Tuesday, May 31, 2011

How It Ends


The longest chapter in the Bible concerns God's law.
Its perfection.
Its necessity.
The blessings of keeping it.
Curses on those who don't keep it.
Walking in it.
Delighting in it.
Meditating on it.
Hiding in it.
Being lit up by its entrance.
Having our steps directed by it, that iniquity might not rule over us.
Hoping in it.
Being judged by it. 

How it ends: 
"I have gone astray like a lost sheep;
Seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments."

We have all gone astray.
And He comes looking for us.

Seek us, Lord. 
We remember You. 
We remember Your word. 
Come rescue us.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How Is It?


"Why are you so fearful?" Jesus asked His disciples.
"How is it that you have no faith?"

They were afraid of drowning when they had the Author of Life sleeping beside them.
The very One who breathed life into Adam.
And they were afraid they wouldn't be able to breathe.
I am sure you understand, because I bet you're afraid, too.

Jesus said, "I am the resurrection, and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."
When the Resurrection and the Life says, 'You shall live,' why are you so fearful?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Eclipse of Your Faith


'Changeful experience often leads the anxious believer to inquire, "Why is it thus with me?"
I looked for light, but lo, darkness came; for peace, but behold trouble...
Lord, Thou dost hide Thy face, and I am troubled.
It was but yesterday I could read my title clear;
today my evidences are bedimmed, and my hopes are clouded.
Yesterday I could climb to Pisgah's top, and view the landscape o'er,
and rejoice with confidence in my future inheritance;
today my spirit has no hopes, but many fears; no joys, but much distress.

'Is this part of God's plan with me?
Can this be the way in which God would bring me to heaven?
Yes, it is even so.
The eclipse of your faith, the darkness of your mind, the fainting of your hope,
all these things are but parts of God's method
of making you ripe for the great inheritance upon which you shall soon enter.
These trials are for the testing and strengthening of your faith --
they are waves that wash you further upon the rock --
they are winds which waft your ship the more swiftly towards the desired haven.

'According to David's words, so it might be said of you, "so He bringeth them to their desired haven."
By honor and dishonor, by evil report and by good report,
by plenty and by poverty, by joy and by distress,
by persecution and by peace,
by all these things is the life of your soul maintained, and by each of these are you helped on your way.
Oh, think not, believer, that your sorrows are out of God's plan; they are necessary parts of it.
"We must, through much tribulation, enter the kingdom."'

~From Morning and Evening by C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Without a Sail

We used to sing:

Without You I am nothing
Without You I always fail
Without You I am drifting
Like a ship without a sail

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No Credit For It

 
I found this quote written down in my journal from last October:

"Their heart was upright before the Lord,
though men gave them no credit for it,
but even censured them:
they were righteous,
though those about them denounced them as censorious.
Courage, brothers!
We need not be in a hurry..."

~ C. H. Spurgeon, The Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith

To Get Better

"Dear Jesus, please help the economy to get better,
even though I don't even know what the economy is,"
Talia prayed.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Weightier

David's Tomb
#1 For shutting up the kingdom of heaven against men -- not going in or allowing anyone else to, either.

#2 For devouring widows' houses, and making long prayers for a pretense.

#3 For traveling long distances on mission trips and converting men into even worse sons of hell.

#4 For teaching others to swear by the gold of the temple, and counting the temple as nothing, and for valuing the gift on the altar and not the altar itself.

#5 For paying tithes on spices and neglecting the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.

#6 For washing the outside but being full of extortion and self-indulgence.

#7 For looking like beautiful tombs, all white and sparkling -- but being full of all uncleanness and dead bones. (Appearing righteous, but being full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.)

#8 For building monuments to righteous men when you are the sons of their murderers. 'How can you escape the condemnation of hell?'

Woe.

Then He said, "I send you prophets, and you kill them. All their blood will come on you."

And yet:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you persecuting murderer --
how I have wanted to gather you to Me.
But you were not willing.
You won't see me again
until you say,
'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'

This is not a chapter I usually enjoy reading or thinking about. But a few things stood out to me from it this morning.

Jesus indicts the Pharisees.
I, too, have been indicted by the word of God.

We all fall short of the glory of God.
But pretending to be clothed in it is asking for woe.

They barred the gates of heaven
against men they deemed to be unworthy of it.
Refusing to enter by grace through faith,
they held back others who might enter
by grace through faith.
'Conform to our brand of holiness, first.
Wear our kind of clothes.
Eat our kind of food.
Drink only approved beverages.
Only dance our dances.
Listen to our music.'

But those things do not address holiness.
They are straining out gnats, but swallowing whole camels.
Being outwardly righteous by conformity does not wash the inside.
And the inside is what God looks at.

I think what I saw that I haven't seen before
is that Jesus was not barring the kingdom from the Pharisees.
His heart leaked out even in these woes.
'How can you escape the condemnation of hell?'
Seeing you won't enter by grace through faith,
how will you enter?
He reasons here with them.
You are guilty.
You.
You teacher of the law.
It judges you.
Justice. 
And until you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,'
you won't see Me.
Faith.
There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved.
Mercy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Location, Location, Location


I hate that real estate saying. --But it is true.
Nobody cares how sweet the house is if the entire street is full of garbage.

As we search for our new home, ruling out this one, and ruling out that one,
I sometimes find myself thinking about Him.
How He left glory to live in a bad neighborhood.
To dwell among the undesirables.
To eat what we eat.
To drink what we drink.
To be touched by the people who touch us.
To be interrupted day and night by the crying of people in pain and in need.
To be assaulted by the chaos of the streets.
And to be assaulted by His neighbors.
To be spat upon and mocked.
To be murdered.

And so: Lord -- where do You want us to live?

'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, being in the form of God,
did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but made Himself of no reputation,
taking the form of a bondservant,
and coming in the likeness of men.'

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Where Could We?


Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way."

Then His disciples said, "Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?"

He asked them, "How many loaves do you have?"

And they said, "Seven, and a few little fish."

So they all ate and were filled... 
Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

Our Jesus, who said He had nowhere to lay his head, had compassion on those who needed a meal. He didn't want them to leave Him empty and hungry. He was concerned that they might faint on the way.

But of course, there are practical considerations involved.

Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness?
It's the wilderness.
This is no place for the provision of meals.

Where could we get enough money in a recession?
Where could we get enough for our great need?
The economy can't support us.
Our needs are too expansive for this pinched place.

And Jesus asks, "What do you have?"
Practically nothing, Lord.
I have not enough.
I have less than enough for my own -- certainly not enough to share.

Our resources are irrelevant to Him.  
He is where we can get bread in the wilderness.
Water from the Rock.
And when He sees us continuing with Him,
He has compassion on our needs.
He doesn't want to send us away hungry.
He doesn't want us to faint on the way.
Sitting down with Him will feed you
where all your scrambling for food will fail.
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