Bread – Defense

September 19, 2017


Psalm 83

O God, do not keep silence; do not hold Your peace or be still, O God!  For behold, Your enemies make an uproar; those who hate You have raised their heads….As fire consumes the forest, as the flame sets the mountains ablaze, so may You pursue them …”  Ps. 83: 1-2, 14-15

The English Standard Version’s Study Bible’s (copy. 2008, Crossway Bibles) notes on this Psalm say that it is “a community lament, geared to a situation in which God’s people are threatened by Gentile enemies who aim to destroy them….Christians would use this this psalm … in cases where their persecutors would destroy them and all traces of their faith.”

In many parts of the world, sounds like now.

But then again, when people want to be their own god and follow the ways of the world, they hate God and all those who claim Him, so the circumstances described (“where persecutors would destroy them and all traces of their faith”) actually describes recorded history.

Sometimes this attempted destruction takes the form of weapons, guns, knives and poisons.  Sometimes the attempted destruction is political, driving Christians from positions of power and influence.  Sometimes the attempted destruction is corrosion, bringing into play anti-Christs who preach messages which tickle the ears and destroy the soul.  Sometimes the attempted destruction is intellectual, to place Christianity into the dustbin of history and marginalize faith as being unreasonable, illogical, or just plain stupid.  Sometimes the attempted destruction is merely to try to shut us up by exclusion from debate or, worse, by shouting us down by calling us names.

What defense do we make in this time of destruction?  Maybe the better question is “What effective defense do we make in this time of destruction?”

One idea might be to fortify ourselves with wisdom and knowledge so that we can always make “a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” 1 Pet. 3:15.  However, we know that no-one whose eyes and ears are closed will ever be argued into the kingdom of God.  The fact that we are to make defense to someone who asks shows that God has already intervened to cause that person to ask, and we are merely at that moment to continue a good work already begun by God.

Another idea might be to attack (the best defense being a good offense) by preaching the Word in all places, but although that world might see that as an attack, all we are really doing is what we are told to do – go and make disciples of all nations.  Matt. 28:19.  We are not attacking anyone when we follow our commission; but we certainly are proclaiming.  But even then, although we might obey by planting the seed, God is the one in charge of raising the seed up into good fruit.

Finally, we might defend ourselves by accessing positions of power and being in charge of everything.  But, as history has shown us, every time we do that we fall subject to the corrosion of the world and its corruption.

So, then, how do we defend ourselves?  The Psalmist has the answer.  We let God do it.  We ask God to step in and handle it.

Our problem is that, to us, it sounds like a cop-out, like we are giving up.  But when we do that, we are not giving up, we are giving in … to Him.  And when we do, we are strong; and when we do not, we are weak.

O, when someone attacks me with gun and knife, I can well defend myself with similar weapons.  But when the spirit of the age attacks me with the desire to destroy “all trace of my faith,” then there is only one defense and one defender.  At that time and now, our best defense is this – “O God, do not keep silence …”

_______

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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 – Beginnings

June 21, 2017


Psalm 71

“…You have given the command to save me…Upon You have I leaned from before my birth; You are He who took me from my mother’s womb.”  Ps. 71:3b,6

When did our relationship with the Lord God Almighty begin?

Some of us may remember vividly the day we “accepted” Jesus as our Lord and Savior.  Perhaps we said the sinner’s prayer in response to an altar call or at an evangelistic event.  Perhaps it was at an early age when we believed the Bible stories we were being told.  Perhaps it was at a God-appearance, either audibly or visually or perhaps maybe in a dream.  Perhaps it was at a time at the laying on of hands by some people praying over us.  Some of us may not have a moment in time, but our relationship grew over a period of time and, one day, we looked back and realized that we had gone from the side of the ledger of unbelief to the side of the ledger we call belief.

But the truth is, whatever our memory, it is in one sense false.  The reason our memory is in one sense false is that our awareness of our relationship may be at one point in time, but our relationship was actually established well before that.

David in this Psalm acknowledges that before he was born, he leaned on God; he had a relationship with the Almighty.  David knows that it was God who delivered him into the world, just as it is God who sustains him in the world and it is God who has redeemed him from the world.

