Monday, August 15, 2011

You need to see the God of love

Part 1 of 3 of my script from my sermon on Psalm 63: Finding Satisfaction. MP3: Finding Satisfaction - Psalm 63 

“There’s probably no god. I know that because I read it on the side of a bus, and that’s one of the ways you can know things.” So writes Marcus Brigstocke in his new book, God Collar. The book is his entertaining and honest search for god. He repeatedly expresses his inconsolable longing for god to exist, but he cannot bring himself to believe in the god he finds in the bible. His search is strikingly different to the raging voices of the new atheists like Richard Dawkins who fume as they tell us that god is unattractive, unknowable and undesirable. Brigstocke wants to believe, but he hasn’t found what he’s looking for and admits he’s scared of the aloneness of life without God.


What if the beauty, the satisfaction and the passion he seeks could be found? What about you? Do you – like so many, like Marcus Brigstocke yearn for more – for peace, for hope, for a better world?

Whats your your response to the riots? As we talked about it we reflected on how we feel it shouldn’t be this way – we expect better – we want a better world – a world where such things don’t happen. Without the actions and causes and consequences. And it’s curious that this is a desire we have – why should we hope for that? And might that desire lead us to cry to God? I remember first doing that as a teenager, longing for more, for God even. And yet at the time my cries found nothing but the ceiling. That searching and desiring is good, and we can bring it with us to God’s word.

Hear him now in Psalm 63: In this Psalm, this song, we see King David, driven into the wilderness by his enemies – crying to his God – seeing something that changes everything – and then rejoicing in his God, whilst his enemies are crushed. It’s the song of an oppressed hero rising to victory. But how?

 1. YOU NEED TO SEE THE GOD OF LOVE… (1-10) 
If we cast ourselves quickly as the hero of this song we may find ourselves in despair – who has such deep desire and joy? Let us eavesdrop on his prayer. Don’t miss the introduction: V1: “A song of David, the King, in the wilderness.” 

 “Of David” –Who is David? Israel’s great king – whose name “David” means BELOVED. He is a vivid picture of the Long Expected Christ – the One who always enjoyed a Heart-to-Heart relationship with the Father, always knowing the Father’s love.

 “In the wilderness.” Biblically the wilderness is land outside the vitality of Eden, the place of 40 years of trials for Israel between Slavery and the land flowing with milk and honey. The wilderness is where John the Baptist came calling people to turn back to God. And in Hosea 2:14 the LORD allured his people in the wilderness. A harsh and afflicting place, a place to seek and find redemption. In Psalm 63. David suffers. The One God Loves is in the wilderness. That helps us see that outward suffering doesn’t mean God is against us. If your life feels like the wilderness that doesn’t mean God doesn’t love you. Similarly don’t mistake outward prosperity with God’s approval of you. For David and for Jesus – those God loves do suffer. “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so – and because he is with me in my suffering”. 

Let’s listen in to the Beloved in his suffering: v1, he turns to God. What does he pray? He calls to “God, MY God”. This is his personal, sincere, earnest cry – his cry may become ours, but firstly it is his. V1: “my soul thirsts”. The soul is throaty. It’s about desires. This beloved in the wilderness is desperately thirsty, parched not for water but for God. This David is so different from our society. We love to say “I need nothing” but he is desirous and needy. He has an inconsolable longing for “My God”. We put on a brave face but we are needy: hungry, curious and desirous and dependent. Men and women in the past have searched for continents and begun to explore space, and today we have the internet. We search here and there. We’re Google-hearted people! We don’t always know what we’re looking for but we still search, often settling for less than really satisfies.

As CS Lewis reflected we’re like we’re children who settle for mudpies in the backgarden instead of sandcastles at the beach. Our oldest loves the beach – I pray his desire is retained, enflamed and fulfilled in a thirsting after God. What of you? Do you share this David’s longings? Are you always searching and not finding? Or are you too easily pleased? Or just one extreme to the other…

In the film Black Swan, Natalie Portman gives an Oscar winning performance as Nina Sayers – her life is a picture of innocence, she’s a ballet dancer, living with her mother surrounded by cuddly toys. But she’s pushed to achieve more – to find passion. She searches for the hero inside herself, becoming insanely introspective, destructively. This song leads us to consider our hearts but for every look at self its good to take ten elsewhere.. See where David looks. David doesn’t look inside.

He, v2 “looked upon God in the Sanctuary” At the Tabernacle – the tent where God dwelled with his people. David’s son replaced the Tent with The Temple. But no tent or temple can contain the Triune God – but God made it his meeting place with his people – at the centre of the camp: He was there. Access was limited but they were thrilled to even be near by. Israel said to people they met: “Come with us, we’ll do you good because to our amazement and astonishment Jesus is with us.” Us too! David says V2: he has looked upon the LORD in the sanctuary.

What did he see? V2 He beheld the LORD’s Power and glory. What did he see? Don’t think abstract light and absolute power. A nuclear bomb going off? No. This is the LORD who is relentlessly relational. We see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and we hear of the gospel of the glory of God. The power and glory of God are seen in the death and resurrection of the Christ. It’s why the sanctuary was blood splattered. To see it was to have stirred in your heart the long cherished hope of the world.

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