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Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween. Here is our pumpkins from several years ago. (Click image for larger picture)

If you are not familiary with Veggie Tales, this is, from left to right, Bob, the Tomato; Larry, the Cumcumber; and Jimmy and Jerry Gourd (I may have those two confused - I never know which is which). Here is a picture of the whole Veggie Tales gang.

And, as Bob, the Tomato, always says, "Remember, God made you special and He loves you very much!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

True Unity

After the longest psalm in our study of the Psalms of Ascents, we find the second to the last psalm in this series. The psalmist has just spend a comparatively considerable amount of time reminding God of His oath with David and praying for the installation of the Davidic king. He now turns to what could be considered the beginning of the conclusion of these particular psalms. The psalmist proclaims how good it has been to be in Jerusalem with the people of God.

Read Psalm 133 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is my working outline. As always, it needs work and I would greatly appreciate any suggestions in improving it.

The Blessing of Unity

I. Unity with the people of God is good (1-3a)
     A. Religious illustration - oil
           1. It is a sanctifying oil
          2. It is a fragrant oil
     B. Natural illustration - dew
          1. It is refreshing
          2. It is fruitful

II. Unity with the people of God brings God's blessings (3b)
     A. It come through Christ ("there" = Zion)
     B. It is eternal

This is another little psalm (see Psalm 131) which has a big message. Interestingly, it amplifies a theme found in Psalm 122:4-5, which is unity. Verse one sets the topic for the entire psalm: how good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity.

Before any mention of the similes used in this passage to speak of unity, two things should be mentioned. First, the psalmist spoke of "brothers" having unity, that is, the people of God. Without God, there is no real unity. Which is really the starting place for point two: this concept of unity should be seen in the context of what these psalms have already said about unity. Specifically, Psalm 122 talks about unity and that unity does not mean uniformity nor does it mean licentiousness. In today's Western society, unity means the opposite of this. From a biblical Worldview, unity begins and ends with God.

This unity the psalmist has enjoyed brings to mind two images to his mind: one religious and one natural. Each of these bring an interesting aspect to his concept of unity. First, the oil mentioned here is the priestly oil for which God gave the recipe in Exodus 30:22-33, and with which Aaron was initially anointed and thus sanctified (Lev. 8:12). It must have also been incredibly fragrant (see the recipe in Exodus).

Both the issue of sanctified and fragrant speak to the believer. First Peter 2:9-10 calls believers a royal priesthood. This means we have been set apart for the service of God to represent the people to God and God to the people. Additionally, 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 speaks of how the Christian is to "stink" like Christ. The point here is that unity is based upon the work of Christ in the person's life.

The second illustration used to speak of the unity the psalmist experienced was dew from Mount Hermon. It is my understand Mount Hermon stands at almost 10,000 feet (what we call "tree line" here in Colorado). Click HERE to see pictures of Mount Hermon and read a little about it. In a desert place, where there is virtually no rain in the summer months, the dew which forms on Mount Hermon is a picture of refreshment and fruitfulness (with water available in the summer months, there is apparently something growing there all the time). The beleiver can easily see the application of unity with fellow believers producing a refreshing and fruitful time.

The psalmist finishes with the blessing this unity has produced. He first points out that the dew comes down from Hermon to Mount Zion, which is the temple mount, which is the place of sacrifice. It is here, on Mount Zion, where the Lord will give his blessing. This blessing was provided in the person and work of Jesus Christ. And it is this work which will provide everlasting life.

As I think of a song which is sung in churches today to capture the heart of this psalm, two come to mind. One of these songs is "Blest be the Tie that Binds." In fact, the Baptist Hymnal indicates that Psalm 133:1 is the Scriptural basis for this song (pg. 737). However, my church sings another song more frequently which also captures the theme of Psalm 133: "The Family of God" (click to listen).

