Bread – R

October 6, 2017


Psalm 85

Restore us again, O God of our salvation … Will You not revive us again … Show us Your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us Your salvation.  Let me hear what God the Lord shall speak, for He will speak peace to His people, to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly.  Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land.”  Ps. 85:4,6-7, 8-9

This Bread is called “R” because this Psalm reveals so many of the “R” words which matter to us in our Christian walk as individuals, as people, and as a nation.

These “R” words are Remember, Restore, Revive, Reveal, Resist, and Rest.

Remember, because this Psalm requires us to remember who we are as sinners and who God is as creator and savior.

Restore, because without a right relationship with God and to God, we have no connection.  Restoration of our relationship to each other begins with restoration of our relationship to God.  Restoration of our relationship with our surroundings, our earth, begins with restoration of our relationship to God.  Restoration of our rightful places, as righteous rulers of the earth, as heads of our households, as workers in the fields of life, as saints, and as obedient bondservants begins with restoration of a right relationship with God.  And who is in charge of that restoration?  In a sense we are as prodigal sons who must look up from our piggeries and see the home where we belong.  But, more importantly, the person who is in charge of that restoration is the same person who is charge of our salvation – and that is God Himself.  He is the One who must restore, because but for His love, His forgiveness, and His power, we would have no position to do it ourselves.

Revive, because we need a fresh infusion of God’s Holy Spirit on a minute-by-minute basis to avoid falling into Satan’s pits of confusion, despair, and forgetfulness.

Reveal – “Let me hear what God the Lord shall speak.”  God has spoken in his written Word and in Jesus Christ.  Both the fact and the content of that need to be revealed to us by God.  We have a job to show up, to read and study, and to try to understand.  But while we try God works in us to reveal His truth and His love.

Resist, because when we know what is right because we have been restored and revived, and God’s truth has been revealed to us, it is time for Satan to get involved, to drag us back and defeat us.  “Let them not turn back to folly” is a reminder that the choice to return to foolishness is ours to make; to avoid it, we must flee sin, we must resist.

And finally, Rest.  Where does that word in this Psalm come from?  It comes from this – “Surely His salvation is close…that glory may dwell in the land.”  If God’s glory dwelt fully in the United States, what would we be doing today?  If God’s glory is present in its fullness, then we have surrendered fully.  Once we have surrendered fully and acknowledged that He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, we may dwell with Him in safety.  What is that?  Rest.

Given the problems of the day, the difficulties of life, and circumstances of a fallen world, the encroachment of sin, and the sounds and sights of war and destruction, what we all need and want is rest.

Restore me again, o Lord of my salvation.  Revive my spirit.  Teach me Your ways, so that You might be fully revealed to me.  Help me to resist Satan.  And bring me Lord to that place of rest, where you dwell in glory.

What more can we ask for?

_______

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

 

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Bread – Exodus

August 9, 2017


Psalm 77

You [God] led Your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”  Ps. 77:20

I normally start at the beginning of a Psalm and work forward, but this time I am starting at the end.  This Psalm begins in depression, works through memory, and then recalls who God really is.  The ending (the quoted) verse is a recollection of the exodus.

Wherever we are, whether it be in valley of despair or the mountaintop of joy, we need to remember that we have been brought out of slavery into freedom by the mighty hand of God.  We have been brought from death to life.  We are being brought into glory.  Our chains are gone in Christ and we have been set free.

It is God who led us out from slavery through the wilderness of testing into the promised land.  He may operate through men (in this case, historically, Moses and Aaron), but it not them who led but God.  It is God who created the circumstances of the exodus and God who brought it to conclusion.

That was the exodus of the Old Testament, but we can testify to our own exodus in the modern era from death unto life.  Yes, men and women were involved, agents of God, but it was God who decided and God who did.

I say all this because we too often are so wrapped up in our issue of the day that we often forget where we have been and where we are today by the grace, mercy, and power of God.

In fairy tales, the desolate maiden is locked into a high castle by a dark lord, only to be rescued by a glamorous knight in shining armor.  Who does not see that picture?  And we identify with either the damsel in distress or the knight come to save.  We recognize the dark lord for who he is and we celebrate that good has triumphed over evil.

But in this picture of human intervention to save us from human misery, what have we forgotten?

The knight in our fairy tale reports to someone.  That person is the king of the realm.  Who sent the knight?  Who empowered the knight?  Who stands behind and superintends the rescue?

We know who the king is in the fairy tale, although we may not see him and the story may not talk about him.

But do we know who the king is in our tale, our story, our exodus?

If we do, we need to remember Him, honor Him, worship Him … for He is indeed Lord of Lords and King of Kings.  He is Jesus the Christ.  He, with the Father and Holy Spirit, is (are) the author of our exodus.

Now that we remember our exodus and its Author, we are prepared to deal with both the lows of life and the highs as well.

