Anyone need Grace?
(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Heart Conversations with God is a series designed to help you engage with the Psalms in your personal God talk. The Psalms were integral to Jewish worship – they reminded them of their national history, explored the wide scope of human emotion, and expanded their theology of the God who called them. They are a rich resource for us today.
This week, I encourage you to take some time to pray through Psalm 24.
Big Idea: The greatness of God is demonstrated in the grace of God.
Where do we see grace in this Psalm?
For many, grace simply involves getting what we don’t deserve. Someone once said that “justice” is getting what we deserve, “mercy” is not getting what we deserve and “grace” is getting what we don’t deserve. Certainly salvation, God restoring our relationship with Himself through the death and resurrection of Christ, is an act of grace. Ephesians 2:8,9 clearly shows that we can’t earn it, pay for it or impress God for it. It is a gift, through faith, thus there is no room for boasting. “Hey look at what I did, I so impressed God that he gave me this great gift of salvation!” Sorry… that’s not going to happen.
Psalm 24 expands our understanding of grace and actually reminds us of what Paul talked about when referring to grace in the New Testament.
The Grace of God’s Presence
In the New Testament, grace means being near the living God through the work of Christ. Note Romans 5:1,2. Paul states that Christ opened the way for believers to have peace with God - the “charis” (grace) of God grants believers unhindered access to Him through our mediator Jesus Christ. So note that Paul says we stand in grace.
As we look at Psalm 24, what do you note there? Read through this Psalm and underline what words demonstrate presence.
Note that (sandwiched between v.1-2 and 7-10) we find the verses that talk about the presence of God (v.3-6).
The answer to the question of verse 3 is not “no one” but in fact “someone”, better than that, anyone who aligns themselves with the necessary steps. God is approachable, present, accessible and wanting to connect.
Note v.6 “seek your face” - “Face” means presence, appearance. This is language that describes a generation that wants to know God and, in fact, can know God.
But notice that v.7 and v.9 also talk about presence. In its original context, many believe that this Psalm was a reference to David bringing the ark (symbolic of the presence of God) into Jerusalem. The lintels or tops of the portals are pictured as being too low for the divine king to enter. Note in v.7 and v.9 the phrase repeated twice “come in.” This is a King who is present!
Who do you need to pray for these days that they might experience the presence of God?
Who needs to know that God is not like the watchmaker who wound up the universe then walked away, but more like the mother that gave birth to creation and is present, powerful and approachable?
The Grace of God’s Calling
Some think of grace as just the saving act of God, “for by grace are you saved”. But grace also has to do with the refining work of God in our lives.
“God does not give grace simply to save us, but to transform us from self-destructive sinners to believers - whole and refashioned to fulfill our God given purposes according to His calling.” Nijay K. Gupta
Check out what Paul had to say about this: Romans 15:15,16
“I have written you quite boldly on some points, as if to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”
Another way to put this is that, not only does God catch us, but He cleans us! He shapes us into vessels that will most glorify Him and most satisfy us. (That is a Piperism)
Note the calling of grace in Psalm 24.
What kind of hands are we to have?
Clean hands symbolized innocence (Ps. 18:20)
Idols were those attractions that usurped God’s authority in one’s life
Swearing by what is false had to do with things that are empty and contrary to God. In other words there are moral and ethical requirements if we wish to ascend the hill of the Lord.
Does anyone see the problem - how do I get clean?
Our hands are stained with sin that we cannot scrub clean. God holiness outmatches our best attempts to get clean enough for God. Jews understood this. This leads to the next and final idea of grace.
The Grace of God’s Power
Note the power referenced in this Psalm.
V.1-2 In ancient near-eastern mythology water referred to chaos or a monster. This text shows that they are fully under His dominion and power.
V.7-9 Note how God is described. Would it be fair to say that God is powerful? What are these names?
Now notice the power of God as it pertains to the one approaching this approachable God (v.5)
Blessing - To bless in the Old Testament means to endue with power for success.
Vindicate - Means to prove right and refers to righteousness. Note that this is not self-righteousness but God’s righteousness. He gives us something we could not earn on our own. Got any ideas where we see this ultimately fulfilled? Think of a cross and of Jesus.
The Old Testament taught of our need for a righteousness from God.
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
This is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus:
1 Corinthians 1:30,31
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Thus God is our Savior, seen so clearly in the New Testament.
Saviour - This word can mean helper, liberator, and deliverer.
“Grace is acting in your life to accomplish what you cannot accomplish on your own.” Dallas Willard
Do you need grace?
Psalm 24 is filled with illustrations of grace. Might it encourage you this week as you expand your prayer language and think more deeply about God’s grace that we find cover to cover in the Bible, a book illustrating amazing grace.
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