Bread – Glory

February 16, 2018


Psalm 96

Oh sing to the Lord a new song … Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples!”  Ps. 96:1,3

There are some words we use all the time and yet I wonder if we have a clue about what they really mean.  One of these words is “glory.”

Do we really known what “glory” means in its fullest sense?

We may have glimpse from time to time of glory.  For example, the sun coming up in the morning, spraying its rays of golden shafts of light throughout the morning, may strike us as glorious.  In the fields of wildflowers there may be great beauty and variety such that we have an idea of what glory is.  The majestic tall mountains and the pounding of the surf of the sea may bring us into a place of wonder.  The birth of a new baby may bring us to a similar place.

My personal best “experience” of a glimpse of glory was actually in a Mexican church, when a beam of noonday light through a tall window hit a statue of Jesus dressed in gold leaf and the entire cathedral was instantly bathed in the brightest natural light imaginable.  Breath-taking.  Glorious.  An instant in time but forever seared into my brain.

But, other than somehow intellectually, does Western man even have a glimmer of God’s glory?

Glory cannot be easily defined and I am not sure the brain can absorb it – glory is something which is experienced.  It is demonstrated.  It is felt.  It may be seen by the eyes but it affects the heart.  The brain may be enlightened by glory, but it is the soul which is made enlivened by glory.

As I described the mountains, the sea, the new birth, the sun, the fields, and the golden statue, maybe you could identify with those moments and come up with your own.

But would I, or you, describe God the same way?

He is brighter than the sun, more majestic than the mountains, more eternal than the sea, more light-generating than a golden statue, more life-enabling than a live birth.  Of all of our experiences that we might say are “glorious,” He is more.

It is said that our purpose as Christians is to, through our good works, bring Him glory.

How do we do that when we don’t even begin to think of Him in this way? – “Spendor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are His sanctuary.”  Ps. 96:6

How do we bring Him glory when we have the merest glimmer of what glory is and who He is?

I think the answer to that may lay in that Mexican church, with the golden statue and the shaft of light.  If we understand that the Word (written and incarnate in Jesus Christ) is fine gold and we wrap ourselves in it, then when God’s light shines on us, the light reflected brings glory to all the dark places.  And the people’s attention will turn not to the statue but to the Light, to the Light of the World.

And they too will be amazed, and God, the Light of the World, will be glorified.

_______

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

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Bread – Reign

January 3, 2018


Psalm 93

The Lord reigns; He is robed in majesty;…Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.”  Ps. 93:1

This single thought, that “the Lord reigns,” may very well be the most significant pivot point in the Bible.

The reason is simple.  Either God is in control (reigns) and man is not, or man is in control (reigns) and God is not.  There may very well be some thinking of co-regency, where both God and man reign together, in some kind of partnership, but that is the thinking of a man who wants to remain in control and sort of nod (instead of bow) toward God.

All things follow from this.  If God is Creator but does not reign, then we have the vision of the uninvolved God, who does not know and does not care.  If God is a figment of our imagination, then we may say He reigns, but we really don’t believe it because, if we can think Him up, then we can unthink Him as well.

If we don’t think God reigns, then He becomes to us nothing more than a genie in a bottle, to be conjured up from time to time as needed using the magic incantations we learn in church.  If God reigns, though, then His Holy Spirit moves as it will.

If we reign, then we have control over whether or not we believe in God.  If God reigns, He must first act to cause us to see and believe.  If God reigns, our salvation in Jesus Christ is assured.  If we reign, our salvation depends upon the mood of the day.

Do we actually believe that God is King over us, that He reigns over us and the entirety of space and time?  If so, and we say we are His, then why do we not know His laws, why do we not spend time getting to know Him and His ways better, why do we not draw daily strength from His power?

At the time I write this, new year’s celebration has just passed.  Because it is the beginning of the new year, many people resolve to do certain things.  What about this resolution – I resolve that the Lord reigns?

Does the fact that I resolve it make it true, or is it true because He does reign.

