“Hope from Psalm 71 Pt. 2”
by Pastor Jeff Ling

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hopepsalm

A message of hope from David’s “midlife” Psalm 71

“Hope from Psalm 71, Part 1”
by Pastor Jeff Ling

Sorry, listening to the audio on this website requires Flash support in your browser. You can try playing the MP3 file directly by clicking here.

Hope from Psalm 71, Part 1
8/23/2015

hopepsalm1

Here’s part one of our message on hope in Psalm 71. Let it encourage you today!

Jesus and the Kingdom

onwardbookJesus announced the kingdom throughout his ministry but always tied that kingdom to himself. The ethics of the kingdom, proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount, were obviously unattainable by anyone but him. He demonstrated the arrival of the kingdom by turning back examples of every aspect of the curse. He lived among the wild beasts, with no harm (Mark 1: 13). He spoke to the winds and the waves and they silenced immediately (Matt. 8: 23– 27). He spoke and diseased retreated (Matt. 8: 16– 17). The demonic beings not only recognized his right to rule, they begged him for mercy whenever he showed up (Mark 1: 23– 24). Why? This was because, as he put it, “If it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt. 12: 28). As the rightful king, Jesus reestablished human rule over the angelic and natural orders by living out the destiny our fallen ancestors forfeited. He was a wise ruler with dominion over his own appetites, with a will, affections, and conscience directed by his Father, and by the Word of his God. All this was true because he was free from the one power the evil spirits have over every other human: accusation. “The ruler of this world is coming,” Jesus said. “He has no claim on me” (John 14: 30).

Moore, Russell D. (2015-07-10).
Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel (p. 57).
B&H Publishing Group.

 

Doing Good to All People for the Gospel

No man or woman is outside the realm of my responsibility be kind.

Do not grow weary in well doingEach week our church family memorizes scripture together. We use the Fighter Verses system developed by Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis. (The website and apps are excellent.) Last week the passage for memory came from Galatians 6:9-10.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

It’s not lost on me how important a week it was to have this passage hidden in my heart. With the decision on marriage handed down by the Supreme Court, those who follow Christ have a unique opportunity to hear this passage in a fresh way.

Here are four important points:

1) And let us not grow weary of doing good…”

Many believers have worked tirelessly in efforts to save the unborn and to protect the sacred institution of marriage. Some have done it through prayer, some by protest and others by entering into the political process. I applaud all of these efforts. Jesus calls us to be salt and light, a prophetic voice – not raging against the darkness but seeking to light candle after candle in hope that truth will win hearts and bring increasing glory to God. It’s easy to grow weary. Some will throw up their hands and say “What’s the use?!” We flag in our determination and our hearts can grow weary as hope is delayed. (Prov. 13:12) But there is good reason not to grow weary.

2) “…for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

God is faithful and His promise is that one day the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14) This is not now or ever in question. We live, as John Piper has aptly put it, by faith in future grace. God will prevail! One day this earth will be set free from its bondage and made new. Redeemed people look forward to eternal life in a sinless, deathless, Eden. (Romans 8:18-25) Our calling is not to “fix” the world’s humanistic system. Above all, we are commanded to bear witness to the gospel as followers of Christ. (Matthew 28: 18-20; Acts 1:8)  Each of us have our own unique callings that allow us to provide for ourselves, support the common good and act as preserving salt and illuminating light in every arena of human life. God’s promise is that we will reap. We are laying up eternal treasures. We will see people laying down their arms and coming to Christ. We will see expressions, glimpses of Christ’s eternal expanding government and we will see, in God’s wise and good time, all kings and rulers bowing their knees to King Jesus. (Psalm 2:8; 22:27-28; 102:15)

3) “…as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone…”

Everyone. Not just fellow believers, everyone. We know this simply by the fact that Paul acknowledges a subset of everyone called the “household of faith.”  How do we do good to everyone? We do so by conviction and action. The conviction is that all men are created in the image of God and therefore they have immense value.  Our actions must reflect that value. The court majority used the word “dignity” a number of times in defending its position. Dignity is conferred by God as Creator. A court can’t give it. We are responsible to recognize it in one another.  I may not agree with your views or choices but if God created you, I am responsible to treat you with dignity.  No man or woman is outside the realm of my responsibility to be kind. It doesn’t matter what they believe or how they behave. If they let me, I must extend civility and kindness. (Col. 4:5-6; 2 Tim 2:24-26)

Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. – Titus 3:1-2

How can I show kindness?

