1910.) Psalm 124

August 26, 2016

Ps124 our help

Psalm 124   (NIV)

A song of ascents. Of David.

Praise to the Lord who accepts us as a living sacrifice, who gives us many and various spiritual gifts, who helps us live peaceably with one another! Praise God that he is on our side, helping us! Paul’s theme of God’s great love for us from Romans 12 is heard again here.

The Lord is able to protect His church from the attacks of principalities and powers in the spiritual realm (Eph. 6:10-20).

If the Lord had not been on our side—
    let Israel say—
if the Lord had not been on our side
    when people attacked us,
they would have swallowed us alive
    when their anger flared against us;
the flood would have engulfed us,
    the torrent would have swept over us,
the raging waters
    would have swept us away.

Praise be to the Lord,
    who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird
    from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
    and we have escaped.

We have escaped like a bird . . .

Our help is in the name of the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Pilgrim Band and “Psalm 124.”

________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Images courtesy of:
Our help.   https://dailyverses.net/images/en/NIV/psalms-124-8.jpg
escape like a bird sketch.    http://www.moreh.net/p2/albums/userpics/normal_XXXPsalm_124_7.jpg

1909.) Romans 12

August 25, 2016

Romans 12   (NRSV)

In chapter 12, St. Paul teaches the true liturgy and makes all Christians priests, so that they may offer, not money or cattle, as priests do in the Law, but their own bodies, by putting their desires to death. Next he describes the outward conduct of Christians whose lives are governed by the Spirit; he tells how they teach, preach, rule, serve, give, suffer, love, live and act toward friend, foe and everyone. These are the works that a Christian does, for, as I have said, faith is not idle.

–Martin Luther, Preface to Romans

The New Life in Christ

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Rom12 Hebrews

Just as the old covenant believer would bring an animal sacrifice in order to maintain a right relationship with God, we are to come as living sacrifices as a reasonable response to the unconditional relationship we have with God, which He has mercifully established. All the Old Testament sacrifices anticipate the final, central sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. His death makes the Old Testament sacrificial system redundant. It is superseded by Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice on the cross. As a result, His death makes the other New Testament sacrifice — the sacrifice of yourself — totally reasonable.

Hymn writer Isaac Watts put it this way:

    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

–David Cook

2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.

This is the ancient Greek word metamorphoo– describing a metamorphosis. The same word is used to describe Jesus in His transfiguration (Mark 9:2-3).  That was a glorious transformation!

The only other place Paul uses this word for transformed is in 2 Corinthians 3:18:  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.  For Paul, this transformation and renewing of our minds takes place as we behold the face of God, spending time in His glory.

–David Guzik

3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.

Gifts representing the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Spiritual gifts —

–are for helping and strengthening others.  “Lord, let me strengthen people’s faith today. Grant that at the end of this day somebody will be more confident of your promises and more joyful in your grace because I crossed his path.”

–and the faith to exercise them are given to us by God in varying measure.  “Lord, let me not think too highly of myself today. All I can do for good is done only in your power and by your grace. Let me serve my neighbors and you with humility.” 

–are to be shared with generosity and simplicity. “Lord, let me not make this too complicated. If I see a need, let me offer to help meet it. If I see an opportunity to speak for you, let me open my mouth. If I feel a nudge to do something kind, even if it is inconvenient for me, let me put selfishness down and be a living sacrifice, to serve others.”

Marks of the True Christian

(While you are reading these verses, think about the Sermon on the Mount — how well Paul knows Jesus’ teachings!)

9Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.

“Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”

–Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

11Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord.

12Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.

13Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

“Hospitality should have no other nature than love.”

–Henrietta Mears

14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.

15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

“Let there be such oneness between us, that when one weeps, the other tastes salt.”

16Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are.

17Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

18If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Rom12 peace

“A smile is the beginning of peace.”

–Mother Teresa

19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

“I don’t care what problem you face; it has no power to defeat the cross of Christ.”

