Psalm 132 – The True Church – Part 2

We are more and more witnessing the individualization of our culture. We are isolating ourselves from people and we think that social media will substitute personal interaction. Believe it or not, this attitude is already present in the churches today. People think that they can attend church by sitting in front of a computer or a cell phone. No, we cannot. Church is more than that.

There are two ways to look at the church, from the top down or from the bottom up. In Psalm 132 the psalmist starts by the latter. He will look at the church from the perspective ofTHE HUMAN PARTICIPATION. From verses 1 to 10, the psalmist describes to us the first participants in this special body that is the church, the people. In these verses he gives us some important aspects of that participation. Let us see what they are.

            A – Firmed Commitment – The first participation from us is a strong commitment with God. The psalmist says that he will make an oath and a vow. This is what we do in our baptism and profession of faith. For each one of us to be part of the church we made a commitment. The challenge is that most of us forget or neglect that commitment. Here is what the psalmist wrote: [1] O Lord, remember David and all the hardships he endured. [2] He swore an oath to the Lord and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:” 

            B – Incessant Seeking – The second thing that we have to do is to seek God incessantly. The Christian life cannot be done and lived only on the weekends. We are the church every day of our lives. Being the church is a fulltime endeavor. The psalmist said: [3] “I will not enter my house or go to my bed– [4] I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, [5] till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

            C – Humble Adoration – The third attitude is a humble adoration. We do this when we recognize who God is and adore Him. This is the internal attitude, it comes straight from our heart. The psalmist said: [6] We heard it in Ephrathah, we came upon it in the fields of Jaar: [7] “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool–[8] arise, O Lord, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might.”

            D – Righteous and Anointed Leadership – The next aspect of the church is a righteous leadership. Church is the most important business of our life. Because of that we must have the best leadership possible to conduct the life of the church. The psalmist is clear on this: [9] May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy. [10] For the sake of David your servant, do not reject your anointed one.”

            E – Joyful Worship – Finally we express our adoration through a joyful worship. When we sing, WE SING; when we pray, WE PRAY; when we confess, WE CONFESS; we express our happiness with everything that we have. “[9] May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy.”

My friend, I hope you are a member of the church, and if you are, I hope these characteristics are part of your involvement in the life of your church.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 132 – The True Church – Part 1

What is the first thought or image that comes to your mind when you hear the word church? Like almost everybody else you imagine a building. Some visualize them small and in the country; others think big, like cathedrals; some picture an old one; and some envision a new and modern building. Of course, many of us think of our own home church building.

This is how most of the people think about church. Today we have a wrong idea about church. Church for us is a building that holds religious meetings. It is very important for us to understand that that is not God’s idea about church. For God, the church is the encounter between Him and His people.

This picture is from a church in Kenya. The Presbyterian Church in Kenya is larger than the PCUSA. They meet in different kinds of buildings. They are suffering persecution, and sometimes they do not have a building for their meetings. We can have a dedicated and special place for that encounter, but that place is not the church; it is only the building where the church meets.

We learned that the psalms of ascents were sung when people made their journey to Jerusalem to worship. The psalmist in  Psalm 132 is trying to help the people who came, or are coming to worship, to understand the principle of the true church, the church that goes beyond buildings.

Being in the physical Temple was important for the festivities, but the church was more than that. Church is the relationship between God and His people. Church involves the participation of People and God. Let us see what the psalmist has to tell us about that.

When the psalmist wrote this psalm, he probably wanted to discard the doubts that many people had in their mind, ARE WE REALLY THE TRUE CHURCH?

This is not hard to understand. When they had to walk all that distance and make all those sacrifices; sometimes doubts would come to their minds, if they were doing the right thing for the right cause, or not.

God through the psalmist helped them to understand that they could find out if they were doing the right thing. They could know if they were members of the true church or not. 

In the same way this psalm will help us to find out about the true church. In a time when there are so many churches and all of them claim to be the one, it is important for us to be sure that the fellowship where we congregate is the one that God has in mind for us.

In the next few weeks we will meditate upon this beautiful psalm and learn the vital lessons about the true church. 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 131 – The True Contentment – Part 3

I remember a time when my friends and I would go to a street and improvise a soccer field so we could play. We would organize tournaments with teams from other streets. We did not have a proper field on which to play; we did not have the proper equipment, uniforms, and anything that kids today would demand to play. We just had the willingness to have fun.

