Posts made in February, 2017

Psalm 58: Venting

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

Have you ever come home bloodied by a bully? Do you know the pain of heartless torment? Can you remember enduring abuse, helpless against cruel aggression?

That kind of suffering scars the soul like nothing else. It’s confusing, humiliating, excruciating, and enraging. Those afflicted this way are desperate for deliverance, but they want more. Vengeance seems a sweet antidote for injustice, a passionate plea made by the least of these.

Imprecatory prayers (as they’re called), cries for harm against one’s enemies are not forbidden, but neither are they encouraged. Perhaps they are allowed for the purpose of ridding our hearts of resentment. Venting the venom of retribution makes room for the miracle of mercy.

Our Father in heaven allows us to honestly unload our bitter baggage and assures us that He is more than able to exact justice with perfection. We can release our tormentors to God’s capable care and walk a path of restoration full of freedom and hope. In time, we might find ourselves praying again for our enemies … pleading with God for their welfare instead of their ruin. (Matthew 5:43-45)

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Reconciling Wrath, Discipline & the Love of God

Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Despite how some might characterize the Bible, it’s fair to say that there are some tough things to swallow in its pages. To acknowledge that uncomfortable reality doesn’t in any way diminish the beauty and authority of God’s word; it’s beauty and authority are the result of it being true, not merely pleasant. It’s simply an honest response of finite people to an infinitely good and wise God whose ways and thoughts are higher than ours (Isaiah 55).

One such painful place is preserved in the early chapters of Isaiah.

After centuries of gradual spiritual and moral decline, the divided kingdom of Israel (North & South) is called to account for their longstanding infidelity in relationship to God. When faced with the impending threat of a ruthless Assyrian Empire, God urges them to trust in Him rather than in their own plans and resources. It is an opportunity to return and be restored, but God’s people remain in their self-reliance.

Now for the tough part.

God uses Assyria – of all nations – to discipline His people. Take some time to read it for yourself, but it isn’t pretty. Its bad enough that the once great nation of Israel would be reduced to a “remnant,” but it would be at the hands of a nation considered to be among the most vile and cruel military forces of ancient times.

Specifically, Isaiah describes Assyria as “the rod of God’s anger” and the staff in their hands, “His fury.” (Isaiah 10:5) Not a way in which we like to think about our God, but an indisputable facet of His holy character. So how are we to incorporate this part of the biblical story with the parts we more naturally appreciate? See my message from Isaiah 10 here https://vimeo.com/204016925.

First of all, we should remember that this is only PART of the story; certainly not all of the story. In fact, this part must be understood in the context of the larger story (GEN – REV), which is redemptive at its core, and most fully displayed on a first century Roman cross.

As harsh as any portion of the biblical record may be, none of it begins to approach the profound wrath which flooded from the Father’s hand, swallowing our Savior with the consequences of our sin. It’s near impossible to grasp the magnitude of this singular act, but suffice it to say that Jesus endured separation from the Father and the Spirit He had never known, and did so for the express purpose of securing mercy for death-deserving sinners.

And the motive for this supremely sacrificial act? Love! “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16–17, ESV)

Every act of judgment carried out by God in human history was perfectly just in light of humanity’s rebellion (Check out Romans 1:18-2:11). Here are a couple messages tackling the Problem of Evil https://vimeo.com/179345747 and the Doctrine of Hell https://vimeo.com/181094006 from our Apologia Series that help to explain. Suffice to say, the only injustice ever carried out was against the perfectly innocent Son of Man for the good of humanity.

So, in the face of sorrowful stories from the pages of Scripture, though we are left with sobering heartache and loss, we can be comforted by absolute clarity about the sacrificial love of God (Romans 5:6-10), without which not a single person would ever be saved.

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Psalm 57: Shelter

Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Growing up on the plains of Oklahoma, I was accustomed to the annual stampede of tornadoes that came with spring showers. They were breathtaking to behold from far away; terrifying if twisting toward our home.

With sirens blaring our family would go underground, huddling safe and secure until the threat passed by. Despite the danger to our stuff on the surface, our sanctuary beneath the storm was saturated with gratitude for personal protection.

What a precious gift it is to have a hiding place in the storms of life.

More terrifying than any tempest this world might spin up is to be “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12)

We can lose a lot “above ground,” suffer immense hardship, yet endure gracefully if shielded by the grace and mercy of God. Hope rooted in God’s unchanging goodness is a steadfast song of thanksgiving and praise.

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Psalm 56: Tenacious Trust

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Blog | 2 comments

I am daily bombarded with deception and opposition (from without and within), all designed to disrupt my intimacy with God, and diminish my fruitfulness in God’s redemptive mission. It is fierce and relentless aimed at nothing less than my undoing.

Why should I ever be surprised by any form of spiritual attack? The Apostle Paul assured his protégé Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12)

If I am to fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12) I am left with but one choice, to wage war on my knees in radical dependence upon God’s word and Spirit, doggedly obedient to His gracious, praiseworthy instruction.

I do this knowing that God is for me (Psalm 56:9) and His promise is that everyone who is born of God overcomes the world. (1 John 5:4) It is God I trust, I shall not be afraid. (Psalm 56:4, 11)

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Psalm 55: Betrayal

Posted by on Feb 6, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

Treachery tears at the fabric of our soul like few afflictions. Alleviating the injury of duplicity is next to impossible, especially with those who are closest.

I’m sad to say, I’ve known the painful experience of betrayal from both sides. I’m guessing I’m not alone. Unfortunately, heartbreak is nearly universal among those who would risk their heart for relationship.

Infidelity of any kind grieves us so because it dismantles the foundation of trust so vital to our unity. In it we feel exposed and vulnerable. We are faced with the devastation of knowing that a rival object of affection – power, possession, or pleasure – has surpassed the affection once reserved for us.

In despair over such loss, I am renewed by the thought of God’s intimate understanding of what it is to be betrayed. He knows the grief of humiliation and rejection like no other. He knows our pain, calms our fears, and assures us that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:3-6).

In light of that, we can confidently release once close companions into His capable hands and rest in His promise to establish all of us in His faithful care. Best of all, none can mend broken bonds like our covenant-keeping God. It is His specialty.

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