Bread – Glorify

August 21, 2017


Psalm 79

“O God, the nations … have defiled Your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins…Pour out Your anger on the nations that do not know You…Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of Your name; …”  Ps. 79:1,6,9

This is a difficult Psalm to write about because the topic is so common. We find ourselves in deep need and we look around for the Lord’s deliverance…and He seems far away.

In this Psalm, Jerusalem has been laid waste.  We can only imagine the scope of the disaster.  There was no political structure because the ruling class had been eliminated.  There was no economy because the land was laid waste and nothing could be produced.  There was no social order because many families had been decimated.  And there was no religion because the temple had been destroyed and worship, so dependent upon the temple, was disrupted.  Think about what you would do if there were no order in the streets, half your family was gone, your money was worthless, your house was burned to the ground, your business shut down, and there was no place to buy bread or meat.  We can try to imagine such affairs, but for most who read this Bread, these realities have never hit us, all at once.

In such times, we appeal to God for help, wondering where He is.  We appeal to God based upon His relationship to us (His chosen), based upon His great compassion and mercy for us, based upon His promises, based upon His character, based upon our “special relationship,” based upon His law, …

But one thing we rarely do is to base our appeal to God on His glory.  “God, You should help us [me] because Your glory will be increased when You do!”

We know that we get something out of it when God shows up – mercy, deliverance, power, hope, opportunity, life, liberty, freedom, love, a new day, etc.  But do we even ask the question or even care what God gets out of it?

Well, if we love Him as we claim and if we worship Him as we claim, then we should care very much about what He wants as well.

We often talk about what God wants in terms of our response.  For example, what we say is that God wants obedience to His law or to His word.  Or maybe what God wants is our attention and gratitude.  Or may what God wants is for us to worship Him.

But the truth is that we can follow all the rules, be obedient to God and His word, and yet is God glorified?

When the emphasis is on the “we,” what are we doing to obey God, I would argue that He is not glorified.  The reason is simple.  Everything that comes from us is tainted by impure motive (what can we get in return).  Everything that comes from God is not so tainted.

God is glorified when we obey Him because of who He is and because of what He does, when we obey Him because He has transformed our heart, when we obey Him out of love for Him and Him only.  Can we do this on our own?  No.  But we can do it through the strength of Him who saves.

So, why, in the midst of this utter destruction, when God appears far away, do we appeal to Him based upon His glory?  “Help us … for the glory of Your name.”

It is because, at the end of the day, we are recognizing that, if God is getting what He wants, His glory, it is not because of anything we do but because of what He does.

What do we do on our own which glorifies God?  Nothing.  What does God do through us which glorifies Him?  Everything He wishes.

So, God, help me to glorify Your name by showing up today to help me do so.  “Help me…for the glory of Your name.”

One of the most powerful prayers we can make and we rarely do it.  Why?  Maybe it is because we don’t care what God wants.  Or maybe we just forget.  But maybe we just don’t know what we recite every Sunday – “Our Father in heaven, hallowed [holy, glorified] be Your name … For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory ….”

God, come into my life, so that You might be glorified.  Amen.

________

© 2017 GBF

Bread – Teach

August 16, 2017


Psalm 78

We will not hide them [“things we have heard and known”] from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord and His might, and the wonders He has done.  He … appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God…”  Ps. 78:4-7

This is a long quote to make a short point – our failure to teach our children so that they can teach their children will mean that they will lose knowledge of the works of God and therefore set their hopes in themselves, other people, government, and the world and not on God Himself.

There is not a single meeting I go to today where someone does not decry the state of our teaching of our children.  Whether it is in knowledge of the faith, knowledge of our true history as a people (good, bad, and indifferent), knowledge of the source of American prosperity and power, knowledge of where true hope and freedom lie, everyone points to the schools, the teachers, the churches, the government, our media, and a whole host of other institutions as the place where the problem is.

But there is only one place where we need to look for the source of the problem and that is a mirror.  We have seen the enemy and they are us.

There are some hard questions we need to ask and answer.  They begin with this one – What have I done today to teach a child, a young adult, an older adult … anyone … the true fundamentals, the foundations of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness?  What have I done to reveal to them the God of the universe who made them, preserves them, uplifts them, encourages them, and, in the time of His grace and mercy, saves them?  Have I actually taught them anything except how to get along in the world, and even then not that very well.  Have I taught them where to look for real power, for real truth, for real hope, for real love?

I guess that this a lot of questions.

The students surround us.  What are we teaching them?  What are we going to teach them?