I juxtaposed two verses on purpose.  God gives the command to save me.  I do not give the command to God, nor to myself.  God gives the command.  And I have leaned on Him before I was even born, whether I was aware of it or not.  I can lean on Him before I was even born because God the command to save me.  When?  Before I was born.

Can we trace our beginnings of our relationship with Jesus Christ?  Yes we can.  One trace is through knowledge and that leads us to the date we professed with our mouth that Jesus was Lord.  The other trace is through faith and that leads us to the real beginning, God’s beginning of His command, before we were born.

The only way we know that our beginnings with God predate our physical birth is by faith in the power of God’s command.

If we are weak in our faith, I think it is because we somehow have the belief that we are the ones who give the commands.  In this view, God has a relationship with us because we commanded it or at least cooperated with God’s command.  But does God need our agreement for His command to be effective?  If so, we have a small view of God and an even smaller view of the power of God’s command to result in the outcome He desires.

But, if the beginnings our relationship with God pre-existed our birth, then how did the effectiveness of God’s command to establish that relationship depend upon us at all?

Our natural way of thinking begins with us and turns outwards toward them (the community) and then the heavens (God).   But beginnings do not begin with us, they begin with Him.  Think about it.

________

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

 

Bread – They

February 20, 2017


Psalm 53

The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’  They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good.”  Ps. 53:1

Who is “they?”  There is an inclination to say that it is those people who are “fools,” but the reference may in fact be to everyone.  Later, in the same Psalm, God looks down on the “children of man” and says, again, “there is none who does good, not even one.”

 

But even if we limit the reference of “they” to “fools,” the real question then is “who are the fools?” and “Am I a fool too?”

A “fool” in biblical terms is a person who says in his heart, “There is no God.”  Of course we, as Christians, would look at this and say that “we know there is a God; therefore, we are not a fool.”  But not so fast.

We can acknowledge there is a God with our mind and even have accepted Him as Lord and Savior in our hearts and souls, and yet think and act on a daily basis as if there is no God.  Do I do that?  Do we do that?  Have I acknowledged God with my lips and by baptism and by attendance at worship, and yet act throughout the entire day like He doesn’t exist?

Of course I do, and so I will bet do you.   Let me ask some simple questions.

Do I (we) see sin as it really is, as something that we do minute by minute as we disobey the commands of Christ to love each other and love our neighbors as ourselves?

Do I (we) see sin as it really is, in all of its forms, mild and strong, as an absolute affront to a holy God?

Do I (we) blow off sin in our lives as something which is minor, or inconsequential, or, worse, forgiven and therefore acceptable or necessary?

Do I (we) encourage sin in others, ignoring the consequences of bringing others into ruin?

Do I (we) consider sin a mere weakness in the circumstances or imperfection which can be worked out by better education, better food, a better environment, better schools, or just the best of what the world has to offer?

Do I (we) pay more attention to what is in front of us or beneath us rather than above us?

Do I (we) believe that television is important or the news or our bank account or the car we drive or the job we have or the college degrees on our wall?

Do I (we) spend more time pursuing excellence or the treasure at the end of the rainbow or more knowledge than building relationships with our neighbors, with our family, and with God?

There are more questions, but I think I (we) get the drift.  We may not be total fools because we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, but we may be fools nonetheless because, although we know who our Savior is, we often think and act like God does not exist.

Every time we minimize God in our lives by ignoring Him and His commands, we are saying in our heart, in that moment, that God does not exist.

The “they” is me and the “they” is us.  Even though we know the truth and have exclaimed the truth, we do not live in the truth.  But, thanks be to God, while we are weak, He is strong.  While we are the “fool,” He is the fool-redeemer.  While we forget Him, He does not forget us.  When we forget who He is and what He has done, He calls us to remember and to restoration to Him.

It is sort of funny that the world would call us believers “fools” for our belief.  They are right, but not in the way they think.  For we are all fools, fallen short of the glory of God.  For we are all fools, demonstrating this daily as we walk in the ways of the world rather than in the ways of God.  But, as the redeemed, we are a special kind of fool, one who has been transformed in our minds enough to know that sin is sin, that sin results in death, that we are sinners saved by God’s mercy and purchased by blood on the cross by Christ, and that every day, as we walk in faith into the opportunities which God creates, we are growing and maturing toward that day when we will be made perfect.

