Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 18 2019 - Psalm 103 – He does not treat us as our sins deserve

Count your blessings, name them one by one…
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

So goes the chorus of an old hymn, perhaps inspired by this wonderful psalm.

The author of this psalm urges us not to forget all that the Lord has done for us. To assist us in not forgetting, he lists some of the blessings, or "benefits" which the Lord has lavished on us in his great love and compassion (v.4). Most precious of these is the assurance that he forgives us all our sins (v.3).

He does not treat us as our sins deserve
   or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
   so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
   so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (vv.10-13)

These blessings are given us freely, but we know that they have been purchased at great cost; they are ours only because of Jesus. He is the one who came from the heights of heaven to become part of this poor world because of the greatness of his love for us. In his sacrificial death upon the cross, God treated him as our sins deserved; he endured the wrath of God in our place. He is the one who has removed our transgressions from us – as far as the east is from the west – so that they can never again condemn us.

How should we respond to God's love and compassion? We should praise the Lord with all our being (v.1). If angels in glory never cease to sing God's praise, and all creation praises him in its own way (vv.20-22), praise should often be found on our lips and always be the keynote of our lives.

Fill Thou my life, O Lord my God,
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways.
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e’en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part! (Horatius Bonar)

Nor shall our praise last only for a lifetime. This psalm reminds us of our mortality (vv. 15-16), but assures us that the Lord's love stretches from everlasting to everlasting for those that fear him (v.17). So, to quote Isaac Watts:

I'll praise my Maker while I've breath;
and when my voice is lost in death,
praise shall employ my nobler powers.
My days of praise shall ne'er be past,
while life, and thought, and being last,
or immortality endures.

Father forgive me that I am sometime so preoccupied with the details of my daily life that I lose sight of the fact that I am truly and greatly blessed. Open my eyes to the wonders of your grace towards me in the Lord Jesus Christ; open my heart to love you as you have loved me; open my mouth to sing your praise; open my whole being to the life of your kingdom.

Aug 18 2013 - 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 – Proclaiming Christ’s death

The Lord’s Supper had been turned into a bun fight at Corinth. It would seem that the church met in the home or homes of some of the richer members. They would ensure that their friends arrived first and secured key places at their table. They would have quite a feast together, eating their fill and even getting a little tipsy while leaving little space and even less food and drink for the poorer members and slaves who arrived later. This, says Paul, is not the Lord’s Supper. Your meetings do more harm than good. The focus of the Lord’s Supper is to be on Christ’s sacrifice; he gave himself for others. You cannot celebrate Christ’s death in a selfish manner. Neither can you remember his broken body and shed blood while neglecting your fellow Christians, failing to recognise that they too are the body of Christ.

It’s easy for us to recognise the abuses going on at Corinth and to join Paul in passing judgment upon them. But are there times when we are guilty of similar abuses? Have we been guilty of seeking to celebrate Christ and his sacrifice for us while neglecting some of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we broken bread while continuing to break his body? Have some of our meetings done more harm than good?

Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is to “proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:26). By it we proclaim to ourselves and to one another that Christ died to bring us to God. By taking the bread and eating it together we celebrate that we have a part in his sacrificial death – he died for us, each one of us. By drinking the wine together we know that he shed his blood for us, each one of us, and that through his shed blood he has sealed for all eternity the covenant by which God has bound himself to us and us to him. And we do all of this in anticipation of the day when Christ shall return and we shall feast together with him at the great marriage supper of the Lamb. It is an anticipation of the age to come.

But there is even more to it than this. We not only proclaim these things to one another, we proclaim them to the world. We proclaim to the world that Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ shall come again not simply by celebrating communion together but by living the crucified and risen life together in communion with Christ – in active and demonstrable fellowship him. The Lord’s Supper is nothing but an empty ceremony if it is not reflected and lived out in our daily lives with one another and before the world: “it is not the Lord’s Supper that you eat” (11:20).

Let’s celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for us by eating the Lord’s Supper together, but let us celebrate it also by offering ourselves to him as living sacrifices and as servants to one another. Let’s take care to “discern the body of Christ” and to make it visible to the world around us as we “proclaim his death until he comes.”

Lord Jesus, you loved me and gave yourself for me. Help me to love you in return and to love each one of your people as you have loved them – as you have loved me. And Lord, we pray for your church which is so often troubled by divisive arguments and conduct. Forgive us Lord. Rob us of our pride and help us to live as those who have died to all that this world holds dear and who live only to you and to make known your dying love and risen power.

Peter Misselbrook