Wednesday @ 11 – 4 November 2020

Welcome to the notes from our midweek service of worship in our building in Panmurefield

Opening Scripture verses:

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.

Psalm 62:1-2

Opening praise: How Deep the Father’s Love

Opening Prayer:

Thank you Lord once more for this opportunity to gather in Your house to worship You. We know as King Solomon of Israel many centuries ago declared in I Kings 8:27-28: 

But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain You. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to Your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that Your servant is praying in your presence this day. 

Lord unlike us You are not constrained by space and time and are able to hear and answer the prayers we bring to You today. We ask Your blessing on our time together in the wonderful and precious name of Jesus, Your Son, Our Saviour, in whose name we pray, Amen 

Bible Reading:

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.

How long will you assault me?
 Would all of you throw me down this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from Him.
Truly He is my rock and my salvation;
He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken.


My salvation and my honour depend on God;
He is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in Him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to Him,
for God is our refuge.

Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.

11 One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
‘Power belongs to You, God,
12  and with You, Lord, is unfailing love’;
and, ‘You reward everyone
according to what they have done.’

Psalm 62

Intercessory prayer using Psalm 62

Heavenly Father as we come with our prayers of intercession today, we are conscious of so many needs within our congregation, community and country and that is before we come to consider the wider world. Yet we remember that the Scriptures ask us to offer our prayers with thanksgiving.

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken. Lord, I want to thank You today for…   

Our Father, we are very conscious of people or circumstances that for us or for others are very difficult. We are aware that for King David it was other people who had caused deep hurts to him. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down – this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. Lord, I want to bring before You the person or people or the circumstances with which I am struggling today….

Lord, we come deeply aware that sometimes our commitment to You or to Your service is not as it ought to be. We remember David’s challenge to himself in Psalm 62:5: Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Lord, I am aware of my need to renew afresh my life into Your hands today, as David did long ago, in particular, I want to ask You to help me with…

Thank you Lord that our faith is a missionary faith and the needs of others to trust You will be on our hearts, week by week. David appealed to those not yet committed to God in His day to take that step of faith. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. I want to bring before the following names of people I want to see You bring to faith or bring back to You…

David reminded us of the shortness of life. Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. Lord, we are currently concerned about the ongoing virus pandemic in our city and in other places.  We want to bring before You the following Health Service or Social Care workers…

We also want to bring before You the following people who are unwell or who have been bereaved in the recent past…

We also want to bring before You these other needs… or particular personal needs ….

Thank You Lord for hearing and answering our prayers in Jesus’ name, Amen

Message from Psalm 62 ‘Trusting in God’

Introduction

This Psalm was written at the time of Absalom’s rebellion against his father King David with a view to taking the throne as the new King of Israel nearly 3,000 years ago (See II Samuel chapters 15-18 for more details). There was real uncertainty in the King’s household as to who had remained loyal to the aged king and who had sided with the young claimant in what became a short civil war.

At first Absalom in having the element of surprise had the upper hand. It seemed likely that had he made the right strategic decisions in the first few days that he would have been successful in this military coup. Even some of David’s closest friends and acquaintances sided with Absalom.

We won’t go into the reasons for that here as it would take us away from the point of this Psalm, but it asks the question to all of us – in whom do you put your trust? How many people do you know whose words you would trust 100%? How many individuals would you trust with the most personal and sensitive information about your life, of your strengths and weaknesses, your successes and your failures? This is a very hard question to answer.   

Let us look here how in the most difficult of times David comes to terms with the very serious predicament he was facing of the possible loss of his throne and with it the danger of also losing his life as well.  

1. Trust in God our choice despite adversity (Psalm 62:1-4)

Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down – this leaning wall, this tottering fence?Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. 

Who can you depend on when you need help? Whose presence with you gives you a sense of security and an assurance that things will be okay? When we were little children of course for the vast majority of us the answer would be our parents.

They were amazing people who knew ‘all the answers’ to sort out all the difficulties we were facing in our childhood.  As we grow we come to a point where we know that our parents are not able to resolve all the problems we face or put right all the wrongs done to us. In fact, there are circumstances in many people’s lives that no other person can make right. It doesn’t have to be as extreme a situation as David was facing where he had a genuine fear of losing his life. 

Can you say as David did here: Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalm 62:1a)? All of us have our genuine worries and concerns in life, if not for ourselves then for other people around us. But worrying about something does not resolve anything, the situation remains as difficult as before and on top of that we may struggle to get adequate sleep; we may be unable to concentrate adequately at school, college or our workplace; it can rob us of pleasure and joy in the good things of life that we experience and give us nothing positive in return.