________

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

 

 

Bread – Exodus

August 9, 2017


Psalm 77

You [God] led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  Ps. 77:20

I normally start at the beginning of a Psalm and work forward, but this time I am starting at the end.  This Psalm begins in depression, works through memory, and then recalls who God really is.  The ending (the quoted) verse is a recollection of the exodus.

Wherever we are, whether it be in valley of despair or the mountaintop of joy, we need to remember that we have been brought out of slavery into freedom by the mighty hand of God.  We have been brought from death to life.  We are being brought into glory.  Our chains are gone in Christ and we have been set free.

It is God who led us out from slavery through the wilderness of testing into the promised land.  He may operate through men (in this case, historically, Moses and Aaron), but it not them who led but God.  It is God who created the circumstances of the exodus and God who brought it to conclusion.

That was the exodus of the Old Testament, but we can testify to our own exodus in the modern era from death unto life.  Yes, men and women were involved, agents of God, but it was God who decided and God who did.

I say all this because we too often are so wrapped up in our issue of the day that we often forget where we have been and where we are today by the grace, mercy, and power of God.

In fairy tales, the desolate maiden is locked into a high castle by a dark lord, only to be rescued by a glamorous knight in shining armor.  Who does not see that picture?  And we identify with either the damsel in distress or the knight come to save.  We recognize the dark lord for who he is and we celebrate that good has triumphed over evil.

But in this picture of human intervention to save us from human misery, what have we forgotten?

The knight in our fairy tale reports to someone.  That person is the king of the realm.  Who sent the knight?  Who empowered the knight?  Who stands behind and superintends the rescue?

We know who the king is in the fairy tale, although we may not see him and the story may not talk about him.

But do we know who the king is in our tale, our story, our exodus?

If we do, we need to remember Him, honor Him, worship Him … for He is indeed Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  He is Jesus the Christ.  He, with the Father and Holy Spirit, is (are) the author of our exodus.

Now that we remember our exodus and its Author, we are prepared to deal with both the lows of life and the highs as well.

________

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

Bread – Fear

August 4, 2017


Psalm 76

But You [God], You are to be feared!  Who can stand before You … when God arose to establish judgment, to save the humble of the earth.  Selah.”  Ps. 76:7,9

As we have noted before, in the Psalms when the word “Selah” appears, it is time to stop our speed reading, take a breath, read more slowly and hear what God is saying to us in His revelation, the Bible.

Fear is one of those emotions which can be short term or long term and in either case can cause us to make wise decisions or foolish ones.  When our fear is short term and arises from the circumstances ahead of us, we recognize it by our reaction, which is an immediate heightened awareness of our surroundings and an immediate readiness to either attack to eliminate the cause of our fear or to run away and get as far away as possible.  This kind of fear is legitimate and arises from our desire to protect ourselves from the coming disaster.  For example, I was on the Dallas North toll road yesterday driving about 65 miles an hour with cars to either side of me at the same speed when a car about four car lengths in front of me blew (shredded) a tire.  Not only were there flying tire parts everywhere but there was a real danger that the car would lose control, flip over, and that I would be in the middle of the mess in a couple of seconds.  I was afraid of what was going to happen, my flight or fight reaction set in, and I was lucky that, not only did my brakes work, but the drivers to either side of me and behind me were also paying attention and their brakes worked too.

But then there is the fear which is long term and which debilitates us over time, causing us to behave poorly.  I grew up with a lazy eye, which was not corrected by surgery until I was in my late 50’s.  For most of my adult life, I was afraid that people would see me and laugh, and so I avoided eye contact.  I developed lots of defensive behaviors to make it appear I was not doing this, but I did it anyway.  My fear of ridicule (unfounded by the way) caused me to live a lot of my adult life unengaged from those around me.

We have lots of fears which drive us to poor decisions.  We have the fear of failure, the fear of ridicule, the fear of loss, the fear of not being loved, the fear of insecurity, the fear of loneliness, the fear of crowds, the fear of small places and large places, the fear of appearing (or being) stupid.  These fears can drive us into living lives of quiet desperation, living lives depressed, living lives full of fears about the next shoe to drop, the next Murphy’s law to appear, the next slight to bear, the next failure to deal with.

But the Psalmist points out something which we really should pay more attention to.  That point is that God is person we should be fearful of, because He is the one who judges according to His standard, which we cannot meet on our own.  “But You, You are to be feared!”