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family,
The Family of God

You will notice we say "brother and sister" 'round here,
It's because we're a family and these are so near;
When one has a heartache, we all share the tears,
And rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family,
The Family of God

From the door of an orphanage to the house of the King,
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing;
From rags unto riches, from the weak to the strong,
I'm not worthy to be here, but PRAISE GOD! I belong!

I'm so glad I'm a part of the Family of God,
I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His Blood!
Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
For I'm part of the family,
The Family of God

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Davidic King is Coming

We are coming close to the end of our study of the Psalms of Ascents and we have come to the longest in this series. By way of review, the psalmist cries out to God because of the persecution he faces from his enemies. The psalmist confesses the conflict within himself in Psalm 130. Then in Psalm 131, he praises God for the benefits which come with a relationship with God. In this next psalm, Psalm 132, the psalmist lifts up the king of Israel, specifically the king from the Davidic line.

Read Psalm 132 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is my working outline. It is not a teaching outline yet but is more of an exegetical outline. To teach this, it really needs work to become a homiletical outline. If you have any teaching points which could be made from these main points, please do not hesitate to post your suggestions.

David and the Lord
I. Remember David (1-9)
          A. David swore an oath to the Lord (2-5)
          B. We heard about it/it was renown (6)
          C. David fulfilled his oath (7-9)
          ??There is a request for...??
                    1. Worship (7)
                    2. Lord and ark came (8)
                    3. Priest are righteous (9a)
                    4. Saints have joy (9b)

II. Restore David (10-18)
          A. The Lord swore an oath to David (10-12)
                    1. David's descendants on the throne (11)
                    2. Based in faithfulness ???? (12)
NOTE: (This last point needs to be researched and rethought in light of the unconditional Davidic> covenant. Nevertheless, in this psalm, there is this big "IF" which needs to be dealt with. )

          B. The Lord chose Zion
                    1. His dwelling place forever (14)
                    2. Abundant provisions (16)
                    3. Priest and saints worship (16)
                    4. The king will rise (17-18)

I find this psalm the most fascinating of the 15 Psalms of Ascents. First, the structure is really interesting (I got the following structure analysis from a commentary but I do not remember which one. When I remember, I will post it.):

v.1 Davidic dynasty was a memory
          v. 2 Intro to quote
              vv. 3-5 quote
          v. 6 Intro to quote
              vv. 7-9 quote

v. 10 Davidic dynasty needs restoration
          v. 11 Intro to quote
              vv. 11-12 quote
          v. 13 Intro to quote
              vv. 14-18 quote

I think this is not a forces structure but one that leaps out of the text. I can see the priest standing on the second step to the top leading to the temple and singing as loud as he can asking God to remember and restore the Davidic kingdom. Even more striking is thinking about when Christ walked the earth and standing in listening distance of the priest, when the priest was actually singing about Him.

Second, I think the reciprocal oaths in this passage are interesting. David swore an oath to the Lord and the Lord in return swore an oath to David. It is on the basis of these reciprocal oaths the psalmist asks the Lord to remember David (v. 1) and then not to reject his anointed one (v. 10). In the psalmist's context, the anointed one was the Davidic king (note the distinction in verse 10: "For the sake of David your servant, do not reject your anointed one"). To the New Testament believer, one immediately thinks of THE Anointed One, Jesus Christ, who will always be on the throne (v. 11), who will be a light (v. 17), and whose crown will be resplendent (v. 18).

In short, this is an amazing psalm which shows that God responds to things humans' do. The psalmist shows that David wanted to please the Lord by making a place for God to dwell, so to speak (v. 5). In response to that, the Lord made an oath to David which said that one of David's descendants would be on the throne forever.

I think a song is sung in churches today which speaks of the Davidic King coming and ruling and being worshiped by those under His rule is "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." There may be better songs but I love content of this hymn and I love the fact that there are three versions in the Baptist Hymnal. Click HERE for the Diadem version (my favorite, mainly due to the bass line), Click HERE for the Coronation version, and Click HERE for the Miles Lane version. The words are the same for all the version with the exception of how many "crown Him's" you want to sing and which part of the verse you repeat. The following verses are for the Diadem version.

