Archive for the 'Hesed…Steadfast Love' Category

NOW

New Day, August 14, 2015

“…give me life, O LORD, according to your word!” Psalm 119:107

I am slow-walking through Psalm 119 this month. While sitting in the dark with a cup of coffee, waiting for enough light to read I prayed the Psalmist’s heart: “I love your word, O LORD” (v. 97). The early morning joy of a sunrise is only exceeded by the anticipation of the Word of God (v. 111).

Sunrises change each day; the Word of God, teaching us and guiding us each day does not. Life circumstances are altered sometimes every hour; God and His steadfast love undergird every minute.

The Psalmist asks for life “according to your word.” My databank quickly thanked Yahweh for “life” thoughts:

  1. Jesus Christ is the only way to life and the only true life (John 14:6);
  2. We are now dead to self—crucified with Christ—and can continue to and really live because Christ is in us—now (Galatians 2:20);
  3. Once dead and bound to sin’s penalty and power and presence, in Christ we are no longer chained by its hopeless death but have begun eternal life—now (John 5:24);
  4. Christ is everything. Life is Christ and to die right now is to our advantage (Philippians 1:21);
  5. Jesus is an available safe, comforting, guiding, protecting shepherd for we who are His sheep—now and forever (John 10:9-10).

Today’s gray sunrise does not diminish the smallest bit of reality and certainty of life today and, soon, in Christ’s presence!

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Blue Moon

“He made the moon to mark the seasons…” Psalm 104:19

 Yes, “Blue Moon” is the name of an old song. It was also a celestial event last week on July 31st. Did you see it? A Blue Moon is a second full moon in the same month. Unfortunately, it only happens once every three years. It appears blue only when light particles so color the atmosphere.

Perhaps the moon that night was more striking because it was a cloudless night sky. Just above the horizon, Cheryl and I stood in the driveway and gazed amazed—and we were nearly blinded by its brilliance.

For over a year I have made it a point to search the Scriptures most early mornings, specifically enjoying and praying through passages about celestial and creation wonders. Sometimes, I write about it on a blog: https://indestructiblelife.wordpress.com. The moon has been a sweet surprise. Unaffected by the clamor of city streets, families hustling to get ready for school and work, or sleepy heads hitting the snooze, the moon often stands by smiling, watching the sun wake up.

With the recent excitement about new and enhanced pictures of Pluto and the discovery of a distant planet “Earth 2.0,” our Blue Moon was a welcome pat-on-the-back for the sun’s cousin. Sadly, the moon is too familiar and forgotten. Without ice mountains or rings of frozen crystals it seems boring at first glance—that is, until we hear what Scripture has said about the moon.

  • Job described the moon as “moving in spendlor” (31:6). I see and like that a lot.
  • The moon humbles us and Psalm 8:3 describes its creation: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…” Rather than diminishing us, the Psalm–and moon—elevate our significance.
  • Psalm 89:36-37 notes, “…the moon it shall be established forever, a faithful witness in the skies.” I’m increasingly thinking about it as a teacher about God and His work.
  • There is danger in it as a celestial seduction: “And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them…” (Deuteronomy 4:19). I saw evidence of this happening at a Mayan ruin where spiritual seekers go for annual festivals of worship. I wonder: Are we tempted to dangerously devote ourselves to God’s creatures or creation?
  • Psalm 104:19 notes God “made the moon to mark the seasons…” Psalm 136:9 states, “…the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever;”

It’s stunning: In love, God gave the moon to fulfill His purposes for earth, to witness to His love, and to woo us to Himself! We’ll have to wait until January 2018 to experience a Blue Moon again. We don’t have to wait to worship the moon’s Maker and Sustainer.

How about now?

Old Maids and Grumpy Old Men

“…but I give myself to prayer.” Psalm 109:4

 

We live in the tension of what is, what should and could be, and what will be.

Last week Cheryl and I played the game Old Maid with our two oldest grandchildren. In case you have missed out on one of life’s greatest joys…in Old Maid the goal is to not end up with the card that pictures an old maid. An “old maid” is an exaggeration of an elderly, grouchy, lady who has never married. My only comment about such ladies (few in number in my experience) is a question: Why isn’t there a movie titled “Old Maid” but there are two movies called “Grumpy Old Men” and Grumpier Old Men”?

Back to the game. Toward the end of the game it is important to keep a poker face, since other players draw cards from your hand and you hope they will draw the old maid card. Wilder, eight years old, matured through the game but struggled to hold back his joy or disappointment if he picked the old maid card. At first Adeline, eleven years old, had difficulty hiding her emotions but by the end of the evening she did well—except the time her brother picked the old maid card from her on the last round. At that point she burst out with relief, delight, and laughter.

Psalm 109 is an honest burst of reaction to “wicked and deceitful mouths [that] are opened against me” (Cf. Psalm 120). “They encircle me,” David says, “with words of hate, and attack me without cause.” Worse, “In return for my love they accuse me…” For twenty verses David unloads on his enemies in prayer to God. For example, “Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!”