But if we see clearly that God is to be feared, does that lead us into permanent depressed state?  No It does not.  Unlike most long-term fears, which drive us into poor decisions, the fear of God does exactly the opposite – it drives us to good decisions!  Because when God arises to establish judgment He also arises to save “all the humble” of the earth.  Who are the humble – those who fear God!

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” Pr. 1:7  “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”  Pr. 29:25

In man’s way of thinking, to fear God would mean to fear everything, because God is Creator of everything.  In God’s revelation to us, this truth stands firm – fear God and worship Him and Him only, and we will fear nothing.  Because when we fear Him, when we see Him who He is and we see ourselves for who we are, we are protected by Him into eternal life.

So, as we tackle our world today, let us fear Him and only Him … and, then fearing the only God who is to be feared, let us then live life in victory, free from fear, as He has promised.

________

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Prey

August 2, 2017


Psalm 76

Glorious are You, more majestic than the mountains of prey.”  Ps. 76:4

What are the “mountains of prey?”  In my Bible, there is a cross-reference to Nahum, a “minor” prophet whose book I admit I have never read.  Like a dictionary, this cross-reference is not much help, being a reference to Nineveh (Assyria) and this statement – “Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions.  I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall no longer be heard.”  Na. 2:13

In our way of thinking, the word “prey” is something or someone who is attacked by a predator.  So between the murderer and the victim, the victim is prey and the murderer is predator.

So, since nothing in my Christian library helps me understand what “mountain of prey” is, I translate it roughly as a “mountain of things I chase after, I hunt for, I run down to the ground.”

And what are those things?  What do we chase after, hunt for, and run down to the ground?  What about the idols of this world?  Don’t we hunt for prestige, for honor, for glory, for a “special place,” for money, for wealth, for power, for position, for influence, for respect, for love?

And, indeed, all those things we search for on a regular basis, ready to capture them and put them into our storehouses, create a mountain to climb every day.  If we are not more cunning, our opportunity will be lost to someone more aggressive.  If we are not more assertive, our desired position will go to someone else.  If I don’t save my money, I won’t have enough to withstand those who would take it away from me (through selling me things I don’t need, etc.).

We chase our mountain of prey every day; we attempt to climb the mountain of what we want out of life.

There was (maybe is) an old video game called “Super Mario” where this guy, who looked like a worker, ran, jumped, twirled, and walked, a lot uphill, through all kinds of obstacles and dangers, to get his “prizes,” which included “gold coins.”  It wasn’t until I was thinking about a mountain of prey this morning that I realized that is what Mario was doing in that game, chasing his prey up the mountain … and that is what we do.

But God is more majestic, more glorious, than that mountain of junk, of idols, we chase after.

And of course He is.  This “mountain of prey” is nothing more than a “mountain of ….. dashed dreams, broken promises, faulty gods(idols), selfish ambition, spent time on things  which will pass away.”

We will spend hours today chasing our prey and climbing the mountain of prey.  But how many minutes will we spend chasing the One who is “more majestic?”

________

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

 

 

Bread – Near

July 26, 2017


Psalm 75

We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks for Your name is near.”  Ps. 75:1

What does it mean to “near” someone?  It doesn’t mean “upon.”  When I say I am “near” to you, it does not mean that I am top of you.  And it doesn’t necessarily mean “close to” or “next to” in the sense that our personal space is somehow invaded.  All of us have been in crowded situations where the person standing next to us is “too near” to us, touching us, pushing us, invading our personal space.  We may put up with someone being “too near” to us because of the circumstances (like on a crowded bus), but we are not happy about it and we ready to push that person away and re-establish our “comfort zone” as soon as possible.

No, “near” does not mean “on top of” nor does it mean “next to.”  Instead, I think it means “close enough to be reached by me.”  If someone is near to me, then I can reach out and, by a slight movement in that person’s direction, touch them, talk to them, engage with them, and hear them.

Since the phrase “Your name” is synonymous with the person described, the direct modern translation might be “God is near (to me).”  Asaph says that he (and we) give thanks to God because He is close (but not too close) to us.  He does not smother us by being on top of us; He does not make us uncomfortable by invading our personal zone.  But He is near, able to be reached, able to be touched, able to be spoken to, and able to be heard from.  He is not only able, but willing.  We may be able but we are often not willing.  But that is on us, not on Him.

There is a flip side to His being near to us and that flip side is that we are near to Him.  We cannot shake it; we cannot slam the door in His face (we have no power to “dis-near” Him).  We are always near to Him, even in our deepest despair.  Even while we are steeped in sin, we are near to Him because He is near to us.  What is amazing to me is that this “nearness” is not established by anything which we did or because of who we are, but because of what He has done and who He is.