All hail the power of Jesus’ Name!
Let angels prostrate fall, Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye seed of Israel’s chosen race,
ye ransomed from the fall, ye ransomed from the fall;
Hail Him Who saves you by His grace,
And crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Let ev' ry kindred, every tribe
On this terrestrial ball, On this terrestrial ball,
To Him all majesty ascribe,
And crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him,
and crown Him Lord of all.

O that, with yonder sacred throng,
we at His feet may fall, we at His feet may fall!
We'll join in the everlasting song,
And crown Him, crown Him, crown Him, crown Him,
and crown Him Lord of all.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Funniest Thing I Heard Today - 10.26.07

We're gonna need some more FBI guys, I guess.

Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson, played by Paul Gleason, in the movied Die Hard.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Life Which Comes From God

In a review of our study of the Psalms of Ascents, the psalm laments the persecution he faces from others in Psalm 129. In Psalm 130, he speaks to the conflict which comes from inside himself. In the next psalm, Psalm 131, the psalmist praises God for the life which God gives him.

Read Psalm 131 (NASB, NIV, KJV)

Here is my outline for this little psalm (the outline is bigger than the entire psalm):

The Life which Comes from God
(the title could use some work)
The life which comes from God produces...

I. Humility (1)
          A. Pride undervalues others (1a)
          B. Pride overvalues oneself (1b)
This is opposite of Jesus' teaching

II. Contentment (2)
          A. Freedom from spiritual unrest (2a)
          B. Freedom from spiritual dissatisfaction (2b)

III. Hope (3)
          A. Place of hope (3a)
          B. Permanence of hope (3b)

In this pithy psalm, the author brings up three characteristics which he brings up in his conversation with God. He first brings up Humility. He verse one, he says his eyes are not haughty. This is the idea of being better than another; looking down on others. The point in the outline is the negative statement about this: Pride undervalues others. It could just as easily been said: Humility is not looking down at others, or something like that. He finishes the first verse by saying that he does not concern himself with things too wonderful for him. This does not mean that the psalmist does not think about great things. We are called to love the Lord with all we have, including our mind. What the psalmist is referring to here is the issue of trying to run things as only God could. It is stated negatively again in the outline: Pride overvalues oneself. With these two points, pride is nailed down. Pride is thinking less of others than one should and it is think more about oneself than one should. The psalmist is thanking God that God has brought humility into his life.

Second, the psalmist thanks God for the contentment he feels. The image is great but must be understood how the psalmist meant the image to be seen. It is a weaned child with his mother. An "un-weaned" child goes to his mother for a reason. He wants something. Specifically, he wants to be fed. However, a weaned child no longer feeds from the mother and comes to the mother for love and comfort. This image is the image of contentment within the soul. The author first states that he has quieted his soul, which means he is free from spiritual unrest. Then he uses the image of the mother and child to amplify the concept of contentment to show that the psalmist is satisfied with his relationship with God. His life with God has rid of him the spiritual unrest and dissatisfaction this world brings. He is now truly content with God.

Finally, the psalmist thanks God for the hope God brings him. Encouraging the people of God to join him, he confesses that God is the one place in which he can place his hope, for God does not change and God's promises will come to be. Then he praises God for the permanence of this hope: both now and forevermore.

The life which God gives us through Jesus Christ brings humility, contentment, and hope. Are you in need of these today? Ask Christ into your life today, renew your relationship with him, and they will be yours.

I have been trying to end the Psalms of Ascents with a song sung in today's church which communicates the same message as the psalm. I thought of "The Solid Rock." You can hear humility (dependence upon God), contentment, and hope in these verses. Click Here to listen.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the vale.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my Hope and Stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.