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Archive for the ‘psalm’ Category

A Prayer of Anger

A Prayer of Anger – Psalm 94

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(Reposted because some world events are resulting in a lot of people are still seemingly angry…)

I believe that I would be right in saying that most of us here have prayed. Whether in joy and happiness; or in sadness and grief; in need or in want; in praise or in worship or in confessing sin, or in other ways we have prayed. But how many of us have prayed in anger, following the example of the writer of Psalm 94. Have any of us prayed out of anger to a God who is a judge? Have we cried out in anger to a God who punishes evil? By anger I do not mean that short burst of temper when something happens to us against our will. The kind of anger that rises when somebody does something against you, and you retaliate against them.

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No, the type of anger I am talking about is the anger we should feel inside us that occurs when we see injustice being done; when we see sin being done to assist in the systematic abuse of other people. The sort of anger that the church should have felt in Germany during the 2nd World War when the creatures of the Nazi regime held mock trials of so-called criminals such people as Dietrich Bonhoeffer for opposing the ungodly views of the state.

The type of anger we should feel when we face today on our television screens when we see the pictures of the innocent victims of war in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Iraq or any region where people abuse people for the sake of their own power and glory. The sort of anger that should make us cry tears of sadness and humility when faced with the utter poverty of the families living on the streets in the cities of the world such as New Delhi, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro or Sao Paolo. George Bernard Shaw once described poverty as the greatest of crimes. That deep seated anger that should be amongst us as Christians when we see the oppressed and the poor being used and abused by those who are in positions of power to help them.

We are all quite comfortable with the God of Psalm 93, the God of majesty, strength and magnificence who is from everlasting to everlasting. The God who is mightier than the greatest seas! The God whose glorious holiness covers his house eternally! Yet something, somehow, makes us uncomfortable about praying to God for justice. Perhaps our view of God is too small. For sure our God is a God of mercy but he is also a God of justice. Our God is a God of love, but He is also a God of wrath. His written word affirms all these things. So the writer of the Psalm calls and prays to God for justice to be done. That He, the judging God might be glorified. Has the writer made this up? No, because God has described Himself as Judge and Avenger (Genesis 18:25; Deut 32:35). How many of us here, have prayed for justice to be done? Perhaps we should pray on occasion for burden of injustice to be lifted off the poor and oppressed peoples of this world. But, before we go any further on this thought, let us consider together 3 things about Psalm 94.

1. Whom is the writer praying to (vs. 1-3)?

The obvious answer to this question is God. But what sort of God is He? Let’s look at all the various descriptions given to us about God in this Psalm. A God who avenges (v. 1). To avenge is to seek revenge on behalf of somebody else. Here God is asked to avenge for the poor and innocent against the wicked and guilty people A God who judges (v. 2). To judge is to decide which is right and which is wrong. Here God is asked to judge the wicked and guilty people for their wrong doing. A God who created and creates (v. 9), disciplines (vs. 10, 12); teaches (vs. 10, 12). A God who knows all things (v. 11) through omniscience. A God who relieves (vs. 13), assists (vs. 14, 17, 18), loves (vs. 18) and supports (vs. 18). He is a God who consoles (vs. 19), and who is incorruptible (vs. 20). A God who is strong and dependable (vs. 22) and a God who is a refuge (vs. 22). But he is also a God who repays and destroys (vs. 23) evil men for their wickedness. Is your vision of God still too small?

2. Why is the writer praying (Vs. 4-7)?

The writer js praying because he has seen the wickedness of mankind and has a deep inner anger against the brutality and evil deeds of the wicked. These people may not be foreigners, since many Jewish leaders were also brutal, for example the evil King Manasseh or the cynics of Isaiah (Is. 5: 18ff). What sort of things are these evil people doing, and what sort of people are they? Arrogant and boastful (vs. 4), crushing (vs, 5), oppressing (vs. 5), slaying widows and foreigners (vs. 6) murdering orphans (vs. 6).

The people who do this sort of thing are the object of the writer’s anger. They are not only content to do evil deeds, but also add hard speeches, boasting, threatening and insulting the saints of God. The insults are used so often that they become a natural part of the language. That is the idea behind the phrase “pour out” in vs. 4. Words often wound more than swords, they are as hard to the heart as stones are to the flesh; and they are poured out by the ungodly against the godly. According to verse 4, they even talk to themselves, and of themselves, in spiritual arrogance, as if they were doing some good deed in crushing the poor and killing the widows, orphans and foreigners. Their error is that they believe that God cannot see their doings, and even if He could see, He wouldn’t do anything about it any way. These evil people, who grind the people of God with oppression, crush them with contempt claim that God cannot see them, and so therefore reason that there is nothing to stop them from doing their evil works. There is no limit to the pride and arrogance of these wicked people, as they have lost their senses (vs. 8 ) and lost all common sense. It is natural for them to boast, just as it is natural for godly men to practice humility. The God of Jacob heard him and led him throughout his life and said concerning Jacob “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm”, yet these proud and arrogant people proclaim boldly that God neither sees nor knows what we do.

