Bread – Love

December 8, 2017


Psalm 91

For He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day …” Ps. 91:3-5

A friend of mine who was in the military told me that Psalm 91 was what he and some of his fellow soldiers recited in the midst of danger. And, indeed, the imagery of this Psalm is powerful to demonstrate for us that the Lord is our Protector and our source of the spiritual clothing which we need to stand in the evil day.

So why is this Bread labeled “love?”

As Christians, what do we fear? What is the “terror of the night” or the “arrow that flies by day?”

When the danger is upon us from our enemies, like in war, the “terror of the night” and the “arrow that flies by day” are obvious. The fear is that we will be horribly disfigured or killed.

And in these circumstances, it is easy to apply this Psalm because, for most Christians, the truth is that we may never be on a real battlefield with enemies with real guns and knives. As a result, we can rationalize the “since we have overcome death through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, we do not fear death.”

But we as Christians are commanded to go to the battlefield and there love. The place is the battlefield of our work and our homes, our clubs and our churches, our world.

And on that battlefield we fear much, but primarily we fear that we will pour ourselves out in love to our spouse, our children, our bosses and subordinates, our co-workers, our friends and our acquaintances and we will receive back … the terrors of wondering in the night how they will react and the arrow shot at us by the very people we are trying to love by day. We are on the battlefield of life where our love will be met by indifference, by hostility, by blame, by anger, by ….

In our battle in life, the fowler is the person which will keep us from flying as birds with free spirit and the deadly pestilence is the disease of needing other people’s approval or thanks.

When we are in this battle, the only way we succeed in loving in the night of adversity is to recognize, as does our Psalmist, that it is God who delivers us from the bondage of the fowler and sets us free to fly victoriously, it is God who heals us of our sorrow of rejection and provides us the medicinal elixir of His love to recharge our batteries, it is God covers us with His wings and gives us rest, it is God who is faithful, it is God who equips us, and it is God who can overcome our fear, if we but ask and accept His Holy Spirit.

Why are weak Christians? Perhaps it is because we do fear what we do not know and what we do know, because we still want the respect and love of others.

There are many kinds of death. There is the death of life caused by gunshot. There is the death of life caused by the thousand cuts of uncaring friends, forgetful spouses, ungrateful children and parents, petty bosses, and a variety of people and events we can easily blame.

These are snares, these are diseases, these are terrors, these are arrows which pierce our heart and cause us to wallow in defeat. But they are overcome – by God.

While we live under the shelter of the Most High, we overcome and can love without acknowledgment or return. While we wear the armor provided by God, we overcome and can love without acknowledgement or return.

If we do not fly there is no one for the fowler to catch. If we do not enter the dark places, there are no terrors to confront. If we do not stand in the evil day, there is no one to shoot an arrow at.

So why don’t we just retreat? It is because we are called elsewhere; we are called out into the world to do battle. And in doing so God will free us from our chains, give us powerful medicine to ward off Satan’s disease, give us our daily bread, clothe us for the job, calm us in the day of terror, and give us rest. All we have to do is show up and love without condition … and God has and will do the rest.
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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

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Bread – Personal

December 6, 2017


Psalm 91

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place – the Most High who is my refuge – no evil shall be allowed to befall you…”   Ps. 91:9-10

Psalm 91 is a wonderful psalm, much memorized, which is comprised of three parts, the “I” part, the “you” part, and the “I am” part.

The quoted Scripture today comes from the “you” part and I am quoting it because it is inconsistent in that it says that “because you” … “my refuge.”  To achieve consistency in the reading, one would think that the Psalm should say “…The Most High who is your refuge – no evil shall be allowed to befall you.”  No, instead, the Psalmist makes sure that he is using the word “my.”  Why?

I think the answer is actually in the structure of the entire Psalm.  It begins with I, it proceeds to you, and beyond it proceeds to God.

