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Now Israel May Say (Psalm 124) – Sunday Songs

A continuing joy at mgpc is to sing one Psalm (at least) each week.
Sometimes we’ll take a bit of license with a looser rendition, mostly a closer paraphrase.
The scope of praise contained in these compositions is enormous.
It’s worth saying again that the contemporary church’s application of singing ‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ as meaning that no psalms get sung ever looks pretty dodgy.
Today we sang a version of Psalm 124 from the Book Of Psalms For Worship.
Tonight I’ll bring you the classic set of words for Psalm 124 from the Scottish Psalter, along with a youtube featuring a stirring rendition of the Old 124th, the traditional tune for this piece.
The lyrics:
1 Now Israel
may say, and that truly,
If that the Lord
had not our cause maintain’d;
2 If that the Lord
had not our right sustain’d,
When cruel men
against us furiously
Rose up in wrath,
to make of us their prey;
3 Then certainly
they had devour’d us all,
And swallow’d quick,
for ought that we could deem;
Such was their rage,
as we might well esteem.
4 And as fierce floods
before them all things drown,
So had they brought
our soul to death quite down.
5 The raging streams,
with their proud swelling waves,
Had then our soul
o’erwhelmed in the deep.
6 But bless’d be God,
who doth us safely keep,
And hath not giv’n
us for a living prey
Unto their teeth,
and bloody cruelty.
7 Ev’n as a bird
out of the fowler’s snare
Escapes away,
so is our soul set free:
Broke are their nets,
and thus escaped we.
8 Therefore our help
is in the Lord’s great name,
Who heav’n and earth
by his great pow’r did frame.

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Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 40

Westminster Larger Catechism – Lord’s Day 40

Q & A 161
Q How do the sacraments become effectual means of salvation?
A The sacraments become effectual means of salvation, not by any power in themselves, or any virtue derived from the piety or intention of him by whom they are administered, but only by the working of the Holy Spirit, and the blessing of Christ, by whom they are instituted.

Q & A 162
Q What is a sacrament?
A A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ in his church, to signify, seal, and exhibit unto those that are within the covenant of grace, the benefits of his mediation; to strengthen and increase their faith, and all other graces; to oblige them to obedience; to testify and cherish their love and communion one with another; and to distinguish them from those that are without.

Q & A 163
Q What are the parts of a sacrament?
A The parts of a sacrament are two; the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s own appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified.

Q & A 164
Q How many sacraments has Christ instituted in his church under the New Testament?
A Under the New Testament Christ has instituted in his church only two sacraments, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

Q & A 176
Q Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper agree?
A The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper agree, in that the author of both is God; the spiritual part of both is Christ and his benefits; both are seals of the same covenant, are to be dispensed by ministers of the gospel, and by none other; and to be continued in the church of Christ until his second coming.

Q & A 177
Q Wherein do the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ?
A The sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ, in that Baptism is to be administered but once, with water, to be a sign and seal of our regeneration and ingrafting into Christ, and that even to infants; whereas the Lord’s Supper is to be administered often, in the elements of bread and wine, to represent and exhibit Christ as spiritual nourishment to the soul, and to confirm our continuance and growth in him, and that only to such as are of years and ability to examine themselves.

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Torn Away (mgpc 30/9/2012)

Tomorrow at mgpc we return to 1 Samuel in time to see the fall of Saul, the people’s king.
There’ll be lots of people away on holiday, and I’m sure one or two will even be feeling a little older, but worship goes on.
Our preparation singing will be All to Jesus, I surrender; Glory of glories, Jesus my Saviour and Come Thou fount of every blessing.
The prayer of approach and confession will mention our passive and active disobedience to God’s rule over our lives. We’ll sing in assurance of our forgiveness and acceptance Sovereign grace o’er sin abounding. The Nicene Creed will express our corporate belief as God’s people and we’ll praise the grace of the Triune God with Now to Him Who loved us.
Turning to God’s Word, we’ll hear from Jeremiah chapter 2 and then sing Psalm 124. The passage for preaching is 1 Samuel chapter 15. In this turning point chapter we read of Saul’s incomplete obedience to God’s commands, his self-serving sorrow, the promise of the kingdom torn from his grasp and the come to see that his end will not be a noble one. If deliverance cannot come from the people’s king, where can it come from? From God.
Jeroen will lead us in prayer, we’ll give our offerings and then conclude our worship singing We are His children (Go forth).

Afterward there’ll be a lunch and Jeroen and I will speak about our trip to Zimbabwe.
I’ll even wear the shirt.

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Thoughts About The Zimbabwe Trip For Our Local Paper

This was published in our local paper, The Border Watch, today.

The skies in Zimbabwe at during September are a vivid blue, uninterrupted by the blemish of clouds. Around the horizon a haze fades the blue to grey as your eyes lower to view the landscape. The departing dry season of winter leaves a brown and dusty landscape behind. The Jacaranda trees are bare, their branches stretching toward the sky.
But we have not come to appreciate the beauty of a foreign land; we have come to meet its people. Mount Gambier Presbyterian recently sent me to spend two weeks as a guest of the Highfields Reformed Church in Harare, Zimbabwe. We arrive at the airport on a Monday night, happily posing for photographs with the welcoming group, hoping never to see them as we’ve just spent 24 hours in transit. Three cars of welcomers drive us to the city where our first night of accommodation beckons. They all make their way to our hotel room, very excited about our being there. We pray. We sleep.
Over the following two weeks we get to meet many people, and also get the opportunity to know a few. It surprises us how many folk have children who live or study in Australia.
Many ask us how we are finding Zimbabwe; how our experience of the country lines up with the perception we may have been led to have by media reporting. We are able to tell them their country is beautiful and the people are very welcoming and friendly. We are also glad to see the worst of the economic troubles seems to be behind them, though the situation is still very challenging and uncertain.
Mostly we are encouraged to find our hosts are very keen to share the message of God’s love through Jesus with their fellow citizens. Only that good news enables them to make sense of their past and present, and provide them hope for their future. They are not interested in a message of instant prosperity or quick fixes. They have experienced too much to put their hopes in human institutions. They are set for the long haul. Some even feel sorry for their Christian brethren in Australia, a land of much unbelief.
From our cultural perspective we have gone to meet and think about the possibility of relationship. Our hosts, from their cultural perspective, have already been in relationship with us ever since our contact began, and are thankful our relationship now has a living expression. Residing with our host for two weeks gives us an insight into the depths of friendship and relationship in their culture. Friendship brings a very willing and un-selfconscious obligation of support and care.
I think I gain an insight into Jesus’ words to His disciples that He no longer called them servants, but friends. It reminds me again of how the kingdom of God is not meant to be an organisation or society, but a family.
As we prepare to depart Zimbabwe we notice that the Jacaranda trees have blossomed. Bare branches disappearing under a purple blur of petals. It’s only a short time, but the change is striking. Our time in Zimbabwe was brief, but the change of our enlarged circle of relationships will remain.