Crowned for the Calling

Psalm 111

Praise the Lord.[b]

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

 Great are the works of the Lord;
    they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
    and his righteousness endures for ever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered;
    the Lord is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him;
    he remembers his covenant for ever.

 He has shown his people the power of his works,
    giving them the lands of other nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
    all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established for ever and ever,
    enacted in faithfulness and uprightness.
He provided redemption for his people;
    he ordained his covenant for ever –
    holy and awesome is his name.

 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise.

Nine years ago this weekend, I preached my first sermon at St Petri. It was on the Psalm for today, Psalm 111.

At that point, I remember sensing the need for quite and increase in wisdom from the Lord as I entered the call to be pastor in this this large, complex community. I did not want to mess things up!

Here’s what I said…

I feel like King Solomon, who was crowned for the calling to be king so young. He was thrust into the complex world of leadership in a community that had been around for ages and had reached great heights in the past, and yet still had their issues and needed wise leaders and a wise Leader to bring that good heritage into a bright future.

So, one line in this Psalm stuck out to me at the time. It still does at this time.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;

A week after preaching that first sermon, a long, large homemade sign appeared over the servery in the Hall for all to see at the 8.30 community morning tea.

“Lord, give us a listening heart.”

I was surprised by the sign. I was pretty chuffed. I thought to myself, “These people actually listen to sermons! They value what the pastor says! Much more importantly, they are alert and awake and interested in what God is saying; enough to want to share it and encourage others to hear it”.

“Lord, give us a listening heart.”

I believe it is a prayer for now as then.

You remember that Solomon became king as a young boy. David died and the baton was passed to his young son. Surrounded by adults wo were old hands at politics and power, many with little love for David or his young child King, in a divided national tension, In that moment, God gave Solomon something that we all wished we would get – a magic wish! You know the type…. A Jeanie pops out and says, “I will give you three wishes…”.

Solomon was invited by the Lord to ask for the thing he really needed as he took up his calling to lead God’s people as king. It is a bit like Jo Biden needing the same at the moment – except for the significant age difference!

What would you pray for in his position? Honestly now!

Supreme military power to keep all the neighbours under control; everlasting fertility and good rains for the land so that wealth and jobs are continually created, no end to your family’s role as monarchy, more wives for the harem, a better chariot, a great horse?

Solomon prays for what we have probably prayed for at times.

It starts out like this. When in serious trouble, you may have prayed “Lord, help me get out of this one!, But then it goes deeper to more like, “Lord show me what to say and do in this situation I find myself in”. It is then that we are right with Solomon. But Solomon’s prayer goes deeper and longer. It is prayer for all of your life and our life as church – for the good and bad  moments.

“Lord, give me a listening heart (1Kings 3:9)…… all the time”.

With this listening heart, Solomon and any person of faith in the Lord would be able to understand, discern so as to make wise decisions that were the best for the people and faithful in God’s direction.

Over the years I have been with you, the Holy Spirit seems to have filled out this crucial prayer for me.

Lord, give me a heart that listens to you speaking your – but in three places where you speak:

  • From the Word of God as the Spirit speaks it to us one-to-one.
  • From your Word in my brothers and sisters in faith – young and old, pastor and people, men and women, people I know and people I don’t know so well, established people and newer people….
  • From what we observe you doing in our community, with all of its needs, beliefs and values so we can participate with the Holy Spirit in his never-ending mission to call people to repentance and faith in Jesus.

I called upon you to ask the Spirit for that gift of listening heart now. We need it as I did back in 2012 and as we need it in this different 2021.

Things are different. No one is quite sure exactly how and none of us know what this virus will still do.

We need ‘the wisdom of Solomon’ in 2021. I need to hear the Spirit breathing the Word of God into me through you and others in day to day living.

It has been nine years, so far, of listening together. Many things have come our way. Many things have changed in the church and the world. But many opportunities for participating with the Spirit in Jesus’ mission to draw all people to himself have arisen for us to take on.

I believe we are all like the young boy, King Solomon. We are all crowned for the calling, and as he was not ready, neither are we. We are all crowned for the calling before we are ready for the calling. We are never ready to be crowned for the calling, but we have the crowned King of all kings speaking to us in three places as we do it, and not before.

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all who follow (do) his precepts (words) have good understanding (discernment).

We are all thrust into the complex world of people who lead others to the good news of Jesus’ acceptance and hope. We do this in a local community that has been around for ages and has its issues.

The demons knew exactly who Jesus was. We often don’t. We forget. We replace him. We settle in only to what we ourselves know. 

But he speaks, He teaches, He supports, and most of all he loves.

I pray. I pray that this happens.

27 The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, ‘What is this? A new teaching – and with authority!

Maybe, as Jesus’ called people filled with the Spirit, by our simple words of truth backed up by kindness and real actions of love, this might happen in loud and quiet ways here where he has crowned us for the calling;

Praise the Lord.[b]

I will extol the Lord with all my heart
    in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

 10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
    all who follow his precepts have good understanding.
    To him belongs eternal praise.

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