Light to Live By

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

Month: January 2010 (page 1 of 2)

My Reward and Portion

“I am . . . your reward.” (Genesis 15:1)  “The Lord is my portion.” (Lam. 3:24a)

These two seemingly distant passages of Scripture came together in my mind this morning.

To Abraham (to whom God had just given what is perhaps the largest promise ever given – to make of him a great nation through which He would bless all the nations of the world) God said, “I am . . . your reward” (Gen. 15:1). 

Many years later God guided Jeremiah (who had just lost everything he ever counted dear, everything he ever believed God for) to pray, “The Lord is my portion” (Lam. 3:24a).

On either end of the spectrum – whether God has offered me everything or He seems to have taken everything from me – He alone is my reward and portion (inheritance).  Even when I have it all, I have nothing more than God.  And when I have lost everything, I have nothing less than God.

He who has everything, including an intimate relationship to God, has nothing more than God alone.  In fact he has nothing more than him who has nothing and yet still enjoys an intimate relationship to God.  He who has lost everything, but still has God, has nothing less than he who has God and everything else.  Either way, God is my inheritance, portion, and reward. 

Heavenly Father, let me count You to be my only and greatest inheritance and reward in this life and in the next.  Be my portion.  With You I have all things.  Without You I have nothing.  Enable me to treasure You, O Lord, my God above all things.  I pray this in Jesus’ Name, amen.

Good at & Good for

“I will run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” (Psalm 119:32, NIV)

We all want to figure out what God wants from us.  What is His will for my life?  What does He require of me?  What ought I to be and do?

In pursuit of answers to these kinds of questions we each must consider not only what God has made me good at, but also what has God made me good for.

The answer to the former is found in discerning what God has done in imparting to you spiritual gifts, natural talents, and shaping experiences.  Figuring out what you are good at is a matter of competency and skill.  You might be good at car repair, football, sewing, computers, baking, nuclear physics, etc. 

The answer to the latter is found in discovering and discerning what God has done in shaping your heart.  Discovering what you are good for is a matter of calling and character.  It is harder to quantify this isn’t it?  In fact it might be easier to describe what you are no good for – things for which you just don’t have the heart and for which you just can’t sustain the passion.

What you are good at, we might say, is a matter of the hands.  What you are good for is a matter of the heart.

Both are vital.  But it seems to me that a person might be good at certain things, but also only good for doing those things in a certain arena or for a certain cause or purpose.  You can use gifts, talents and the like for many things.  After all a great writer could compose cheap and bawdy literature that debases the human soul or she could write with style and substance that imparts life and hope to her readers. 

What you are good for has to define and direct what you are good at.

A person who has discovered what God has made them good at is a person who has direction and a future to pursue.  But a person who has also discovered what he is good for finds the field of possibilities drastically narrowed—not because he doesn’t possess the skill for some matters, but because God has “spoiled” his heart for anything other than what He has made him for

Are you asking more questions about what you are good at or good for?  Some people would settle to know what they are good at.  They would love to be the best in the world (or even in their school or family or on their block) at something.  But that can be an ego-driven matter.  We need to know what God has made us good at, but we can’t stop there.  We must know what God has made us good for.  Because then we can not only do our best, we can do it for the glory of God and with all the passion and purpose for which He gave the abilities in the first place.  When we discover what we are good for we begin to transition from just “doing” to enjoying our “doing” as doxology.

The Presence of God

Psalm 46 is a celebration of the power of God’s presence.  Note the repeated refrain: “The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (vv.7, 11).  The Psalm is divided into three stanzas by the word “Selah” (vv.3, 7, 11).  Each stanza informs us of what God’s presence empowers us to do.

God’s presence empowers us to refuse to fear. (vv.1-3)

       God’s external protection: “refuge” (v.1)

       God’s internal power: “strength” (v.1)

       God’s perpetual provision: “an ever present help in trouble” (v.2)

God’s presence empowers us to rejoice in God. (vv.4-7)

      God is with us as a River: “a river” (4)

      God is with us as a Ruler: “the city of God” (4)

God’s presence empowers us to rest in God. (vv.8-11)

      Consider God’s works! (vv.8-9)

      Cease your wrangling! (v.10)

Cry out to the Lord!