It is true that those whom God will destroy, He leaves to the madness of their corrupt hearts. What is God going to do? In verse 14, is the answer to verse 5. The Lord has not rejected his own people. He has not forsaken those who are his. To do this, would go against God’s very nature. As his inheritance, God has marked out all those who are his saints. God takes a peculiar interest in their well being and delights in them; He has an eternal covenant with them. I will be your God, and you will be my people. Will God not defend his people? In verse 14, we have the answer!! The Lord will not withdraw His love or leave people totally on their own against the evil persecutors. For a little while, He may leave them with the design to benefit them, yet he will never utterly destroy them. He will discipline His people, but never destroy them.

In vs. 15, the great Judge will come, the reign of righteousness will begin, justice will be done and then all the godly will rejoice. The vehicle of right will be driven down the streets of evil, and all those upright in heart will follow it in joyous procession. Are we as the people of God today, following the path of righteousness or are we trampling somehow on the poor and oppressed? Are we keeping silent when we should be speaking out? Some governments of this world, have for sometime been using their power to oppress, but the cry of this prayer will bring back righteousness to the throne of government, and then every upright heart will proclaim loudly with joy!

3. What is the writer praying (vs.8-23)

a) Help!!!! (vs 16-19). The writer is praying for God to judge injustice, and avenge the oppressed (vs. 2). But not only that, as he is also crying out for help (vs. 16). Who is going to rise up against the evildoers? He obviously needs help, and his friends are not there for him, so he calls out to God for help, The soul is safest and at rest, after calling all others to assist and no one comes, when total trust for help is upon God. Today the church sees error and evil coming into her, and faithful godly leaders seem to be a minimum, and fewer still are bold enough to stand up and defy the enemies of truth. Our great hope is that the God of the Bible is with us, and He will call out his champions to defend Him.

Are you one of God’s champions? Is your foot slipping, are you feeling weak at this moment in time and need help? Take courage, we feel our weakness, and see our danger, and in fear and trembling we cry out. Our inbred sin is dragging us down and we need help. God, in His supreme mercy and love, helps us and our joy is that His mercy endures forever, and is always available to help us in times of danger to support us. From my sinful and proud thoughts, my thoughts of sorrow, my cares, my conflicts, I will hurry to the Lord. This is a cry of the writer, yet are we the same? The Lord alone is consoling, and yet not only consoling but delighting in me. How sweet are the comforts of God the Comforter, the Holy Spirit? Who without feeling joy, can think about eternal love, trustworthy promises, the coming to earth of the Redeemer in Jesus Christ, the risen Saviour and his next coming again. The little world within us, that is full of confusion and strife becomes calm when we rely upon Jesus to say “Peace be with you!”

b) Can a corrupt throne be allied with you? God enters into no promises with those governments who are corrupt, and He gives no help to unrighteous laws. No assistance does He give. They might legalize robbery and violence and then say in defense, it is the law of the land, yet it is still evil and wicked. No injustice is permanent, for God will not set His seal upon it, nor have any fellowship with it, and therefore one day it will fall. An example of this was the slaughter of the Jews during the 2nd World War. The German church in general, allied itself along with the laws and decrees of Hitler, and changed its theology to that of white supremacy. We all know that the plans of the Nazis failed. Or take for example South Africa, which up until recently had a policy of separating whites and others. For a long time the mainstream Church held as its theology that this was true. Since then, the walls of apartheid have fallen, and the church has confessed this sin to God. No evil regime lasts very long. The unrighteous join together, in order to attack the righteous. The guilty join each other to attack the innocent. No crime is too great for them. Yet there is good news. Let the ungodly join together, the Psalmist is not afraid, but sweetly sings that the rock upon which he stands his the Jehovah God, Yahweh who is his fortress and refuge. Firm is the rock of God’s love, and in Him we go for shelter. He is indeed a tremendous lover.

As if in answer to his own question of verse 16, “Who will rise up for me against the wicked and evildoers”, the final verse gives us an answer. The natural result of oppression, against the innocent, the poor, or the righteous is the total destruction of the ungodly. The great God who is judge, will repay their sins, and destroy their wickedness. While the bread and food they have stolen is in their mouth, God’s wrath will slay them. God himself, visibly and noticeably, visits them and reveals His own power to them. To go over what we have seen so far. Firstly we have seen that God can be and indeed is both a lover and judge. Secondly we have seen the type of people that the writer faced in his battle against evil. He constantly called upon them to wake up and see sense, and repent of their sins before God destroys them. Thirdly we have seen that we should by faith, read the present in the light of the future, and end the song with a powerfully strong note.

Conclusion.

Firstly, our vision of God should not be too small. We need to acknowledge him as a great lover, but also as a terrifying Judge. Remember, it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31). To quote John Stott – “God is not at odds with himself, however much it may appear to us that he is. He is ‘the God of Peace’, of inner tranquility not turmoil. True we may find it difficult to hold in our minds simultaneously the images of God as the Judge who must punish evil-doers and of the Lover who must find a way to forgive them. Yet he is both, and at the same time.”

