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Psalm 147:1-11{ref]NIV New International Version Translations[/ref]
1 Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! 2 The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. 3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 4 He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. 5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit. 6 The Lord sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground. 7 Sing to the Lord with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp. 8 He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills. 9 He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call. 10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; 11 the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.

questionBackground

Summarizing psalm 147, the people of God are exhorted to praise him for his mercies and care; (1-11) for the salvation and prosperity of the church. (12-20).

This psalm tells us something about God’s love and his power. Here, power does not only mean that he rules everything. It also means that he is strong. It is the second of the 5 Hallelujah Psalms, 146-150. ”

Biblical Truth

Praising God’s work in itself and carries its own benefit. It becomes us as reasonable creatures, much more as people in covenant with God, to praise Him. God gathers outcast sinners by his grace, and will bring them into his holy habitation. To those whom God heals with the consolations of his Spirit, he speaks peace, assures them their sins are pardoned. And for this, let others praise him also. Man’s knowledge is soon ended; but God’s knowledge is a depth that can never be fathomed. And while God can tell the number of the stars, God can still hear the cries of a broken-hearted sinner. While he feeds the young ravens, he will not leave his praying people destitute. Clouds look dull and melancholy, yet without them we could have no rain, therefore no fruit. This means that afflictions look black and unpleasant; but from clouds of affliction come showers that make the soul to yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. The psalmist delights not in things sinners trust and take human glory from; but a serious and suitable regard for God is, in the sight of the psalmist, the prize. We are not to be in doubt between hope and fear, but to act under the gracious influences of hope and fear united.

Items for Discussion

  • What kinds of things do people praise?
  • Of the list you just created, is there anything on it that people hate?
  • Would you conclude that people praise most what they love most?
  • How is faith strengthened by praise?
  • How to troubles, afflictions as the psalmist says, build us up?
  • Can we be strong if we never have any troubles?

 

John 5:1-15
1 Sometime later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. 4 From time to time an angel of the Lord would come down and stir up the waters. The first one into the pool after each such disturbance would be cured of whatever disease they had. 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” 7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.” 8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.” 11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ” 12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?” 13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there. 14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.

Background

John’s Gospel is different from the other three Gospels. John did not include any stories about Jesus’ birth or his baptism. John only recorded 7 miracles, which he called ‘signs’. John did not include any parables but John recorded many long speeches that Jesus made. John knew about the other three Gospels. But when he read them, John had not yet written his Gospel. He was still just talking to people about his life with Jesus. John agreed that the other Gospels were true accounts.

John provided the facts that were missing from the other Gospels. He used information that they did not have. John’s account did not disagree with the other Gospels. It added different information, so that we can understand more about who Jesus was, the man and the God. John included many physical details. For example, the loaves that Jesus used to feed 5000 people were ‘barley loaves’ (John 6:9). He recorded the distance that the disciples had travelled across the lake (John 6:19). And he remembered how the smell of the perfume filled the house at Bethany (John 11:32). These details do not seem important, yet they are memories of a person who was present at these events. So John’s Gospel is not just a spiritual book. It is the personal account of someone who had seen these events, not just heard about them.

Biblical Truth

We are all by nature impotent people when it comes to spiritual things. We are blind and withered; but God has made full provision for our cure, if we attend to it. An angel went down, and troubled the water; and what disease a person had, the water cured it, but only for the first person who stepped in. This teaches us to be careful, that we let not an opportunity slip by which may never return. The man had lost the use of his limbs for thirty-eight years. Shall we, who perhaps for many years have scarcely known what it has been to be sick for a day, complain of one wearisome night, when many others, better than we, have scarcely known what it has been to be a day well? Christ singled this one out from the rest. Those long in affliction, may comfort themselves that God keeps account how long. Observe, this man speaks of the unkindness of those about him, without any peevish reflections. As we should be thankful, so we should be patient. Our Lord Jesus cures him, though he neither asked nor thought of it. Arise, and walk. God’s command, Turn and live; Make yourself a new heart. It was by the power of Christ, and he must have all the glory. What a joyful surprise to the poor cripple, to find himself all of a sudden to move so easy, so strong, so able to help himself! The proof of spiritual cure, is our rising and walking. Has Christ healed our spiritual diseases, let us go wherever he sends us, and take up whatever he lays upon us; and walk before him.

Those eased of the punishment of sin, are in danger of returning to sin, when the terror and restraint are over. The believers in misery are made whole but God warns us to sin no more. This is the voice of every providence, Go, and sin no more. Christ saw it necessary to give this caution; for it is common for people, when sick, to promise much; when newly recovered, to perform only something; but after a while to forget all. Christ spoke of the wrath to come, which is beyond comparison worse than the many hours, weeks and years of pain, some wicked men have to suffer in consequence of their unlawful indulgences. And if such afflictions are severe, how dreadful will be the everlasting punishment of the wicked!

Items for Discussion

  • How would you notice a Godly opportunity in your life?
  • Why do you think Jesus asked what we would consider an obvious question?
  • Why do you think that the man never asked Jesus to just be cured?
  • What examples in life can we apply to this story?
  • Discussion Challenge
  • How is the Christian Church just like the pool in this story?

 

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