This is the inverse of how we think.  We tend to think first in the abstract – God.  We then tend to think in how that abstract applies to others – you.  And finally, if we really have to, kicking and screaming, we will apply the abstract to ourselves.  So, if we were to write this Psalm, we would likely start with the God statements, then proceed to apply the God statements to you, and then proceed to application to me.

If you think about it, this way of thinking results in two things, neither of which is good.  First, if we begin with the abstract we may stay there, which is a very safe place to be.  It is safe because it is of the mind, the intellect, and we can play “mind games” with it to the fullest extent of our training, education, and ability.  The second reason this way of thinking is not good is because it is selfish – we end up looking at ourselves last, meaning that we are looking down and looking inward, quite satisfied that we have ended up in the most important place in the room – with ourselves.

But this Psalmist, out of heart of gratitude for what the Lord has done for him, speaks first of himself and then looks outward to others and then to the heavens.

When we speak from the mind, we speak from the abstract to ourselves.  When we speak from the heart, from the core of our person, we speak from ourselves outward.

I think what the Psalmist has done is to say indirectly that he cannot speak to you about who the Lord is until he, the Psalmist, knows Him personally.  That is why the Psalmist immediately sticks the “my” in the reading today.  The Lord Almighty is your refuge and I know this because He is personal to me, He is the Most High, He is my refuge.”

Our job today may be to speak out in favor of God and to act in ways which bring glory to Him.  But we cannot do this effectively until our heart is right, and our heart is not made right without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

We tend to preach at people, telling them that God should be their refuge.  Maybe the better evangel is the simple statement that God is “my” refuge, proven in our acts as we live life victoriously with abundance of love and charity.    At some point, when people see your heart in Christ, they will ask you why … and then you can say simply because I know Him personally … and then when they asked you how… you can say simply “because He first loved me and saved me.”

Make it personal.  Because it is.

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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Number

November 27, 2017


Psalm 90

So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  Ps. 90:12

I was in the car the other day with my grandson, who has learned to count to a hundred.  He counted to seventy and then asked me to count to forty as fast as I could.  I had gotten to twenty-one when he yelled out “times up!”  Of course, this was a game and he made up the rules, so I would always run out of time before I achieved the objective.

What are our objectives for today, this week, and the rest of this year (it now being November 27)?  Our time management experts would suggest that we take the time every day to review our mission and our goals and lay out achievable things to do which will help us achieve those objectives, checking them off as we go through our day buffeted by the winds of other people’s agendas.

So is that what God is telling us to do through Moses, the Psalmist, in Psalm 90?  If, by the grace of God, we are able to realize that our days are few and numbered, are we to achieve a heart of wisdom by daily effort?

A reasonable response to this question might well be yes, on the idea that, if we belong to God, we know that our mission is to honor and love Him and, in the process, to then love and honor our neighbor as ourselves.  This requires prayer, study, and work of the heart, mind, and hands.  And some people consider wisdom to be knowing the right thing to do at the right time for the right reasons.

But it is not the only response to the question.  It seems to me that there is a reason the phrase is this – “So teach … that we may get….”  The words are not “tell” and they are not “achieve.”  The words are “teach” and “may get.”  The emphasis seems not to be on us deciding and doing, but upon us listening and receiving.

There is a question sometimes asked which is “If you knew this were your last four hours (1 day, 2 days, 2 weeks, one month) on earth, what would you do?”  People’s answers are rarely that they would review their to do list and go into work.  Instead, most people answer that they would spend time with friends and family, surrounded by those they love and who love him or her.  Most people would spend their last days, if they knew they were their last days, in “being in the moment.”

Yes, we need to plan.  Yes, we need to do.  But, also yes, we need to be in the moment, sensitive to the relationship before us.  Perhaps that relationship in our quiet time is with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Perhaps that relationship on the elevator is the person who needs to know that someone cares.  Perhaps that relationship in our house is with our wife or husband or children.