Worry or anxiety is a thief that takes from us our sense of wellbeing and if we remain in this state it will damage our emotional and mental health and sometimes even our physical health as well. David’s secret to the long life he lived was the revelation he shares here in this verse. Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalm 62:1a). He also explains why he turned to God in the first place. My salvation comes from Him (Psalm 62:1b).

Have you put your faith and trust in God? There is no-one more able to save us than God. As a Christian I would add through faith in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour; the One who died in our place on the cross to take the punishment for your sins and mine so that instead of condemnation we might have a welcome into God’s family through His amazing undeserved kindness to us. The security of God’s love makes all the difference to His children. David goes on to say in Psalm 62:2L Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall never be shaken.  Is God your anchor in the storms of life? Is He your reference point when you lose your sense of direction in life? He invites you and me to follow Him. If you have never put your faith in God the Father through Jesus, then I would encourage you to take that step today.

In Psalm 62:3-4 David turns to the people whose actions have caused so much distress for him. How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down – this leaning wall, this tottering fence? Surely they intend to topple me from my lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless,but in their hearts they curse. 

Are there people who have made promises to you and broken them? Are there individuals who betrayed your trust or who took advantage of your goodness to them? David now as an aged man acutely aware of his bodily weakness feels righteous indignation rising up within him. How could they do…? Sadly it happens all the time, but it doesn’t make it any easier to understand why someone would act in this way. Each of us will recall examples of this kind of behaviour. However, David’s point here is that even when other people are unaware of wrongdoing that God will see it and act in response to it.

Have you ever been falsely accused of doing something wrong? Or aware that another person has wrongly treated you? Never forget that God sees all these things. Therefore, says David, Truly my soul finds rest in God despite all the adversity that may come my way today or tomorrow or sometime in the future.                                                                       

2. Trust in God brings a sense of security (Psalm 62:5-8)

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. My salvation and my honour depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, you people;pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.

Notice how these words build on the earlier verses one and two. In Psalm 62:1-2 there is a statement of David’s practice. But here in Psalm 62:5 there is a personal exhortation to practise more seriously the message he proclaimed to other people. All of us know how easy it is to give advice to other people about how they should act in particular contexts. But do I follow my own advice in practice? We are familiar with the pattern in many of David’s Psalms.  He has gone through some great trials with God’s help and afterwards writes a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving to celebrate answers to prayer. Somewhere in the Psalm he will invite or exhort the reader or hearer to do what he did in trusting God. 

What can we learn from David here? I may have put my trust in God for the first time many years ago. I may have read the Bible, prayed and attended church for decades, but sometimes we can drift in our commitment to following Him. There are times when we need to come to God and ask Him to help us get back on track in our spiritual journey. We can have times of self-pity.  God it is not fair.  I have served You faithfully. I have been a good neighbour, a diligent worker and a person who helped others in need. This bad situation ought not to happen to me! Unfortunately life is not that simple.

We need to accept that there is much in life that we will never understand. Our ‘why’ questions may never get answered to our satisfaction; sometimes we need to stop and challenge ourselves not to be weighed down completely by the trials we face that we forget to keep our eyes on the Lord. Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him (Psalm 62:5). Actually, a more accurate translation of David’s words in verses 1 and 2 and here in verse 5 and 6 includes the word alone. Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. 

God is not just a person to whom we turn in our times of crisis, but the One on whom we depend and with whom we seek fellowship in good times as well as tough ones. His sufficiency in our times of need is something we need to remind ourselves of on occasions.       

Notice that whereas in the first few verses of this Psalm (Psalm 62:3-4) David feels the need to address those who had made his life so difficult, but in these next few verses his focus is entirely on God. The Bible in quite a few places challenges us to keep our focus on the Lord and on what He has called us to do. Jesus, for example, in the Sermon on the Mount said these challenging words in Matthew 6:31-33 to His followers when they were tempted to worry about the future.  

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 

Are you, am I giving God the first place in our lives. In a time of the worst virus pandemic for a century it is no surprise that many people are worried about their health, or worried about their job or their business. God through David invites us to commit our day, our week and our future into His hands. The implication David gives if we don’t follow his advice is that instead of rest we will become increasingly weary and very vulnerable to feeling overwhelmed with all that we might have to face in times like these. 

