2 Samuel 14:13 …“Why don’t you do as much for the people of God as you have promised to do for me? You have convicted yourself in making this decision, because you have refused to bring home your own banished son. 14 All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him. NLT
Joab enlisted a wise woman to confront the king about his reluctance to reunite with his own son. The two things that informed my thoughts about this passage are the importance of, and the difficulty of, personal confrontation. My own go-to plan is to avoid it. It’s a ridiculous plan when I logically think about it because confrontation has played a very real part in my own life of faith but in the heat of the moment my response is just like the king’s – try to ignore and escape the situation and the other person involved as well. It’s not a pretty picture but it’s a human response the Lord of Mercy has a plan for. I’ve named it “the wisdom of mortality.”
The wisdom of mortality is exactly what the woman of Tekoa spoke. “Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again.” Life doesn’t last forever and that wisdom has made a big difference to me. God has confronted us with our separation from Him through His son, Jesus. The twists, turns and turmoil of life are the proof that we have cracks in our hearts of stone. [v14b] “God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” The wisdom of mortality is that it’s Christ Jesus that is our critical and visible evidence that we’ve been reunited with God.
Psalms 23:1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. [NIV]
This Psalm may not be as familiar today as it was in past generations but it’s clearly a lovely word-picture that describes Sanctuary: a place of comfort, refuge and safety. Sanctuary is no longer an external place to search for. Our life in Christ has become that place of Sanctuary within us. That sacred internal place of comfort, refuge and safety the Psalmist describes in his prayer can become our reality too, with practice.
That’s a fact but there’s another reality. We need the practice of Sanctuary to cure us of sanctimony so when we pray “I lack nothing” it doesn’t sound like I have it and you don’t. Sanctimony is defined as pretended, affected, or hypocritical religious devotion. I found this quote on vocabulary.com “Sanctimonious is a twist on the words sanctity and sacred, which mean holy or religious. A sanctimonious person might think he’s holy, but their attitude comes across more like “holier-than-thou.” I suspect all of you have been there with me at some point. Remember that line from the Lord’s Prayer? “And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” I think we could substitute sanctimony for trespasses there. Here’s where the danger of sanctimony is written.
Matthew 7:1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.[NIV]
God has saved us to that beautiful place of refreshment where the reality is when we pray “I lack nothing” it’s because everything sacred is available to us. It’s a place of safety and refuge where Sanctuary guides us “along the right paths for his name’s sake” and even can save us from the judgment our sanctimonious selves deserve.
Posted in Matthew, Practice, Psalms, Sunday
Tagged Comfort, Internal Place, Life in Christ, Refuge, Sacred, Safety, Sanctuary, Within You
New Year’s Eve
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” [The Message]
This contemporary paraphrasing of the words of Jesus from The Message was the first version I read. Then I read the same verses in the NIV and the NASB. I feel the need to compare versions partly out of curiosity, looking for a kind of unity of thought between them and often because they make me think in new ways about familiar verses. Any of the three versions are a really good beginning place for a brand new year but two sentences from The Message really spoke to me. “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”
The familiar desire of most Christians is to know God’s will. That phrase “unforced rhythms of grace” made me think of that in a new way. God’s will is a big part of daily life, more than you might imagine. Our effort to live within that will can be part of the struggle these verses are addressing. Tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Weary and burdened? Exhausted?
We are fooled into believing the will of God is something to be learned. We study the Bible for helpful hints from the the prophets, the Old & New Testament heroes and historical records. We listen to sermons and we pray for “thy” will to be done. It’s no wonder Matthew had to address weariness and our need for rest. Trust me, no matter how brilliant your brain is, no amount of mental gymnastics can accomplish what God already has already done in you.
Here is a radical idea that I’d like you to ponder: If you have placed your life in Christ, you are “living” the will of God. Here is the assurance of your repentance and acceptance of the sacrifice of Christ as your complete restoration to God.
• “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:” 2 Corinthians 5:17
• “We have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:16
• “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;” – Galatians 2:20
• “You are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in…” – 1 Corinthians 3:16
• “It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” – Philippians 2:13
• ”All things that I [Jesus] have heard from My Father I have made known to you” – John 15:15
• Nothing…”will be able to separate [you] from the love of God” – Romans 8:38
These Scriptures ARE the will of God and they’re built right into you. There is not a moment, a thought, an action or choice – right or wrong, at the most elemental cellular level of your being that the will of God is not at work within you. You won’t always make the right decision or the right choice but you can depend on this truth; your life in Christ has placed you in the will of God. Now take Jesus at his word. “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn to live “freely and lightly” in “the unforced rhythms of grace.” Rest.
“A miracle has happened. You are new. You are a new creation in Christ. And on that glorious, confident basis, rooted in Christ and his saving work for us, now we have some work to do. And we do it with joy and with confidence [of] children of God. We are not trying to be children of God or get into God’s favor, we are in his favor rock solid through faith in Christ.” [read more from John Piper at https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/how-to-know-the-will-of-god