See, the thing we have to come to grips with is that the Lord reigns whether I resolve it or not, whether I believe it or not, whether I deny it or not.   Therefore, the better resolution is this – “I resolve to get to know the Lord who reigns.”

Now that is a resolution worthy of the rest of our lives.

_______

© 2018 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 – Broken

February 10, 2017


Psalm 51

…let the bones You have broken rejoice….The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”  Ps. 51:8b,17

This Psalm has so much in it, so much exalted language and so many truths, it is almost impossible to write about.  I could have written about “Create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me,” (Ps. 51:10) or “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise.” (Ps. 51:15).  I could write about what God does to lift us up, to give us a clean heart, to open our lips, to exalt our praise of Him, to empower us to good works in loving our neighbor.  All this would be very uplifting and it would all be true and it would be a great way to end the week.

 

But instead I quote two separated passages where the Psalmist talks about broken bones, a broken heart, and a broken spirit.   Why?

 

In our journey as Christians, we may be brought up in the church and raised as Christians.  We may read Scripture and be able to recite it at will.  We may go to Sunday School and receive instruction and debate the fineries of theology and religion.  We may think deeply, act nobly, and speak gracefully.  We may do all these things, but it is not until we realize that we were dead on arrival, dead in our sins, dead in our trespasses, fundamentally broken in disobedience, that we truly understand the worth of the gift of salvation which God gave us on the cross.

We must be broken first before we can be healed.  We must know first that we are broken before we can comprehend, appreciate, and grab onto God’s mercy in taking us from our pit and setting us on firm foundation.

If we can walk and we break our leg, we can no longer walk.  Once the broken bone has healed, we can walk again.  And when we do, we end up in a place where we remember the broken bone, we remember the healing process, we appreciate the healer, and we are grateful for the simple thing – walking – which we previously took for granted.  And, in the process, we become more obedient to the rules which keep us from getting a broken leg to begin with (like, don’t jump from the roof of a house to the ground).

What I just said works if we know what health is (we previously walked).  But what if we are broken from the beginning; how do we know we are broken and in need of a healer?

Deep in our spirit is a longing for a better place, and we know that place exists.  The question is how do we get there?  The world answers that question by saying we can build ourselves up and out, we can make ourselves better people, and by our ingenuity and hard work we can achieve that better place.  This theory relies on the person who is broken to heal himself, partly on the idea that “I broke it, so I can fix it.”  Some religions answer this question by a variation on theme of the world, saying that you are broken because you fall short of God’s expectations, but you can climb the ladder of good works into that better place, the place of non-brokenness.  Both the world and these religions rely on man to fix himself, to repair his brokenness.

But the Psalmist says something different.  He says “let the bones You have broken rejoice.”  The Psalmist says that we are broken, but that our broken state was caused by God on purpose, on His purpose.

This may sound cruel at first, but it is actually very good.  Because of God broke the bone, the spirit, and the heart, He can heal it.  If we broke it, we can heal it; if God broke it, He can heal it.

And when we realize that we are broken and that we have no power to fix it, we turn to the only One who can.

There are many ways to say it – broken, lost, dead – but only one truth.  The One who has broken us is the One who heals us.  How?  By becoming broken Himself on the cross for us, paying the penalty for our disobedience we cannot pay ourselves.  That One is Jesus, the Christ.

_________

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

 

 

 

Bread – Meditation

January 25, 2017


Psalm 49

Hear this, all peoples!…My mouth shall speak wisdom; the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.”  Ps. 49:1,3

In the introduction to Psalm 49, the herald calls out to the people and tells them that what is coming next out of his mouth is great wisdom.

What is interesting about this is the personal nature of the wisdom.  The wisdom is understanding, and that understanding comes from “meditation of my heart.”

Not the meditation of your heart or the meditation of his or her heart, but the meditation of “my” heart.

A common theme which runs through education is that we receive wisdom or understanding through external sources.  We receive them from books, from songs, from movies, and from the Internet.  When we need to understand something, most of us now reach for that great search engine in the sky, “Google™.”

