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Author:Rev. Stephen 't Hart
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Congregation:Free Reformed Church of Baldivis
 Baldivis, Western Australia
 frca.org.au/baldivis/
 
Title:Behold the beauty of the LORD!
Text:Psalms 27:4 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Enjoying Life
 
Preached:2014-08-09
Added:2014-12-24
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

2010 Book of Praise

Bible translation:  NKJV

 

Psalm 42:1,3

Psalm 62:3,4

Psalm 63:1,2,3,4

Psalm 27:2

Psalm 84:5,6

 

Read:  Psalm 27

Text:  Psalm 27:4

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the more popular ways to eat out now-a-days is to go to a Tapas bar or restaurant.  To eat Tapas is different to eating at a regular restaurant because instead of getting an entrée, main course and desert, you get to eat entrées all night!  As you sit around a table with a group of friends, the waitress will come with small plates and platters to share, with each plate sounding more interesting than the last: chilli salted macadamias; sesamae & panko crumbed oysters, chicken liver pate, squid & clam Andalusia; lamb truffles; chicken, goats cheese and pepper pizza; Havana rum & beetroot cured salmon; sweet corn croquettes; and sizzling creamy garlic prawns with chilli.  And so, going from one dish to the next, with your taste buds zinging and entering some sort of sensory overload, you snack your way through the night.

Tapas is a great way to eat out if you like that sort of thing, trying all sorts of new food.  But we need to be careful that we don’t make Tapas the new way of life!  What I mean is, our lives have been intercepted by the perfect storm of a short attention span coupled with an information overload.  There is too much to see, too much to hear, too much to experience.  All sorts of things are clamoring for our attention to the point that we rush from one thing to the next, doing a bit of this and spending a little time over there.  Snacking our way through life but not stopping long enough to enjoy the main course!

And in such a life, with such a life style, we may wonder at what David wrote in Psalm 27, we might wonder if we can still say the same thing.

“One thing”, David wrote in Psalm 27, “One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek.” 

One thing.  Can you imagine that?  Can you understand that?  One thing.  Not many things, not this and that and a little something else on the side but one thing.  Is it even possible to have “one thing” in this day and age?  Sometimes it is as though our life has been hijacked.  Sometimes it is as though our life is like a treadmill, bustling us along, shunting us from one thing to the next, experiencing this and tasting that but never able to stop, to savor, to enjoy that one thing.  And the result of all of this is that life becomes a confusing mess of busy-ness and experiences, and we are in danger of forgetting what we are here for in the first place, forgetting to keep our eyes on that one thing that we too desire and seek after, to be with God all the days of our life and to behold the beauty of the LORD.

And so let us step back from our busy-ness, let us put aside the temptation to snack through life, put to the side the things that distract, and take hold to that one thing and so behold the beauty of the LORD.

I preach to you the Word of the LORD from Psalm 27 under the following theme:

Behold the beauty of the LORD!

1. Beauty defined.

2. Beauty desired.

1. Beauty defined.

Our lives are busy and our minds are busy.  From the moment we wake up to the time we go to sleep at night there often seems to be no peace, no break for weary minds, no rest for troubled souls.  We have phones and we have families.  We have work and we have wifi.  We have computers and we have cars.  We have soccer and we have schedules.  For many of us it is as though every moment of every day is filled to capacity – and whatever little bit of life there might be left, we fill with ipods and the internet, with FaceBook and with FoxTel. 

We no longer see what is truly beautiful.  Our eyes become blind and our senses become dull.  Do you still see the beauty of a flower?  Their soft petals, their glorious colours, their various types and the pollinating bees that go from one to the next?  Do you still marvel at the beauty of a duck with her ducklings, a swan with her cygnets?  Do you stand in awe, thrilled at the surging waves in the ocean, the wind that blows in your face?  Do you still marvel at the beauty of a fish – and not just a fish, but the scales of a fish – and not just the scales of a fish but all those tiny lines on each scale on a fish?  Do you really see beauty when you see it?

Or is your heart empty?  Is your soul dissatisfied?  Is your mind clouded and are your eyes failing to take it all in?

Are your eyes open to that which is truly beautiful?  Where are you looking for this beauty, and where have you found it?

There is, of course, much in this world that is not beautiful, much in this world that does not satisfy.  We live in a fallen world, a world of trouble and a world of sorrow.  And at times we too have our fears and anxieties, troubles and insecurities.  You may be faced with troubles at work; you may be unable to find work.  There may be challenges with your friends, with your classmates at school.  Perhaps your relationship with your husband, your wife, your children, your parents or another is strained to breaking point – and perhaps it has passed breaking point and you grieve its loss.  Perhaps there is financial stress, those dreaded letters and phone calls from people who don’t seem to understand.  Perhaps there is sickness or perhaps you are just feeling sad.  Sometimes life is hard and there is much that gives us trouble and grief.  But the danger is that when we have such troubles, when we are sad and heavy burdened that we cannot see past those burdens, that we become absorbed in them to the point that we no longer see beauty in life, that we no longer see beauty in the LORD.  Or else, we turn away from the LORD and look for other things to numb the pain, to deaden our fears and to ease our anxieties.

