Memorial Day Meditation

Mark 10:45 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Today is Memorial Day here in the US and it serves a great day to remember those who have served both their generation and the generations to come through their heroic defense of freedom.

I think it is fitting and good to honor those who have sacrificed for others. As a veteran myself,  I am especially inclined to be passionately patriotic. However, as a Christian I see this day as a gigantic arrow pointing to a more Memorial Day.

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Beauty Shines Forth from Zion

There are over 7 billion people in the world. Now imagine all of them receiving a summons to do something immediately. It seems almost impossible to consider something so important, so pressing that an entire state, let alone the entire world bend give undivided attention to it. But, this is what we read in the first words of the 50th Psalm:

“The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.” (Psalm 50:1)

God’s Word is going out as a summons to the entire earth, every day, all day. This means all people who have lived for centuries and centuries. This makes that 7 billion number explode with exponents.

What does he want the entire world to hear and know?

“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth.” (Psalm 50:2)

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In the Mansion of God’s Character, Every Room is Bright Light!

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

As finite creatures we have trouble getting our arms around absolute knowledge. Even with the places or subjects that we are most familiar with, we often kick over another rock to discover something new.

This is not the case with God. He knows everything and everyone perfectly. He is the infinite God. His knowledge is complete. He is never learning or growing. Instead, he is utterly sufficient in his absolute and infinite perfection.

This is why such statements as John’s above are so astounding. God’s declares that he is light. This metaphor in the Scriptures refers to God’s purity or holiness as well as his knowledge. The assertion is that God is perfectly pure without any defect or blemish.

What makes this all the more astounding is that God himself is infinite. In other words, the infinite God has plumbed the depths of his infinite character, surveyed it, and concluded with credibility of his divine character: I am perfectly light! In the mansion of God’s character there is not a single room, closet, or hallway of iniquity—every room is bright light and a fragrance, a boquet of holiness!

As a result, believers are to walk in the light (1 John 1.5, 7). We are to press into his character and reflect it into the world around us. As we are doing this we are reminded that it …

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Difficulty Does Not Mean Desertion

The 35th Psalm is a puzzling and then encouraging.

The Psalmist is describing the present narrative of his life. It is difficult. People make it difficult to be him. They contend with him and fight with him (v.1), devise evil for him (v.4) and dig a pit for his life (v.7). The opposition persistently opposes him.

If you read through the Psalm and begin interrogating it, you will find one of your key questions left unanswered. Why? Why are they opposing him like this? What did he do to them? He seems to have been quite nice and considerate to them actually (v.13-14). So why all of this scornful opposition?

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Isaac Saw the Ultrasound but We Hold the Baby

Prior to meeting the woman who would become his wife and help him populate the genealogy of the ‘seed’, we see the patriarch Isaac retiring to seclusion in a field.  And what do we learn that he is intending on doing?  The text informs us that he is headed out “to meditate.”

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field toward evening…(Gen 24.63a)

I find the inclusion of this fact very interesting.

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Some Things Are Not What They Appear to Be

Sometimes things are not what they appear. I have stared for what felt like hours into one of the magic eye books waiting to “see it”. To my shame I have put the book down many times confessing that I didn’t see it.

This happens in our Bible reading too. Remember a couple of vivid occasions in the gospel narrative: Judas kissed Jesus and we also see Peter run away. If we were there we may think that Judas was the man while Peter was tucking it and running. However, Judas was in fact the worst kind of betrayer while Peter turned out to be loyal unto death. Consider also the scene in Genesis 3, the Garden of Eden. The jewel of God’s creation, Adam and Eve, are flirting with disaster. They are being lulled to sleep by the hissing promises of the evil one. They cave and God judges. From the outside it looks like this is done. However, things are not like they appear. God says,

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”” (Genesis 3:15)

There is the promise of adversity and ultimate triumph. The verse here still is not without some language that has us set up for something we don’t fully expect. There will be a crushing of the head by the seed of the woman but also the bruising of the heel by the offspring of the serpent.

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This Vineyard Makes Gospel Wine

You may be familiar with the story in 1 Kings 21. Ahab is one of the worst kings in the history of Israel. His lusts knows no bounds. One day he decides that he wants to take the vineyard that belonged to a man named Naboth. He offered to give him another patch of land or even to buy it from him. However, Naboth resisted: ‘”The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” (1Ki 21.3)

Naboth refused because the land was part of his inheritance. We might think that this is dripping with the sentimentality of family. And it may. But more than that, it represents the Hebrew mindset that the land is a gift from God. Naboth can’t just “give it up and take something else.” The land is not like a pair of sneakers or upgrading a phone.

As we read on we see that Ahab’s wife, the notorious Jezebel, does his dirty work. She gets a couple of worthless guys together to accuse Naboth of something he did not do in order to put him to death. This she does successfully. The innocent Naboth is killed outside the city because of a false accusation of blasphemy.

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Love is Patient

This past Sunday I was not preaching and therefore was blessed to lead the congregation in the confession of sin. It is always a rich time together as we prepare our hearts for worship by considering what God requires and what Christ has done. We are presently walking through 1 Cor 13 to be reminded what the Bible says about love. It is teaching us about where we need to repent even as it teaches us how we must treasure Christ. Here are my notes from Sunday.

 

1 Corinthians 13:4 we read the profound and powerful words: Love is patient.

What does this mean? When we think of patience we may think of the word tranquil or peaceful. This is a good start for us. However, the word is nuanced a bit to involve some type of opposition or perhaps even suffering. This is important because it means that when the heat gets turned up around us or within us–we can take it. We don’t lash out, we don’t give up, we don’t lose it.

When we think about patience we have to think about God himself. He is said to be very patient when provoked.

    “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” (Psalm 103:8)
    “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exodus 34:6)

How do we root out a lack of love that is characterized by impatience? We can think …

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A Gust of Good News

This morning in my Bible reading I came to a familiar and foriegn passage.

It was familiar because I know it. I can quote it. It is foriegn because it is so alien to this world and its system.

I am talking about these words from Jesus:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Jesus here extends himself to all people. He invites and entreats people to come to him.

But specifically, he invites a certain type of people. He invites hungry and hurting people. That is, those who need labor and need rest.

This hits every person. All people have served and pursued things which cannot satisfy. These created things, when elevated to a level of worship, will only disappoint and discourage us. They cannot meet the need. As a result, like dogs running around a racetrack, whenever we ‘catch the rabbit’ and get what we want, we only want more. This is because we were made for so much more.

The insatiable desire of humanity is intended to find its satisfaction in Christ. It is truly only Christ that can fill and satisfy the hungry and hurting soul.

In this context Jesus is talking to people who have been taking beatings at the hands of religious systems. You may …

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This Shunammite Leaves Gospel Footprints

In 2 Kings 8 we read of a woman who had been the beneficiary of the powerful kindness of God through his servant Elisha. The Shunammite woman’s son had died and then God used Elisha to raise him from the dead (2 Kings 4.18ff).

Elisha then warned her that a famine was coming and that it was wise to leave her homeland. This advice was taken. In chapter 8 we learn that she has come back to her land to find it in someone else’s hands. She goes to the King and asks for grace. She asked the king for her land back.

A funny thing happened though. As she entered to make her requests known, the King was having his ears filled with the mighty deeds of God through Elisha. More specifically, God’s mighty deeds to this very woman! (2 Kings 8.4-6). This is absolutely amazing. The King, with a somewhat softened heart, gives the woman all of her land back plus the produce from the fields she would have earned had she been there (2 Kings 8.6).

We can’t help but see gospel themes come to the surface as we consider this.

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