Wednesday July 29, 2009

C.H. Spurgeon’s words for today

Morning, July 29

“Nevertheless I am continually with thee.”
Psalm 73:23

Nevertheless,”—As if, notwithstanding all the foolishness and ignorance which David had just been confessing to God, not one atom the less was it true and certain that David was saved and accepted, and that the blessing of being constantly in God’s presence was undoubtedly his. Fully conscious of his own lost estate, and of the deceitfulness and vileness of his nature, yet, by a glorious outburst of faith, he sings “nevertheless I am continually with thee.” Believer, you are forced to enter into Asaph’s confession and acknowledgment, endeavour in like spirit to say “nevertheless, since I belong to Christ I am continually with God!” By this is meant continually upon his mind, he is always thinking of me for my good. Continually before his eye;—the eye of the Lord never sleepeth, but is perpetually watching over my welfare. Continually in his hand, so that none shall be able to pluck me thence. Continually on his heart, worn there as a memorial, even as the high priest bore the names of the twelve tribes upon his heart forever. Thou always thinkest of me, O God. The bowels of thy love continually yearn towards me. Thou art always making providence work for my good. Thou hast set me as a signet upon thine arm; thy love is strong as death, many waters cannot quench it; neither can the floods drown it. Surprising grace! Thou seest me in Christ, and though in myself abhorred, thou beholdest me as wearing Christ’s garments, and washed in his blood, and thus I stand accepted in thy presence. I am thus continually in thy favor—“continually with thee.” Here is comfort for the tried and afflicted soul; vexed with the tempest within—look at the calm without. “Nevertheless”—O say it in thy heart, and take the peace it gives. “Nevertheless I am continually with thee.”

Psalm 107

Let the Redeemed of the LORD Say So

 1 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures forever!
2Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
   whom he has redeemed from trouble
3and gathered in from the lands,
   from the east and from the west,
   from the north and from the south.

 4Some wandered in desert wastes,
   finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5hungry and thirsty,
   their soul fainted within them.
6Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he delivered them from their distress.
7He led them by a straight way
   till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
   for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

 10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   prisoners in affliction and in irons,
11for they had rebelled against the words of God,
   and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor;
   they fell down, with none to help.
13 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he delivered them from their distress.
14He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
   and burst their bonds apart.
15 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
   for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16For he shatters the doors of bronze
   and cuts in two the bars of iron.

 17Some were fools through their sinful ways,
   and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
18 they loathed any kind of food,
   and they drew near to the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he delivered them from their distress.
20He sent out his word and healed them,
   and delivered them from their destruction.
21 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
   for his wondrous works to the children of man!
22And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
   and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

 23Some went down to the sea in ships,
   doing business on the great waters;
24they saw the deeds of the LORD,
   his wondrous works in the deep.
25For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
   which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
   their courage melted away in their evil plight;
27they reeled and staggered like drunken men
   and were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
   and he delivered them from their distress.
29He made the storm be still,
   and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
   and he brought them to their desired haven.
31 Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love,
   for his wondrous works to the children of man!
32Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
   and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

 33He turns rivers into a desert,
   springs of water into thirsty ground,
34 a fruitful land into a salty waste,
   because of the evil of its inhabitants.
35He turns a desert into pools of water,
    a parched land into springs of water.
36And there he lets the hungry dwell,
   and they establish a city to live in;
37they sow fields and plant vineyards
   and get a fruitful yield.
38 By his blessing they multiply greatly,
   and he does not let their livestock diminish.

 39When they are diminished and brought low
   through oppression, evil, and sorrow,
40 he pours contempt on princes
   and makes them wander in trackless wastes;
41but he raises up the needy out of affliction
   and makes their families like flocks.
42 The upright see it and are glad,
   and all wickedness shuts its mouth.

 43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
   let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD.

I think it is a sweet thing, that Christ saith of my cross, Half Mine, and that He divideth these sufferings with me and taketh the largest share to Himself; nay, that I, and my whole cross, are wholly Christ’s.
~Samuel Rutherford (1660-1661)

From Glory to Glory

by Pastor Sumpter

One way of looking at the book of Job is as a coming of age story. We have pointed out before that in the Bible, the categories of Priest, King, and Prophet can be seen not only as different roles but as steps in glory and maturity. We see this in Israel’s history: priests keep laws very carefully. They guard the sanctuary from defilement. Kings must build upon knowledge of the law, and apply it with wisdom. Solomon must judge between the feuding prostitutes in a case where this is no explicit command in Scripture. Kings must execute justice by applying the Scriptures to new situations. And finally, when God’s people have grown up in this wisdom, they are prepared to stand before God as prophets. Prophets are members of God’s court. They are God’s advisors. God tells them what he is planning to do, and they are invited to interact with that. Remember Abraham who discusses God’s plan destroy Sodom and Gomorrah or Moses on Mt. Sinai urging God to reconsider His plan to destroy the children of Israel. And because prophets are involved in the decision making process, they are authorized to speak on God’s behalf. Prophets bring and declare the word of the Lord with authority. They know what God is going to do because they were there when it was decided. Job’s story follows this trajectory. Job begins as an upright man who is blameless and shuns what is evil. He offers sacrifices for his sons who may have sinned; Job is introduced in the glory of a priest. But when his world comes apart, he must learn to navigate his circumstances that are more dicey. He must apply biblical truth to his situation faithfully, and he must seek justice through fighting back false accusations. Job must embrace the glory of kings. But the glory kings is in search of the glory of prophets. Kings want to know that they have struggled faithfully; they want an answer from the King of Kings. And so Job finally receives an answer from the whirlwind. And in that answer, Job is ushered into the presence of Yahweh. And in the conclusion to the story, God says that Job will pray for the three friends and God will hear and forgive them. Job has been granted the glory of a prophet. Job is a story of a man going from glory to glory, going from the glory of a priest to the glory of a king to the glory of a prophet. And the trajectory is important. God doesn’t want slaves, God doesn’t want machines, God wants sons. God wants sons that grow up into friends. We are gathered here this morning as the friends of God, filled with the Spirit of the Son, and therefore we are invited to guard his house as priests, to seek wisdom as kings, and to speak in His presence as prophets and be prepared to take what we learn back into the world.

~~this last bit is from the young Pipers in Minnesota. I occasionally pop by their blog, and this post I found today made my eyes fill with tears of understanding. Maybe you’ll see why. You can find their blog here

One of the things I’ve been grieving this last year is simply that I used to be a happy person. It used to be that my days were primarily happy, with the occasional interruption of melancholy or difficulty. For the last 22 months, the opposite has been mainly true.

One of my good friends uses the phrase “secondary losses.” I think that’s what this year has been—a whole bunch of secondary losses. The loss of innocence. The loss of happiness. The loss of youth.The loss of simplicity. And when you experience those secondary losses, you grieve.

I look at those two people and truly wonder if that is the same person I see in the mirror each day. I feel like I’ve aged something like 10 years since then.

Today, memories like this one make me cry—hard. We had no idea that we were a few weeks away from one of the worst tragedies we’ll ever face.

So if you’re a mom like me, living without one (or more) of your children, take heart that this is indeed one of the hardest things you will ever live through. But that also means that you lived.

The lines around your eyes will deepen. But that also means you’ve seen. You’ve seen the chaos of pain. Your eyes have and will shed tears for people in their pain that you could’ve never understood before. This is a blessed gift.

Hold on with me. We’re gonna make it. We might not be the happy-go-lucky gals we used to be, but our lives here will tell stories of indescribable loss and the love of a God who made us to be exactly who we are—every line, every gray hair. None of it is wasted.

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