We fail to separate information or data, which we do get from our surroundings, from wisdom or understanding, which is something which connects to us inside.  Of course, there are many “wisdoms” of the world which we can lock onto, but the wisdom of the Psalmist and the understanding of the Christian is the wisdom of God.

From whence do we get God’s wisdom?  Immediately Scripture comes to mind and some would say direct revelation, or God speaking to us directly.

I would suggest to you, however, that wisdom is not obtained that way.  Information about God (revelation of His character, His purposes, His glory and majesty) come from His Word and direct messages may help illuminate our next step in faith, but these are inputs.

What do we do with those inputs?  The Psalmist, in saying that understanding arises from the “meditation of my heart,” suggests that wisdom comes from thinking deeply about this information and appropriating it into our character (heart) and, therefore, behavior.

We cannot utter wisdom until we are wise; we cannot be wise without engaging in meditation of our hearts, and that is only effective when we are working with the raw material provided to us by God, seen through discerning eyes enabled by the Holy Spirit.

We must process our data to make sense of it, and we cannot guide others until we understand it.  That process does not take place in the head, but in the heart.  That process does not take place by merely thinking about it, but by deeply and carefully processing it.

Perhaps we are weak Christians because we fail to meditate in our hearts the things we have seen and heard, rather than just think in our heads about it.  For us as westerners, it is so easy to just take in the truth of Scripture and let it roll around in our head, analyzing it from every direction, putting it into our systems of thought so that we can intellectually comprehend it.  We call that wisdom and understanding, but it is not because the processing has taken place in the wrong location – it has taken place in the brain and not the heart.  Until we meditate in our hearts the truth we hear, we will not be transformed in our thinking and our acting.  Until we meditate in our hearts the truth that we hear, we will not have wisdom.

This process of meditation does not occur quickly because, being in the heart, it is driven by a different timetable and different processes.  Why pray?  In substantial part, the reason for prayer is to allow us to set time aside for the meditation of the heart, the opportunity for connecting at a base level, at the level of the soul, with our Creator and our Savior.  At that level, we may be unconscious (in our brain) of the changes which are occurring, but they are occurring for sure.

Why do our words have so little power?  Perhaps it is because they come from the knowledge of the brain instead of the meditation of the heart.  Perhaps because they arise from analysis and not wisdom.

Do you want the deeper wisdom this week from God?  Meditate on what God is saying.  Let Spirit (the Holy Spirit) speak to spirit (our spirit).  Let the Word of God dwell on our hearts, where it may penetrate deeply and empower mightily.

And then speak with wisdom into a world which desperately needs it.

_________

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

 

Bread – Recall

December 5, 2016


Psalm 44

O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds You performed in their days … You with You own hand drove out the nations, but them You planted…”  Ps. 44:1-2

This will be an interesting week because this Psalm begins one way and quickly turns to another.  A calamity has fallen on the people of Israel and they lament to God why?  But before the Psalmist writes about the calamity, he writes about God’s exercise of His power in the past to help Israel and its people.

There is a saying that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.  However, when it comes to God, those who forget history forget who God is.

Recall of God’s blessings upon our nation, our families, and each of us personally is critical to anchoring us in knowing God, in knowing His faithfulness through all generations.  It is not enough in our tumultuous lives that our anchor to God be set in emotions, in the high of the moment, or in mountaintops, but in the deep past, in the valleys of despair, in the memory of rescue, of salvation, of gifts, of blessings, of hope, and of love.

In order for our ship to be stable on the stormy waters of life, our anchor must be placed firmly in God.  And even though God is here today and will be here tomorrow, it is in the past where His glory, power, and authority has been exercised over and over again for our benefit, laid in stone of history, there for the viewing if we but recall.

We celebrate Christmas this year, recalling the advent of the Christ-child in history.  We will celebrate Easter this year, recalling Christ’s death on the cross in history.  The Psalmist recalls God’s great deeds, the blessing of Sarah with children, the exodus from Egypt, the burning bush, the fall of the walls of Jericho, and many more large and small, written down in the past.

