We read & pray the psalms knowing Christ. We are His church, the gathering of God’s called out ones…The Nation of Israel was called and gathered around God’s presence in the Tabernacle & Temple. As Christ’s Church, called by His love and indwelt with His Spirit, we gather around the presence of the living Christ and are His body.
There is incredible richness of seeing how the whole story weaves together. Reading these Psalms as fellow Christians have for getting on 2000 years we can join in the longing for the next life as we pass through this life… Because we believe Christ has fulfilled the hope that is breathed through these psalms, WE can pray for the future knowing who we are and what we are doing, now and forever!
We will look at two Psalms about being God’s people and then what Jesus Christ said about HIS church: Three Things Regarding Jesus Christ’s Church. Who we are…What we have been Given…What our focus is.
Who We Are: Chosen in Grace. What We Have Been Given: Eternity. What We Do: Focus on The Gospel of Jesus Christ. Identity / Blessing / Purpose.
Who We Are / Identity: Psalm 87 (NIV)
1 He has founded his city on the holy mountain. 2 The Lord loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob. 3 Glorious things are said of you, city of God. (Selah)
- This is a vision of Heaven / Symbolized by The city of Jerusalem
- HE founded it on ‘The Holy Mountain’ (Jerusalem is symbolic & literal)
- Entering this place represents the apex of God’s love
- The city of God can only be described in glorious terms
- The writer & The Author want us to take a moment to contemplate (selah)
4 “I will record Egypt and Babylon among those who acknowledge Me— Philistia too, and Tyre , along with Cush — and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’” 5 Indeed, of Zion it will be said, “This one and that one were born in her, and the Most High Himself will establish her.” 6 The Lord will write in the register of the peoples: “This one was born in Zion.” (Selah)
- God will redeem & has redeemed some from amongst nations hostile to Israel
- God predestines people from ALL ethnic and language groups
- He is the lone actor in the salvation of human beings (we do NO THING)
- God alone is responsible for salvation
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Eph. 2:8-9
- Our eternal life was birthed by what Jesus Christ did in Zion on the cross
- Compares to the ‘Book of Life’ in revelation (6 times; ch. 3, 13, 17, 20, 20, 21)
- Being ‘Born in Zion’ equates with being ‘Born Again’ (Jesus @ John 3:3-8)
- Being born in Zion is a marking. It identifies you as belonging to God
You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. ~ Eph. 1:13-14
Again we are invited to pause and contemplate these amazing truths…then this…
7 As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in You.”
- Recognition of God’s Grace results in true worship, it is a given
- The natural reaction of God’s Chosen People is to give Him ALL the Glory!
How this happens is by surrender to The Gospel of Jesus Christ.
That is the means by which God moves people from spiritual death to eternal life.
What We Have Been Given / Eternity: Psalm 84 (NIV)
Our life in Christ is a pilgrimage, What He is calling us to: Eternity! This is what Christ Has given us: The hope of Eternal Life with God!
1 How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty. 2 My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. 3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young — a place near your altar, Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
- Nothing more lovely than where God is…(His Dwelling Place)
- The enlivening of the soul for it’s true home: eternity in God’s presence
- When we understand what we have been given, it ignites our desire for God
- When we understand we are as deserving as a sparrow, yet we get a place
- When God is All in All…HE IS:
- Almighty Lord=Absolute Control
- King= Absolute Protection
- God…Absolute Worship
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.6 As they pass through the Valley of Baka, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.
- This speaks of the ‘eternally blessed’ occupants of the Kingdom of Heaven
- The response to that blessing: praise!
- Receiving this eternal gift is to let God be your strength
- We are given the grace to take the journey, to seek HIM
- Part of every pilgrimage is suffering (Valley of Baka means ‘Valley of Tears’)
- Living now in Christ and trusting in eternity with Christ we pass through ‘sorrow’
- Knowing God (dwelling in His house) we are refreshed & strengthened until…
“This present world is to us this valley of weeping; in our passage through it we are refreshed by the streams of divine grace, flowing down from the great fountain of consolation.” ~ Bishop George Horne
What is our consolation? Heaven…but until then. We get to communicate with God through His Spirit He puts in us!