Therefore, in Psalm 62:8 David gives a challenge to us, his readers and hearers: Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. Notice he says at all times not some times. God is sufficient to meet our needs in every situation so that we can find a place of rest and peace of mind through Him. His words here are in effect a testimony of God’s goodness in helping him.

Never underestimate the power of your story. Your account of how you came to faith in Jesus or your memory of answered prayers. A person may disagree with your opinions on many subjects. However, it is so much harder to challenge lived experience. There are many people in country after country looking for a way to handle all the pressures that have come their way in the last six months. You might be the person God uses to speak a word for Him later today or later this week. Please pray for opportunities to share your faith story with others. Who might you want to share the good news with that God is our refuge?      

3. Trust in God gives a right perspective (Psalm62:9-12)

Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath. 10 Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them. 11 One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard:‘Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love’; and, ‘You reward everyone according to what they have done.’

Have you ever been somewhere and got well and truly lost? I can recall car journeys over the years where it was incredibly frustrating, trying to find places because the road signs were inadequate for a visitor to the area. I have also been walking on a few mountains when the mist came down and visibility was almost non-existent for a while. It can be quite scary to be in that position. Here our author wants to remind us that trust in God enables us to have a right perspective on so many things. First of all is a reminder of our weakness. Surely the lowborn are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie. If weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath (Psalm 62:9). Presidents and Prime Ministers come and go. Even dictators and tyrants who may not face general elections will eventually depart this life. 

We ourselves will not be here for ever either. God knows the bigger picture. He knows how the pieces of the ‘jigsaw’ fit together. Our ultimate hope must not rest on, for example, which politicians are in office. They may try their best, but will rarely accomplish more than a fraction of what had been promised in an election campaign.

David also reminds us not to take integrity shortcuts when under real pressure in daily life.  Do not trust in extortion or put vain hope in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them (Psalm 62:10). There are plenty of people who will falsify tax returns, or give misleading information about products they are selling to maximise their business profits. There are others who in hard times engage in theft or trade in stolen property.  Don’t do any of these things and others that your conscience and mine has concerns about. Be known as a man or woman of integrity who cannot be bought and who always endeavours to the best of your ability to do what is right. 

David then comes to his concluding remarks in verses 11 and 12: One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard:‘Power belongs to you, God, 12 and with you, Lord, is unfailing love’; and, ‘You reward everyone according to what they have done.’ What is his concluding advice to us?

Remember: (i) God is strong Power belongs to you, God… We at times are acutely aware of our weakness and inadequacy but He: is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21). There is nothing too difficult for you to do today with His help.

(ii) God is faithful … and with you, Lord, is unfailing love. Jeremiah reminds us in Lamentations 3:22-23: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. David understood afresh something of the character of God as he rejoiced in the faithful covenant love between God and His people. You may feel alone, but God will never leave you alone because He always keeps His promises.

(iii) God is fair You reward everyone according to what they have done. Paul reminded some fairly new Christians of this truth in Galatians 6:9-10: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.In our city in the last six months it has been great to see people coming together to serve their communities during this virus pandemic. However, I have been particularly pleased to see the number of churches that have stepped up to play their part as well. We have only one life to live here on earth and then after this life we will stand before the Lord to give an account of the way we have lived. May He help us to do what is right and live each day in a way pleasing to Him, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Closing Song: I will sing the Wondrous Story

Closing Prayer:

Thank You Lord for Your amazing kindness to us as Your people. We come with grateful hearts again and again to express our thankfulness to You. Help us at this time to rest in God alone, and not to worry about the issues that are beyond our control. Help us to commit our future to You, both individually as well as in our families and here in our church family, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

Benediction

Wednesday @ 11 service – 21 October 2020

Please find below notes of our midweek service of worship in our building in Panmurefield

Opening Scripture verses:

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving
and extol Him with music and song.
For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.

Psalm 95:1-3

Opening praise: ‘Be Thou my vision’

Opening prayer:

Lord we come with Your joy in our hearts today for the privilege of worshipping and glorifying Your holy name. We are an incredibly privileged people with so many things for which to praise You our great God and Saviour. The apostle Paul in Romans 8:31-32 declared: What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things? Father, forgive us for those times when we doubted Your good ness to us or failed to display a thankful spirit for all our blessings. Help each one of us to honour and truly worship You each day of our lives as You desire, for Jesus’ names’ sake, Amen.