–Jay E. Adams

_________________________

Music:

An old hymn about total commitment to God, written by Frances R. Havergal in 1874, and done  HERE  by Chris Tomlin.  “Take My Life” is a prayer for every day.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
the trouble with a living sacrifice.   http://joemckeever.com/wp/46-cartoons-for-the-study-of-romans-updated/
metamorphosis.   http://imagine-change.com/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/the-metamorphosis.282120459_std.jpg
Hebrews 10:14.   http://images.knowing-jesus.com/w/400/58-HEBREWS/Hebrews%2010-14%20By%20One%20Offering%20pale.jpg
spiritual gifts.   http://david-christian-network-international.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Spiritual-gifts-list.jpg
sun shining through the trees.    http://www.howtogeek.com/geekers/up/sshot4d8b539739875.jpg
Welcome.    http://www.theartfulstencil.com/pineapple-stencil.html
tears.    http://worshippingchristian.org/images/blog/tears.jpg
Do everything possible.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/26/7e/67/267e67c945d8e5cf19912bf17c1e0bcd.jpg
Victory in the cross.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/r12-victory-in-the-cross.jpg

1908.) Romans 11

August 24, 2016

artwork by Sharon Jensen

Romans 11   (NRSV)

Jews do not believe that Jesus was divine, the Son of God, or the Messiah prophesied in Jewish scriptures. He is seen as a “false messiah,” meaning someone who claimed (or whose followers claimed for him) the mantle of the Messiah but who ultimately did not meet the requirements laid out in Jewish beliefs. According to Jewish scripture and belief, the true Messiah must meet the following requirements. He must:

  • Be an observant Jewish man descended from the house of King David
  • Be an ordinary human being (as opposed to the Son of God)
  • Bring peace to the world
  • Gather all Jews back into Israel
  • Rebuild the ancient Temple in Jerusalem
  • Unite humanity in the worship of the Jewish God and Torah observance

Because Jesus did not meet these requirements, from the Jewish perspective he was not the Messiah.

–Judaism.about.com

Israel’s Rejection Is Not Final

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” 4But what is the divine reply to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”

To read the story of Elijah’s conversation with God, found in 1 Kings 19, click  HERE.

5So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

7What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, 8as it is written, “God gave them a sluggish spirit, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, down to this very day.” 9And David says, “Let their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them; 10let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and keep their backs forever bent.”

The Salvation of the Gentiles

11So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous.

“Paul was saying that the salvation of the Gentiles was intended in the divine providence to arouse in Israel a passionate desire for the same good gift. When they saw the wonder of the messianic salvation, the Jews would want it for themselves. It is a matter for profound regret that just as Israel refused to accept this salvation when it was offered to them, so the Gentiles have all too often refused to make Israel envious. Instead of showing to God’s ancient people the attractiveness of the Christian way Christians have characteristically treated the Jews with hatred, prejudice, persecution, malice, and all uncharitableness. Christians should not take this passage calmly.”

–Leon Morris, Australian New Testament scholar (1914 – 2006)

12Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

13Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry 14in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead! 16If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy.

17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in their place to share the rich root of the olive tree, 18do not boast over the branches. If you do boast, remember that it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you. 19You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you.

22Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23And even those of Israel, if they do not persist in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. 24For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree.

Rom11 vine

John 15:1-8 (ESV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

All Israel Will Be Saved

25So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “Out of Zion will come the Deliverer; he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.” 27“And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” 28As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; 29for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30Just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience, 31so they have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 32For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that he may be merciful to all.

Isaiah 59:12-13 (ESV)

(disobedience)

For our transgressions are multiplied before you,   
   and our sins testify against us;
for our transgressions are with us,   
   and we know our iniquities:
transgressing, and denying the Lord,   
   and turning back from following our God,
speaking oppression and revolt,   
   conceiving and uttering from the heart lying words.

