Last week at this blog I reminded you that a central aim for our sermon series through The Whole Story in the Bible is to inspire you to read this life-transforming book. As part of your daily reading plan, I pointed to the spiritual practice of reading a Psalm each day, because…
“…we believe that reading the Bible isn’t just an intellectual experience, but also spiritual. We invite you to take the year to develop the daily habit of praying through the Psalms [as a spiritual experience]. And by the end of the year, you’ll have prayed through the whole book of Psalms two and a half times!” (The Bible Project)
So, this last Sunday, I preached a sermon from Psalm 19 for two reasons. One was to provide this simple reminder and encouragement to read a Psalm each day. Another was to highlight the orienting nature that the Psalms provide to our wandering hearts. Namely, when we find ourselves going astray, the Psalms provide a spiritual guide (the Psalmist) and map (the Psalm) to find our way back to our Refuge and Redeemer.
One of the orienting helps that David provides in Psalm 19 is the created world that surrounds us every day. He describes how it points us to the transcendent God, reminding us he is the GOD who is there, informing us about who he is by what he has made.
I’m often helped by great people of the faith who have gone before us, and written down there own meditations (Psalm 19:14) for our instruction. One such person is St. Gregory of Nyssa, who lived from 335-394. One historian calls him “one of the church’s profoundest and most eloquent thinkers and writers…on the Christian life.” I found it quite providential that, while reading from the church fathers on Sunday evening, after having preached on Psalm 19 in the morning, I came across his meditation on Psalm 19:3!
David says, “there is neither speech nor language, where their voice is not heard” (19:3).
How can this declaring and showing be silent? Can there be a voice that doesn’t speak to the ear? Is David contradicting himself with an impossibility, when he speaks of words with no sound, speech without language, proclamation without voice? Or is there not truth’s pure perfection in his teaching, telling us that heaven’s speech, and the word proclaimed by the day, isn’t an expressive voice or lip-language, but a manifestation of God’s power to those who can hear it, even though they hear no voice?…Nothing has arisen from chance or accident. Some fantasise that our whole universe was fashioned by purposeless chance-combinations of primary elements, and that no providence pervades the cosmos. But Scripture teaches that the universe has a Cause behind its systematic organisation. On this Cause, all nature depends; it owes its beginning and foundation to Him towards whom it aspires and moves, in whom it rests. As Paul says, His eternal power and Deity are understood, clearly seen through the world’s creation (Romans 1:19). Thus all creation and, above all, the orderliness of the heavens, declare the Maker’s wisdom in His skilful works.
This, I think, is what David wants to say: visible things testify to the universe’s wise, skilful fashioning, and continuance through the Lord’s power over all. The heavens, showing the Maker’s wisdom, practically shout with a voice; though silent, they declare the Creator’s craftsmanship. We can hear the heavens teaching us: “O mortals, in looking on us and seeing our beauty and vastness, our incessant orbit with its orderly, harmonious movement, acting in one methodical direction, turn your thoughts to our Ruler! Through the beauty you see, envisage the beauty of the unseen Source!”
Yes, and very amen!
I hope you will make the reading of a Psalm a part of your daily routine. To study further on this remarkable portion of the Bible, you can check out the page on the Psalms over at The Bible Project, where you will find videos and further resources.
One other note: this coming Sunday we will begin a four-week summer sermon series called “We Exist…” We are excited to share with you from God’s word how you can practically live out our purpose statement as a church family to make more and maturing disciples of Jesus Christ, by “moving people one step to the right”, through the tactics found in the Four Es. What are the Four Es, you ask?
We believe it will be a very helpful series to help you seize the summer for the kingdom of God. Join us, starting this Sunday, at 10:30am.
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.