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Psalm 16 1
1 Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” 3 As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. 4 The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips. 5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure. 6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. 7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, 10 because you will not abandon me to the grave (the PIT), nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 11 You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

image-132Background 2

Saul was trying to kill David. David ran away to the woods, the hills and the fields. He hid there from Saul. 400 men went with David. Saul had 3000 soldiers. Saul was king of Israel. One night Saul and all his men slept. David came near in the night and took some things from Saul. David did not kill Saul. In the morning David told Saul, “It was easy to kill you but I did not. What have I done wrong? You sent me away from my own country. You told me to find other gods. Why?” It was probably at this time that David wrote Psalm 16. It has two ideas in it:

  1. The inheritance of David. Your inheritance is what your parents give you when they die. David says Saul made him go away from his own country. The inheritance of David was there. But David had a better inheritance. The LORD was his inheritance.
  2. The God of David. Saul told David to find other gods. But David already had the best God that there was. David had the only God. He had no need to make a change.

Biblical Truths 3

The psalm is entitled a “miktam of David.”

Verses 1 – 4: “Secret” is “miktam” in Hebrew. “Secret” is only one of the things that it may mean. Another is “gold”. Some Christians call Psalm 16 the “golden psalm”. “Golden” means “like gold”. In Psalm 16 it is the secret that is of great value. It is the secret of living for ever. First we live on earth. When we die we live with God in heaven. The secret is to believe in the one true God. David found this secret. It is of more value than gold. David tells us that there are 2 groups of people:

  1. the saints on earth. These are the people of the LORD, or the righteous. The righteous are people that God sees as clean. They are not his enemies. Saints is a word that the New Testament uses for Christians. The New Testament is part of the Bible. It tells us about Jesus and the Church.
  2. people that run after other gods. “Run after” is the Hebrew way of saying “go and serve”. These are the enemies of God. Christians call them ‘unbelievers’ because they do not believe in the one true God. Jesus came to show us the one true God. What does “gifts of blood” mean in verse 4? In the time of David they killed animals and sometimes children for their false gods. David called these “gifts of blood”.

Verses 5 – 6: “my part” is “my inheritance” in Hebrew. An inheritance is what a father gives (or leaves) to his children when he dies. In the time of David it was probably land or animals. Saul made David go away. So, David had no inheritance. This part of the psalm tells us that David had a better inheritance than land or animals. God himself was David’s inheritance.

Verses 7-11 tell us what this meant to David. What does “lines” mean in verse 6? The lines measured the land into pieces. People then knew where their piece of land was. In ( ) is another way of translating this part.

Verses 7 – 11: There are 5 parts in the inheritance that David received from the LORD:

  • David will have the LORD for a teacher
  • Nobody will move David away from what he believes
  • David will always be safe and happy
  • David will not go to Sheol
  • David will live with the LORD now and when David dies

Where is the Pit? The Pit is a part of Sheol, a place noted in Hebrew theology where very bad people go when they die. This is what the Jews believed. You never came back from the Pit. In Psalm 16:10 we read about “the holy one”. Who was the holy one? In the psalm it was David. But for Christians the psalms mean more than they do for the Jews. Saints Peter and Paul thought that it meant Jesus.

Items for Discussion

  • How does the modern world miss David’s point, especially at Christmas?
  • Where do the modern Christian’s miss David’s point?
  • What determines something’s value?
  • Why do you think so many people place so little value on knowing Christ?
  • How do you keep the spirit of true Christmas alive – in other words, what are your traditions that foster your family’s understanding of the true meaning of Christmas?

Matthew 28:16-20
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Philippians 4:4-5
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

John 15:11-17
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because servants do not know their master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

Background

This lesson is being given on the Sunday proceeding Christmas. What is it about Christmas that brings so many to church on that one day but yet the next day, become engaged in other priorities. These verses were chosen to focus our minds on what the answer to that question may be.

Biblical Truths 4

Matthew 28:16-20
Verse 16 Jesus had called his first disciples in Galilee district. Now it was the place where he gave his last instructions to them. He had promised to go to Galilee ahead of his disciples (Matthew 26:32). The angel and Jesus had both repeated this message (Matthew 28:7, 10).

Verse 17 It is not clear who doubted him. There may have been more than the 11 disciples present. Some people could not believe that Jesus was really alive again after his death.

Verses 18-20 Matthew records how Jesus had shown his authority. He showed it by all that he did. And he showed it by all that he taught. Jesus has universal authority. So therefore he can order his disciples to obey him. Jesus’ authority is more powerful than that of any ruler or official in this world. So his disciples serve a powerful master. His instructions were clear.

