Chapel – Dr. Daniel Wong

Well, thank you worship team for lifting our hearts in worship, and George for the generous introduction. It's so good to see a number of you who I've served as colleagues, as staff members, together, some of our former students and current students, and I know one of the students online today, who I teach on Fridays.

This Chapel is a stunning place, isn't it? As we enter the chapel, we look up to the cross in front of us. Often, because it's such a large space, we are constrained to look upward to the ceiling. We look around at these stained glass windows with Christian images. And we also pause at the Stations of the Cross on the side walls, particularly as we have our journey to the cross, in this season of Lent. This is a place in which we worship God, we encounter God in worship. And we worship in song, we hear the Scriptures read, and we hear a message. God speaks to us, and the Holy Spirit moves in our hearts. Psalm five, that George just read, points us in the direction of encountering God ain worship. This Psalm is called an individual complaint. Well, David was, it was attributed to David, and this was his letter to the complaint department, which God had. It's also called the lament. It was also sent to the choir director, so that it has wider usage. And Psalm five, here, is the encounter with God in worship, and we want to see that through this Psalm. First, we want to see that we lift our prayers to God. What's the situation that the psalmist faced? In this chapter, there is a lot, of, going on. There are enemies in this psalm, they are wicked, they do evil, they destroy, they are rebellious against God. There is a particular emphasis on the words that they say, that are used against David, the opposition. They tell lies, they cannot speak a truthful word. And their tongues are filled with flattery. In Romans three, the apostle Paul quotes Psalm five nine, "Their throats are open graves, their tongues practice deceit".

We know that words can often hurt more than physical attacks. We've probably experienced that in our own lives. Those are the words of criticism, lack of belief in us. Gossip, cyber bullying, lies told about us. Words indeed can be crippling to us. But what does the Psalmist do in the face of such opposition? Is it the fight or flight response? No. He turns to God. He lifts his heart up in prayer. He says, "Hear me as I pray, pay attention to my groaning. I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my request to you, and wait expectantly." Have you had that groaning prayer? It's like that, as described of Hannah in the temple. As in deep anguish, she prayed and wept bitterly. David prays and waits expectantly. The New King James Version says of waiting expectantly, "I look up." Where else can he turn but that upward look in the face of opposition, particularly words that are darking toward him. David's opposition came from his boss Saul. It even came from his own family. And many of us face those similar challenges of opposition from various sources that we can account. Maybe it's easy to try to take things in our own hands, to seek revenge, or to justify ourselves when these attacks come. Turning to God in prayer becomes our last resort, rather than the first place we turn to. But the psalmist turns to God. Early in the morning, he lifts his eyes to the Lord, and issues prayers.

Now, how many of you are the morning people? You're the early birds, okay, you're up like five, six in the morning, you saw the sun rise. You are like myself, at this stage of life, like the early risers? Give or take the time change or not, you know, we get up early. How many of you are the night owls? Okay, you're late into the night studying, I know a number of you. Sometimes we have to pull an all nighter, so we don't get any sleep at all. And I've experienced that in my study as well. In fact, one of my professors said, "Mr. Wong, if you're tired, you can go back to your room", as I was dozing in his Hebrew class. Well, you know, that woke me up so much that I paid attention through the rest of the class. Be careful if a professor calls you out. But this morning, or sunrise, according to The Good News Bible, it's an opportunity to come to God at the beginning of the day, we're pulled toward God, because where else can we turn. And it's a great way to start the day as well, whenever that morning is for you. So turn to God in prayer.

A friend of mine in seminary, every time he entered his classroom, he would take a seat. And he would bow in prayer. Every time he went to the library, and before he opened the book, he would pray. Every time he entered the chapel, he would take a seat. And he would pause to pray. I never asked him what he prayed about, I'm assuming that it was a time of confession. It was a time to be open to God, to receive what the Lord had for him. But we know that, as many of you may practice, it's a way to attune ourselves to God, before other things happen in life. It's opening our hearts, and puts us in a position to receive and to respond. And so in the midst of opposition we pray to God, then we respond to God in worship. When David considers the wicked, no doubt he reflected on his own life. And the closer we get to God, we see God in His holiness. And because of that, we see ourselves as ungodly.

Isaiah, as he saw the Lord, he cried out, holy, holy, holy, the angels were crying out and how did he respond? He responded with repentance, with saying, "Woe to me", because he was seeing the King of glory. And so we, as we see the Lord, it's an opportunity to repent, turn to God, in these time to worship God. Now, during these time of COVID, we've been very conscious of cleanliness. It's washing our hands. And I don't know about you, but I've never washed my hands so much in my life. And it's using hand sanitizer. I was up in our prayer room, which is right in the second floor above the Chapel. And it's a wonderful place set aside for prayer. But I saw on the side table, there were these cloths that you can use for sanitizing. They were like sanitary cloths to use to maybe wipe off the altar or, or do something else to clean the area. And that's found, of course, in so many different places, but I thought that was an apt metaphor. We need cleansing before we pray. We need the Lord to cleanse our hearts. We need to have our hands clean before we lift up holy hands. How else can we come before the holy God. And in our time of Lent, it's a time of confession of fasting. And prayer.

