Posts Tagged ‘Meditations’

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Judging Others: Hey You’ve Got Something in Your Eye…

July 21, 2012

Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
(Matthew 7:3-5 ESV)

 

Fundamentally the log in our own eye should be replaced with the cross. We take that beam of sin, and relate it to the beams of the cross. When the cross is before us, and in our eyes all sin is given its proper perspective. When I say see the cross I mean come to Jesus, for the only way the plank is removed is if He removes it because of His great mercy and through His grace. At the foot of the cross of Christ, the single beam in our eye is replaced by two intersecting at God’s judgment and forgiveness.

 

John MacArthur has a helpful word on how we experience this forgiveness and mercy, and how the beam is removed:

 

“How do you remove the plank? How do you do that? I believe it’s a matter of confession of sin. Don’t you? I think first you have to look and see that it’s there. Verse 3, “consider not the plank in your own eye?” And the word “consider” there means to perceive in a meditative, prolonged way. It is used, for example, in Luke 12:27. “Consider the lilies.” In James 1:23, “as we behold our face in a glass.” It is a constant look, a look of understanding, a look of comprehension. And so he’s saying, “Take a good look. Don’t you see you’ve got a spiritual problem yourself? Don’t you see you’ve got an ungodly self-righteousness that makes you judgmental and critical of other people? Consider that.” Having considered it, you go to verse 5. “Cast it out.” And how do you do that? By confessing it to the Lord. I Corinthians 11:21, “If we judge ourselves, we won’t be judged.” Right? God’s not going to have to chasten the sin of self-righteousness if we deal with it. And so I bring my life fully to the judgment of God, and I ask Him to cleanse, to purify, to remove it.”

 

“And once I’ve done that, I can move on to verse 5, and “then shalt thou see clearly to cast the moat out of thy brother’s eye.” Listen, we’ve got to get the thing out of our brother’s eye, don’t we? We can’t let him go on in sin. That’s to hate him, Leviticus 19:17 says. We’ve got to get it out. But we’ve got to deal with, first, ourselves. Listen to how David put it. Psalm 51. “Create in me, oh, Lord, a,” what? “Clean heart.” Did you hear that? “Create in me, oh, Lord, a clean heart.” Now listen. “Then will I teach transgressors thy ways and sinners shall be converted to thee.” But there’s no way to teach a transgressor the right way, and there’s no way to convert a sinner to God, until I have in my own life a clean heart.”[1]

 

So confession removes the plank, and compassion is the result once the plank is removed. We confess our sins at the cross of Christ, His compassion overwhelms our sin, heals our sight, and we in-turn act in compassion towards others; sparing judgement and proclaiming grace.


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All we have to fear is… the Lord Himself…

June 21, 2011

13The end of the matter; all has been heard.  Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  14For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

Imagine these verses as the dying words of “the Preacher” or Solomon.  For 12 chapters he has conveyed wisdom and instruction about life.  The thrust of that instruction has been that all life is vanity.  Here we have a king, a wise man, a lover, a ruler, fellow human being who has gone to the effort to communicate to us the meaning of life and instruct us as to how we should spend our time.  All life is vanity.  It is a vapor.  But should you think that Solomon is preaching nihilism you’re mistaken.  He is not saying, “he you might as well throw yourself off a cliff because nothing in life is worth pursuing.”  One thing matters: Your relationship with and your pursuit of God.

Some have described John 3:16 as an encapsulation of the whole Bible.  Within one verse lies the most important message anyone can ever hear; that God loves His creation, sacrificed His son to redeem it and if you believe in Him you shall not perish but live forever with Him in Glory.  Verses 13 and 14 of Ecclesiastes serve as an encapsulation of the rest of the book and serve as a good guide for life.  Time is precious.  The book is about to close and after all is cleared away; this is what you need to know.  In these last words He re-emphasizes what he has said previously three other times.  Just in case you haven’t gotten the message.  “Fear the Lord and keep His Commandments, because this applies to every person, God will bring every act into judgment, everything which is hidden, whether good or evil.”

This fear is a reverence which motivates rather than a revelation which paralyzes.  Solomon has spent the last 12 chapters speaking on the vanity of life, people’s opinions, oppositions, desires, and pursuits.  None of those should be feared.  None of those should motivate us to do anything.  The only thing we should allow to motivate us is a healthy fear and respect for the One who made us.  Jesus instructs His disciples of the very same thing; “do not fear the one who can destroy your body… but rather fear the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell.” (Matt. 10:28)  This is a recognition of who God is, He is our creator and our sustainer, we live because He formed us and we exist for Him, our lives are not our own, they are set apart for His glory.

If we think that we can merely pay lip service to this and say, “oh I fear God, but I still want to live the way I think is best.”  Or worse, if we give all appearances that we fear God, but hidden in our hearts is rebellion against Him then we will be in for a rude awakening.  God is not fooled and He is not mocked.  He will bring everything into the light (judgment) and expose every hidden thing.  He is concerned with your heart.  You can act holy, you can act righteous, but if hidden in your heart is sin, un-confessed and un-crucified you will likely hear on that Day of Judgment, “depart from me, for I never knew you.”