Secondly, can we rightly pray, in the light of the New Testament, for the vengeance of God to come down against the ungodly? No, we cannot, for then we would be no better than those who do not know Him. The vengeance of God has already come down upon one man. One day his judgment will fall, and it is from this terrible event that this man is our deliverer. This man, the Lord Jesus Christ when He died on the cross, for you and me and all our enemies, took upon Himself the full vengeance of God. He took the anger of God upon himself, so that no-one may face the judgment of God without first having the opportunity to turn to Jesus in repentance of sins. We should be praying for the governments of this world that abuse the widows, orphans and innocents of today, that they will see their errors and turn away from them. And not only that, we should pray that the members of these governments will turn to God in awe and wonder to worship Him. One day all men and women will be called upon before God to give an account of themselves to Him. If they do not know this Jesus as their Saviour, then God will cast them from His holy presence. We should also pray that godly men and women will become members of the governments of the world to help protect the innocent and the righteous, that leaders will be raised up, who know God personally to stop the abuse of the innocent.

Thirdly, even in the face of abuse and persecution, we should turn to the living God for comfort and help in our circumstances. Too often we rely on ourselves or others for strength in times of trouble. It is God alone who can help us, and it is God alone who will destroy the evil in the world. The judgment of evil, according to Psalms, is a time for universal rejoicing. Ps. 67:4; 96:12-13; Ps. 35:24. Let us rejoice together when good overcomes evil in this world. Finally, let us pray and cry out in anger against the suffering and evil in this world. And not only pray about it, but do something about it. We, as Christians, should be as light and salt to the world of darkness and evil. What will you and I do about being light and salt to a world where the innocent suffer, the widows and orphans are abandoned and murdered?

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Sermon – A Prayer of Joy – Psalm 66

ASIF 22nd November 1995

Psalm 66 – A Prayer of Joy

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Tonight we are to study Psalm 66, which is a prayer of joy. The reason for this is, because where ever hope can be found, there is always joy. This is particularly true of the Christian life. As christians, our great hope is knowing that through the Lord Jesus Christ we will have salvation. Salvation is freedom. Freedom from injustice, freedom from sin. It is freedom from our prison of looking after our self, to a new life of entrance into self-forgetful worship & service to God. It is freedom from the limits of pain, decay, death, and entrance into a new world of life, immortality, beauty and joy without end. That is the hope of the Christian, and that is why we can have joy as Christians. But joy, is not just for the future. Joy is also for the present, for the here and now. But, what is joy, and what place should joy take in our life today. But first we will look at Psalm 66, and see where joy fitted into the life of the Psalmist.

1. Psalm 66 and joy

a. Joy and the Earth (vs. 1-4)
Listen again from another translation to that beginning! ” Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing to the glory of his name! Offer glory and praise! “. The majority of scribes and leaders of Israel normally only gave praise to God silently and in meditation. This was of course acceptable to God. But here among a great number of peoples the whole earth is encouraged to shout with great joy to God. This also was acceptable to God, and it is quite natural for great crowds of people to shout in harmony. If praise is to be widespread, it must be vocal; joyful sounds stir the soul and cause great thanksgiving spread throughout the people.

God is to be praised with both the voice and the heart. Oh, great joy when all the earth will worship God in joyful harmony. One day, all the earth will sing the praises of God, in every language. The whole earth, everyone, is encouraged to sing of the glory and power of God. The psalmist encourages the worshipers to turn their praises to God. The honour of God should be the focus of our praises. It is our glory to give God glory. We turn in joy and admiration to a God who one day will cause all the earth to fear and tremble before him. One day all the earth will bow down to worship God. For those who are enemies of God, who have never believed in him, they too will be forced into submitting worship to Him They are forced to worship Him out of His power and submission, not because they choose to. But their worship will not be like the saints. The worship of the saints, of those who truly believe in Him, will be of truth, love and pure joy and service. The joy of the earth will be to praise God.

b. Joy and the nation of Israel (vs. 5-12). After the selah, possibly a brief pause in the song, the psalmist now exhorts joy because of what God has done for Israel. He has done mighty works for his people the nation of Israel. Did not God start the nation from Genesis 12 and Abraham? Did not God lead His people out of the Egyptian exile by parting the Red Sea with His mighty hand so that his people could walk to freedom? Does not God rule forever by his mighty power? God watched over that nation of Israel, making covenants with Abraham, Moses and David promising that He will be their God and they will be His people.

The people of Israel were people of joy, because they could look and see what God had done for them, and have a sure hope of what He will do for them in the future. God took Israel through hard trials and exiles. The psalmist here continues to encourage the people to loud praise and joyful noise of God because silver and gold do not become pure without some refining, without being put through fire. God kept the feet of Israel from slipping, even though they turned their back on him. God always kept a remnant of believers for himself. In Israel, God sent them into exile to their enemies for punishment of their rebellion against him, but finally He led them into the promised land, flowing with milk and honey (v 12). That is why Israel could have joy, because of the hope they had in their God.

c. Joy and the psalmist (vs. 13 -20) The psalmist’s joy starts with a sacrifice. Something that cost him. A sacrifice of vows and burnt offerings. What he said he would do, he will do. He gave God promises, and he wants to fulfil his promises before God. Because of his great joy, the psalmist tells others of the source of his joy. He gives testimony to the love of God: how he confessed his sins to God, and how God had listened to him and answered his prayers. The Psalmist told the people to come and hear his story. Listen to what God has done for me. They had all seen God’s work, but they also needed to hear that He was a gracious god, So the joy of the psalmist involves sacrifice, testimony and praise,

