Today’s Readings: Psalm 99
As we start yet another year, how relevant that we stop on this first Sunday of 2015 in anticipation of what God will continue to do in and through his people across the nations to acknowledge as the Psalmist did so long ago, that we worship the God of the universe:
‘The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble …’ vs 1
An acknowledgement of the holiness and greatness of God; an acknowledgement that he sits on the throne of grace; an acknowledgement that ‘the earth shakes’ in response … but do we as representatives of the people of the nations in this moment in time, really grasp the enormity of this statement??
The beautiful qualities of God’s character are revealed;
‘The King is mighty, he loves justice …’ vs 4 … our God does not just appreciate but LOVES justice. In other words, the MIGHTY one who reigns over ALL the earth; more powerful that leaders who lead nations, is concerned with what might be considered fair, right and honest.
The law of the Old Testament was given to God’s people as a reflection of what it was to live according to God’s perfect order, not based on human ability but rather to enable the people of God to understand the grace of God. What it meant not just when this Psalm was written, but for us today, to understand the grace of God by what it means for us to be in his VERY presence and to ‘worship at his footstool.’ Vs 5
For me this past week has been both a sad and celebrationary time as our family held the funeral of my beautiful mother who recently passed away. The words of the Psalmist are for me very personal in this moment as what we hold onto is the hope we have in Christ; not by anything we (or she had done) but rather that …
‘If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Romans 10:9 … salvation which enable us in humility, to enter into the very presence of God … purely by grace … undeserved favoured.
And for the ancients mentioned in the Psalm … these are men who reflect what it means that we can and do have a personal relationship with God. They prayed and they expected that God would answer ….
‘… they called on the Lord and he answered them.’ Vs 6b
But as the God of justice, there is a unique quality and balance in tension of forgiveness and discipline. In the human sense there can be discipline without forgiveness … called abuse. And there can be forgiveness without discipline which would simply make us smug, self-centred and complacent.
‘O Lord our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.’ Vs 8
And our response … although we can certainly hold onto the hope of life eternal because of forgiveness in Christ – the benefit and significant of living this side of the cross – we should never be complacent about, nor treat our sins as insignificant.
Pray with me the words of Paul when he wrote to the Galatians: The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God, who loves me and gave himself of me. I do not set aside the grace of God for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ die for nothing. Galatians 2:20-21