________

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

Bread – Hope

May 30, 2016


Psalm 22

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?  Why are You so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?…Yet You are holy…In You our fathers trusted…” Ps. 22:1-4

How often have we felt like this?  Out in the middle of our trials and tribulations, surrounded by events not of our (apparent) doing and surrounded by people we would rather not be associated with, we feel really, really alone.  Where are our friends?  Where is our family?  Where is God?

Perhaps the closest we can come from feeling like we have been totally abandoned is if we are a small child and both parents are killed or disappear, or we have some terrible disease fall upon us which is horribly contagious, and all of our friends and family melt away.  But even then, the small child may be helped by some people who come alongside of him.  The contagious disease-ridden person, may see the nurses and doctors surrounding them and they may even see their loved ones outside the windows, aching to get in.

But what if we have fallen to the bottom of the well and the voices of the searchers have wandered away to be replaced by the sounds of the night and by the predators who wander it?

Or we find ourselves alone in a desert, accompanied only by scorpions and drenching heat?

But even in those circumstances we may have memories to attach to, to fill our longing for companionship.

The fact is that, even when we feel like we have been forsaken, there is a part of us which knows that we have not.  The Psalmist joins us in this knowledge, reflecting that, even In the worst of times, we know that God has been faithful to those who believe in Him – “In You our fathers trusted.”

And, yet, as we read this and apply it to ourselves, perhaps there is a “gong” going off in the back of our mind, that we have read or heard those same words before.

And, the answer is, “yes, you have.”  You have heard these words before because they are the same words spoken by Jesus on the cross – “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have your forsaken me?”  Matt. 27:46

This Psalm is known as the “Psalm of the Cross” by some people because it is a prophecy, written by David at a time when crucifixion was unknown, of a crucifixion, of Jesus’ crucifixion.

In order for God the Father to forgive our sins, there had to be a perfect atonement.  Because Jesus took on our sins, the sins of the world, and because sin is abhorrent to God, an affront to His holiness, God left Jesus and Jesus was truly forsaken.   For a moment in time, all connection, all love, all relationship, between Jesus and the Father was broken.

And in the moment of that separation, in the agony of being abandoned by the Father, what did Jesus remember?  Did He, as the Psalmist suggests, remember that God was faithful historically and, by extension, would be faithful to Him?  We were not there and we do not know, but why not?  He of all people knew the character of God the Father – the very character that had to separate from Jesus because of sin was also the same character which had shown Himself time and time again would not forever abandon His people.  The connection between God the Father and God the Son had to be broken because of wrath, because of sin, and the connection would be restored because of love.

In the moment of His greatest desperation, when Jesus was separated from the Father, because He knew His Father’s character, Jesus also had the greatest hope.

We may and probably will feel abandoned by many around us.  We may also feel so abandoned that we cry forth “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”  And in that moment, instead of despair, perhaps in this we will find hope – the God who rescued Israel is the God who raised Jesus from the dead is the God who has saved us from death eternal to life everlasting.    For those who trust Jesus, we may feel abandoned but we are not, we may feel forsaken but we are not, we may feel unforgiven but we are not.

We have hope in spite of ourselves, in spite of circumstances … because we remember.

_________

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

 

Bread – Remember

November 11, 2013


Readings for Monday, November 11, 2013, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Neh. 9:1-25; Rev. 18:1-8; Matt. 15:1-20; Psalms 77,79,80

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Our reading from Nehemiah today is part of a speech given by the priests to the people. In it, the priest recalls (remembers) the history of God’s involvement with them. It is an amazing speech because it recalls not only who God’s people are but who He is.

We are sometimes so forward looking and present-attended that we fail to remember who we are in God’s eyes, what He has done for us, and who He is.

As you read this excerpt, ask yourself what rivers God has helped you cross, what wilderness He has led you in and out of, what food He has provided to you, what living water He has given you, what protection He has afforded you, what blessings He has given you, what miracles He has performed in your presence, what good rules for living He has set forth for our benefit, and what obedience and worship you have returned:

You are the Lord, You alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships You. You are the Lord, the God who chose Abram … You found his heart faithful before You…And You have kept Your promise, for You are righteous. And you saw the affliction of our fathers in Egypt … and performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh … And You divided the sea before them…You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments…You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger and brought water for them out of the rock…But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey Your commandments. They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that You performed among them…But You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf … and committed great blasphemies, You in Your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness…You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold You manna from their mouth…Forty years You sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.” Neh. 9:6-21

God has brought us out of slavery and not abandoned us in the wilderness of our own making. He has given us His good rules for living. He has given us His “good Spirit” to counsel us. And He has given us Himself on the cross as a permanent sacrifice for our disobedience, our sin. He preserves us and He preserves the world we live in.

Remember these things.

Thanks be to God!

________________

© 2013 GBF

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