Bread – Needy

June 30, 2017


Psalm 72

For he delivers the needy when he calls, the poor and him who have no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.”  Ps. 72:12-13

There are three actors in these verses, two apparent and one disguised.

The first apparent actor is described as both a noun and an adjective.  Man is both the “needy” (the noun) and the “needy (man)” (the adjective).

Who are these needy and what do they need so badly that they are needy.  When we answer the what, it will identify the who.  When we think of need, we most often think of physical issues have to do with money.  He or she needs a job, needs a shelter, and/or needs food and water.  We have a famous researcher who has described a ‘hierarchy of needs,” and these needs for shelter and food are first on the list.  At the top of the list is the need to be appreciated, to be wanted or desired, to have our pride stroked.  In between are the needs for safety and security (free from worry) and companionship.

We make a big mistake when we believe that the only needy people are the ones in the food lines.  The truth is that all of us are needy of these things, but also things like hope, safety, security, friendship, and dignity.

So the answer to the “who are the needy” question is “Everyone.”  You, me, them … everyone is needy.

So now that we have identified who the needy person is, who is the the second obvious actor.  It is the “he” in the sentence, which relates back to an earlier verse, the first verse, where the “he” is the king, which in the case of this specific Psalm could have been Solomon.

Since the “king” today is the government, perhaps these verses could be interpreted as a command that us, the needy, are to turn to the government (the king) for the fulfillment of our needs, to fulfill our need for food and health care, our need for safety and security, our need for dignity in the word, and our need for companionship.  And so, in the mad rush to fill our needs, our world would have us turn to the “obvious” king for deliverance, to the state.

And so the natural course of man is to give to the state the power to “help” them, and in so doing give up their individual rights to the collective.

Entire civilizations and philosophies are founded on this principal, that it is the “king” who protects, to delivers good things, who feeds, etc. his needy people.

But to do so ignores the silent actor in these verses, the disguised actor.  Who is this?  Well, I think it becomes obvious when we remove the written attempts to bring God to our level and change the verses so that they now read: “For He delivers the needy when he calls, and poor and him who have no helper.  He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.”  What have I changed?  One letter in one word.  I changed “For he…” to “For He…

And now you know the rest of the story.  The “He” who delivers is the King of the Psalm, the Messiah, Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  It is not the man-king but the God-King.

Because we are needy, we will look to a king to deliver us from those needs, to save us.  If we are secular and have no faith in Christ, the king is the state and we will want the state to feed us, teach us, raise us, nurture us, build us into communities of the king’s making, and love us.  This is slavery unto death but it is the choice of needy people who only see the little “king.”

If we believe in Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are still needy but the source of our deliverance is a different king, a King Jesus, Creator of the world.  Our King is King and we will look to Him, Father, and Holy Spirit to feed us, teach us, raise us, build us into communities of His making, and love us.  This is slavery unto life and is the choice of those who see the big “King.”

You are needy.  Which king will deliver you?

________

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Evidence

March 11, 2016


Psalm 10

“The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations perish from His land.” Ps. 10:16

This weekend has been beat down week.  On Monday, I wrote about the characteristics of the walking atheist, the person who claims to follow Christ but walks daily as if he and she do not believe He is present.  Unfortunately, as we apply those characteristics to ourselves [arrogance (boastfulness; pride), prosperity, apparent security, abusive speech, and aggression (violence)], we find that, although we are not atheists in the classic sense (no belief in God), we may act like atheists more than we think.

On Wednesday, I took one of these characteristics, prosperity, and built on it.  One of the reasons I did is that we live in place and a time of great prosperity, where great riches come to the people who are expert at the game of life.  But the game of life is played according to two sets of rules, and we pick which sets of rules we live by.   One set of rules are the rules of the game of life according to the world (which really means man, and behind man, Satan).  Those people who play by these rules often win and win big, and those of us who see that wonder where God’s judgment is on them because they always seem so prosperous.  The second set of rules are of the rules of the game of life according to God.  Those people who play by these rules experience prosperity of heart, and, depending upon the resources which God commits to them as stewards, may have much or little according to the prosperity of things.

Today, Friday, is the third beat down.  I’m sorry, but Psalm 10 is focused on the people of the world who claim God but do not follow His ways, the people who say they believe in Christ but do not integrate Him into their behavior.  It is focused on their characteristics and their behaviors flowing from their character, and it is focused on the seeming failure of God to show up to punish them (and us) for our transgressions of His law.