2. Applying it to ourselves.

As we have just seen the psalmist’s joy involved sacrifice, testimony and praise, So how can we apply these things to ourselves,

a. Sacrifice – As christians we should always give our best to God. The psalmist never presents a starving goat to God as a sacrifice, but well fed animals (v 15) of the best fields, Of all we have, whether small or large, we are actively encouraged to give God the best of it. It was not a waste to burn the fat upon the altar of God, nor to pour out the precious ointment upon the head of Jesus. Sacrifices show our heart love to God. Making sacrifices, shows gratitude to God in action, Joy comes from giving to God.

b. Testimony, – Giving our testimony to people should cause us to have great joy. Telling people what God has done for us, should cause everyone of us to have even greater joy than we have already. Telling others of God’s mercy, grace and love is all part of our joy. When we lead someone to Jesus for the very first time, not only do they feel great joy and peace in their heart, but we feel great joy inside of us. The joy of God bubbles up inside of us and demands that we praise our God the Father.

c. Praise, – Praising God lifts our heart, soul and spirit when we are feeling down. The whole earth one day will praise Him and have great joy; the nation of Israel praised Him for the things He had done for them and had given them much joy, The psalmist praised God, and there was great joy in his heart. He had many reasons to praise God, God listened to His prayers, took his sacrifices and worship, forgave him when he had confessed his sins, God had not withheld his love from him. Surely the praise of God’s people causes great joy to be spread amongst them.

Now that is all very well you may be thinking, but just what is joy? Is joy happiness, or is it more? Here are what some people have said of joy. “We are all strings in the concert of God’s joy” – Leon Bloy. “The joy that Jesus gives is the result of our being at one with Him” – Oswald Chambers. Many people, including some Christians confuse joy with happiness, however there is a vast difference. As C.S. Lewis once wrote: “Joy is never in our power, and pleasure is. I doubt whether anyone who has tasted joy would ever, if both were in his power, exchange it for all the pleasure in the world.”

As humans we only feel happiness or pleasure depending on our circumstances, while joy is always separate from our circumstances. Happiness is a surface emotional response to good things; while joy is a deep-down heartfelt response that endures whether good or bad things happen to us. The world says happiness is looking out for number one and negotiating your personal good in all you do. The greatest good is their own happiness, however the happiness doesn’t last long so the search for happiness continues in its circle.

Joy however, is the result of sacrificial love. It is for the good of others, not for ourselves, which is to be our judge of joy. When we give away our will, for the sake of others, we receive the joy that Jesus desired for us. Happiness and joy are radically different. In his autobiography, Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis described his pursuit of joy. He tried to find it in humanism, communism, eroticism, and lots of other human philosophies and searches. But they only led him to places where joy had already been. He did not find joy for himself until he realised that joy would come only as a result of putting Christ first in his life. Joy, unlike happiness, is never an end in itself. It is only as we make Christ our overwhelming first priority that joy, almost without our knowing it, comes. If we seek joy, we will lose it, because it cannot be caught. People of the world seeks happiness not joy. Joy is given only by Christ and serving him. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus had the endurance to go through the pain and suffering because he had the end in view. He was affirming his purpose for the redemption of the world, and so he never lost sight of the joy that was set before him. Joy would come to him out of suffering because he gave himself for the redemption of mankind.

Jesus prayed that his disciples would have joy: “I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they (his disciples) may have the full measure of my joy within them.” (John 17:13). The joy of Christ is transferred to us as we go about the task of serving him in this world. Joy is the second fruit of the Spirit. Joy is to be a quality about us just as it was a quality of the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, sometimes we don’t feel as if joy is part of us. We begin to ask ourselves if we have lost the joy of our Christian lives. We look around at the world we live in and see all the misery and injustices; we see the waste of human life in cancer and HIV Aids, and we don’t feel very joyful. But when we do that, we are confusing happiness and joy. If we have lost the joy of our Christian life, we need to put back into perspective what God is calling us to do and consider if Christ is still truly first in our lives. Joy is Jesus Over Yourself. We can never truly lose joy, but we can misplace it if our priorities get out of line. Joy is not something to be worked at or toward. It is not a goal to be reached, nor is it an end in itself. Joy is the result of our relationship with Christ. A relationship of Jesus Over Yourself. Joy was sacrifice, testimony and praise to the Psalmist. It is for us too in the last days before His coming again.

As this is now the night before Easter week, let us end with that comment from the writer to the book of Hebrews in regards to Jesus and joy. “Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” As E. Underhill said: “This is the secret and meaning of joy, We shall no longer strive for our own way; but commit ourselves, to God’s way, submit to His will, and in doing so find joy and peace, -.

Go out with joy, today!

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A Prayer Of Trust – Psalm 62

ASIF – 13th September 1995

A Prayer Of Trust – Psalm 62

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Psalm 62

1 My soul rests in God alone. My salvation is from him.

2 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress– I will never be greatly shaken.

3 How long will you assault a man, would all of you throw him down, Like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?

4 They fully intend to throw him down from his lofty place. They delight in lies. They bless with their mouth, but they curse inwardly.

Selah.

5 My soul, wait in silence for God alone, for my expectation is from him.

6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress. I will not be shaken.

7 With God is my salvation and my honor. The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.

8 Trust in him at all times, you people. Pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us.

Selah.

9 Surely men of low degree are just a breath, and men of high degree are a lie. In the balances they will go up. They are together lighter than a breath.

