Sermon Text: Psalm 122
Sermon Theme: The trials of life are eclipsed by seeing and experiencing the presence of the LORD. So, pray God’s peace will be known.
The pleasure and profit from means of grace, should make us disregard trouble and fatigue in going to them; and we should quicken one another to what is good. We should desire our Christian friends, when they have any good work in hand, to call for us, and take us with them. With what readiness should we think of the heavenly Jerusalem! How cheerfully should we bear the cross and welcome death, in hopes of a crown of glory! Jerusalem is called the beautiful city. It was a type of the gospel church, which is compact together in holy love and Christian communion, so that it is all as one city. If all the disciples of Christ were of one mind, and kept the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, their enemies would be deprived of their chief advantages against them. But Satan’s maxim always has been, to divide that he may conquer; and few Christians are sufficiently aware of his designs.
Those who can do nothing else for the peace of Jerusalem, may pray for it. Let us consider all who seek the glory of the Redeemer, as our brethren and fellow-travelers, without regarding differences which do not affect our eternal welfare. Blessed Spirit of peace and love, who does dwell in the soul of the holy Jesus, descend into his church, and fill those who compose it with his heavenly tempers; cause bitter contentions to cease, and make us to be of one mind. Love of the brethren and love to God, ought to stir us up to seek to be like the Lord Jesus in fervent prayer and unwearied labor, for the salvation of men, and the Divine glory.
(From Matthew Henry’s Commentary)
- Do some of you have no inclination to be in the sanctuary, but a very strong desire to be anywhere else? Do you regard attendance at church, not as a privilege, but as a hardship; not as offering untold benefits, but only as so much restraint and drudgery that ought to be escaped from as much as possible? Our true and sole relation to the place is not in the visible, but in the invisible. When we repair to it we ought to see nothing, and feel nothing, and desire nothing but God. For it is “the house of the Lord.” We have to please God, and this is how we will please Him, by remembering, when we are in the house of the Lord, that He is there, to receive our praises, to hear our prayers, and to instruct us not after our own choosing, nor with the words of man’s wisdom, but in the simplicity of the truth. This is worship therefore when we sing, and when we pray, and when we listen for spiritual edification, and not because we have an itching ear. For we are drawn to this place because it is a place where glad hearts thank God for His goodness.
- Where and with who are you keeping company on Sunday? Can you see that it is joyful to come to God’s house because you love it, and you love the service, and you wish to be found in His ways, and He gives you many a sweet thought upon the text when it is pointed out to you. Maybe God’s house is the best place to be because you are in the best company, in the most immediate presence of God, and among His saints, the honorable of the earth. How can you be satisfied with serving God in private? Isn’t it your duty and privilege to honor Him regularly and constantly in public? For God’s plan for us is never to live in isolation, but to be a part of his corporate people, the Church. It may not be “cool” culturally to be part of the church, but it’s something we should be excited about. When we’re excited about our identity as children of God (individually and corporately), we will focus on the right things.
- When we come to church, is our main focus to offer our sacrifices of thanksgiving? Let us not forget that the core of worship is thanksgiving. It is praising God and thanking Him for what He has done for us. If we never quite make it to thanksgiving in all of our teaching and petitions and prayers, we haven’t quite made it into worship. For worship is the surrender of the self, the renunciation of the great obstacle and the solemn repetition of our Savior’s words — “Not My will but Thine be done.” Self is displaced and God is enthroned, and as the result the worshipper thinks as his Lord thinks, and his judgment is just and his valuation accurate. Of all the things which make up your life, what could be more important than the worship of God. For whatever you focus on is what you end up building your life around. Whatever is filling our thought life is molding and shaping our life.
- Where are you today on your Christian pilgrimage? If you don’t know your destination, it doesn’t matter what kinds of directions you’re using. But when you have a specific outcome in mind, you’ll follow whatever steps –– no matter how specific they are –– to get there. Our focus always determines what direction we take. So, if we could just get our focus right, we’d know the right steps to take through life too. Knowing that the heart of a pious person is in the Church of God; their main delight is there; their arrangements will be made so as best to enjoy the privileges of the sanctuary; and their plans of life will all contemplate the welfare, the extension, and the influence of the Church of God. How are you participating (or not participating) in God’s family, the Church? If you’re not excited about being the Church, why is that? How is God challenging your thinking right now?
- Are you currently crying out for protection, resting in safety, or maybe catching a glimpse of Jerusalem? What are the overall implications of this psalm when it comes to your assurance of God keeping you? Where might you be tempted to doubt His keeping power for you (or others)? God desires union with us. He wants to be connected to us and enjoy community with people who are committed to Him. All we are and have, and all the good we still hope to realize throughout the vast future of our being, comes from God. For the Father and the Son jointly guarantee the eternal security of believers because, as Jesus declared, “I and the Father are one” (the Greek word one is neuter, not masculine; it speaks of “one substance,” not “one person”). Thus, their unity of purpose and action in safeguarding believers is undergirded by their unity of nature and essence. The whole matter of security is summarized in our Lord’s own words in John 6:39-40: “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Also, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).
- Are you working to make sure that peace is not shattered in your church, the consequences of which are devastating? For in a shattered church relationships are destroyed, hearts are crushed and embittered, and apostasy is usually present on all sides. Peace is a blessing to our family members, our brothers and sisters, and our friends. Peace must characterize the church of Jesus Christ – it is essential. Every elder, deacon, and member in the church of Christ must be relentlessly, doggedly pursuing peace. For the Psalm encourages us to pray for peace, to desire peace, and to pursue it with all our hearts.
- Are we seeking Godly peace as defined by scripture? Not that which results from mere inertness or indifference, but that which co-exists with the highest degree of spiritual life and energy; a peace which springs from unanimity, all being of one mind and one judgment as to the great and paramount questions of Christian doctrine and duty, and displaying one toward another, with respect to minor points, the spirit of humility and kindly forbearance. Giving thanks for the God given prosperity which we have received. Not that which is implied in high worldly distinctions; but the gracious presence of God with us, and the abundant continuous effusion of His Holy Spirit upon us.
- What is the center of your life? Do you delight in God’s Word? Do you desire to study and live the Scripture? Every believer must be growing in a high view of God if he is to have a God-centered life. Consequently, each saint must focus on the character of God—his holiness, sovereignty, righteousness, immutability, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, and wrath. For there may be very little gladness through simply saying “there is a God”; but surely joyfulness must spring up in the soul when a man can add “O God, thou art my God.”
- Have you considered how fashionable it is for the world to sneer at doctrine, to talk flippantly about “gnawing at the dry bones of doctrine,” to endorse the sentiment of the poet who would hand over doctrine to bigots to fight about and would be satisfied with “the right life?” There is a fallacy here. How can we tell what the right life is if we do not learn it from doctrine? As believers in the fact of a revelation, and that the Bible contains that revelation, we maintain that the man “whose life is in the right” is a man who knows what the doctrine of God’s Word is concerning right living. For following the True religion is a life as well as a belief, a life founded upon a belief, but always a life. That life is produced by the Holy Spirit, who takes the things which are Christ’s, and shows them unto us. For True religion has to do with the spirit of man. Knowing that the man who has spirituality is a man of religious principle. He is the same whatever he does and wherever he goes. He is the same in politics as in ecclesiastics. He is a Christian in buying and in selling, a Christian at home and abroad, on land and on sea.
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