  • By watching my words. I must remember that life and death are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 12:18; 18:21) Listen more and speak with gentleness and truth. One sentence I have decided to quit using is “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Why? Because, frankly, I don’t hate my own sin enough. I like a lot of it. Until I do, I’m just going to be grateful that Jesus loves sinners like me. That’s good news.
  • By washing feet with practical acts of kindness. If you are my gay neighbor, I may not be able to do your wedding, but that doesn’t mean I can’t bring you a meal when you are sick, offer to help you with your kids or mow your lawn.
  • By defending the oppressed. You may be very zealous about your views. I understand. I am as well. But if you want to start hurling slurs, bullying , or resorting to violence against a person made in God’s image then you’re attacking me. I will defend those who are different from me. I will do good to them. I will listen. I will be willing to learn. I will serve as I am able and should the need arise I would lay down my life for them. (Even writing this I sense the glibness of it. God help me to be that person.)
  • By always telling the truth – the gospel truth. All people are in need of salvation because all have rebelled against their Creator. (Romans 3:10-18) We are deserving of eternal separation for we have rebelled against an eternal, holy God. (Romans 6:23) The good news for everyone is that God has provided an answer for humanity’s desperate situation. Jesus, the God-man, the sinless one, lived the life we could not live and then died the death we dare not die. (2 Cor. 5:16-21) He paid the price of eternal salvation for all who will put their hope and trust in Him. This gospel is man’s greatest need.  (Romans 5:6-11) When we respond to the gospel, we are made new. We can’t be happy, contented sinners any longer. I can’t be a happy liar, gossip, thief or fornicator. (Gal. 5:16-26) My soul longs for God and my happiness is found in pursuing His glory. (Psalm 16:11) The gospel calls all men to repent. It’s a call to quit forsaking His glory. It’s a call to turn away from self-reliance and independence and surrender to Christ. The beauty of Jesus, if we pursue Him, makes sin steadily unattractive.
  • By honoring marriage. (Hebrews 13:4) Let’s be honest. The church has treated marriage with disdain. When we consider our affairs, our easy divorces, our lack of church discipline, our lazy love, our capitulation to a culture of entertainment that mocks marriage, our pornographic addictions, men and women acting with childishness and vindictiveness as opposed to Christlikeness, it’s no wonder that the world mocks our defense of marriage. God have mercy on us. Don’t curse the darkness. Strengthen what remains. (Revelation 3:1-2)

3) “…especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Many are troubled and confused. Many are likely to be misled and swept away in the crumbling edifice of a weak evangelicalism. We must be willing and ready to love, correct, forgive, heal and welcome home those that return from a “far country.” Let us encourage one another to gospel faithfulness, (Acts 10:34-43; 14:1-7) to love and good works, (Heb. 13:16) to missionary zeal (Col. 4:2-6) and the willingness to sing the Lord’s song in what is increasingly a foreign land. (Psalm 137:1-4)

Featured Worship Song: Oh Praise (The Only One)

Death and hell call him Victorious!Here’s the line that grabbed me:

Death and hell call Him victorious….

What a great thought.
What a triumphant declaration!

I’m always on the lookout for songs that lift the heart in praise and help us to think theologically. That’s a a hard recipe to get right every time. Let’s face it, not every song is going to be an “In Christ Alone.” The needle may ping more toward doxology or doctrine in a given song, but as long as it’s looking to land between the two, I’m interested. Michael FarrenKrissy Nordhoff and Riley Erin have given us a lovely and moving hymn in Oh Praise (The Only One). The song is very congregation friendly – singable, decent key, etc.. and calls us to praise while reminding us that our praise is rooted in the redemptive work of Christ. I’m looking forward to sharing it with our congregation this month.  It does have the obligatory (these days) “whoaaah whoaaah” section which you keep or let go depending on your aversion to things whoawoey. Lyrics are below along with a video of a live session that really invites you to worship along.  This week the We Are Worship website is offering free downloads of the sheet music and mp3 so go get it now.

There is no greater truth than this
There is no stronger love we know
God Himself comes down to live
And make a sinner’s heart his throne

There is no deeper peace than this
No other kindness can compare
He clothes us in His righteousness
Forever free, forever heirs

Oh praise the only One
Who shines brighter than ten thousand suns
Death and hell call Him victorious
Praise Him
Oh praise the One true King
Lift it loud till earth and heaven ring
Every crown we down at His feet
Praise Him

There is no sweeter joy than this
There is no stronger hope we hold
We are His forever more
Safe, secure by Christ alone

There is no sound that’s like the song
That rises up from grateful saints
We once were lost but now we’re found
One with Him, we bear His name

recording courtesy of CentricWorship

Copyright © 2015 Integrity’s Alleluia! Music/SESAC & Farren Love and War/SESAC & Centricity Music Publishing

CCLI Number: 7030890

A Green Country

Free to use. Fits your banner area perfectly. Click here to copy.

“PIPPIN: I didn’t think it would end this way.

GANDALF: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.

PIPPIN: What? Gandalf? See what?

GANDALF: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.

PIPPIN: Well, that isn’t so bad.