Bible Reading

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving
and extol Him with music and song.

For the Lord is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to Him.
The sea is His, for He made it,
and His hands formed the dry land.

Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for He is our God
 and we are the people of His pasture,
the flock under His care.

Today, if only you would hear His voice,
‘Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested Me;
they tried Me, though they had seen what I did.

10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known My ways.”
11 So I declared on oath in My anger,
“They shall never enter My rest.”’

Psalm 95

Intercessory prayer using Psalm 95

Heavenly Father, We come with confidence in Your holy presence today because we come in the precious name of Jesus, Your Son, our Saviour. When we look at the suffering in our world and the many crises around the globe with our confusion, it forces us to come back to the cross to see how much love You have for us as creatures created in Your image when You sent Jesus to die in our place so that we may have life in its fullness as Your children here on earth.

We do recognise that although our scientists and medical specialists are working so hard to care for patients who have been infected with the Covid-19 virus, or seeking to find a suitable vaccine to use to reduce its devastating impact on most people’s daily lives, we know that we must be patient for some time to come before we will be free once again to live in some form of our previous normal ways of living. We ask that You would help us as the human race to appreciate how we might live better on our planet as stewards of the natural resources entrusted to us, as well as share more appropriately the wealth so unfairly distributed into fewer and fewer people’s hands or held by a very small number of global corporations.

We come to use the words of Psalm 95 in our prayers today:  

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.

Father forgive us when our minds are so fixed on what is wrong in the world that we fail to honour and thank You for all the blessings and good things we enjoy. The wonderful blessing for most of us of close family and friends and church family; in particular today I want to thank You for ….   being a blessing to me…. 

For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it, and His hands formed the dry land.

Lord thank You for the beauty of creation around us. We are so blessed to live near the seashore where many of us at times can walk on the beach or paddle in the water, or simply listen to the sounds of the waves or the birds all around us. Thank you too for the mountains and hillsides and valleys inland, some places we can visit on foot or others to which we must travel to walk or in other ways to enjoy the scenery. In particular, there are special memories of places precious to me, I want to thank You for ….   

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before theLord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.

Lord, we come individually as well as collectively to worship You today. In particular, I want to thank You for what I have learned as I read and study Your Word or as I seek You in prayer…..

 Thank you Lord that there is nothing too big for You to handle, no situation too difficult or beyond hope. Today I want to bring before You …. with their particular need for prayer….

 Lord we thank You that Betty Watson had her hip operation last week and we pray she makes a full recovery of health and strength. Lord, I am also aware of  …. in need of prayer and I bring them before You now…. 

Today, if only you would hear His voice, ‘Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,where your ancestors tested Me; they tried Me, though they had seen what I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known My ways.” 11 So I declared on oath in My anger, “They shall never enter My rest.”’

Lord forgive me my sins, both those I know of and those of which I am even unaware.  Lord, we bring before You the sins of our nation and its leaders. Where they have put personal or party interests before others, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable citizens; forgive the sins of our country in its foreign policy that has too often focussed on selling arms or other goods that make great profits here, but too often cause misery and disaster for vulnerable people in other places. We are distressed at the astonishingly long queues for even basic food items like bread in places like Syria caused entirely by Western sanctions and the deliberate destruction of their ability to produce sufficient food in their own land. Lord have mercy…  

In particular, I want to bring …. (world issue) to You to work in resolving things we cannot change.

Thank you Lord for hearing and answering our prayers, in the name of Jesus, Your Son our Saviour, Amen.  

Psalm 95 An invitation to worship

Introduction

This psalm was written after the return from exile in Babylon (Iraq) by the small group of exiles that returned in different groups after the seventy years with no functioning nation in the land of Israel. However, now the situation has changed, homes have been built and occupied and businesses and lives re-established in the land.  The Temple in Jerusalem has been restored and rebuilt so that it can be a place of worship once again.  

The city too has seen its basic infrastructure rebuilt, including its walls, in the time of Nehemiah as governor. There is much to give thanks to God for in the nation. The generation that lived through times of despair and utter hopelessness, has largely passed away, but a tiny number remained to see the promises of God fulfilled before their eyes in Jerusalem. 

The challenges we are facing today are nothing like as severe as the ones they passed through. However, in many countries around the world millions of people are enduring life-threatening difficulties on a scale that is distressing to see.

