Deep things out of Darkness – Job 11-12. RBT Notes, 9th January

Enter Zophar. He has the same zealous desire to extol God and to floor Job as the others, but he’s mercifully more restrained and careful than they are. Still, he has the same target in his sights, to get Job to repent of his insistence that there was no sin which led to this suffering (vv.4-6). Zophar’s confidence is in a majestic God, and in the reality of his restoring grace (vv.13-120). Who can argue with that?

Job wants to speak, not of his shame, but of the misery he feels at his friends’ words, as he feels abused and mocked (vv.4-5). The confession which follows is not of his sin, but of the grandeur of God, a majesty which even the birds and beasts intuitively know (vv.7-9). God is wise, powerful, and works His ways out with or without the efforts of men. None can stand against Him, and none has any power or wisdom apart from Him (vv.13-25). There is more than a subtle dig here from Job against his friends, with their confident “wisdom”. Job’s confession of praise is intended to bring them down from their arrogance. Will it? A better question to ask is this: will Job’s worship bring you and me down from our natural arrogance? God alone creates, destroys, upholds and imparts wisdom. Wouldn’t it be good to worship Him today for the God He is?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Thankyou, Lord, that in a dark world You reveal deep things from darkness. Thankyou that in a chaotic world, You bring order and rule. Teach me the praise of humility, as I look to You and walk humbly before my God. Amen.

Worship – Nehemiah 12. RBT Notes, 14th December

Priests and Levites have a serious job to do. As men called to serve at the temple, that job involved cleaning it, guarding it, receiving and managing the gifts of the worshippers, praying for the people, offering up their sacrifices to God, and teaching the people God’s Word. Why does Nehemiah give us these lists of priests and Levites? Because under God, he was building a new community. And for that community to stand and to thrive, they needed to know and to relate to God according to His Word. So these men are not some luxury – they are an essential part of a community living in fellowship with God.

Today, it’s not that we’ve done away with priests; instead, we have the Great Priest, Jesus Christ. He does for us everything which these ancient priests were called to do, but could never do perfectly, as He did. He teaches us the Word of God by His Spirit, He brings our sacrifices of praise and obedience to God, and makes them acceptable in His sight. And gloriously, His once for all sacrifice on the cross is the sacrifice which washes us clean of all of our sins. As Hebrews says, we have a great High Priest!

What does our High Priest do? Hebrews 2.10–13 says that Jesus brings us into God’s presence, makes us holy through His sacrifice, and leads us in the worship of His Father. As v.11 says, He is not ashamed to call us His brothers. And so, prefiguring that worship, in our chapter we hear of priests leading their people around the city walls in joyful worship together (v.8, 24). The second half of the chapter is a powerful and challenging scene of community praise. And let’s learn from it. God’s people are overwhelmed with God’s grace and goodness. They have to worship, it’s the natural overflowing of grateful hearts. And what a witness it is!

God loves a church worshipping and singing of His glory. The world needs the witness of the church focused in praise and thanksgiving. We may speak many words about God; but if our worship is cold, how is the world to know if we believe our words or not? Public worship declares the power of the Gospel to the world, and shows the integrity of our hearts to God. True worship is the sign that we are being truly transformed by the Gospel, in the power of the Spirit.

Some questions, then. Do we turn up to worship casually? Do we allow ourselves to be distracted or to distract others during worship? Do we stay at home, fellowshipping with the TV remote control? All of these temptations should be firmly rejected by the true children of God. God is looking for those who worship Him in spirit and in truth. It appears that He had such worshipers that day on the city walls in Jerusalem. Does he have such a worshiper you?

 

A prayer to pray

Lord, You have my heart. Please bring forth from it a song of humble, contented, joyful praise. And please give me a love for worshipping You with my brothers and sisters, increasingly aware of and amazed by the fact that I worship in the presence of the One Who is not ashamed to call me His brother, by His love. Amen.

Don’t you dare! 2 Samuel 6. RBT Notes, 7th October

Everything’s going my way. So it felt for David. More than that, God was going his way, and had done so, all the way to the palace doors of Jerusalem. How wonderful it is to worship God when the sun is shining, and all our plans are going well (vv.3-5).

