Saturday, November 30, 2019

The Help That God provides
Psalm 22
 
Hasten to help Me; save Me from the sword (death) ...
You answered Me. —Psalm 22:20,21
 
David. in this poem. describes Jesus' crucifixion with startling precision a thousand years before the Cross. But more startling is his cry, "Save me,” and this assurance: “(God) answered me." Yet Jesus suffered and died on the cross. 
 
The author of Hebrews repeats this odd juxtaposition: "(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).  Jesus “was heard," yet He suffered and died on the cross.
 
Does God hear us when we call for help? Of  course he does, but the help he provides is not always deliverance from trouble. 
 
Sometimes He calms the storm
With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea,
But it doesn't mean He will.
Sometimes He holds us close,
And lets the wind and waves go wild;
Sometimes He calms the storm,
And at other times His child. —
Scott Krippayne
 
God’s help may come in the form of grace to pass through the trial with calm repose, a rest that tranquilizers, relaxation techniques, positive thinking, and mystical forms of contemplation cannot duplicate. Jesus called it, “my peace,” an inexplicable peace that defies rational explanation (Philippians 4:7).
 
The wisest of men and women have always known that we grow wise by passing through stress and trouble: God "delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity” (Job. 36:15). He delivers us from foolishness by trouble if we take advantage of it, or, as the author of Hebrews would say, if we're "trained by it" (Hebrews 12:11).
 
And what is our part in this regimen? Mary’s “Fiat” ("Let it be").
 
In acceptance lieth peace,
O my heart be still;
Let thy restless worries cease
And accept His will.
Though this test be not thy choice,
It is His—therefore rejoice. 
 
In His plan there cannot be
Aught to make thee sad:
If this is His choice for thee,
Take it and be glad.
Make from it some lovely thing
To the glory of thy King.
 
Cease from sighs and murmuring,
Sing His loving grace,
This thing means thy furthering
To a wealthy place.
From thy fears He'll give release:
In  acceptance lieth peace.  —Hannah Hunnard 
 
David Roper

Thursday, November 28, 2019


Thanksgiving Thoughts: 11.28.19
Picture This

I’ve seen them. You’ve seen them. Those pictures in magazines, on television ads and possibly in the Hallmark movies. The perfect family sitting around the perfectly appointed table which is groaning with all the perfect food anyone could imagine. This is Thanksgiving! Or so we are told...and sold.

As I’ve pondered my own expectations of Thanksgiving some thoughts come to mind. These are truths I want to remember. This is how, by God’s grace and enabling, I want to picture Thanksgiving.

What’s Essential—
Jesus is as clear on this today as He was when He spoke kindly to Martha, His good friend and hostess. “Only one thing is necessary...that you sit at My feet and learn of Me.”

The pressure of time will always make me face my priorities. As I make time to look to Him, to listen to Him, He will show and tell me how to respond this Thanksgiving—in traffic, in the kitchen, when X – (the unexpected) - happens, when the help isn’t there, when disappointments loom.

It’s essential that I prepare my heart and soul in His presence, depending on Him to work in and through me for His good pleasure and for my good. I can then carry in my heart His words and His ways. I can practice His presence in any situation.


Who’s Coming— 
 Each person I encounter at a gathering is made in the image of God, no exceptions.

 Each person I encounter is close to me by God’s grace for a purpose in my life and for a purpose in his or her life. No exceptions.

Jesus is the unseen guest at every table. He said, “I will be with you every day, even unto the end of the age.”  He looks at each one with gentle eyes and a welcoming heart. No exceptions.


What’s The Seating Arrangement—

 Jesus has told me where to sit. He says to “take the lower seat.”

So why do I mind if someone gives it to me, either at the table, in conversation or in attitude?  I will always have a table companion because when I take the lower way, it’s His way too. My soul can silently converse with Him in a crowded room or when I am all alone. Or feel all alone. This I want to picture and remember.


What’s The Menu—
The traditional thanksgiving menu goes way back.

In the time of Moses “all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.”

Paul, pictures this meal in more detail when he reminds the Corinthians that “The Lord Jesus, in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way He took the cup also...saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

This spiritual meal is available to all, no matter what other fare is before us on Thanksgiving Day.  Again and again I may eat and drink of the spiritual supply God has provided by the sacrifice of His son. Jesus says, “Come!”

And no matter if this Thanksgiving Day provides all I have longed for in family, the meal and the trimmings, or conversely if I have what I don’t want or want what I don’t have, my spiritual food and drink today is a foretaste of the feast I will enjoy forever in God’s Kingdom.  Because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Remembering the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus, is the ultimate reason for me to give thanks on Thanksgiving Day and every day.

Gratefully in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Carolyn Roper
The Secret of a Happy Home
Psalm 128

Blessed (Happy) is the man who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed (happy), and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; 
your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed (happy)
who fears the Lord —Psalm 128:1-4

A happy home, made happy by the "fear of the Lord." 

