Category Archives: 03. Longing

Longing (Saturday) – Hebrews 11:1-16

Longing – Hebrews 11:1-16

If God wanted a family, why didn’t he just create one? He created angels didn’t he? But angels were not made in the family likeness so he created Adam – the seed of his intentions, but we know the setback in Eden. Consequently, we now live within a mysterious plan of restoration. God will have his family.

En route to this destination we can think of earth as a vestibule. We must all pass through it. Hebrews 11 and the balance of the New Testament describe how we must conduct ourselves in the vestibule. Above all we must have faith and faith is a peculiar thing indeed.

As its starting point, faith requires that we rip up all the previous surveyor’s work. None of the old stakes mean anything. This is very disorienting! What is seen is not made out of things which are visible? Faith requires us to exchange the familiar for the invisible. How important is this? Without faith it is impossible to please Him. By faith we develop a working understanding of the things established by the Word of God. We grasp what has been lost and the glorious potential of its restoration. It is in the vestibule that our love and our loyalties, which at times are scarcely more than longings, are transferred to the kingdom of God.

Faith’s understanding eventually goes public. We confess that we are strangers and exiles on the earth. By our speech we make it clear we are seeking a city of our own, one which has foundations, whose architect and builder is GodWith our declarations we burn the bridge behind us and God is not ashamed to be called our God. By faith of this type, we please him.

The visible will grow strangely dim. We will not know exactly where we are going but we can look ahead by faith, and see our destination. We can even have assurance of it and conviction, even though we can’t see it with our natural eye.

The type of men and women we become in the vestibule will speak even after we have made our exit. In Christ, our lives will have served as warnings by God about the things not yet seen. Our lives will testify against the wisdom of this world, condemning it by our simple devotion to Jesus Christ.

Father have your way. Establish your family for the world to see. Let our bones ache with  longing for you and for each other until our hearts cry out. May faith work itself out, revealing you as the radiant contrast to death and its lame threats. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longing (Sunday) – Psalm 36:5-10

Longing – Psalm 36:5-10

God’s love is meteoric, His loyalty astronomic, His purpose titanic, His verdicts oceanic. Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks. How exquisite your love, O God! How eager we are to run under your wings, To eat our fill at the banquet you spread as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water. You’re a fountain of cascading light, and you open our eyes to light. Keep on loving your friends; do your work in welcoming hearts. The Message

Those who have had dealings with God understand why adjectives of cosmic proportion are used to describe him. While the psalmist’s words sound like hyperbole, they are anything but. To even approximate the granduer and majesty of God, human imagination and language must be stretched to their limits, then be multiplied by infinity. I love The Psalms for this reason. They are not theologically precise discourses. They are more like convulsions, spilling out of honest hearts, expressing their deepest longings, making declarations of who God has become to them.

Because we are created in his image, there are longings within us. Those fortunate enough to never succeed in blunting them are referred to by Jesus as the poor in spirit to whom belongs the Kingdom of heaven. In cultures such as ours where affluence and technology create endless distractions as well as the time to indulge ourselves in them, longing can be blunted. It can even be killed. We are the wealthiest, busiest, best fed, most entertained culture that has ever lived. We are also one of the most ungrateful, impatient, unfulfilled, angry and empty ones. Why is this? How could this be?

We are told that in stillness we shall discover God for ourselves. We are told to only dwell on things that are true and lovely and worthy of praise. We are told to watch over our hearts with all diligence because that is where life begins. We disregard these most fundamental of commands at our own peril. While all of God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” our response to the particulars of knowing God often seem to be, “Oh no.”

Learning to respond with an inner “yes” to our longings will expose us to the radical extremes of God’s love. Our longings can lead us to Jesus who is our abundant provision. When we reciprocate with our “Yes” we are responding to his invitation to the banquet. Our ongoing encounters with him fill our lamps. Those who never slow down, whose hearts are seduced by the spirit of this age, who could neither bear silence nor stillness, who never learned to stop and fill their own lamps, will find themselves standing outside a very important door.

But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him. Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’  But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’  Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:6-12

I rarely lean upon fear as a motivator. However since reading Neal Postman’s, Entertaining Ourselves to Death, I have had some fear and trembling in my soul as I have been working this topic out in my own life. It is currently very out of vogue to have an “Oh no” response to any command since it might throw us back into the dark ages of legalism, quenching the grace of God and the liberty it affords us.

Can we have an ongoing experience with the meteoric love of God through the keeping of a list of thou-shalt-nots? I don’t think so. Can we have an ongoing experience with His cosmic goodness by ignoring his warnings and admonitions to live a circumspect life? I don’t think so. So, are we stuck? I don’t think so.

There is a pathway in the Spirit where obedience is no longer a means toward an end. As we walk in the Spirit, obedience is a natural byproduct of a new and grateful heart. Thou-shalt-nots create a tight-rope upon which the saint must balance where his energies are consumed with holiness and sin-management. While this lifestyle sounds noble, it produces nothing but guilt and pride.

On the other hand, those walking in the Spirit travel in a wide open space where all things are permissible, yet not all are profitable. These saints do not convey a life of white- knuckled obedience where well being is dependent on personal discipline. Instead, in simple joyful ways, they convey they have been caught up into something grand and beautiful. Consequently, their hearts will provide the safety and refuge of God’s grace to many.

