Archive for May, 2011

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The Heavens declare, the King Reflects…

May 30, 2011

Psalm 19 is a masterful text within the Psalter, arguably peerless in its scope and impact.  C.S. Lewis describes it as, “the greatest poem in the Psalter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.”[1]  This Davidic psalm exists as a humble meditation on the part of its author and a powerful instruction directed to its reader.  We must remember that it was written by a king whose sole preoccupation was the governing of his people.  This was by no means an easy task, ask any politician or governor or judge, if you are responsible for enforcing laws, and maintaining peace and freedom, your burden is great. For Israel’s kings the guidelines for governance were specifically laid out in Deuteronomy 17:18-20:

18 When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy these laws on a scroll for himself in the presence of the Levitical priests.  19 He must always keep this copy of the law with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of this law.  20 This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. This will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.”

From the very first day as king and ruler, David had to begin focusing on the word of God and the Law contained within it.  He would copy it, carry it with him, read it daily and rely on it to avoid slipping into prideful arrogance and wrongful ruling.

David rightly saw that God’s law, His order of love and justice, was not just written with pen and ink, but with stars, clouds, the expansive heavens above, and nature below.  All of creation testifies to God’s grace through revelation of a purpose behind the spoken words.  And within this psalm the purpose of God is laid out in mirror image to the rest of scripture.

Within fourteen verses there exists an encapsulation of the entire narrative of the Bible.  Beginning with creation, (vss. 1-4a) God’s ‘handiwork’ the work of His hands, the heavens molded majestically reflecting His glory.  Expanses of sky and echoes on earth, testify that the creator reigns.  Then the psalm progresses to how God reigns over His creation, from one end to the other, missing nothing and seeing everything (vss. 4b-6); He then gives His law to restore, enlighten and endure (vss. 7-11); which exposes our need, prompting our confession (vss.12-13); and concludes where all scripture does on the Lord, our redeemer (vs.14).  (It is easy to see Christ in this psalm, the Rock of ages, the redeemer of all who call upon Him.)

The sun/Son which shines on all creation exposes all that is hidden, including our own secluded faults; ultimately our ability to tell right from wrong lies in our willingness to walk in its/His light.  An illuminating law revealed in nature, sealed in ink, and written on our hearts.


[1] (Reflections on the Psalms, p. 56)

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God in the City…

May 17, 2011

Acts 17:26-27 reads: “he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they might feel their way toward Him and find Him, Yet he is actually not far from each on of us.”  What powerful words,  it is easy to breeze across these words and miss the impact of what Paul is saying.  As we walk around the streets and blocks of our cities and towns we should look passed the randomness of the chaos which marks the cities; we should see there God’s guiding hand. 

In every corner, alley, byway, sub station, office building, apartment complex, mall, store, restaurant and park He as brought the nations together to be in close proximity to His word. That Word is entrusted to us, resides in us, and should flow through us in unending witness of the Gospel.  He has crafted this time, this era, and this place to bring people to a knowledge of Himself, to grant life and to grant it abundantly to all who call on Him. 

Cities are no accident; they are the intentional gathering of people by God to bring them into close proximity to His word.  This only works if we stand amidst the flow and wash of people and lift up His word, so that looking to it, people might see and have Hope. The lostness of cities is not due to God’s oversight, but rather our failure in being the obedient vehicles of His message of Grace.   The period of their dwelling is determined.  The boundary of their influence is set.  They seek to find that which is close.  Closer than the brush of the person on the sidewalk, or the arm of the passenger on the subway, will they find Him when they find you ?

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A Law to Love…

May 16, 2011

We have lists of enumerated laws, we have the bill of rights, we have the freedom to meet and worship, and say what we want.  We delight ourselves in this, we delight ourselves in the reality of these freedoms.  So how hard can it be for us to delight in the Laws of God?  The blessed man, the happy man in scripture, delights in the law of the Lord and the freedom it affords; so much so that he meditates on it day and night.  Can you imagine meditating on the constitution day and night?  Or going down to the city hall and picking up the municipal code and reading it every day when you wake up or every night when you go to bed?  That would be the opposite of delightful.

So how are we to find delight in God’s law?  It begins with Christ.  All things including you, me, laws, nations, neighbors; all of it was created for His glory Col 1:16.  Our joy comes from the fact that Christ fulfills the law, he satisfies it, and when we are in Him we find delight by obeying his law.  What is it then to obey the law of God in Christ?  Jesus said that, “if you obey my commandments, you will abide in my love; just as I have kept the Father’s commandments and abide in His love.  These things [he has told us] so that my joy will be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John15:10-11)

So how is our joy made full in obeying the commandments?  We think commandments and if we’re honest joy doesn’t come to mind.  We think of ‘thou shalt not’s’ rather than thou shalt be joyful.  So what are these commandments? Jesus says, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” (John15:12)  Jesus sums up the entirety of God’s Law, into two commands, “You shall Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind…” “and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37,39)  Those laws are fulfilled and exemplified in Him, in that He is the prime example of those commands lived out.  He Loved us so much that He gave of himself to the point of death, so that our joy would be made full.  No one will ever be able to equal that gift, but we can live and love in such way, that we display that kind of love toward others.  “This I Command you…” Jesus says, “that you love one another.”

Love toward your neighbor can be difficult, but we must remember that Christ loves them too, so much so, that He gave His life for them, that they might have Joy.  Here is a brief and simple outline about how to show God’s love to those around you.

L.O.V.E.

First, Leave your comfort zone.  Jesus called the disciples away from what was familiar and towards a life of sacrifice and love.  “Take up your cross, and follow me.” We face the same call, to leave our comfort zones, what is familiar and embark on the mission God has for us.

Second, Orient yourself to serve.  Jesus called the disciples to act, but he also called them to serve, to serve one another, and the communities they lived in by proclaiming the gospel.  Jesus washed their feet, and afterwards told them in John 13 ‘“If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15“For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16“Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. 17“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”  It is not enough to just receive, we must also give, and we are “blessed” when we do so with delight.  We are never more like Christ than when we humble ourselves to serve those around us.

Third, we must Venture out.  The disciples and the early church did not just stay in the upper room.  They did not just hang out in Jerusalem.  Rather Jesus called them to go into the whole world preaching the gospel, making disciples and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.  And they did this in a progression, look at Acts 1:8, first to Jerusalem (their hometown so to speak), then to Judea and Samaria (their states and regions) then to the uttermost parts of the earth.  Loving your neighbor, is implied in sharing the gospel, for what greater gift do you have than the testimony of one who gave so much that all might have eternal life.  Love should start in our homes, then our neighborhoods, then out cities, states, nation and the world.

Finally Encourage those around us.  This is not just a simple high-five, great game kind of encouragement.  This is an encouragement toward godliness and holiness.  When you think about when you first came to Christ, do you remember when you messed up, when you failed, when you fell short and became discouraged?  How great was it to have neighbors, and brothers and sisters in Christ there to encourage you.  God receives glory when we bear much fruit, and our fruit in the spirit is; “LOVE…joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, ” against these things there is no law.(Gal 5:22-24)  It is when we love one another and bear fruit that we prove that we are in Christ and are His disciples. (John15:8)   The greatest source of emotional security for the believer, is a fruitful life lived in the spirit, acting in love toward each other.  Leaving our comfort zone, Orienting ourselves for service, Venturing out, and Encouraging those around us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Your neighbor is in need, will you go? Will you serve? Will you encourage? If you allow these things to reign in your heart, you surely will be like a tree amidst your neighborhood, bearing much fruit, fruit that lasts, prospering in what ever you do. (Ps.1:3)