Scare the Bullies: Psalms 86

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
    a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
    and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
    give your strength to your servant,
    and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
    that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
    because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Ps. 86:14-17, ESV

This the last of three parts, and we should be impressed with its diversity. There are vista points here, where we can stop and wonder. I remember lounging in the California redwoods, just meandering and soaking it in. It basically undid me. And after awhile, I found it hard to speak. (Itself a minor miracle!)

But scripture can do this as well. When we really start looking, and praying, and meditating we start to appreciate all the Father has done for us. And it’s not just “deep thinkers,” who can do this.  Actually, deep thinking is a liability. It is the simple, the humble, the slow, those who have absurd patience– they are the ones who can do some serious reflecting. Children do it best I think.

Commentary

V. 14, is pretty much David’s reality. He is on Satan’s “hit list.” He has a “contract’ on his life. He must deal with this as he moves through his day. I can imagine that this could be quite corrosive and detrimental to your soul; your heart and your mind. He must have thought, ‘Can I really trust this person, does he have a dagger?’ I would have been a mess, twisted up with paranoia and fear.

V. 15, each word used in this verse is quite precise, each phrase carefully used. This is not David flattering God, it is not “boot-licking” mush. Rather, this verse is an accurate portrayal of the Lord God’s character. It is David’s appraisal of how he has experienced God, the things he has found out about Him. David has a long history with the Father, and he reminds himself of how good God really was.

V. 16, in this verse we see David appealing to God on the basis of relationship. Also, David speaks of a kind of “future grace.” Yes, good things have happened in his life, God things. But that isn’t enough for the present moment, and the future. David needs freshness, a grace tailored just for today, custom built.

David’s source for his survival is in God’s cupboards. He knows this, and boldly steps up and asks for it. Interestingly David doesn’t come as an anointed king, having a majestic aura. When he refers to himself, it is as ”the son of your maidservant.”

V. 17, “The Message” Bible is interesting in how it translates this particular verse:

“Make a show of how much you love me 
      so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed, 
   As you, God, gently and powerfully 
      put me back on my feet.”

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion. (Lord, have mercy.)

_________________

I wrote this on Feb. 21, 2012 and it was posted on my second website, “Psalmslife.com.” If you happen to like this kind of teaching, there is a “whole boatload” on that site, 70-80 posts just on the Psalms. I would be honored if you would check it out.  –B.

Who Am I? by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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From the Journal of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian. He was also a participant in the German Resistance movement against Nazism, a founding member of the Confessing Church. His involvement in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler resulted in his arrest in April 1943 and his subsequent execution by hanging in April 1945, shortly before the war’s end.

Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer stands out among the Christian leaders during the Nazi era, for he was one of the few to actively resist the racist actions of the Nazi regime. In addition to his legacy of courageous opposition to Nazism, Bonhoeffer’s theological writings are still widely read in Christian communities throughout the world. “At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.” Source: Prison doctor witness to Bonhoeffer’s death  

From His Writings–

Who am I? They often tell me

I stepped from my cell’s confinement

Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,

Like a squire from his country-house.

Who am I? They often tell me

I used to speak to my warders

Freely and friendly and clearly,

As though it were mine to command.

Who am I? They also tell me

I bore the days of misfortune

Equally, smilingly, proudly,

Like one accustomed to win.

Am I then really all that which other men tell of?

Or am I only what I myself know of myself?

Restless and longing and sick, like a bird in a cage,

Struggling for breath, as though hands were

compressing my throat,

Yearning for colors, for flowers, for the voices of birds,

Thirsting for words of kindness, for neighborliness,

Tossing in expectation of great events,

Powerlessly trembling for friends at an infinite distance,

Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at making,

Faint, and ready to say farewell to it all?

Who am I? This or the other?

Am I one person today and tomorrow another?

Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,

And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?

Or is something within me still like a beaten army,

Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?

Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.

Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

–July 18, 1944

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Waiting for the Green Light

“But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.”

