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Sun, Mar 22, 2020

Psalm 130 - Part 2 of 4

Welcome video:


To listen to the sermon use the Audio links below (when viewed on our website).

Duration:22 mins 1 sec

Good morning…Here we are on another Sunday morning, but not just another Sunday morning…..The past week has been confusing …and scary…. Yet you are choosing to listen to this message, because you want to come and worship our creator and Father…..

One of our favourite worship songs states, “I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”……I love singing it…it washes over my soul in relief….. after this week it brings tears to my eyes…… we need to be singing songs like this again and again….. to remind us of the truths in our lives….

The psalm chosen for this week is also perfect for this situation……. Psalm 130… you are going to need your Bible as we read through this Psalm together….

We have been working through the Psalms of ascent at Medway.

As Israel made their festival pilgrimages, as they climbed the hill to Jerusalem, as they prepared their hearts for worship, these words were on their lips…. They would sing these Psalms repeatedly…..And these same words should be the words on our lips too as we come to worship…..

Read Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins.

No one of course is coming to listen this morning, who has not had a week of shocks……

The fear, panic and hysteria has been all consuming this week…

If we look past the admittedly amusing memes and the fights over toilet rolls…. Then this is scary stuff…

At times it may even feel like a massive hoax….but…

It’s bad.. face masks…school closure….horrible stats…loads of fake news…

Scenes from Italy and China fill our mind…empty shops and tourist attractions…….people hoarding….. no toilet rolls…..hospital beds lined up in the street…. Forced quarantine….. 60 million in Italy are not allowed to travel….random checks on the street by people in hazmat suits….. 15% of people over 70 succumb to the virus….Paris is insisting that no one may go outside without a government document explaining why they are not locked inside…. Los Angeles is by all accounts a ghost town……

It is only going to get worse….

If only someone knew what to do…. If there was a way out of this……

Of course everyone has an opinion… everyone wants to share the latest info…. sent by the best doctor…. The ‘best’ truth keeps changing and the scams and hoaxes make it all more confusing…..they have even had to criminalise fake news around this topic……. Only the SA government is allowed to make statements to the media about any COVID19 news…

No one knows what to do…..

Britain and Aus were refusing to close their schools even although they have thousands of cases between them….. but in SA we have closed all schools before the pandemic even has any fatalities in the country…..

I personally think that closing schools now was too soon…. But then of course I don’t really know what I am talking about…. What do I know about viruses?

All the aged facilities are closing their doors….

Businesses are collapsing…. Imagine being a tour operator, almost anywhere in the world right now…. How are parents going to pay their school fees in the months to come? Schools have salaries to pay…….

Financial markets have collapsed…..Sasol has dropped 95%....

The experts say that most of us will get the virus at some point, that we all know someone who will die from it…

Fear of the virus and most of all the unknown has overwhelmed us this week…..

Psalm 130 is appropriate right now:

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

Is this how you have been feeling this week?

Despair?...because you, or a loved one falls into the vulnerable group? Maybe you see your retirement savings drain away with the stock exchange….

I wonder.. have you cried out to God?. or have you just cried?

These are tough times….. I have a sneaky suspicion that times are about to get a whole lot tougher…..

Our health…our money…our families….all of these are at risk right now….. this is a shock for us living in this age of comfort, convenience and insurance….

It really is a great relief knowing that we can cry out to our Father who knows all things….who is in control of all things….. he has always had our lives in his hands and He still does today….

Does this mean that we will all be okay? Does crying out to God make us immune to the dangers of this World? Will we be safe if we cry out?

The short answer is…. no… not necessarily…

Why not? Is that not the reason why we have faith in God? So that he will rescue us?

Why then do we even bother to cry out?

So yes, of course there are times when God intervenes…and as believers we have seen this again and again in our lives … but our great hope is not that God will heal us or save our money….. our great comfort when we cry out is not in a healthy bank balance or a miraculous cure….as important as these things are to us, they are just temporary…..

As the Jews were singing these psalms…as they approached Jerusalem what was on their hearts….? Their worries? After all they were crying out…’out of the depths I cry to you’…. What were they crying out about?

I am reminded here of C.S Lewis in his book Mere Christianity…. Who says…. and listen carefully to his words..

There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

Our lives are not about here and now… our most pressing need is not for a vaccine…we are immortals… we will all live forever and this has to be understood…. Humans will either live forever in God’s presence as an everlasting splendour or exist forever in hell……an immortal horror…..

As Christians we know this, but sometimes we need to be reminded….

The people we sit next to on the bus…our work colleagues …our spouses….friends and children…. Our aging parents who we are so worried about…They are immortal beings. They will exist forever…. We will exist forever…. This is how God made us…

These pilgrims knew this….but they had to remind each other….as they put the concerns of the world behind them…. They sang

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you

The forgiveness of sin is our most important problem…

Isn’t it funny how often we can only see the problems right in front of us….

