But let's just pray before we read God's word. Father, we've just sung about how we were blinded by sin. We had no appetite for heavenly things. We couldn't see or understand the gospel, but then your Holy Spirit opened our eyes and opened up your word to us.
And father, we we need your spirit's help again tonight to open our eyes, to open our hearts, so that we would understand these things that you want to say to us. I pray that you'd, by your spirit, help us now. We read this and have it preached to us. You would show us Christ, and that we would love him more as a result, and we ask this in his name. Our men.
Our men. Okay. Psalm 133. How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity. It's like precious oil poured on the head running down on the beard.
Running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the due of Herman were falling on Mount Zion. For there, the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore. And now we're going to turn to Ephesians, chapter 4, no read verses 1 to 16. As a prisoner for the lord then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient. Bearing with 1 another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. There is 1 body and 1 spirit, just as you were called to 1 hope when you were called.
1 lord, 1 faith, 1 baptism, 1 god and father of all, who is overall and through all and in all. But to each 1 of us, grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says, when he ascended on high, he took many captives, and gave gifts to his people. Well, what does he ascended mean, except that he also descended to the lower earthly regions? He who descended is the very 1 who ascended higher than all the heavens in order to fill the whole universe.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors, and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith, and in the knowledge of the son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect, the mature body of him, who is the head. That is Christ. From him, The whole body joined and held together by every supporting ligament grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Thanks, Ben. Good evening for me. Great that we can look at another 1 of these songs of ascent. Together, let's pray as we begin, and then we'll find out what this psalm says to us. Father, thank you.
So much for your words, and we thank you for these wonderful songs of scent. And so we pray father that as we come now, you will give us ears to listen. We want to know what it is to be your people. And so will you help us to understand it and help us to apply your word to our lives We pray these things in Jesus' name. Our men.
Now I'm sure you're all aware of examples in of when a unit or a team or a or a group of people is either united or it's divided. When it's when it's divided, usually what ensues is disaster, failure, and death. When it's United, there is success victory and life. There's lots of lots of quotes about this sort of stuff. The famous famous 1, I think Abraham Lincoln said a house divided against itself cannot stand.
Someone said a team divided against itself can break down at any moment. The least bit of pressure or adversity will crack it apart. Martin Luther King Junior said, we must live together as brothers or perish together as fools. There's loads of examples of this. You think about any sports team, for example, even though they all seem to be called united, often they're not united because it's a load of individual trying to be the best player on the team and they don't win.
There's failure. You think about in warfare, I teach warfare as a history teacher, and if a cavalry, I know that's this bit left field, I know, if a cavalry used to be all that individual bravery, for instance, in the Battle of Nasby in 16 45. They they ran in, they they they look good, they they're winning a sort of battle, but in the end, they're so about themselves that they end up going off the battlefield and getting plundered for themselves. Okay? And the the the team is destroyed.
Their army's destroyed. The royalists lose the battle Whereas the parliamentarians led by the the fantastic Oliver Cromwell were disciplined. They were united. They were under under they were united in what they were doing and so, yes, they charged and they were victorious, but then they were able to help sight to win the victory. Yeah?
A team together, a united succeeds, a team that is divided ultimately ends in failure. And you can think about all sorts of examples could go on, couldn't I? If you think about a great band, if a if a band with lots of great musicians are all about themselves, they'll sound terrible. But like, if the, like, oh, fantastic band tonight, raising you up. Yeah?
They're all playing their instruments, and they're all there. We're we're united. We wanna make it sound like the way we wanna sound all, like, Leonard this morning was ripping it out on that electric guitar. If you were there this morning, it was fantastic. But they were all trying to work together so that they could produce a sound that we could all enjoy.
Yes? United. Divided terrible, united. Fantastic. So we want people singing off the same word the the same song sheet.
When people sing of the same song sheet, it works. And so we've been following these pilgrims as they journey their way up to Jerusalem, as they go on the way, and they're singing together. They're singing these songs of ascent together. They're encouraging 1 another, they're they're going, let's let's go together, let's point each other to where we're going. And so what is the song that they sing today?
Well, Psalm 133, and the first point is family unity is good and pleasant. Family unity is good and pleasant. But with me at verse 1, David says this, how good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity. See, it's not just good. It's how good and how pleasant.
It's not just good, it's good and pleasant. It's not just it's okay. It's this is brilliant. It's delightful. And what does David say is good and pleasant?
He says, when God's people live together. Now that actually I don't know why the NIV does this. It uses the word God's people. The word actually It's brothers. It's brothers.