John 16:7, CEV

The disciples are distressed.  They are now starting to realize that Jesus is leaving them.  In the recesses of their minds they can’t accept this.  It makes no sense at all.  (After all, we just got started.)  They have been with Jesus almost “night and day” for three years.  They can’t imagine life without Him present and available.

Jesus starts saying things to help His friends.  I am going “to do what is best for you.”  With this concise idea Jesus wants His dear ones to understand and accept His decisions.  They must accept “this is why I am going away.”  He starts to link His absence with the rich goodness of the Holy Spirit.  On strictly basic level, the disciples have a reason for anxiety.  The disciples are thinking. “He will not be here when I wake up.  Jesus has left!  I am alone, what will I do?”

We have a tendency to think of the Holy Spirit like a telephone.  The dynamic is this–someone calls me from a great distance.  When I pick up the ringing phone, that person is still a long way away– but the voice is close.  To think this way though, is to think wrongly.  We mistakenly think of Him in technological terms.  But Jesus is insisting it is a whole lot better than this. He isn’t on the phone– The Spirit is at the door, and He is ringing your doorbell.

“As soon as we see the Lord Jesus on the Cross, we know our sins are forgiven ; and as soon as we see the Lord Jesus on the Throne, we know the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon us.”   Watchman Nee

The doctrine of the Holy Spirit is meant to “upset apple-carts” and change the flow of nations.  The Holy Spirit is first and foremost personal.  He comes and draws in closer than a person could.  He fills us, and our spirits and His are mixed in a new way.  Was it nice to have Jesus bodily present?  Yes. Of course.  But it is also awesome to have the Spirit connecting with us in a most spiritually wonderful way.

When Jesus ascends, the Holy Spirit is given the “green light” to come, and deepen the special relationship that the Father now has for us.  However, we can still be a little confused.  We think that Jesus physically present would be superior to having the Holy Spirit inside of our hearts.  And it is easy to think that way. Who hasn’t dreamed of having Jesus sit down with us over a cup of coffee at our dinner table?  But, it’s not really “better”– not even slightly so!

As we examine Acts 1-2, we are escorted the the real and very active world of the Holy Spirit.  His presence turns these disciples into a “tossed salad” of the Holy Spirit and humanity.  What happens can never be undone or reversed.  The Holy Spirit has followed Jesus and is now transforming everything.  Essentially, we must trust in what God has done, and we should bow our hearts and knees to all the Father has done for us.  Please, Spirit, come and help us.

“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”  A.W. Tozer

*

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.

image by He Qi

A Pastor’s Transformation

Pastor-homeless-peoplePastor Jeremiah Steepek (pictured left) transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning. He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – NO ONE in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit n the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.

As he sat in the back of the church, he listened to the church announcements and such. When all that was done, the elders went up and were excited to introduce the new pastor of the church to the congregation. “We would like to introduce to you Pastor Jeremiah Steepek.” The congregation looked around clapping with joy and anticipation.

The homeless man sitting in the back stood up and started walking down the aisle. The clapping stopped with ALL eyes on him. He walked up the altar and took the microphone from the elders (who were in on this) and paused for a moment then he recited– Matthew 25:31-46.

 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne.32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

After he recited this, he looked towards the congregation and told them all what he had experienced that morning. Many began to cry and many heads were bowed in shame. He then said, “Today I see a gathering of people, not a church of Jesus Christ. The world has enough people, but not enough disciples. When will YOU decide to become disciples?”

He then dismissed service until next week.

Being a Christian is more than something you claim. It’s something you live by and share with others.

flourishx

Bryan’s Note: Some have made this account to be nothing more than a “urban myth,” kind of a good piece of  Christian “schlock” that never happened. I personally can’t say for sure. I simply can’t vouch for its veracity. But all I really know is that it speaks to me in many ways about following Jesus. For that alone, I am thankful.

More of Jesus, less of Bryan.

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion.

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