So, as we begin this week, let us recall our history as God’s people, both the ups and the downs, the weaknesses and the strengths, the times of obedience and disobedience, the power and the grace and the blessings and, yes, the flood and forgiveness and the cross and the resurrection, and, yes, the birth of hope for the world in the birth of Jesus.  Let us recall not only the great history God’s people but our own history as God’s son or daughter.

Let us place these recollections firmly in our memory and anchor ourselves in them.

Why, because we will need these recollections to anchor us in the coming storm, to remind us that, when God seems absent and uncaring, He is neither.  And to remind us that, even in defeat, in Christ there is victory.

_________

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

 

Bread – Power

September 2, 2016


Psalm 33

The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength.  The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its might it cannot rescue.  Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His steadfast love, that He may deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.  Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.”  Ps. 33:16-20

Where is power located?  Where can it be found?

When I was getting my Masters of Business Administration, I took a course in power (of course, it wasn’t called that – it was called leadership).  We talked about a lot of things and looked at a number of psychological studies.  These showed things like how to arrange furniture to project power, where to stand, how to talk, etc.  We talked about technical power which comes from knowledge – engineers who know what they are doing have technical power because people absolutely rely on them to do things well so that bridges do not fall down, generators work, etc.  We talked about positional power, where a person’s power comes from the position they occupy, like a president has more positional power than does the bookkeeper; however, we learned that positional power is tricky, because the assistant who controls access to the president may have more positional power than even the president in some organizations.  Then we talked about situational power, where power is essentially derived from the group of people you are working with (where they voluntarily surrender power to you).  And we also talked about personal power, which arises from force of personality, drive, vision, charisma, and the such like.  I am sure new names have been attached to these and other similar concepts, but you get the drift.

But, in that entire course, we never talked about what David is talking about, the source of real power, God.

When we are in trouble, what do we fall back on?  Do we fall back on our great wealth, our family, our friends, our position, our intelligence, our native abilities, our talents, our knowledge?  To the extent we fall back on these things, and all of us do, we are demonstrating that we believe that real power comes from us or our surroundings or others somehow.  If only we could tap into the power source of self-awareness, self-assurance, or self-reliance, then we can dig our way out.  Of course, the operative word here is “self.”  When we fall back on ourselves or others, we have fallen into the arms of the world to give us the power we need to be saved, to survive the famine.

But David says that “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men … don’t hold a candle to the living God.” (or something like that)

The king is not saved by the king’s power nor his kingdom’s power; He is saved by the strong arm of the Lord and His kingdom’s power.

Where do you truly believe real power comes from?  Does it come from the sources we have been taught, or does it come from the Source which has been revealed to us by the Word written and the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ?

No doubt about it, there is a battle afoot.  There is a war.  It is the battle for ideas, the battle for resources, the battle for territory, the battle for position, the battle for truth, the battle for our families, the battle for our country, and the actual wars which grow out of these battles.  We cannot escape them.  They are here and we are players.

The question is, what kind of players are we?  Are we the players who plot and scheme and lead the charge (or follow the leader), who rely on ourselves and our fellow man and their resources, or are we players who are citizens of a different world, who know where real power lays, who rest in the knowledge that Jesus Christ, Father, and Holy Spirit are “our help and our shield?”

The time for testing is coming.  In whose army shall we fight?

_________

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

Bread – Speak

August 31, 2016


Psalm 33

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him!  For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.” Ps. 33:8-9

Don’t you sometimes wish that, when you speak, people did what you commanded?  Or when you have to take out the garbage, wouldn’t it be nice to just tell the garbage to leave and it left?

We laugh because we know that we have no power to effect anything by our speech, except maybe stir up the flame of the tongue.  We can destroy with the tongue, but even then the world does not obey our spoken word.  It is harder to build up with speech, but it is possible.  Even then, though, the world does not obey our speech.  We can tell someone to care for themselves when they are ignoring personal hygiene and they won’t; we can tell them to care for others when they are being selfish, and they won’t.  Even if we have some power over them (like a place to live or a place to work), at best we stand a 50-50 chance that, when we speak, we will be heard and our commands will be obeyed.

