This morning in church, R2W preached on Psalm 139 and titled his sermon "In His Hands."
Verses 1-6 of this psalm remind us that God knows us. Really knows us! We are an open book to him. He knows all our faults and shortcomings and loves us still.
Unsettling thought isn't it?
God can carry on a personal conversation with each and every one of us simultaneously. You need a big god to be able to do that.
Verses 7-12 remind us that God sees us even if we're not seeing him.
Do we suffer from the Bethlehem Syndrome? Is there "no room at the Inn" for God in our lives? Why do we hide from God?
Well, in the case of David (who wrote these psalms) it was because of guilt and shame -- and it's probably not much different for the rest of us.
Verses 13-18 remind us that God made us and we are precious to him. God is the giver of life.
Every human being is precious; from conception to death we are known to him.
And in verses 19-24 David's meditations on God humble him. He knows he can do nothing but serve the God who has always known and loved him and always will.
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
in light inaccessible hid from our eyes;
most holy, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
almighty, victorious, Your great Name we praise.
Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,
nor wanting nor wasting, You rule us in might;
Your justice like mountains high soaring above,
Your clouds which are fountains of goodness and love.
To all life You give, Lord, to both great and small,
in all life You live, Lord, the true life of all;
we blossom and flourish, uncertain and frail,
we wither and perish, but You never fail.
We worship before You, great Father of light,
while angels adore You, all veiling their sight;
our praises we render, O Father, to You
whom only the splendour of light hides from view.
David and Doreen are missionaries in southwestern Queensland. They write:
Naturally we have very mixed feelings as we realize that our outback patrol is now over. The past 4½ years stand out as the most satisfying and spiritually enriching of our almost 43 years marriage. We are so grateful that God in His wonderful Providence called us to this very special work of taking the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the people of the outback.
How we wish we were better prepared but we have earnestly endeavoured to sow the seed of The Word, faltering and weak as it was, and are assured God will give the increase. We have often said to each other, “If only we were 10 years younger and could have stayed longer”, but God does not make mistakes and it is obviously time for us to move on.
A minister friend in Tasmania e-mailed us recently saying there is no such thing as retirement in the service of God and reminded us that the Lord will have a task for us to do at every stage of life.
As for the future, if the Lord wills, we plan to go to New Zealand for a few months to spend time with our third son and daughter-in-law who are expecting their first baby in March. We also want to spend time with David’s family in NZ. David’s older sister’s husband died earlier this year and his younger sister’s husband was recently admitted to a nursing home as he suffers from Parkinsons Disease and other complications. We also hope to tour much of that beautiful country.
Settling back in suburbia will certainly be a little different after so many nights in our ‘million star hotel’. Psalm 19:1-4 “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth and their words to the end of the world.” We so often hear the first part of these verses quoted but we also need to understand that the latter part of these verses tell us that regardless of our language (ie where we live) God has so revealed Himself in creation that everyone is without excuse. Paul in Romans 1:20 says the same thing, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” Sadly, even the outback people, surrounded as they are by God’s creative handiwork, are blinded by the god/s of this world. As mentioned above, we pray that the Word of God sown will be watered by the Spirit of God.
We learned so much from station owners and managers as they shared with us their experiences and knowledge of life on outback stations. If only we could have recorded the dozens of such interesting conversations, it would have provided many hours of fascinating listening for anyone so interested. Every one of them has a special story to tell. They are such practical down to earth people and their remoteness forces them to depend on their own resources but they also depend on and socialize with each other, be it the neighbour next door …… only 50 or 100km down the road!
In conclusion we share with you two totally opposite visits made during our final month. Just as in the cities, the outback also has tragedies.
1. Without any prior knowledge and over what we thought was a just another station cuppa, the lady shared with us her grief at the tragic loss of their two sons (ages 15 and 21) within three years. She told us that she no longer believes there is a God but did admit that she wished she had the faith in God some people seemed to have to see them through such trials.
2. The final call of our patrol was on a station where the 22yo son was killed by lightning and our predecessor, Owen Oakes conducted the funeral. This time we found a lady who, with no apparent regular church/Christian background, now reads her Bible using the Daily Bread notes; often reads from the ‘Answers in Genesis’ web site; and responded positively to our suggestion of systematically studying a Bible book at a time using the daily ‘Tabletalk’ notes.
While the first call was so discouraging how gracious of God that our final PIM patrol call concluded on such a positive note.
We want to say a special ‘Thank you’ to all who so faithfully supported us in your prayers and for the regular e-mails of encouragement. We will really miss those e-mails! But who knows, in the good Providence of God, maybe our paths will cross again sometime in the future. May God continue to bless you all.
With Christian Greetings
David & Doreen
176 messages in the church inbox this morning. 3 viruses, 6 real messages and all the rest spam.
Including one "official warning" that a tsunami was coming and we had four hours to evacuate. I like to think that in such an emergency the authorities might find a faster way to alert us than e-mailing us individually!