Archive for May, 2020
“Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 96:1).
Those in a dating or marriage relationship will respond to a certain tune, “That’s our song.” To hear it is to be reminded of some special time or quality in that relationship. The admonition of the psalmist begs the question of what song our lives might be singing in the light of our relationship with the Maestro of creation. Is it a song of salvation? A melody of hope? A tune of forgiveness? It is a song we must sing together.
“When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death” (John 4:47).
In desperate circumstances we desperately ask of God. Understandably, we long for a miracle. Our faith is the seed of our imagining that God will do something. Perhaps what we need is a greater imagination that allows God to work in ways that reach miraculously beyond the limitations of our asking. We must not allow desperation to blind us to other possibilities. Dare to ask of God and expect more of an answer than your circumstances would ever ask of Him.
“Teach me, and I will be silent; and show me how I have erred” (Job 6:24).
A religion birthed from habit, ignorance, and prejudice can easily steal away the possibility of ever discovering a biblical faith. The volume of our own presumptive notions of God—what you would wish him to be or, intuitively, think him to be—can deafen us to biblical truth. Even the Baals, past and present, would encourage these vain pursuits, along with any other sentimental endeavors that make for a nationalistic religious expression; heightening our allegiances all the more to the things of this world. It takes a quiet mind and the discipline of a discerning ear to recognize the difference.
“The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that did not profit” (Jeremiah 2:8).
As a people of faith, our unique identity is built around a story being written by God. It is a story that, if not handed down to your children, disappears from your lineage in one generation. This narrative of faith is not learned by osmosis; it isn’t picked up along the way because mom and dad are “good” people, with high moral values, and come from “good stock.” If the salvation story is not consistently spoken of by parents; if it is not observed as being a daily pursuit, and emphasized as a disciplined, rhythmic, non-negotiable participatory event with other believers on Sunday, the biblical narrative of faith will soon be replaced by a Baal inspired narrative of cultural and nationalistic religion, practiced at one’s own convenience.
“The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me…” (Jeremiah 2:8).
Not only were the people negligent in articulating a faith narrative in their explanation of the world, their priests, those responsible for keeping God’s salvation story before them, were withholding the truth of God’s word; substituting instead fanciful subjects and sentimental observances of the culture. Worse than heresy is the withholding of truth. Heresy often contains enough truth that the error soon becomes evident. However, when called leaders withhold the truth of the sacred text, people are then left to their own whimsical, speculative, and vain pursuits. Nowhere does this become more obvious than across social media platforms.
“They did not say, ‘Where is the Lord who brought us up out of the land of Egypt…,’” (Jeremiah 2:6)?
No small part of God’s indictment against his people was their unwillingness to speak a testimony of faith in the midst of life’s circumstances. God’s people have been entrusted with a narrative that keeps God at the center of all world events and existing conditions. By verbally articulating the story of God’s faithfulness in history, we are reminded of our role in the story; it’s a significant part of our identification as a unique and distinctive community, but it also attracts and invites others to be part of the story. We either speak the story of faith or we speak stories of human origin.
“If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land” (Isaiah 1:19).
To consent and obey is to affirm and apply to one’s life. Prerequisite to receiving God’s best is the pursuit of a life desiring only to please him. This verse, along with all others related to the promises of God, assumes you have an insatiable appetite for the menu items of his banquet table—service, sacrifice, obedience, and commitment. With the benefit of blessings comes the burden of responsibilities.
“For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands” (Psalm 92:4).
Try as we may to plan, engineer, and construct our lives, it is soon realized that our best laid plans crumble and change as circumstances, people, and any number of other variables leave us disappointed and unfulfilled. Only what God has done; the works of His hands, ultimately, makes us glad. It is His divine work of creation and redemption that causes our hearts to respond with worship and praise.
“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:6).
In the construction of a masonry foundation the setting of the cornerstone is of utmost importance since all other stones are set in reference to this one. It is the setting of this first stone that determines the position of the entire structure. To build on the firm foundation of Christ, it is how we first set our mind that determines the positioning of every facet of our lives. Paul’s statement is but an echoing of the wisdom writer…”For as man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
“Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom; give ear to the instruction of our God, you people of Gomorrah” (Isaiah 1:10).
Having believed so long that worship is based upon the prompting of one’s emotions, sentimental and nostalgic longings, personal preferences, or what the culture deems as “relevant,” some may be surprised to discover that God’s word actually offers instruction for a worship that is altogether fitting of a Holy God…especially in things to be avoided. The verses that follow (11-15) describe worship practices God considered wearisome and burdensome. The new moon festivals and appointed feasts don’t sound too different from any of the 314 national holidays and observances occupying the American calendar, that so many seek to interject into the worship expression of the church. Nostalgic journeys are a poor substitute for an eternal destiny. Worship belongs God; He will not share his time with the gods of culture.