“The fear of the Lord" is not craven fear, but “a love that fears to grieve.” In practical terms it means that we listen to God and take him seriously. As the parallel line suggests, we “walk in His ways." 

"Walking in God's ways," means that we listen to what God has to say and heed the voice that says to us, "This is the way.”

What a marvelous simplification: “The fear of the Lord.” The secret of a happy home.

David Roper
11.28.19

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

True Truth
Psalm 19

"The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1).

I hear the stars singing about their maker:

In Reason’s Ear they all rejoice, 
and utter forth a glorious voice;  
Forever singing, as they shine,  
"The Hand that made us is Divine."  —Joseph Addison 

Creation reveals the beauty and deity of God and his artistry, but, being fallen, sends mixed messages: Nature can be beautiful and benevolent, but it’s also "red in tooth and claw.” Thus the environment is incomplete and incongruent. To know God fully I must listen to what he has to say.

Thus the psalmist leads us to consider God’s actual words: They are perfect, pure, right, clean and true, or, as we would say, true truth—an objective, eternal standard. The Hebrew word for truth is emeth, a noun formed from a verb that means “to be firm” and emphasizes reliability and permanence. 

Emeth is that which does not change. It is found in the writings of the apostles and prophets of the Old and New Testament and fully in Jesus who said of himself, “I am truth” (John ).

In our day the idea of absolute, eternal truth is anathema to the politically correct, who, like Pontius Pilot keep asking the same, cynical question: “What is truth?—while he stands right in front of them. 

Where should the unknown treasures of the truth
Lie, but there whence the truth comes out the most—In the Son of man, folded in love and ruth (compassion) —George MacDonald

David Roper
11.26.19 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

God's Delight
Psalm 18

"He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delights in me" (Psalm 18:19).

I remember Saturday mornings, sprawled on the floor with our boys, watching a grainy, black and white, RCA television set,  and singing the Mouse Club song along with the Mouseketeers:

Now it's time to say goodbye
To all our company.
M-I-C (See you real soon),
K-E-Y (Why? Because we like you);
M-O-U-S-E.

The song gets in your head. I used to sing it all through the day and I sang it again this morning when I read this psalm. 

Why does God like me? Well, because He likes me and for no other reason. It's not that I'm young and vigorous, strong and able, rich and famous, smart and clever, or tall, dark and handsome—which is a very good thing because I'm not, have never been, and will never be any of those things. God likes me because I am... me

What’s more, God’s delight precedes my being! Before I could do anything good or bad He liked me—no, he loved me. What are the chances now, based on my current behavior, that He will remove his affection? "It is not love that alters when it alteration finds."

God loves me freely—though at what cost to himself only the cross will reveal. And what does He ask of me? To say, "I love You too.”

I think of an old poem:

Isn’t it odd
That a being like God
Who sees the fa├žade
Still loves the clod
He made out of sod?
Now isn’t that odd?

Odd indeed.


David Roper

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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Monday, November 4, 2019

Getting Our Minds Right
Psalm 12

The wicked prowl on every side,
And vileness is exalted among the sons of men. —Psalm 12:8

“Vileness (debased character) is exalted"—a fair description of the current scene. I think of the cultural and social icons we exalt and emulate.

I've mentioned before that Lord Acton's axiom, “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely," does not refer to those in power, but to those enamored of power. When I stand in awe of the powerful, I give the ideas that debase them the power to debase me (12:2). 

But I have this assurance: 

The words of the LORD are pure words, 
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, 
purified seven times.
You, O LORD, will keep them;
you will guard us from this generation forever (Psalm 12:6,7).

God will guard his word from corruption and me from the evil in me that makes me so easily corrupted (12:7,8). How? By serving up for my consumption his "pure" words every day.


David Roper
11.4.19

Friday, November 1, 2019

What Can the Righteous Do?
Psalm 11

"When the (moral) foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (11:3). 

Old folks generally decry the sorry state of the world, but, given the steady decline of courtesy and morality these days, it does seem that our culture is circling 'round the drain. (As an old friend of mine asks, “Why am I in this hand basket and where in hell are we going?”) What can I, an old back-bencher do? 

David's friends offered him the counsel of despair: "Flee like a bird to your mountain…” (11:1-3). Carolyn and I don't have a place in the mountains any more, but I can probably get a job in a coastal lighthouse, or backcountry fire-lookout tower and watch the world crash and burn. 

David supplies a deeper insight and a better part to play. He says that the Lord, through disorder, is "testing the righteous" (11:5). His stillness in the face of moral chaos is not a show of indifference, but a "test" of our mettle. When the moral foundations are broken up what will good people do? 

David answers, "(As for me) "I will take refuge in the Lord" (11:1). 

So I ask myself: Will I follow Jesus in faith and obedience and rely on him to bring me safely through (11:7)? Or, more's the loss and pity, will I follow the madding crowd?


David Roper
11.1.19

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...