Start counting and sooner or later a little voice from the backseat will yell out “times up.”  Knowing that, we are prepared to receive a heart of wisdom from God.  Wisdom not for knowing what to do, but for who to be.  Not for knowing what to say, but for knowing how to love.  Not for knowing how to plan for the future, but for knowing how to live in the present.  Not for knowing who we are, but for knowing Whose we are.   Wisdom in time, for all time.

Our days are numbered; the counting has begun.

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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

Bread – Short

November 10, 2017


Psalm 89

How long, O Lord? … Remember how short my time is! … Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah.”  Ps. 89:46-48 (excerpts)

The Psalmist finds himself in dire straits, at the bottom of the pit, without it appearing to him that God is in sight or even cares.  He yells out to God, “Hey, how long are You going to be before You show up!” And, then, just to make sure God really understands, he yells out “Hey, remember that I’m here on earth on a short period of time!”

Sort of funny, if you think about it, that a man is yelling at God to remember what He created.

He is yelling at God to remember when what he should really be doing is yelling at himself in the mirror to remember.

Remember what?  Well the answers to that question are in our quotation for today.

We need to remember that our time on earth is short and ask ourselves, what are we doing with today?  How are we spending our time?

And we need to remember that the answer to the question of “who can deliver my soul from the power of Sheol” is Jesus Christ, the son of God, begotten not made, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, of one being with the Father…

What is truly amazing about this whole set of questions is that, by man yelling at God, he is actually praying to God and God does respond to prayer often by bouncing the question right back.  When the Psalmist yells at God, “How long, O Lord?” the question rebounds upon man by God asking “How long, O Man, will you ignore Me, disobey Me, dishonor Me, and reject Me.”  When the Psalmist yells at God “Remember how short my time is,” the yell echoes back onto man, saying to man “Do you remember how short your time is.”  When the psalmist yells at God “Who can deliver his [man’s] soul from the power of Sheol,” God throws back the question and says “Who do I [God] say it is.”

This Psalm ends with “Blessed be the Lord forever!  Amen and amen.”  How does a person go from yelling at God in verses just prior to saying Amen and Amen to “Blessed be the Lord forever?”

Maybe because, by praying (yelling) to (at) God, the psalmist is now prepared to hear the response –  “Yes, your time is short.  The who is Jesus.  The when is now.”

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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Building

November 8, 2017


Psalm 89

For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever.”  Ps. 89:2

The nature of Scripture is that, as you look for one thing, you find another revealed to you by the Holy Spirit.  So it is today.

What I was looking for was the word “forever.”  In Psalm 89, the word “forever” occurs eight times, even trumping the word “faithfulness” (seven times).

And in the process of looking at the use of the word “forever,” I stumbled across the words which preceded it – “will be built up.”

When we think of God’s steadfast love toward us, we think of a constant, stable and unchanging through time.  We don’t think of it being “built up.”

So, in which way is God’s steadfast love toward us “built up?”

There are at least three different ways (and probably many more) we can answer this question.

One way is to say that, although God’s love toward us is constant, stable, unending, forever, He doles it out to us as we can take it or as we can use it.  In this view, God’s love is a giant reservoir of water and God controls the spigot, letting out so much at a time.  I think this view is unsatisfactory because it somehow suggests that God’s steadfast love is not so steadfast, but only comes to us in pieces and in intensity as He wills it.  I think sometimes when we get mad at God because He has not “helped” us in the way we want or need, we think this way – that God controls the amount of love from He we get.  This kind of thinking can also lead us into believing that, because God has appointed His “priests” as His representatives on earth, they (the priest) have their hand on the faucet of God’s love and can either grant or deny us access to it (as received in the sacraments, particularly of communion).

