Sunday, November 17, 2019

Satisfaction
Psalm 17

Arise, O LORD. Deliver me...
from men of the world whose portion is in this life.
You fill their belly with treasure;
they are satisfied with children,
And they leave their abundance to their infants.

As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

—Psalm 17:13-15

David considers secular man (“men of the world”) whose portion is “in this life.” They have all they want. They are "satisfied." Here again is the old question: Why do the ungodly prosper in this life?

Well... that's exactly the point: Their portion is “in this life.” and when they die they leave it all to their heirs. (As Chuck Swindoll points out, you never see a U-Haul behind a hearse.) 

"As for me," David says, "I shall behold your face in righteousness—a man fully formed ('like him!'). When I awake (from death) I shall be satisfied with your likeness." 

The men of this world accumulate this world’s goods but they will leave them behind. As for me, I have God’s love and I will have it forever

Oh God of love; an unfathomed sea;
Who would not give himself to Thee? —John Wesley


David Roper
11.17.19

Friday, November 15, 2019

God, My Good
Psalm 16

“I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you…’” (Psalm 16:2).

This is the integrated life: All faculties united to one end—knowing and loving God, our highest good. This is the answer to David’s prayer: “Unite my heart to worship You" (Psalm 86:11). 

David said to the Lord: "You the portion of my inheritance and my cup. You hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance"(16:5,6).

Israel's priests possessed no land, but were given God as their inheritance (Numbers 18:20). So David's “portion” and mine is God himself, our true homeland. "The eternal God is my dwelling place." Indeed, "the (boundary) lines have fallen to me in pleasant places."

God "holds" my portion. No one can snatch it out of my Father's hands. Nothing belongs to me here; anything can be taken away. But I have God and his love forever.

And finally, when my life's work is over, He "will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor will he let his loved one see corruption” (16:10). For Gods children, the "path of life" leads to Heaven, our eternal home where we will enjoy his love forever. Indeed, "in his presence there is fullness of joy; at his right hand are pleasures forevermore" (16:11)

For thee I delightfully employ
what e'er thy bounteous grace hath given;
and run my course with even joy,
and closely walk with thee to heaven. —Charles Wesley

David Roper


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thanksgiving Thoughts 11.14.1
From Carolyn
Good Morning, Friends,
This morning I am especially thankful for three things: my hymn book, Alexa and my iPad. 
Every morning I look forward to my time of listening, reflecting and getting to open my heart to God, often after hearing His heart to me through the written Word and the Spirit. Today I was reading something written by a fellow pilgrim. Her thoughts triggered in my mind the words of an old hymn, Just As I Am. Of course I could not remember all the words so I reached for my hymnal (Yes, I have one!), checked the listing of the songs, and turned to the page I wanted. The message was even better than I remembered. (I am thankful that as a child I had the opportunity to hear the same hymns over and over and over so they stuck with me all these years. Truth down the ages.)

Then, I asked Alexa to play the hymn for me. With a bit of prompting, Alexa came up with a simple but clear version by Alan Jackson. I loved it and hope it will resonate all day in my mind. (I am sure there are other versions out there on YouTube. Just as I am thankful for old hymns I am also thankful for new inventions, especially the ones David has helped me figure out.)

After listening to the song, I reached for my iPad, found Wikipedia and read the fascinating story of the song’s author, Charlotte Elliot who wrote back in the 1800s. ( I am thankful that while the church is trying to figure out the best way to use women’s gifts, women’s gifts have always been used by our creative God.) Here is Charlotte’s hymn that God used to give me a thankful, joyful heart today:

JUST AS I AM

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

As I soaked a while in the truth conveyed in these words Charlotte Elliot penned so many years ago, and as I read her story, I realized that this song says as much about about the Lamb of God as it does about me. That fact is so important to me because if I fail to see His welcoming heart, opened to me by the “precious blood of the Lamb,” then I might think I have to clean up my act to come to Him. In truth His love has “broken down every barrier” and on that basis and promise I can “dare to draw near,” as Hebrews put it.

Also this song is not just for those who want to come for the first time, but for me. Each moment I am invited to come, even when I don’t feel His presence, even when I’m down...or up, even when I have become aware of a failure to love or to see another as He sees that one. In the joy of His help or in the “fightings and fears within, without,” Jesus invites me to come. It is He, the Lamb of God, who “will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve!” My assurance is based on His shed blood and His promise. Not on my feelings or performance.

Now my thanksgivings are piled higher and higher as I remember I am welcomed and loved by this Lamb of God. The same Lamb who wept over the folks in Jerusalem when they would not come to Him. The same Lamb who was waiting with a beach breakfast prepared by nail pierced Hands, prepared for those disciples who had all run away in times of extreme fear. The same Lamb who is waiting and who knocks on the door of every heart, even mine when I have “forgotten my first love.”