GANDALF: No. No, it isn’t.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

The Gray Havens Offer Brilliant Songwriting on Fire and Stone

Fire and Stone CDIt’s been a long time since I shouted “Alleluia!” and began drumming my steering wheel with abandon but “Inheritance” off The Gray Havens new CD “Fire and Stone” did the trick. Grabbing hold of the “golden chain” of Romans 8: 30, songwriters Dave and Licia Radford set us at sea in a ship called “Inheritance.”

There’s a ship that bears the name Inheritance
It’s pulled by golden chains from where it ends
No sail, no need for oar
With calm assurance carries on
And those aboard the ship
Were once among the ones that scoffed at it
But not a single one was lost to it
The sealed of the Inheritance

This musical painting is a joyous declaration of God’s sovereign love for His sons and daughters.

We will treasure and we will hold on
To the light, the light before us
We’ll be confident, we’ll be bold if
If we know the light is for us

I laughed out loud in my car and started the song again. I thought “surely the rest can’t be as good as this.” Happily I was wrong.  Once out on the sea of God’s grace, the sirens begin to call. Temptation must be battled and sin must be mortified. Even so, we hesitate just to listen one more time….

One taste of the sound
From the sirens in the water
And I’m thinking I should get out
The sharpest sword and suit of armor
So I can be ready to strike
But I pause, one more time
One last taste of the sound
Then I’ll cut these sirens down
But as they sang, I forgot
They were death, so I brought them my heart
To be filled, and I followed them

(From “Sirens”)

The empty promises reveal their ugly truth. Empty mediocrity is substituted for heavenly beauty and the heart needs to find it’s way home. The chorus of the song rises like a holy choir from the ocean floor:

Hold on, Hold on, my heart
You once were full and sang of grace
Hold on, Hold on, my heart
You’ve tasted joy that’s more than this

The album, Fire and Stone, can easily be described as “indie folk/pop but it’s some of the most creative of that genre that I have heard.  The Radfords take us on an imaginative journey by sea, mountains, fairy tales and mystery. It would have been an outstanding book of poetry but the music is equally good. Here is poetry and theology blending together within infectious melody lines that bounce on a bed of shifting rhythms that never allow for careless listening. This isn’t background music, this is an adventure in lyric and music that enriches the heart and makes the imagination soar. Set sail. Marvel at God’s redeeming grace and know that He will bring you home.

The Son running toward me
The kingdom cried
Alleluia, Alleluia, Welcome home…

Drums crash, gates rising
My soul dances like fire
With stained glass we try
But even Michael Angelo could not describe
This ceiling above me
Where Angels cry
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Welcome home
Yes, I was home

(From “Under the Mountain”)

Approaching Death with Joyful Hope

grandma devotionMy wife’s grandmother turned 106 on April 3rd. A fall has resulted in a broken hip and her health is declining rapidly. She will be with Jesus sometime soon. Can we have a joyful hope as we are approaching death?

Romans 8:30 gives us the promise that the One who called and justified us will also glorify us. Paul reminds us that to “be absent from the body is to be present, to be home with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8) His promise is sure and will not fail.  A couple of days ago Kitty Yancey​, my wife’s cousin, read the following devotion to Grandma. I thought it was so lovely and poignant that I wanted to share it will all of you.   We have such a great hope! Be encouraged.

We know that when Christ comes, we will be like him, because we will
see him as he really is. 1 John 3:2

When you arrive in heaven something wonderful will happen. A final transformation will occur. You will be just like Jesus….

Of all the blessings of heaven, one of the greatest will be you! You will be God’s magnum opus, his work of art. The angels will gasp. God’s work will be completed. At last, you will have a heart like his.

You will love with a perfect love.
You will worship with a radiant face.
You’ll hear each word God speaks.
Your heart will be pure, your words will be like jewels,
your thoughts will be like treasures.
You will be just like Jesus.
You will, at long last, have a heart like his.
Just Like Jesus

-Max Lucado

Like many others, I had grown up with the idea that bread and wine, Communion, taken too frequently would grow old and become a mere ritual. But personal experience has proven just the opposite. I have found the Table, like the Word, to be a satisfying means of nourishment and spiritual growth. Far from becoming routine, it has become like an intimate relationship.

Robert Webber

Worship Is a Verb: Celebrating God’s Mighty Deeds of Salvation (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishing, 1992), 53

It is highly significant that the only regular ritual act instituted and commanded by Jesus sets forth supremely his death. It is his death, his body given and blood shed, which the bread and wine were intended to signify. In issuing the command to ‘do this in remembrance’ of him, he intended that his atoning death should be kept before every generation, indeed ‘placarded’ before their very eyes. This according to Paul is the function of preaching. It is one of the functions of communion also.

The ministry of both Word and sacrament makes Christ’s death contemporary, presenting it anew not to God (for the sacrifice itself was offered on the cross once for all) but to men (for its benefits are always freshly available).

John Stott

Christ the Controversialist (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1970), 119