Sometimes I think that people today miss the contentment with small things because they know about the big and fancy things and they want that. Other people know that they don’t have those things, but they can dream about them.

In the Psalm 131 David is sharing with us important lessons about the true contentment, and the final lesson is that THE TRUE CONTENTMENT IS THE FRUIT OF FAITH. That is the third aspect of contentment which is the fruit of faith in the Lord. This is what verse 3 tells us, “[3] O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.” Let us see how that works.

            A – Trust in the Lord – The first thing that David shares with us is that we should trust in the Lord. Today we are forced to trust and believe in our own power and ability. This is why we are not content with anything in our lives. Our own power and ability cannot supply us with what we really need. To really be content we must put our trust in the Lord. We must know and believe that He is in control of everything and our lives are in His hands.

            B – Trust All the Time – The second thing that David tells us about faith and trust is that we should do that all the time. David says, put your hope and trust in Him now and forever. Our trust in the Lord must be a constant in our lives. We should trust Him not only in good times, but also during the bad times

Now you know why you are not content with the things that you have, or the lack of things in your life. Now you know why you are not content with who you are. Contentment is the ability to live with what God gives to you, and trust that what He does is good. That is the true contentment.

In the New Testament we have a letter that the apostle Paul wrote from inside a terrible prison. We think that having health problems and be in a prison for just preaching the Gospel would make someone complain and be discontent with life and God. Paul had a different attitude and he showed that in this small letter, here is a very touching text from that letter: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. [13] I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 (NIV).”

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 131 – The True Contentment – Part 2

“Gimme, gimme, gimme!” We probably do not remember the phase of our lives when we would say that, but we sure remember our children and grandchildren saying that until we or someone else would surrender and give them whatever they were asking.

This attitude should reflect and be present in the early stages of our lives. It is a time when we just wanted everything that our eyes were able to see. It did not matter if it was very expensive, dangerous, or if it belonged to somebody else. We just wanted it, and our parents were supposed to get it for us.

Thank God, we grew up, and things changed, at least for some of us. Unfortunately, some have not experienced that growth yet. We are watching on TV and the internet people doing crazy things to get what they want. They just feel entitled to those things. Sadly, some are resorting to robbery, not because they need, but because they just want.

In Psalm 131 David is talking about The True Contentment, in verse 1 he tells us that True Contentment is the fruit of humility, but in verse 2 he tells one more thing that True Contentment is.

2 – IT IS THE FRUIT OF GROWTH – The second thing that David shares with us about contentment is that contentment is the fruit of personal growth. This is what he wrote in verse 2: [2] But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.” You have to grow to be able to overcome pride and selfishness. David in this verse gives us two ways of how to do that. Let us take a look at them.

            A – Stilled and Quieted Soul – The first thing that David mentions is that he quieted and stilled his soul. This is what we must do with our souls, to make it quiet and still. When we grow and mature, we will be able to calm down our soul. All the desires and dreams that we have will be put in the right place and under supervision. We will be able to shush that instinct to go and get whatever we want, even if it is far from our reach, or we are not supposed to have it. It is the ability to pause and evaluate if we really need it or if we can afford it.

            B – Tranquil Like a Child with His Mother – The second step is the attitude of someone who knows that he/she will have everything that he/she needs to live. After calming down our souls we need to understand that we will not die or the world will not end if we do not have those things. David tells us that his soul is like a child weaned from his/her mother. He will be able to be tranquil and quiet because the source for everything that he needs is right there with him. God will not let you be without what you really need, and the emphasis here is “REALLY NEED.” We must learn how to rest in the Lord, knowing that He will take care of us and our needs. As we grow in our relationship with the Lord, we will be able to trust in Him to supply our needs more and more. 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 131 – The True Contentment – Part 1

Do you have everything that you need? What is lacking in your life? What is lacking in your house? Do you have the car that you want? Do you have the job that you dreamed of? Do you have the family that you planned? What about your TV or computer or phone? What about your health?

Contentment is something almost impossible for us nowadays. The commercials push us to wish for more and better and bigger. We are never satisfied with what we have. We always want more and more. 