8 Hear my prayer, Lord God Almighty; listen to me, God of Jacob. 9 Look on our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one.
- Christ’s Body can expect God to hear our prayers, by HIS Spirit indwelling us!
- The church can ask God to look not at us but look at Christ
- Scripture says God looks at those He has given His Spirit to and see His Son
Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. ~ Eph. 1:4
But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation. ~ Col. 1:22
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. ~ Col. 3:3
The hope the members of Jesus’ church have: We are without fault in God’s eyes!
10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.
- One day in heaven would be better than ANYTHING!
- The lowest place in the Kingdom is better than the best place anywhere else.
- To His Church, Jesus Christ is the Light, the protection, the giver of grace
- To His Church HE gives every good thing because HE makes them blameless
- This is eternity & now: we trust now and get all good things (Heaven) eternally
Our identity as members of Jesus Body: He chose us, we belong to Christ. Our hope and future as His: Eternity in His Presence. So what do we do here and now? Let’s See what Jesus said we should do (Big Picture).
Jesus only used the term Church twice and only once did he call it ‘my church’. The one time He said ‘my church’ was to give His followers the overarching purpose of His ‘called Out Ones’.
What We Do: PURPOSE: Matthew 16:13-19 (MOUNCE)
13 Now when Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
- He asked what the word on the street was… How does the world see me?
15 Then Jesus asked them, “And who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
- Do the disciples see Jesus differently than the rest of the world? Should we?
- Peter, in his role as spokesman, says what they have all agreed upon: Messiah
17 Jesus answered, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because no person taught you that. My Father in heaven showed you who I am. 18 So I tell you, you are Peter. On this rock I will build my church, and the power of death will not be able to defeat it.”
- Jesus used blessed the same way Psalmists did: to express eternal blessing
- The answer and the blessing that comes with it does not have human origins
- What the ‘THIS’ is in this passage is very important and often misunderstood
- God the Father showed the disciples, and Peter specifically, who Jesus is
- The church is built on the confession by it’s members that Jesus is ‘The Christ’
- ‘THIS ROCK’ is Peter’s wholehearted belief that Jesus was God!!!
- Jesus had already changed Simeon’s name to Peter, (Matthew 10)
- Jesus says: The foundation / Rock my church will be built on is ‘I AM GOD’
- The church is built solely on the reality that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate
- That is who we are at the most basic level: We know who Jesus is
- Biblical based faith in Jesus Christ is the only way to defeat death
- It is the purpose of the church: to defeat death by spreading the Gospel
19 “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven.”
- Jesus is addressing ALL DISCIPLES, the keys are given to the church
- The key represent stewardship what matters to God
- Binding and loosing is representative of allowing and disallowing
- Notice the verb tenses, the action comes from Heaven
- As the church we are to do what heaven dictates (Scripture’s Importance)
- Our purposes come from God and God only
- Our primary function is focused on eternity
19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; the things you don’t allow on earth will be the things that God does not allow, and the things you allow on earth will be the things that God allows.” (NCV)
Everything we do should serve the purpose of people getting Saved! And Jesus defines getting saved: ‘Give up your life for Me and the Gospel’!
Pray for God to establish the identity of each member of His Body.
Pray that you and others know that God has chosen them for eternal life with Him.
Pray in ways that acknowledge the grace of God in granting eternal life.
Pray for life that emanates from the hope of eternity Christ offers.
Pray for our Body to gather around Christ in Word & Sacrament.
Pray that we make the confession of Jesus Christ as as God the center of all we do.
Pray that we never lose focus of the eternal things God would have us do.
Pray that our purposes flow from knowing our Identity and knowing Jesus’ identity.