And that makes all the difference.

_________

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

 

 

 

Bread – Resolved

December 30, 2016


Psalm 45

Hear, O daughter, and consider … Since He is your Lord, bow to Him.”   Ps. 45:10-11

This is the third step in the process of our glorification as Christ’s bride.  The pre-step is God’s choice of His bride.  The first step was for us to hear and incline ourselves toward God.  The second step is then for us to forget our past, pick up our cross, and follow Him.

This third step is encapsulated in the Psalmist’s simple statement that we, as Christ’s bride, should “bow to Him,” since He is our Lord.

 

This simple command sounds strange to Western ears, and particularly to Americans, where we say proudly that “we bow down to no man.”  But, of course, Jesus is God, so he is not mere man.  But, still, we like to think of ourselves as equal to God and, therefore, it is easier in our mindset to call Him “friend” then it is to call Him “Lord.”

But for the wedding feast to be truly glorious, for the bride to enjoy all of the benefits of hope, peace, love, and charity which God brings into the relationship, the bride must bow, the bride must be obedient to the Lord’s commands.

As we reach the end of the year and look forward to the new year, it is time for reflection and resolution, reflection on the past and resolution for the future.

As we look over the past year in our walk with God, have we really, really been obedient to His call on our lives, to His commands for life, or to His personal request that we become holy like He is?  We may have heard the good news of Christ and inclined our ear, and we may have gathered around us our church friends, leaving our past behind, but have we really “bowed to Him?”  Have we given up our selfish ways?  Have we subordinated self to His glory, His ways, His truth, and His life?  Instead of just asking ourselves “What would Jesus do,” have we actually done what Jesus has told us to do?

Many of us, myself included, are weak Christians.  We talk a game, but we do not walk it.  We have heard the good news and proclaim trust in Christ, but we trust ourselves and our friends and our wealth and the world more.  We do not walk in holiness; in fact, if we are honest, we barely make acquaintance with the concept.

But that is the past, and it need not be the future.  The work of God is to transform us, first by giving us a new life in Him and then training us, bringing us up from infants into maturity as His disciples.

Let’s all take on a New Year’s resolution that very well may be the hardest thing we have ever done.  Let us resolve to begin each day by “bowing to Him.”  Let’s be obedient to our Lord.

What does this look like?  I think it is simpler than we think.  If He says love, we love.  If He says rest, we rest.  If He says talk to Me, we talk to Him.  If He says “walk through that door,” we take the step of faith into the unknown (to us).

Resolved, that I put Him first and me second.  And for that, we need help.  Come Holy Spirit!

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

Bread – Conflicts

November 30, 2016


Psalm 43

Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause …For You are the God in whom I take refuge; why have You rejected me?”  Ps. 43:1-2

We hate conflict and most of us avoid it whenever possible.  In just these two short versus, the Psalmist discloses that he is suffering through three conflicts at the same time.

The first conflict is with other persons.  The Psalmist is asking God to defend his cause.  Elsewhere in the same verse, the Psalmist describe this type of opponent who creates conflict as “the deceitful and unjust man.”  These types of people create nothing but conflict because instead of loving someone and doing their best for them, they use that someone and do their worse for them.  But one thing the Psalmist forgets to ask is whether he himself is one of those “deceitful and unjust” men.  The character he throws on his enemy may well apply to himself.  But, in any event, he is involved in an outward struggle with people who he considers to be bad, and he is asking God to go show them who’s boss.