That's a big difference. Right? It's not just Yes, it is God's people, but it's bigger than that. This is God's Family. This is brothers and sisters.
That's when brothers and sisters live together. Now When a family lives together, I'm sure if if any of you have siblings, you'll you'll know this. It can go 1 of 2 ways. I am 1 of 4 boys, It often went 1 of 2 ways. Either they can work really well together harmonious, loving 1 another, out for each other's good, encouraging.
Oh, well done, Rory, says Stephen. And I say, thank you, Stephen. You are a wonderful brother, and and we're there together. We'll fantastic. Or which is usually the way it went, you can get hit in the head.
Yes. Yes. Good times. There can be rivalry, there can be fighting, there can be We're not friends, we're not on the same team. We both want that, actually, Stephen just used to eat potatoes all the time, which no 1 wanted.
But anyway, we're we're competing over that last bit of food. We're competing for the attention of mom and dad. We're rivals. But David says that God's family shouldn't be rivals. David says, if you look down, that they live together in what?
In unity. In unity. The word is harmony. It's in harmony. It was it was lovely I was at I was at late night church on Thursday.
And Pete was preaching. As he was preaching, he had to compete with his choir. It was quite lovely, though. Because they were singing these songs together, and they're they're all singing harmonies, and it sounds lovely. They're harmonized, and it's wonderful.
They were singing son of a preacher man. I thought I could run-in there and go, hey, I am a sort of a preacher man, if you don't know. It's harmony. It's they all sound. They all compliment each other with their voices.
And that's that's what God's family should be like. They should be in harmony. There should be unity. They should reflect God. If they're God's family, God's family should reflect God.
And if you know who God is, here's 3 and 1. His father, son, holy spirit. And for eternity, they have been united. They have never been divided. They have never not loved 1 another.
They have never ever acted alone or without the other 1, or thinking, actually, I should be I should be more important than you. They've always loved 1 another. They've always been united in the Godhead. And so the family of God should be united like God. See, if it's a divided family, if they're living together in division, then it's ugly and evil.
You can say that how ugly and evil it is when God's people are in division. But when there is unity, it is good and it is pleasant. And that's what it is for us. Christ has come, and he has died. He dies on a cross to bring us into the family of God.
He goes to such lengths to adopt you and me into the family, so that we will be united under and in him. He sheds his blood so that we can be his family. It's interesting that great songs that we sung today, but a lot of the songs that we sung were all about the individual. Right? It was about my salvation, which is which is right and proper to think about.
But we're not just saved. It's not just me, child of God on my own. We're bought into a family. We are a unit. We should be united.
As God's family. Jesus himself says this in John 17. My prayer is not for them alone. He's praying for us as believers. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message.
That's all of them, may be 1, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. May they also be in ours? So that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be 1 as we are 1. I and them and you and me so that they may be brought to complete unity, then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Do you see this? Jesus comes to die so that you may experience the unity, the oneness that Jesus himself experiences with the father, and he invites you into that family. That's an amazing thing. And so really, this family should be a family that is together, a family that loves 1 another, That is absolutely a hundred percent for 1 another. See, There's no better place in the whole world to be than to be in the church of God, to be in this family.
There's no better place that you can be right now even listening to me. And you might think, oh, I didn't know he was preaching. I wouldn't have come out. Yeah? There's no better place that you can be right now than where you are right now amongst the family.
See, God's people are together right now, listening to his words, and that is good. That is the best place to be. Now, just picture the scene. Picture the scene. Let's go back to them.
They're walking up. The pilgrims are are walking up. They're walking up to Jerusalem. They're going to the great celebration, and they're all going up in the little groups of pilgrims. Singing together, they're singing this song.
But each in different groups just singing this song as they go up and up and up, in unison, but they're all united, even though they might be That group might be over there, and I might be over here, and there might be another group over there. And they're coming from this direction. They're coming from this direction. They're all united still, aren't they? Because they're all singing this song.
They're all united by the common theme that they are god's people. To going up to celebrate with each other the god and to live on the god's word. And that's exactly the same for us. Were united by a common theme, were singing together There might be different groups of us. We're here.
There's another group over there. There's another group on the other side of the of the world, but we're united by the same thing. A common theme, and we sing a common song, the redeemer, the redeeming work of Christ who buys us into his family. And as we journey in this world, we don't journey to Jerusalem, Not taking a plane to Jerusalem, or do you get into the new Jerusalem, the new creation, where we'll be united fully where we'll be together fully, where we'll be with the Lord Jesus forever. So it is good.