But what does Psalm 27 say?

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.”

One thing have I desired, to be with God, in His house and to behold or to gaze upon His beauty.

When David wrote this psalm, there were many things in danger of clouding his vision, of taking his mind away from that one thing.  When David wrote this psalm, he was in trouble.  He had a troubled life in the past, and he referred to that in verse 2 and 3.  The wicked came up against him to eat up his flesh and a whole army encamped against him.  That had happened in the past and the LORD had delivered him, but it was not as though all was now well.  While the first 6 verses of Psalm 27 are a psalm of confidence, in verse 7 he cries out to God for help.

“Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice!  Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.”

He pleads in verse 9,

“Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my help; Do not leave me nor forsake me.”

And verse 12,

“Do not deliver me to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence.”

David was in trouble.  It was doing his head in!  It was too much to bear and he could not cope.  But where does David turn to for help?  What does he long for in the midst of his suffering?  Yes, he wants deliverance from his enemies, he wants things to get better, he wants things to change.  But David did not look at those things in the first place, nor was he consumed by the troubles that surrounded him.  Instead his one thing that he desired was to behold the beauty of the LORD.  Not just to get a glimpse of His beauty but to behold it, to gaze upon it, to have his eyes, his heart and his mind filled with this beauty, to drink it in, to be delighted and enthralled by it.

  And notice too that David’s one thing was not to gaze upon the beauty of the temple – in fact the temple had not yet been built; God’s house was still the Tabernacle.  Rather, the one thing that David wanted was to behold the beauty of the LORD!  He wanted to see God!  He wanted to see His beauty, to be thrilled in His presence.  No, this was not a seeing God with his eyes, but rejoicing in Him with his heart!  What David wanted was to come into God’s presence to focus on Him, on what He is like.  To behold His beauty, the beauty of the LORD. David wanted nothing more than to be where God was, in His house, in His temple, to worship Him, to bow down to Him and to glorify Him.  For the LORD, the One who created us and the One who redeemed us, He is the ultimate definition of beauty!  Yes, there is beauty in this world, beauty in God’s creation.  Take a good look at the flower, and the duck with her ducklings, the waves in the ocean and the fish in the sea.  But when you see those things, look beyond them to the One who made them, to the One who made all things beautiful, and to the One who alone is truly Beautiful.  Yes brothers and sisters, behold your God!  Look at Him.  Consider Him.  Focus on Him, on His attributes.  His loving kindness.  His tender mercy.  His gracious care.  His Fatherly love.  Behold Him.  Gaze upon Him.  Yes, may He always be your one thing

We need to stop being busy with the wrong things.  We need to stop snacking through life, moving from one distraction to the next, consuming that which is not beauty, and keeping us from Him who is beauty.  We need to take our eyes off the enemy, the things that pull us down.  We need to beware of the things that Satan is using to entice us, to drag us away to cloud our eyes from the One who alone is truly beautiful! 

Brothers and sisters, how is it with you?  Have you been hurt by someone or something, and are the things that have happened playing over and over in your mind?  Are you being consumed by them?  Have you lost sight of the glory and the beauty of God so that now your heart is set on another, on something else?  Have you become slothful, lethargic, in your devotion towards God, in your love for that one thing, to behold the beauty of the LORD?  Do you at times turn to something else, to the television, to the internet, to drugs or alcohol to numb the brain, to dull the pain, to deaden your fears, to ease your anxieties?  Do we still see the beauty of our God?

Let us always pray, let us always ask the LORD for the grace of His Holy Spirit that our eyes might be open and our gaze might be fixed on Him who alone is truly beautiful.  For what is it that makes Him beautiful?  It is that He is the LORD – LORD with capital letters.  He is Yahweh, the God of the covenant, the One who has not only made us but who has also redeemed us.  He is the One who showed us His love, who displayed His beauty, in His Son, Jesus Christ.

2. Beauty desired.

When David desired to behold the beauty of the LORD, he knew where to seek it. 

“One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the LORD.”

The people of Israel did not normally spend every day in the temple of the LORD.  While we go to church twice a Sunday, Israel was called to go to the temple just three times a year for the festivals.  But David wanted more; he wanted to be in the house of the LORD “all the days of my life.”  It was in the temple that the LORD dwelled with His people and so David wanted to be there, in the temple, every day, to be with his God.  In fact, this was a common prayer, a common longing of David, and it can be found in a number of psalms.

Psalm 84:1-4

How lovely is Your tabernacle, O LORD of hosts!  My soul longs, yes, even faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the livig God.  Even a sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young – even your altars, O LORD of hosts, My king and my God.  Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they will still be praising You.”

