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Archive for December, 2012

Psalm 36: Two Paths

Evil is a dead end street. It gives the impression of freedom, power, assurance, cunning and control but leads to bondage, foolishness, misery and despair. To traffic in wickedness is to travel without light, careening through treacherous terrain into a deadly destination.

What little exhilaration one might feel evaporates when the wayward joyride comes to an abrupt stop.

There is another path paved with the steadfast love of God … loyal and enduring. Those who follow it are infused with light, vision, and wisdom. They are able to see their way through the trials of a broken world. They find themselves traveling under the watchful care of the One who will surely deliver them into the infinite abundance of His presence.

Wise are those who think less about the ease or difficulty of their present location and more about the place the path they follow will take them.

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Wouldn’t it be great if doing the right thing caused others to act in like kind? It just seems like returning a blessing for an insult ought to transform foes into friends, but it doesn’t always work that way. In some cases, no amount of kindness alters the animosity of adversaries.

The temptation then is to abandon goodwill and resort to aggression; give’m a taste of their own medicine. That’ll teach’m!

But in doing so, we sacrifice our character. We take matters into our own hands and sink to the level of our enemies.

Better to stay our course, maintain our high ground and pray for vindication; easy to say and hard to do!

God is far more capable of preserving us and dealing with bullies. He actually delights in coming to the aid of those who would trust Him to be the guardian He promises to be.

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I know life is difficult.

I’ve given out under the weight of despair.

I’ve felt unspeakable humiliation and shame.

I’ve been so afraid I could hardly breathe; so enraged I couldn’t see straight.

My past warrants nothing better than merciless condemnation.

I know life is difficult. And that is why I beg of you, I plead with all my heart, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” He alone can give you hope, esteem your life with dignity, calm your fear, soothe your rage, and form the broken pieces of your past into a breathtaking mosaic of beauty.

God’s goodness is the grandest of feasts. You’re invited to find your seat at the table and partake. Taste … trust … take hold of the life that can be found in no other.

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Psalm 33: Where’s the Love?

Nothing lasts. Color fades, landscapes erode, structures deteriorate, health declines … every living thing eventually dies. Maintenance and repair is a necessity to extend the life of just about anything, but no amount of care ensures permanence.

It is within and throughout this broken, fragile, defective world that the steadfast love of God can be found. In fact, the earth is full of it! And contrary to its surroundings, it is stable, enduring, robust and infinite. It requires no maintenance and repair. It doesn’t erode in the least. It is instrumental in sustaining all of life.

I shudder to think of what this world would be like in its absence. There is no substitute, no alternative that could ever suffice.

It’s no wonder the Apostle Paul prays in his letter to the Ephesians, “That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

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I hide my sin two ways. One keeps it out of site but leaves it to spread like a cancer. The other way covers and quarantines my sin so that its deadly affect can be remedied.

The first is an elaborate strategy of deception, smoke and mirrors if you will. Draw attention to what is right and good so as to conceal what lingers in the dark. Offenses are swiftly justified, minimized, sanitized or denied, leaving transgressions and their ravaging effects untreated.

What an exhausting exercise in futility! Though hidden from plain site, sin never escapes the holy gaze of God. He can’t help but shed light on it in hopes of repentance, a change of heart.

Rather than striving on my own to cover what cannot go unseen, why not ask God to cover what cannot go unaddressed? He invites me to bring what is hidden into plain view. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Honest admission, confession transfers my transgressions to the only One who can conceal them. He does so with His own shed blood, the ransom for my rebellion. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

“Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to Him at a time when He may be found.” (Psalm 32:6)

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It wasn’t just the way He died.

Luke 23:46Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.”

It was the way He lived every moment of His earthly life. Every act of kindness, every step of obedience, every word spoken, every miracle wrought; all done in absolute dependence upon the Father and Spirit He had known for all of eternity past. His greatest desire was to fulfill the desire of the One who sent Him.

John 6:38 “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

Surely my will is inferior to the will of my Maker. To think otherwise is absurd. I am most secure when I am most attentive to His guidance and most reliant upon His care … not only on my deathbed, but along every twist and turn of my journey through life.

Psalm 31:19 “Oh, how abundant is HIS goodness, which HE has stored up for those who fear HIM and worked for those who take refuge in HIM, in the sight of the children of mankind!”

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How easy it is to fail the test of prosperity.

Success can be so intoxicating. It whispers in my heart, “Invincible! … Untouchable! … King of the world!” I become enamored with my own thoughts and grow apathetic toward renewing my mind with truth that resides with God, not me. Such deception is devastating!

With the greatest of affection, God allows me to experience the pain of self-reliance. I’m shown the deficiency and danger of life on my own. “The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives … for our good.” (Hebrews 12:6, 10) Thankfully, His discipline ends when my dependence resumes.

Pain is a profound tutor, but not my eternal companion. It guides me back to the sufficiency of my Savior where I find the joy I believed was found apart from Him.

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