10 Don’t trust in oppression. Don’t become vain in robbery. If riches increase, don’t set your heart on them.

11 God has spoken once; twice I have heard this, that power belongs to God.

12 Also to you, Lord, belongs loving kindness, for you reward every man according to his work.

I wonder what you trust in? We all know that you can’t trust the London Underground, unless you are trusting them not to be on time. And you can trust the bus, but only to come in a group of twos or threes after you’ve waited for them for half an hour. You can’t even trust modern technology! The latest computers used to do your work, more often than not will break down yjust when you need them most. Then you have to trust your computer manager to fix the problem for you. And you can’t even trust him to fix the problem because some part is broken, so you have to call out the repair person to come and replace the part that is broken. And wouldn’t you know it? He’s had to go to the doctor, because he’s got some problem with his knees and has had to go have emergency surgery, and all the other repair people are far too busy to fix your computer so that you can get the urgent report out to prove to your boss, that he can trust you!

Trust in the world today, is a missing ingredient. The one thing that most people today will say they trust in, is themselves. The world says to trust yourself, don’t rely on anything else. The world says that all other things are totally unreliable and the only object you can trust is yourself, because you know what you can do, and you should only ask for help if your really desperate for it.

It is like a refreshing breath of clean air, that we come to Psalm 62. Living in a world which cynically says trust only yourself, Psalm 62 reflects like a mirror the thoughts of God to our minds and hearts. When God says “Trust me!” – he is totally trustworthy. This man, King David knew that God was like that. Through out his life, except for when he sinned, he trusted in God. David trusted God when he hid in the mountains and caves from Saul, Absalom and all others that were after him. Psalm 62 tells us that David’s only hope, honour, refuge, rest and salvation was in God. This Psalm contains phrases that can be found in other Psalms such as Psalm 18 or even in 2 Samuel 22:1-51 where David sung and prayed when he was in trouble and need rescuing.

In these 12 verses of Psalm 62, we can see the things that David trusted in God for throughout his life. David trusted in God for his salvation (both physically and spiritually) (vs. 1-2, 5-7). He did not trust in anything or anyone else (vs. 3-4, 9-10) and knew that God would show His justice and mercy to both himself and his enemies (vs. 11-12). We know from the book of 1 Chronicles that Jeduthun was one of the Chief musicians appointed by David to lead the music (1 Chr. 16:41; 25:1-3).

We don’t know exactly when Psalm 62 was written, but it was probably written while he was under extreme pressure as indicated in v.3). However it seems to impress upon us that David is growing in confidence as he writes the thoughts of his heart, and the secret of finding rest and trust in God alone. It has the style of being written in a great hurry; of a prayer waiting for God to answer and of a conviction that grows renewed, firmer and ever deeper. David goes progressively from trusting God for his life; to trusting God to show mercy and justice to him and his enemies.

Psalm 62 can be divided into 3 topics, all based on trust, with 2 positives and 1 negative.. 1. God’s trustworthy salvation. 2. Not trusting in ungodly desires and objects. 3. God’s trustworthy justice and mercy. In each section, there are some questions for you to meditate upon and answer. Then you can share with your spouse or a close friend and pray over any issues together.

Section 1. Gods trustworthy salvation. (vs. 1-2; 5-8)

Q1. From where does David’s salvation, rest, refuge, hope and honour come from? Why do you think that David attributes these to God, and how can we be seen to be doing these same things?

Q2. Why do you think that David thought of God as his rock of salvation? Do you think that as David had hidden in rocks and caves from enemies that this would have been on his mind when he wrote these words? We know today that Jesus Christ is the rock of salvation, but why do you think that God can be described and trusted as a rock of salvation?

Section 2. No trust in other things for hope, salvation, honour, refuge or rest (vs. 3-4, 9-10)

Q3. What do the ungodly take delight in and why? What is suggested that godly people do not desire?

Q4. Is it only the ungodly who are hypocrites (v. 4). How can Christians be hypocritical, and if so, is it because of lack of trust in God?

Section 3. Trust in Gods justice and mercy (vs. 11-12).

Q5. At first glance, v. 12 suggests God’s justice, but is it also about God’s mercy? How can justice and mercy be combined like that? (Refer to Romans 2:6)

Q6. How is God strong and loving towards you today?

Finally, if you are not a Christian and after hearing this would like to become one, then it is very easy. If you want to turn to God there is no need for delay. He is ready and willing to take you as His own right now. You only have to ask Him to forgive you and to give you help on the journey ahead. It is a partnership between God and yourself – a relationship. The act of deciding to change course in mid-life, is what is called conversion, or deciding to be a Christian. When you place your faith in Jesus, becoming utterly dependent upon Him, you turn to God. You don’t need to do or change anything to become a follower of Jesus!

However, once you have made that decision, you leave behind your spiritual isolation and rebellion against Him. As you live each day, becoming more involved with Jesus day by day, you will find yourself changing. You will stop doing those things that separated you from Him. You will find yourself doing things that please Jesus and develop your relationship with Him.

How do you develop this relationship? Sin, or what alienates you from God, controls your rebellion against Him in your attitudes and your activities. God asks that you accept his guidance and management of your life. His point of view and His strength become your point of view and your source of strength. You turn your mind, will and heart to Him for all you do.

