Monday, July 24, 2006

A Patient Mercy

In preparing for the message I was privileged to preach Sunday night, I was working through Luke 12:13-34.

The middle section of that passage records Jesus' teaching to his disciples about the basic necessities of life:

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.
Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?
27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!
And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.
Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

This promise from God to provide all the believer's daily necessities is not only extraordinary, but it is also very difficult to believe and trust in. What I was so struck by was the patience of our Lord in reassuring the disciples (and us!) of this promise.

Look at the number of times he repeats the command or the reassurance:
  • v 22, "do not be anxious about your life ... about your body"
  • v 24, "how much more value are you than the birds!"
  • v 26, "why are you anxious about the rest?"
  • v 28, "how much more will he clothe you..."
  • v 29, "do not seek what you are to eat ... nor be worried"
  • v 30, "your Father knows that you need them"
Six times in nine verses Jesus is reassuring us, comforting us, seeking to convince us. What patient, gracious mercy!!

Praise God for his inexhaustible grace!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Rejoicing in Imperatives!

The evangelistic tract Quest For Joy, produced by John Piper's church, starts with the bold statement:
Did you know that God commands us to be glad?
"Delight yourself in the Lord and
he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4)
As I've been working through Deuteronomy in my daily readings, I've been struck repeatedly by how often God's people were commanded to rejoice.

Deuteronomy 12:7
And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

Deuteronomy 12:12
And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters...

Deuteronomy 12:18
... And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all that you undertake.

Deuteronomy 14:26
... And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household.

Deuteronomy 16:11
And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your son and your daughter ... at the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name dwell there.

Deuteronomy 16:14
You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter...

Deuteronomy 26:11
And you shall rejoice in all the good that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house...

Deuteronomy 27:7
and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God.

And if the saints of the Old Testament had reason to rejoice, then how much more may we on this side of the cross, indwelt by the Spirit, rejoice with all our might before our Lord!!

Go and rejoice in your awesome God today!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Now where is that "publish post" button?

It wasn't planned, but my last post was over 3 months ago. However, I've finally returned from my blogging holiday (blogiday?). According to SiteMeter, there are still a few hardy souls who visit this site regularly, which is encouraging. Hopefully I can begin posting articles worthy of your faithfulness.

For today, a brief thought on theological training. I'm just finishing my 9th seminary course, which I feel very privileged to be able to do. The theology classes have been particularly interesting and valuable (although I love Greek too!). Although I haven't learned a lot of new ideas, what I appreciate is being taught about new categories for thinking through and arranging what I do know.

For example, take the relationship between the Kingdom of God and the world. How you understand this relationship has profound effects on how you live.

As Michael Hill notes in The How and Why of Love, those who see people as largely products of their society (the "holistic" view), tend to adopt the perspective that the whole world is the Kingdom of God, and so focus on a social gospel, one which emphasizes the transformation of systemic evils via political and social means.

Those who see people as independent individuals (the "individualistic" view) tend to see the Kingdom as being a purely future state, and often abandon any form of social reformation as being hopeless. After all, who cares about the social conditions of those who will be Left Behind?

The most scriptural of these models is that the Kingdom is both here, but not yet revealed to its fullest extent (the "already/not-yet" view, aka "inaugurated eschatology"). Jesus announced the start of God's Kingdom on earth, but that Kingdom will not be fully known until his return and the final judgment. Those who live with this perspective understand that we are obligated to seek social reform in accordance with God's revealed will, since the Kingdom is here, but also recognize that the sinful hearts which produce this systemic evil will only be completely dealt with through individual regeneration or final judgment, since the Kingdom is not yet consummated.

Well, that's a pretty dense article for a first post. Thanks for reading this far! :-)

May God bless you today with the ability to make much of Him!