The best place to be is here. Yes? You might think I wish I was at the cinema. No. It's here.
You've been thinking I could wish I'd gone to see a football match. No. It's not better. It's not better to be at home. It's better to be here.
Why? Why is it so good? What's so good about family unity? Why is it good? Well, here's my second point.
Why is it so good? What's so good about it? The oil of holiness, the oil of holiness. Look with me at verse 2. It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robe.
Now when I first read this, I don't it actually makes me feel a little bit queasy if I'm honest, because I'm not a big fan of oil. I don't know if I've ever said that to you before, but that that just that oozing sort of feeling, like, when I get things on my hand, they're a little bit sticky in that. I feel a bit revolted. But get over that, if that you're like me, and understand why this is a great picture of what what unity is and why it's so good. You'll notice first that it is a precious oil.
Do you see that? It's not just any ordinary oil. It's not sunflower. It's not vegetable oil. This is the most precious of oils.
It's the best oil. It's the most It's the superior oil. It's it's I looked up the most expensive oils. It said essential oil apparently, which I can't stand. 2 and a half grand for essential oil, if you want it.
That's maybe the sort of stuff that's going on here and here. And as you And we get it, where where does it start? It starts on the head, and it starts to trickle down into the beard. I wish I did have a beard. I mean, we could have done it, couldn't we?
I've shaved it off, unfortunately, but we could have demonstrated it. So this this this oil is trickling down the beard and the head And then we're told who it is that it's running down. What what unity is like? It's like Aaron. It's Aaron's beard.
And now when we see Aaron, we're thinking, well, the first high priest. This is the first 1 who would go into the the temple and of the tabernacle and offer the sacrifices and be God's person. Why was he getting oil put on him? In fact, it wasn't just put on him. It was dumped on him.
It was poured liberally on him, so it would come on his head and flow everywhere. Why was it doing that? Why was why was Moses an exodus pouring oil on his head? Well, because he was to be holy. He was being consecrated.
He was being set apart. He was being made 1 to be devoted to God. It was his job to serve the living God and to serve God's people. That was who what he was doing. And so, yes, it went everywhere.
All of him was affected. And not only is all of them affected as it runs down, As you see, it runs down his head. It runs down his beard. It goes all over his cloak. It's head to toe in oil glistening probably.
And then you would get that pleasing aroma. Yeah? There would be a lovely smell. And as people looked at Aaron and they saw this 1 covered in oil, they would have seen 1 who was meant to be devoted to God. To be a servant of God's people to serve God, and they would've wanted to serve God as well.
Now fast forward because Aaron's just a man really, and we go to Christ the ultimate high priest. The lord Jesus Christ came and was our representative. The ultimate high priest, the ultimate head And he's the holy 1. How do we know he's the holy 1? How do we know he's the 1 set apart?
How do we know he's the anointed 1? Well, when he's baptized, what happens? The Holy Spirit comes upon him, and he's anointed by the Holy Spirit, and he's devoted to God, isn't he? Is there any more devoted to the to the father than the son? As he goes in this world, and he and he and he lives, set apart, he's holy, he's different, he's a servant of all.
And, not only is he a servant of all, as he as he hangs upon a cross to die for us to win us, But once he's done that, what does he do? He baptizes all people with the Holy Spirit. And he makes us a kingdom of priests. Okay? He makes us a kingdom of priests, when Peter talks about that.
And so just as just as the people would have looked at Aaron and they would have seen 1 who was set apart, who was meant to be totally devoted to God, who was meant to serve God, and and be inspired by that example. We too look to the lord Jesus Christ, and we see the servants of all mankind. The 1 who would die as a ransom for, as we look at him, we see his total devotion to the Father, and by his Holy Spirit, our devotion will be formed. As we look at his devotion, his devotion forms our devotion. And so Unity is about holiness.
Unity is about being devoted unity means that we serve 1 another. Unity means that we're serious about dealing with our sin because we wanna live for the father. Unity means that we are serving God. How do we serve God? We serve as people.
And you're thinking, well, I don't do much, well, do you know what service starts with? Service starts with presents. Are you here? Then you're serving. You might think I was I was reflecting on this before.
You might think service is I'm serving you, the band serving, and the leader, and some people, and you're not doing anything. No. That's not true. You're all serving. Just by being here, you're serving.
Just by when we when we sing God's praisers. We're serving 1 another. Do you see? I don't know if you think like that. As I sing, I'm encouraging you.