If you want to become a Christian there are three simple steps to follow: Firstly, admit that you have done wrong against God and His ways.

Secondly, believe and trust in Jesus Christ. Call on Him, receive, trust, obey and worship Him, recognizing Him for who He is and what He has done.

Lastly, confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. Once sin has been confessed, and Jesus is believed in and trusted as Saviour, then you are a Christian. Now you are ready as Peter writes in the Bible, “to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3v18). Welcome to the family of God. God has chosen you; Jesus has paid for you and He has put His mark within you through His Spirit. Like King David and countless people today, you are trusting only in God for your salvation! If you have taken this step, please do contact us at Partake Ministries.

Thank you

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Prayer of Anger – Psalm 94

Prayer of Anger – Psalm 94

Originally preached 4th October 1995

I believe that I would be right in saying that most of us here have prayed. Whether in joy and happiness; or in sadness and grief; in need or in want; in praise or in worship or in confessing sin, or in other ways we have prayed. But how many of us have prayed in anger, following the example of the writer of Psalm 94. Have any of us prayed out of anger to a God who is a judge? Have we cried out in anger to a God who punishes evil? By anger I do not mean that short burst of temper when something happens to us against our will. The kind of anger that rises when somebody does something against you, and you retaliate against them.

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Scriptural Delight 24

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Taw

G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” Here is our twenty fourth podcast going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Today we look at the twenty second of its twenty-two sections, Taw, and it is verses 169 to 176. Sharona is reading it for us today!

169 May my cry come before you, O LORD;

give me understanding according to your word.

170 May my supplication come before you;

deliver me according to your promise.

171 May my lips overflow with praise,

for you teach me your decrees.

172 May my tongue sing of your word,

for all your commands are righteous.

173 May your hand be ready to help me,

for I have chosen your precepts.

174 I long for your salvation, O LORD,

and your law is my delight.

175 Let me live that I may praise you,

and may your laws sustain me.

176 I have strayed like a lost sheep.

Seek your servant,

for I have not forgotten your commands.

Thanks Sharona! Once again, in verse 169, David the Psalmist repeats his inner desire to understand God’s word, law, decrees, statutes and wisdom! He is full of zeal for God and is earnestly yearning His God to reveal His promised wisdom and understanding to him. The Psalmist is in a relationship with God and seeks to get to know His God better and God has promised him that He will pass on wisdom to David through the law and the scriptures. God will enlighten His servant, the Psalmist, because He has promised to, and He who has promised is faithful to honour those promises. The Psalmist greatest desire is to understand the mind of God, developing his relationship with Him and to be guided by Him! The Psalmist desires that every facet of his life be guided by his great all-knowing and all-powerful God!

Part of this guidance, is the Psalmist praying to God in verse 170, making requests and seeking deliverance from the dangers and perils of his life! David, as we read in the Bible, often faced great dangers throughout his life. His God always delivered him from evil, because God honours his promises to those who are serving Him.

And now in verse 171, he is overflowing with praise! He is effervescent with praise, overflowing, bubbling over and ecstatic with joy for His God! The reason for this exuberance is that he wants to be imbued with heavenly wisdom as taught through the decrees and statutes of Almighty God! It gives the sense of a spontaneous outburst of praise just exploding from the Psalmist like spring water bubbling from the desert sands! Having been taught by the Lord in the practise of righteous obedience to the Law, the Psalmist is intent on teaching others! He is passing on to others, the wisdom he has learned and received! The sense here is of corporate singing of exultant choral praises of God or an echo of the angels singing of God’s awesome majesty, beauty and holiness!

Continuing, the Psalmist entreats God to personally help – nor my friends or your friends, O God – but you and you alone! Give me your hand O Lord and I will be rescued! Friends may let me down, discourage and betray me – but you O great God will never do that! Personally save me, the Psalmist is crying! By choosing God’s precepts, the Psalmist has dedicated himself to obeying his God and following Him closely. The Psalmist was keen to be found in full obedience to his God.

And he yearned for full salvation from his God – he had tasted it in part before but was waiting for it to be complete, as if in expectation of some form of greater salvation. He had been saved from his enemies, those who betrayed him and from wild animals. His present salvation was assured as God had promised him, but so was a future salvation, a salvation of his soul! Hence, there is his longing to delight in all of God’s words and works. This future salvation of the soul, filled with life, preserved so he may praise God! God’s judgments sustained and helped the Psalmist! Seeing God at work in his life gave him a hope – a hope that promised a future praising God for all God has done, is doing and will continue to do! God’s judgement helped the Psalmist to live an obedient life and a life that was close to God, walking and talking with Him!

Then finally, we have the climax of the Psalm! There is almost an urgent need to be fulfilled. The lost sheep needs to be found, to be preserved and to be delivered. For all his knowledge of Scripture, his obedience to God and his own righteousness – the Psalmist knew that it was only because God had promised to find him that he would be saved. He was relying on God to assure him of the salvation of his soul. As a shepherd, he knew that if a sheep was lost, it was his job to find that sheep and restore it to the fold. So he uses this analogy, to symbolise his need of God’s salvation. His own righteousness and obedience to the Law couldn’t save his soul – only God could do that. God would seek him, find him and restore him. Here was the king, King David, recognizes his need to be a servant of God and wanting God to find him. He recognizes he needs to be obedient to God in response to being saved by God’s grace and mercy.

