"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Sanctification (Page 2 of 4)

Christ Alone

Christ.alone

The world, I thought, belonged to me —

Goods, gold and people, land and sea —

Where’er I walked beneath God’s sky

In those old days my word was “I.”

 

Years passed; there flashed my pathway near

The fragment of a vision dear;

My former word no more sufficed,

And what I said was — “I and Christ.”

 

But, O, the more I looked on Him,

His glory grew, while mine grew dim,

I shrank so small, He towered so high,

All I dared say was — “Christ and I.”

 

Years more the vision held its place

And looked me steadily in the face;

I speak now in humbler tone,

And what I say is — “Christ alone.”

–Unknown (quoted in Streams in the Desert, vol. II, May 20)

Waiting

waiting

“After God promised to make her husband into a great nation, Sarah waited twenty-five years before she held Isaac in her arms. After God gave Joseph dreams of leading his family, he waited over twenty years before he even saw them again and was able to rescue them from famine. After Moses’ failed attempt to help his oppressed race, he waited forty years before hearing God’s voice call him to lead his people out of slavery. After becoming queen, Esther waited almost twenty-five years before her ‘such a time as this’ moment came and she stood in the gap for her people. After his stunning spiritual encounter, Paul waited more than ten years before he was officially commissioned by the church to the ministry to which we know him today.” (Alicia Britt Chole, Anonymous, 171)

He Knows

i_saw_that“You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

(Psalm 56:8)

Pain is no phantom. It is a real enemy and a persistent goad to our souls. If it isn’t always excruciating, it is, at least a burr buried in the weave of our hearts, annoying and inescapable.

David wrote Psalm 56 out of pain. In this case his present pain was more than irritating; it was a spike of the highest order. It was “when the Philistines seized him in Gath,” according to the ancient title ascribed to the psalm text (cf. 1 Sam. 21:10-11). Life was at its lowest ebb for David. He had fled jealous King Saul’s murderous plots and in desperation had sought refuge in the hometown of Goliath (17:4). What is worse, David strode into town with the giant’s own sword strapped to his side (21:9; 22:10)!

How bad must things be to find your last best hope in the hometown of the fallen hero in your greatest military exploits?

Things didn’t go well for David in Gath and he had to play the madman to get away (21:12-15). Fleeing to a cave, he threw himself within and cried out to God (22:1a). Psalm 56 is the result.

The prayer-song is predictably laced with anguish. But there is faith as well. Twice David prayed, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” (vv.3-4, cf. vv.10-11).

Did you catch that? “When I am afraid … I shall not be afraid.”

Umm … what?

How’s that work? It could come in handy.

The full answer is beyond the scope of this short article (see chapter 2 of my book Praying Through for a longer answer), but a good bit of it comes from the truth about God that David worshipfully rested upon. Simply stated: He knows.

David prayed, “You have kept count of my tossings.” In his heart of hearts he believed that not one step of his wanderings, not one anxious flip-flop in the midst of a sleepless night had gone unnoticed by God.

David told God, [You] “put my tears in your bottle.” Every tear that David had shed was kept as a treasure, precious to God, somewhere in His great bottle of sorrows.

David confidently asked, “Are they not in your book?” David knew that every salty drop meticulously had been noted down and divinely kept in a sacred record of all his distresses.

Does Jesus care when my heart is pained

To deeply for mirth and song;

As the burdens press, and the cares distress,

And the way grows weary and long?

 

Does Jesus care when my way is dark

With a nameless dread and fear?

As the daylight fades into deep might shades

Does He care enough to be near?

 The hymn writer’s answer is an echo of David’s own conclusion and exudes his full confidence!

Oh, yes, He cares;

I know He cares, His heart is touched with my grief;

When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,

I know my Savior cares.

 There are moments when that’s all we have – the confident knowledge that whatever else may be true, He knows. And, wonderfully, that is enough for now.

The Drive to Become a Sanctified Driver

roadrage

Jesus’ words has strong words to say about the connection between anger and murder (Matthew 5:21-26). As I was preaching on this portion of Scripture recently it struck me how many of my illustrations related to driving. Venturing onto the roadways definitely tests our sanctification! I confess that my competitive side too often rears its ugly head when I’m on the road. Being cut off, disrespected, disregarded, ignored, and put in danger are a driver’s frequent experience. And lets be honest, we are not always the victims. Sometimes we are the perpetrators, even if at times unwittingly.

I end up praying a lot while I drive—and a not insignificant percentage of that is split between: 1) confession of sinful attitudes on my part, and 2) request for God’s blessing on a driver I naturally think otherwise about.

So it got me to thinking, how can we I better see sanctification integrated into my behind-the-wheel life? As I contemplated this I considered how driving is the primary mode of transportation in our day, but walking was about the only means of transportation in Jesus’ day. And I recalled how often the New Testament uses walking as a metaphor for the unfolding of one’s life. The apostles often used this imagery to picture our Christian faith. So it got me to thinking, What if we substituted “drive” for “walk” in some of the NT’s instructions?

I realize the exchange is not perfect, but a glance below will reveal that it does shed some helpful light upon our roadway routine!

  • “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might [drive] in newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
  • God gave His Holy Spirit “… in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who [drive] not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:4)
  • “Let us [drive] properly as in the daytime … not in quarreling and jealousy.” (Romans 13:13)
  • “… for we [drive] by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7). (Hmmm … I’m going to have think on that one a bit more!)
  • “But I say, [drive] by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
  • “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should [drive] in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
  • “I … urge you to [drive] in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Ephesians 4:1)
  • “[Drive] in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Ephesians 5:2)
  • “… at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. [Drive] as children of light.” (Ephesians 5:8)
  • “Look carefully then how you [drive], not as unwise but as wise.” (Ephesians 5:15)
  • “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who [drive] according to the example you have in us.” (Philippians 3:17)
  • “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, [drive] as enemies of the cross of Christ.” (Philippians 3:18)
  • “If we say we have fellowship with him while we [drive] in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we [drive] in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:6-7)
  • “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and [drives] in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:11)

No, the exchange of drive for walk isn’t flawless, but it is convicting. And it gives me something to pray about (with my eyes wide open!) when I’m behind the wheel.

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