The starving people in Syria in lengthy queues for basic food supplies and missing out on all kinds of medical supplies in their National Health Service, due to the theft of some supplies by America and Turkey from the north of the country and more generally as a result of unjust sanctions against the Syrian government by certain Western nations including our own. The problems in Yemen and Nagorno-Karabakh, likewise, caused by military weaponry sold by a handful of countries including our own that makes large profits for the sellers at the expense of heartache and tragedy for many ordinary people. Lord have mercy upon us.

However, we are aware that alongside so many people in our city volunteering to help their neighbours and others in the wider community, there are still people struggling with the pressures of daily life, including as yet unaddressed health needs, or the pressures of work responsibilities. The uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 virus pandemic will be with us for some time to come and it is taking its toll on the emotional and mental health of an increasing number of people.

Our politicians, scientists and health professionals are doing their best to help our country through this time, like their counterparts in other countries, but there is so much that they cannot control. Ultimately there is only one person to whom we can turn at a time like this and that is to the Lord as our unknown author directs us in Psalm 95. What does the Psalmist direct us to do in our worship service today?        

1. The joy of worship (Psalm 95:1-2)

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song. ‘If only’ might be the cry of our heart when we are currently not permitted to sing out loud in public worship services! We will certainly appreciate it when the day comes when we can return to joyfully singing our loud God’s praises and being blessed by the contributions of our excellent musicians. It does raise the question for me; did I always appreciate enough what a privilege it was to come before the Lord with praise and worship with His people as we gathered Sunday by Sunday? How often do we take for granted the things we expect to be available for us week by week?

Since lockdown restrictions began back in March 2020 we have had to be creative utilising other resources. Many Christians have sung at home in their own homes using hymnbooks they possess. Others have utilised Christian radio or television services online or as we in this church do in services, taking links from earlier recordings of hymns or other songs being sung that we can then use in our services each Sunday on zoom, or via the church website or via the email version of the service.

But just mentioning these different ways in which we offer a Sunday service to people, and I had not mentioned the CDs or DVDs prepared for a smaller number of people, or the paper copies of services printed off for other people in their homes or residential care! God’s praises can still be offered and our thanksgiving expressed for the blessings we enjoy that are received from His hands. We are thankful that we can also gather in smaller numbers on church premises like today. We miss greatly our fellowship with one another that the pandemic restrictions have brought about, but through forms of technology such as phones or computers, or meeting people in public places the majority of us have had some contact with others over recent months.

Our author highlights some different ways to offer our worship to the Lord. In fact, it appears he is concerned that some of the recipients of this Psalm might not have been taking the opportunities to worship open to them as regularly as they might. Therefore, he issues a strong invitation to join with God’s people to honour and glorify His name. How should or might we offer our worship here? 

The first exhortation is this: let us sing for joy to the Lord;(Psalm 95:1a) It is part of the human experience of life to want to sing. It is not just in churches that people like to gather to sing. In all kinds of concert halls or theatres, football grounds and in so many more places singing is a part of bringing pleasure to ourselves and to others in daily life. We might also want to add our homes or even our cars as places where we enjoy singing! However, the Psalmist here is specifically speaking about singing God’s praises. He is also exhorting us to do it with joy.  That is, to do it with our hearts and emotions as well as our minds and our vocal chords!

We are called in the Bible to be a praising people who take delight in expressing our delight at the privilege of worshipping our great God and Saviour. In the book of Nehemiah there is an account of a worship service held in Jerusalem by a large group of Jewish people who had returned to the land of their ancestors to live when they were free to do so. They had been addressing seriously issues relating to living their lives for God and some of those present had clearly had a sense of failure to live up to God’s standards to the extent that they were weeping in the service.

However, Nehemiah the governor of the land and a real man of God said these words to them, recorded in Nehemiah 8:10: This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strengthHad you ever thought that in praising and worshipping God, not only does He benefit from our adoration, but we are strengthened in our faith as a result of this activity?  

The second exhortation is more surprising: let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95:1b) In most Western Christian Churches worship can be fairly solemn and respectful and that is viewed as the way all services ought to be conducted. However, in many African or African American Churches worshippers may shout out ‘Amens’ or equivalents during the sermon or in the times of praise. It is clear that there is evident biblical sanction for their more vocal expressions of worship and in heaven we may have to get used to some more lively worship than is customary in most churches here in Scotland! After all we have a gospel that is incredible good news that is worthy of being proclaimed to anyone who will listen to us! Praise the Lord!  