Today’s quote from Psalm 10 is close to the end of the Psalm and reminds us for the punishment which awaits those who say that there is a God but produce no good fruit in keeping with that statement.  It reminds us of who the creator is and who God is.  It tells us who our king, our ruler is.  And it tells us the end – “the nations perish from His land.”

There is an end to the story and, for the nations who walk separate from God, who claim to know God but ignore His rules of life, for the nations which in their arrogance point to their prosperity and say “we did this,” for the nations which step on the poor, for the nations whose speech and actions are debased and abusive, and for the nations who take what they want, when they want, from whom they want – for those nations, there is an end.  They will end; they will perish; they will be no more.

Now there will be a tendency of the reader to translate the word “nation” into “government,” and immediately point to the government as the problem.  It will be the government which does all these bad things and it will be the government which ends and perishes from the earth.  This would be a wrong translation.  The word “nations” means “people,” you and me.

“The Lord is king forever and ever; the (people) perish from His land.”  If you want to personalize it – “The Lord is king forever and ever; (I and my family) perish from His land.”

I think any sober person would, today, looking around, say “The United States is fast running downhill over the cliff.”  But who is the United States?  It is the people; it is you and me.

How we live the game of life does not save us because only Christ can do that, but it does produce either good or bad fruit.  And we know that true faith, being truly “born again,” results in a transformed life where we are not over God nor are we His equals, but we are His servants, kneeling before Him, with an overwhelming desire to follow Him and His rules of the game of life.

Which rules do we follow?  That is the question of the week.  As someone once said, if you were accused of being a Christian, is there enough evidence to convict you?  If we follow the game of life according to the world’s rules, quite frankly there will probably not be much evidence.  If we follow the game of life according to God’s rules, we will be convicted by clear and convincing evidence.  The nations will perish, but will we?

For those who believe in Christ, there is salvation from death and we will not perish.

We say we believe in Christ, but do we?

Do we play by His rules or ours?

If we play by our rules, where is the evidence that we truly believe in Him?

_________

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

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Sovereign

July 9, 2014


Readings for Wednesday, July 9, 2014, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Deut. 1:1-18; Rom. 9:1-18; Matt. 23:27-39; Psalms 12,13,14,119:1-24

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Who or what is sovereign in your life? Who is the sovereign to whom you owe allegiance, who has power over you?

A liberal might answer the question by saying that the central authority, the government, is king. A royalist might say that the sovereign is the king or queen. A conservative might say that the sovereign is the individual. Idols can also reign sovereign in our lives. Money can be the thing with authority. Others (say our family) might be the sovereign. Our boss might be our sovereign, with our whole purpose in life being devoted to pleasing him or her. Even our house can be our sovereign if it is what dictates to us what we do and how we do it.

For Christians, the knee jerk reaction is to say that God is sovereign. Other religions might say the same thing, with different emphases on the nature of God.

But is that really true?

Today in our reading from Romans, Paul says some things which are totally consistent with the sovereignty of God but which run counter to many theological notions about our role (our individual sovereignty) in the process:

“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring….though they were not yet born and done nothing either good or bad – in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls – she was told, ‘The older [Esau] shall serve the younger [Jacob].’…What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, Who has mercy…So then He has mercy on whomever He wills, and He hardens whomever He wills.” Rom. 9:8-18

In summary, God is sovereign and we are not. God chooses whom He will, not who earns his or way into His good graces.

There are huge implications to this understanding. For example, can one lose his or her salvation if chosen by God for salvation? Our tendency is to say “yes,” but then who is sovereign, God or us? And if we cannot lose our salvation because God is sovereign, then how did we gain our salvation except by sovereign work of God? Our tendency again is to say that “Well, we chose God,” but if that is the case, who is sovereign, us or God?

The truth is that we do have a role as sovereigns. God gives us kingship over fish, birds, and over “every living thing,” as well as earth (Gen. 1:28). But does our role as sovereign over the earth and animals extend to a role as sovereign over God? Are we equal to God where it is “our will be done?”

Who is sovereign over our life? Who is sovereign over my life? Who is sovereign over your life? Do we answer one thing and behave another?

I think there are five choices of who is king. The first choice is ourselves. I am king. The second choice is the state, the collective, the “community.” We together are king. The third choice is other people. She is king or they are king. The fourth choice is things. It is king. And the fifth choice is God. Yahweh – “I am.”

We are tempted to say “all of the above” depending upon the circumstances. But there can only be one king in the room at a time.

Who is that?

_______________

© 2014 GBF

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