Sunday, June 14, 2009

Psummer Psalm Psries - Psalm 15


1 O LORD, who may abide in Your tent?
Who may dwell on Your holy hill?
2 He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness,
And speaks truth in his heart.
3 He does not slander with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
4 In whose eyes a reprobate is despised,
But who honors those who fear the LORD;
He swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 He does not put out his money at interest,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent
He who does these things will never be shaken.

A Great question!
Ever heard a bad question? They say there is no such thing as a stupid question, but you know there are. I was standing behind a desk with a sign taped to the front that said, “Registration”. Above me, hanging from the ceiling is another sign that says, “Registration”. This lady comes up to the table and asks, “Is this the registration table?” Or there’s the question, “Do you think the Toronto Maple Leafs will make the playoffs this year?” Was the pole vault accidentally discovered by a clumsy javelin thrower? Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?

Q: Did you catch that fish?
A: No, I talked him into giving himself up.
A: No, I was sitting here minding my own business when the crazy thing jumped into my pail.

Q: (from a woman just pulled over by a police officer) Did I do something wrong, officer?
A: No, today we're giving tickets out for doing things right.
A: No, I just got tired of lugging around these heavy summonses so I decided to give some of them away.
A: No, I'm giving a ticket to this crazy street because it's going the wrong way.

Q: (from a waiter, to a husband and wife) Table for how many?
A: A hundred and twelve -- we like to change seats every few minutes.
A: One -- my wife will sit on my shoulders.

Here’s a great question in verse 1. It is one of the big questions of life: What does it take to meet God, to be in His presence? A lot of people truly want to know. They want to find God. Unfortunately they usually just get man’s ideas rather than straight to God. The church can get in the way sometimes, if we are too caught up in ourselves. The Psalmist, though, gives us and interesting answer.

The verbs:
Look at the verbs in verse 2: walks, works, speaks. There is a progression here. Remember the progression found last week in Psalm 1? This is not far off. We live our life in 3 arenas. I refer to them once in a while, and that is because of Scripture like this Psalm. There is the arena of the mind. You read through the book of Romans and find out how much the mind and our attitudes play in the outcome of our faith. Where do our thoughts dwell? There is the arena of action. This is where we do or don’t do things. While people cannot see what we are thinking, our actions are very public. Then there is the arena of speech. This is where we say or don’t say certain things. Much of the discussion of holiness in the Bible is about our speech, and keep our conversations pure. Let us follow the Psalmist as he touches on these three arenas of life.
Walk - Attitude/thoughts - integrity
This verb is talking about how we live life. Life is often referred to as a journey, or a path. How we live life is an extension of who we are. What flows out of us is a reflection of who we are on the inside. Integrity is about tying our life together, about being true to the core. I was at a camp last week and went for a walk along a stream. There are all the rocks along the river and I picked one up. On the outside it had a terra cotta colour, some kind of sandstone. The rock was broken in half, though, and inside the quarter inch shell of sandstone was a dark rock, much harder than the outside. The rock wasn’t the same all the way through. It had a covering, masking what was inside. Do you know people like that? There’s a show on TV that talks about common scams. This lady flew to India with her husband for a vacation. She booked a taxi and everything before she went so she wouldn’t have to do all that there. But upon arriving, they got pressed into a taxi they didn’t order. It took them on a roundabout route to a different hotel and all along the way they were charged more and more, and threatened when they didn’t want to pay. People all over the world aren’t what they appear to be. How is your integrity? Are you the same all the way through? Is what you do and say on Sunday the same as what you say and do on Monday? The Psalmist intimates this as a requirement to see God.

Works - actions - righteousness
The Psalmist goes on to talk about works. This is an extension of who we are on the inside. Let me repeat: what we do is a reflection of who we are. Jesus is in the business of changing us into His likeness. As such, the things we do, the things we put our hands to should reflect Him more and more. We should be doing works of righteousness because Jesus is righteousness. How do we know what righteousness or holiness or morality is? Those things are simply reflections of the character of the Creator! Even if we don’t acknowledge God, most people have a sense of morality derived from them being created in His image. My dad owned a gas station for about a year. He found it very difficult to make any money at it and so had to give it up. He knew a guy that tried to show my dad how to do it. The would ask to check a customer’s oil. If the oil level was fine, he would tell the driver he was down a quart, and then proceed to pour an empty can into the oil reservoir. He would change parts in repairs that did not need to be changed, and say he had changed parts that he never touched. That man was not a man of righteousness. Then there are the pastors or church leaders who abuse their power, and use their office to get rich. Bonnie used to attend a church where the past had several cars, several houses, and much time off. People in his congregation were going bankrupt in giving to the church, while he enjoyed the life of luxury. He was not a man of righteousness. Look through the Bible - gossip, anger, promiscuity, slothfulness, carelessness - some very common things are not rooted in righteousness.

Words - speech - truth, to the core
Then there is our speech. Throughout the Bible we see constant encouragements to line up our speech with our faith and love. We saw a pastor’s wife at Assembly who immediately began to talk down about somebody else. That is not righteousness and God will not honour that. We are to proclaim the truth, and that is not the same as judgement. There are so many people out there telling you what is wrong, but we are called to tell people what is right. Don’t get caught up in “beaking” or complaining. In my first church many years ago, a group of parents got together every week to pray for the youth. What a great idea! Unfortunately it turned into something totally different and as a result of their complaining and griping I left the church a bit disillusioned. Within a year each of those people, who had been Christians for many years, had also left the church. Their words had done much more damage to their own faith than it did to mine. Watch your words - guard them. Speak slowly so as not to use words to hurt. A word is something you can’t get back. Once you have released it, it is out there.

The Psalmist then repeats these three principles in very specific terms in verse 3, but in a reverse order.
He speaks to words with slander, to works with doing evil, and to walking with reproaching (betrayal) a friend. Verse four is about the Law, which the Psalmist was living under in the Old Testament. We are no longer under the Law, but under Grace. As so we do not despise the reprobate, but rather we love the reprobate, that he or she might find Jesus Christ.
So you live your life in three areas. I have talked mostly about what we do wrong, mostly where we err from living a life pleasing to God. Let me close with what we need to be doing right.

In the arena of your mind, dwell on the things of God. Philippians 4:6-8 encourages us in this way - “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” My encouragement to get into the Bible last week is for this very reason. Where you are looking is where you tend to go. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith. Read good Christian books. Memorize Scripture. Dwell on the things that point to God.

In the arena of action, let your hands be the hands of Jesus. Be generous with you money, with your time, with all you have, using your resources to share the love of Jesus with the people all around you.

In the arena of your speech, let no unwholesome word come from your lips. Use your breath to build people up, not tear them down. Use your words to proclaim the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ; that God can save us and change us.

Want to dwell on God’s holy hill? Take your faith off the shelf, put it on like a second skin, and go out and live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

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