Psalm 130 teaches us how to cry out to the Lord:

1. I cry to the Lord out of the depths. (1-2)

“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.”

2. I cry to the Lord out of my depravity. (3-4)

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

3. I cry to the Lord out of my darkness. (5-6)

“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.”

When I do so cry to the Lord, I find Him faithful. (7-8)

“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.”

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form …” (Colossians 2:9)

We encounter now two of the most powerful statements in all of Scripture.  We will consider the first here in verse 9.

First the facts and details: Paul is gives the reason (“For”) for the warning just sounded (v.8).  The familiar and meaning-packed expression “in Him” follows next, being emphatic by being thrust forward in the clause (i.e., “in Him and in Him alone”).  The personal pronoun (“Him”) refers to Christ (v.8), the last word of the previous verse.  Paul now builds upon the Christological focus already so thoroughly laid down in the letter (1:15-20).  What is “in Him”?  It is nothing less than “all the fullness of Deity”!  The noun “Deity” is used only here in the NT and is employed as an abstract noun for (“God”).  There is thus a distinction to be made between our word here and the one used in Romans 1:20 (rendered “divine nature”).  Our word speaks of the Divine essence as opposed to simply the attributes of Deity.  “They were no mere ways of divine glory which gilded Him lighting up His person for a season and w[ith] a splendor not His own; but He was and is absolute and perfect God.” (Rienecker, 573)  The article makes definite just what Paul is speaking of with regard to Deity: “the fullness.”  This same noun has just been used in Colossians 1:19 where Paul says it was the Father’s “good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.”  Paul more specifically designates just what this fullness is in our present passage.  Once again the article makes definite that of which he speaks.  It describes the sum total, fullness, or even the super abundance of something (BAGD, 672).  In this case it is the completeness of Deity which resides in its fullness in Jesus Christ.  But Paul’s description of Christ is not yet sufficient, for he makes clear that it is “all” the fullness of Deity which resides in Jesus Christ.  When used with a singular noun that is accompanied by the definite article (as here) it conveys the meaning of “the whole” or “all” of that which it qualifies (BAGD, 630).  Thus it “means ‘all the fullness’ or ‘the entire fullness,’ no element of the fullness being excepted.” (Harris, 98)  Yet even here, Paul’s statement regarding Christ is not done, for he adds that this fullness is found in Christ “in bodily form.”  This adverb too is used only here in the NT.  It designates that which is corporeal, tangible, touchable, and physical.   In this way, with a great economy of words, Paul emphasizes both the complete Deity and humanity of Jesus Christ.  God Himself took to Himself a human body and lived a fully human life on this earth. 

Thus notice the ever-expanding and all-encompassing scope of the Apostle’s assertion: Jesus Christ possesses “Deity.”  Yet He possesses not just “Deity,” but “the fullness of Deity.”  And it is not just “the fullness of Deity,” but “all the fullness of Deity.”  Even this, however, is not the end, for He possesses not just “all the fullness of Deity,” but “all the fullness of Deity in bodily form”! 

This fullness of Deity “dwells” in Christ. While this verb is forty-four times in the NT, only three of those uses are by Paul.  Twice here in Colossians he employs it to speak of Deity dwelling in Christ (Col. 1:19; 2:9).  The other is a reference to Christ dwelling in us (Eph. 3:17).  Here the present tense indicates that this is an ongoing state that continues in real time.  From the moment of conception onward and forever the fullness of Deity has dwelt continuously in the body of Jesus.  Even after His death, resurrection and glorification, Jesus Christ remains—continuously—the God-man, both fully God and fully man.

In thus stating the facts Paul, with an amazing brevity of words and succinctness of expression, wards off many of the great errors regarding Christ that have arisen over the centuries.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

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