And Psalm 84:10,

“For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.  I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.”

Psalm 65:4,

“Blessed is the man you choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in your courts.  We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, of Your holy temple.”

And Psalm 63:1,2

“O GOD, You are my God; early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.  So I have looked for You in the sanctuary [In His holy place, the tabernacle, the temple] to see Your power and Your glory.”

David longed to be with God and to behold the beauty of God and so he longed to be where God was, in His holy temple.  But of course God was not just in His temple, He was and He is everywhere.  When David was absent and unable to reach the temple because of his enemies, the LORD was still there.  Yes, even if his own father and mother would forsake him, David knew that the LORD would take care of him.  But he wanted to be in the temple, He wanted to live in the house of the LORD because it was in the Temple in particular that David could see the beauty of the LORD.  And why is that?  Because in the temple there was an altar.  And on that altar, each day again, would be placed an animal.  And that animal would be killed and its blood would be poured out for the sin of God’s people so that through these sacrifices, God’s people could come before His face to worship Him, to be with Him, and to behold His infinite beauty.

But now what David saw in part, we may see in full!  When David went into the tabernacle to behold the beauty of the LORD he saw that beauty but it was veiled, it was covered.  It would only be a thousand years later that the beauty of the LORD would be fully revealed in the sending of His Son, Jesus Christ.  Concerning the Christ Colossians 1:15 says,

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.”

And 2 Corinthians 4:6 says,

“For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of the darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

It is Jesus Christ, who Hebrews 1:3 writes as “being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” who reveals to us the infinite beauty of the LORD.  He is the One to whom we must turn.  He is the One whom we must desire.

In Luke 10, when our Lord was walking on this earth, it says that he entered a certain village and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at the Lord’s feet and heard His Word.  But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?  Therefore tell her to help me.”  And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing – hear that, one thing – is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.

One thing is needed.  One thing have I desired.  To dwell in the house of the LORD and to behold the beauty of the LORD. 

Do you still desire that?  Is that your one thing also?  How are you living your life, your days, your weeks and your years so that your one desire, your one focus is to behold the beauty of the LORD in the face of Jesus Christ?  How are you approaching your God and how are you worshipping Him? 

  Things have changed with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no longer a temple in Jerusalem, nor do we have to go to worship the LORD there.  But we do still stop one day a week to pause and behold the beauty of the LORD.  And that we do still gather together as His people, as His Church.  And it is still necessary that we do this as we seek to behold the beauty of the LORD.  In his commentary James Montgomerie Boice wrote,

“There is something to be experienced of God in church that it is not quite so easy to experience elsewhere.  Otherwise, why have churches?  If it is only instruction we need, we can get that as well by an audio tape or a book.  If it is only fellowship, we can find that equally well, perhaps better, in a small home gathering.  There is something to be said for the sheer physical singing of hymns, the sitting in pews, the actual looking to the pulpit and gazing on the pulpit Bible as it is expounded, the tasting of the sacrament, and the very atmosphere of the place set apart for the worship of God that is spiritually beneficial.  Isn’t that true?  Haven’t you found a sense of God’s presence simply by being in God’s house?  I do not mean to deny that God can (and should) be worshipped elsewhere.  But I am suggesting that the actual physical worship of God in the company of other believers can be almost sacramental.”[1]

Coming to church is not all, of course.  And merely coming to church is not the same as beholding the beauty of the LORD.  For that is what happens when we truly come, when we are joined to God in Jesus Christ by a true faith, believing the good news of our salvation in Him.  And to behold the beauty of the LORD will be seen not just in Sunday worship but in how we direct our lives from Monday to Saturday also.  But where is your focus?  What is your one desire?

Today, being Sunday, is a beautiful day.  It is a beautiful privilege to be here in church to behold the beauty of the Lord.  Tomorrow you will be back at work, back at your regular activities for another week.  But today we are called to put our distractions, our busy-ness to the side to behold the beauty of the LORD.  And when we do this, then we will be entering this new week with the blessing of the LORD, with the promise of His presence, the promise of His grace.  His beauty will be with us and we may behold His beauty, gaze upon it, rejoicing in Who He is in and through Jesus Christ every day again.

But we are looking forward to something more.  We look forward to something better.  We look forward to the day when we may see the full revelation of all God’s glory.  We look forward to the day when we may stand before the throne of God, enraptured, glorying in His holy presence!  And then, Revelation 22:4 says, then “they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.”  We shall see His face!  We shall see Him as He is. And there we will be, and there we will stay forever and ever.  Oh, come, Lord Jesus!  Come quickly!  Amen.

 

[1] James Montgomerie Boice, Psalms, Vol, 1, p241




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Stephen 't Hart, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2014, Rev. Stephen 't Hart

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