Not everyone loves the ‘Hokey Pokey’. I am one of those who doesn’t. Ultimately the Hokey Pokey is noy what it’s all about. Mankind was created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The final Psalm of the book of the Psalms, Psalm 150:1-6, ends the book on a note of great praise to God. He is worthy of all the praise that we could ever muster, and to live a life that praises God is surely one of our highest callings. If all creation is called upon to praise God, then let’s remember this. We have voices. We can communicate. ‘Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!’
We all have memories. Some are special. Some we would like to forget. Some that shape us into who we are! The writer of Psalm 126 also had a memory, a very particular one that involved the amazing deliverance that God gave to His people. And based on that memory, the psalm writer prayed what we find in this psalm – bring that memory to mind and letting it chapre his prayer for the now and the for future – that God would show His delivering power all over again!
While the majority of people have physical sight, there’s a high percentage who are blind in another sense. In Psalm 73:1-28, the writer, Asaph, confesses to this. When his eyes were on the wicked and their prosperity and the ease of their lives, he began to lose faith in God. and doubt whether serving Him was worth it at all. In other words, he baceme blind to the things of God as envy took hold of his sight and he began to slip. But something happened that changed this downward progression. It happened when he entered the sanctuary of God and his persepctive on what really matters in life was restored. We all need the reminder to keep on ‘looking to Jesus’. For when all is said and done, all He’s the only One worth looking to.
It’s not unusual these days for anyone to struggle with stress. We all have to manage it in some form. In his role as King over all Israel, David knew stress too, and this Psalm 86:1-17, we find him dealing with it through prayer to the One who could help him. In fact in the Psalm we find these elements present – sometimes David speaks to himself about God. Sometimes David speaks to God about God and sometimes David speaks to God about himself. All three are present in the psalm and all three are valid forms of prayer, and helpful with dealing with the many stresses of life.
In the final chapter of this letter of Paul to the church at Corinth, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 16:1-24, the Apostle comes down from the high point of the resurrection of Jesus and the hope that that brings to His people, to speak of more down to earth, day-to-day matters – especially relating to the Corinthians’ financial stewardship, some travel plans he could share with them, some news regarding fellow workers they knew and final prayers and blessings up this often wayward church. These matters may not be weighty theologically, but they do matter on a practical basis and they remind us of what kind of church we ought to be – living out the gospel in the world in which God has called us.
There’s something to be said about a church than runs smoothly and orderly. As a Presbyterian church, we usually don’t know any other way. The worship is ordered and everything is in its place. That’s certainly not how Paul would have described the very un-Presbyterian Church in Corinth! Instead of order there was chaos. Choas when it came to the use of tongues. Chaos when it came to the use of prophecy. Chaos when people were interrupting! Rather than ordered it was disordered. In 1 Corinthians 14:1-40, the Apostle Paul had quite a bit to say about these things and we learn from them and seek to do them today.
When it comes to ‘life after death’ there are a whole lot of questions and lots of different ideas. The Corinthians too had questions about what happens to our bodies after death, and these questions were the subject of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 15:35-58, where Paul likened what happens to our bodies when they die to the whole process of pplanting seeds – what you get is not what you put in the ground! This portion of text gives rise to the Christian’s understanding about the resurrection bodies that God will give to His people. To last the distance of eternity, they need to be and must be of a different kind to what we have now! This hope ought to encourage and inspire us to get busy with God’s work and put the fear of death away – as it one day will be – forever!
Sometimes that ‘what if?” question of thought just passes through your mind. “What if I’d married someone else?” “What if I’d been born in another country?” So many options to think on like these! In 1 Corinthians 15;12-34, Paul asks the question ‘What if Christ was not raised?” and comes up with some devastating answers. The resurrection of Jesus is so crucial to the Scriptures that without it, everything else falls. Paul even says that we may as well live the the rest of the world and adopt their philosophy ‘eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!’. But he doesn’t leave it there. One of the great ‘buts’ of the Bible puts things into their proper perspective!
On what basis are we accepted before God? In Luke 17:1-10, Jesus says his followers are unworthy servants. God owes us nothing and we owe him everything because he has accepted us by grace through faith alone. Hearing him, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith but they – and we – don’t need more faith so much as true faith. Having been forgiven, we forgive others – not to impress anyone but merely having “done what was our duty” (v10).
Prayer is something that should be fundamental to every Christian, yet we often neglect prayer while also taking prayer for granted (1 John 1:5-2:2). In this message, Ryan Smith reminds us again of the amazing provision that enables us, sinners, to come before a holy and righteous God, with confidence, and call on him as our Father (Mark 14:32-42). The good news transforms our understanding of prayer!