The second conflict is internal and is self to self.  This is a little subtle, but I see it in the Psalmist’s reference to “For You are the God …”  In the times of the Psalmist, as today, there are many philosophies, people, religions, and contenders for “God.”  So, here, the Psalmist is a little irritated and maybe in conflict with his choice.  After all, he (the Psalmist) picked God out of the lineup to be his (the Psalmist’s) choice, and now he is saying to God … I picked You – now, where are you?  You should be more grateful that I picked you, God!  This internal conflict will always come to pass if we have picked God as “the God” out of many for reasons known to us.  Perhaps we claim to have picked God because He is generous to us, or because we want eternal life, or because we are medically sick and want to become well, or because our best friend did and we want to please our friend.  Perhaps we picked God because we just wanted to get the preacher-man off our back.  We are bound to have a conflict over this sooner or later because we will be sitting in a corner one day and the God whom we picked just won’t “bother” to show up.  And we will begin to doubt our choice – perhaps God is ineffective or perhaps He doesn’t care or perhaps He just wound up the world and is letting us go like wound-up dolls or perhaps He doesn’t know what to do or perhaps He is busy.  This subtle but real conflict arises because, by asserting that we have chosen God (for our respective reasons), we have set ourselves either over God (we will tell Him what He should do because He should be grateful we picked Him) or at least beside Him as His best buddy.

The third conflict is directly with God Himself.  I (the Psalmist) called and You (God) did not answer.  I prayed and nothing happened (that I could see or appreciate).  I asked you to go strike dead my enemy and he seems to be doing quite fine, thank you very much.

The first kind of conflict is terrible because it only exists when the self (you, me) cares about winning according to the rules of the world.  That kind of conflict will never end until the rules of the Kingdom of God are the ones being followed and not the rules of the world.

The second kind of conflict is terrible because our doubts about what to do and how to act will freeze us into inaction.

The third kind of conflict can be good because it shows that we have a real relationship with our Father.  After all, what child when he does not get what he wants from his earthly father will not first ask again, then ask his mother, then whine and pout, then stomp off in a fit, and then wander off, think about it, and either accept it or come back for rounds two, three, etc.  As long as they are talking, even if in conflict, good things ultimately happen.

The conflict with others is unnecessary, the conflict within ourselves is debilitating, the conflict with God ultimately strengthens our obedience, our wisdom, our perseverance, and our love for Him.

I can almost guarantee that you have had your conflicts with others and with yourself today already.

But have you had your conflict with God?  Isn’t it time?

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

Bread – When

November 23, 2016


Psalm 42

My soul thirsts for You, O God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God?”  Ps. 42:2

Another reading of this question is “When shall I come and see the face of God?”

In both versions of the question, the operative word is “when?”

When shall I satisfy my thirst, the hole which is in my heart which can only be filled by God?  When shall I give up my foolish ways and follow the ways of God?  When shall I say “no” to Satan and the world and say “yes” to Christ and life.  When shall I turn from my sinful ways and turn toward God?  When shall I die?  When shall I meet God face to face and be asked that terrible (or wonderful) question, “What do you have to say for yourself?  What do you have to say for your life?”  When shall I be judged?  When shall I belong?  When shall I be safe forever?

When shall I abandon the straightjacket of man’s reason and embrace the wonder of faith in God’s wisdom?

When indeed?

If you have not already had your “when” moment, when you fell before God and received His gift of grace, when you believed in Jesus Christ and turned from sin toward God, then there are only three choices which man will claim – I will do it now, tomorrow, or never.

These man-made when’s (today, tomorrow or never) have a nice ring to them, because they tickle our self-bone and exalt us over everything.  There is a problem, though, because the real answer to the question “When shall I come and appear before God?” is either today or tomorrow.  It is never “never.”

One of Satan’s greatest tricks, I think, is to make us believe that decisions and consequences can sometimes be put off forever.  But God says that there is a time coming when all of us will meet Him face to face, and at that time we will either be judged by Him to eternal judgment or be found guilty but forgiven, covered by Jesus’ sacrifice.

We are entering into the seasons of distractions, when the world clamors for attention.  But attend to this, please …. When will you come and appear before God?

It may be sooner than you think.  In fact, it may be today.

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Fret

October 10, 2016


Psalm 37

Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of evildoers!…fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!…Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” Ps. 37:1,7-8

The “frets” of a guitar are the little ridges along the handle which are used to tighten the string when they are pressed down to produce a higher note.

The “frets” of this life are similar.  They are the little things which, when pressed by us or by others, cause the strings of our lives to tighten, producing higher and higher, shriller and shriller notes.  Whereas the frets on the guitar are used deliberately to produce chords and melodies, the frets of our life are pushed by us and others haphazardly to produce shrillness and dissonance and non-chords, or discord.

