Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Should be a No-Brainer

You stop to read the sign posted at a fork in the road. It reads NOTICE CONCERNING WALKING, STANDING, AND CAMPING AHEAD. For one path there are safety restrictions in order that danger is avoided. For the other there are no restrictions, only the warning that the journey is dangerous and ends in certain death. Decision just made easy, you say, a no-brainer! Thanks for the warning.

Psalm 1 has only 6 short verses, but gives us all we need. In the small box at the bottom of the sign are printed guides for the journey. You are welcome to take one:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,

2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.

3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.

4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

As Fleeting as a Cloud

"Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away." The prophet Hosea in chapter 6 declares that our faithfulness is at best short-lived, here for a moment, and gone the next. Our steadfast devotion isn't. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, we quickly forget yesterday's blessings in the face of today's pressures.

The bad news is that we prove ourselves to be set on wandering and disobedience. As a result we hope to earn divine favor with external offerings rather than willing obedience. "I desire steadfast love (or mercy) and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

The good news is that pleasing God is possible! "God delights in truth in the inward being, and He teaches wisdom in the secret heart." (Psalm 51:6) He enables us to know Him and to be capable of loving Him "with all of our heart, soul and mind." (Matthew 22:37) "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:10)

We can have an ideal weather forecast. That very pleasant morning cloud and early dew can linger, and is intended to protect us and remain with us even in spite of turbulent conditions!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Taking Heart

So much said in so few words! "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." This said to a paralytic carried to Jesus by his friends. They were hoping for the best scenario, but the result was far greater than expected. The response of the Master was predictably unpredictable: not, take heart, my son; you are healed, but "take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven."

Imagine the emotions over the removal of just his physical ailment. How much more heartening the removal of his spiritual ailment! The physical is temporary, but the spiritual is permanent. That paralytic man received both cures that day. "Rise, pick up your bed and go home. Your sins are forgiven, for the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins." (Matthew 9:1-8)

"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Protecting Our Valuables

Guarding treasures against loss or theft is perhaps our most important responsibility. Losing outward possessions hurts, but losing inward treasures is tragic.

Who we are is more important than what we have or don't have. Proverbs instructs us: "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." The heart is our compass. It directs our thoughts, our words and our steps. Change the heart, change our direction. No small order, as left on its own, the heart proves itself deceitful. That is why David pleads in Psalm 25: "Guard my soul, and deliver me. To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust."

The created desperately needs the Creator to transform, restore and protect the soul. God's most amazing work is that which is done inwardly in the heart. Again in Psalm 25, "Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose. His soul shall abide in well-being."