But God is not like us.  His power is beyond our imagination.  “For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm.”  He speaks and it happens.

If God who spoke into creation is willing to commune with us through His Word, His sacraments, and His presence through the Holy Spirit, why don’t we let Him?  After all, if He speaks into our lives, we will come to be in His strength.  If He speaks to us in our time of need (and in our time of plenty), we will stand firm in the evil day.

God’s Word creates, it encourages, it restores, it satisfies, and it saves.  When God speaks, it comes to be.  What He says goes.  What He says be, it is.  What He says ends, ends.

Do we not want that creative, loving, powerful, encouraging, hopeful voice of God in our lives?

Lord, speak to me so that I might hear?  No.

Lord, speak to me that I might be.  Be free, be happy, be content in all things, be strong, be persevering, be confident, be full of grace, love, and wisdom … in other words, be me.

Do we feel free?  Are we happy?  Are we content, strong, persevering, confident?  Are we full of grace, love, hope and wisdom?  Are we fully we?  No… then maybe it is because God needs to speak to us.  Are we going to let Him?

_________

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

 

 

 

Bread – King

August 1, 2016


Psalm 29

“Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.  Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” Ps. 29:1-2

What do we ascribe to the Lord God?  What features does He have, in our mind?  What is His character?  Who is God?

These are important questions and how we answer them will result in different present actions and endings.

Interestingly, the choices we make in what characteristics we attribute to God are ours to make.  God presents the evidence and we must, from that evidence, conclude.  Our view of the truth may be distorted by sin or made clear by God’s sovereign act of grace to enable us to see, but it is still our view.  We possess the view, we attribute the characteristics, and we must live for all eternity with the consequences of those choices.

One feature which we could ascribe to God is fancifulness.  In other words, God is what we make Him up to be.  If we want Him to be a clown, then He is a clown.  This is the view of many atheists, who acknowledge that there may be a God, but that He is a figment of our imaginations.  This conclusion from our ascriptions to God is logical from our beginning point, our ascriptions, but leads to death for all time and beyond time.

Another feature we could describe to God is remoteness.  God sits on His holy hill and looks down at us uninvolved in our daily lives; God exists but He is remote.  From this ascription of remoteness to the Lord, we would easily conclude that, although there is a God, He is irrelevant for daily living.  We may respect Him and even fear Him, but we cannot love Him because there is no relationship – no involvement, no relationship.  The persons who ascribe remoteness to God may have the label of one religion or another, but they do not walk in the power of the presence, because there is no presence.   They tip their hats toward God in acknowledgment of His existence, but proceed to live their lives as they see fit because God doesn’t care and isn’t involved anyway.

The characteristics we ascribe to God matter, which is why the Psalmist begins with instructions to the angels about the characteristics they, and we, should ascribe to God.  Ascribe to Him “glory and strength” and the “glory due His name.”

What does this mean?  There is nothing friendly about this, loving about it, all-knowing about it, all-involved about it, or ever-present about it.

The meaning is simple and the reason this must come first is clear.  The meaning of glory is weight, honor, esteem, majesty, abundance and wealth.  These are the attributes of a King, of a sovereign.  These are the attributes of the King of Kings.

Why must this come first?  Because, at the end of the day, we will progress nowhere in our worship, our hope, our growth in maturity, our wisdom, our perseverance, or our love without first recognizing that (a) there is a king and (b) we are not that person.  “I am not the king over my life” is perhaps the most important conclusion we can ever come to.  And it begins with an attribution to God that He is full of glory, as the King of the universe should be.  Once we recognize that He is glory, we then come to the conclusion of the quoted verses today – “Worship the Lord in the splendor of [His] holiness.”

