Thursday, February 23, 2012

Remember This

Psalm 62:1-2
For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

This is true of you. Your soul waits in silence for God alone. Your soul has no voice to scream and cheer, no hands to work or build or fight, no feet to chase after love or money. Your soul has no eyes to appreciate beauty or lust after shiny things. Your soul has only one desire, the one it was created for, an intimate relationship with its Maker and Owner.
There is nothing in all creation that will satisfy the desire of your soul but God alone who is your salvation. Your soul waits in silence for the desires of your heart, the thoughts in your mind, and the exertions of your body to join it in surrender to the One True Affection.
The stresses and anxieties of our lives are rooted in the cracks between the one true longing of our soul and the exertions of our minds and bodies in pursuit of other desires. It is the fear of losing these other desires that shake us; they are the shifting sands that leave our lives unsettled and insecure. Your heart may not know it and your wandering eye may not yet see that God alone is your rock, your salvation, your fortress. But your soul knows, and waits in silence for God.
Your soul waits in silence because it cannot satisfy its own desire for God; it waits for God to come meet it. Your soul can do nothing to rub off sin’s tarnish that the holy God could once again rest fully within. Your soul knows that you can only hope for mercy, only be given salvation, and only hope to know God through blood, by grace. Your soul, like David’s, waits in silence for God to complete his redemption work so it can once again know his presence fully.
The author of this psalm, David, lived by grace. He loved God deeply but mixed his worship of God with the ego of a king, the sin of an adulterer, and the ruthlessness of a killer. He knew his sinfulness well and he knew in his striving he was lost. But he knew the hope of his soul – his rock, his salvation, his fortress. His faith in God’s good grace allowed him to stand and not be shaken.

It takes time to sit alone until the clutter of voices and problems dies down low enough that you can hear the whisper of your soul’s longing for the presence of God. It is time well spent. When you spend time there you will meet afresh the joy of grace and the reason for your hope in Jes

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Remember This

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

There is a lesson I wonder if I will ever learn. God tries to teach me over and over again and the classrooms he uses are funerals. That’s right, funerals. I go to a lot of funerals (I never really want to but I am always glad I did.) Invariably as I sit there and listen God scrapes a shallow part of my soul a little deeper. Invariably he confronts me with the infinite measure of his creativity as the memories shared in the course of a funeral bring to light the tiny but spectacular sample of it captured in one person’s life. It never fails, I always think “I wish I knew them better.” And it never fails, I am dejected by the truth that I could have.

Too much of the time I choose to take relationships that belong to God and behave like they belong to me. When I do that I am not looking for the wonder of God woven through a person’s personality, experiences, and gifts – I am only looking for how that person can facilitate my agenda or inhibit it, or, at how they can serve me or if I’ll have to be inconvenienced to serve them. When I choose to let my personal agenda prevail other people have no chance to be known by me, only used or ignored. So, I am often confronted with my sinful self-centeredness at funerals when I get a point blank shot of a fascinating and complex character of a human being I could have known but was too busy to meet. It is one thing God uses to remind me how deeply dependent I am on his grace. But I am not giving up.

I love 1 Corinthians 12 because it adds to my conviction and challenges me to take time to look at each person God providentially brings my way. It commands me to see his unique creation - his Spirit empowered wonder, one variety of servant determined and directed by his Spirit. You can’t miss in this text that Father, Son, and Spirit are all referenced as overseeing and empowering his gifts in everyone who know Jesus as Savior.

1 Corinthians 12 is written so I would remember these things about you, and you about me. This text is given to us so that we would appreciate and respect, and even marvel at each other. It is given to us remind us to take time to ask, listen, share, serve, and give thanks for each other.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Remember This

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Romans 12:1

Let’s just admit it, there’s something about the concept of “sacrifice” that is about as attractive as volunteering to have a bad day. Sacrifice means going hungry or “doing without.” It means eating the package so someone else can have the last piece of bacon – at least that’s how we think about it.

What makes this verse even more challenging is that at first pass it appears to say this sacrifice is a once and for all thing, because that’s the nature of a sacrifice, once it’s given its gone. So, you offer your body to God and it’s over, you - as you know and like you are gone, sacrificed, poured out, burned up, consumed, etc.

This is one of those verses we read with one eye closed and skim past to get on to the good stuff about spiritual gifts a few verses later. But it is worth remembering and reflecting on and believe it or not, even obeying.

It would really be easier if we only had to offer our bodies once and then we were gone, sacrificed, poured out, burned up, consumed, etc. because we all have moments when God breaks through our hard hearts and opens our blind eyes and we catch a brilliant glimpse of his glory. In those moments we would leap into him once and for all and be delighted to do it. That would be far “easier.” But to offer your body as a sacrifice is not a decision, it is a series of decisions. To offer yourself as a sacrifice to God means you continually evaluate who you are and all you own and to produce from your evaluation an ongoing series of choices to let God be God. When I was dating Kay (thirty plus years ago) a trip to Taco Bell was an extravagant sacrifice and a treasured treat. A trip to the drive through at Taco Bell today doesn’t have quite the same effect because things have changed; we have years of relationship and experience that redefine sacrifice and treasure. That’s what Paul means by a “living sacrifice.” Living things grow and change and experience – so what you offered God yesterday of your possessions and relationships and personality isn’t the same thing you can offer him today.

If you read a little further in Romans 12 you discover something about what God does with your sacrifice of you. He says he wired you to serve him – to prophesy, to teach, to serve, to give, to lead – and he exhorts you to fully be who he made you to be. When teachers teach and givers give and servants serve and leaders lead instead of being “gone, sacrificed, poured out, burned up, consumed, etc.” they find the fullest expression of themselves thriving in the Kingdom of Heaven. Far from dead or emptied out or used up they are fully alive, filled with purpose and satisfaction and energy. I think that is what it means to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.

Don’t slip past this verse. It is filled with hope and grace and the promise of life abundant.