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2008-11-23 (am) Psalm 24.1-2, 5-9 Satisfaction final draft

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2008-11-23 (am) Psalm 24:1-2, 5-9 Satisfaction

          Packed with peanuts, Snickers really satisfy, at least that’s what their commercial claims.  Is that true?  Where do you get satisfaction? 

          King David, in Psalm 24, wants us to know where our satisfaction comes from. 

          Most scholars think that David wrote 24 for the celebration of bringing the ark up to Jerusalem.  David used this Psalm to encourage the Israelites to look beyond the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony and to focus instead on God, on Christ.  The ark was a representation of Christ.

          So when we read this Psalm we need to know that our focus must be on Christ.

          We can get so easily caught up in the pomp and circumstance of our worship services.  We can start to think that certain elements have to be there.  There has to be a call to worship.  There has to be a call to confession, and it must include the Ten Commandments every time.  There has to be this kind of song.  There has to be this or that.

          But really, the Bible doesn’t give us a prescribed order of worship.  We have a few guidelines for worship, in that we’re encouraged to get together, to keep meeting, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, we’re encouraged to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  We’re to confess to God and to one another, we’re to offer prayers, we’re to give of our gifts and we’re to have God’s word preached.

          But the exact order of these things, the frequency of these things, the style of these things is open to great diversity.

          Now, let me take a moment to explain again, why I organise our worship service the way I do.

          In all things, God acts first.  In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  God spoke in the beginning, and at the beginning of the worship service, God acts first, He speaks, he calls us to worship Him.

          We answer God’s call by worshipping him through a song.

          Then, having heard our answer to His call, God greets us.  We respond with a song or two.

          As we looked at last week, when we come before God’s presence, we can’t be in the face of His Holiness for long before our sin convicts us to confess.  So we confess our sin, and accept God’s forgiveness again.  We repent from our sin, not merely sorrow, but true repentance, true turning around, true conversion.  Our catechism teaches that conversion isn’t just a onetime deal.  It happens constantly, we sin, we repent, we confess, we convert again to Christ.

          Then, God assures that Christ has forgiven us.  His blood has fully paid for all our sin and we’re forever right with God.  God comforts us.

          We often respond with a song.

          Then, we bring two things before the Lord.  We bring our cares and our concerns and we lay them at His feet.  We cast all our cares, our anxieties upon Him for he cares for us.  In our congregational prayer, the long prayer, the pastor, on behalf of the congregation, prays for the people.  In this prayer we acknowledge God’s sovereignty, and his ongoing care, his providence, his daily bread provision for us.

          And, as an expression of gratitude, we give of our gifts.  This too is worship.  It says, “I acknowledge that all I have is yours, I will trust you with this, that though I might be afraid that I cannot afford to give this, you’re my provider.  You will provide.  If we withhold our financial gifts, we’re really depriving ourselves of God’s blessing.  Look at Malachai.  Giving is the one area we’re told we can test God.  We cannot out give God.

          Now the deacons have told me that as a congregation we’ve responded to the report card on giving I presented a few weeks ago.  In two weeks we’ve given over $12,000.00.  Unfortunately, not very many of the 24% who so far have given $0.00 gave anything.  What it means is that those who already give a lot, have given even more.

          Do not cling to this world.  The world is created.  It is not the source of our satisfaction.  God is the source of our satisfaction, as we shall yet see.  So, if you’re worried about giving.  If you’re one of the 24%, I challenge you to give.  Do this, it really works.  Determine in your mind the amount you’re going to give.  If you’re married, you need to do this together. 

          I honestly don’t think that the amount budgeted per member is exorbitant.  Start there.  It’s what, $120.00 per member?  That’s what, $30.00 a week.  When you get your paycheque, take out $60.00.  Do it right away.  The Bible calls this giving of your first fruits.  Trust me, at the end of the month, you’ll have more money in your account than if you hadn’t tithed.  Want a bigger challenge.  Give 10% of your income.  Want to push it harder?  Give 10% of your gross income.  Want to see if God can out give you, out provide for you?  Give more than 10%.  Test God in this.  You cannot out give God.  This is an act of worship.