Do you feel the freedom to join David and talk to the Father that way? Words of judgment aren’t the way we usually pray when wronged—but they can be if used righteously. I like this quote: “Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice. While the Psalms allow us to express our emotions, they seek to shape them into righteous ones.”

David does not allow his soul to linger on what his situation is, or what it should or could be, but he transitions to what will be by saying, “But you, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!…Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!”

How does David get to this point? Earlier he gives a passing word that is weighty, “BUT I give myself to prayer” (v.4). Transitioning, resting, and trusting in God and His steadfast love makes all the difference.

The shepherd boy turned king shows us how one word can change everything, every time.

Rhea Herald-News, July 22, 2015

Gazed Amazed

New Day, July 2, 2015

“Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Psalm 36:5

I’m told the pink moon two nights ago was an atmospheric special delivery from Canada. No matter, it was stunning. Cheryl and I stood in our driveway and gazed amazed.

And then, the next morning the sun strained to push through thick clouds with a well-defined, piercing focus. Though it was a twenty-four hour block of time where I couldn’t write it down, I can’t forget it.

The endless, ever-fresh voice of God (Psalm 19) keeps humming of glory, beauty, variety, and Yahweh’s steadfast, faithful, loyal love (hesed).

Silly me, I thought just Cheryl’s love was out of this world.

We All Scream For Ice Cream

The Rhea Herald News

November 19, 2014

“…the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (ESV, Psalm 33:8)

During the Great Depression in the last century, President Franklin D. Roosevelt voiced these famous words, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” He knew the crippling impact unrelenting fear could have on our nation emotionally and financially. In our contemporary world we know of the devastating results when we let our fears control us. Spiders and mice scare many to jump on top of unstable tables. Me? I would climb a thorn bush to get away from a snake.

In the absence of real, genuine hope, fear is overwhelming.

“Fear” and “the fear of the Lord” translate the thought of dread, reverence, terror, timidity, wonder, stupendous, or awe. I like stupendous a lot. Fear is a two-edged sword. For those who reject the Son, Jesus Christ, fear in the sense of dread is unavoidable. Jesus Himself said, “Whoever believes in the Son [trusts in Him alone] has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36). Ouch. What does that say about our call to intentionally invest in folks who are without Christ?

The sword of awesome fear has a wonderful side: God has given followers of Christ a new perspective and certain hope. Psalm 147 is encouraging: “Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving…He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the beasts their food…[But] His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of man, but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 147:7-11).

John Piper writes of huge storms and stars: “…he cups his hands around us…And in that place of refuge we say, ‘This is amazing, this is terrible, this is incredible power; Oh, the thrill of being here in the center of the awful [awesome] power of God, yet protected by God himself!’”

In an unforgettable seminary moment, Dr. Ron Allen told of being in an ice cream shop with the teenage son of a famous Christian leader after the two men spoke at a conference. When the boy sat down at Dr. Allen’s table with a multi-colored, piled high cone of frozen delight, he shouted, “This is awesome!”

Dr. Allen laughed as he told the story and then became serious and said, “Gentlemen, ice cream is not awesome. God is awesome.” May we save the best words for God.

What brings you fear? Trust in Jesus Christ alone for your eternal destiny and you will have a sure hope now—and you will have the awesome, only God who will surround you with his steadfast love.

Now, that’s indescribably greater than all the Mayfield Butter Pecan ice cream in the world.

Where is the Cranky Old Man?

New Day, November 10, 2014

“I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known you faithfulness to all generation. For I said, ‘steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.’” Psalm 89:1-2 ESV

Early this morning the moon is waning in the clear, southwestern sky and thin clouds herald the reminder of God’s unfailing, steadfast love. Who could ever think God is like a cranky old man lurking around up there, trying to catch us in our sin?

I envision psalmist, pastor Ethan with clapping hands as he leads the heavens and us to sing: God’s loyal, steadfast, faithful, unfailing love (hesed) has many manifestations in creation (it’s plural). Consistent with His nature, He constantly acts in “great love” (NIV), and this steadfast love of the Father is firmly, forever established in the heavens each night and new day sunrise if we will just look and linger for a while. The cranky old man never lived there or anywhere, anyhow, anyway.

Our Father, who is in heaven, how we love Your reminders in the sky!

It’s Personal

New Day, November 10, 2014
“Give thanks to the LORD…to him who by understanding made the heavens…to him who made the great lights…the sun to rule over the day…the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures forever…” Psalm 136:1, 5-9
With some remorse and for brevity, I omitted the central idea of the song-poem Psalm 136–repeated with every verse: God’s steadfast love endures forever.

God’s steadfast love (“hesed”) is multifaceted. One stunning reality hesed expresses is God’s unceasing loyalty to those who love Him. Looking into the sky today, I will dwell on this: God has expressed and pledged His devotion to me all the days of my life. How great is Zephaniah 3:17: “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiety you by his love.”

This morning’s showcase of wonders in the sky “declares” a small part of the person God is (Ps 19:1). But oh, what a bright shining it is!
In Jesus, this love is ultimately, savingly expressed in His life and cross (2 Corinthians 1:20). It is personal.

Enjoy glimpses of God’s glory today.


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