Friday, July 28, 2017

The Help God Gives

Sometimes He calms the storm 
With a whispered “peace be still.” 
He can settle any sea, 
But it doesn't mean He will. —Benton Stokes

“You have answered Me.” —Psalm 22:21

In Psalm 22 David anticipates Jesus’ crucifixion and describes it in vivid detail (22:14-18). But most striking is his reference to Jesus’ prayer from the cross: "Save me,” and His confident assertion: "You have answered me” (22:21,22). Yet our Lord languished on the cross and died! 

The same odd juxtaposition occurs in another place: "(Jesus) in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death...was heard because of His godly fear” (Hebrews 5:7,8). Yet Jesus was not delivered from the cross. He was allowed to suffer and die.

God always hears us and He always sends help, but His help does not always come in the form of deliverance from adversity and pain. More often then not, it comes in the form of grace to endure each difficult ordeal as Jesus did and through suffering grow in faith, hope and love. “Jesus was perfected through suffering” (Hebrews 5:9)—perfected in that He learned as a man to submit to His Father’s will. He accepted the suffering as God’s good, acceptable, indeed perfect will and was at peace. 

So it comes to this: Would I rather be “carried to the skies in flowery beds pf ease” or be made like Jesus? The latter of course, for that's where life and peace reside. 

David Roper

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ageless Delight

“That I may finish my course with joy!” (Acts 20:24).

A few fortunate senior citizens go on pretty much as they always have with very few parts out of order, but for most of us, aging exacts a heavy toll. Solomon’s description of the process sums things up pretty well:

In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.
Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.
The shades are pulled down on the world.
You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.
The hum of the household fades away.
You are wakened now by bird-song.
Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.
Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.
Your hair turns apple-blossom white,
Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.[1]

To think of all the things you used to do and can’t do any more only makes you feel worse. It’s much better to poke fun at oneself rather than grumble and complain. Thomas Aquinas said, “It is against reason to be burdensome to others, showing no amusement and acting as a wet blanket. Those without a sense of fun, who never say anything ridiculous, and are cantankerous with those who do… are called grumpy and rude.” [2]

Arthritic joints, hearing and memory loss, failing eyesight and stumbling gait are no fun, but we can survive them by managing to see them, among other things and despite everything, as desperately funny.

There’s something delightful about old folks who keep their sense of humor. They’re a joy to be around. Like the eighty-year-old gardener who, when asked how old he was, replied, “I’m an octogeranium.” You gotta love it! An old man with a young mind and puckish wit, the kind of person you love to be around.

How can we gain and keep that perspective? Well… it’s a matter of faith—putting one’s trust in our Father’s wise bestowment (what the Bible calls our “lot”), His compassionate, kindhearted care, His unfailing love, and His unbreakable promise that someday He will cure everything that ails us and take us to be with Him forever. These are the truths that satisfy and sustain us, that enable us to rise joyfully (albeit painfully) each morning.

Israel’s prophet, Habakkuk, put it this way:

Though the cherry trees don’t blossom
     and the strawberries don’t ripen,
Though the apples are worm-eaten
     and the wheat fields stunted,
Though the sheep pens are sheepless
     and the cattle barns empty,
I’m singing joyful praise to GOD.
     I’m turning cartwheels of joy to my Savior God.[3]

David Roper

[1] Ecclesiastes 12:3–5, The Message.
[2] Thomas Aquinas, Summa of the Summa, (II-II, 148, 4,)
[3] Habakkuk 3:17–18, The Message.

Friday, July 21, 2017


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

I heard a story years ago about a funeral at which a man was being buried in a solid gold Cadillac. “Man!” someone murmured, “that’s living.”

The rich and famous have “the good life,” or so they say. Don’t they know that someday they’ll die and leave everything to others? Chuck Swindoll observes, "I've never seen a U-Haul behind a hearse."

"As for me," David says, (in contrast to those who cannot see beyond this world) “I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake (from the “sleep” of death) I shall be satisfied with your likeness." Then, in contrast to those who are satisfied (17:14) with what they have in this life, he will be satisfied (17:15) with God Himself and His love. This the answer to David’s prayer, “Show us the miracle of steadfast love” (17:7).

Augustine imagines an occasion on which God appears and offers this deal: “l will give you anything and everything you ever wanted in this life—beauty, strength, fame, wealth, power, health, a powerful intellect in a perfect body… But you will never see My face again.”

Would I take up this offer? Would you? Jesus asks, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Good question.

David Roper

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Praise the Lord

Read: Psalm 148:7-13

Old men and children! 
Let them praise the name of the LORD... 148:12

"(Old folks) seem to have got left out of the old lists,” Tolkien’s Merry lamented. Yet the psalmist includes us:” Let old men...praise the name of the Lord!" (148;12).

Sun, moon, stars, clouds, sea creatures, fire, hail, snow, mist, mountains, hills, fruit trees, cedar trees, wild animals, livestock, creeping things and flying birds, all creatures great and small—give a shout-out to God each morning because He brought them into existence through His word (148:1-10).

We praise God for our existence as well, but more so for His redemptive love: He raised up a “horn”—a powerful deliverer—for us and brought us near (148:11-14). “Near so very near to God; nearer I could not be. For in the person of His Son, I am as near as He.” The love with which God loves His Son—such is his love for you and me.

Despite arthritic joints, aching backs and other discomforts, we can join with all creation and awaken each day with exuberant praise! ”God forbid that when all Thy creatures are greeting the morning with songs and shouts of joy, I alone should wear a dull and sullen face" (Olde John Baillie). 

David Roper

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