Psalm 45 – Sermon Notes

This is a wedding piece of music. Most scholars think this was written for David’s son Solomon for a wedding. A song brimming with good news. It speaks of a spectacular king. A king who is brilliant news.

The noble theme is about the most excellent of men. Imagine a place where the leader speaks truth all of the time. It is so certain that the king will win that you can say it has already happened. You couldn’t put it in the past tense. Every other ruler in the end gives way to another. At this wedding everybody is on the invite list. Who is the king? If this was written for Solomon, the first readers of the Psalms knew this wasn’t true of him. Solomon disobeyed four rules spectacularly.

Psalm 45 is about Jesus, the real king. He is the one who always wins the battles and rules fairly and justly. A vision of Jesus is ultimately what will keep you going. This king has a stunning bride. It’ll be the best wedding ever. This marriage is the ultimate relationship of all humanity. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture of what everything in this world is all about. It’s easy to get caught up with things. You’ll be in a relationship with him forever. It’s only when you’ve got that reality clear in your mind that ultimately you can live through whatever life throws at you.

Longevity isn’t the thing God treasures most. You will one day be married in the best marriage ever.

Sing to the Lord – Psalm 96 – Sermon Notes

Your life is singing a song to the world around you.

Sing to the Lord

If your life is singing a song, something is inspiring you to do that. Whatever it is, there is someone more inspiring. When you really meet Jesus, you forget the old song and you sing a new song to the Lord. The Lord made the heavens. He’s a God of such glory that looking at the stars is a small insight into how great he is. We choose badly the things to shape our lives around. God stepped in below the heavens to a tiny planet and humbled himself to nothing.

Sing to the Lord a new song

We don’t want to feel insecure. We’re scared of being scared. The Psalmist invites everyone to tremble before the Lord. We are so used to endlessly looking at nothing. Step out of that and tremble before him. Sing a new song about something real and brilliant. Seek out the glory. This invitation is challenging. Ascribe to the Lord. Is God needy? The glory is due to God’s name, whether we give it to him or not. It’s not for his benefit. See his glory and respond from your heart.

Sing to the Lord a new song all the earth

The whole earth is invited by God into this place where we see him and this new song is drawn out of us. How does the whole earth see this invitation? Say among the nations the Lord reigns. What if we could be so captivated by the glory of God that we are just among the nations singing that song? This is more likely to spread if people love the living God. They’re more likely to be there in the nations talking about it. Some day the whole world will be singing this song. Everything in the world is made to sing out the glory of God. One day everything will sing out in this glorious light.

The Secret of Peace – Psalm 119:153-176 – Sermon Notes

The more the psalmist thinks about God’s word, the more he’s asking God to save him. An engagement points forwards to a future event. The ring is a promise. The psalmist has received God’s promises in a covenant. From that moment on, nothing’s the same. He’s consumed with delight and longing for the day of his salvation.

Love the promise

Is there no value to being a Christian in this life? The psalmist’s testimony is that as he walks this road, his life is still joyful because of God’s promises. God’s word is our delight because it tells us that we are loved. It also gives us great peace. The psalmist knows that God’s compassion is as great as any foe he’ll come across. In God’s word are songs and speeches about the character of the God who loves you. There are assurances that bring you great peace in the face of opposition.

Long for the fulfilment

Our delight in God’s promise is fuelled by our longing for its fulfilment. When he’s reflecting on God’s word he sees in it promises of life and salvation and deliverance and this is what his soul longs for. The phrase ‘preserve my life’ could also mean ‘give me life’. He wants the life of the blameless person. Where am I on that path? So far off that we can barely recognise his ways. A lost sheep (v176). God’s word promises him life apart from the law to which it testifies. It teaches him to seek God. Even though you don’t do very well at seeking God, he seeks you.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. God has sought out his lost sheep by sending his son. Jesus fulfils all the promises the psalmist relies on. We can long for life according to God’s promises that have been fulfilled in Jesus. Blessed are those who Jesus seeks. If you’re unable to walk blamelessly there is all the more reason to love God’s promises and long for his fulfilment.

Sweet, Sweet Words – Psalm 119:89-104 – Sermon Notes

The things we care most about are often the things we’re taught the least about.

God’s word is limitless

It’s the map that shows us everything that’s most important to us. It shows us wisdom and delight. The psalmist’s theme is the limitless, steadfastness of God’s word. We have the enduring, established map of reality that stands firm in every generation. God’s word brought reality into being.