Isaiah 30:18   (ESV) 

(mercy)

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you,     
   and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. 
For the Lord is a God of justice;     
   blessed are all those who wait for him.

33O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! 34“For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?” 35“Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?” 36For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

_________________________

Music:

These last verses are beautifully put to music by Derek Kuhn. Click  HERE  to watch and listen.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Jensen.    http://www.wordcenterministries.org/music–art/bezalel-gallery/romans-11_36-darker-7×5.jpg
Elijah.   http://pastorstrey.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/old-testament-illustrations-106.jpg?w=270&h=193
cross and menorah.    http://reasonradionetwork.com/images/2011/09/Zionist_cross-menorah_shadow.jpg
grafted.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/5e97b-1433536270534.jpg
I am the vine.   http://i2.wp.com/www.yetnotibutchrist.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/iamvine.gif
O the depth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/romans11-33.jpg

1907.) Romans 10

August 23, 2016

Romans 10   (NRSV)

“There really is no need for any Christian mission to the Jews. They are and remain the people of God, even if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Why this is so only God knows. Christians should concentrate their missionary activities on those who do not yet belong to the people of God, and they should court them with a holistic witness in word and deed rather than with polemical argument and cultural legislation. The long history of Christian anti-Semitism calls for repentance, not triumphalist claims of spiritual superiority.”

–Eric W. Gritsch, 1995

How do you think Paul would respond to Gritsch’s idea that the Jews do not need to know Jesus as Lord and Savior?

Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2I can testify that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened. 3For, being ignorant of the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to God’s righteousness. 4For Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

Rom10 law

No longer is obedience to the law the basis for our relationship with God. Jesus has fulfilled perfectly all the law demands; when we believe in him, we receive “the righteousness that comes from God.” It is not our work that saves us, for only Christ’s work on the cross can do that.

Centuries before Paul, the prophet Jeremiah had told the people of Israel this new way was coming:

Jeremiah 31:31-33   (ESV)

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Salvation Is for All

5Moses writes concerning the righteousness that comes from the law, that “the person who does these things will live by them.” 6But the righteousness that comes from faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7“or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8But what does it say? “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Instead of having to go to great lengths to achieve righteousness by the law, we can immediately receive righteousness by faith, by trusting in the word of the gospel. This is cause for great joy!

10For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. 11The scripture says, “No one who believes in him will be put to shame.”

12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him. 13For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Psalm 91:15 (ESV)

When he calls to me, I will answer him;   
   I will be with him in trouble;   
   I will rescue him and honor him.

14But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? 15And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light,
A story of peace and light.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
And the dawning to noon day bright,
And Christ’s great kingdom
Shall come on earth,
The Kingdom of love and light.

We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,
That shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
A song that shall conquer evil,
And shatter the spear and sword,
And shatter the spear and sword.

We’ve a message to give to the nations,
That the Lord who reigneth above
Hath sent us His Son to save us,
And show us that God is love,
And show us that God is love.

We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,
Who the path of sorrow hath trod,
That all of the world’s great peoples
May come to the truth of God,
May come to the truth of God!

_________________________

Music:

Kiri te Kanawa sings “How beautiful are the feet” from Messiah by George Friedric Handel. accompanied by The Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Sir Georg Solti conducting. Click  HERE  to listen.

_________________________

16But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.

Rom10 hearing

Romans 10:17   (NKJV)

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

For most of history, and even for most of the Christian era, it is true that most people could not read. They learned through listening. Even today, a commonly accepted statistic is that one in five adults in the developing world — almost 862 million people — cannot read or write.

When I tell Scripture by heart to a group, I often introduce it with this verse. To hear a good story told well, with enthusiasm and vigor, is a riveting experience! It can make you feel as if you were present at the event being told; it makes the “there and then” seem “here and now.” Speaking and telling the Word of God is another way, I think, in which the Word can become flesh, and dwell among us. And as we hear the Word, may we grow in faith.