People take out loans which are impossible to pay in order to maintain their lifestyle…with no thought of the future….

We lie awake at night worrying about tmrw….

I was reading that 45 000 people committed suicides last year in the States… because they could not see past their immediate problems….

This week has been crazy with this virus….you would not believe how panicked the community is… the fires we have had to put out….. every new infection or the rumour thereof causes social media to blow up….people can’t see the big picture…

We spend so much time worrying about our immediate problems…..

Yet…we are immortal beings… these things are not eternally significant.. only our response to them is….

I understand that there are people who don’t believe that we are immortal beings…I get that..I even have a kind of respect for that….against all the evidence they have the faith to believe that God does not exist…I get it.... then our lives are insignificant blips in history…

There may of course be other people who have a perfect faith in God and are able to put things like COVID 19 into perspective…. They have no worry…

Most of us however believe in our eternal Father…but we get caught up in the things of the World…. We take on the worries of the World…. We find ourselves between faith in our immortal future and worry about tomorrow….

Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat….

The better our grasp of this…. the greater our joy will be and the cares of this life will be less….

Please,… I am well aware that the spread of this virus and the consequences of the lockdowns will change the World and our lives forever….. the fear for our families is real…

But I also know that as we grasp the fact that we are immortal beings more and more, then our relationship with God becomes more of a priority…

As Mr Lewis said, we can either be… immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.

The one thing that separates these two things is whether we fulfil God’s purpose for us or not…..

Everlasting splendour is to be in eternal relationship with God…worshipping him forever….like we are designed to do…. What does verse 4 say?... so that we can, with reverence, serve you

If we are to be everlasting splendour then we have to be able to spend eternity serving God…..

Immortal horror is an eternity of separation from God… an eternity of uselessness….an immortal being which failed to fulfil its purpose...there can be nothing sadder.

As the Jews walked to Jerusalem they prepared their hearts for worship, by reciting this psalm….as they cried out they reflected on the possibility of Immortal horror….

And then reminded themselves of God’s forgiveness….

What a relief…. With the Lord there is forgiveness….. and because of this we can be an everlasting splendour…. We can….serve him….with reverence….. and in comparison to this, the cares of the World fade away….

They fade into the next two…beautiful verses…

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

The Psalmist does not want anything from God….their concentration is on their eternal splendour in worshipping God…….sin has been dealt with…there is no other need….Father, I wait for you, I long for you,,,,for your presence…your wisdom….your comfort…..I long to serve you…I long to worship you….like the watchmen wait for the morning…..

And believe me watchmen wait keenly…I was in the army in Bloemfontein and Upington… being on guard at night was horrible…. it was cold and uncomfortable ….there was danger …the darkness brings fear…..you see things that are both real and imaginary…. but when morning comes it is okay….

We who are uncomfortable right now…. Who are afraid…. Who have danger around us…we struggle to see further than tmrw… we should be focussing our eyes on our eternal future ….on waiting keenly for the Lord?…. With our whole being….?

How did those pilgrims come to God? They too lived in dangerous times…. Their fears were real and varied….

As they came to worship, they overcame these fears by singing these psalms together ….again and again to remind each other of the truth of immortality and that our greatest problem has been solved by the God who forgives….. they had to repeat them to overshadow their own concerns about the World…..their families and their businesses……

Then they reminded themselves that hope is found in his word……sometimes God can feel far away in these troubled times…but while we wait for him his word is there for us to meditate on….. to remind us that we are immortals and that this is where our hope and future are…..

Of course Israel walked up to Jerusalem in large groups holding on to each other encouraging …reminding ……and they knew that they were a part of the group….

Yet we are mostly in isolation,,, we are not allowed to go to church…. we can and should keep in contact in this tough time…all of us… we encourage you not to give up contact with each other especially of course electronically…. keep a keen eye out for those who are struggling in this next few months…whether physically, emotionally or spiritually….

As with those Jewish pilgrims….His word will guide us through these dark times….we have time over the next few weeks to spend time in God’s Word……hold onto it with both hands and our hearts as well…. We in fact have a whole lot more of God’s Word to contemplate than those ancient Jews….. to encourage…. To meditate on… share what you have learned or found encouraging with others…. Here is my passage to share with you…

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

It is here in His Word that we will grasp the meaning of immortality… it is here where we will be able to see the problems of the World in context….

We are all going to need this truth to fill our lives in what lies ahead….

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
    from all their sins.

To finish…

Times are getting tough for Believers and non believers……

And while you may be used to crying out to God …. There are many who will be looking to God for the first time in a long time….

There will be many opportunities in the days ahead to share our hope….

We need to be setting an example of people who know that their hope is sure…. We need to be ready with a word and testimony…..