 Psalm 131 written by King David tells us a lot about him. Even though he was the anointed king he was able to be content, even when he did not have everything that he wanted.

Between his anointing by Samuel and the kingdom it was 10 long years of waiting. Some people believe that it was during that time that David wrote this psalm. He did not get desperate, nor did he try to enforce his power over the people. He answered with the TRUE CONTENTMENT.

This is why he was able to write another psalm that we know so well, the 23rd Psalm. This is what he says in the first verse: “Psalm 23:1 A psalm of David. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.”” The idea is: if the Lord is my shepherd, I will have everything that I need. With that attitude someone can really be content. This Psalm can help us to see what  true contentment is.

1 – IT IS THE FRUIT OF HUMILITY – The first thing that David shares with us is that  true contentment is the fruit of humility. In  verse 1 he writes this: “[1] My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.” Humility is the lack of selfishness and pride.

In this verse David tells us about pride and how it happens in our life.

            A – Not Proud in the Heart – The first thing that he tells us is that pride starts in our hearts. We have that desire inside of us. Pride is the thought of having something or thinking something about ourselves. David makes clear that his heart was in the right place.

            B – Not Haughty in the Eyes – After our hearts come our eyes. We see things that we desire. We look, and we wish for those things, and for status. David is praying and he tells God that his eyes are under control. He knew that if his eyes would gaze at things that he was not supposed to have he would be in trouble.

            C – Not Ambition too High – After that we start feeding our minds with things that are beyond our reach. We know that we will not have what we wish, but we want it anyway. That creates bitterness against us, people around us, and against God. David is telling us that he is not like that. He will not let the pride and selfishness take over his life and drive him away from his purpose in life.

My friend, we have been bombarded with so many advertisements and propaganda about all the things that we must have if we want to be happy, that it is almost impossible for us to resist and be content. Learn with David how to be humble and content.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 130 – The Need to Seek the Lord – Part 3

What are your motivations to seek the Lord? It is well known that many Christians attend church mainly on two occasions – Easter and Christmas. Others would come for other special events such as Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals. How about you? What is your motivation?

We also know that some people seek the Lord because they feel guilty, others because they are pressured. Some seek the Lord to please people or for pride. Unfortunately, some seek the Lord to earn Salvation. 

 Psalm 130 teaches us the need to seek the Lord, and in the last two verses the psalmist shares with us THE GREATEST MOTIVATION that he has to seek the Lord and wait on Him.

Here are the verses: “[7] O Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. [8] He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.”

Let us learn with the Psalmist the greatest motivations to seek the Lord.

            A – God’s Unfailing Love – The first motivation is God’s unfailing love. His love never ends, never diminishes, and never gives up. He is a loving God ready to impart His love with us at any time. His love does not depend on what we do or who we are. His Love is based on who He is. This is what John wrote: “1John 4:16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. ¶ God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.”

            B – God’s Ability to Redeem – The second motivation is God’s ability to redeem. God is the only one who can redeem us from our sins. We cannot do it, and we need to realize that.

                        I – Fully – He can redeem us completely. He can clean our lives in a way that we would not believe. Our sins can be forgiven and forgotten by God. The redemption produced by Christ and His works are enough to acquire forgiveness for all of our sins.

                        II – Totally – God also can redeem us totally. That means, without our help. The redemption that comes from God is a total redemption. He does not need our help to do the job. He will do it totally by Himself. The redemption that God offers is 100% free. There is nothing that we can do to save ourselves. God does the whole work.

Maybe you are in the same situation that the psalmist was, coming to church, but feeling far from God, empty, and without hope. The good news is that our God is a wonderful, powerful, gracious, and merciful God. If we recognize our needs He will come and redeem, forgive and accept us again. We only need to believe in His unfailing love and wonderful mercy. This is how Isaiah described this: “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Isaiah 55:6

My friend, I do not know where you are in your spiritual journey, but no matter where you are, we all, without exception need to seek the Lord. Come, let us seek Him together.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 130 – The Need to Seek the Lord – Part 2

“I want it, and I want it NOW!” Parents more and more are listening to this from their children. We are living in a “NOW” generation. Everything must happen immediately. The businesses are trying to catch up with this new customer fever, trying to deliver their orders as soon as possible.

