Bread – Presence

June 16, 2016


Psalm 24

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?  And who shall stand in His holy place?  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.”  Ps. 24:3-4

It is a rare occasion, but a few times in my life I have been the presence of a truly holy person.  It is the classic you know it when you see it.   My best example is a bishop of Nigeria, who I was in a prayer meeting with just before he was going to speak to a bunch of folks.  While I was there, he received word that his house had been attacked by Muslims and burned.  When asked if he wanted to put off speaking, his response was simply that the Lord was taking care of his family, that his house could be rebuilt, and that there were souls in the audience who needed to hear the gospel.  He then stood up, walked out, and delivered the truth to those hungry to hear it.   The reason I say he was holy was really nothing he said; it was the way he said it.  He lived in the power of the Holy Spirit, he lived without fear, and he knew whose he was and what his job was.  Every word he spoke he believed; there was no doubt.  And to say the least, I was lifted up, honored, and humbled at the experience.

We may say that we would like to be like him, but is that really true.  Can we live our lives in absolute trust in the Lord to preserve us and our loved ones?  Can we suffer the complete loss of our possessions on earth so that we obtain possessions in heaven?  Are we willing to truly leave everything on the table to follow Christ?  Are we willing and able to preach the gospel in and out of season?

I think if we are truly honest with ourselves, there is something always held back, something always reserved for ourselves.  We are willing to sacrifice our time, but are we willing to sacrifice our life?

In one sense, though, we Christians are all set apart for God and we are all in that sense holy.  But this bishop was truly holier than me.

And yet, as holy as this man was, could he ascend the hill of the Lord or stand in His holy place?  Does even this bishop, this holy one, have clean hands and a pure heart?

The answer is “no.”  He may be a holy man but he is a man and therefore a sinner, made able to climb God’s hill and appear in God’s throne room only because Jesus Christ precedes him and saves him.

“Who shall stand in His holy place?”  Who has clean hands and a pure heart?  It is those whose hands have been made clean and who have a new heart as a result of new spiritual birth, all made possible by Jesus’ obedience to the cross, His sacrifice of Himself on the cross, and His resurrection and ascension to the Father.

“Who shall stand in His holy place?”  If you are a Christian, you know the answer to that question.  If you do not know the answer, it is in the gospel of John, 14:6, where Jesus says simply “No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

“Who shall stand in His holy place?”  Who shall be in the presence of the Lord?  Will you?

_________

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

 

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Bread – Birth

June 1, 2016


Psalm 22

“Yet You are He who took me from the womb…”  Ps. 22:9

This morning, I read an e-mail from a pregnancy counseling center I support which asked me to pray for the birth of babies, that they would not be aborted by their mothers and that they would be born healthy, free of drugs and other medical and mental issues.

I read that e-mail before I re-read the quote above from Psalm 22 – “Yet You are He who took me from the womb…”

And quite frankly, I became quite upset.  One would think that I would be upset at the injustice of a world which would deny babies their lives for the sake of convenience.  But it was more personal than that – I was upset at the depth of my ingratitude for the blessings which have been heaped upon. me to overflowing by my Father.  I was upset that I had never recognized that it was God who had delivered me into life in the first place.

We, as Christians, are so wrapped up in the new man, the new birth caused when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior and when we turn from our ways to His ways, we forget that we have been blessed by being physically born in the first place.

Those of us who have witnessed a live birth know it is a miracle.  Yes, it is completely natural and predictable and yes, there is a lot of science behind how to take care of the baby during the first nine months, how to take care of it during birth, and how to take care of it after birth.  But at the end of the day, I think we know in our heart that each new birth is a tiny miracle.

But do we think much of our own birth, about what a miraculous blessing it is to us that we are standing here today, reading this Bread?  No we do not.  Just like we start our car without thanking God for the blessing of transportation, we wake up every morning without thanking God that we were born and that we are living.

We like to thank God for our transformation from lost to saved, and well we should.  But we forget to thank Him that we were born at all.

“Yet You are He who took me from my mother’s womb…”  Indeed He is.  He has delivered us physically from our mothers’ wombs into temporal life, and He has delivered us spiritually from the womb of death into eternal life.

Both of our births come from Him, the first and the second.

For which we should be grateful.  Are we?

_________

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

 

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