What to do with Bad Stories? – Psalm 106

What to do with Bad Stories? – Psalm 106

Ever wonder why we tell kids Bible stories that are… well, let’s face it some of them are horrible stories about things we’d all love to shelter our kids from. Psalm 105 gives a compelling reason why.

PSALMS 105 AND 106 provide us with a paired message based on the history of Israel. Psalm 105 focuses on the faithfulness of God and his miraculous redeeming works. It is a celebration of God’s covenantal promises to the patriarchs, particularly to Abraham, and his powerful intervention in the exodus from Egypt. In Psalm 106 the historical lessons focus on the negative side of things: the forgetfulness and faithlessness of God’s people throughout many generations. [Psa 105 does] not present “history for history’s sake”; rather, these poetic accounts of past deeds are designed to teach important lessons to the psalmist’s generation and to every succeeding community of God’s people. We learn from the account of God’s faithfulness in dealing with his people and from reflecting on the failures of our forebears.
In terms of structure, Psalm 105 breaks down into five broad sections:
1. The call to praise (vv. 1–7);
2. The covenant with Abraham (vv. 8–15);
3. Providence through trial in the Joseph story (vv. 16–22);
4. Moses and the miracle of the exodus (vv. 23–38);
5. Desert provision and the opportunities of the land (vv. 39–41);
6. Theological commentary and conclusion (vv. 42–45).

A remembrance psalm: Psalm 105 looks back over the history of Israel to celebrate how God has protected the Israelites and provided for them from the time of Abraham to the conquest. Remembering former times builds up confidence for the present and hope for the future as they contemplate God’s great acts in the past. Remembrance psalms invite Christians to look to the past in order to see God’s great acts. Of course, we have an even longer history to contemplate and one that climaxes in the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Indeed, as Paul thinks about the crossing of the sea at the time of the exodus and the provision of water from the rock in the wilderness, he points out that ‘these things occurred as examples’ (1 Cor. 10:6). – Tremper Longman

“Together” is Worship – Psalm 122

“Together” is Worship – Psalm 122

Your walk with God might be missing something really important. Most American Christians work at getting being alone with God, and then wonder why something feels like it’s missing – Psalm 122 has the answer.

Psalm 122:title–9 (NIV)

A song of ascents. Of David.

I rejoiced with those who said to me,

“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Our feet are standing

in your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built like a city

that is closely compacted together.

That is where the tribes go up—

the tribes of the Lord—

to praise the name of the Lord

according to the statute given to Israel.

There stand the thrones for judgment,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

“May those who love you be secure.

May there be peace within your walls

and security within your citadels.”

For the sake of my family and friends,

I will say, “Peace be within you.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,

I will seek your prosperity.

 

A Position of Strength – Psalm 18

A Position of Strength – Psalm 18

The hits don’t stop, the waves keep coming. What do you do when it’s hard to find stable footing? Psalm 18 has the ultimate answer for the waves in the storms of this life.

Sermon Helps

Psalm 18:1–6 (NIV) — 1 I love you, LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. 5 The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

Psalm 18 Outline:

Psalm 18 is a close copy of the composition that appears in 2 Samuel 22:1–51. There, as here, the psalm is described as David’s melodic response to the divine deliverance from “the hand of all his enemies,” including Saul (2 Sam. 22:1; cf. Ps. 18:0). The psalm is an extended hymn of praise to Yahweh for his deliverance of the psalmist from a host of enemies. The theme of Yahweh as “rock,” “fortress,” and “refuge” appears at significant points throughout the psalm (18:2, 30–31, 46). Structurally, the psalm falls into five sections: an introduction of praise for Yahweh’s deliverance (18:1–3), a narrative in almost mythic terms of Yahweh’s saving acts in behalf of the psalmist (18:4–19), a passage of instruction in which the personal righteousness of the psalmist provides guidance for the reader/hearer (18:20–29), a description of victory over the enemies in which the psalmist’s commitment to Yahweh serves as an example to the reader/hearer (18:30–45), and a conclusion that returns to praise of Yahweh (18:46–50). -Gerald H. Wilson