Another way we can answer the question of how God’s steadfast love “will be built up” is to answer it from our perspective.  As we become more mature as Christians, even in our darkest hour we learn how to take more and more of God’s love into us to sustain us.  In this point of view, God’s steadfast love is the reservoir, but we control the valve which lets it into our lives.  As we become less afraid, stronger in the Lord, we become more willing and able to turn the faucet on full blast.  From this point of view, when we are in the valley of despair and we do not sense or believe that God loves us, perhaps it is because we have forgotten to turn on the water of life or, more likely, Satan with his tricks has convinced us to turn the faucet knob the wrong way, closing it off rather than opening it up.

But I actually prefer a third point of view.  That is to look at our life as a building, one which begins with the foundation on solid rock of faith and is built over the years with loving hands into a man or woman able and willing to do good works which bring honor and glory to God.  With a building in mind, the phrase “steadfast love will be built up” suggests that there is no spigot or restriction on God’s love, but that as we are able to hold more of God’s love (because our building is bigger), God’s steadfast love [in us] will be built up into larger and larger quantities.

There are two delightful results from the building concept.  The first are the words “will be.”  As we walk in our Christian faith, it “will be.”  Not “may” be, but “will be.”  The result is certain – God’s steadfast love will be built up [in me].  The second delightful result is that there are now two reservoirs of God’s steadfast love.  The first reservoir we have talked about.  The second is the reservoir of God’s steadfast love which has been built up in us.  It is a reservoir which, because it draws on an unlimited supply, can be shared with others.  We can draw freely from God’s reservoir in us of His steadfast love to give freely to others.

As Christians, we often think of sharing “our” love with others.  That is nice, but our love has a limit – His love is unlimited.   Perhaps we love so poorly and so rarely because we are drawing on the wrong source.

As we are being built today to hold God’s steadfast love, let us help build up others so that they, too, can be filled … forever.

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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

Bread – Journeys

November 7, 2017


Psalm 89

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever … You have cut short the days of his youth, You have covered him with shame.  How long, O Lord?  Will You hide Yourself forever?…Blessed be the Lord forever!  Amen and Amen.”  Ps. 89:1,45-46,52

This is a long psalm in part because it describes a long saga, a long journey of the Psalmists observations of God’s faithfulness through time.  The only problem is that the Psalmist sees what to him is a failing of that covenant because bad things have happened and there appears to be no end in sight.

When we are born of woman, we begin a journey which, from our perspective, begins at the delivery table.  For our mother and father, though, that journey began at conception, working through nine months of development.  For our Father in heaven, that journey began when we were conceived at the beginning of the world.  When we are born again by God, our spiritual journey with and in Him begins at that moment of infusion into us of the mercy of faith and our subsequent response to that gift.

When we are born of woman, our journey ends at death.  When we are born of God, our journey lasts a lot longer.

But what happens in between our beginning and our end?  This is the journey of life on earth, in time, among others, in and out of community, toward or away from earthly wealth and pleasures.

It is a journey of mountaintops and valleys.

We have a lot of choices about how we take or manage that journey.  We can go by ourselves, in our own strength, using our own intelligence and talents, walking or running as the sole runner in a race laid out for just me.  We can go with others, sharing our hopes and fears, our heights and our depths, either in covenant relationship (like marriage) or buddy relationships (friends), but then being bound by the thoughts, moods, and desires of others, subject to “group think” and going in the direction set by the community.   In community, both our highs and lows are buffered by the averaging which occurs in groups, by having others’ shoulders to “cry on” or “celebrate with.”  And finally, we can go on our journey with God, suffering the intensities of lows (as did the Psalm 89 psalmist) but having a companion to lean on, learn from, rest under, and be empowered for perseverance by.

Who is your companion on your journey today?  Do you not have one because you are a free spirit and independent?  Do you have many because you are a friendly person, naturally surrounding yourself with your networking groups?  Or do you have One, the One?