What are these frets of our lives?  Primarily, they arise when we start comparing ourselves to others.  “Be not envious of evildoers?”  Why would we be envious?  Because many, many sinful people manipulate our society very well, producing great temporary wealth, position, and fame.  We look around and see the big houses we do not have, the nice cars we do not drive, the retirement accounts we do not have, the clubs we do not belong to, the schools we do not attend … and we fret about our well-being, we worry.  We say to ourselves, “why do the wicked prosper” and, in the process, the haphazardly push the frets of our lives, bringing discord and disharmony unnecessarily to our self-assurance, our friendships, our family, and our relationship to God.  And Satan smiles.

What happens when we worry about getting ahead in the world, of keeping up with the Joneses, of making sure that we too have the big house, the expensive clothes, the nice car, and idyllic lifestyle of the rich and famous?  The Psalm is clear — “Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.”  When we fret over what we do not have (or what other people have), we tend to want to copy them … and since they sin and do evil (in all likelihood), so might we.

So we have a choice this week.  Fret and pay the consequences, or trust in the Lord and receive the blessings.

Fret or trust, worry or faith.  One leads to discord; the other to concord.  One leads to disharmony; the other to good music.  One takes on the burdens of life; the unloads the burdens of life onto someone more capable of carrying them.

What are you fretting about today?  Is it helping?

To fret or not to fret?  That is the question.  What is your answer?

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

Bread – Disobey

August 22, 2016


Psalm 32

“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven…” Ps. 32:1

The three Breads this week will focus on the three types of sins which David talks about and the three ways in which God deals with those sins for those who turn to Him in repentance and believe in Jesus Christ.  Because of the use of words and Jewish poetic parallelism, these three distinctive forms of sin and God’s work with each type are almost lost in the speed with which David delivers them.  But they are important enough that they need to be broken apart.  This week, therefore, we will not go beyond the first two verses, where it all is.

What is a “transgression.”  I admit that my normal automatic interpretation of this is to think that it means a violation of God’s law.  It does not.  It means a stepping upon God’s person, His authority, His righteousness, His kingship.  It means a rebellion against God and His authority over all.  This transgression first occurred in the garden of Eden, before there was law.  There was one simple command, meant to maintain a proper relationship between God and man.  And that instruction was to not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  And that request by God was ignored by man, Adam and Eve ate, and man’s relationship with God was torn to pieces.

There can be all kinds of disobedience to God, some having to do with His law but most having to do with our relationship with Him.  God asks us to step through a door in faith, perhaps to pray for sick person or engage in a new job, and we resist in doubt and worry.  Is there any law in this?  No.  Is there rank disobedience and unbelief?  Yes,  God asks us to live our lives to bring glory to Him.  Is there any law to this?  No.  When we follow our own paths to act in ways which bring glory to ourselves, is there rank disobedience and unbelief?  Is the failure to trust God and follow Him transgressing His good name, denying His authority and power, and placing Him either beside or beneath us, instead of over us, a transgression?  Yes it is.

And what does God do about these transgressions to His person when we do them and we return to Him, confessing our sins against His Majesty?  David says that the transgressions are forgiven.  The Hebrew word for “forgiven” in this Psalm means to “lift off.”  When we disobey God, we know it.  O we may hide it in a dark closet where we put away our worse memories, or we may bury it in a flurry of busy-ness, or we may discount it by saying that my disobedience was trivial compared to other people’s or compared to some standard of my making, but we know it.  And because we know it, it is a burden which drags us down.  We lose our sense of the Lord’s presence.  Satan finds the hole to discourage us.  We begin to wonder if He cares.  We find excuses to run further and further away.  We either undervalue our disobedience or over inflate it.  All of our disobedience, no matter how silly to us or how serious, is a horror to God.

And yet what does God do with our sin of transgression, of disobedience?  He lifts it from our shoulders and throws it away when we come to the cross of Christ in repentance.

