Bread – Reflections

May 31, 2017


Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make His face to shine upon us, that Your way may be known on earth…” Ps. 67:1-2

As I think about God’s face shining on me, the image of Moses coming down the mountain comes to mind.  “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai…[he] did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.”  Ex. 34:29

In that event, the people knew that Moses had been with God because his face reflected it.

Does my face reflect God’s shining upon me?  Does my face reflect His graciousness, His love, His blessings in my life?

When the sun shines upon us, we will reflect either a suntan or a burn, but it will be obvious to everyone that we have been in the presence of the sun.  When the Son shines upon us, what do we reflect?  Do we reflect hope, charity, love, peace, or any other virtue?

One of the things we learned in school was that there were some surfaces which reflect light and others that absorb it.  For example, a plain stone absorbs light.  Polished granite, however,  reflects it.

Evil absorbs.  Good projects and reflects.

Anger absorbs.  Love reflects.

Worry absorbs.  Hope reflects.

Does my face reflect the hope that is in me, or does it merely absorb God’s light in a feeble attempt to recharge my internal batteries?  Am I outward focused (reflecting and projecting) or inward focused (absorbing and retaining)?

Another way of asking the same question is to ask whether it is my problems which I focus on (inward, absorbing) or the problems of my neighbor which I focus on (outward, reflecting)?

If God’s face has truly shined upon us, how can we not show it in our countenance (to use an old-fashioned word)?  How can we not show it in our faces, in our lives?

The truth is that we are very adept at receiving God’s blessings, of having God’s face shine on our lives, and then keeping it for ourselves.

If our skin reflects when we have been in the presence of the sun, then how much more should our face reflect when we have been in the presence of the Creator of the sun?

What blessing will we reflect today … that His way may be known upon the earth?

________

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

 

 

Bread – Enthusiasm

January 9, 2017


Psalm 47

Clap your hands, all peoples!  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!”  Ps. 47:1

When I woke up this morning, on a Monday, I was in dreary shape.  I had a list of to-dos, I had meetings to prepare for, my allergies were acting up, and I had a headache from sleeping in some kind of awkward position.  I need gas in my car.

And then I read this … Have enthusiasm for the Lord, clap your hands, jump up and down, shout with loud songs of great joy!  Wonderful.  How can one have enthusiasm in the midst of common experience?

Wake up!

How indeed are we to have enthusiasm in the midst of trouble, in the midst of obstacles, in the midst of daily living?  How are we to clap our hands when there is no music?

It struck me while I was thinking about these things that my enthusiasm, my joy, tends to come from external sources – the compliments of a friend or a boss, the kindness of a stranger, a good meal, the achievement of some goal, the playing of good music on the radio, the visual stimulation of a bird on the roof of my house, the touch of a loved one, a “good” worship service, some great comedy from television or the newspaper.  These are all external stimuli and I respond to them.

But we read and are told that God in us, the internal source, is our strength.  Our joy ought to come from inside because of our residence in the kingdom of God; we should emanate joy out and become a source of enthusiasm and not reflect the world around us.  When our joy, our enthusiasm, is based on the external situation, we are but a reflection of what is going on around us.  When our joy, our enthusiasm, is based on the internal situation, on God in us, we project that joy and enthusiasm into a world sorely needing it.

Are we a reflector of enthusiasm or a generator of enthusiasm?  Are we a reflector of joy or a generator of joy?

Perhaps one test of the degree of our dependence upon the Lord is the degree we generate joy.

A long time ago I heard about a prayer to be said first thing in the morning – “Rise up like a lion in the service of the Lord!”  A lion roars, a lion is enthusiastic.

To make this prayer, though, you have to know who you are talking to and why this is a prayer.  Are you talking to yourself (a little self-improvement), are you talking to God, or are you talking to an empty room?  Why is this a prayer?  Because we have no capacity on our own to do anything – if we are to rise up like a lion it is because we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so.  That requires a request.  The implied words before “Rise up…” are “Let me [rise up…]”  This requires that we begin each day with our Maker, in prayer, in communion.

Where is our enthusiasm and our joy this Monday?  Forgotten alongside our forgotten time of prayer with the Lord.

Now, one of the great things about our relationship with the Lord is that, while we wander off, He does not.  So the fact that I did not begin today properly is no obstacle to my beginning now properly.  And so, Lord, three hours later, I pray “Let me rise up like a lion in Your service.  Amen.”

And now I’m enthusiastic.

_________

© 2017 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?

_________

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

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: