PART 31 – A HARD LESSON IN HOLINESS (12/2/20)
Today, we continue looking at the account of David bringing the ark into Jerusalem.
‘When they came to the threshing floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God. Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah. David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.’ (2 Samuel 6:6-11)
Sometimes we can have the wrong definition of success. You and I, if we’re honest, are both easily duped by the new thing, by crowds, by displays of passion. This party, as the ark is being brought into Jerusalem had it all: Crowds (30 thousand men), the ark was being carried on a ‘new cart’, outward celebration as ‘David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, timbrels, sistrums and cymbals.’
However, the party comes to a sudden end. The celebrating turns to fearful silence as Uzzah is killed…by God! Hang on, hang on, can this be happening? David and these people are so happy about bringing God’s presence into the city, but, for some reason, they experience God’s wrath!
The reality is, they have failed to honour God by following His revealed will in how to carry and treat the ark which represented His holy presence. They were being presumptuous. We must all take note - noise, dancing, celebrating, expenditure does not equate to worship and pleasing God. Worship and pleasing God is doing things as God has decreed in His word!
How do we ‘carry’ God’s presence in among us?
The ark was to be carried with poles in a specific way as commanded by God; not on a cart, even a new cart! Likewise, the Holy Spirit’s presence has particular requirements from us. God’s requirements for worship are perfectly summarised by Jesus,
‘Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
The time has come for the Spirit to come
Jesus wants us to understand that we are in a new era (the time has come) of the Holy Spirit’s presence. We are no longer to have physical temples (please stop thinking of cathedrals, church buildings, the woods, the sea… as places where God is especially present - do listen to Jesus please!). In this new age, the church - the people of God - are God’s temple. The Spirit fills His people, and fills us in a special way when we meet together.
The Spirit only comes where truth is believed
As we’ve seen in this account of bringing the ark into Jerusalem, God is holy, and judges sin. So, how can God’s presence come among us? Surely our sin separates us from Him! To this dilemma, Jesus answers that we must worship ‘in truth’. This, principally is about receiving Jesus who is ‘the truth’. Jesus is the Saviour who, through faith in Him, gives us the privilege of the Spirit’s presence.
So, to have God’s presence powerfully among us we must recognise His presence is available to us because Jesus has opened the way for sinners and God to be reunited. So, ask and you will receive! The time has come! The Spirit is available to you!
I don't care how good your cart is!
The carrying of the ark - God's presence - on a 'new cart' may sound respectful - 'look what we've spent on this'! It may seem modern - 'come on, poles are old-school, carts and wheels are the way forward!' This is like the church devaluing the cross - the death of Jesus. Only through Jesus can God's presence be in our lives, our churches and to those who are lost. He is the only Saviour who reconciles us to God. No new idea, no new philosophy, no Jesus plus other paths - no new carts allowed!
Like David, may we desire to have God’s presence in the ‘capital city’ in the centre of our lives and our church. May we seek and recognise his presence when we pray and when we meet together. May we honour the Saviour, the one who took the wrath for us, so we can come freely. It’s as we worship in Spirit and in the truth that we become a ‘city set on a hill’ - a beacon that draws others to the Saviour.
David had a ‘seek first’ approach to life. This week, in our response each day, let’s endeavour to meditate on and memorise Matthew 6:33 (see notes below).
TIPS ON MEMORISING SCRIPTURE
We will only do this, and persevere in doing this, if we believe that it's truly important to hide God's word in our heart. So get faith!
Don't disqualify yourself if it's hard - it is hard!
Write the text somewhere that's easy to find and use - a note on your phone, a post-it on the fridge...
Include the reference (book/chapter/verse) throughout the process
Read it slowly and carefully x 10 (Don't rush or dismiss this accurate repetition)
Recall it, without looking as much as possible x10
Do this a few times through the day - a habit is best formed by doing this at the same times, and places each day.
Revise regularly (and revise previously memorised verses)
Make it a habit to learn new verses - skill comes over time
USE IT! Actively use it to pray, worship, counsel, prophecy, and counter temptation and lies by quoting truth - it’s the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).
TIPS ON BIBLICAL MEDITATION - THE 'COME TO JESUS DAILY METHOD'.
Biblical meditation is to prayerfully read, repeatedly, a section of the bible and pray, worship and respond as God leads. Here are a few tips and questions, what I call the 'come to Jesus daily method', to help you when meditating:
PRAY - Ask for the Spirit to help you and to speak to you. Keep the goal in mind - having a relationship with God!
WRITING- Writing/journaling is often a great help as you answer the questions below. Remember, don't allow worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar, perfection... to stop you from writing - it's between you and God. In meditation, I encourage you to write in the first-person, speaking to God - "I see that you are...I sense you speaking to me about...I pray for...."
GOSPEL- What does God, through this text, say to you about salvation through Jesus?
UP- What does God, through this text, say you about Himself – His worth, character, attributes, will, promises…?
IN- What does God, through this text, say about you, His church and how we are to relate?
OUT- What does God, through this text, say about non-believers and our mission?
RESPONSE – Is there anything else that you want to pray, worship God about, do, ask forgiveness about, ask God to help you to change…?
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY – PRIZING GOD'S PRESENCE (FOR THE WEEK OF 10/2/20)
When in your life have you felt the most loved or treasured and why?
Introduction (Please read this intro to the group)
This week we are looking at 'prizing God's presence' from the account of David bringing the ark into Jerusalem the capital city. Maybe you've had a surprise party or have been involved in one; as one is waiting for the person to arrive, no one would forget to celebrate their entry distracted by the food, their phones, interesting conversation... no! We prize their presence -that's why we're here! How much more should we be mindful of and value God's presence when we meet together.
Please read and discuss 2 Samuel 6:1-5
Why were David and the people so excited about bringing the ark into Jerusalem?
Please read Matthew 18:20 - How aware are you of God's presence in our corporate worship, and how should such truth affect our attitude and approach to coming together?
Please read and discuss 2 Samuel 6:6-11
What does God's judgement in this event say about God?
If we are to escape judgement, what can we do? (See Romans 5:18-19)
Please read and discuss 2 Samuel 6:12-15
Through Jesus, God's presence is freely available to us. The Holy Spirit can fill us and our churches. In verse 13, we read of David's sacrifices; Jesus is our sacrifice - What does this say about how the gospel (Jesus' death for sin) is to feature in our public and private worship?
What expressions of worship are in this text, and how should this influence our expressions of worship? What holds you back from freedom of expression?
Note- Please ensure that everyone knows where to find the devotionals (our blog). Encourage the members of your group to use it, and to memorise Matthew 6:33 this week.
PRAY - IN GROUPS OF 3-4
Note - At the moment, please get into smaller groups every week when you meet, and, preferably, in the same groups each week.
Share anything from your life or the bible study that you'd like prayer for.
Share any encouraging things that God has done in your life recently.
Pray for Serendipity Cafe (See church news for prayer points)
Please continue to pray for our Community Group ministry. We need to multiply groups and, therefore, need loads more leaders.
Please look at the church news together.