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Great Works, Good Understanding (2018-0128)

. 4 min read

27-28
Jan 2018, Christ Mountain Top
Call
to Worship, Psalm 111
Children,
Mark 1.21-28
Message,
Psalm 111, read from The Message
Psalms:
      Hymn book, prayer book
            Prayer schedules for morning and
evening prayers, 30 days
      Voice of another becomes our prayer
            Joan: Sing is to pray twice
            To read another prayer – a
God-inspired prayer
Psalm
111:
      No historical setting, musical notation
      Alphabet song, an acrostic
            First
perfect acrostic psalm, Spurgeon, 5
            Not counting the first line
“Halleluyah” (praise the Lord)
            Each of the 10 verses has two lines
            Each line begins with successive
letters of the Heb aleph-bet

Psalms
are poetry (like songs)
      Rhythm, though the ancient meter is
unclear
      Rhyme: not sounds, but ideas “parallelism”
            One line builds on another,
interprets the other
The
works of his hands are faithful and just;
all
his precepts are trustworthy.
They
are established forever and ever,
to
be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He
sent redemption to his people;
he
has commanded his covenant forever.
      God’s works & precepts are parallel
            Like the Creation: The LORD said …
and there was.
            Word and Work for God are the same
(not always for us)
      Redemption and Covenant are parallel
            One the word, the other the work
            Both are salvation themes
Today’s
focus, from v 2 and v 10:
God’s
works are so great, worth
A
lifetime of study—endless enjoyment!
      MSG
Great
are the works of the LORD,
studied
by all who delight in them.
      NRSV
The
good life begins in the fear of God—
Do
that and you’ll know the blessing of God.
      MSG
The
fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
all
those who practice it have a good understanding.
      NRSV
Studied
– Seek out. The kind of study that involves worship and prayer, our full
devotion to God, our deep trust and personal appeal. Not merely an intellectual
pursuit, but a pursuit by our whole selves, of the word and works of God.
      Wisdom – also “skill”. No wonder it
requires “practice” (NRSV for do/make). It requires DOING stuff, not simply
KNOWING stuff. About a life aligned with the word and works of God. In The Message, the translator offers the
expression, “The good life begins in the fear of God” instead of “the fear of
the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
      God’s “great works,” when studied with
delight, when practiced with skill, gives us “good understanding.”
Which
works? All the works of God are great, even if they seem small and
insignificant. The psalm is full of general expressions, “The works of his
hands are faithful and just,” and those general expressions generally point to
God’s work in Creation and Providence. That is, in the way God has made
everything and the way God sustains everything.
      There are also some specific expressions,
all of which refer to the redemption story. “He sent redemption to his people;
he
has commanded his covenant forever.” That is, God delivered a nation of slaves
from Egypt and made them God’s holy nation, a priestly people. In the
expression “he provides food,” the word food is also translated as the “prey”
of a lion or “spoil” from battle. It appears to be a reference to Israel
plundering the Egyptians as God set them free (Exodus 3.22; Spurgeon, 3).
In
creation:
·       Autonomic
nervous system
·       Sense
of smell of a shark or a hound
·       Multiple
facets of the eye of a fly
·       Incredible
strength of the ant
·       Uniqueness
of a million snowflakes – just counting those in Mountain Top this winter
·       Uniqueness
of each species of orchid, each one matched to a different pollinating species
·       The
ability of our DNA to copy itself to create a new cell to replace those that die
so that the whole body can live
God
loves variety! God delights in it. God loves fit – of orchid and pollinator, of
lover and beloved, of glass and liquid, of garlic and bread. But often, I don’t
embrace variety and change even half as much as God does. And I want people to
be the way I want them to be instead of the unique person God made them to be.
And, sometimes, I don’t even care about God’s creation, to say anything of
caring for it. It is time for me to study, to find wisdom, for my life to be aligned
with the word and work of God.
In
redemption:
·       Delivered
a nation of slaves and gave them a land
·       Fed
the hungry by despoiling the powerful
·       Established
truth and justice
·       Kept
promises – covenant
·       Chosen
us, not because we are superior but because God wanted to – despite how much of
a mess we are.
God
loves the poor and oppressed. God loves folks in jail – whether they are
murderers or drug dealers or abusive. God loves slaves. And too often, I’m too
good to associate with folks like that, let alone really love them. It is time for me to study, to find wisdom, for my life
to be aligned with the word and work of God.
      Jesse
Fine
, cabinet in the dumpster. “It will be beautiful Mom”
Resources:

C. H. Spurgeon. The Treasury of David.