Now these are instructions to angels, who always sit before God worshipping Him in His glory, honor, and holiness.  So why do they need the reminder?  I don’t know, but knowing that Lucifer was a fallen angel, it might have something to do with the same phenomena which happens to us when we look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “I am the master of my destiny.  Look at my things, look at my glory.”  As the angels reflect the glory of God they may begin to believe that they are the ones producing the glory, instead of just reflecting it, and in so doing forget that God is the sovereign one and they are not.

Our glory is not our own; our holiness is not ours.  Anything we have like that is because we reflect the Father’s glory and the Father’s holiness.

Why must we ascribe glory, honor, and power to God?  Because in doing so we take the first steps of acknowledging who the true King is, we grow in obedience and good works, and we can accept the gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ the Son.

But how can we do this?  Though it be impossible for man, nothing is impossible for God.  Therefore, we pray, “come Holy Spirit and empower us to see You as you are so that we too, with the angels, may worship You and You alone in the splendor of Your Holiness.”

_________

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

 

 

 

Bread – Gold

May 23, 2016


Psalm 21

“O Lord, in Your strength the king rejoices … For You meet him with rich blessings,; You set a crown of fine gold upon his head.”  Ps. 21:1,3

A town close to us holds an art festival in the spring.  It is quite large and my wife and I often go to it to see the new art work.  While we are there, we spend a lot of time looking at jewelry.  Jewelry is made with all kinds of gold.  There is yellow gold and white gold.  There is some kind of pink gold.  There is fourteen carat and eighteen carat gold.  Gold is often integral to the ring or necklace, but sometimes it is no more than a covering of some other metal underneath.  In any event, there are all kinds of gold.

One shop in particular stood out.  The jeweler there answered our question about the quality by saying that his rings were made of the finest gold which could be purchased, but that as a result they could be dented.  That is because fine gold is soft since it is free of other metals.

Fine gold is not only soft and malleable, but it is also an efficient conductor of electricity and heat.  Furthermore, it does not interact with the air around it; it does not tarnish.

How much should we strive to be fine gold?  If the Christian is ready to take up his or her cross and following Jesus where He leads, he or she is leading a soft life, one which can be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This means that the Christian is malleable by God.  Furthermore, Jesus tells us to be salt and light in the world.  How can we do so unless we are efficient conductors of His power into the world, keeping none of it for ourselves but passing on the gift in its unadulterated form.  Finally, we are ambassadors of the kingdom of God, living daily in the soup of the world.  If we are to reflect God’s light into the world, we cannot tarnish – we cannot be changed by the environment we live in; we cannot tarnish, because if we do we are proof that our lives have not been changed; we are proof that we do not bear the crown of fine gold.  In fact, if we permit ourselves to be changed by the world, we may become radioactive, just as gold can be turned radioactive by taking away or adding to part of fine gold.

In Mexico, I was standing in a church built a long time ago, with high windows along the walls next to the ceiling, but a dark interior.  There were statues of various people, and one of Jesus Christ who appeared to be wrapped in something.  At that moment, a shaft of light from the noonday sun entered the room from one of the high windows, struck the statue of Jesus, and immediately the entire sanctuary was filled with His glory.  What I was looking at was the reflection of the sun off a statue of gold leaf.

We know that Jesus Christ is the only person who ever lived who could be analogized to the finest of gold, and that the blinding light I witnessed in that sanctuary that day was merely a poor example of the true light which we will be surrounded by before the throne of God.  But, still, in knowing this there is also this promise – that God gives us rich blessings; He puts a crown of fine gold upon our head.

Will we wear it and so shine before men that they will see our good works and worship our Father in heaven?

Will we give thanks for our blessings?

Will we kneel before our God and let Him form us as He wishes, as the potter forms the clay, and be malleable and useful in His hands?

Will we conduct the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit into a dying world?

Will we remain untarnished by the world and its lures?

Will we accept a crown of gold, knowing that Jesus Christ wore His crown of thorns first, for our sake, so that He would suffer death on the cross for us, taking on His crown of gold in His rightful place as King?

Will we?

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

 

 

 

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