Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Sameness of the Moving Sunrise

“Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised” Psalm 113:1-3).

Two days ago was the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. The sun rose – from my vantage point – far to the left, above the Black Range. Now the days are getting shorter, and the sun will slowly begin rising more and more to the right (south) every day, until it is rising over the foothills to the south of Cookes Peak on the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice (December 21 this year). While we have our minds on today’s schedule of events (gathering with the saints in Christ to glory in His grace and being built up as His Church), and the long list of things that need to be done in the near future, the days will continue getting shorter and shorter, and the sun will rise further and further south. The seasons continue coming and going as they have from the beginning.

There are two ways to live in this knowledge:
  • We can ignore the reality of God’s perfect righteousness, His commands, and the inevitable judgment, treating the cycles of the seasons as our own personal blank slate on which we can do whatever we please: “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:1-4).
  • We can be reminded by the changing days and seasons that the pressing things of this moment are of this moment, and are not ultimate. It is the state of the soul before the eternal God and under the authority of His Word that lasts past solstice after solstice: “ have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS, AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS. THE GRASS WITHERS, AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF, BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER [a quote from Isaiah 40:7,8].’ And this is the word which was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23-25).

Today’s Psalm issues this command: “From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised” (113:3). Every day of every season of every year while you are here, in growing obedience to His Word, by faith in the Son, in the power of the Spirit, to the glory of the Father – as long as it is still called “today.”

See you at the gathering.
June 2013 sunrise near the Black Range,
through the smoke of the Silver Fire.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

From One Ancient Church Song to Another

“The Lord said unto my Lord, ‘Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.’ The Lord shall send the rod of Thy power out of Zion: be Thou ruler in the midst of Thine enemies. Thy people shall come willingly at the time of assembling Thine army in holy beauty: the youth of Thy womb shall be as the morning dew” (Psalm 110:1-3, Geneva Bible).

While this Psalm is certainly one of the favorites of the New Testament (Matthew 22:44//Mark 12:36; Acts 2:34,35; Hebrews 1:13; 10:12,13), today it has me looking back to a much earlier song of the people of God.

“Then sang Deborah, and Barak the son of Abinoam the same day, saying,
‘Praise ye the Lord for the avenging of Israel,
and for the people that offered themselves willingly.
Hear, ye kings, hearken ye princes:
I, even I will sing unto the Lord:
I will sing praise unto the Lord God of Israel.
Lord, when Thou wentest out of Seir,
when Thou departedst out of the field of Edom,
the earth trembled, and the heavens rained, the clouds also dropped water.
The mountains melted before the Lord,
as did that Sinai before the Lord God of Israel...
...mine heart is set on the governors of Israel,
and on them that are willing among the people: praise ye the Lord...
...for the noise of the archers appraised among the drawers of water:
there shall they rehearse the righteousness of the Lord,
His righteousness of His towns in Israel:
then did the people of the Lord go down to the gates.
Up Deborah, up, arise, and sing a song:
arise Barak, and lead thy captivity captive, thou son of Abinoam.
For they that remain, have dominion over the mighty of the people:
the Lord hath given me dominion over the strong...
...the Kings came and fought:
then fought the Kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo:
they received no gain of money.
They fought from heaven, even the stars in their courses fought against Sisera.
The River Kishon swept them away, that ancient river the river Kishon.
O my soul, thou hast marched valiantly... let all thine enemies perish, O Lord:
but they that love Him,
shall be as the Sun when he riseth in his might,
and the land had rest forty years’” (Judges 5:1-5,9,11-13,19-21,31).

In free and holy dedication to the only King of the Church (and the heavens and the earth, Matthew 28:18), may we go to “teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things, whatsoever” He has commanded us” (28:19,20).

Saturday, June 15, 2013

An Ancient Song for Today's Church

(1)Give thanks to God, call on His name;
to men His deeds make known.
(2)Sing ye to Him, sing psalms; proclaim
His wondrous works each one.

(3)See that ye in His holy name
to glory do accord;
And let the heart of ev’ry one
rejoice that seeks the Lord.

(4)The Lord Almighty, and His strength,
with steadfast hearts seek ye:
His blessed and His gracious face
seek ye continually.

(5)Think on the works that He hath done,
which admiration breed;
His wonders, and the judgments all
which from His mouth proceed;

(6)O ye that are of Abr’ham’s race,
His servant well approv’n;
And ye that Jacob’s children are,
whom He chose for His own.

(7)Because He, and He only, is
the mighty Lord our God;
And His most righteous judgments are
in all the earth abroad.

(8)His cov’nant He remember’d hath,
that it may ever stand:
To thousand generations
the word He did command.

(9)Which covenant He firmly made
with faithful Abraham,
And unto Isaac, by His oath,
He did renew the same:

(10)And unto Jacob, for a law,
He made it firm and sure,
A covenant to Israel,
which ever should endure.

(42)For on His holy promise He,
and servant Abr’ham, thought.
(43)With joy His people, His elect
with gladness, forth He brought.

(45)That they His statutes might observe
according to His word;
And that they might His laws obey.
Give praise unto the Lord.

- Psalm 105:1-10,42,43,45, Scottish Psalter (1650)

This song, in the day it was inspired and first sung, looked back into ancient history to the miraculous salvation of God and His covenant preservation of His people. However, this song doesn’t just look back. It serves as an arrow pointing forward, Church, pointing forward to the salvation of Christ and your in-grafting into the ancient purpose of God to save you as His people:
  • The Gospel promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:8) is fulfilled in the seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16).
  • The Gospel blessing belongs to those true children of Abraham who have put their faith in Christ alone (Romans 4:12; 9:7,8; Galatians 3:7,29; 4:22-31).
  • The Gospel obedience is an expression of love to Christ (John 14:15,21; 15:10; 1 John 5:3) and the true fruit of genuine faith (John 3:36; Romans 1:15; 15:18; 16:26; Acts 6:7).

So sing the song, Church, for it speaks of God’s purpose from long, long ago to save you and preserve you today for His praise and a loving, faith-based obedience.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Praise the Evangelist of the Whole World

“The LORD has made known His salvation; He has revealed His righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His lovingkindness and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (Psalm 98:2,3).

He has done great things:
  • “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; ‘THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD [a quote from Psalm 19:4]’” (Romans 10:17,18).
  • “Now to Him Who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).
  • “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth...and although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach - if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven (Colossians 1:3-6,21-23).

Commit yourself by faith unto obedience (John 3:36; Romans 1:5; 16:26; Acts 6:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:8) in the power of His Holy Spirit - praise Him with great praise for the Gospel song of salvation He has sung (and keeps singing) over all the earth through His Church: “O sing to the LORD a new song, for He has done wonderful things, His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him...shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth; break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody. With trumpets and the sound of the horn shout joyfully before the King, the LORD. Let the sea roar and all it contains, the world and those who dwell in it. Let the rivers clap their hands, Let the mountains sing together for joy” (Psalm 98:1,4-8).