If you are on your journey with Jesus Christ as your savior, you might well feel like the Psalmist, thinking that in the ruin and destruction surrounding you that God has abandoned His covenant, that God has somehow proven unfaithful to you.  But, truly, in your heart, in your soul, you know better.  The Psalmist says today “Lord, where is Your steadfast love of old,…Blessed be the Lord forever!”  (Ps. 89:49,52).  How can he say that?  How can you say that?

Both the psalmist and you who know the Lord can say it because, while He may have appeared to have abandoned you, He has not.  Even in the valley of your journey He lifts you up and carries you.  And He will carry you because He was, is, and forever will be.  Blessed be the Lord forever!

To which we reply during our journey of faith into the fearful and unknown, “Amen and Amen.”

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© 2017 GBF    All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Apparent

October 25, 2017


Psalm 88

Is Your steadfast love declared in the grave…Are Your wonders known in the darkness, or Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?”  Ps. 88:11-12

The Psalmist finds himself in deep trouble and God apparently does not feel to him to be present in the psalmist’s dark days.

So the questions being asked by the Psalmist in the quoted passage may well be a type of argument or urging to God, suggesting that because, once a person dies God’s grace is no longer available, when a person sits in darkness God’s wonders are far away, or once a person forgets God then God’s righteousness disappears to them, He should always endeavor to bring us from our darkness into light so that we can see His steadfast love, His wonders, and His righteousness.  Otherwise would argue the Psalmist, perhaps, then God’s steadfast love, wonders, and righteousness will never be revealed.

And, indeed, much of the Bible talks about bringing man from darkness into light, shining light in dark places, and so forth, as if God is absent in the dark and that, as long as we are in the dark, we cannot know God.

Which really raises the question of “when is God apparent to us?”  On first blush, we know the answer to the question?  He is apparent in nature, in His Word written, and in His Word made flesh, Jesus Christ.  He is apparent in order.  He is apparent in the light.  When we can see His miracles, experience His basking love, sit under His shelter, and engage in strong, good fellowship, God is apparent to us.

So the Psalmist would say, perhaps, that God is not apparent in the dark.  While we are in the valley of despair, the Psalmist would say that God’s steadfast love is not seen, His wonders are not observed, and His righteousness is merely a theory.

Is the Psalmist right in his implication?  I would suggest that he is not.

Western society has been criticized to some extent, perhaps justifiably, by relying on the senses, the observable, rather than the spirit, the unobservable.  If we can’t see, hear, touch, feel, taste, or smell it, to our Western minds it does not exist.  We can see Jesus on the cross; we can see Him dies; we can hear His agony; we can see the empty tomb (all of which is in the light) – and therefore it is real.

So, in the dark, when our senses are cut off, when we cannot taste, see, hear, smell, or touch, to us God may well not be apparent.  It takes eyes to see His wonders, touch to sense His steadfast love, and hearing to know His righteousness – doesn’t it?

Well, other cultures know that there is another “sense” by which we can operate.  I hesitate to call it “spirit” but prefer to describe it as a knowing which occurs in our heart, not because of our sense or knowledge, but because of our faith.

How does this knowing occur?

I will answer this question this way – “even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us live together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…”  Eph. 2:5  While we were in the grave, God’s steadfast love toward us became apparent to us and in our heart, we knew Him.

We may be in the dark, in sickness, despair, worry, depression, loss, and grief a long, long time, just like the Psalmist.  It may be that, while we sit there, God has shown us no way out and, to our senses, He is missing.  But He is apparent, even in the darkness, if we have a heart of faith.  In the darkness His steadfast love is apparent, His wonders are apparent, and His righteousness are apparent – if we have a heart of faith.

How do we obtain this heart of faith?  First, it is not obtained but given.  Second, we can begin this way – “Come Holy Spirit and, today, renew a right spirit within me.”  The spirit of faith.  Even in the dark.

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© 2017 GBF

Bread – Cities

October 18, 2017


Psalm 87

On the holy mount stands the city He founded; the Lord loves the gates of Zion…Among those who know me I mention Rahab (Egypt) …” Ps. 87:1-2,4

The Psalmist here is speaking in his own day about a city he knew, called then Zion; a place today which is likely Jerusalem.