In order for us to benefit from this nearness, the Holy Spirit has to enable us to do two things.  The first is not obvious, but is absolutely necessary.  The second is obvious, but we tend to think it is not necessary even though it is.

To the person who is dead in their sins, the first thing the Holy Spirit does is make us aware that God is near.  If we do not recognize God is in the room and we therefore don’t recognize God is near, then we don’t even see Him at all.  He may be near to us but His presence is unknown to us.  The best example I can think of is I was shopping the other day with my wife and this woman who I knew was standing right next to me.  I was so focused on my shopping that it did not register with me that someone was standing next to me, much less someone I knew.  I about jumped out of my skin when she said “Hello, George,” and I immediately thought to myself “How did I not see her?”  I did not see her because I had not been awakened by her voice.  Just so, while we are dead in our sins, God is near but we don’t even see Him, feel Him, or hear Him, much less acknowledge that He is in the same room as we are.  The Holy Spirit by necessity has to wake us to the fact that He is who He is and that He is near.

We often think that, once the Holy Spirit has done His work in waking us up, that it up to us to say “Hello, Jesus, thank You for coming; please set up shop in my soul.”  (This is a sloppy rendition of the so-called “sinner’s prayer.”)    However, this is where the next step occurs, after recognizing that God is in the room, we much reach out to Him.  The reason I call this “obvious” but we think it unnecessary for the Holy Spirit to be involved is that many of us believe that this next step is ours to take, on our own in our own strength.  We believe that, if God is near and we have become aware of that fact, then it is up to us to engage Him.

However, how does one reach out to God, even if you know He exists, when one is dead in sin?  Because we are dead, it is God who must come near, it is God who must wake us up to recognize Him, and it is God who must bring us, while we are still dead, to Him.  The Holy Spirit enables us not only to see but to do.  We see God across the room but we are stuck at the buffet line of the world unless He takes us by the hand and brings us to Himself.

How near is God?  As near as you need Him to be.  Come Holy Spirit, open our eyes and move us into position to touch Him, talk to Him, and listen to Him, enabling us to give thanks because He is indeed near.

________

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

Bread – Signs

July 21, 2017


Psalm 74

Your foes have roared in the midst of Your meeting place; they have set up their own signs for signs.”  Ps. 74:4

Those who are of the world and are not for God are against God.  “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?”  Jas. 4:4b  Therefore, the word “foes” here not only includes people who would see God removed totally from life on earth, but also those who wouldn’t go that far but are still hostile to God and those who are neutral toward God, perhaps believing that there are many gods.  So, God has many foes, many enemies.

But what do the enemies of God do to demonstrate their enmity?  The most obvious way is to work to depose His people on earth, to imprison them in their homes or churches, to make sure that none of their infectious ideas (like eternal life through belief in Jesus Christ) are spoken in the public square or reflected in public policy or laws.

The less obvious way is to create symbols and signs which lead away from God or, worse, mislead people into finding a false god.

Ultimately, unless we are the recipient of direct revelation, we take in our information and our knowledge by words, by language.   The foes of God attempt to create signs and symbols which sound like and look like the words they replace, but which lead away from a sovereign Lord and which therefore lead away from life.

There are many illustrations of this, but I will pick three and hopefully one or more you will find accurate.

The first is our description of God in our own translations of Scripture.   What I mean by that is the destruction of the word “he” or “him” when that pronoun refers to God.  In a sentence referring to both me (a man) and God in every major Bible translation today, any reference to either me or God will be either “he” or “him.”  Very, very, very subtly, by doing so the foes of God have equated man and God to the same level.  Do Christians today have a diminished view of God’s sovereignty, His power, and His majesty?  Perhaps it is because God is referred to in man-made translations as “him” or “he.”  Just like I don’t deserve the royal capital “H,” neither in the opinion of these Bible translators does God.

The second is our corruption of the word “love.”  We “love” football, we “love” ice cream, we “love” our children, and we “love” our neighbor become all the same word.  What has great meaning in a covenantal relationship as between us and God or between us and our spouse is reduced in practical terms to “like a lot.”  When we can love our ice cream with the same meaning as we love our neighbor, why should there be any doubt about why we do not understand the concept of “love our neighbor as we love ourselves.”  We may preach about “sacrificial love,” but isn’t it interesting that the word has become so corrupted that we have to try to strengthen it with an adjective to get our point across.  And is there any reason to wonder why we don’t understand what “sacrificial love” is when the real practical translation is “sacrificial like a lot.”