In Brazil we have a saying that goes this way: When God wants to make an oak tree it takes 100 years, but when He wants to make a pumpkin it takes just 3 months.” The waiting, that is the biggest challenge for us. We just cannot take it. We want everything now, even if we are not going to get the best thing. We want those things done and resolved right now, not later, not tomorrow, NOW!

The Psalm 130 helps us to have THE RIGHT ATTITUDES. These attitudes should come right after crying to the Lord. That is the second thing that the psalmist mentions here, the attitudes that the person in that situation must have. We find these right attitudes in the verses 5-6a – “[5] I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. [6] My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.”

            A – Wait for the Lord – The first attitude is to wait for the Lord. That is the biggest challenge for us nowadays. The psalmist is telling us that if we are serious in seeking the Lord, we should wait for His answer, and not only that, we should wait for His action. God is the only one who can deal with our situation. We should wait on Him to come and transform us.

            B – Hope in His Word – The second attitude is to hope in His Word. Our hope is not based in our wishful thinking; we hope in His Word. God will not do what He did not promise in His Word. The waiting does not mean that we gave up, or we think that God is not going to do anything that we are asking. It means that we know His Word and through that we know that God is the one who controls the time and circumstances. We will wait because we know that God is God, and He is sitting on the Throne governing not only our affairs, but the whole world. Our hope is in His Word and His promises.

            C – Wait with Desire – Finally, our wait is a wait with desire to see our hope fulfilled.When I was young, I had a hard time understanding this text: [6] My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.” Until I served in the Army and had to stay up guarding the gates all night long until the morning. That expectation has to happen with an intense desire; like the watchman waits for the morning. 

My friend, we all need to seek the Lord, but after we do that our next step is waiting, knowing and trusting that He is a good and powerful God and that in the right time, His time, He will act.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 130 – The Need to Seek the Lord – Part 1

Have you ever had that feeling that God is not close to you? It seems that we took different paths, we part ways, and now He is far. There are times in our lives that we realize that we are not close to God anymore. We understand that we left His presence and He is distant from us.

This sensation gets worse when we see the troubles coming in our direction and we know that God cannot be reached; at least we think that He cannot be reached. During these times a mix of fear, despair and the feeling of abandonment overcome us.

Psalm 130 narrates, in a beautiful way, the need that we all have to seek God in times of troubles. The psalmist was coming to church, but even though he was doing everything that his religion prescribed he had that feeling of distance from God.

It is in this situation that he cries out to the Lord. And the first thing that he describes for us is THE VITAL KNOWLEDGE that all of us who are feeling that way should have. The first thing that we should do is to recognize the important and vital things that we must know. The psalmist shares them with us in the verses 1-4 – “[1] Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; 

[2] O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. [3] If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? [4] But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.”

    A – Of Our Situation – The first thing that the psalmist helps us to acknowledge is our situation. Like the psalmist we should evaluate our spiritual situation. It is vital for us to know where we are in our relationship with God.

        I – Distance from God – The first thing that the psalmist recognizes is that He is far away from God. He cried out from the depths. He realizes that he is not close enough to God. Can you be bold as the psalmist to make a statement like this?

        II – Barriers to God – The second thing that the psalmist realizes is the barrier between him and God – The Sin. He says that if God keeps track of our sins, we are in  big trouble, because WE ARE SINNERS. That knowledge is very important for us.

    B – God’s Grace – Knowing our situation is very important in our journey, but we must move our eyes away from us and toward God. The psalmist shares with us another important acknowledgement that is crucial for us. We need to know about God’s grace. God is a righteous God; but He also is a God full of grace.

        I – He Listens – His grace makes Him able to hear our prayers from the depth and from our sins. We do not need to be afraid or discouraged, if we cry, God will listen.

        II – He Is Merciful – He will listen, not because we are good, but because He is merciful. The psalmist makes clear that He is merciful. The ability that God has to hear our prayers is based on His wonderful mercies.

        III – He Forgives – Finally, it is very important for us to know that our God is a forgiving God. No matter how you feel or how far you are from Him, He is still there waiting for you to come back home. He is there, ready to forgive you and bless you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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