Bread – Ignore

November 4, 2016


Psalm 39

“For I am a sojourner with You, a guest, like all my fathers.  Look away from me, that I may smile again, before I depart and am no more!” Ps. 39:12b-13

David ends this Psalm with a request to God – “Leave me alone!”

Aren’t we a strange bunch of people?  We like the peace of God, but we do not like the yoke of God.  We like God to be around when He is friendly, but we do not like Him around when He is judging.  We like the freedom of God, but not His commands.  We like God’s mercy, but not His chastisement.

If there are going to be rules, we want to make them…not have to follow them.

There were three tee-shirts I saw the other day.  One said, “I am the oldest child.  I make the rules.”  The second said “I am the middle child.  I am the reason there are rules.”  The third said “I am the youngest child.  The rules do not apply to me.”

All three are about children making the rules, causing the rules, and ignoring the rules.  But what happens when we become of age as Christians, when we become adults, when we eat meat and not just milk, we come to realize that God makes the rules and we ignore them at our peril.

But perhaps David wanted to become a child again for a moment.  Lord, go away and take Your rules and Your love with you “that I may smile again.”

Smile at what?  Reveling in sin?  Wallowing in our own selfishness?  Idly wasting our time on the foolishness of the world.

We may very well be like David and want to push God away, but we are unwise to do so.

Why would David do this?  Perhaps the answer is in the preceding sentence – “For I am a sojourner…”

With God we are sojourners in the world.  We are in the world, but we are not of the world.  We wander through the world pursuing the path God has laid out for us, but there is no place for us to rest in the world, only in the arms of God.  The world despises and distrusts the sojourner because he or she is not a citizen of the place they are, but of the place where they are going.  The world despised Jesus; why should it behave any differently because of us.

There is a real danger for us in the world as sojourners, and that is that we want to belong.  We want to be part of the world.  We want to enjoy worldly things and have the company and approval of worldly people.  As long as God is around, He reminds us that we are His citizens and not the world’s.  He reminds us that we are to behave differently than the world, seeking His glory and not our own or the glory of other people.  He reminds us to aggregate the wealth of heaven and not the wealth of the world.

In other words, He reminds us that we do not ultimately belong where we are.  And sometimes we want to belong where we are … and so we tell the Lord “Go away!”

But although we may behave like the Lord has obeyed us and left, He has not.  Oh He may let us go for a period, following our own foolish ways, but sooner or later He will appear on scene again, reminding us of who we are and whose we are.

So David says and we say “Look away from me, that I may smile again…”  And the Lord, to His children, responds “No.”

And we will smile again, not because the Lord has ignored us like we asked, but because He has not.

But God has ignored something.  He has ignored our request that He ignore us.  He has ignored our sins and instead gone to the cross to die for our sins.  He has ignored His just wrath which we deserve and has replaced it with love and mercy which we do not deserve.

Ignore that at your peril.

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

 

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Bread – What!

November 25, 2013


Readings for Monday, November 25, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Joel 3:1-2,9-17; 1 Pet.1:1-12; Matt. 19:1-12; Psalm 106

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When confronted with a major event which is shocking, there are many words which people use today to express their surprise. They may use the Lord’s name (in vain), they may use a curse word (a “bad” word, generally four letters), or some phrase unique to them, like “Holy Toledo.” One old, old expression was to utter when surprised the word “Jehoshaphat!” (or some other variation). The modern translation of “Jehoshaphat” could be “Say What?”

All this is to lead up to our reading from Joel today, where God says: “For behold, in those days and at that time, …I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there…” Joel 3:2

This passage is similar to our recent readings in Revelation, pertaining to the last days and the judgment of God passed upon us. When I read this, the thought jumped in my head that we will, when brought to the Valley of Jehoshaphat for judgment, we will in fact be shocked, we will be surprised, we will be overwhelmed, and we will say something at that time like “Jehoshaphat!” or “Say What?” or “Oh ….” or some other epithet. I had to smile at this thought, but the truth is that this event is not funny and will not be funny and even if we use the Lord’s name as our phrase of choice for our shock, it will a use which does not keep us from the pit of hell. And as we descend we will be showing our surprise that it could ever happen to us, our shock at the circumstance we find ourselves in then.

So, to those who will say “Jehoshaphat!” or the modern equivalent on that day of judgment, your expression will be accurate but late and useless. Why we will be surprised, we don’t know because God has clearly told us over and over and over again what lays ahead. But it will.

Equally shocking is the solution, summarized in our reading today from 1 Peter: “According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Pet. 1:3-4

See, when we are called to that time of judgment, to the Valley of Jehoshaphat, to the place of surprise, for those in Christ there will be no surprise. Oh, we may use the same name, “Jesus Christ,” but it will not be said by way of shock and surprise but by way of faith, claim and salvation

The “What!” is either death caused by sin followed by judgment and damnation in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, or death to sin brought into our life by faith in Jesus Christ and, in the same Valley, saved by grace into eternal life.

That is the “What” the Bible tells us. So our question should not be “what” but “which?” Which version of the Valley do you prefer, the one where you are judged, clothed by your filthy rags of sin into hell or the other where you are clothed by Jesus Christ and saved into heaven?

The sad thing is that so many people will be surprised when it happens. Will you?

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© 2013 GBF

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