So how do we as Christians read this book and understand these verses?  We are besieged with books telling us how to live our lives and please God.  Walk into any bookstore, listen to any podcast, and you will find countless opinions about how to please God and find His favor.  Solomon even alludes to these opinions in verse 12, “be warned: the writing of many books is endless and devotion to books is wearying to the body.”  If we were to follow all the advice written in all the books or heard on all the podcasts we would soon become weary and overburdened.  There is no end to man’s effort to find favor with God.  But the gift of God and the glory of the gospel is that favor is not found in books, podcasts, websites or advice.  Favor is found in the One who takes the judgment we deserve upon Himself cleanses us from all sin.  Through Christ we can truly obey.  Through Christ obedience, rather than being a burden, becomes an act of love from a child to a Father.

If we are in Christ we approach God with reverence but also confidence; committed to obey His commandments, the greatest of which are these: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all you soul and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”  If these commandments are hidden in our hearts, and our lives are lived in their pursuit, when we are exposed on the Day of Judgment we will have no cause for fear.   Knowing that hidden in us is His glory rather than our condemnation.  And we will hear those comforting words, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

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What is man? Our place in the mind of God…

June 6, 2011

Psalm 8 is a masterful meditation with a tapestry as rich and complex as the night’s sky. Here a king comes to grips with the significance of God and the minuteness of man. David might be seen strolling atop his palace at night glancing across God’s chosen land into His created heavens, and amid the trappings of royalty, the gold and the silks and the rooms of opulence, he gazes upon a splendor that surpasses all that man can manifest. The earth is wrapped each night in the majestic testimony of the creator God, whom David calls by name. “Oh Yahweh, our Lord.” How many nights he must have seen the heavenly drama unfold, tending sheep. The God he calls to, called him a child an infant, to rise up and still the enemies of Israel. As a small boy, ruddy in complexion, and ruff in demeanor, God used him to establish strength and build a nation, slaying giants and founding cities. Such favor prompts the response, who am I? What is man that You are mindful of him?

Throughout the immensity of earth and the inexhaustible vastness of space God focuses on us, on children in mangers and shepherds in wilderness fields. On single moms and struggling families, students and corporate tycoons, He sees us and is aware of our condition. As we pass by the hurting around us, mindful of only our own needs, God is mindful of them and all of us, and has set about a plan for our redemption and glory.

This psalm is not about our insignificance but rather our insurmountable role as those who would exercise dominion over this creation. God takes the small, the weak, the unwise, the poor and gives them the kingdom of Heaven as an inheritance. Despite being like children, weak and defenseless; despite being the most fragile of God’s creations, as generations of us will pass in the life of a single star, God has chosen to display His glory through us. All that He has created shall be planted beneath our feet and we shall reign.

How majestic is this God? The word majestic used twice in this psalm, is glorious, wondrous, illustrious, illustrating God’s preeminence above His creation. The term is just as good when used to describe the scene in Genesis when the stars are formed, as it is to describe their fall in Revelation. And like his majesty displayed at both ends of scripture, David closes this reflection with the echo of God’s renown. Who are we, but a vast tapestry of God’s grace, millions of minute points of light shining in the darkness bearing witness to His unlimited grace and infinite greatness.

That He is mindful of us in never in doubt, what remains to be seen is if we are mindful of Him.

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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)

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Why Should We Pray?…

April 18, 2011

For our Divine Relationship:

” [T]he world [is not] fundamentally a constellation of discrete atomic individuals; we are all in our lives intimately related with one another.” (Charles T. Mathewes, author)

We are created for relationships. This is evident in every one of our lives. The fact that you are here listening to me and reading this is a key sign that you desire to be in a relationship with other people. The church is nothing if it is not a community of believers seeking a relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ. By far the most important relationship you have is the one with your heavenly Father. Just like any relationship you have, your relationship with Him is aided by communication. He communicates to you through His word, through His Spirit, through his Preachers. You communicate to Him through worship, worship in song, worship in His Church, and worship through Prayer.

Think of the relationships you have in your life. How are they affected by communication, especially with the ones you love? If I told you that I loved my wife, but I also confessed to you that despite the benefits of talking to her and communicating with her, she and I haven’t spoken in day, weeks, perhaps even months. Despite my insistence that she and I were in love, and that we were in a relationship, how healthy could that relationship be if she and I never communicated?

Consider your relationship with God. In his word we are told to pray. Jeremiah records God’s promise to him in Jeremiah 33:2-3 ” Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish, the Lord is his name, ‘Call unto Me and I will answer you, I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know.'” We know that when we call on the Lord our God He hears us, “I Love the Lord,” The Psalmist says, “because he hears my voice, and my supplications (cries for mercy), because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live.” (Ps. 116:1-2)

Among First marriages in America Statistics show that some 45-50% of marriages end in Divorce, (www.divrocestatistics.org ) Research done on the causes for divorce reveal, that “Lack of communication is one of the leading causes of divorce. A marriage is on the rocks when the lines of communication fail. You can’t have an effective relationship if either one of you won’t discuss your feelings, can’t talk about your mutual or personal issues, will keep your resentments simmering under wraps, and expect your partner to guess what the whole problem is about.” (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/common-causes-and-reasons-for-divorce.html)

How can you expect your relationship with the Father to flourish if you don’t communicate through prayer? Are you Strong enough to go through this life on your own?