The third exhortation is expected: Let us come before Him with thanksgiving (Psalm 95:2a) This statement matches Paul’s teaching in I Thessalonians 5:16-18: Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. It also complements the apostles’ advice regarding prayer to the church at Philippi in Greece, stated in Philippians 4:6-7: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

There is something of a pattern in the Bible of the blessing of God being attracted to His people when we are modelling a thankful spirit towards God and other people in daily life.  It helps us flourish as people. It is a challenge, in my daily life how easily do I look for reasons to be thankful in various situations ahead of being critical of things that need to be addressed. God desires us to cultivate a thankful spirit towards Him for all the blessings He has given us.   

The fourth exhortation is: and extol Him with music and song(Psalm 95:2). We are blessed with a good number of gifted musicians in our church family and we thank God for each one of them and the way their ministries have enriched our worship services, together with thankfulness to God for the team of people who have or continue to lead some of our worship services. Psalm 150, a latter Psalm, is a celebration of the many instruments we can use to glorify God in our praises. Our list of musical instruments today might differ from this list compiled more than two thousand years ago, but it is easy to grasp the point. The worship of Almighty God is meant to be enthusiastic as we raises our voices in praise and thanksgiving and that singing is enriched by the musical instruments that assist us in exalting His holy and majestic name.

2. The reasons for worship (Psalm 95:3-7a)

We could state that the first part of this Psalm is speaking about how ‘how’ we praise and worship God, something we can do on our own, in a small group or with a larger congregation of believers in a more structured worship service. The middle section of the Psalm answers the questions as to ‘why’ we should want to worship God. It is not something we consider when we have nothing else to do.  On the contrary, it is the most important human activity on this planet. The older catechisms of Protestant Churches in unison declared that our ‘chief end’ or our most important activity on earth is: ‘to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever’. Now to the average citizen of our country such a thought would be foreign to their patterns of thinking or their daily lives, but not to the author of this psalm. He would have offered an ‘Amen’ or even a ‘hallelujah’ to such a claim. He gives us two reasons why this is the case.   

(a)The greatness of God (Psalm 95:3-5) For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. The sea is His, for He made it and His hands formed the dry land. 

All of us are brought up to appreciate the kind actions of other people. As children the vast majority of us were taught to always say ‘thank-you’ to a person who gave us a gift or carried out an act of kindness for us. Appreciation for the good works of others is an essential part of the character of every human being.

However, there are times when some people assist others in ways that are worthy of particular praise. For example, a teacher or sports coach that has helped a young person develop their musical skills or sporting talents over many years and now sees them achieve their goals is worthy of praise and public acclamation.

An even greater sense of gratitude might be due to a person who donated a healthy kidney to someone whose kidneys had failed enabling them to continue to live. But, infinitely higher than that is our obligation to acknowledge the greatness of God.  

The One who spoke and brought the universe into being out of nothing! The One who upholds and sustains it by His mighty power year by year; how great is our God!  We rightly get excited by parts of the creation, for example, the views from a mountain-top, or the sight of the flowers in our garden, and so much more, but we are invited to lift up our eyes and worship the One who brought all this into being. The One who positioned the planet earth so perfectly in its orbit in our galaxy that life of all kinds could flourish is worthy of infinite praise and adoration for His greatness. How great is our God?  Will you give the glory to Him for all He has created?  It certainly didn’t happen by chance that is impossible!

Psalm 8 focusses exclusively on this topic and includes these verses:  Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants You have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars,  which You have set in place, what is mankind that You are mindful of them, human beings that You care for them?.. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1-4, 9)  

It gets even more awesome in the New Testament when we read in John chapter one that the being who carried out that act of creation through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit entered our world as a baby at Bethlehem two thousand years ago in order to become the Saviour of the world. More than half a century after these events the aged disciple of Jesus, John, wrote in John 1:14: The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. How great is our God! Have you put your trust in Him as your Lord and Saviour? I hope each one of us has done so.

God could have created the world and left us to look after ourselves, but amazingly the Bible teaches us clearly about the amazing love and care of God for us as His children.  

(b) The care given by God (Psalm 95:6-7a)Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care. 

There are many passages in the Old Testament that speak of God as the Shepherd of His people. Many people, even some non-churchgoers are familiar with Psalm 23. That Psalm begins: The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).

