Archives for category: Uncategorized

Yet even so, you waited and waited, watching to see

If they would turn and cry out to you for a Father’s help.

And then, when you heard their cry you relented,

And you remembered your covenant

And you turned your heart toward them again,

According to your abundant, overflowing, and limitless love. (Ps 106.44-45, Passion Translation)

The context of this passage is Israel’s unfaithfulness in light of God’s own faithfulness. The psalmist describes the great deliverance from Egypt at the Red Sea and juxtaposes that with Israel’s unfaithfulness in the wilderness. Then he recounts Israel’s unfaithfulness in the Promised Land. They sank lower and lower, the Passion Translation reads, destroyed by their depravity (vs. 43).

But…

The psalmist doesn’t stop there. God’s nature is such that he is faithful to his covenant with his people, even when they are unfaithful to him. You remembered your covenant and you turned your heart toward them again.

God’s covenant is based on his abundant, overflowing, and limitless love, and it is this love for which we are grateful because in our own way, we ourselves are just like the generation of the Exodus; ever prone to unfaithfulness, ever prone to wandering, every prone to turning away from our God.

Thank the Lord that we can turn and cry out to you for a Father’s help.

Advertisements

As you serve him, be glad and worship him.
Sing your way into his presence with joy! (Psalms 100:2, Passion Translation)

One of the mistakes that we might make as we worship Our Lord is to be too focused on his justice and the weightiness of his judgment.  Now don’t get me wrong, God’s judgment is very weighty, but this is not what God wants us to focus on when we enter into his presence.  He wants us to Sing your way into his presence with joy!   An encounter with God ought to be one that we delight in, that we anticipate, that we enter with joy and thanksgiving in the knowledge that God delights in our delight.

This seems to be what John Piper means in his oft repeated sentence: “God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in him.”

Spurgeon writes here:

The measured, harmonious, hearty utterance of praise by a congregation of really devout persons is not merely decorous but delightful, and is a fit anticipation of the worship of heaven, where praise has absorbed prayer, and become the sole mode of adoration.

Then he quotes part of a song by Isaac Watts:

“Let those refuse to sing
Who never knew our God;
But favourites of the heavenly king
Must speak his praise abroad.”

May we sing our way into God’s presence with joy, every time we enter there.

 

Let the ocean’s waves join in the chorus
With their roaring praise,
Until everyone everywhere shouts out in unison:
Glory to the Lord! (Psalms 98:7, Passion Translation)

Again I’m struck by the fact that the writers of the Psalms saw praise of God in everything.  This only makes sense because God was the Creator-God and if he created something than why wouldn’t that something praise Him?  It would praise Him and it does praise Him, and in the case of ocean waves, they praise him with roaring praise, because that is what the sea does.

My mom loves to go to the beach in California when a gigantic storm comes in and just sit and watch the waves swell up and crash onto the sand.  It’s an amazing sight and the power that is contained in waves is astounding, and sometimes a little frightening, but doesn’t that reveal the character of Our God.  It reminds me of the discussion in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, between Lucy and Mr. Tumnus about Aslan who is an allegory of God.

Lucy:  “He’s not a tame lion, is he?”

Mr. Tumnus: “No, but he is good.”

The waves will do their part of roaring praise calling relentlessly day after day and night after night as nations come and go and ages wax and wane, until everyone everywhere shouts out in unison Glory to the Lord!

Let the skies sing for joy! Let the earth join in the chorus.
Let oceans thunder and fields echo this ecstatic praise,
Until every swaying tree of every forest joins in,
Lifting up their songs of joyous praise to him! (Psalms 96:11-12, Passion Translation)

Here the psalmist calls for all of nature to proclaim the majesty of their Creator.  The skies in juxtaposition with the earth, and the oceans along with every field until every swaying tree of every forest joins in.  Beautiful words, these.