How about you? How are you doing in regards to your praise? Is praise bubbling from you like water from a living stream? Are you being fully reliant on God alone for the salvation of your soul and not trusting in your own righteousness, obedience or strength? God’s grace and that alone is what saves you. Not God’s love. Not God’s mercy. But God’s grace and that grace alone. What is your delight, your ultimate delight? Your delight should be in being guided by God in every facet of your life and being in a devoted obedient relationship with Him. Ask Him and he will help. Raise your hand and ask for help, just as Peter did when sinking in the water and Jesus rescued him. In response to this grace and the salvation that is yours assured, go and live a life of obedience to God – wherever that takes you as His servant.

Thank you!

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Scriptural Delight 23

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Shin

G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” Here is our twenty third podcast going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Today we look at the twenty first of its twenty-two sections, Shin, and it is verses 161 to 168. Betty reads it for us! So over to you, Betty!


161 Rulers persecute me without cause,

but my heart trembles at your word.

162 I rejoice in your promise

like one who finds great spoil.

163 I hate and abhor falsehood

but I love your law.

164 Seven times a day I praise you

for your righteous laws.

165 Great peace have they who love your law,

and nothing can make them stumble.

166 I wait for your salvation, O LORD,

and I follow your commands.

167 I obey your statutes,

for I love them greatly.

168 I obey your precepts and your statutes,

for all my ways are known to you.


Thanks Betty! That was great! We only have to read of David’s life in the Scriptures to know that he had enemies and persecutors from all walks of life. He was betrayed by close friends and attacked by people from both those within his own nation and those outside it. Here the people that are persecuting him are princes. Princes usually protect the innocent and bring justice to the oppressed. Princes usually act with honour, decorum and nobility – but not these ones! No! These princes are out to cause David, the Psalmist, harm and without a justifiable reason! Committing perjury against him and threatening his life. And what is David’s reaction? Is it to run and hide with fear and trembling from these persecuting princes? No! David’s fear is not from mere mortal men! David’s reverent fear is at God speaking! He is in awe of God’s Word. Mere mortals may harm the body, but only God can harm the soul and therefore the Psalmist is not disheartened by persecution, oppression or injustice.


And the reason he is in awe and reverent fear of God’s Word is because it gives nourishment to him! He rejoices in the promises found! He has great joy at finding the treasures within God’s written word! He values these treasures as more valuable than the spoils of war! The Psalmist fights for truth, battles for justice and feeds his hungry soul on all God’s Word – not just his favourite parts! He loathes and abhors lies, perjury and false talk. They are bitter to him and a total contrast to the sweet honey of the Law and God’s written Word. He loves it, feeding from it and gaining strength and nourishment – because it is solid Truth..


Resulting from this nourishment and this Truth, the Psalmist gains strength to be at prayerful praise during the day! This perfect God he sought to praise perfectly! When his perjuring persecutors came to mind, the Psalmist turned to praise and sang to the God of truth and salvation! He wasn’t going to let these oppressive princes rob him of the joy of singing praise to his Almighty and righteous God! For he knows that God’s laws are righteous and those that love God’s law in obedience have great peace! This peace is not faltering as if built on sand! No! This peace is solid, reliable and true because it is based on God and His Law. Perfect peace for those who love God’s Law and Words. Those that love God’s Law are striving wholeheartedly to walk in obedience to God! When persecution comes, they have perfect peace, given by a God of peace. Because their peace is based on a God of perfect peace, they will not stumble or fall.

While the Law was important and obedience to it produced from love, it could not provide salvation! Salvation could only come from the God and that through grace and grace alone. Because he had salvation assured, the Psalmist sought to show it by being obedient to God’s commands and laws. This love he has for God’s statues, testimonies and precepts is as a result of his great God saving, rescuing and redeeming him from all his enemies. The Psalmist, David, obeyed God’s statutes because he both loved them, but also loved his God. He strove to show his love for his God by being obedient to Him! His outer life which people see is a reflection of his inner spiritual life. Despite the traumas, tribulations and tests that come his way, the Psalmist knows that his salvation is assured, because his God has promised him and God always keeps his promises. The Psalmist knows the mind of God through reading, studying, digesting and loving God’s written word – it is the basis for his life of obedience to God.

How are you doing? How are you coping when the tests and rigours of life in the 21st century come knocking on your day and wanting to disrupt you? Are you concentrating on them and worrying about them? Are they debilitating and corrupting you? What about when people perjure you, lie about you and betray you? How should we react? Fear not what mortal people can do! We are to be like the Psalmist and be at peace! If you are a Christian, you have an advocate before God the Father and you have the Holy Spirit as a comforter living inside you! That advocate is God the Son, Jesus Christ, the perfect Prince of peace! Unlike the princes who were persecuting the Psalmist, this Prince of Peace gives perfect peace to those who follow Him!


Cast your cares, burdens, and worries upon Him and let Him handle them. Let Him give you wisdom to deal and battle with those that seek to perjure and persecute you. Read what God has said in the Bible, follow it and obey it! Obedience, not as a means to salvation, because salvation can only be through God’s gift of grace and that grace alone! Obedience to Almighty God is in order to reflect your inner peace with Him. Jesus said, “Love God and love others, for all the Law is summed up in those 2 commandments”. Work out your salvation, as the Psalmist did, with reverent fear. Acknowledge God in all areas of your life and allow the Prince of peace to give you peace – peace in you, with you, on you and emanating from you! Seek the treasures in the Bible that are waiting for you to discover them. God is trustworthy, faithful and true! Don’t just read your favourite passages, but all 66 books! It is worth it! Go in peace to love and server the Lord! Amen!