18But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have; for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” 19Again I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation; with a foolish nation I will make you angry.” 20Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.” 21But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

“All the day did I spread out My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.”

The metaphor is of a mother opening her arms to call her child to her embrace. It has often helped me when my faith and love burned low. If God could go on doing such  a loving thing “all day long” for years, and years, could not I go on loving and stretching out my arms too? And so I learned to pray, “Love through me, Love of God.”

He is the God of Patience and of Comfort (Romans 15:5) as well as the God of Hope (Romans 15:13). Paul must often have been discouraged and disappointed, but deep in his heart these lovely names were spoken. They can help us as they must have helped Paul.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Romans 10:9.    http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/reaching-out-romans-10-9.jpg
What part of the law.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/a0/db/f2/a0dbf2af9ff48d9699989ea4f3c7cd51.jpg
Romans 10:9 with white cross.   http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/romans-10-9.jpg
feet.   https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/3e/cd/9e/3ecd9e64131ad11ec167666c5dcc3a2f.jpg
Faith comes from hearing.    https://dailyverses.net/images/en/NIV/romans-10-17.jpg
mother’s embrace.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/r10-embrace.jpg

1096.) Romans 9

August 22, 2016

Romans 9   (NRSV)

God’s Election of Israel

Chapter 9 brings a slight shift in focus to the Book of Romans.

In Romans chapters one through eight, Paul thoroughly convinced us about man’s need and God’s glorious provision in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit.

Now, in Romans 9 through 11, Paul deals with the problem associated with the condition of Israel. What does it mean that Israel has missed its Messiah? What does this say about God? What does it say about Israel? What does it say about our present position in God?

The question goes something like this: How can I be secure in God’s love and salvation to me when it seems that Israel was once loved and saved, but now seems to be rejected and cursed? Will God also reject and curse me one day?

“If God cannot bring his ancient people into salvation, how do Christians know that he can save them? Paul is not here proceeding to a new and unrelated subject. These three chapters are part of the way he makes plain how God in fact saves people.” (Leon Morris)

–David Guzik

I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 4They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.

6It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, 7and not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants; but “It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.” 8This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants.

Rom9 promise

This is the point. The physical children do not have an advantage, as such, with God. It is no guarantee of inheritance; “not all of Abraham’s children are his true descendants.” Rather, God is looking for children who look to God with faith.  And remember, also, what Jesus told the crowd in Mark 3:  “Look, these are my mother and brothers.  Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

9For this is what the promise said, “About this time I will return and Sarah shall have a son.” 10Nor is that all; something similar happened to Rebecca when she had conceived children by one husband, our ancestor Isaac. 11Even before they had been born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose of election might continue, 12not by works but by his call) she was told, “The elder shall serve the younger.” 13As it is written, “I have loved Jacob, but I have hated Esau.”

Rom9 fair

Here again, in the story of Jacob and Esau, simply being a physical descendant is not sufficient. God chooses. Let us not think that God’s choices are arbitrary, as if he carelessly tosses a coin to pick who gets to go first. We may not understand God’s reasons for choosing, but God’s choices are not capricious. He has a plan and a reason. We agree with Abraham, who said to the Lord in Genesis 18 — “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”

14What then are we to say? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16So it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. 17For the scripture says to Pharaoh, “I have raised you up for the very purpose of showing my power in you, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18So then he has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he hardens the heart of whomever he chooses.

God’s Wrath and Mercy

19You will say to me then, “Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20But who indeed are you, a human being, to argue with God? Will what is molded say to the one who molds it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one object for special use and another for ordinary use?

22What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath that are made for destruction; 23and what if he has done so in order to make known the riches of his glory for the objects of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24including us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” 26“And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they shall be called children of the living God.”

