Who is Grateful?

Richard is grateful for the Faithful Shepherd who has patiently led him along in a very happy and fulfilling life.  Discovering a relationship with God, he has moved from a life characterized by worried performance to one of grateful resting.

He is a retired physician who has lived in Indiana and Texas, the married father of two adult men and four Montana grandchildren.  Scripture memory and meditation upon it have changed his life, and he wishes to add value to the lives of others through his writing.

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God’s Public Relations Department – Creation

TwoJackLake

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
”               Psalm 19:1

The Creator’s love for beauty and order, and His generous desire for us to enjoy what He has created, is plentifully evident all around us.   Only the most hardened and prejudiced observer would fail to make the connection between the beauty and majesty of what we see and the Intelligent Benefactor who created it.

“O Lord, our Lord,
How majestic is Your name in all the earth,
Who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!
 

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;
What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!”                             Psalm 8:1, 3-5

cropped-half-dome-at-sunset.jpg

It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it.
I stretched out the heavens with My hands
And I ordained all their host.”                                                        Isaiah 45:12

O Lord, forgive our civilization for clapping our hands over our ears when You cry out to us in Your creation, begging us to come to You.  Forgive us for making up all sorts of explanations for the wonder we see around us, rather than fall on our faces before You in grateful worship.

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”                                                                      Romans 1:20

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The Gift of Listening

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of disciples,
That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word.
He awakens Me morning by morning,
He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple.
The Lord God has opened My ear;
And I was not disobedient. .
.”             Isaiah 50:4-5

Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger.”      James 1:19

handsHoldingHeartOne of the very deepest desires we all have is to be heard, for our innermost heart to be understood by another human being.  We long to be valued.  Unfortunately, we live in a world of people like ourselves, who are self-centered and would rather talk about themselves.  Carl Medearis, in his 42 Seconds:  the Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions, says,

If you want to be intentionally present with people, try asking . . . questions. . . . Then listen.  God gave us two ears and one mouth.  Use them in proportion.  We have a hard time listening rather than talking because, well, we’d rather talk.  Talking keeps us in control.  We don’t have to hear anything we’re not interested in.  We’re the center of attention.  We can bolster our own identities.  Try listening to understand, not to formulate your reply.”    pages 41-42.

pexels-photo-561870.jpegListening to the person God has put us with conveys respect for their importance, that their thoughts and concerns matter.  It is one of the most honoring, supremely desired gifts we can give to people.  To be this fully present in the conversation requires conscious emptying of the Self.  It demands shunning any agenda, letting our conversation partner set the agenda according to their need.

Jesus was a good example to us in the way He listened to the woman with chronic hemorrhage, on His way to save the life of Jairus’s daughter.  He did not allow his urgent mission to stop Him from offering Himself to the lady, fully present to her need.              Luke 8:40-48

Lord, let me worship You by acknowledging with reverent awe that You have preceded me in my conversation partner’s life, knowing that You will guide me to be to them what they need in that moment.  Let me be fully present to them, to hear their hearts.  Let them feel through my ears Your own love for them.

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Your priestly function

Believers in Christ have been given the unbelievable, undeserved assignment of being Christ’s ambassadors on earth, representing God to desperate, confused, hopeless people, as He were entreating through us (2 Corinthians 5:20).  [See also 5-10-18, as well as 2-22-18.]

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.                          1 Peter 2:9

So, in our interactions with the unbelieving world, we have the important role of 1) representing God, 2) pleading with anyone who will hear to be reconciled to God through Christ, and  3) proclaiming God’s goodness and forgiveness.

Additionally, we priests have a role to play with our fellow believers, that of shepherding the flock of which we are part.

shepherdShepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.    1 Peter 5:2-4

Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, will reward us according to the seriousness with which we perform His assignment.  O God, let us perform this task You have given to us with earnestness, realizing that we will soon give an account to You for how we have managed it.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.        Hebrews 13:17

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The Priesthood of the Believer

Are you up to the assignment of being a priest of God and of Christ?  The Pope, the Bishop of Rome is commonly referred to as the Pontiff.  pexels-photo-234510.jpegThe etymology of the word Pontiff derives through Old French pontif from Latin pontifex, a word commonly held to come from the Latin root words pons (bridge) + facere (to do, to make), and so to have the literal meaning of “bridge-builder.”