Then disaster. Thunder strikes, almost literally. As David makes his joyful way with the people to Jerusalem, one of David’s men, Uzzah, reacts entirely naturally to the slipping oxcart and tilting Ark of God, and is struck down for the presumption of touching it (v.6-7). Joy gives way to horror. How could God do this? It was His Ark, this was about His Glory, and in a blink a man lies dead, a people are terrified, and a king is confused, and furious (v.8).

Months go by, the Ark stowed away somewhere (hopefully) safe. And news comes that that place and those who live there are blessed (v.12). So the Ark is brought out, the Jerusalem procession starts up again, and David’s joy returns. But, like before, joy gives way to humiliation. Michal, Saul’s daughter,  mocks his praise (v.20). She, in turn, comes under David’s anger, and God’s (vv.21-23).

This is not a happy, easy chapter. God will protect His king, and His holiness, however hard people find that. He is still doing the same. “I am the Lord, that is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to idols” (Is. 42.8). Jesus can’t be tamed, or even blamed. He is the Lord, He is holy, He works for His Kingdom. Guard your heart, and guard your steps.

 

A Prayer to Pray

Lord, my words are unthought-through, and so are so many of my actions. Lord, order my life. Show me how to think, and how to feel. Teach me a godly caution, and then a bold decisiveness as I serve your Glory. Amen.

 

This Kind of Grace – Psalm 105. RBT Notes, 27th May

1.    Whereas the previous Psalm expires God’s creating and sustaining power, Psalm 105 celebrates His redeeming power for His people. What has God done for His people, in the first 15 verses?

2.     Vv.16-38 are the story of Israel, from Joseph’s arrival in Egypt to Israel’s deliverance from it. Why does God keep His promises to them, and why does He keep His promises to you? Remember the Firstborn who was struck down for our redemption (v.36).

3.    God looks after those He redeems (vv.37-45).  What are all of God’s people saved for, and today have His Holy Spirit’s power for (v.45)?

 

A Prayer to Pray

Great God of wonders! All Thy ways are matchless, godlike and divine;
But the fair glories of Thy grace, more Godlike and unrivalled shine.

And so they do, dear Father. Teach me to be grateful for You, and for Your ways. And in this rich and free grace may I find You, and only then, find myself. Make me a joyful son, and a willing servant. Amen.

 

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Everything that has Breath – Psalm 104. RBT Notes, 26th May

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  1. This Psalm celebrates God’s majesty (vv.1-4), His creating power (vv.5-9), and His sustaining care for His creation (vv.10-30). What description of God and his works particularly thrills you in these verses?

 

  1. Reread vv.14-16. How does it both humble us and lift us up knowing that God cares for humanity as He does for all that He has made?

 

  1. The Cross is the most glorious work of God, where the earth shook and where we must tremble (compare vv.31-32). Ask the Lord to direct Your gaze to the Cross, and fill Your heart with fresh praise.

 

 

A Prayer to Pray

 

Dear Lord and Father, what a world You have made, and what tender care You display for all. Open my eyes to Your majesty, as I see it in every cloud, and blade of grass. Teach me to honour Your image in every face I see today. And transform me more into the image of Your Son of Love, as I live His life of praise and service. Amen.

A thousand trumpets – Psalm 100. RBT Notes, 21st May. Notes by Graham Thomson

 

1.  What does the Psalmist suggest should be our basic attitude of heart as we approach the Lord in praise and worship?  Why is this?

2. In what ways do vv. 3 and 5 give us confidence and comfort, and an ability to praise God, even in tough times?
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3. ‘The joy of the Lord is your Strength’ (Nehemiah 8.10)  In what ways does this psalm encourage and help us to know the truth of this?
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A Prayer to Pray
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Father, I thank You that You have made me and saved me.  Thankyou that You have made me Yours and shower Your love on me in Jesus.  Please help me to live out that love in the joy of who You are, as I love You and others. Amen