1 John 3:1   (NIV) 

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

_________________________

Music:

I love being reminded that I am a child of God! So I sing this little hymn to myself almost every day, I love it so.  HERE  is Marie Pooler’s arrangement, sung by the University Choir of the California State University at Long Beach:   “Children of the Heavenly Father.”

_________________________

27And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the children of Israel were like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved; 28for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth quickly and decisively.” 29And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left survivors to us, we would have fared like Sodom and been made like Gomorrah.”

Israel’s Unbelief

It is difficult for any religious system to comprehend grace, much less to welcome its dismantling force. Religion thrives upon predictability, rank, and manipulation. It rewards those who read the instructions. It is a ladder of achievement, a web of meritocracy that is available even to those whose intellect does not advance them and whose charms—innate or cultivated—are not outstanding. Not for nothing did the aspiring young man for many years choose his options from a conventional menu: government service, business, the military. Or the church.

The apostle Paul turns his attention to the particular grace-less web that was the Judaism of his time. It was not the only religion that was preshaped to resist the persistent intrusions of grace. It was merely Paul’s own and the matrix from which messianic faith—in this case the expanding shared life of those who followed Jesus as messiah—was to emerge. It was at once the root and source of this new faith and its most potent adversary, a paradox whose torment Paul bore to his grave.

–Dr. David Baer

30What then are we to say? Gentiles, who did not strive for righteousness, have attained it, that is, righteousness through faith; 31but Israel, who did strive for the righteousness that is based on the law, did not succeed in fulfilling that law. 32Why not? Because they did not strive for it on the basis of faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33as it is written, “See, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make people stumble, a rock that will make them fall, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
star of David.   http://www.windstarembroidery.com/cw2/Assets/product_full/604_250.gif
Children of promise.   http://www.christianglobe.com/PPS/images/medium/00023144_h.jpg
Is God fair.   https://rodgersthat.files.wordpress.com/2015/07/isgodfair.jpg
verse 17.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/psalms_145-17.jpg
the Clay and the Potter.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/thepotter26theclay.jpg
grace.    http://blogs.longwood.edu/aling/files/2011/04/grace.jpg

1905.) Psalm 130

August 19, 2016

Ps130 depths
Psalm 130    (ESV)

My Soul Waits for the Lord

A Song of Ascents.

Luther calls Psalm 130 the most Pauline of Psalms, a proper master and doctor of scripture. God forgives sin and God redeems and restores, as shown in Israel’s return from exile. This psalm proclaims the hope of full restoration, experienced by us in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and looks ahead to the future hope for the church and world.

Listen for echoes of Romans 8!

Psalm 130 is a psalm in four parts, best seen as a conversation. We hear the voice of personal experience in verses 1 and 2, and 5 and 6, and the voice of theological insight in verses 3 and 4, and 7 and 8. The reality of human existence, and in response the reality of God’s character, combine to give us hope.

–Howard Carter (and all following in blue)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
    O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
    to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

Ps130 Yahweh

The repetition accentuates the distress that the psalmist finds himself in. The depths are a vivid metaphor for trouble and sorrow and suffering in life, as if one is being tossed round on the waves of life. Walter Brueggemann identifies this as a psalm of disorientation, when we seem to have sunk into a pit and the world seems totally upside down.

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
    O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    that you may be feared.

Ps130 record

It’s important to note that God’s grace, shown in mercy and forgiveness, is given as a reason to fear and serve the Lord. God’s grace and kindness is always seen as the foundation for relationship. The Ten Commandments and the Sinai covenant are based on God’s grace, rescuing Israel from Egypt. God’s invitation for all who believe in Christ to be the sons and daughters of God is based on Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins. God calls us to love him and so keep his commands out of love, not out of fear of some tyrant. Walter Brueggemann sums this up by saying that  “there is forgiveness and from it everything else flows. It is the first fact of the new life, of the new age.”