I'm I'm thinking as I sing about it is finished upon that cross, I'm saying to you, it is finished upon that cross for you, brothers and sisters. As we pray for another, reliable manners on Monday, let's come together, let's pray. Let's pray for 1 another, let's pray for the church, as we sit there, are you listening to God's word and letting it dwell with you in serving the preacher by by listening well? Encouraging 1 another. This is what holiness is.
So it is good because it is holy. Christian unity is holiness. Now you might you might think, oh, well, gosh. I've just gotta do a load of things. I've gotta do a load of works.
I've gotta do a load of service. Sounds a bit miserable sometimes? Well, no. It's not miserable duty this. And the next point shows us why not So here's the other reason why it's pleasant.
Third point, why is it pleasant? The Jew of life. The Jew of life. Verse 3, he changes the image. It's as if the Jew of Herman we're falling on Mount Zion.
For there, the Lord bestows his blessing, even life, evermore. Okay? So you've got 2 mountains here. You've got Mount Herman. Now Mount Herman is in the north of Israel.
It's in the north of the country, and it's the biggest mountain that they've got. It's a huge mountain, and it's it's snow capped. So that means it's It's naturally irrigated. It's naturally watered. There's lots of life on Mount Herman.
Yes? On the other hand, you've got Mount Zion. Mount Zion is Jerusalem. That is where God dwells with his people. That's God's temple there.
That's the place that he chose to dwell with these people, but if you're walking around Jerusalem, it's not like Mount Herman. Mount Herman, life, vibrant, green, Jerusalem dry, Arid. Yeah? You'll walk yeah. You are walking up the road to Jerusalem, singing these songs, you need a little bit of water just to get the get those songs out, I think.
Yeah? If parched, And then but the this image comes, so you've got this beautiful Jew, and it comes to Mount Zion. And it quenches the thirst. It is incredibly refreshing. I don't know if you've ever been incredibly thirsty.
Maybe it's Maybe you've been to a very hot country. Maybe you've just played a lot of sport and not had a drink for a while. But that that first sip of water when you've been that thirsty, it It it hits differently, say. It hits different. It's so sweet, isn't it?
You're like, oh, that is lovely. It quenches. It refreshes. Your eyes light up and they sparkle. It brings life this due.
Now the interesting thing is that Mount Herman is absolutely nowhere near Mount Zion. Don't know if you know that. Mount Mount Herman is way up in the north Mount Zion, Jerusalem is way in the south. There is no way that this due, I think, can get to Mount Zion. So what's he talking about?
How has this happened? But I think the point is, is that God united people And it is a supernatural Jew that falls on them. He takes the impossible and he unites them. And that's what God does. I mean, we read Ephesians.
Before Ephesians 4, you have an amazing ephesians 1 to 3, where it talks about how God And through the Lord, Jesus Christ, tears down the barriers that that that divide people, and it unites people. And so so you have, in the family of God, people from all walks of life, you've got people that would never get on, people from different religions, and races, and ideologies, and beliefs. And so, you know, it was interesting the other week when we talked about Belarus and we we Sorry. When we talked about Terrace's Church in in Poland, then he said there was better Russians and Russians and Ukrainians, altogether, That is what the supernatural work of God does. It unites people, and it's so refreshing.
Because there's people Like, I just look in this room and I think I would never ever hang out with any of you. Not 1 of you. Yeah. I'm far too cool. No.
You're we're all different, aren't we? It's so lovely to see. Nothing like the church. Nothing in the world is like the church. We're so different.
We're all different people of of of different intellects and ages and races. But that's what God does. He takes that, and he brings them all together because we're united. And so because of that, as we serve 1 another in holiness, as we're trying to be holy, there is refreshment, and there should be life. There is life.
Just like when, you're thirsty and you take that sip of water, and there is refreshment. There is life and not just life, but life forevermore. It's interesting when when you read through the bible and you ever see the word Jew, d e w, whenever you see that word, and it talks about falling on. That is always about how God blesses us people. When there is no due, he's removed his blessing.
When there is due, there is blessing on his people. And when God's family is united, we are a blessed people, a truly happy people. So it's not just holiness. It's when we're wholly united We're happy. We're happy.
And so as we serve 1 another, there should be life. It shouldn't be a burden. As I serve, as I sing, then you should experience life from that. As I teach you the Word of God, as the Word of God is opened up and taught, there is life in that. As you sing, I sing to you, you sing to me, it lifts my spirits of it.
It picks me off. It it it fixes my eyes on the life giver himself. There's life. There's refreshment. As I give to you and you give to me, we receive more.
