Movie stars, sportsman, wealthy businessmen, rock stars all deal with it & yes even us we all have to deal with success. As Charles Dickens the writer of Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Bleak House once said “There is never enough time to do or say all the things that we would wish; The thing is to do as much as you can in the time that you have” The question is have you ever had that experience of trying to achieve something so bad that once you have it, it then left you feeling hollow and empty? It could have been at work or a degree
a hobby a family, children, a social standing, a race you wanted to run or a mountain you wanted to climb. The thing is that now it’s done you hunger for something more instead of elation you feel conscious of “a deadness inside me” Success can be a bitter pill. It can be the same experience spiritually. There are times we feel the blessing from God, and other times when we feel a deadness as well, asking ourselves what’s next. Psalm 134 reminds us God wants us to finish well; as our spiritual journey with Jesus began with repentance. This Psalm reminds us to conclude our lives praising God.
In 539 BC. King Nebonides, co-ruler of the Babylon empire, was outside the city with his army defending it against the mighty army of the Medes and Persians under Cyrus and Darius. The city of Babylon was considered impregnable. It’s walls were 300 feet high, eighty feet wide, surrounded by deep moats that went 35 feet into the ground. The city wall, went for 60 miles. It was well guarded by 250 guard towers with rooms for soldiers to sleep. It had 100 gates, all armored with brass. If an enemy soldier managed to climb over the wall, they faced another quarter mile of bare land before they reached the city. There was enough food warehoused for a 20 year siege, with farmland within the wall to raise more if needed. The Euphrates River flowed under the wall to provide water. While Nebonides was defending the city against its enemies, some 50 miles away his son, Belshazzar was inside the palace feasting with all the kingdom’s nobles. Neither of them knew it would be the last day of the mighty Babylonia empire. This is where we find ourselves today in Daniel 5, seeing the writing on the wall. King Belshazzar suddenly appears as the successor of King Nebuchadnezzar. He is a young man trying hard to shake off the legacy of the former king sharing a common trait with Nebuchadnezzar though. Belshazzar struggled with pride. Babylon was being attacked by the Persians as the main Babylonian army was defeated 50 miles from Babylon. Belshazzar must have known that sooner or later the attack would come, right up to his own door step. So with all that happening what does Belshazzar do? He throws a banquet! Its amazing what we do in the face of defeat, as we read in verses 1-4
There’s a story of a young girl who visited Bonn, Germany the birth place of Beethoven, who slipping under the rope and began to play the piano Beethoven that composed his symphonies on. An attendant at the museum came over to her, she said to him ‘I suppose every musician who comes here wants to play this piano’. The attendant was so stunned by the girls actions he explained that recently they had a visit by the great musician Paderewski and someone asked him to play on this very piano. The girl expected to hear of some wonderful performance, instead the great Paderewski declined to play. He didn’t feel worthy to play the great masters piano. Our lives are filled with stories of stepping over the mark. Like do you ever wonder what drives us to become who we are? Just like we see playing out in Nebuchadnezzar’s life again. Nebuchadnezzar has another dream and this is one that would totally change his life forever, uncovering a self-reliance and pride. As Nebuchadnezzar keeps on butting heads against God in the first dream he had of that statue. It was a challenge to the wisdom of God then he takes his dream and turns it into a reality with the golden statue requiring all his subjects to bow down to each time Nebuchadnezzar dreams Daniel or his mates appear to steer him the right direction, and each time Nebuchadnezzar praises God. He is forced to recognize there is none like the God of Daniel or Shadrach, Mescach, Abenego. Nebuchadnezzar’s praise however is short lived, as each time he forgets what’s just happened. We are filled with pride more than we realize. Which is where we find ourselves land this morning, as Nebuchadnezzar will have a journey of feeling like he is no longer human. As we read in verse 10-12
Martin Luther King in 1968 delivered his “I have a Dream” speech to a quarter million people on the mall in Washington. This was a difficult time for America, as there had just been the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in which four little girls were killed President Kennedy was assassinated. It was around this time Curtis Mayfield wrote the song 'People Get Ready. ‘ This song was inspired by the March on Washington, surrounded by all these events
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket you just thank the lord
People get ready, there's a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most
There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner whom would hurt all mankind
Just to save his own
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there is no hiding place against the kingdoms throne
People get ready there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, just thank the lord.
How well do you find you can remember what you’ve just read in the Bible? Have you ever found yourself reading a passage finish and you know there’s been something really important you’ve read (it’s the Bible after all) but you can’t remember what that was. We often do that with familiar passages like with the Psalms. A good practice is if you can to read the Psalms aloud, not just read them in our heads. Could you open your Bible’s at Psalm 133 as I would like us to read that Psalm 133 together this morning. Psalm 133
A song of ascents. Of David. 1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. (NIV)
How often do you make a promise? Was it this week? A month ago? A year ago? The 1st January every year? Did you keep it? Promises feel binding and what we promise to keep says something about ourselves in bunch of ways – the things we obey. Today in Psalm 132 we meet a pilgrims song about a promise. As we read in verse 1-2 of Psalm 132
O Lord, remember, David and all the hardship he endured. He swore an oath to the Lord and made a vow to the Mighty One of Jacob:
So what does Psalm 132 have to teach us?
Are you someone who’s able to be quiet inside? We all live busy noisy lives: with all our to-do list’s long; the pressures that consume us; ambitions that makes us churn up inside; fear and despair that have started haunting us; anxiety spins us into free fall; regrets have corroded our inner lives; and now we look ahead and see a minefield of longing and fear. Today’s Psalm is an invitation to take a break; to stop, listen for a moment and ask ourselves, what is the noise that’s getting your attention? Our attention?
Tamworth Community Presbyterian Church
PH: 02 6765 2865