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

Ps130 wait for the Lord

The psalmist still finds himself journeying through the depth, sojourning in a dark landscape, but his posture has changed—from wailing to waiting, from despair to hope, from fretting to trust. Knowing the character of God, knowing God’s forgiveness and grace, means the Psalmist can wait for God to act. To wait on the LORD is to live trusting in God. The dawn will come. The psalmist says he is like the watchman, going about his task in the sure knowledge that the sun will soon rise.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
    For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
    and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
    from all his iniquities.

Ps130 hope

So the psalmist calls us to put our hope in the LORD—to wait and watch and see what God will do. The depths are real, the suffering is real, but the bottom is not the bottom, for we find underneath us the Everlasting Arms. It is in the depths perhaps we can find the deep truth about God’s grace. The psalmist met God in the depths, and it changed things. The psalmist encountered the true gracious nature of God and we can too. Charles Spurgeon puts it so eloquently: “The one who cries out in the depths will sing in the heights.”

_________________________

Music:

HERE  are the Sons of Korah and their soulful rendition of Psalm 130.

_________________________


1904.) Romans 8:18-39

August 18, 2016

Romans 8:18-39   (NRSV)

Future Glory

18I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

–Julian of Norwich (1342 – 1416)

19For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;

“Eve’s Apple” — painted steel by Edwina Sandys, 2005

In John Milton’s magnificent epic poem Paradise Lost, he describes the fall of nature at just the moment that Eve bit the apple:

Her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat:
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
That all was lost.

23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Rom8 prayer

Christian people are precious in God’s sight and their prayer is powerful and great, for they have been sanctified by Christ’s blood and anointed with the Spirit of God. Whatever they sincerely pray for, especially in the unexpressed yearning of their hearts, becomes a great, unbearable cry in God’s ears. God must listen, as he did to Moses (Exodus 14:15). There God said, “Why did you cry to Me?” even though Moses couldn’t whisper, so great was his anxiety and trembling in the terrible troubles that beset him. Even Moses did not know how or for what he should pray–not knowing how the deliverance would be accomplished–but his cry came from his heart.

God intends that his promise and our prayer or yearning which is grounded in that promise should not be disdained or rejected, but be highly valued and esteemed. 

–Martin Luther

28We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. 29For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. 30And those whom he predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Love in Christ Jesus

Rom8 If God

31What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? 33Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Jeremiah 50:20  (NIV)

“In those days, at that time,”
    declares the Lord,
“search will be made for Israel’s guilt,
    but there will be none,
and for the sins of Judah,
    but none will be found,
    for I will forgive the remnant I spare.”

34Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. 35Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

38For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

“The sin underneath all our sins is to trust the lie of the serpent that we cannot trust the love and grace of Christ and must take matters into our own hands.” 

–Martin Luther

Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n to earth come down;
Fix in us Thy humble dwelling;
All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, Thou art all compassion,
Pure, unbounded love Thou art;
Visit us with Thy salvation;
Enter ev’ry trembling heart.

–Charles Wesley

Theologian J. I Packer identified his favorite chapter in the Bible as this one, which begins with “There is no condemnation” and ends with “nothings can separate us from the love of God.” No condemnation. No separation. That is wonderful news!

_________________________

Music:

How can we begin to describe the love of God?!  HERE  is “Hallelujah (Your Love Is Amazing)” written by Brian Doerksen & Brenton Brown.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
LOVE.    https://thepreachersword.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/romans-8-38-39.jpg
Sandys.   http://media.mutualart.com/Images/2009_04/08/0007/151933/151933_ba5cd07d-6b48-4f7a-9034-975ec3c8e504_-1.Jpeg
prayer.    https://kdmanestreet.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/e83ed6e02290bcf1050986a43f5afd17.jpg?w=750
If God is with us.     http://cdn4.designbyhumans.com/product/design/u726684/pr111286-2-1825580-640×640-b-p-d0d0c8.jpg 
chess.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/romans-8_37.jpg

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 625 other followers