Ezekiel chapter 34 is a lengthy chapter using the same imagery of God as the shepherd of His people. Christians will naturally turn in the New Testament chapter ten where Jesus describes Himself in this way in John 10:11, 14-16: 

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep… 14 ‘I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me – 15 just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father – and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They too will listen to My voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 

We should naturally want to worship God because of His amazing love and care for us. His modelling of care in the person of Jesus is the pattern given to Christians in general and church-leaders in particular in I Peter 5:2: 

Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them – not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; 

Do I genuinely care for other people in our church family to pray for them regularly and in other practical ways when and where appropriate? To a lesser degree do we care enough to pray for and in a more limited way support Christian work in other places in our country and overseas? We need to reflect the loving caring God who has done and is doing so much for us. 

3. The warning given by God (Psalm 95:7b-11)

The third section of such a beautiful psalm is such a real shock to read. It is like a musician playing beautifully at a concert and then striking some discordant notes that no-one could miss. Why does God through the psalmist need to give such a challenge in a psalm about worship and our invitation to honour the Lord as we ought to do? It is because of the repeated patterns in history of people in earlier generations drifting away from giving God the honour that is due to His holy name. This is why we notice here:  

(a) A danger to be heeded (Psalm 95:7b-8a) Today, if only you would hear His voice, ‘Do not harden your hearts… Don’t assume it is only a reminder to other believers to keep their focus on God. It is a constant challenge to my own heart and to yours to maintain our focus on praising and glorifying God, not just when all is going well but also in the midst of a Covid-19 virus pandemic or any number of other adverse circumstances. Do you need to address this issue today and need to ask God for forgiveness for not giving Him the first place in our lives as a Christian? Have other things crept in and you now have a greater joy in participating in lesser things? Nothing should be a greater priority in our lives than in giving Him the worship and adoration He deserves. If this is an issue for you, take the necessary time today to plan how to get your life back on track.  

(b) A pattern to be avoided (Psalm 95:8b-10) ‘Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested Me they tried Me, though they had seen what I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known My ways.” 

Our author illustrates his message with two examples from Israelite history from the generation that had seen so many extraordinary miracles from God as they were released from captivity in Egypt and forged a new future as a nation under God. The first reference is chronologically later than the second one, but we will reference them in that order following our author here. Meribah – the reference here is to Numbers chapter 20:1-13.

The Israelite community had got themselves into a dreadful state of constant complaining that life was hard and claiming that God was not looking after them properly. The particular cause for complaint on the day in question was the lack of a satisfactory water supply.

God told Moses that He would provide a miraculous intervention to ensure an adequate supply of water that duly happened. But it appears that very few of those present really expected it to happen, including the leaders of the nation Aaron and Moses. What we the consequences of this lack of belief? Numbers 20:12-13 states: 

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in Me enough to honour Me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’ 13 These were the waters of Meribah (quarrelling) where the Israelites quarrelled with the Lord and where He was proved holy among them. 

We will not truly worship God when we do not trust Him as we ought to provide for our needs in the present and the future. Time and again God is portrayed in the Bible (for example Genesis 22:14) as the One who provides what we need.

The second example was at Massah, a story recorded in Exodus 17:1-7. The events there had taken place many years earlier in the desert wanderings before the Israelites entered the Promised Land under Joshua. As they did in the example above, the nation had become ungrateful to God and was habitually complaining about their lot; on the day in question the particular cause of complaint was the quality of the water supply. The incessant waves of constant complaints became all too much for Moses. But God intervened and utilised Moses as the means of transforming the situation.

The last verse of that account, Exodus 17:7 states: And he [Moses] called the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [quarrelling] because the Israelites quarrelled and because they tested the Lord saying, ‘Is the Lord  among us or not?’ 

These people had lost their trust in God to provide for their needs and also lost a thankful spirit for all the blessings they had received from God. Tragically they had lost their joy by taking their eyes off the Lord. This is why in whatever setting we must find time to prioritise the worship of Almighty God. What were the consequences in that setting?   

(c) A punishment to be dreaded (Psalm 95:11)11 So I declared on oath in My anger, “They shall never enter My rest.”

For them it was the generation who missed out on entering the Promised Land. Their children would inherit this blessing. The challenge from the psalmist to each generation of people, including his own, was this: will I covenant to God to cultivate a thankful spirit for all my blessings and to focus on that more than my struggles and difficulties? Will I ensure I find the necessary time to prioritise the worship of Almighty God, both individually on my own and collectively with God’s people? No-one can do it for us, each of us must make our choice. May God help us to give Him the first place in our lives, for Jesus’ sake, Amen  

Closing Song: ‘Great is Thy faithfulness’

Closing prayer:

Thank you Lord for the blessing of gathering to worship and glorify You today. Please give us expectant hearts to desire to worship You more fully in the coming days and to cultivate a heart overflowing with gratitude to You and to other people for the blessings You have given to us, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.

