Bread – Politics

April 11, 2018


Psalm 101

I will walk with integrity of heart within my house; I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless.”  Ps. 101:2b-3a

When I began to write this, my eyes turned to the word “integrity” and I thought I would write about that, but instead I was drawn more to the words “my house.”

What is “my house?”  Is it merely the building I sleep in?  Is it the workplace where I make a living?  Is it my city, my county, my state, my nation?  What exactly is “my house?”

I guess the answer to that question depends upon how much I take personal responsibility for my actions.  If I am but a temporary boarder or renter, perhaps I feel like a victim and have “no house of mine.”  If I feel estranged from social and political life, perhaps I may feel that my living space is “my house” but nothing else is.

If you refuse to take personal responsibility for your life, then there is nothing in this Psalm which will appeal to you.  If every bad thing which happens to you is someone else’s fault – my landlord, my boss, my next door neighbor, my enemy, the corrupt politicians in Washington, my parents, my children, my co-workers, my priest, my spouse, or, ultimately, my … God – then holding yourself to a standard where you will not set before your eyes anything that is worthless is probably impossible (for you, not for God when you ask).

So this commentary today is written to those who take personal responsibility at some level and recognize that there is in fact a “my house.”

There is certainly a problem with integrity throughout each of our lives, where we live inconsistently minute by minute.  An example is in order.  If we say we honor God and live in integrity, can we seriously say that everything we do is intended to honor God?  If you answered “yes” to that question, then my next question is “Really?”

So integrity is a problem for us, but we know that.  What we are not so much aware of is that “my house” is a much bigger concept than we often think.

The reason I named this Bread “Politics” is to point out that, as Christians, the concept of “my house” includes our country and every subdivision where we live and work.  Once we swallow that concept, we may even then grow to recognize that the entire world is “my house.”  So the question of whether we walk in integrity in “my house” is really a question of whether, in the tumble and turmoil of everyday life, in the boardroom and the workroom and the legislature and the club and the association and the schools, and everywhere else we touch, do we walk with “integrity of heart?”

So, as we finish this week, month, and year, I think we each need to ask ourselves the following questions:  (1) Do I take personal responsibility for “my house?”; (2) Do I have a view of “my house” which includes my neighborhood, my workplace, my government (city, county, state, nation)?; and (3) Do I walk with “integrity of heart” in “my house?”

The truth is that all of us will answer one or all of the questions in the negative, at least sometimes.  So what do we do?  — We pray:  “Come Holy Spirit and (a) teach me that, under God, I am the steward, the caretaker, of what God has given me, which makes me in charge, subject to Him, (b) expand my horizons to see that I am Your representatives at home, at work, and at places near and far, and (c) empower me to walk in integrity of heart, helping to avoid anything that is worthless according to Your Word.”

And when we do, be prepared for the storm because Satan does not like us to be light in darkness.  But that’s OK, because we have won.

_______

© 2018 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

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Bread – Tremble

March 7, 2018


Psalm 99

The Lord reigns; let the people tremble!  He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!” Ps. 99:1

Yesterday I heard on the radio a song “Can You Only Imagine.”  The singer talks about being in the presence of God, meeting Him face to face, and the singer wonders whether or not he (the singer) would dance for joy or be dumb-struck, unable to move or open his mouth.

We imagine that heaven is a place where singing is non-stop, but what if it is a place where trembling is non-stop?  What if meeting the Lord in the fullness of His holiness causes us to stand in abject fear, in penetrating awe, in uncontrollable trembling and quaking?

In our dealings with our religion and our Christ, we often think of warm and fuzzy things which bring us joy and rest, but we rarely contemplate the true nature of God’s holiness, of His anger toward our sin, of His true power, of His absolute authority, and of His absolute forgiveness of those who believe in Jesus Christ.  If we really understood the nature of God as holy, would we be as cavalier in our faith, as ready in our judgment, as shallow in our relationship, as quick to chase after other gods, or as thoughtless in our selfishness?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, because it is hard for me to contemplate something so holy as to cause me to tremble.

But it is possible for me to think about a love so complete that it causes me to tremble.

This love that causes trembling I saw yesterday in my dog.  I came home, let my dog out of her crate, and she was so glad to see me that she literally fell on the floor shaking.  I picked her up and her trembling continued as she scrambled all over me to try to lick my face, my hand, or just find a place to stick her nose.  That is love and that is trembling.

When we wake up in the morning, are we as happy to see God as my dog was to see me?  Do we tremble with excitement about the opportunity to be re-connected in prayer, in conversation, in love?  Do we tremble with holy hands lifted up in worship as we thank God for the new day He has given us, the new opportunities He has opened up, the new relationships He has established, and the new life He has provided?

Maybe, just maybe we should tremble more and think less.  Maybe we should stand in the presence of God, trembling with anticipation about what will happen next, trembling with awe, trembling with hope, trembling with peace, trembling with joy, trembling knowing that, but for God’s mercy, His wrath would consume us, trembling in gratitude.

