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Psalm 33 has a core of praise to the Creator God. A simple theology – He spoke and it came into being, He commanded and it stood firm. As the Psalm progresses you are challenged to draw away from the earth and gaze down – are we here by luck or by design? What is your answer?

REFLECT

The work of Charles Darwin, in a village not far from where I live, was stunning and yet somehow empty. As I wandered round the beautiful house it was clear that he was a very detailed, able scientific researcher who had concluded that natural selection took place. Even so, a frog turning into a prince still seems like a fairy tale to me!! His wife, meanwhile, believed God had created all things.

RESTORE

If our planet is just “third rock from the sun” with a chance occurence of human life then maybe evolution actually takes more faith to accept than creation!! The chances of life so clearly lead one to conclude that there is a Creator behind it. Verse 11 is our restorative prayer – while it is not wrong to doubt and to debate, it is good to read that the plans of the Lord stand firm for ever – even for the “third rock from the sun!!”

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32 – a stick of rock

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Psalm 32 has a familiar theme of sin. The weight of sin, the confession of sin and the forgiveness of sin. The overwhelming weight of guilt, the worry of being found out – sweating like on a hot summer’s day. All very familiar emotions to those who have been entangled in thoughts, words and actions that were clearly not right.

REFLECT

One of the thrills of being by the sea as a youngster was to find a stall selling sticks of rock!! They seemed to last forever, they tasted good and they had a miracle inside them – a message that seemed to run all the way through. However you ate the rock it still had the word clearly visible. What would that word be if you were a stick of rock?

RESTORE

Psalm 32 holds the key to this question. We would not want to be weighed with “guilt” as the word through our stick of rock. Groaning, sweating, deceit, trouble are all words used by the Psalmist. If we come and confess our sin to God we discover the word that is written through every Christian’s stick of rock – forgiven, FORGIVEN, loud and clear say it again – forgiven.

31 – cracked pots

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David recognises the state of his life. He has been besieged in his city, his eyes have grown weak with sorrow and, to his friends, he has become like “broken pottery”. His cry is that of the dying Stephen, not to mention Luther and even Christ himself in verse five: “Into your hands I commit my spirit”.

REFLECT

It is easy to feel besieged by the trials and troubles of your life. In fact, busyness can be a real cause of spiritual starvation. David felt that even to his friends he was like a broken piece of pottery – devoid of beauty, purpose and worth. Just bits, broken bits, lost bits.

RESTORE

The New Testament sees brokenness as the key to spiritual growth. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says: “we have this treasure in jars of clay”. Unless the jar breaks, the treasure is hidden. In verse 16 of the same chapter Paul says: “Therefore, we do not lose heart…” Just when we feel like “cracked pots” the Lord is ready to use us to share his treasure.

30 – stop wailing!!

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“You turned my wailing into dancing” sings the Psalmist. When there was a death in the family or community, wailing commenced to signify the passing. Some people were able to hire professional “wailers” while others did the wailing for themselves. But when the wailing started you knew someone in the family had died.

REFLECT

Maybe it is your family or community that has suffered a death, or maybe something inside you has died – your relationships, ambitions or your spirit. You can turn to the Lord who will turn your wailing into dancing, your despair into joy and your failure into success.

RESTORE

In Luke’s gospel Jesus is stopped by a local man whose daughter is dying. As they approach the house they hear wailers and Jairus knows that his daughter has died and Jesus is too late. However, Jesus cries out “stop wailing” – He stops the natural process with supernatural power. Let Jesus turn your wailing into dancing today.

29 – come and worship

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Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. But what does that mean? We look at the Hebrew and it is not crystal clear but seems to refer to us, the worshippers, coming in holiness before the Lord. This is true beauty and true worship – to come before God clean in thought, clear in conscience and close in relationships.

REFLECT

Jesus encouraged us to worship in truth, to worship from the inside out and to avoid displays of self righteousness. The temple required a plethora of rituals and rites before “worship” could take place. And we are now the temple!! – it is us who should perform the equivalent rituals. Yet these are rituals of the heart not of the cup and chalice.

RESTORE

Come and worship!! The clarion call of all New Testament teaching. But get sorted first. Bring our sin to God – our shortcomings. Sort that relationship – say sorry. Pay that due – be clean, clear and close. And you know what – it looks beautiful from heaven. It is true beauty – to worship in holiness.

28 – love your neighbour

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There are some well known verses at the beginning and end of this Psalm but our focus is on the Psalmist’s definition of “those who do evil” (28:3). Those who speak “cordially” with their neighbours but harbour malice in their hearts. Imagine the scene: people coming out of their houses, chatting to their neighbours, passing the time of day but with jealousy, negativity or evil intent in their hearts – guess what? God looks on the heart!!

REFLECT

Well first of all, do you know your neighbours? Do you speak to them? Have you ever popped round for a chat? How’s your heart, though. Further on in the psalm we are challenged to “have regard for the works of the Lord” as we engage with our neighbours. How would this change our hearts?

RESTORE

Jesus reflected the heart of the Godhead and we saw in Him a desire to engage with the marginalised, help the poor, speak prophetically when appropriate and to truly love. We saw a love that was totally other person centred.

Next time you step out of your door remember to love God first and then your neighbour – in that order!!

27 – wait for the Lord

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Waiting is generally seen to be a negative thing in our busy world. Signs proudly proclaim “no waiting” and the target to reduce “waiting times” for services is an honourable one. The Psalmist, though, charges us to “wait for the Lord”. In fact he says it twice in one sentence!!

REFLECT

Are you a speedy, efficient type of person? Maybe the word “wait” makes you shudder as you think of wasted time and wasted opportunity. How do you increase your spirituality in a world of fast food, fast service, fast tracks and fast lanes? You wait!! Yes, you stop and focus your eyes ahead and you wait for the Lord and His timing.

RESTORE

We will stand out in the crowd but let’s become a people who slow down, who wait and have expectations based on God’s timing not our own. In your situation today, be strong and courageous, take heart, and wait and wait again. Pray the verbs from this Psalm into your life – Lord help me to Gaze, to Sing, to Seek and above all to Wait.