Friday, 24 February 2017

I am your servant

O Lord, truly I am Your servant;
I am Your servant, the son of Your maidservant;
You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving,
And will call upon the name of the Lord. – Psalm 116.12-17

Being a servant is not something most of us would choose to do. The idea of being subject to someone else’s whims and desires certainly doesn’t appeal to me. War have been fought to free people from servanthood.

And yet this is a term that is prominent throughout the word of God. ‘The servant of the Lord’ is an honoured title. Over and over again Paul refers to himself as the ‘bondservant’ of the Lord.

The great problem lies in the fact that we are all servants. We either serve self, sin, and Satan or we serve Christ. Salvation frees us from the power of sin over us. It can no longer be our master. We have a new Master in Christ and serving Him should be a joy because we serve a Master who only loves us and desires what is best for us.

Jesus has indeed loosed us from the bonds of sin and lovingly accepts us as His servants instead.

While there is only misery and emptiness in serving sin there is joy in serving Jesus.

Jesus Himself to took on the form of a servant – make me a servant like Jesus.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Lord is mindful

The Lord has been mindful of us;
He will bless us;
He will bless the house of Israel;
He will bless the house of Aaron.
He will bless those who fear the Lord,
Both small and great.
May the Lord give you increase more and more,
You and your children.
May you be blessed by the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth. – Psalm 115.12-15

Why in the world would God even bother with us? We have made a real muck of it. Adam and Eve’s sin has passed on to all of us and that sin has wrecked the world. To me it would absolute sense if God just wiped us all out.

The psalmist speaks to Israel, but we can just as surely, or even more surely, say with him ‘the Lord has been mindful of us.’

For us that mindfulness goes beyond just being declared His nation of His people. For us His mindfulness means that He sent His son to die for each and every one of us. It means that He knows each of us and that He knows just what we need.

It is only the love of God that can explain His mindfulness. Our rebellion against Him deserves nothing but His wrath.

But still He cares and His caring sent His Son. He is mindful of us and will bless us, even when we don’t deserve it.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The mighty power of God

And Israel His dominion.
The sea saw it and fled;
Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams,
The little hills like lambs.
What ails you, O sea, that you fled?
O Jordan, that you turned back?
O mountains, that you skipped like rams?
O little hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
At the presence of the God of Jacob,
Who turned the rock into a pool of water,
The flint into a fountain of waters. – Psalm 114

I think sometimes we can take the mighty power of God for granted. I think we miss out how just how great He is. When things get tough for us and we worry about the future it is because we don’t recognise just how great He is.

Here the psalmist speak of the world trembling at His power seen in His creation. God’s power parted the Red Sea. It parted the Jordan River. God’s power moves mountains and can put pools of water where there were once rocks. God’s power causes the very world to tremble.

The great Isaac Watts spoke of the power of God in his mighty hymn.

I sing the mighty power of God, that made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.
I sing the wisdom that ordained the sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, and all the stars obey.

I sing the goodness of the Lord, who filled the earth with food,
Who formed the creatures through the Word, and then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed, where’er I turn my eye,
If I survey the ground I tread, or gaze upon the sky.

There’s not a plant or flower below, but makes Thy glories known,
And clouds arise, and tempests blow, by order from Thy throne;
While all that borrows life from Thee is ever in Thy care;
And everywhere that we can be, Thou, God art present there.

This psalm and Watts’ words remind us of the mighty power of God who is ready and willing to work in our lives. Since God can create the world, part the Red Sea, divide the Jordan River, deliver 6,000,000 people from captivity, and change the hearts of lives of people who turn to Him surely that is cause for me to trust Him with my future.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

He lifted me up

Who humbles Himself to behold
The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?
He raises the poor out of the dust,
And lifts the needy out of the ash heap,
That He may seat him with princes—
With the princes of His people. – Psalm 113.6-8

I preach a message on this passage called ‘From the Dung Heap to the Prince’s Seat’ or ‘From Gong Farmer to Prince.’ It is taken from the phrase ‘He lifts the needy out of the ash heap that He may seat him with princes.’

Let me explain. We are fortunate enough that we live in a land full of medieval castles. These castles of course did not have indoor plumbing, but they did have a version of an indoor toilet. This small alcoves were called garderobes. They were simply holes cut in the stone and covered by a plank of wood. The waste usually fell into a chamber at ground level.


The gong farmer was hired to come in and collect the waste to be hauled off for fertiliser. His work would also stir up ammonia which served as a disinfectant to kill lice and such in the clothes hanging in the garderobe.

