Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sermon: Psalm 24 Guess Who?

Has anyone ever played the game ‘Guess Who?’

I tried to find my really old game at my mum and dad’s house, but couldn’t find it... but instead I’ve borrowed my niece’s game - it’s now Guess Who extra, with sounds and lights! Wasn’t like this in my day!

So how does Guess Who work? You have to try to work out which person the other player has picked; asking questions to help you decide - are they a man or a woman; with the people falling if they’re not the right one.

We could have a go at this version of Guess Who, but I’ve a better idea. We’ll do a real life game of Guess Who. I need a contestant... I’ve got the picture of someone from church on my phone, and need you to work out who it is - by asking the questions.

So if everyone would get on their feet (if you’re able) and ___ will ask yes / no questions to try to work out who the person is... [Hilarious opportunity to play guess who in real life...]

Now why did we play some Guess Who this morning? Who is the big word in our reading today. In the Psalm, David is asking: Who?

He starts off by answering the question - who does the earth belong to? And how does he answer it? ‘The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.’

You know the way if you were to paint a picture, or make a model, or build something out of lego - that is yours. You’ve made it; it’s the same with this earth - God made it, so it is his.

But then from verse 3 we get to the even bigger game of Guess Who than we played this morning - the question is this: ‘Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?’

In the Old Testament, God owns all the earth, but he chose a special place, the hill of the Lord, the holy place, where the temple would be built. But now, for us, it points us to heaven. The question is, who can go and stand before God in that holy, pure, clean place? Guess Who.

But rather than asking the usual questions male/female; wearing glasses or blond hair; David provides the answers: ‘He who has clean hands and a pure heart.’

First answer: The one who has clean hands. Now, quick inspection, are your hands clean? Did you wash them after you visited the bathroom? In hospital when you’re visiting you have to use the handwash gel to make sure you’re clean; I’ve brought along some hand wash gel... are your hands clean?

Except, he’s not just asking if our hands are clean in this way - he’s also asking if we have done good and right things; if our hands are spotless, or if we have got them dirty by doing bad things...

Now some people might already have ‘sat down’ with the first bit, but what about the second bit? ‘The one who has... a pure heart.’

He’s not asking about how our blood-pumping organ is - rather he is asking about the centre of our being; the person we are - our thoughts and motives... are we always pure in doing what we do?

Here’s a test for a pure heart: if your brother or sister...

Just as in Guess Who, David has made us fall - Guess Who is good enough to climb God’s hill and stand in his holy place? Who can go to heaven because they are good enough? None of us... not you, not me; not anyone.

Yet the Psalm isn’t over; David goes on to talk about receiving blessing from God; of being accepted by God - that those who seek God will find blessing and vindication...

How can this be possible? If we’re all out, if we’re all bad; how can we receive blessing? How can we be accepted?

Suddenly there’s another game of Guess Who which starts in the closing verses. It’s so good it happens twice!

Imagine a city with big gates. Maybe you’ve been in Londonderry at some point and have seen the gates of the city... the cry goes up: ‘Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.’

The question comes from within: ‘Who is this King of glory?’ Twice, they ask the same question, who is this King of glory?

These are the gates of heaven, opening up for the return of the king, the answer to the ‘who’ question:

‘The LORD strong and mighty; the LORD mighty in battle... the LORD Almighty, he is the King of glory.’

The Lord Jesus came down from heaven; down from that holy place, into this world that he made, the world that we have messed up by our sins, and Jesus did what we could not do. For every day of his 33 years, Jesus had clean hands and a pure heart. He committed no sin.

Jesus has received the blessing from God, and shares it with us. It is in and because of Jesus that we can stand with him; that we can be with Jesus in heaven. Now, the answer to the Guess Who: Who will be in heaven? Anyone who trusts in Jesus.

This sermon was preached at the Family Service in Aghavea Parish Church on Sunday 21st April 2013.

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