O Lamb of God, how I thank You for this welcoming invitation. Your heart is an open heart, waiting and wanting each of us to get to know You better. To taste and see that You are good. Our task is to come.  You are the One who transforms as we linger in Your presence. Thank You Lamb of God for making a way for us, Jesus, in Whose Name we do come.
With a song in my most thankful heart,
Carolyn

Sunday, November 10, 2019

A Man In Full
Psalm 15

Lord, who abides in Your tabernacle?
Who dwells in Your holy mountain?
He who walks uprightly... —Psalm 15:1

David's question has to do with dwelling with God rather than gaining access to his mountain, for who of us can say that we “walk uprightly.” No, these are the traits God has promised to develop in those who dwell with him. 

Put another way, this is not what we bring to the table (or the mountain), but what He is bringing to us, so that we, by His grace, may become "fit for the Kingdom of God."

And what is God bringing to us? Authenticity, in a word. He's turning us into children that reflect the character of their Father—truthful, trustworthy, loving, honest, honorable, friendly, faithful, generous, gentle, stable and strong. Men and women that ring true (15:2-5).

That's one reason I follow Jesus. Not because I'm religious, because I am not, but because He is determined to make me into the kind of man I've always wanted to be—“a man fully alive.” 

David Roper

Friday, November 8, 2019

The Fool
Psalm 14

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is none who does good.—Psalm 14:1

The “fool," in biblical parlance, is not an ignoramus, but a rebel. Radical unbelief is rarely a sincere, misguided choice; it is a gesture of defiance. (I think of poor, sad, aging, mostly forgotten Madonna and the cross she wears. It is, by her own admission, a symbol of her contempt for the Church.)

The result of this rebellion is moral and intellectual suicide: Those who fend off God become corrupted and can produce nothing beautiful" (The Hebrew word "good" suggests aesthetic as well as ethical good, which explains why the entertainment industry and other contemporary media are not only corrupt, but banal and lacking in imagination. (As someone has pointed out, “‘medium’ is exactly the right designation, for the television and movie industry for they neither rare nor well-done.) "Claiming to be wise, they become fools" (Romans 1:22).

Radical unbelief is a fool's choice. It has little to do with the intellect, which is why apologetics and argumentation have almost no effect on those who have chosen to turn their faces away from God. 

What then will turn them around? When they see that "God is with the generation of the righteous" (14:5). Put another way, when they see the beauty of Jesus in you and in me.

David Roper
11.8.19

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

How Long? 
Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? (13:1,2). 

Saul and his army had been hounding David for nine years. Would his troubles never end? 

David looked around and saw an enemy intent on killing him. He looked up and wondered if God even cared. He looked into his own heart and found no counsel or comfort there. 

In extremis, he shot up a prayer: "Lord, my God, listen to me and enlighten me" (13:3)—at which point God reminded him of a forgotten factor: His steadfast love (13:5). Then, though nothing changed circumstantially, David burst into song! (13:6).

"Jesus loves me this I know..." Sometimes that's all I need to know.

David Roper

9.23.19

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

 From Carolyn

This morning I am especially thankful for my window that faces the rising sun. As I sit in my prayer chair and look out on the day growing brighter, the sky and trees coming into focus with morning light, the neighbors’ homes, the fall colors of leaves and the glass pane that keeps out the cold, I am filled with gratitude to God who has provided this place and this day. My window is a good reminder that each and every day God brings the morning.

While I may not always have this window and the view I have today, I am filled with a greater gratitude that “The LORD’s covenant love never ceases, for His compassions never fail, they are new every morning: great Thy faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22,23)

Lord, I am filled with gratitude for Your faithfulness that brings with each new morning Your strong, self-giving, compassionate covenant love, where ever I am, what ever the day holds. Thank You for Your Word, living and written, that both shows and tells us of Your everlasting love. This love of Yours motivates me to love You in return today and to, by Your grace, love those You bring across my mind and my path today. Because Jesus first loved us I come in His Name. Amen
Do you remember this wonderful hymn written by George Robinson and James Mountain in the 1800s?

  Loved with everlasting love,
Led by grace that love to know;
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so.
Oh, this full and perfect peace!
Oh, this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
I am His, and He is mine.

  Heaven above is softer blue,
Earth around is sweeter green;
Something lives in every hue
Christless eyes have never seen:
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow,
Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know,
I am His, and He is mine.
 
  Things that once were wild alarms
Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms,
Pillowed on the loving breast.
Oh, to lie forever here,
Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear,
I am His, and He is mine.
 
  His forever, only His:
Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss
Christ can fill the loving heart.
Heaven and earth may fade and flee,
Firstborn light in gloom decline;
But, while God and I shall be,
I am His, and He is mine.   

Love to you and may His daily compassions fill each of us today with great gratitude,

Carolyn


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Satisfaction Psalm 17 Arise, O LORD. Deliver me... from men of the world whose portion is in this life. You fill their belly with...