I can’t imagine a worse job. It was truly the pits. Day after day of cleaning out that waste was a hopeless and thankless job. There really was no future.

Living in the castle above was the royal family. They enjoyed the benefits of the work of the gong farmer and other workers.

Now imagine the king going down one night to where the the gong farmer was getting ready to start work. ‘Put down your shovel, you are coming with me.’ The king took him, had the servants help clean him up, gave him a set of royal robes, and took him up to his new room in the royal chambers.

Imagine the gratitude of the man that night as he climbed into his new bed in the (relative) comfort of the castle.

Sounds a bit unreal, doesn’t it?

But that is exactly, precisely what the psalmist says here about what happens when God delivers one who trusts Him. It is what He did for us when He saved us. Paul even uses the same analogy when he talks about all the good works he used to were nothing but human waste in relation to his salvation. Jesus Christ called him out of that and lifted him up to a royal inheritance.

Ad as believers that is where you and I stand today. We were wallowing in the waste pit of our works and Jesus Christ lifted us up to walk with Him. Our eternity is secure, we have nothing to fear, and we are released from living in the stench.

He has lifted us up.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Being upright in a divisive world

Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion. – Psalm 112.4-5

What is the upright man?

I know we can talk about the virtues of the upright man and his character. The upright man is holy and just and righteous and he does what is right and he fear God and shuns evil and he goes to church and just does right in his religion.

But here we see a few more things about the upright man:

He is gracious
He is full of compassion
He deal with others graciously
He is generous
He lives a discreet life

How many people would see us as upright if this was a measuring rod? There seems to be a tendency today for a lot of God’s people to get entangled in the affairs of the world and when we do that we will often adopt the tools and the weapons of the world and fight the war in such a way that no one can tell is from the ‘bad guys.’

When we deal with the world we must always stand for the cause of Christ and we can never compromise on the truth of God’s word.

But there are other things that we are not called to battle over. There are areas where we are clearly instructed not to get entangled with the affairs of the world. There are times when we are told to avoid wasteful battles and arguments and ever warned that those discussions a will cause us to ‘bit and devour one another.’

In any case, in our daily life and in our discussions and debates (and Facebook posts and our tweets) we might always ask ourselves:

Am I gracious in my words?
Am I full of compassion in my views about others?
Do I deal with others graciously?
Am I generous in thinking the best of others?
Am I handling these issues with discretion?


If those are the acts of the upright, how are doing? 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The power of His works

He has declared to His people the power of His works,
In giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of His hands are verity and justice;
All His precepts are sure.
They stand fast forever and ever,
And are done in truth and uprightness.
He has sent redemption to His people;
He has commanded His covenant forever:
Holy and awesome is His name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever. – Psalm 111.6-10

God has declared to the people the power of His works.

This is one of the surest indications that God is who He says He is. He doesn’t just say who He is, He shows us who He is. The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiworks.

God’s shows His power through any number of wonderful works. He created the marvels of nature all around us. He holds it all together. He made us in His image. He made us in a ‘fearful and wonderful’ manner. He allows our lungs to pump air and our hearts to beat.

I live in a beautiful country and all around me I can see some of those marvellous works in the beauty of His creation.

God shows Himself to men by the power of His works, but as mentioned recently the most powerful of His works is what He does in the lives of those who accept Him as saviour.

Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Volunteers

Your people shall be volunteers
In the day of Your power;
In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning,
You have the dew of Your youth. – Psalm 110.3


A call for loyal soldiers
Comes to one and all;
Soldiers for the conflict,
Will you heed the call?
Will you answer quickly,
With a ready cheer,
Will you be enlisted
As a volunteer?

A volunteer for Jesus,
A soldier true!
Others have enlisted,
Why not you?
Jesus is the Captain,
We will never fear,
Will you be enlisted
As a volunteer?

These are the words to a great old gospel song I have not heard in years. It is a stirring hymn calling God’s people to volunteer as soldiers for Christ. It is reminiscent of Paul’s call for us to ‘endure hardness as a good soldier for Jesus Christ.’ The song is a call for us to dedicate ourselves to God’s service.

God doesn’t force anyone to serve Him, but He does desire that His people will volunteer our lives to a life of serving Him.

But unlike earthly soldiers who are dedicated to some national power, God’s volunteers serve Him in the beauty of holiness. Volunteering for Him means that we give up our own wishes and desires to serve Him in holiness.

As we see things around us in confusion and despair it is more than time for us to step up as volunteers for Jesus and serve Him in the beauty of His holiness.