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Walk before the Lord
Text: Psalms 116:9
Dr Alex Tang
Psalm 113-118. The Egyptian Hahllel: A Cantata of Salvation
Passover and Pentecost is just over. The Egyptian Hahllel plays a significant role in the Passover celebration. At the last Passover and last Supper, Jesus and the twelve would have sung Psalms 113-114 before the meal and 115-118 would be the hymn sang at the end (Matt 26:30).
· Psalms 113: The Lord, exalted and exalting
· Psalms 114: The Sovereign Lord: over all, in all, through all
· Psalms 115: The Lord: blessed and blessed
· Psalms 116: Faith and Freedom
· Psalms 117: One God, one world, one joy
· Psalms 118: The gates of righteousness
Climax. God’s exodus purpose goes beyond just liberation and redemption, just taking a group of former slaves to be ’my people’. It is this Psalms that enacts symbolically. Its overall movement is a procession up to the temple gates v.19, then through the gates to the altar v.27
Psalms 116:9 that I may walk before the Lord in the land of the living. (NIV)
And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth (NLT)
So this morning, there are 3 component of this verse that I like to meditate with you
ii. before the Lord or in the presence of the Lord
iii. in the land of the living/ in this world.
We Christians, always regard our time here on earth as a journey or a pilgrimage. That is why when we are helping other Christians, we ask, “How is your walk with the Lord?”. That is why there are lots of action verbs in the Bible- walking, travelling, journey, destination. We study the journey of Abraham, the exodus of the Israelite out of Egypt and the return of the exiles to Jerusalem. Always there is a starting point, a call of God, a journey and a destination.
And this is what it should be.
Where do our faith journey begin? Many will say at birth. But this is what God said to Jeremiah. Jer 1:5 “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” So our journey begins well before we were just a fertilised egg. I believe that our faith journey begins when God created Adam and it will continue on for eternity. And this time on earth is a small part of this journey, an important part in a very short span of time.
v.8 For you, O Lord have delivered my soul from death.
We must always remember that it is God who loves us and seeks us. It is God who began our faith journey. It is God who sends His Son to save us. And it is God who calls us to have communion with Him. That is why many of us feel this emptiness inside us.
I know this very successful businessman. He is the CEO of a public listed in the KLSE. By all measures he is a successful man. He is handsome, well educated, healthy and intelligent. He ha a pretty devoted wife and two very smart children, a boy and a girl. He has a few houses, cars and takes overseas holidays twice a year. His job is not demanding and he has time to play golf three to four times a week. He attends church because his parents are Christian and he has always attended church. One day he said to me, “ In spite of all I have, I feel empty. And I dull this emptiness by activities and entertainment. I wear myself out so I do not have to face myself”.
So we walk. We can walk alone. We can walk with the Lord. We still walk.
2. Before the Lord/ in the Lord’s presence
What does the Psalmist means when he said before the Lord or in the presence of the Lord. I believe he means our spirituality. The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology defines spirituality as ‘the state of deep relationship to God’.
One day a Lover approached the home of his Beloved. He knocked on the door. A Voice within responded to the knocking: ”Who is There?” The Lover answered: “It is I.” The Voice within spoke, almost sadly: “There is no room here for me and thee.”
The Lover went away and spent much time trying to learn the meaning of the words of his Beloved. Then one day, some time later, he once again approached the home of his Beloved and as before, he knocked on the door. Once again, as had happened earlier, the Voice within asked: “Who is there?” This time the Lover answered: “It is Thou.” And the door opened and he entered the home of his Beloved.
i. Spirituality of Devotion
We believe deeply in the inner life, a life to devotion to God; but this inner life was fostered largely by external devotional works of piety. By being active in church, praying, counseling, teaching, administration and doing all these things that I thought will please God that I do not have time to just be with God.
This is more about doing than being, more about behaviour than about consciousness, more about doing God’s will by carrying out God’s commands and doing devotional things that pleased God rather than about experiencing God as God truly is.
ii. Spirituality of Contemplation
This spirituality affirms the spirituality of devotion. It also affirms that God loves us and is the Ground of Love in whom all things are. And awareness of God within us is the ultimate meaning of prayer. It means we must seek God Himself and experience Him. I am not talking here of a denominational Pentacostal experience but a continual experience of being with Him.
3. In Land of the Living
Obstacles to God’s Presence
We have to learn to let go of some of the things that clutter our lives so mercilessly. We have to strive to be less busy and more quiet. We have to find a quiet time every day and perhaps also a quiet day at least once a month. God tells us through the psalmist: “Be still and know that I am God.”
ii. Efficiency & Love
The addiction of our culture to productivity and efficiency that we sometimes sacrifice love.
iii. Noise that saturates our lives.
i. Make time to be quiet with God.
ii. Practice the awareness of God.
Be aware of the God-of-the-moment. We live with only one foot in the present and the other in the past or the future. When this happens, we miss the richness of the present, because we are not fully aware of it.
a. letting go
Soli Deo Gloria
William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York: Crossroad Publishing:1991,2000)
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"spiritual forming disciples of Jesus Christ with informed minds, hearts on fire and contemplative in actions"
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