Monthly Archives: June 2012

Then they said among the nations

1 When the LORD brought back the captive ones of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us;
We are glad.

Ps 126:1-3

 

“Then they said among the nations, ‘The LORD has done great things for them.'”

But do they?
I read this psalm this afternoon, and as I read I reflected on what a great salvation we have, on being brought out of captivity. It’s so marvelous that at times we may feel as though we’re dreaming. And whenever we are able to grasp a little bit more of the reality of grace, we are filled with overflowing joy. But I’m not sure that those around us, unbelieving observers, are always able to make the conclusion that God has done great things for us. This ties in, I feel, with many of the sermons preached this past weekend at Resolved. The Church is to be holy, set apart, for Christ the Bridegroom. The Church is to be separate from the world, and to such an extent that the world looks on in wonder. The Gospel does remain folly to those of the world, the Word tells us this. But the Word also tells us that we are to be undoubtedly distinct. To try to conform to the world or to dumb down the Gospel or to not share the truth with our friends is to be flirting with compromise, and to compromise our convictions and our calling is to forsake the charge given the Church by Christ.

Are we separate? Are we holy? Indeed, we are, because God has declared us so. But does the world see this difference? Are we viewed as “children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,” so that others look and wonder at what God has done for us and in us? To be anything less is to be a poor steward of that light entrusted to us, the Church.

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You Lifted Me Out (Repost from 2/25/12)

Psalm 40

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear
and put their trust in the LORD.

4 Blessed is the man
who makes the LORD his trust,
who does not look to the proud,
to those who turn aside to false gods.
5 Many, O LORD my God,
are the wonders you have done.
The things you planned for us
no one can recount to you;
were I to speak and tell of them,
they would be too many to declare.

6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.
7 Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

9 I proclaim righteousness in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips,
as you know, O LORD.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and salvation.
I do not conceal your love and your truth
from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD;
may your love and your truth always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails within me.

13 Be pleased, O LORD, to save me;
O LORD, come quickly to help me.
14 May all who seek to take my life
be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation always say,
“The LORD be exalted!”

17 Yet I am poor and needy;
may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
O my God, do not delay.

How great indeed is our God. Reading this passage in my devo’s today was so, so convicting, and so, so, so, so perfect for the trials that I am facing at this moment. Such can only be by God’s providence, for His Word is fully sufficient for all things.

Although I slipped once again in my battle against fleshly lusts, even though I have become discouraged and doubts have crept in, God, once again, so faithfully, hears my cry (v.1) and lifts me out of what I could not climb myself—my own wicked lusts (v.2). He places me on a solid rock, on Christ Jesus (v.2). He allows me to sing a new song in praise of Him, to praise Him even more and even more fully—I have been relieved of my doubts and worries, and I trust fully in Jesus’s power to eternally redeem. I sing to the Lord a new song, ever praising Him loudly and joyfully (v.3). I place my trust fully and absolutely in my God, my King, my Lord, my Savior: Jesus Christ (v.4). God has great plans for me, which He shall surely see to completion (v.5). He pierces my ears; His Word brings truth and conviction (v.6). I desire to do God’s will, to live in righteousness, to live a life holy and blameless in His sight (v.7-8). I proclaim His greatness, His righteousness, His faithfulness, His salvation, His love and truth—I do not consider these as works or as earning me salvation, but as reflections of the absolute faith that I have in Christ my God (v.9-10). God will not withhold His mercy from me; I will be protected by His love and truth (v.11). Although sin has overtaken me and I feel blinded, God saves me, He comes quickly to me when I finally call on His Name (v.12-13). The Lord will protect me from those who try to discourage me, from those who mock me for living for Him (v.14-15). May I never fail to declare, “The LORD be exalted!” for I love His salvation and I rejoice in Him (v.16). While I yet remain poor and needy, because of Christ the LORD thinks of me, He is my Help and my Deliverer, he comes to me quickly (v.17).

