Week of 2/25-3/2: Psalms 23 – TRUST

Sermon for 3/2/08
1 A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I have everything I need. 2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. 3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You welcome me as a guest, anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. 6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever.  (NLT)
Israel was a shepherding people. David himself was a shepherd, and thus understood the care and attention implied by the metaphor – as would David’s audience. One of the distinguishing features of Israel‘s theology was the use of such humble images for God – not contrary to images like “king” but along side them.
Questions for reflection:  
·     If we were to rewrite this psalm with a modern metaphor to replace shepherd, what might that be?
·     How do we experience this level of trust in God that David describes?
·     When have we known God’s presence through dark valleys?
PRAYER: God our loving Shepherd, we trust in you today. May we look to you as David did, as sheep look to their shepherd in utter trust and dependence. May our lives reflect and demonstrate this trust to those around us. Forgive us when we become stubborn like mules rather than trusting in your wisdom and your word to guide us. Amen.
Upcoming Texts:
Week of 3/3-3/9: Psalm 130 – Wait and Hope
Week of 3/10-3/6: Psalm 118 – Give Thanks

Psalm 95 – Celebrate

Week of 2/18-2/24: 

Sermon for 022408

1 Come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us give a joyous shout to the rock of our salvation! 2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving. Let us sing him psalms of praise. 3 For the LORD is a great God, the great King above all gods. 4 He owns the depths of the earth, and even the mightiest mountains are his. 5 The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. 6 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the LORD our maker, 7 for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the sheep under his care. Oh, that you would listen to his voice today! 8 The LORD says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. 9 For there your ancestors tried my patience; they courted my wrath though they had seen my many miracles. 10 For forty years I was angry with them, and I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ 11 So in my anger I made a vow: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.'” (NLT)

Meribah and Massah – The place where God provided clear water to drink for Israel as they traveled in the wilderness from Egypt to the Promised Land. (Exodus 17:1-7) 
Questions for reflection:   Who, What, Where, When, Why, How – What does Ps 95 say to these questions?
·     Who do we worship?
·     Where is God?
·     Where do we worship?
·     When do we worship?
·     Why do we worship?
·     How do we worship?
·     What may happen if we fail to worship?
What does our worship practice say in response? Is it consistent, or different, and why?
What does the world have to tell us about worship?
PRAYER: Holy God, Awesome in power and unending in love, we worship you today. You have made us what we are, to live for you and glorify you. We confess that we have not always honored you. Show us the Way in Jesus, that we may be more like him in our devotion to you. May our whole lives become a celebration of you. Amen.
Upcoming Texts:
Week of 2/25-3/2: Psalm 23 – Trust
Week of 3/3-3/9: Psalm 130 – Wait and Hope

Week of 2/4-2/10: Psalms 51 & 32 – Repentance & Forgiveness

Psalm 51: 1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment. 5 Indeed, I was born guilty, a sinner when my mother conceived me. 6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. 7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased. 17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18 Do good to Zion in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, 19 then you will delight in right sacrifices, in burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings; then bulls will be offered on your altar.


Psalm 32: 1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. 6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.


Questions for reflection:

Where do I have a need for repentance? What sins have I committed against God?


How do I know these things are sins, and what prevented me from resisting them?


When I confess my sins, do I have trouble forgiving myself – even believing that God and others have forgiven me? If so, why?


Have these ideas of sin, repentance, and forgiveness ever been used in my life in unhealthy or abusive ways, by me or against me? If so, what will I need to move beyond that experience?


PRAYER: Most merciful God, we confess that we are in bondage to sin and cannot free ourselves.  We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will, and follow in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.

Upcoming Texts:


Week of 2/11-2/17:  Psalm 121 – Dependence

Week of 2/18-24: Psalm 95 – Celebration