  1. His disciples had to go to ‘the people in all nations’. Jesus meant that both Jews and other people should hear the gospel. Jesus had trained his disciples. He had told them that all of the people in the world would hear the gospel message (Matthew 24:14).
  2. The book called Acts tells us about the first Christians. From the very beginning, Christians baptised people. And Peter declared that baptism was a sign. It showed that people trusted Jesus (Acts 2:38). It showed that God had forgiven people. Water washes people’s bodies clean. In a similar way, baptism shows other people that new disciples are ‘clean’ from their sins. Jesus said that they should use God’s complete name during the baptism. Believers trust that God is their Father. They believe that Jesus has saved them. They know that the Holy Spirit will give them power. With the Holy Spirit they can live a new life.
  3.  ‘Teach them to obey everything that I have told you’, Jesus said. The disciples needed to teach new Christians how to behave as believers. They had to think about new things. Jews may have learned from the Old Testament. But they needed to understand completely what the Law meant. Gentiles used to behave badly. So they had to learn how to behave in a different way. Matthew wrote in five sections what Jesus had taught. And new disciples would be able to learn from this. Many of them came from places where nobody knew the truth about God. Later Paul wrote his letters because it was necessary to teach these people.
  4. Jesus had given his disciples an enormous task. He had warned them that people would hate them. People would oppose them. But he did not want them to be afraid. So he promised that he would be with them always. Then they could obey his commands. He will be with his disciples every single day. When the ‘end of the world’ comes, they will have finished their work for him.

Philippians 4:4-5
Verse 4 To rejoice is the attitude of Paul (Philippians 1:1-4; 2:7; 2:18; 3:1). He tells the Christians at Philippi to rejoice. Whatever their circumstances, Paul and his friends can have joy, because the Lord Jesus is always near them.
Verse 5 Christians should behave towards other people with mercy, patience and understanding love.

‘The Lord is near’ might mean:

  • The Lord is always close to them.
  • The Lord knows everything that a Christian does.
  • The Lord is coming again soon.

These words encourage Christians to remember the love with which God deals with them. They hope that God will deal with them with sympathy. So they should be gentle towards other people who make mistakes.

Verse 6 ‘The Lord is near’ might also introduce the words ‘Do not worry about anything’. These words will remind Christians that the Lord is always with them. And they will meet him when he returns. Christians should pray about everything. They should pray:

  • that God will forgive them for the past
  • about what they need now, both for the body and for the spirit
  • for God to guide them in the future.

‘God’s love desires what is best for us. His wisdom knows what is best. His power can cause what is best for us to happen.’ Every prayer should include thanks. We should be grateful that God wants to listen. We should believe that he will give us the best answer.

John 15:11-17
Verses 9-11 There is only one way to be really happy. We must remain in a close relationship with Jesus at all times. Jesus was joyful always because he was united with God the Father. He knew that his Father loved him completely. Jesus loved his disciples as much as his Father loved him. And Jesus loves all his genuine followers in this special way. We can know his wonderful love all the time if we remain in a close relationship with him.

But Jesus emphasised that we must obey his commands. Then we will be happy inside our hearts, whether good or bad things happen. When we know Jesus’ love daily, our happiness does not depend on our situation. It depends on him. He will never leave us. And he will always love us.

Verses 12-13 Jesus loves us completely. When we know this, we want to love other people. Jesus loves us so much that he died to save us. He said that, like him, we too should love other people. So, we should do whatever we can in order to help other people. We do not need always to do great things in order to show our love. For example, we might simply listen to other people. And that shows more love than if we always talk about ourselves. Or, we might help other people even when we have our own problems. We might spend time with other people when we would prefer to do something else. Or we might just do more things on behalf of other people than they would expect.

Verses 14-15 Jesus was the disciples’ master and their Lord. Therefore, he had the right to call them his slaves. But slaves do not know their master’s affairs. Instead, Jesus told them the Father’s plans. And Jesus called them his friends. Jesus is our Lord and our master, too. He is God’s Son. He caused everything to exist. He has the right to call us his slaves, too. He could demand that we obey him. Slaves do not have a choice. They must obey their master. But Jesus gives us the choice to obey him or not. He does not want us to obey him because we are afraid of him. He wants us to obey him because we love him.

Verse 16 Jesus’ disciples made a decision to follow him. But they could make that decision only because he chose them. He has chosen us, too. If he had not chosen us first, we could not choose to follow him.
He has chosen us to work for him. He has chosen us to bring glory to God by what we do. God’s Son has chosen each one of us to achieve good things for him. We are important to him.

Verse 17 Sometimes, people hate us just because we are Christians. They may insult us because of our faith in Jesus. It is very important that Christians encourage each other. We must love each other at all times. Even if we do not always agree, we must always love each other.

Items for Discussion

  • When you think about Christmas and Jesus, what comes to into your mind?
  • Where does a one day holiday fall short when it comes to celebrating Christ’s birth?
  • How do we keep Christmas alive all year long, 365 days long?
  • Why is the world so contrary to the principles of gentleness and love that are in our New Testament verses?
  • What examples can you think of in Christ’s life where he was divisive in nature, self-focused, interested in more power and willing to do be influenced by special interests?
  • As a Christian, when we see such contrary behavior to Christ’s life, how should we respond?

Discussion Challenge

  • What part of Christmas will you NOT put back in the attic until next year?
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