The captivating poetry of Psalm 18 crafts a stunning confession of faith in the living God. As creator of the universe, this God hears the cry of a petitioner hard-pressed by enemies and intervenes with a powerful display of divine presence. YHWH reaches down into the very depths of death to rescue the Davidic ruler, who faces defeat. YHWH fulfills the royal promise of rule over the nations. The psalm reflects the powerful cries for help in the lament traditions; the thanksgiving offered to God in Psalm 18 is equally extravagant. The psalm’s powerful portrayal of God as victor will strike some contemporary readers as problematic. This God is powerful but also violent and warring. The focus in the context of the Psalms is a covenant theology in which God relates to the faithful and the oppressed as the one who comes to deliver. The description of God certainly partakes of its ancient Near Eastern setting, but the focus of the psalm is on YHWH as the one who fulfills the promise of salvation for David and his descendants as well as the faithful who cry to YHWH for help. This God is in the fray. We have already noted that the psalm has implications beyond the Davidic line. The king is representative of the person journeying in faith, and the petition calls readers of the psalm to faith in this God who delivers, perhaps even to join this God in the fray on behalf of those in need. Such a faith affirmation flies in the face of contemporary empirical evidence, but the psalm’s faith is a persistent one, even if troubling.
– Walter Bruggemann

Our righteousness counts for something. It may not pay off in wealth and pleasure. We may not achieve all our goals, satisfy our desires, or rise to great influence and power. But the blessing of God’s presence in our lives is in direct proportion to our acknowledgment of absolute dependence on him. God does deliver the righteous—although not always from their troubles, always to renewed experience of the joy of his indwelling spiritual presence. As Job and the Proverbs attest, that is the better way, the way of life. He makes my way perfect. Related to the psalmist’s confession that God responds “according to my righteousness” (18:20–24) is the further admission that it is Yahweh and not the psalmist who “makes my way perfect.” (18:32b). The psalmist does not claim sinless perfection, but he relies on Yahweh’s gracious provision. In the commentary I indicated that this phrase, linked with the following verse, suggests nimble surefootedness. However, the connection with Yahweh’s “perfect way” and “flawless word” in 18:30 implies that much more is at stake here than simply secure footing. It implies that for those who trust and rely on the equipping power of Yahweh to confront and defeat the powers that oppose them, Yahweh makes their path a “blameless” way that mirrors the path of God himself.
That is the gospel message unleashed in an Old Testament idiom! What we cannot do for ourselves—make our path perfect—God can and will do for us. Faith, trust, commitment, and reliance can turn our fumbling steps into a “way” to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for us. – Gerald H. Wilson

A Surprising Trip Review – Psalm 23

A Surprising Trip Review – Psalm 23

You’d be a little better off on life’s journey if you knew what the road ahead might look like… Psalm 23 is a Trip Advisory review and if you check it out you’ll be better prepared for what might interrupt your plans ahead.

What God Says in Silence

What God Says in Silence

Did you know – that in those moments where you really really really want God to say something… HE does? – And it might not be what you want to hear, but it just might be what we NEED to hear.

What God says… What We Say

Genesis 17:7–8 (NIV) — 7 I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. 8 The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

Deuteronomy 31:7–8 (NIV) — 7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

1 Chronicles 28:20 (NIV) — 20 David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.

Psalm 37:23–25 (NIV) — 23 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. 25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

Matthew 28:18-20 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

Hebrews 13:5–6 (NIV) — 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

What We Believe about Baptism:
The sacrament of baptism reminds and assures us that “as surely as water washes away dirt from the body, so certainly [Christ’s] blood and his Spirit wash away . . . all [our] sins” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. and A. 69). And because “infants as well as adults are in God’s covenant and are his people,” they, “no less than adults, are promised the forgiveness of sin” and thus “by baptism . . . should be received into the Christian church. . . . This was done in the Old Testament by circumcision, which was replaced in the New Testament by baptism” (Heidelberg Catechism, Q. and A. 74).