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Scriptural Delight 22

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Resh

G’day! Welcome to Partake and our continuing series “Scriptural Delights!” Here is our twenty second podcast going through the wonder that is Psalm 119! Today we look at the twentieth of its twenty-two letters, Resh, and its verses 153 to 160. Sharona reads it for us!

153 Look upon my suffering and deliver me,

for I have not forgotten your law.

154 Defend my cause and redeem me;

preserve my life according to your promise.

155 Salvation is far from the wicked,

for they do not seek out your decrees.

156 Your compassion is great, O LORD;

preserve my life according to your laws.

157 Many are the foes who persecute me,

but I have not turned from your statutes.

158 I look on the faithless with loathing,

for they do not obey your word.

159 See how I love your precepts;

preserve my life, O LORD, according to your love.

160 All your words are true;

all your righteous laws are eternal.

Thanks Sharona, that was great! Once again the Psalmist is in danger of losing his life! He is seeking to be delivered from his pains and rescued! He is one of God’s servants and seeks to show that by remembering God’s law, God’s words and behaving as one of God’s servants, devoted in fear, reverence and love of Almighty God! And because he hasn’t forgotten God’s law, he pleads for God to consider and remember him. He is not so distracted by his own problems, that he has forgotten the beauty of God and God’s Law! He is faithful to God, because he knows that God is faithful to him!

His persecutors are surrounding him, circling with menace so the Psalmist asks for his God to be his advocate, his redeemer! The Psalmists enemies are spouting lies, ensnaring, oppressing and committing perjury against him, so he calls for his advocate and defender! He also asks that his Almighty God preserve him according to God’s own promise. He knows that God always fulfils his promises to those who follow him. The promises of God are as a soft healing balm to the frustrations and wounds of the Psalmist.

And while the Psalmist has a hope in his God, those who persecute, oppress and endanger him are bound for destruction! These wicked oppressors can never find salvation because they are removed from God, ignore God’s decrees and commit blasphemous acts in defiance of God’s decrees! The Psalmists persecutors are only interested in their own wisdom instead of seeking the wisdom of God.

In contrast to these wicked people, the Psalmist has not strayed from God’s righteous statutes! He knows Almighty God is compassionate, a great help in times of trouble and preserver of life – nothing can happen to the Psalmist unless God allows it, and God wont do that because of His tremendous promises found in His Law. The mercies of the Lord endure forever and ever – they are innumerable, immeasurable, immense, tender and true.

When he sees the wicked persecuting oppressors disavowing God, actively being wicked in disobedience, the Psalmist is full of righteous indignation and loathing! In contrast to the unrighteous who are against him, is the Psalmist who loves God’s precepts, commands and Law. He knows that the Lord’s anger is slow to burn and that the Lord is quick to love those who actively follow him. All of God’s words are true, all of God’s laws are righteous, exclaims the Psalmist! All of them from beginning to end and from top to bottom! This was a man willing to stand up for God with zeal, passion and righteous indignation – even if it cost him his very life!

How are you doing in your appreciation for what God has done for you? How are you doing when the world around through the media or people you know, seek to discredit your Christian belief in Almighty God? Are you sometimes filled with zealous indignation when Christians and Christianity are perjured against in the media or your workplace? Who is your advocate before God that defends you, wants to redeem you, deliver you from your enemies and those who would seek to bring you down and cause you to lose heart? As Christians, Jesus Christ is our advocate before God the Father. Do you know the promises of God, which can be found in the Bible? Read the Bible and when praying, have your Bible open and tell God what you are reading! All of Scripture, the Old Testament and the New Testament, is reliable and true- from beginning to end – just as the Psalmist exclaims for the portion that he had at the time.

In doing so, you develop an intimacy with God the Father, through God the Son in the power of God the Holy Spirit who lives inside you! This engenders a love for all of the Bible and not just your favourite parts! Be prepared to worship God in all manner of styles and not just your favourite style. Yet sometimes we have those in the church who like to discourage, perjure and hyper-criticize. No need to go far to find other Christians perjuring and espousing misleading words against us – particularly in the area of worship! Too many Christians today are perjuring others, being one-dimensional in their acts of church worship, short in their bible reading and are living stunted Christian lives because of it.

Just because another person experiences the Holy Spirit in a way different to you, doesn’t invalidate that way, but rather reflects the unique way God the Holy Spirit is working in the life of that person! Rejoice when that other person is worshipping Almighty God, even if the style of worship is not your own particular choice! Don’t restrict the Holy Spirit’s activity in your own life and do not grieve Him by trying to restrict and criticise His activity in another Christian’s life – to do is blasphemous and to call unclean that which is clean! Go and rejoice in the freedom of the Gospel for all people to worship in Spirit and truth and in many different styles – reflecting the manifold mercies of an ever-gracious God! A God who is gracious to save and merciful to be worshipped and adored! A jealous God worthy of zealous followers!

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