And the amazing thing is that God does it immediately.  David says in verse 5b: “I said ‘ I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and You forgave the iniquity of my sin.”  Ps. 32:5b

In Jesus parable of the prodigal son, the son is far away from the father, steeped in his transgressions against his father’s will … and he turns toward the father and says “I will go back and say to my father, I have sinned …”  What happens?  The father, while the son is on the way back, starts up the party and is waiting for him.  As soon as he turned and acknowledged that his transgressions needed to be confessed and forgiven, they were forgiven.”

The pressures of life this week will cause us to bend and stoop and will pile up on our backs without slowing down. But these burdens are nothing compared to the burdens we carry around as weighted stones, due entirely to our desire to disobey God, to transgress against Him.  When we sin, we do not just violate a law, we step on God Himself.  These burdens can get so severe that they cause us to look at the ground as we plod away, step by step.  And yet, in the midst of this, if we will but turn toward Him and raise our eyes to hills from whence cometh our help, He is ready to forgive us, to lift the burden from our back for all time, and to place us on solid rock where we may stand free.

How crazy glorious and amazing is this!  And yet there is more to come.

But you can begin right here, right now.  If you have been disobedient to God (and you know you have), turn to Him now in repentance and He will forgive you your trespasses against Him.  You can count on it.

_________

© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

Bread – Peace

August 5, 2016


Psalm 29

The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.  May the Lord give strength to His people!  May the Lord bless His people with peace!

This week, it may seem like that Noah’s flood, the end of the world, has overwhelmed you and sunk you and drowned you in a sea from which there is no escape.  God reigns over the flood and He is mighty to save His people from the consequences of their sin.

This week, it may seem like that weakness of heart or spirit or mind or body has overwhelmed you, driving you into the pit of depression, worry, and misery.  God provides strength to persevere in the hard times and strength to stand fast in the good times; when we are weak, He is strong for us.  He is the source of our strength and our salvation.

This week, it may seem like we have no peace.  There is the war of making a daily living in the midst of circumstances and people who seem to want to make sure that you can’t.  There is the war of words and ideas which flood every means of communication.  There is the war of the mind where we, every day, have to decide who we serve.  There is the war of the heart where we, every day, have to decide to love or to hate.  There is fighting with word and sword – death and defeat surround us.  God is a place of refuge, of sanctuary, during these times.  He is the source of peace, if we but want to drink of the water which flows from Him.

What is peace?  Is it the absence of war?  Most people think so and think that war is evidence of the lack of peace.  But how is it that we can have peace from war (and there have been times, although rare, where that is true), and yet have no peace in our lives.  To live is to contest the elements, the opposition, the thoughts of other people who decide just not to be cooperative that day.  Life is a contest and, as a result, there is no peace.

In fact, the Lord commands us to speak the truth in love to people who do not want to hear it and who oppose the truth.  Jesus warns us of persecutions.  He died on the cross.  Martyrs of the church through the ages have died by fire, by evisceration, by acid, by beheading, by torture, by sword and by the thousand cuts of scorn heaped upon them by the scoffers of the world.

Did these martyrs have peace?  Not by a worldly definition, not by a long shot.  But did they have peace?  We know they did.  Then what is peace?

Imagine for a moment being in the eye of the storm.  All around you is swirling fury and destruction, and yet you stand observing, watching, considering, thinking, loving – and unaffected.  In the storm there is no room for conversation, no place for reflection or thought, no opportunity for rest.  In the center of the storm, in its eye, one can speak calmly and openly, one can listen, and one can lay down and rest.

Maybe the Psalm should say “May the Lord bless His people by placing them in the eye of the storm.”  And, if you think about it, indeed he does.  When our soul is in Christ, it is He who leads us by still waters in the eye of the storm, it is He who speaks to us comforting words while we are surrounded by the swirling noise of the world, it is He who prepare a table for us in the midst of our enemies.

“May the Lord bless His people with peace.”  He has and His name is Christ Jesus, Son of God, Savior, Redeemer, King, Lord of Lords, Emmanuel – yes, Emmanuel, God is with us.  And when He is with us we stand in the middle of the storm in peace, not by our power but by His.

Want peace?  It is free at the foot of the cross.  It is free for the asking.  But you have to ask.

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© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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