My third example is actually a strange one because it still means something but the meaning is disappearing in front of our eyes.  That word is “privacy.”  When I was young, this was a core concept of life.  When I was in my room alone, I had privacy.  When I was on the telephone, I had privacy.  When I got a letter in the mail, I had privacy.  The notion is related to a strong Christian view that each man is in the image of God and is therefore worthy of respect.  Part of respect is giving each man then the freedom to be alone, to be private.    Some people today believe that the notion of “privacy” is gone in our electronic culture.  E-mails are monitored, we are moving to a cashless society where everything is run through monitored computer, we have “smart meters” which can monitor our internal home usage, we have smart boxes which are constantly listening to “Hey ______,” we communicate through devices which track our buying habits, and we even have laws in place specifying which information is private and which is not.  Of course, the laws that “give” us privacy can take it away.  Finally, our privacy rights (if any we have) in bathrooms are being taken away in the name of social reform.

So, the foes of God set up their own signs (symbols, meanings) for God’s signs (symbols, meanings).

What are we to do?  Well, obviously first we pray for God’s intervention in our worldly affairs.  But the truth is that we can take back the language.  We can substitute our signs for their signs, our symbols for their symbols, our meanings for their meanings.  How do we do that?  I think we do it by becoming a lot more sensitive to the language we use.  For example, let’s reserve the word “love” for where it really matters.  Let’s honor people’s privacy the way we demand they honor ours.

And let’s refer to God as “He” with the royal capital, as He deserves.

________

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

Bread – Night

July 19, 2017


Psalm 74

“You [God] split open springs and brooks; You dried up ever-flowing streams.  Yours is the day, Yours also the night;…”  Ps. 74:15-16

In every book I have ever read and every television show I have ever watched, it is the night when bad things typically happen.  The bats, the secretive people, the trolls, and such ilk always show up at night.  We even have the idea of vampires, where the slightest touch of the sun causes them to melt away.  Night dwellers, night crawlers – when we add the word “night” in front of a word, it automatically casts a sinister shadow.

Our general operating philosophy is that God rules the day and Satan (or evil) rules the night.  We think like that and we act like that.  We are wrong.

In this Psalm, God is missing but He is remembered.  Asaph, the acknowledged Psalmist, acknowledges that God is Creator and that He owns and controls both the day and the night, having invented them both.

It may very well be the hardest reality to swallow as a Christian – that God is God over everything, good and bad, day and night.  It is hard for us to swallow because we want to offer an escape hatch for God, feeling like He needs to be defended by us.  If the night belongs to Satan, then we can understand why God has not stopped evil at night.  But if the night belongs to God, we are left with the question “why is God [apparently] missing?”  It is hard for us to swallow because we know that God is good, but we see what we perceive to be bad things happening and are then left with the question, “if God is good, then why ….?”

Whether we are trying to find an escape hatch for God or attempting to assess God’s purpose according to our own standards, we are engaged in the same sport.  We are either acting as God’s judge (“You, Sir, are doing wrong.  Straighten up!”) or as His partner and coach (“Hey, God, this is not what we agreed to,” or “Hey God, if You did it this way, we would be better off.”)  In both instances, we have either elevated ourselves to be equal to God (His partner, friend, coach) or above Him (His judge).

The end of logic is this – if God is sovereign over all, then He is sovereign over both day and night, good and bad, ups and downs.

But this is also the end of faith – If God is sovereign over all, and I do not understand why He has or has not acted the way He has, then I must stand down and trust in Him.  He is God and I am not.

We may very well be in the night of our lives, where nothing is clear and everything is a threat.  God is in control.  We know this logically because He is sovereign king over all, which includes the night, and we know this by faith because we trust in Him.

When we are in the night and we acknowledge the presence of God, worshiping Him in all circumstances, it would not surprise me for someone to ask the question – who turned on the light?

________

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Pride

July 12, 2017


Psalm 73

All in vain I have kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence…” Ps. 73:13

Stuck in the middle of this Psalm is, in one sentence, a classic example of the pride of the world and ourselves.

Asaph, the Psalmist, starts his Psalm by saying to himself (and to God), I believe in God but I see the wicked prosper and not me.  He ends his Psalm by saying that, in spite of his doubts caused by his observance of the ascendancy of the wicked, he knows that God exists and that God is “his strength and portion forever.”  Ps. 73:26

But in the middle is this great statement:  “And not only that, Lord, but I am better than they are – I keep my heart clean and I am innocent.”  (I took great liberalities with the actual text, which you can read for yourself in the first line.”