We should be coming out here happy. We should be a happy people, because we have life, and we have refreshment, and not just life, but life forevermore. A United Church that serves 1 another is a happy church and they will love and they will live. Until they live forever and ever. I was reading spurgeon on this.
On this chapter, and he says this, let us love forevermore, and we shall live forevermore. This makes Christian brotherhood so good and pleasant. It has Jehovah's blessing resting upon it, and it cannot be otherwise than sacred. Like precious ointment and heavenly like the Jew of Herman. Isn't that great?
If we love evermore, we shall live evermore. And because it's god given, it's from heaven, it's from above. It's sacred and it is heavenly. It's service and it's happiness. So, how do we do this?
And what do we do about it then? Well, we read ephesians And Ephesian says, the follower, following. As a prisoner for the lord then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient.
Bear with with 1 another in love, and I love this bit. Because I think this is what we wanna do Cornerstone. Make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. There is 1 body and 1 spirit just as you were called to 1 hope when you were called, 1 lord, 1 faith, 1 baptism, 1 God, and Father of All, who is overall, and through all, and in all. Let's keep the spirit of unity, brothers and sisters.
It's so easy can be taken away. So easy can that thread that holds unity to and if someone just threatens that. We don't want that. We wanna be a church that protects unity. We wanna be a church that is humble and gentle.
We wanna be a church that is patient with 1 another. We wanna be a church that loves 1 another. We wanna be a church that bears with 1 another. And there is no better place than this. None.
So do you wanna be happy? And do you wanna be blessed? Then come, be a part of the family of God and do this. Be involved in church, serve the church, love the church, sing with the church, pray with the church, Take communion. What a what a fantastic meal that reminds us that the Lord Jesus Christ has united us as a family.
By his blood. Let's be taking communion and celebrate the fact that we're united. Let's celebrate when people are baptized, and they profess that they are part of the family of God. That's quality, isn't it? Let's be committed.
Let's be devoted. Let's be a holy and happy people. Let us do everything to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. And if we do that, What a witness to the world that will be, wouldn't it? In a world that has no love, really, that looks to cancel at any given moment, that looks to judge at any moment, that looks to separate and divide and and wanna be different, and I don't wanna be part of this community.
In a world that does that, we wanna be a beacon of light. That says, we have a happy, set apart, holy, purposeful community, that you wanna be part of. There is no place in the world better than the church. And so, maybe you've come here, maybe you're online, maybe you've seen and you've heard the church in action, because it is the greatest when done right, it is the greatest picture of the gospel in the world. I look at you, I see the gospel in action.
And so maybe you've seen that. And maybe you think, actually, I wanna be part of that. Well, come, be a part of the family of God. Now what it is to be truly happy. Know what it is to have true purpose and serve the living god of the universe by serving his people.
Will you come? Will you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ today and be a part of his family We would love to welcome you in, and he certainly would. He embraces you as we sung before. And Christians. Let's commit to this, shall we?
Let's commit to this. Maybe you've gone Luke warm. Let's commit again. Maybe we've got off the boil a little bit. Let's commit again.
Let's serve 1 another. Let's be about 1 another. Let's be excited to hear the preaching of God's word, whether it's me or not. Let's love 1 another. Let's protect unity.
Spurgeon again says this. Christian unity is good in itself, good for ourselves, good for the brethren, good for our converts, good for the outside world, and for certain this is pleasant, for a loving heart must have pleasure and give pleasure in associ associating with others of light need. It's so good. It's so good Christian unity. And then he says this at the end.
A Church United for years in earnest service of the Lord is a well. It's a well. It's deep. It's a well of goodness and joy to all those who dwell roundabout it. Cornerstone Church, Let's be a church that's like this.
Let's be a well, a source of goodness and joy. As we dwell in unity, let us serve 1 another and experience life forevermore. Let's pray. Father, we we thank you just for this these amazing 3 verse And we thank you that you are a god who is totally committed to family and unity within that family. We pray far that you will impress upon us how good and pleasant it is when we live like this.
Give us Give us eyes to see the Lord Jesus Christ, our great high priests, our great heads, are the 1 that was totally devoted to you. So much so that he would dine across to by us. And as we look at him, we pray that we, too, will be devoted to you by being devoted to 1 another. And as we are devoted, will you give us life, will you give us refreshment? Help us to sing this song with gladness in our hearts, as we journey on to the new creation, where it will be totally good and totally pleasant.
Father give us eyes to see the new creation so that we may live like this. We pray these things in Jesus' name, amen.