We know from other Scripture that there is also a holy city in the heavens which will be brought to earth in the last days.  (“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, … And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, …”  Rev.21:1-2

But the Psalmist could also be talking  about a type of modern city, a city on a hill which shines forth the glory of the Lord, is inhabited by believers, and is sustained by the power of God.  This city Jesus referred to in Matthew, where He said: “You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden…In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your people in heaven.”  Matt. 5:14,16

There are three “places” we can live in.  We can live in the past and look to Jerusalem.  We can live in the heavens and look to the holy city in heaven, waiting for the end.  Or we live in the present, in the place we are planted, in the city we can call home.

We are here as ambassadors of the kingdom of God.  But we are also here as citizens of our city.

Does our city, comprised of God-fearing citizens, shine forth the light of Christ?

Probably not and so we have two solutions to that.  One solution requires us to use the city-power to tax and spend, pretending to shine a light by government-sponsored and operated “good works.”  By this “solution,” we try to use our political and economic power to create a pseudo-light, a light-lite so to speak.  Because this light is generated by a city comprised of men acting as men, it sputters and dims, sometimes going out completely, and never quite reaching the places of darkness for which it is intended.

The second solution requires us to use God-power to change us and by changing us, transform our relationships, actions, and our entire lives into light sources.  Since we, by living in close proximity together, are the city, our transformed lives and individual lights then give light to the entire city.  Because this light is generated by a city comprised of men acting as saints, it does not fade, it does not die, and it reaches into a dark world.

We do not change a city by edict or rule but by changing ourselves, by becoming lights which, when combined, create a city which shines forth in the darkness, becoming a beacon of hope.

America is a beacon of hope to many.  It is not a beacon of hope because it intended to be a beacon of hope.  It is not a beacon of hope because of governmental programs.  It is not even a beacon of hope because of economic theory.

America is a beacon of hope because each citizen who follows Christ is himself or herself strong light sources.  And we live in cities, and we live in a nation.

If the people are good, the city is good – not so vice versa.

Do we want to live in places of light, hope, charity, love and peace?  Then let’s begin by looking at ourselves in the mirror and asking ourselves, today, whether we will shine with the light of Christ, today.  As we do that, we may one day look back and see that, indeed, we did live in the city on the hill which is the lighthouse of the world.

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© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – United

October 13, 2017


Psalm 86

“…You alone are God.  Teach me Your way, O Lord, that I may walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”  Ps. 86: 10b-11

Every so often out of the middle of Scripture jumps a word which seems out of place.  In this case, the word is “unite.”  We understand asking God to teach (tell) us His way so that we know the way we should follow (“walk in His truth”).  But why is it necessary to ask God to “unite” our heart in order to “fear Him?”

Everyone is familiar with the phrase “United we stand; divided we fall.”  But who is familiar with the phrase “United we fear; divided we don’t?”

And yet the two phrases are in fact the same.  With God we can stand in the evil day; without Him, we cannot.  With God our house is built on solid rock and can withstand the storm; without God our house is built on shifting sand and will blow down when adversity comes.

And, yet, as we sit and study our heart, our innermost feelings and thoughts, the “heart of the matter,” our core … are we united in our thinking or divided?

I think that if we answer this question honestly, while we may wish we were united and consistent in our thinking, we realize that we are not.  Today we think one way and tomorrow another.  Our principles are not standards we latch hold of, but merely guideposts as we slalom down the ski slope of life.  Our reliance on God is more a theory than a fact.  We trust Him … sort of, mostly.

We have doubts and we call those doubts the effect of rational thought, so that we can have an excuse to avoid being united in our heart.

God tells us to flee sin, but instead we flee commitments.  The reason we flee commitments is that the making of a commitment is an act of being united in heart.  Once a commitment is made, if it is indeed truly made, then doubts about it are the fuel of mischief.

