Psalm 133 – The True Christian Fellowship – Part 1

Please, ponder these questions:

  1. What are the activities that you do with your friends?
  2. How often you do them?
  3. Are your friends of the same age?
  4. How many people from the church are part of your inner-friends circle?
  5. Do you share your spiritual life with them?

These are simple questions that help us to check the level of our Christian fellowship. In an era when relationships are built up through the internet and phone messages, it is crucial for us to evaluate our friendships and fellowships.

Psalm 133 is one of the shortest psalms in the Scriptures, but it is also one of the most beloved. The lessons that we learn from this short poem are among the biggest ones.

People who were traveling long distances to Jerusalem for the Festivals would form a bond. They had to trust in each other; they had to help each other; they had to learn from each other. That experience would bring them together for life. That bond was so strong that we could compare it with the bond that people have in the army, or in a long mission trip.

In this kind of trip, you share not only things, but also your life; and that would take the fellowship to another level. 

The psalmist here teaches us important lessons about fellowship. Let us see how that works.

The first lesson that we learn is that the True Christian Fellowship IS A HOLISTIC EXPERIENCE. That is the first thing that we learn here in this psalm. It is more than just a superficial connection. It involves a spiritual and physical experience.

In that kind of trip, you have to share things with each other, but also you would share your spiritual life. Because they were going to Jerusalem for the Festivals, the topic of the festivals certainly would come up, the meaning of the trip, the expectations, etc.

David states: “[1] How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!” He uses two words to express the spiritual aspect of that fellowship, the first one is “good” and the second one is “pleasant”.

The fellowship in our Christian community should be good and pleasant. We, as Christians should feel good to have these brothers and sisters around us. We also should feel pleasure to have this kind of fellowship with each other. That kind of fellowship does not appear out of nowhere, it is made, constructed.

Besides the spiritual aspect we have the physical aspect. The psalmist gives us two ideas about this, the first is “to live together” and the second one is “in unity”.

We need these two things to have this kind of fellowship. Only living together will not do it; we need to live in unity. They were together, walking in the same direction, to worship and serve God. That is the aspect that we need in our lives.

My friend, we all need this kind of fellowship. The church was supposed to be a place where this fellowship would be facilitated and implemented. We cannot take the Christian journey alone. We need brothers and sisters that will go with us, no matter how difficult the journey. 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 132 – The True Church – Part 4

Jesus said that He would build His church, Paul wrote that the church is the body of Christ. We are the body, He is the head. As you can see, the church is a combination of Christ and His people. There is no church without redeemed people, and there is no church without the Redeemer.

Psalm 132 helps us to understand that the church needs the participation of people and God. In the last verses we will find more actions from GOD’S PARTICIPATION.

            E – God Strengthens His People – God is not only going to save you, He also will strengthen you and your faith, so you can walk with Him and in His ways. We cannot save ourselves and we cannot live the Christian life by ourselves. God promises to empower us to live the life that He expects from us. In the first part of verse 17 we read this: [17] “Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.”

            F – God Brings Light to His People – God will also bring light to your life. He will guide you during the dark seasons of your life. He will help you to understand His Word so you can obey Him fully. In the rest of verse 17 we have this: “[17] “Here I will make a horn grow for David and set up a lamp for my anointed one.”

            G – God Gives Victory to His People – Finally, God will give victory to the true church. If we want to be the true church, we will have many battles in our lives; but God promises that He will be with us during those times and He will give us victories. In verse 18 the psalmist has this to say: 

“[18] I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown on his head will be resplendent.”

As you can see the TRUE CHURCH is an amalgamation of God and His People. You cannot have a real church without both of them. We also learned that we, as His people, have some attitudes we must demonstrate to be a true church and God has His participation in it too. We must do our part, knowing that God will do His part and also will help us to do ours.

In these two verses we learn an extremely important lesson for present day: [11] The Lord swore an oath to David, a sure oath that he will not revoke “One of your own descendants I will place on your throne–[12] if your sons keep my covenant and the statutes I teach them, then their sons will sit on your throne for ever and ever.” In the first verses of this psalm we learn that David committed himself to build God’s house. In these two verses that we mentioned above, God is committing to David to build his house and to extend his kingdom. 

We learn that every time that we commit ourselves to build God’s house, He commits Himself to build ours. This should give us the desire to make our local church a TRUE CHURCH.

It can be done!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 132 – The True Church – Part 3

Why is it so hard for us to grasp that the church is more than a building or an organization? Christianity in the west has this mindset that a building defines a church. A church, the real church is formed by people and God. The church is the encounter of redeemed people with their God. 

In Psalm 132 the psalmist shares with us, among other things, amazing lessons about the true church. In our last message I wrote about the participation of people. Today we will learn about GOD’S PARTICIPATION – verses 11-18

The other person that makes a church to be the true church is God. God has to be involved in the life of the church, if not she will be only a social service or a social club. Let us see what we can learn about God’s participation in the life of the church.

A – God Chooses His People – In this second aspect of the true church we learn that God is the one who chooses her members. You are not a member of the church because you like the church and feel comfortable there. You are a member of the true church because God decided that you should be part of her. The decision is His not ours. Verse 13 says this: [13] For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling:”

B – Jesus Is the King of His People – The next aspect of God’s participation in the life of the church is that Jesus is the King, the boss, and the owner. It is very important for us to understand that. The church is not a true church unless Jesus is the Head of the church and her King. The psalmist makes that clear in verse 14: [14] “This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it—”

C – God Blesses His People There – The next participation of God in the life of the true church is the blessings that He dispenses to His people. A true church is a church blessed by God. In verse 15 we have this: [15] I will bless her with abundant provisions; her poor will I satisfy with food. Yes, God will give her abundant provisions and feed the ones who do not have the ability to feed themselves.

D – God Saves His People – The next involvement of God is the salvation of His people. We cannot be a member of the church if we are not saved. We can have our names in a particular church, but the true church has only room for redeemed people. In verse 16 we read this: [16] I will clothe her priests with salvation, and her saints will ever sing for joy.” Salvation and its first fruit, gratitude are marks of the true church.

This is not everything that God does in the life of the church. Next week we will see more aspects of His participation in the life of His people.

My friend, are you able to identify the presence and participation of God in your church? Is He part of your life? Are you involved in the life of your church? 

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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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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