forgiving our sin?
There are three vioices in Psalm 19:1-14. The first voice is the voice of creation. Like other parts of the Bible, Psalm 19 teaches that all that we see in the created order testifies to the truth that God exists and that by all that He has made, He has spoken to all mankind about His existence. This is true for people all over the world. No-one can say they did not know that God existed. The second voice in the Psalm is the voice of God’s Word. While God’s voice through creation can be ignored or misinterpreted, He has also spoken to us through His Word, which, for the writer of the Psalm, were the books of God’s law which he treasured above everything. The third voice in the Psalm is the voice of God’s servant, who asked God to cleanse his heart from hidden sins and faults. The one who loves God over all things will want to be pure in order to serve Him and be ready to obey Him from the heart.
In Psalm 100, we have an invitation to come into God’s presence and serve him with gladness. We do this because of his good character and his care for us, his people, in so many ways. The returned exiles might not have always felt that joy in worship and we might struggle at times too. They were looking forward and we look back on God’s greatest expression of his steadfast love – sending the Good Shepherd, Jesus. We reflect on God’s Word to “Know the Lord” and be reminded of his goodness, which shapes our lives of service.
Most people get their education at school, but life also hands out many complex lessons. The man who wrote Psalm 116:1-19 found this to be true. When faced with an overwhelmingly desperate situation in which he was threatened by death, his cry to the Lord did not go unheard. In fact, God heard his cry and came to his rescue. As a response to this rescue, the Psalm writer willingly gave himself to the Lord to be his devoted servant and to testify to His saving power. God’s people know that the problem of sin is too big for anyone to handle alone. Only God can deal with sin and its consequences, and He did this by sending His Son to the cross. Salvation comes to all who call to the Lord and because He is gracious and faithful, He hears the cry of His own and saves them.
Psalm 19 begins by telling us that all around us is evidence for the reality of God. The stars and the skies daily proclaim His handiwork and his glory. These created things ‘speak’ to us of His presence and greatness, but they do not tell us of who he is or how we can find him. These truths about God are found in the rest of the Psalm. God speaks through His written word and this completes the puzzle. What the skies and stars do not tell us, His Word does! Sadly, many remain deaf and blind to the voice and the glory of God which has reached its greatest expression in the ministry and person of Jesus His Son.
Though it is right to remember those who fell in times of war, especially at the time of the ANZAC Centenary, it is even better to remember that Psalm 46 reminds us that the security of the nations depends not upon man and his machine, but upon the Lord of Hosts. Further to this, though Jesus’ words about ‘greater love has no man’, are often used to highlight the cost of freedom won by the sacrifice of many, they really refer to how we ought to understand His sacrifice on the cross for our sin. Then also, the Bible describes a war that we are all involved in and declares those who have faith in Jesus as the ones who are on the winning side.