The Psalmist asks God to unite his heart because he knows that God is the only one with power to do it.

Another version of this same request is – “My Father, Who art in heaven … but deliver me from evil.”  What evil – a divided heart.  With a divided heart we cannot adequately fear God, we cannot adequately hear God, we cannot adequately follow God, and we cannot adequately worship Him.    Satan’s weapon of choice (other than lies) is the seed of doubt (which is another version of a lie).

Like so many Psalms, there is a great truth locked into this little verse.  Do we want to walk in God’s truth?  Do we want to hear Him and follow Him?  Do we want to be taught His ways?  Then we must first have a united heart, one wholly devoted to Him.

Who can unite our heart?  There is only one, the only one, for “You alone are God.”  Ps. 86:10.

And so, to fulfill our desire that we follow in His way and His truth, two things must be true and are bookended here.  The first is that we must know that God alone is God and the second is that we must have a united heart around that knowledge.

Unite my heart, O Lord, that I might fear You and know that You are God.  Then I will be ready to be taught and to follow.

United we stand; divided we fall.

_______

© 2017 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

Bread – Steadfast

October 11, 2017


Psalm 86

Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me; for I am poor and needy…For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.”  Ps. 86:1,5

We pray to God for help in times of need … why?  Do we believe He pays attention?  Do we believe He cares?  Do we believe that He will in fact intervene to save us in our distress?  Do we believe He is able?  Do we believe that He is God?

We know that we do not bring before God the first fruits of our labor.  We do not spend time with Him.  We do not thoroughly study His Word, although we actually have a Bible on our bookshelf.  We may acknowledge His existence in some kind of reality, but we routinely ignore Him, blithely going about our lives wrapped up in ourselves.

Maybe we pray to Him in times of need as reflex action.  Maybe we do it because, having reached the ends of ropes of our making, we think that there can be no harm and, who knows, there may be some good.

Sounds all pretty cynical, doesn’t it?

I write this way to make a point.  We do not really understand what “steadfast” means because we, ourselves, are driven by the mood of the day, the breakfast we ate, the quality of the relationships we have, our title, our possessions, the need of the moment, the crisis before us, the weather, and 10,000 other things which drive us to and fro, from the heights of victory to the valley of despair, from left to right.  We do not understand what “steadfast” is because we ourselves are naturally built of sticks upon sand, constantly changing our direction based upon the direction of the wind.

And what is our reference point, if not us?

This is the ancient and modern fallacy of thinking.  If we are indeed the reference point, then the concept of steadfast has no meaning because we ourselves are steadfast for maybe a few minutes a day.

To understand steadfastness, we need to have an absolute reference point – and that is God.  We may pray out of need, but we pray to God because we know who He is.  We know Him as Creator and Savior.  We know Him as the only God.  We know Him as full of grace (mercy).  We know Him as One who is steadfast.

If we understand steadfastness at all, it is because we kneel before the One who invented the concept, who is the concept, who demonstrates the concept.

Where in our lives does God show steadfast love?  We are still denied the promotion, the salary increase, the wished for and dreamed about opportunity, the miraculous healing from cancer.  We are not happy clappy, so where is this so-called “steadfast” love?

It is shown quite simply in that we are forgiven our sins (trespasses) against Him, that we are saved from ourselves and in spite of ourselves, for all eternity, in Jesus Christ.

Regardless of whether we are in the valley of our failures or the mountaintops of our successes, God’s steadfast love does not move, it is not shaken, it is not compromised, it does not wane, it does not lose intensity, it does not diminish, it does not go away.  It remains, through thick and thin, darkness and light, worry and elation.

We, too, can be steadfast in our faith, in our love, in our devotion … if we will but stand on the solid rock, the absolute steadfastness of God.  All else is sinking sand.

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© 2017 GBF    All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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