“God’s word which established the world is the same as that which he has embodied in the scriptures.” – Spurgeon

Clinging to and delighting in God’s word is what has preserved the psalmist in his troubles. The moment we trust our limited maps over God’s limitless word, we stop walking on the firm ground that’s real. The word of God isn’t given to us in a list of rules. It endures because it’s dependent on God’s faithfulness. Let’s delight in God’s promises in Jesus.

Limitless wisdom

Following God’s word gives us limitless wisdom because we have access to an understanding of the world from an eternal perspective. This map gives us wisdom from before the world. Access to this wisdom is found in obeying God’s word. The one who is wise is the one who lives like Christ. Become wiser than the world.

Limitless delight

The psalmist has learned to call it sweet as he’s wrestled with God’s word. Feast on it and you’ll learn to call it sweet. It’s from obeying God’s precepts that we can learn this.

Cling to the Word – Psalm 119:25-40 – Sermon Notes

Is God’s word a welcome distraction or a life changing reality? The psalmist teaches us that living by God’s word is still a way worth walking. It will make the biggest difference to our suffering, but not in the way we might expect.

Help me cling on

Being weary with sorrow is a reality for us all. Preservation and strength. The psalmist is convinced that God’s word will make the difference. His longing is for better adherence to God’s word. He confesses he clings to earthly things. He sets his heart on God’s laws. We can walk as God’s children if we trust him and take to heart his word. We haven’t walked in obedience but we’re not put to shame because Jesus held perfectly to God’s word. Is this the answer? There’s no evidence that the psalmist’s suffering is taken away.

Change my heart

The psalmist asks God to make him walk in the way that he says. He prays for transformation. God can use our suffering to change us. The psalmist is wrestling with everything in him that’s not in line with God’s word. The psalm serves as an invitation to plead with God like this. An invitation into a deeper walk.

God doesn’t always transform the situation, but he transforms the person.

A Way Worth Walking – Psalm 119:1-16 – Sermon Notes

This psalm is written as a prayer but is more like a journal. ‘Blessed’ is the opposite of cursed and describes God remaking his people. Simply hearing Jesus’ words is no use unless you’re putting it into practice. The psalm is the personal approval of a life like that and an invitation to join in.

A way worth walking

The psalmist probably only had the first five books of the Bible. Why’s he getting excited about God’s law? We’re always insisting it’s by grace we’re saved. He uses eight words interchangeably – law, judgments, precepts, commands, testimonies, promises, statutes, word. He’s talking about God’s covenant. They represent a marriage covenant. The way worth living is a living, dynamic, personal relationship with someone who loves us. The psalm encourages us to take up the way worth walking, to build our lives on the foundation of Jesus. The Christian life isn’t about following rules, it’s all about knowing God and being known. Having God’s word is like having riches.

Experience the word

The psalmist isn’t a reader of God’s word. He always uses words to show he lives it. He seems to switch between longing for, staying on, and walking the way. His first response is to be driven to God, asking for help. God’s word contains an answer to the psalmist’s cry. Now he’s walking the way, he has to ask how to stay on the path (v9). God’s word guards our way. We need to take it to heart. The psalmist says he has hidden God’s word in his heart. Why do we not memorise scripture? We think it’s a chore. It’s a wonderful thing. It helps us to avoid sinning. The psalmist is chasing God down and he’s not giving up until he’s caught him. Your experience of the word becomes colourful (v13-16).

Time spent in God’s word transforms us so that we delight in it. This is an invitation. God invites you to not be half hearted. Hiding, seeking, meditating, living out his word.

Psalm 121 – Sermon Notes

The Israelites would sing the songs of ascent on their pilgrimage. This psalm is set on the journey itself. It’s like a picture of the Christian life. We’re shown how to respond when things get tough.

Facing the mountain

They feel vulnerable and lose heart. They need help and cry out. This song would help them deal with hopelessness. The pilgrims start by telling themselves what they know to be true. When we listen to ourselves we listen to our complaints. We dwell on these mountains. We’d do well to start talking to ourselves. Tell yourself the gospel. The truth that the psalmist needs to be reminded of is that their help comes from the Lord. We know that the promise of help applies in a much wider sense. Our greatest need is to be reconciled to the God who made us.

Take courage

The things that worry or intimidate you aren’t things to be scared of. You can take comfort that the God who protects you is like a father who cares for his children. The maker of heaven and earth is your keeper. What you’re going through hasn’t escaped God’s attention. The psalm gives us confidence that God will guide us through life. God protects us through death. Does your help come from someone who will keep watch over your life? We can take confidence that we’re going to complete our journey.