Other awesome connections:
v.5 ~ Connection to Cutting It Straight homework, on Philippians 1:21-26, which I had just been working on last night. God has a plan, and I can be confident that He will see it to completion. Also connected to Philippians 1:6, which I’d read to get context for my homework.
v.2 ~ We’ve just decided on The Solid Rock to be our song for GOCappella. What better than to read a Psalm immediately afterwards that speaks of the very same truths in the hymn?
I suspect that I may have found the Psalm on which Chris Tomlin’s “You Lifted Me Out” is based. Perhaps.
God’s timing is impeccable, His wisdom infinite, His providence complete, His sovereignty absolute, His forgiveness full, His plan perfect. His love amazing.

The Fruit of Righteousness – Contentment (Repost from 4/30/12)

SisApp was yesterday, and all last week and this weekend we’ve been working hard getting ready to appreciate our sisters. It was quite fun, and I had a great time working on our projects with the guys and finally getting to see the fruit of our labor on Sunday as we put on SisApp for the girls. And as much as I love serving, and loved serving, and as much of a joy as it was to do all that I had the opportunity to do, I know myself, I know my own natural tendencies and weaknesses. Jefe has been having me read The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, a book that is really just a sermon series by Jeremiah Burroughs, from 1651 (WOW; just another example of the timelessness of Scripture). This past week, knowing I was busy, he told me to read through Philippians, starting with reading the letter in its entirety, and then each day going through a chapter. Well, today was my first day reading Philippians in-depth, and I had been planning on reading the whole first chapter. Before I read, I prayed that God would convict me through what I read. That He would remind me that contentment, true contentment, is only found, only available, even, in Him. I prayed that He would break my pride, that I would not try to find contentment in the approval of others, the inclusion by others, in being the center of attention. As I said, I know my own weaknesses, and my easily inflated ego is one of them. I prayed, God, I don’t even know how such a change can even be possible, to change something so very deeply rooted in me. But then I remembered: this is the Gospel, its glorious second part. He changes us, daily, to match more closely the image of Christ. And then I prayed that He would change me not that I would be seen as more godly by others, and thereby nullify any work done in the first place, but that He would be more glorified in me. So, I began reading, and while intending to read the whole first chapter, I got no farther than the eleventh verse:

“having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.”

Oh my word, how timely of God to give me this passage today.
This fruit that I’m asking for, that God will teach me true contentment (the benefits of which will run over into every area of my walk), “comes through Jesus Christ”. I don’t have to question how such a change can be effected in me; Christ lives in me, and so all I have to do is put on Him (Ro 13:14).
This fruit will arise “to the glory and praise of God.” If I am truly seeking God’s transforming work in me, He will be glorified, despite my shortcomings or even my sinful efforts to the contrary.

In the next few days, as I continue through Philippians, I pray that God will show me through Paul’s divinely inspired letter what it means to find all contentment in Him, and how to go about gaining that which I am desiring.

Summer sin. And greater grace.

Day 3 of summer break, and I feel burdened, so burdened under sin. Under my sin, under my nature, under that evil which I do not want. This sin which dwells in me…it acts so strongly, doing the very thing I hate. With the psalmist I recognize, Against You, God, against You only, I have sinned. And I lament with the apostle, Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

But quickly, oh, how quickly am I reminded, and how quickly is my heart directed to even more praise. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! For there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

What mercy! What abounding mercy has been granted me. What grace! What amazing grace, and how sweet the sound, indeed.

He will perfect this good work in me until the day of Christ Jesus, and while I remain in this body of sin He will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I am able. Do I believe these words, inspired by the Holy Spirit? I cry with the boy’s father, I do believe, help my unbelief! Oh, Heavenly Father, give me faith and give me strength. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Ps 51. Ro 7, 8. Php 1. 1Co 10. Mk 9.

Block

Types word. Gets up, paces room. Settles back in chair, reads recent word. Doesn’t. Flow. Deletes. Walks to window, gazes wistfully at Sunset Rec. Sighs, sits. Tries again; attempt number twenty-three.