This Tuesday time is called our Community Chapel. We gather in person and online to worship God. And during COVID, we weren't able to meet in person, I had to record something at home and have it broadcast here, online. But we know some, there's something about meeting in person, as a community of believers, that's different, when we can only meet online. It's like going to a sporting event and being there in person. Hearing the roar of the crowd, the crowd, the crack of the bat, for Blue Jays, fans, all of those things happen, that you see, and you feel, which is different than watching it on television, or on other devices. So being together, it's such a wonderful opportunity and privilege that we can be a community together. And of course, it's not always possible due to distance and other circumstances, to be in chapel in person. A couple of weeks ago, I came in the chapel before my Friday class. And I was thinking and praying. "What does God want to do in our chapel? What does God wants to do in this sacred space?"

I'm sure many of you have heard about Asbury University in Kentucky. And they have had this awakening, or some people call a revival, that took about, extended about two weeks in February. Some of our alumni journeyed there and, to see and experience this revival. I called one of them up over the weekend and heard a little bit more about what was going on in that space. Now, of course, we're not trying to replicate an experience. But we ask, "What does God want to do, in a place like this?" Through individual worshipers, through Tyndale community, through the Holy Spirit, God can do an unexpected, a special work. And we know that through the history of revival, it's often been those university students, the young adults, that had been touched by God and it spreads like a wildflower, fire throughout a community and extending beyond to the broader city, a province, a country and the world. Many are praying that God would do something special, revive, renew, particularly us here at Tyndale.

David asks that God lead him, "lead me in the right path, or my enemies conquer me. Make your way plain to me." He prays God, that he would not be like his enemies, the wicked. He didn't want to fight fire with fire. He wanted to discover a wise pathway, in which we as well, are seeking. In this psalm, it is riddled with the attributes of God, the character of God, the Lord, Yahweh, the covenant keeping God, used five times in this psalm. He calls God, "my king, and my Lord", the One Who Would Be King, or was King acknowledged that there was a divine king, to whom he would give allegiance. And we often do this through our worship songs, we underscore the character and the attributes of God. And we know that as God does a mighty work, not only in our own lives, our families, our churches, but also moves out to touch the world with social action, with deeds in which we can help others beyond our community. Those are aspects of renewal and revival that we are praying for. Here, the psalmist, David has assumed sides with God against injustices, often praying very strong words of, against these enemies to the Lord, we call them imprecatory words, strong words against the enemy. But it's all in the aspect of worship, as individual worshipers, and also the corporate worshipers. And then we also see, we experience God's protection and blessing. Here, he finds refuge in God, a safe place, a shelter amidst the storms of life. A shield was used to protect the entire body, and sometimes these darts come as people's words. We are called, of course, in the New Testament, to put on the whole armor of God to quench the fiery darts of the evil one who would sow doubt and discouragement, in each of our lives. Anybody need God's protection from those words, or people or circumstances or maybe what is kindling in our own lives? We need God's strength and protection. We need his insulation when the coldness comes around us. God protects us. And he also blesses us, giving us joy, giving us more than we would expect, more than we asked for, as we focus our attention, and our eyes on God, and not on people, circumstances, or ourself.

Our main focus today is God gives protection and blessing to his people. Something that God gives us out of grace out of that unfavoured, under his grace called hesed, in this passage, God gives all of these to us, as we seek Him, and the Lord provides for us.

Many years ago, a few of us who were the pastoral types, were called to pray with the admissions department. I remember Dr. Sherbino was there, and Dr. Stiller, the president then, we came together to pray with the admissions department. Didn't know exactly what those specifics were, but I remember being in a small prayer group with Dr. Stiller. And all of a sudden, I prayed. Now, I'm not Pentecostal. But I think it was a Holy Spirit moment, that all of a sudden, I prayed, "Lord, I pray that you would make this place so meaningful, people would be changed so much that people on the outside want to come to the school, it wouldn't be that we have to advertise. We have to get people to come to the school. But people would come because God is doing a work here." And I didn't know where that came from. But I prayed that, and I pray that for us today as well. Again, we're not in the business of trying to corral more people to be students, staff, faculty here, we want the right people to come. We know God has given you a calling to be here. God is speaking to you. But if each of us is in touch with God, or God's person, God's follower, Jesus follower. How would that not draw people to Christ? How would that not have an impact on our classrooms, on our school, on the community, and in the world?

God provides all of that for us. We come with prayer. We come with worship, individually and collectively. And we experience God's protection and blessings to his people.

As we conclude, I'd like to lead us into response time. And what I'd like to do, it should be on the screen here. If it's not as clear, I'll read it. Jesus said, The kingdom of God is near, repent of your sins and believe the good news from Mark 1:15. So I'd like you to take a posture of prayer. It could be using the kneelers in front of you. You could sit or stand. But I want you in a quiet time for a few minutes. Confess your sins personally to the Lord. Pray to experience God's protection and blessing. And also pray for Tyndale University, Seminary, for renewal. So I'd like you to take a position of prayer. We are called to be those who ongoingly repent of our sins, and believe the gospel. So let's take this posture of prayer. We'll have a time personally to pray, and then I'll close us in prayer.

Lord, as the east is from the west, so far you have removed our transgressions from us. And if we confess our sins, you indeed are faithful and just, to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Continue to help us to be your worshipers, individually, and as a community, bringing that heart to the churches and to the world. Lord, we pray for Tyndale, we thank you that you have established it here in this area. We appreciate the education we get and, and the spiritual input and the the academics, as Lord we pray that you would be working in us, and our professors, and our staff, in our administration, so that you would bring revival and renewal to us, so that you ultimately are Lord of Tyndale, we want to acknowledge you as Lord, and seek that your name would be lifted up. Thank you for this. And we pray in faith, and in the name of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Chapel – Dr. Daniel Wong
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