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Service - Loving God's House 2

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Service – I Love God’s House!

Theme for 2007: Growing Great Relationships… with God, Family, and Community!

Mk 12:29-31 MSG “Listen… the Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’”

The Psalms of Ascent (Ps 120-134) were songs that set the stage for Hebrew pilgrims as they journeyed to Jerusalem – toward God.  They are songs “for the road.”[1] They were sung to each other, as they would wind their way up from the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea, the highest point in Israel, Jerusalem.  It prepared their heart for God.

Heb 11:13 NKJV “These all died in faith... and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”  Pilgrimage, is a stance, a mindset that says, “In all the circumstances of my life I am a seeker of God.”  Friedrich Nietzsche said, "The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is...that there should be long obedience in the same direction..."[2]

Ps 120 – Repentance, turning from the world toward God.

Eugene Peterson said, “A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.”[3]

Ps 121 – Providence, God’s protection and favour for the journey.

Ps 23:1 NLT “The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.”  God is with me beside “still waters” and in “dark valleys” and will lead me “in right paths!”

Ps 122 – Worship, I love God’s house – Part 1.

Ps 122:1 MSG “When they said, “Let’s go to the house of God,” my heart leaped for joy.”

Ps 122 is a song about a person who along the road of life, in drawing closer to God, decides to worship God and to love God’s House - the church.  Whilst ever we live in a place of uncertain commitment to God’s house, the Devil will eagerly present us with alternatives and excuses.  Matt 4:10 TNIV “Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’”  Ps 123 completes worship with serving.

Ps 123 – Service, I love God’s house – Part 2.

Ps 123:1-4 TNIV “I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.  As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.  Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured no end of contempt.  We have endured no end of ridicule from the arrogant, of contempt from the proud.”

1.     Serve Jesus Christ.

This Psalm is not primarily about serving others it is about serving God.  It warns against the danger of confusing our experience of serving others, dare I say, serving a church, with our call and commitment to serve the Lord Jesus Christ.  Ps 123:3-4 TNIV “Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured no end of contempt – a lack of respect.  We have endured no end of ridicule from the arrogant – those at ease, the lazy, of contempt from the proud – those who act like they are superior.”

Paul speaking to slaves, most of whom have been treated very poorly says, Col 3:23-24 TNIV “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

2.     Look For God.

Jesus calls us to serve.  Jn 13:15-17 TNIV “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you...  Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  Serving others as Christ commands is wonderful, but let us not pretend, it is not also very challenging.  If we for recognition, we become disillusioned; if we look to others for reward, we become disappointed; if we look to others for approval, we become enslaved; and if we look to others to find our motivation in serving, we will surely become bitter.

Gal 6:9-10 TNIV “Let us not become weary (fatigued) in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

A.       God’s Throne.

Ps 123:1 TNIV “I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven.”  “Service begins with an upward look to God...  if God is worthy of our attention at all, He must be a God we must look up to...  The moment we look up to God (not over to Him, or down on Him) we are in a position of servitude.”[4]  Whether in the stance of worship, prayer, or service we begin by looking up to God.  Matt 6:9 TNIV “Our Father in heaven...”

The emphasis is on actual service, not spiritual intention, not a desire to be of service; but to serve, to do!  Rom 12:1 MSG “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.”  Serving Christ begins and ends with worshipful surrender of oneself to God.  Rom 12 is serving inspired of worship.

B.       God’s Hand.

Ps 123:2 TNIV “As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy.”  In the East, servants in attending on their masters are almost wholly directed by signs, which require the closest observance of the hands of the latter.

Jn 5:19 TNIV “Truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”

C.       God’s Mercy.

Ps 123:2-3 TNIV “... our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He shows us His mercy.  Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us...” 

Rom 12:1 TNIV “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship.”

Acts 17:24-25 NIV “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.  And He is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything, because He himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.”  Do not make God or His people – the church a beneficiary of your benevolence.  God is not looking for assistants – let grace/mercy flow!  1 Cor 15:10 TNIV “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”  The effect of grace is greater effectiveness.


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[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999).  Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.)

[2] Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Helen Zimmern (London: 1907), sec 188.

[3] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 25

[4] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 61

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