The Lord reigns – let me tremble before Him, in Him, and because of Him.  Amen.

_______

© 2018 GBF  All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

Bread – Love

February 14, 2018


Matthew

And He [Jesus] said to him [the lawyer], ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”   Mt. 22:37-40

Today is Valentine’s Day, where everyone in reaching distance of a card and candy display, shows their “love” by doing nice things for their “significant others.”

Because it is Valentine’s Day, I broke with the pattern of writing from the Psalms and instead write today about love, quoting Jesus’ summary addressed to the lawyers among us who want rules and guidelines.  Besides, when I woke up this morning I had a definite impression that I was supposed to write about love.

And what can I say which is different than what Scripture says or God says or even Hallmark cards, for that matter?

Well, I can try to answer the question about what love is, because it finally dawned on me this morning.

Love is not a feeling.  And it is not really words or actions, although these do flow from love.

Love is an attitude.  (attitude = disposition toward life)

We speak often in Christian circles of an “attitude of gratitude.”  It has poetic ring and it makes a point, which is that we should be grateful in all things for the blessings we have received, not the least of which is our salvation.

But we never speak of an “attitude of love.”  And yet, isn’t that what Jesus is saying.  Be turned always toward God and be disposed toward Him, seeking His glory in all things, seeking to be obedient to His desires, His Word, His commandments, His law, seeking to reflect the love He showed us by dying on the cross for our sins so that we might have life and that, eternally.  Be turned also toward others and be disposed toward them, that each person we deal with is treated, not only as our neighbor and as friend, but as better and more important than we are.

The brilliance of the Hallmark Holiday called “Valentine’s Day” is that the entire marketing machine of modern enterprise is focused on our having an attitude of love for a few minutes.

The brilliance of the Jesus Life called “today” is that our heart, having been transformed by the workings of the Holy Spirit, ought to also be disposed toward God and others.

Love as a Christian is not how we feel today or even what we do or say today, it is who we are today?

As we walk through today, I urge myself and each person reading this to try harder to shed our attitude of self and put on an attitude of love.  Remarkable things will happen when we do.  First, we will be walking in God’s will.  Second, we will be walking with God’s power.  Third, we will be demonstrating God’s glory in our lives.  And fourth, who knows … we will find rest, we will find contentment, we will find security, we will find miracles, and we will find joy and life.

An attitude of gratitude is great.  An attitude of love is better.

Hey, it’s Valentine’s Day!  Let’s look beyond ourselves and love.

_______

© 2018 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

Bread – Vengeance

January 17, 2018


Psalm 94

O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth!…the Lord our God will wipe them out.”  Ps. 94:1,23

When I went to label this Bread, I almost called it “revenge” because we tend to think of “revenge” and “vengeance” together.  However, they are two separate things.  Revenge is an act of passion, committed in anger.  Vengeance is an act of justice, committed with thoughtful action focused on redress of wrong.  “Injuries are revenged, crimes are avenged.” [Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Zondervan 1966; citing Dr. Samuel Johnson].

Here the Psalmist is asking God to deliberately redress the wrong of those people, fools in the Biblical sense, who deny God and oppress His people.

Of course, we wish God to exercise vengeance in our time, according to our schedule and for our purpose.  He will do so, but in His time and according to His purpose.

And, indeed, the wicked will be wiped out, as we know from having read the biblical prophets, including John, the author of Revelation.

But, seeing where God sometimes appears to not care, we are inclined to exercise God’s vengeance ourselves.  Instead of asking God for it and being content to let God do what He will do when He does it, we like to accelerate the process and “help” God along.  But we are told not to.  “As far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath [vengeance], for it is written ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay.’”  Rom. 12:18-19 (NIV).

We will be wronged today.  The method and degree may be uncertain, but the fact is not.  The wrong may be to our ego or it may be to our person, including assault, or property, including theft.

Like so many things, the only question will be our response.  Will we react in revenge, making sure that we get even.  Or will we respond with mercy, praying to God to avenge or seeking God’s agent on earth, the magistrate, to deliver vengeance.

We are inclined to say “vengeance is mine.”  But the Lord says that vengeance is His.

When we are ready to deliver the blow, fight for our rights, or deliver the cruel verbal punchline which our tormentor deserves, what will we do?  Will we ignore God once again and turn to our own devices to secure our own revenge?  Or will we rely on Him who is faithful, and wait for His action on our behalf?

The truth is we don’t wait well.  But maybe the process of waiting for justice is its own schoolhouse of faith, driving us even further toward the true King, Jesus, and denying ourselves?

Tough call.  Even tougher obedience.  But necessary if we do in fact believe God is King and we are not.

_______

© 2018 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bread – Joy

December 12, 2017


Psalm 92

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,…”  Ps. 92:1

The context of this Psalm is contained in its title, “A Song for the Sabbath.”  Therefore, the first line of the first verse could almost be phrased “On the Sabbath, it is good to give thanks to the Lord…”

For most Christians, Sabbath translates to Sunday, so another way of saying this is “On Sunday, it is good to give thanks to the Lord….”

