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Archive for August, 2018

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

August 28th, 2018

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well…Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:14-16 ESV)

What is to be our attitude toward our own existence? We did not choose to be born, our parents made those choices, but we are more than the mere product of human choice. God created each human life and each human life”s existence is worthy of respect for that reason. He made us for a purpose.

Praise – The psalmist shares with us profound thoughts, and this knowledge resulted in his praise of God – inward gratitude and outward thanksgiving, acknowledging God’s goodness. The result of all our knowledge of God and of His ways brings our hearts to praise and thank Him more.

Fearfully – This word carries the thought of awe and reverential fear toward our Creator and toward His act of our own creation. We respect ourselves because we respect Him. “Respect” is, of course, the weakest word we can use for our attitude toward God. Reverence and awe and the fear of God are more accurate expressions. When we look upon ourselves, our very existence, we should recognize that our existence is a miracle.

Any life on earth is intricate and miraculous, but only human life can stop and consider and react to this truth. We are the only ones who can feel awe and wonder for our own creation and can praise God for His act of creation.

Wonderfully – This has the idea of being made in a special way, to be distinguished from others. We are not like other creatures, not entirely, and human life stands out because it is made in the image of God. Though sin has marred that image, it is still a miracle in itself. These two words give us reason to be in awe of God’s work of creating us, and have respect unto ourselves.

My soul knows this – The psalmist was, of course, a believer, and as such his soul had been instructed by the Word and through his own faith, that he was a wonderful creation of God. Not every person has this enlightenment – most do not – and it is our calling to tell them. Each human on earth, no matter how degenerate, how sinful, or how resentful toward God, is a miracle of God, is wonderfully made by Him.

Surely, there is something here that our souls should hold on to. We are wonderfully made – I am and you are. When we doubt our significance, or that our existence has meaning or value, stop and consider this truth – know this truth and know it quite well. You are wonderfully made by our all wise and loving Creator.

The unformed substance – We cannot pass this passage without pointing out that the significance, dignity, and respect due human life extends to the womb, even to the earliest days of the embryo’s existence, when it is as yet still unformed. This is why abortion is unthinkable to a Christian. It treats that which is fearfully and wonderfully made as though there is nothing to revere or to marvel in.

The days that were formed for me – We are now brought to a calling to fulfill each of the days that God has given us with service and devotion to Him. What is our purpose? To know God and to enjoy Him forever. To know Christ and to make Him known to others. Wherever we are in this timeline of life – whether in the early days, the middle years, or the sunset of life, each day is precious and a miracle in and of itself. Use each day for God and consider each day a privilege to be alive.

My father-in-law suffered with cancer for several years and was near death in the final months, when he was made better and lived for three more months. It may seem as though those last three months were insignificant to an older man, even prolonging his suffering on some level.  Yet in those months he was able to see a colleague trust in Christ, someone he had witnessed to but only came to faith in the final days of my father-in-law’s life.

We do not know what witness we may give and lives we may touch all the way to the end of our life.

Psalms

Salt and Light

August 22nd, 2018

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (Matthew 5:13-15 ESV)

There are two ways Christ said that His followers will give witness: salt and light. And the realms in which we will bear witness are also different: earth and world – “earth” or ge in Greek, meaning the planet on which we live and “world” or kosmos in Greek meaning the world system, with its values, perspectives, and spirits.

These two words cover two different ways we bear witness: tangible and intangible, practical and philosophical, concrete and metaphysical, on earth among people’s physical and material needs and in the realm of ideas and truth and spiritual warfare. Anytime the church has leaned only toward one of these and neglected the other it has become a church out of focus and out of the will of God. Both are essential to do in order for the church to truly bear witness.

The Salt of the Earth

The church can only become the salt of the earth as it ministers to the people of this planet in practical and meaningful ways. Salt was used for three primary things in Jesus’ day: a preservative, a flavor enhancer, and a curative. In those days before refrigeration, salt was an essential ingredient for the preservation of foods – and to this day it is still used this way in many places. By salting and drying fish and other meats, they could preserve food. But salt makes otherwise bland tasting things enjoyable, and it also fought against bacteria and could disinfect scrapes, cuts, and even sore throats.

The church of Jesus Christ is called to serve as a preservative in society. Through the Bible’s teachings and Christian values society has been incredibly benefited. The establishment of just laws, the respect for workers’ rights, laws related to just compensation, fair punishments, and even the treatment of aliens all originated in the Old Testament Mosaic Code. The establishment of hospitals as we know them today was highly influenced by Christian compassion. The church of Jesus also serves as a curing force, seeking to make peace between peoples, seeking to bring inner and outer healing.

Salt comes from the earth. Whether it is dug out of mines or made from dehydrating ocean water, it is a substance that is from the earth. And the church comes from the earth as well, from the people of this world. So we are called to go back into the world as servants and ministers – this is included in the very idea of the Greek word for “church” ekklesia, which literally means “called out ones.” We are not to isolate ourselves from the world’s societies. Rather we are to visit them, care for them, love them, and minister to them: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27 ESV).

The Light of the World

“Light” is other worldly and originates in the sun. Without the sun, earth would merely be a cold rock floating through the universe.Though Christ applied this to a lighted-city on a hill or a simple oil lamp in a house, His entire use of this term light indicates divine enlightening and not merely new human thoughts and ideas.

Rather than “earth” Jesus used the word “world” which relates to the world system. This is how the word was used in 1 John:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

This refers not to the people of the world – for John 3:16 says that God loves the world in that sense – but rather to the world system that is fallen and evil. It is presided over by the fallen angel Lucifer or Satan who is described as “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2).

As light we enlighten. Christ is also called “The Light of the World” (John 8:12), and we are only the light of the world as we abide in Him. We are light by preaching the gospel, confronting falsehoods and Satanic lies. As light we proclaim the truth of God’s Word.

Two essential things we are to do to bear witness to God: help and teach. How are you fulfilling your calling in these areas as a follower of Christ?

 

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