Friday, June 30, 2017

"What Needless Pain We Bear"

"Blessed is the Lord who daily carries our load" (Psalm 68:19).

The expression is literally, "Blessed is the Lord who daily loads-up for us our burden" (viz. provisions loaded on a beast of burden.) Our Lord stoops to take up our burdens and load them upon Himself. He does so "day|day," as the text puts it—day, after day, after day, after day... 

What burden is laid on me today? Well, it's the cumbrance of living in a worn-out body and doing so with contentment and joy—"to lark and leap on shanks grown dry as sticks!" (Godric).

What burden rests on you today? A fretful child, an aging parent, a frustrating sin, a pain-filled marriage, a lingering illness? Lay it down. Your Lord, who has always loved you, will pick it up and carry it all through the day. He will do so, "because He cares for you!" (1 Peter 5:7).

And tomorrow? Well, you and I will need to do it all over again.

What Thou shalt today provide,
Let me as a child receive;
What tomorrow may betide,
Calmly to Thy wisdom leave:
’Tis enough that Thou wilt care,
Why should I the burden bear?

—John Newton

David Roper


Monday, June 26, 2017

Blessings In Disguise

You, O God, have tested us;
You have tried us as silver is tried.
You brought us into the net;
You laid a crushing burden on our backs.
You let men ride over our heads.
We went through fire and through water;
But You have brought us out to a place of abundance.

—Psalm 66:10-12

“You…You…You…You…You…You." Six times in three verses. The psalmist sees God in every ordeal. Fiery trials, strictures, pressure, people riding roughshod over his head, fire and rain—all of this came to him through the hand of God.

Here lies one of the great enigmas of our faith: God accepts the responsibility for the evil that befalls us. Scripture affirms it; I can't explain it; I can only state it.

One of the most startling statements in the Bible occurs on an occasion in which Satan, having done his worst to torment Job, appears a second time before God—who takes the blame for all that Satan did to Job: "You incited me to act against him" (Job 2:3). God is big enough to take responsibility for all that befalls us.

Seeing God in our ordeals makes them more meaningful. If everything in the universe is random it's a very, scary place. But if God’s mercy orders all that pains us, we can assume that there’s a purpose in it all.

God is love. He cannot be otherwise. If that's true, everything in life is screened through His affection for us and thus everything, even adversity, must work together for "the good life"—not that we’re knee-deep in clover, but that we have the best life of all, a life that reflects the lovingkindness of Jesus (Romans 8:28).

There's a hint of that in the psalm: David's suffering is God "searching" and "refining" (66:10). Suffering purifies us and makes us better than before, a point the psalm makes as well: "You bring us out (of suffering) to a place of (overflowing) abundance[1]” (66:12).

Good when He gives, supremely good;
Nor less when He denies: 
Afflictions, from His sovereign hand, 
Are blessings in disguise.

David Roper

[1] Same word that David uses in Psalm 23:5: “My cup overflows.”

Sunday, June 18, 2017

"One returned…giving Him thanks” (Luke 17:17)

Friday, June 16, 2017

This One Thing

I will not give sleep to my eyes
Or slumber to my eyelids,
Until I find a place for the Lord,
A dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob." —Psalm 132:3-5

The first hundred days of a leader's tenure are closely scrutinized, for they establish his or her priorities. David's first act as Israel’s king was to search for the Ark of the Covenant for, he said, "We did not seek it in the days of Saul" (1 Chronicles 13:3).

Saul was a secular man. He cared nothing for the ark, but abandoned it, left it to rot for forty years in an overgrown field. David, however, could not rest until he retrieved the ark and brought it up to Jerusalem and placed it in the little tent that became it's "dwelling place" (2 Samuel 6:1-15).

The ark, as you know, was a little box about the size of an army footlocker. It had no intrinsic value, or magic power, Raiders of the Lost Ark, not withstanding. It was merely a symbol—a visible reminder of the invisible, enduring presence of God, the reality of which dominated David's thoughts and prayers. 

David wrote in another place, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I might gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his tabernacle” (Psalms 27:4).

Obviously, David didn't plan to spend the rest of his life sequestered in a little tent, staring at a box. No, this was his way of saying that he treasured God and His love above all else—above mother, brother, friends, money, health, love or life itself. God was the "one thing" necessary—indeed the only thing. This was the measure of his greatness—and ours.

David Roper


The Purpose That Is Purposed “This is the purpose that is purposed with regard to the whole earth, and this is the hand that is stretch...