Heidelberg Catechism
Q. How does holy baptism remind and assure you that Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross benefits you personally?
A. In this way: Christ instituted this outward washing1 and with it promised that, as surely as water washes away the dirt from the body, so certainly his blood and his Spirit wash away my soul’s impurity, that is, all my sins. 2
1 Acts 2:38 2 Matt. 3:11; Rom. 6:3-10; 1 Pet. 3:21

Q. Does this outward washing with water itself wash away sins?
A. No, only Jesus Christ’s blood and the Holy Spirit cleanse us from all sins.1
1 Matt. 3:11; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 1:7

Q. Why then does the Holy Spirit call baptism the water of rebirth and the washing away of sins?
A. God has good reason for these words. To begin with, God wants to teach us that the blood and Spirit of Christ take away our sins just as water removes dirt from the body.1 But more important, God wants to assure us, by this divine pledge and sign, that we are as truly washed of our sins spiritually as our bodies are washed with water physically.2
1 1 Cor. 6:11; Rev. 1:5; 7:14
2 Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27

About Goshen Church Offices
Elders serve by governing the church in Christ’s name. They must provide true preaching and teaching, regular celebration of the sacraments, and faithful counsel and discipline while keeping in confidence those matters entrusted to them. And they must promote fellowship and hospitality among believers, ensure good order in the church, and stimulate witness to all people.

Deacons serve by showing mercy to the church and to all people. By this they show that Christians live by the Spirit of the kingdom. Deacons assess needs, promote stewardship and hospitality, collect and disburse resources for benevolence, and develop programs of assistance. They are also called to speak words of Christian encouragement. Thus in word as well as deed they demonstrate the care of the Lord himself.

These tasks of elders and deacons call for believers who are Christlike, who are mature in the faith, and who exercise their offices with prayer, patience, and humility.

Father of Many

Father of Many

the power of simple obedience. 

Sermon Helps

The Bible’s Story of Human History
Genesis 1:31 (NIV) — 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Genesis 1:27–28 (NIV) So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Genesis 3:15 (NIV) — 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 3:16–19 (NIV) — 16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children… To Adam he said… “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Genesis 4:6–7 (NIV) — 6 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”

Genesis 6:5 (NIV) — 5 The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

Genesis 8:21 (NIV) — 21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

Genesis 11:4 (NIV) — 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
Abraham
Genesis 12:1–4 (NIV) — 1 The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. 2 “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. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” 4 So Abram went, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.

Genesis 13:14–17 (NIV) — 14 The LORD said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. 15 All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16 I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17 Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

Hebrews 11:8–10 (NIV) — 8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

Abraham demonstrates his faith by obeying God, even though he was completely unfamiliar with the land to which he was going. This thought continues the motif that faith consists of acting with reference to the unseen. It is important to note that the promise that his descendants would inherit the land did not come until Abraham was already in Canaan, and the promise would not be realized by Abraham himself but by his offspring. Thus, he did not go to the land to possess it but to live out an act of obedience to God. Also, his mode of living in Canaan—dwelling in tents—served as a symbol of his commitment not to settle into the earthly cities of the Canaanites, but to seek a more permanent city built by God.  (2) Abraham was enabled to become a father because he believed God (see Gen. 18:10–15; 21:1–7).12 Faith, moving beyond the normal boundaries of possibility, works miracles. Abraham, an old man, and Sarah, his wife, well past the age of being able to conceive, became parents, trusting in the faithfulness of God. Again the emphasis here challenges the hearers to take their eyes off of the obvious—in this case the inability of old people to become pregnant—and to focus on the faithful God of integrity, who keeps his promises. In verse 11 the writer alludes to Genesis 15:6: “Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” The happy result, in accordance with the promise of God (Gen. 15:5), is recorded in Hebrews 11:12: “And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.” Out of nothing comes a multitude too numerous to count. – George H. Guthrie