The Benediction:

COVID 19 – Church at Home

Broughty Ferry Baptist Church will no longer be holding public worship services and week day activities until further notice. All lets on church premises will also be cancelled for the time being. 

All activities will be online. Each day a Christian message will be sent to subscribers by email and published online at Church at Home.

If you would like to receive this message please send a request through this website with your name and email address. Anyone wanting further details of our online programme please send a message to the church through the website.

Thank you.

Messy Church – 28th September 2019

Our next Messy Church is on Saturday 28th September. 2pm – 4pm in Panmurefield Baptist Centre, 154 Lawers Drive, DD5 3TZ.

We will hear about some friends of Jesus and we’ll explore our theme through crafts, activities, songs and some food. Messy Church is suitable for a wide range of ages, from around age 3-11 and younger siblings are very welcome to take part in what they can or play with some toys.

Book a space by email familyworker@outlook.com or Contact Us page. Children must be accompanied by an adult and we look forward to seeing you then.

Please note that we’ll be on again on the last Saturday of October and November 2019 🙂

Boogie Babies Birthday Bash – 28th Sep 2019

Boogie Babies is 10 years old this month 🎉🎉🎂and we are celebrating this on Saturday 28th September, 10 am – 11 am at Panmurefield Baptist Centre, 154 Lawers Drive.

Come along and join in with lively action songs and nursery rhymes. Suggested cost is £2 per family, children’s snack is included. You can book a space by email familyworker@outlook.com or through Contact Us.

Anyone who has been to Boogie Babies over the last 10 years will be very welcome to pop in at 10.30am for refreshments and celebrations – we would love to see you again!

Our next Boogie Babies will be on Saturday 26th October 🙂

Quiz Night – 16 November 2019

16 November 2019 7.30pm
Panmurefield Baptist Centre

Last year Tearfund initiated a fundraising quiz night which proved extremely successful and so they have decided to repeat it.

Through the wonders of modern technology, participating groups all take part at exactly the same time on the same evening.
As the questions cover a wide range of topics, the evening is suitable for people of all ages.
So put the date in your diary and start thinking about who you could have in your team.

About Tearfund

Tearfund help communities overcome the worst effects of poverty and disasters – we believe that the same people who face these issues, also have the best idea as to how they can overcome them.

Tearfund works alongside local churches and other locally-based organisations in over 50 countries to help people realise their plans for a better future.

Messy Church 31 August 2019

Our next Messy Church is on Saturday 31st August, 2pm – 4pm in Panmurefield Baptist Centre,
154 Lawers Drive, DD5 3TZ.
We will hear a Bible story about a lost sheep and we’ll explore this through crafts, activities, songs and some food. Messy Church is suitable for a wide range of ages, from around age 3-11 and younger siblings are very welcome to take part in what they can or play with some toys.
Book a space by email familyworker@outlook.com or Contact Us. Children must be accompanied by an adult and we look forward to seeing you then.
Please note this is the LAST Saturday of the month and we plan to be on the last Saturday of September, October and November 2019 🙂

Big Birthday Bash – Sunday 9 June

Sunday 9th June, 2 pm – 4 pm, Panmurefield Baptist Centre.

Join us and our friends from other local Baptist churches, to celebrate the 150th year of the Baptist Union of Scotland. There will be lots of family friendly activities outside such as Bubble Fun, Space Hoppers, Welly Wanging, Beat the Goalie, Beach Volleyball, Super Soaker Aim to name a few and indoor activities will include crafts, face painting and toys. There will be birthday cake and light refreshments and we’ll finish off the afternoon with a Big Sing indoors. There is no charge for this event and you are very welcome to drop in sometime during the afternoon, we would love to see you there.

Tearfund Concert – Friday 17 May 2019

Panmurefield Baptist Centre is hosting a concert by the Satellite Band on Friday 17 May.The band is a collective of some of the best Christian singer songwriters in Scotland.

As well as enjoying a great night of music, those attending will also be helping to support and promote the work of Tearfund, the Christian Relief and Development Agency. Doors open at 7.00pm and the concert starts at 7.30pm. Tickets costing £6 are available at the door or in advance from 07793436489.