Those humble enough to accept Jesus’ full payment of their sin-debt are both fully forgiven and, incredible as it is, charged with being God’s representatives on earth, His priests, bridge-builders between men and God.priest blessing

And they sang a new song, saying:  “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.  You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”        Revelation 5:9-10

Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.                            Revelation 20:6

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.                                               2 Corinthians 5:20

O God, we do not feel, in our own strength, capable of serving this function.  How are we to help others know You better, when we have so many faults, so many failures we ourselves have made in life.  But who are we to argue with Your assignment?  Do what You will with us, working within us to make us equal to this great task.

[To read more on this subject, see February 22, 2018, and next Monday.]

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Costly Worship

When King David purposed to thankfully worship God for holding back His hand from more extensive punishment on the people of Israel, it was proposed to him that he make offerings on the rocky threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.  job sufferingDavid the King might have appropriated it by eminent domain, for the benefit of all Israel.  But he knew he had been the cause of the Lord’s anger and felt a conscience against confiscating this land for a place of worship.  When Araunah offered to give it to the King, David answered,

No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.            2 Samuel 24:24

Our own worship may cost us something, too.  The cost might be setting the alarm clock in order to get up in time to attend church on the only day you have to relax.  It may be turning off the TV in order to get down on the floor and play princess with your daughter.  For a friend, it meant getting rid of the computer and cell phone so he would have fewer temptations to seek out pornography.  For one who is fasting to strengthen her concentration in praying for something important to her, her sacrifice may be willingness to be hungry for a time.

ointment worshipThe week before Jesus was crucified, his friend Mary of Bethany exercised costly worship, anointing His head with very costly ointment perfume, “preparing Me for burial,” Jesus said.  When onlookers criticized her for “wasting” the precious perfume, He said,

Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.       Matthew 26:13

Are there things in our lives we should sacrifice, for the sake of being all that God wants us to be?  For the sake of worship?  Costly worship is very sweet-smelling to God.

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Repentance without regret

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful;  yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”         Hebrews 12:28-29

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”          2 Corinthians 7:10

shameWhen you sin and are caught in it, do you squirm with the shame of it, the embarrassment it causes you, sorry for your damaged reputation and for the hurt it has caused both you and other people?  Are you angry that you have been found out?  Do you grieve over the seeming hopelessness of your hurtful habits, now discovered?

doctor examining pt.Or, do you recognize this as an opportunity to rejoice?  That your doctor has put His finger on the sick part, and that healing is on the way?  Now that the hideous, offending sickness has been made known, both Doctor and patient can cooperate to exterminate the disease, allowing health to return.
This is a repentance without regret, resulting in relief and healing.  Relief that we no longer have to keep up appearances, hoping that we will not be found out.  We can gladly agree with our Diagnostician that, Yes, that is right where it hurts!  Can You fix me, please?

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Friendly fire

O God, it is You who knows my folly,
And my wrongs are not hidden from You.
May those who wait for You not be ashamed through me, O Lord God of hosts;
May those who seek You not be dishonored through me, O God of Israel
”                        Psalm 69:5-6

mudIt is a deep wound inflicted on the Body of Christ when we sin, dragging the name of God in the mud.  We are well aware of numerous occasions when public sin by a vocal Christian mars the reputation of our God.

We are called to be God’s lights illuminating the darkness, not poster-children for the twisted and evil.

lighthouseLet your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”          Matthew 5:16

. . . giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited.”      2 Corinthians 6:3

sunrise. . . so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”          Philippians 2:15

Too often, the choices we make have the opposite effect.

However, . . . by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. . . .     2 Samuel 12:14

May God forbid that we should blaspheme the name of the God we love by the life we live in this world!

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