Psalm 78 – In Spite of His Wonders, They Did Not Believe

image It was not unusual for Jewish religious leaders to rehearse their covenant history with God in writing, or verbally in worship. The fickle loyalty of the human heart had loved and loathed with equal vigor again and again throughout the whole of their relationship with God. Typical of this ever changing relationship, the psalmist records this:

Thus he brought them to the border of his holy land,

to the hill country his right hand hand had taken.

He drove out nations before them and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance;

he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.

But they put God to the test and rebelled against the most high;

they did not keep his statutes.

Like their father they were disloyal and faithless, as unreliable as a faulty bow. (Ps 78:54-56)

Christians often wish aloud to be restored to an age of signs and wonders, claiming that their faith would be impenetrable to doubt if they could just see a single miracle. Saving the miracle of changed lives that surround them for a later discussion, we need only read this psalm or the Old Testament to know that this is bunk. The human heart is, above all else, dedicated to self.

The Christian will say aloud that ‘their heart belongs to Jesus’ but in practice, they are fully aware of the parts they hold back for themselves. We put our faith in God who is unseen and the corruption of our heart is such that we continue to harbor doubt about whether or not He might come through for us. We read our bibles and see that time after time, God has been perfectly faithful and yet we wonder if this is the day when He will not. We wander in a desert of our own making.

There is no such thing as a part-time Christian. Christ lives in us but did not displace us. Paul’s words to the Galatian church remind us “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2:20) The struggle is internal but must ultimately end in our surrender of the parts of our hearts that we insist on keeping to ourselves. The signs and wonders we seek are inside of us and ready to be displayed only at our own humility. Problem with anger that you want to disappear? Bend the knee and turn it over to Christ in you and see it reworked. Unable to control some personality aspect? Give it to Christ in you and see it changed. Allow the Holy Ghost to completely overtake your heart and the signs and wonders will be before you constantly. Belief will grow to the benefit of all.

 

Grace and peace to you.

image by kmakice

Lent 2009 – 11 Steps to the Cross

PeterSteps

A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. (Proverbs 14:29)

Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a disagreement that they parted company. (Acts 15:37-39)

In your anger do not sin; Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

Walking alongside Peter all these days sometimes makes you wonder what Jesus saw in him. Actually, it makes you realize what Jesus saw in you. Despite the face you put on in front of the world, we’re all deeply flawed individuals who can in no way claim perfection. We watch Peter and say, I would never do that…until we do. You see, we’re every bit the Peter that we don’t think we are. As I’ve reflected on my own worthiness to approach the cross this year, I’ve thought about moments of anger that have seized me and thought about why this hasn’t been lifted from me.

I think that part of the answer is to be found in the anger of Jesus. We should get angry at acts that diminish the personhood of other people. We should raise our voice against injustice. Our hackles should get up against mistreatment of other souls.

There should be anger within the Church.

We should get angry when Jesus is just a marketing tool. We should get angry when the church turns into the mall. We should should show righteous indignation toward those who should be shepherds but who only spend their time bragging (or tweeting for crying out loud! Seriously, who has the time for that stuff? And who spends their day living vicariously through the activities of other people? Write a book, draw a picture, compose a song, go find your wife or husband and tell them you love them. Play catch with the kids. Don’t tell me in less than 140 characters that you’re going to do it. Oooops! got off an a rant there.) Get angry with people who run stop signs.

On the other hand, when you son misjudges a turn and runs his truck into the back of yours, let it go. Pray for him to grow up to be God’s man. Pray for his fantastic personality to be used for the good of others.

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