          So after the offering, we continue our dialogue.  We ask God to bless the reading and preaching of His Word.  This is crucial.  This is an unbelievably huge task.  What a frightening honour I have, bringing God’s Word to His people.  There is so much potential for me to screw up.  There’s the possibility of false teaching, of error, all kinds of things can go horribly wrong.  By seeing God’s blessing, we’re asking, God, despite Pastor Paul’s numerous shortcomings, bless us, give us the words we need to hear, not his words.  Give us the truth, and erase, or don’t even let falsehood sink in.  Give us the treasure truth.

          Then, God speaks to us through His Word, and through the preaching of His Word.  God works in me through his Holy Spirit in the study, as I write my sermon, and He works in me as I preach, even as I am preaching now.  Bringing things to mind, teaching me what to say.  The prayers you pray for me are vital.  Without them, I’d be undone.  I thank you, thank you so much for your prayers.  It is incredibly humbling.

          Then, at the conclusion of the sermon, we pray, thanking God for His Word, imporing that it wouldn’t have fallen on deaf ears, that we would have heard it, and that we’d take the next step and applying it to our lives.

          We sing, and then God blesses us.  This is so cool.  Imagine it.  We of low estate.  We who inhabit the earth, God’s footstool, gets to have God turn his face toward us.  Moses longed to see God’s glory.  He saw only the back side of God’s glory.  But we’ve seen Christ.  We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14).

          We sing and we depart.

          But through all of that, we like David says, we have to see beyond the pomp and circumstance, and see God.  The whole service revolves around God.  We, like David, acknowledge that the whole earth belongs to the Lord.  It is God’s by right.  He owns it.  He made it. He laid its foundation.

          We must be satisfied in God.  Now, when we properly appropriate God, when we see Him, we understand that He is the true treasure.  We look at the world and we see that there are lots of things to desire to enjoy and to derive pleasure from.  But these things must pale in comparison to God.

          Paul says in Romans 3, that all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God.  That is to say, we’ve all settled for something short of God himself.  God is the greatest treasure!  That’s what David is saying!

          Don’t look at the earth for satisfaction!  Don’t look only at the ark, look at what the ark represents.  It represents God’s presence.  Celebrate God!

          This is a hard lesson to learn!

          The Israelites were tempted to trust in the ark.  Indeed they tried to use it as an instrument to win a battle.  It was captured by the enemy.  God would not allow the Israelites to manipulate Him.

          In Psalm 24, David warns us, don’t focus on the stuff of the earth.  It is beautiful yes, but it is but a revelation of God.  The earth, the universe simply declares the majesty of God.  If we focus on it rather than on God, we miss out.

          Think of it this way.  A person can carry a photograph of someone with them.  They can take it out and look at it, see the colour of their hair, the colour of their eyes, the contour of their face.  But they can’t have a relationship with that person through the photograph.  No, in order to have a relationship, they have to be with that person.

          We can look at creation and get a bit of a knowledge of God, but we cannot know God in a personal way by simply looking at creation.  We get to know and meet God, and develop a relationship with Him through reading His Word, hearing His word Preached, and by having fellowship with Him through His body the church.

          So, what gain is it to turn to God?  What gain is it to seek satisfaction in God alone?

          In verse five, God promises blessing and vindication.  We will receive blessing.  The greatest blessing is simply knowing God. 

          Vindication comes through the finished work of Christ.  Our enemies, both in the physical world and in the spiritual world, will not triumph over us.  The roaring lion will be destroyed.  The mockers will be silenced. 

          And the climax of the Psalm, the call to open the gates, is a call to us.

          We are commanded to open up our hearts to the king of Glory!

          Are your gates open?

          Or have you closed your heart to the Lord?  Have you had a hard time seeing the Lord in church?  Sometimes we do a better job clouding the presence of God than making His presence known. 

          Sometimes life doesn’t go our way, and we can turn bitter toward God.  We don’t get the raise, the promotion, the bonus, the job, the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the spouse, the house, the stuff we want, and we hold it against God.

          But we have to learn to let that stuff go.  Not to the extreme of ignoring it all together, but we have to let it go in the sense that those things are inferior to God.  We have to let it go knowing that those things are gifts for our lives from God.  That since the whole earth belongs to God, we must learn to be content in what God has given us at this particular moment.

          Contentment is appreciating what we have.  Contentment is finding our greatest joy in God and God alone.  Contentment isn’t looking for the next great thing.  Contentment is ignoring the wiles of the world, the desires of the flesh, and the temptations of the evil one.

          The Rolling Stones couldn’t get no satisfaction.  We’ve got complete satisfaction!  Amen.

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