Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Aug 25 2019 - Psalm 107:1-22 – The redeemed of the Lord

This psalm not only celebrates God's goodness, it calls on all to join the psalmist in giving thanks to the Lord for his goodness and unfailing love. It calls upon the redeemed to tell their story, as Israel of old had often told the story of how the Lord had rescued them from slavery in Egypt and brought them safely through the wilderness and into possession of the Promised Land. The psalm then goes on to relate stories of how God has rescued his people in times past.

Verses 4-9 tells the story of people wandering in desert wastes in which they could find no safe place to settle. They were hungry and thirsty and facing death. But they called on the name of the Lord and he, "delivered them from their distress" (v.6). The psalmist may well have been thinking of Israel's forty years of wandering in the wilderness. When they lacked food they cried out to the Lord, though it has to be acknowledged that their cry was one of complaint rather than humble petition. Nevertheless, the Lord fed them with bread from heaven and with quail. When they were thirsty they cried out to the Lord, though again it was in complaint, and he provided them with water from the rock. Eventually they were led into the land where they could settle in towns and cities, grow their own food and enjoy streams of water. Looking back on that experience the psalmist declares:

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things. (vv. 8-9)

We do well to remember that the Lord Jesus spoke of himself as the bread of life, the water of life and the one who gives rest to the weary. He is the one in we have found the fulfilment of this psalm in our own experience.

In verses 10-16, the psalmist speaks of prisoners, chained in darkness and forced into back-breaking labour as a result of their rebellion against God. They also cried for the Lord to help them and he broke their chains and brought them out of darkness into light. Again, we can read these verses in the light of the Lord Jesus (think of Charles Wesley's great hymn, And can it be that I should gain…); he is the one who has broken down gates of bronze and cut bars of iron (v.16) to set us free from our cruel imprisonment to sin and death.

Verses 17-22 speak of those who suffered a deadly sickness and called on the Lord for help. "He sent out his word and healed them; he continues with further examples of the Lord's deliverance, "he rescued them from the grave" (v.20). This also is our experience in the Lord Jesus.

The psalm continues with further examples of the Lord's deliverance in response to prayer. The Lord is the one who stills the storm to a whisper and hushes the waves of the sea (v.29). He brings his people to their desired haven (v.30). Who but Jesus can do this?

We also have been redeemed by the Lord from sin, death, darkness and despair. We also have a story to tell to others. "Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story" says the psalmist in verse 2. We should rejoice to be able to tell the wonderful story of our salvation in the Lord Jesus and of his unfailing goodness and love. We should delight to tell others of the hope we have in him in all the varied circumstances of our lives and in the prospect of death. If we were often to tell our story, might it not lead many others to come and trust in the Lord Jesus and have their own stories to tell?

Father God, thank you for our wonderful redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us when we forget to thank you for your goodness, love and salvation. By the power of your Spirit, set our hearts on fire with love for you that, like someone newly engaged, we may be eager to tell all we meet of the story of your love for us. 

 

Aug 25 2013 - 1 Corinthians 16:1-24 – Family

When you read the last chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians you quickly become aware of the fact that the Christians at Corinth belong to a wider family. Greetings are sent from the churches in Asia as well as mention being made of a number of individuals such as Apollos and Timothy, Aquila and Priscilla.

The hallmark of this new family is love. It is firstly a love for the Lord who loved us and gave himself for us – Paul writes, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed” (1 Corinthians 16:22). Those who do not love the Lord have not understood his love for them – or have rejected that love.

The family of Jesus are also to be marked by love for one another: “Do everything in love” says Paul, and “greet one another with a holy kiss” (16:14,20). They are also to be a people who long to make Christ known and to draw others into the embrace of his love. Paul was looking forward to visiting his friends at Corinth but was unwilling to leave Ephesus at the moment “because a great door for effective work has opened to me” (16:9); he was eager to make use of this opportunity to win people for Christ – even from those who presently opposed him.

One of the most remarkable ways in which the love of this new family was expressed was in the collection (16:1-4). Paul had been organising a collection from the predominantly Gentile churches around the Mediterranean to be sent to the Christians in Jerusalem and Judea who were suffering because of a famine. This collection served not only to supply their needs but also as a practical and visible expression of love and unity. It demonstrated that Gentile and Jewish Christians had become one family in Christ – a family in which the needs of one became the concerns of all.

It is good for us to be reminded that we are members of one family that stretches around the globe. When Christians in Africa (or elsewhere) suffer hunger we cannot remain unmoved; we need to do what we can to help. When Christians in Muslim countries suffer discrimination and persecution we cannot remain unmoved; they are family. We need to ask how the principle behind Paul’s collection can find practical expression among us today. Our prayers are not enough.

So Paul concludes this letter to the troubled Church at Corinth. They were living in an amoral culture; one preoccupied by the cult of celebrity and personality – much like the television culture of our day. Paul has exhorted them to live distinctively different lives as those who belong to Christ. They were an argumentative and divided church. Paul calls them to a unity grounded in the fact that they are members of one body. There were those among them who were spreading false teaching. Paul calls them back to the gospel he had preached to them. His message to them is summed up in his closing words, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love” (16:13-14).

Living God, we give you thanks that you have made us members of your family through the Lord Jesus Christ. Help us by your Spirit to live well as your children: to be on our guard against the subtle influences of the world, the flesh and the devil; to stand firm in the faith, rejoicing and glorying in your saving purposes for us and for all creation; to be strong and courageous in making the love of Christ known; to do everything in love even as you have embraced us in a love beyond words.

Peter Misselbrook