We look around as Christians, as people in this world, and how often does it cross our mind that we ought to be resentful because we are “better” than they are.  After all, we are righteous and they are not; we are washed in the blood of the Lamb and they are not; we have a “clean heart” and they do not.

Whoa, folks.  Who here reading this Bread or, for that matter, anyone in the world, as a “clean heart.”  Do we not covet, gossip, worry, protect our precious positions of power, scheme, speak sometimes with untruth and, certainly, un-love?  Do we not dream about a better vacation, a better lifestyle, a better car, a better bank account, a better job, a better relationship?  Do we really, really have a “clean heart.”

As for being prideful in our righteousness, whose righteousness have we taken on anyway?  Is it ours or His?  If we are righteous at all before God, who achieved that?  Was it us in our sinful state or was it Him who died for us and who intervened in our life at a time when we were dead to breathe His spirit into us so that we might have eternal life?

Asaph did not keep his heart clean “in vain” because he is human, and he did not keep it clean at all.  Asaph did not.  We do not.  We cannot without outside aid.

There is no ranking of sinners.  All people, saved and unsaved, fall short of the glory of God.  Those who are saved see that with great clarity and are grateful that they do not have to pay the penalty to God for those sins, that penalty having been paid by Jesus Christ on the cross.

Where did Asaph’s essential doubts come from?  Did they come from his objective look at the world and wondering where God was, or did they come from his subjective look at the world, through lenses that said “I keep my heart clean” and so, therefore, I deserve better than “they.”

Where do our essential doubts come from?  Do they really come from an objective view of the world or a view through a lens that says “God is being unfair … to me.”

Pride is often listed as our worse sin.  It probably deserves that ranking because it is the lens which distorts our view of ourselves, our view of the world, and our view of God.

Pride is what caused Asaph to believe and say that “All in vain I have kept my heart clean.”  What Asaph could have said was that “But for You, I would not have clean heart.”  And that would be a true statement.  But to get there will require the setting aside of pride.  And how will we do that?  We cannot, but God can … and so we pray, “Come Holy Spirit, and create in me a clean heart.”

________

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

 

 

 

Bread – Permanence

July 10, 2017


Psalm 73

But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.  For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward You.  Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand.  You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will receive me to glory.”  Ps. 73:2-3,21-24

I almost coined a new word for this Bread, “permaninity,” meaning the state of being permanent, but “permanence” will have to do.

What is permanent?  We actually have a very hard time answering that question, because we have no reference point.  To a young kid in time out, permanent may mean three minutes.  To a young adult used to immediate gratification from the Internet, video games, Google, and Amazon, “permanent” may mean six months.  To us older adults, perhaps permanent is a house more than a hundred years old.  For those of us who have visited other places and have seen paint on ancient walls more than 1,000 years old, permanent may seem like a 1,000 years.  For those who study rocks and believe them to be very old, “permanent” may mean a million years.

In this Psalm today, we have object evidence of permanence.  Who does not find in the Psalmists words today great insight into ourselves.  We may have faith but that faith runs constantly into the bumps of doubt.  When we look abroad at the world and immediately around us, we see corruption in so-called Christians, we see cruelty, we see hatred, we see liars, we see thieves, we see charlatans and con men (and women), we see sexual perversion, we see the proud wealthy, we see those hungry for power, we see huge imbalances in living conditions, we see unfairness, and we see hopelessness.  In the face of all that, we are tempted mightily to cry out “Where are you God?  Where is Your proof?  Where is Your righteous indignation?  When is Your judgment upon all these terrible people?”    As the Psalmist, our soul becomes embittered and we become cold, “like a beast,” toward God.

So where is the evidence of permanence, other than the apparently permanent ascendancy of the wicked?

The evidence of permanence is in this – In all this, He holds our right hand.  He guides us with His revelation and truth.  And, in the end, He will receive us, for those who believe, to glory in eternity.

While we may jump from thought to thought and feeling to feeling and while we believe and yet doubt, God is there, permanent in His intent toward His chosen.  When we are conceived, He is there.  When we are born, He is there.  When we are ready to believe, He is there.  When we are ready to let Him lead, He is there.  When we are ready for wise counsel, He is there.  When we are ready to take up our cross and follow Him, He is there.  When we are ready to find rest under His wings, He is there.  When we are on our deathbed and ready to join Him, He is there.

He is.

That is permanence.

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

 

 

 

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