Of course, it is good to always give thanks to the Lord, but for this Psalm and this Bread, let’s just focus on Sunday church.

Why is this Bread called “Joy” when the focus of this verse seems to be “good” and “thanks.”  One might well ask why giving thanks on Sunday is “good.”  Good for what?

Well, there are a lot of answers in “good for what.”  Good to restore our souls, good to bring rest, good to increase our awareness of God’s presence and His benevolence toward us, good to bring together God’s community so that we can better know how to love and be good neighbors, good for uplifting music, good for hearing informed preaching, etc.

But I wonder if that is what the real good is.  I wonder if the real good in giving thanks to the Lord on Sunday is that it brings us joy.

But, you say, “my Sunday does not bring me joy.”  I have to get up out my cozy bed; I have to get the kids fed and dressed; I have to hear everyone’s whining about “why do we have to go to Sunday School;”  I have to be nice to people when I get there; I have to pretend like I’m listening to the sermon; I have to put up with the restless child next to me, wondering why his or her parents didn’t put them in solitary; I have to try to sing even though my singing is best described as a resounding gong; and I have to look at my watch wondering if I will have time to cut the yard, play golf, watch the football game, drink with my buddies, work on the car, fix the light which just went out that morning.  What joy exists in those things?

We are in the middle of Advent, during a time of waiting for Christmas, at which time we will sing “Joy to the World.”  Who is this joy and what is this joy when the Sunday is not fun; it is work.

What our Psalm reminds us of is that each Sunday can be, if we will but open our hearts and minds, a mini-Christmas.  It can be celebration of our life in Christ and His community on earth.  It can be time of rest and renewal.  It can bring gladness, renew hope, fill us up with courage, outfit us with the clothing of the Holy Spirit, remind us of our eternal salvation by and through God’s grace, having nothing to do with our works.  In other words, it is good for us to give thanks to the Lord because it will bring us joy.

There is joy at Christmas because of the anticipation, because we see the target, because of Advent, because of the time before the event to get ready.

Let me make a suggestion.  Today and every day this week, let’s think about Sunday in anticipation of the truth it will bring, the love which will be felt and given, the communion which will shared, the opportunity to give thanks to the Lord, the hope it will instill, and the power of God which will be present and which infill us anew.

Instead of looking at the coming Sunday with dread, let us look at the coming Sunday with expectation of something exciting coming our way.

It is good on Sunday to give thanks to the Lord.  Why?  Because we will have a great blessing – joy.    Why?  Because Christ will be born anew in our hearts.  And we will worship.  And we will be blessed.  And that is very good indeed.

_______

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

 

 

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.
_______
© 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.

_______

© 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.

_______

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

 

 

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 – Gloating

June 14, 2017


Psalm 70

Make haste, O God, to deliver me!…Let them turn back because of their shame who say, “Aha, Aha!”  Ps. 70:1,3

“Gloating” is one of those words which is almost painful to say; saying it almost puts your teeth on edge.  It seems to form the mouth into an unnatural shape to utter the word “gloating.”

We may not say the word, but we do it all the time.  When someone has made a mistake and is paying the consequences of failure, aren’t we always ready with the “Didn’t I tell you that ….”  We are gloating in that instance, because we are standing in our superior position of knowledge, expertise, decision-making skill, wisdom, and just plain good sense.  And we are driving home the point just so the other person, who so desperately needs our help, will listen “next time.”

Or maybe we just won something, like a sports game.  We are all puffed up with pride at that very moment, gloating over our obvious superiority to the “also rans.”  Now you may not admit that you do this, because someone will call you “conceited,” so your public persona may be different, but in the silence of your bedroom or study you are saying to yourself…”Yes!”  That is gloating.

Now, in our reading today, the Psalmist David has obviously done something which is causing other people to stand around him and gloat, saying “Aha, Aha!”

And David does two things in response.  First, he calls those people shameful (“Let them turn back because of their shame.”).  Why is their behavior shameful?  I think the reason is captured in God’s command to us in Leviticus 19:18 (“…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.”).  When we fail, do we gloat over ourselves?  No.  Then why should we gloat over the failings of other people?

But the second thing he does is call upon God’s help.

When we are dealing with the emotional baggage of someone else who is gloating over our failures or our bad choices, do we ask for God’s help in dealing with that person?  Before we respond to the gloater in anger or in retreat, do we listen to the Lord’s advice about loving them and about coming to Him first as the solution rather than last?

We will fail and, when we do, there will be some in the world who delight in our hurt, in our failure, and who say “Aha, look at him!”  The world tells us that there are two solutions to this, either respond in anger by telling them where they can go or respond in retreat, by accepting their criticism and slinking off to feel sorry for ourselves.  God tells us there is a third choice – come to Him.

Go to God for comfort.  Go to God for truth.  Go to God for healing.  Go to God for judgment.

When confronted with the laughter of the world, rather than retreat into ourselves or explode in reaction there is another place of safety, wisdom, and power.  Go to God.

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

 

 

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