Approaching the Cross – Psalm 118 – Sermon Notes

A simple summary is that the Lord is good and the application is to give thanks. It’s easy to say but is it easy to believe that? Can God really be good if he lets the world go on as it is? The psalm writer says he is. It doesn’t remove the hurt that we face but knowing God’s love endures forever gives us hope. The psalm tells us God is worthy of our praise no matter how we’re feeling.

God proves his love through his rescue

It’s better to take refuge from the Lord than to trust in humans. Do we really believe that? With the Lord’s help he is able to defeat his enemies. We are to act as well as trust. We are a church that’s full of people who do things. It’s only by God’s grace that we’re even alive. The writer had looked abandoned but the Lord rescued him. It’s a psalm of great celebration. It’s right to praise God for his rescue of other people. Isn’t he worthy of our praise?

God proves his love through Jesus’ rescue

A rescue that’s open to all of us. Jesus was rejected and hated and crucified on a cross. That’s the very reason he is the cornerstone. There’s no other way to be saved. We have a sure hope in Jesus. God will one day fix this broken world. We really should give thanks to the Lord. God deserves our praise every day.

Time Management – Psalm 90 – Sermon Notes

God is God, you are not (v2-6)

Mountains are the most durable thing the psalmist could think of. God is more durable. From everlasting to everlasting. He is a safe place. Time doesn’t limit him. He’s eternal. We are the opposite of everlasting. We are temporary. We’re bound by the time we’ve got and that’s not very long. Our lives rarely leave any trace. We think God is the one who is distant. We think we’ll make a mark. No, God is God, we’re not.

Why the difference? (v7-10)

Even our best days are troubled and sorrowful because they pass so quickly. The best times are marred by the fact that they won’t last forever. There is a problem between us and the God who made us. We live in a world that sits under God’s anger. We are all at enmity with God. We live in a world that is separated and at war with the God who made us. It’s broken. We are consumed by death in the end because we’re consumed by his anger.

An unwise response (v11)

Who considers the power of God’s anger? Everyone you know is slowly dying. We try and ignore it. Maybe we say we can have great experiences. Who says the appropriate response is to fear God? Not many. When plans don’t work out, we complain. If only we knew the power of God’s anger.

Living wisely (v12-17)

Teach us to see that life is short. Act in accordance with that. The psalmist (Moses) sees how stupid and dull we are. Satisfy us with your unfailing love so that even in this broken world we can sing for joy. It’s asking for something that only God can do. God, in sending Jesus, makes what you do significant so that we can live a satisfied life in this troubled world. Lots of Christians have the knowledge but spend their time doing things that don’t matter. See God’s deeds and give your hands to join in with what he’s doing. Jesus shows us something eternal. We can ask him to establish our work. God accords us the greatest possible dignity. By yourself you achieve nothing. With him you can be part of something that’s established forever.

Be satisfied they you’re loved. In Jesus, God’s promising love has you. You’re secure and safe. Join in what he’s doing in the world.

Life Management – Psalm 91 – Sermon Notes

The world is full of surprises that you don’t see coming. How can we look forward to the future with any confidence? Where will your refuge be?

Trust the Lord (v1-2)

The psalmist wants us to experience sheltering under the branches, resting in the shade. Your only real safe place for complete refuge is the Lord. He’s referred to as the Most High. He’s able to do what he says and faithful to carry out his promises.

He will protect you (v3-13)

The psalmist takes us through dangers you might encounter. While all of this is going on, the Lord covers you. There is no reason to fear. These might seem the most comforting verses or the most unrealistic. How are we to make sense of these promises? They’re true in a general sense. Reflect back and see how God intervened. We have miraculous escapes. God protects us. We realise there’s no hint that our enemies are eliminated. The promise of safety comes in the midst of danger. While it happens he draws near to be with us, promising us that he’ll use it for good. When you don’t fear death what else is there to fear? These things can’t ultimately harm you.

“Yes I will” (v14-16)

His promises are based on three conditions. We have to love the Lord, to know him and to cry out to him. They’re not the hardest things to do. He promises to rescue, to protect, to be with you in trouble, to deliver, to honour you, to give you eternal life. Remember who makes these promises. He can be trusted. What choice do we have? What can we do but trust him? There is no safer place. Find your refuge in him.