Keep Yourselves From Idols

O God, You are my God;

Early will I seek You;

My soul thirsts for You;

My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land

Where there is no water.

–Psalm 63:1 (NKJV)

I started memorizing Psalm 63 yesterday.  I’ve loved this passage for many years, and it’s been on my list of passages to memorize for quite a while.  As I was meditating on the first verse while walking Buster early yesterday evening, I realized that there’s another way to look at that verse.  No doubt David was drawing upon his circumstances and compared His longing for God to being in the arid wilderness to which he had been forced to flee – and in that comparison, he paints a very clear picture of the desire of a man after God’s own heart.  And with that picture in the background, whenever I have pondered this passage, I have mostly thought: “Someday, I’ll long for God in that way.  Someday I’ll seek after Him like I would for a drop of water after being stranded in a desert for a few days.”  Because, if I’m honest, I don’t often feel that kind of urgency in my pursuit of God.

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The Meaning of All Misery

“Therefore, the meaning of all misery in the world is that sin is horrific. All natural evil is a statement about the horror of moral evil. If you see a suffering in the world that is unspeakably horrible, let it make you shudder at how unspeakably horrible sin is against an infinitely holy God. The meaning of futility and the meaning of corruption and the meaning of our groaning is that sin — falling short of the glory of God — is ghastly, hideous, repulsive beyond imagination.

Unless you have some sense of the infinite holiness of God and the unspeakable outrage of sin against this God, you will inevitably see the futility and suffering of the universe as an overreaction. But in fact the point of our miseries, our futility, our corruption, our groaning is to teach us the horror of sin. And the preciousness of redemption and hope.”

– John Piper, “Subjected to Futility in Hope, Part 1” (sermon preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church on April 22, 2002)

HT: OFI

Whew – heavy!

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By His stripes we are healed!

Isaiah 53:1-12 (NKJV)
1 Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.

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Finished! (Until I start again…)

I finished reading through the  Bible this morning, completing my RttBiaY program.  I know I haven’t been posting a lot about my reading lately – not that I’ve been posting a lot lately, period!  (Perhaps I’ll have some time to finish a few of the 10 or so unfinished posts which I started and never got around to finishing over the past 6 months… Some of those are about verses or passages which I had come across during my RttBiaY reading.)

But I’m excited to have finally done what I’ve set out to do many times over the years – read straight through from Genesis to Revelation!  It was a very rewarding exercise – one I hope to do many more times in the future.  I’m not sure if I’ll start again right away, or spend some more in-depth time in a few books which I decided I wanted to study some more – or perhaps both.  We’ll see.

It was great to see for myself the arc of the Biblical narrative from beginning to end.   Of course, growing up in the church, going to Christian jr/sr high schools, attending or leading dozens of Bible studies, and doing all sorts of personal study (other than reading the Bible from cover to cover), I have always “known” that the Bible is consistent in its presentation of man’s condition and his need for a solution to the problem of sin which is external to himself – in other words, the focus of the Bible is Jesus Christ.  The Old Testament looks forward to Jesus Christ, and the New Testament reveals His life, death, resurrection, and the resulting freedom from sin and eternal death, sin’s penalty, which we can have in Jesus Christ.  Reading the Bible from beginning to end, however, gives one a better grasp on exactly how consistent the Bible is in this respect. It also shows all the more clearly how patient God is with His people (both Israel and the Church) — and how fickle His people can be.  And it shows all the more, with painful clarity, how much God hates sin.

But thanks be to God, for He has provided us with a perfect, spotless substitute!  A beautiful Savior, whose birth we are about to celebrate.  The older I get, and the more that I see how attached my heart can still be to the things of this world, or just to my own selfish desires – the more I appreciate the free gift of salvation which God had in mind before the foundation of the world, the gift long pointed to in the Old Testament which began life in a lowly manger some 2000 years ago – and which God also planned to send to the cross for your sins and for mine.

Do you know this Savior?  He alone can truly and permanently satisfy the deepest desire of your heart.

Thoughts on some verses from Job

I started reading through Job last week in my RttBiaY program. Job can be tough – mixed in with the often dubious wisdom and advice of his three friends and Job’s own self righteousness, there is real wisdom and truth. Figuring out which is which isn’t always straightforward.

Here are a couple of verses which I read this morning which stood out to me. Familiar concepts, to be sure – especially if you’ve ever read Proverbs:

Job 24:15 The eye of the adulterer also waits for(DR) the twilight, saying, ‘No(DS) eye will see me’; and he veils his face. (ESV)

Job 28:28 And He said to man,’ Behold,(CJ) the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to(CK) turn away from evil is understanding.’ (ESV)

Good checks on my motivation and attitude toward any sin in my life: do I turn away from it and show that I’m growing in wisdom (by fearing God more than man, by loving Him more than my sin) and understanding? Am I seeking to bring any hidden sin into the light, or am I content – no, eager – to keep it in the darkness? (Again – do I fear God or man more?)

[Update: May 20, 2008 – I finished reading Job this morning.  In retrospect, I think that much of the difficulty I encountered in the past when reading Job was due to not reading it all the way through in a relatively short amount of time – a few sittings, at the most.  Having done so this time, I find that it isn’t as hard as I remembered to discern the godly from the human wisdom…. Or, perhaps, by God’s grace, I’m growing a little bit in understanding and ability to discern the two.  May I always give Him the glory for any insight I gain when reading the Word!]

Spurgeon on OFI

This was on OFI on January 30th:

Spurgeon on objections to Isaiah 45:22: “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other!”But thou sayest sin will not let thee look. I tell thee, sin will be removed the moment thou dost look. “But I dare not; He will condemn me; I fear to look.” He will condemn thee more, if thou dost not look. Fear, then, and look; but do not let thy fearing keep thee from looking. “But He will cast me out.” Try Him. “But I cannot see Him.” I tell you, it is not seeing, but looking. “But my eyes are so fixed on the earth, so earthly, so worldly.” Ah! but, poor soul, He giveth power to look and live. He saith – “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”

– Charles Spurgeon, Sovereignty and Salvation

Thoughts on Numbers 22-24

I encountered another tricky passage in my RttBiaY reading last week, when I wrote most of this post…

Numbers 22-24 contains the story of Balaam, a spiritual man, of sorts, but one who also loved the world. Balaam was called by Balak, king of Moab, to curse the people of Israel because they had moved next door – but Balaam ultimately blesses Israel in spite of Balak’s anger against him. There’s a difficult portion of this story which I’d like to examine: Continue reading