Tag Archives: Reminder

Psalm 119:65-72 ט Teth – Serpent, Snake

Psalm 119
65 Do good to your servant according to your word, Lord.
66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.
67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.
68 You are good, and what you do is good; teach me your decrees.
69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep your precepts with all my heart.
70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in your law.
71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees
72 The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.

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There is a “before and after” story here in Teth that relates to affliction; where it comes from and how does it relate to a serpent/snake?  Teth is a not-so-subtle reminder of an old “before” story; there really was a serpent hiding in the garden whose purpose was to call into question the absolute truth God had spoken.  Affliction might be the mask of temptation that serpent wears today as he repeats his original question asked long before the Psalmist wrote: “did God really say…?”   

The Psalmist’s words are obviously written to let God know he’s aware there has been a “before and after” in his life.  “Before” I was afflicted I went astray…The “after” is “It was good for me to be afflicted…so that I might learn your decrees…but now I obey your word.”  The Psalmist has shown us the imagery of an “after” we can recognize.  God has built a house [us] and filled it with light [the Word], protected by a strong door [Jesus]and a hedge [the Holy Spirit] around it.  A place where affliction and even the possibility of a serpent hiding in the garden no longer has the power to silence the absolute truth of what God really did say.

God Was THERE!

Ephesians 5:8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. [NIV]

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I’ve mentioned before that words spark thought for me.  Today was an interesting variation on that.  I read verse eight several times before I realized I’d been subconsciously adding the word [IN] before the word “darkness.” Dropping the [IN] and reading “you were once darkness” changed my whole perspective on what I’d read.  It has reminded me this Word is not only timeless but it’s still alive and well. Darkness is not a place I was “IN”  but the far more ugly reality of “what I was.”  It says it right there but I missed it.

I re-read those verses thankful for the specific words of hope I found there, words like “now you are light in the Lord” and “the fruit of the light.”  The emphasis on “WHAT I was” [darkness] has now been dramatically changed because of God’s intervention through Jesus in my life to “what I WAS [past tense].  “Once darkness” was changed to “the fruit of the light” and that is the joyful connection to Advent I share with you in December, 2020.

That first “Advent” in Bethlehem was God’s intervention in the world He’d created.  His choice was to make Himself visible once more to redeem His people and free them from their dependence on their own best efforts to dispel the darkness that plagued their lives.  Jesus was born to reveal God’s promise to ordinary people who were “once darkness.”  The “Advent of Light” could forever change their emphasis from knowing “there was GOD” [hope] into the new reality that “God was THERE!”

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

The Recipe of Evil

2 Peter 2:17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.” 

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This is Peter’s reminder that God will not ignore false prophets or bold and arrogant false teachers that continue to be a threat to the real freedom He offers. It’s a grim, but necessary record of the consequences that accompany deliberate sin. The skillset of evil is designed to cleverly manipulate truth.   The word “evil” barely covers how bad “these people,” are who purposefully seduce others with demonic lies while luring them into believing they’re offering freedom.  “They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”   

“Think of a traveller in the desert being told that ahead lies a spring where he can quench his thirst and then arriving at that spring to find it dried up and useless. Think of the husbandman praying for rain for his parched crops and then seeing the cloud that promised rain blown uselessly by.”a   This is not freedom.  This is the recipe of evil created to enslave people: it changes the character of the past, alters the present with suspicion and finally destroys the expectation of hope for the future.

a Barclay commentary on 2 Peter

Second Chance: Galatians 2

√ Re·new·al: the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken

Galatians 2:9 and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised; 10 only they would have us remember the poor, which very thing I was eager to do. 11 But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”…20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification were through the law, then Christ died to no purpose. [RSV]

¶ Galatians 2:20 was the very first time I purposely wrote about what these particular Words of God meant to me.  It is the verse of my life’s renewal that has proved it’s value over many years now.  I revisit that verse periodically [See blog posts Gene Therapy posted on November 8, 2015 and Assurance posted on January 10, 2018].  It has been an enduring part of my life of faith. 

Today I read this quote from an article by Richard Foster on renovare.org: “Christ-likeness is not merely the work of the individual; rather, it grows out of the matrix of a loving fellowship.”  

Matrix: a mass of fine-grained rock in which gems, crystals, or fossils are embedded.

I felt like I knew the meaning of the word matrix but when I looked it up it was that secondary definition that helped me find the “new” in renewal from this familiar Scripture.  Paul makes a simple switch from using the name “Peter” in the first part of the chapter to using Cephas in the rest.  I wonder if the use of both those names for the same Apostle was Paul’s simple way of reminding Peter of the purpose of his renewal.  It certainly has become a reminder for me. 

God’s renewal in the life of his disciples is to purposely move us from law to love.  Love is what changes renewal into sacramental faith.   It’s worth remembering sacramental faith is how the matrix of gems, crystals and even fossils [that’s us] become the “rock” God uses to build his church.  

Reminders

“No matter what changes God has performed in you, never rely on them. Build only on a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and on the Spirit He gives. All our promises and resolutions end in denial because we have no power to accomplish them.” Oswald Chambers

The word “denial” made me think of Peter [the rock] and then King David [a man after God’s own heart]. Somehow there’s comfort for me in recognizing God saw past their humanity to those descriptions. They are my Biblical examples of the truth of what Chambers says. There are illuminating moments of real personal Godliness to enjoy. But there are also moments of the dismal reality of being way too human.

Those moments are not reward and punishment. They are Reminders. One is a reminder of His reality in you and the other that He cares enough to let you know you still need him. Either way it’s a blessing.