The thing is, all of nature does an excellent job of praising their Creator.  You’ve seen a sunset flashing reds and oranges, yellows and purples.  You’ve watched the first rays of dawn peak over a clear horizon in brisk fall air.  You’ve witnessed a rainbow.  You’ve experienced rolling thunder from gigantic cumulonimbus thunderclouds moving in before the rain hits, and what rain it is, thousands of pounds of water suddenly dumped from the air.  You’ve heard birds singing their morning song as they wake with the dawn.  Every swaying tree of every forest joins together in praising their Creator because that is what they were created to do.

And we were created to do that also.

I imagine if Ps. 96.11,12 were put to song it would sound something like this:

 

Lord Yah, there’s such a blessing that comes
When you teach us your Word and your ways.
Even the sting of your correction can be sweet. (Psalms 94:12, Passion Translation)

The Passion Translation uses the shortened version of Yahweh here (Yah) because it’s actually in the Hebrew text. When you teach us your Word and your ways is literally “When you teach us from your Torah.”

What struck me when I read this verse was the words: Even the sting of your correction can be sweet.  It’s a counter-intuitive truth, but one that is repeated again in the New Testament:

And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”” (Hebrews 12:5–6, ESV)

How is the sting of correction sweet?  When it keeps us on the path to righteousness.  A good parent disciplines his child, not because he is cruel, but because he loves his child and wants to set him on a path of success in life.  In the same way God disciplines his children because He wants to keep them on the path of righteousness because it is the path of life.  Spurgeon writes here: “Though he may not feel blessed while smarting under the rod of chastisement, yet blessed he is; he is precious in God’s sight, or the Lord would not take the trouble to correct him, and right happy will the results of his correction be.”

May we gratefully accept correction from our Lord and continue on the path of life.

 

God sends angels with special orders
To protect you wherever you go,
Defending you from all harm. (Psalms 91:11, Passion Translation)

The context of this verse is protection from evil and danger, even, the Passion Translation argues, from spiritual or demonic forces.

Verses 5-6 are seen by many Jewish scholars as a reference not merely to pestilence and natural dangers, but to the realm of spiritual darkness that would come against God’s servants. These spirits are equated to arrows that fly in daytime or a pestilence that walks in the darkness. God’s sheltered ones are kept from the harm that could come from natural sources or supernatural sources. What a wonderful place to hide and be secure!

As any Christian knows, this doesn’t mean that God protects us from all harm, for as Christians we are susceptible to everything that plagues man: disease, death, danger, crime, etc.
What it does mean is that everything; evil and danger in natural sources and supernatural sources, is under the authority of God our Father and can affect our lives only so far as our Father allows.

I think we will all be surprised when we get to heaven and discover how many times this verse was applicable in our lives but we never knew it.  God often works in such a way that we hardly notice.

And the nations shall know That in their iniquity were the house of Israel exiled because they had committed treachery against me, And so I hid my face from them,—And gave them into the hand of their adversaries, And they fell by the sword、 all of them.” (Ezekiel 39:23, EMPH)

Sobering words, these: iniquity, exile, treachery, hid, gave, adversaries, fell, all.

These words aren’t meant to comfort, but to record calamity and what befell the Israelites in exile can only be described in such terms: calamity, destruction, ruin, death. God had warned his people, he himself had fought [by the word of the prophets] to preserve their flagging love for him [note their idolatry], and now finally, after they had made their choice, God acted, he hid his face from them.

God being God, devastation and destruction brought on his own people is never the end of the story.  Look what Ezekiel writes just a few sentences later:

Therefore— Thus saith My Lord、 Yahweh, Now will I bring back them of the captivity of Jacob, And have compassion upon all the house of Israel,— And will be jealous for my holy Name;” (Ezekiel 39:25, EMPH)

There is the promise of restoration; there is the vow of compassion upon all the house of Israel.  So prophesied. So done.  God is always as good as his word.

God takes sin very, very seriously.  We ought to also.