The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches. Matthew 13:31-32

Father, teach us to see and nurture our longing. May longing grow full-term within us. May it be birthed into the fulness of Christ’s life. May our hearts radiate the contentment of those being loved by you and the satisfaction of those who dine with you. Oh God, in simplicity and rest, may our lives eloquently state just how exquisite is your love! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

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Longing (Friday) – Proverbs 13:12-25

Longing – Proverbs 13:12-25

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life …The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn aside from the snares of death. Good understanding produces favor … The righteous will be rewarded with prosperity … and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. 

I proposed on Wednesday that Solomon’s wisdom was inferior to Jesus Christ – the wisdom of God. This comment may rankle those banking on this wealth transfer Solomon has declared. Some of God’s children are keen on the idea that the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity. This preaches well. However, I have noticed many of the rankled have an aversion to the full gospel presented in the New Testament. I’m not speaking of the full-gospel that involves Jesus taking up his cross; I’m speaking of the full gospel that requires us to take up ours. This, actual gospel doesn’t preach as well.

If our hearts are set on material wealth, we will naturally avoid the New Testament. In those pages, the Holy Spirit did not offer a single account of a saint deriving wealth as a byproduct of their righteousness. The wisdom of God is superior and in conflict with any quid pro quo, righteousness-for-riches schemes.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wiseand the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 1 Corinthians 1:18-20

Yet there are those still pining for that transfer of wealth from the wicked into their accounts. Many of them are stalwart and continue to confess the inevitability of this promise. On the other hand there are those who have grasped that Jesus himself is their windfall. They are made wealthy as their hearts become satisfied in Christ alone. Our hearts, made in God’s image, are designed such that only Jesus can satisfy their longing. With or without an investment portfolio, these saints accounts are overflowing with an other-worldly satisfaction which defies all earthly knowledge and wisdom.

Jesus is always inviting us to divest ourselves of our hope in this material world. He is saying material wealth is a grotesque and costly substitute to his Son, for whom our hearts were created. The New Testament  points to Christ alone as our abundance. All other ground is sinking sand.

Father, show us where we have invested our hearts. Deliver us from the folly of materialism. Help us to hear your invitation to come away with you to that place where you can put our hearts right. Amen.

 

 

Longing (Thursday) – Psalm 119:17-24

Longing – Psalm 119:17-24

                       My soul is crushed with longing for your ordinances at all times.

Longing was a quality of David’s heart that pleased the Lord. It seemed to accompany him throughout his life. He longed for God as a shepherd and as a king, as he dispatched giants and as he repented of his sins. Should longing be a part of the normal Christian life? Let’s pursue this together.

The scriptures testify of themselves they are God-breathed. They also declare Adam was transformed from clay to a living being by God’s breath. If we are in Christ, God has breathed in us as well and our new natures are kindred to God’s words, and he speaks very intentionally.

So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:11

As God’s words return to him, hunger is evidence they have not done so in vain. David’s story of hunger is now ours to read. When we read about David’s experience with God, we should not see him as a great and mighty anomaly. David is our example and he is God’s invitation to us into intimacy. God has told us David’s story that we might become God’s story. David is not an exception. He is our benchmark.

Having the right reference points is critical if longing is to become a quality in our hearts. If David is a special case, we can applaud, If he is our mentor, we must imitate. Once we see David as God’s invitation to us, we have taken a big step forward in our spiritual formation. Longing is instinctive to hearts created for another realm. Longing is only natural for beings who are just passing through.

Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law. I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me. My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from Your commandments. Take away reproach and contempt from me, for I observe Your testimonies. Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors.

Father, thank you for Your Word and Your Spirit. May they work in concert to accomplish your will in our hearts on earth as it is heaven. May hunger accompany and escort us into your presence now and forever more. Amen.

 

Longing (Wednesday) – Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Longing – Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: a right time for birth and another for death, a right time to plant and another to reap, a right time to kill and another to heal, a right time to destroy and another to construct, a right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to lament and another to cheer, a right time to make love and another to abstain, a right time to embrace and another to part, a right time to search and another to count your losses, a right time to hold on and another to let go, a right time to rip out and another to mend, a right time to shut up and another to speak up, a right time to love and another to hate, a right time to wage war and another to make peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 MSG

Most Christians believe the bible is inspired. Does this mean Solomon is the final word on all matters?  Listen to his conclusions …

In the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. (Ecclesiastes 3:9-11)

Solomon’s conclusions highlight the limitations of Old Testament wisdom. If we are to take him seriously, God has crowned us with blindness, and made busyness our glory. If Solomon is on point, my bible study application is; eat, drink and be merry, because what we do has zero relevance. All activity culminates in death. Period. Solomon has acknowledged God’s sovereignty, yet it has led him to hedonism and indifference (and polygamy). Solomon’s wisdom was limited. He did not yet know Jesus, the power and the wisdom of God. However, he was spot on with this nugget …

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: a right time for birth

In the fulness of time, at just the right moment, God came to earth and made some things clear which the old testament could only hint at. Birthed in obscurity to a virgin, God made his understated and miraculous entrance into our time and space, at just the right time.

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: a right time for birth… and another for death.

Also in the fulness of time, at just the right moment, Jesus suffered death in our behalf. We were condemned for our sin. Christ willingly laid down his own life as an unblemished sacrifice, satisfying divine justice.  Jesus, God’s power and wisdom have taken us far beyond the wisdom of Solomon. Jesus revealed the Father to us. This was the mystery of the ages – the divine surprise which had been withheld until just the right time.

Solomon had wisdom but he was mistaken regarding life’s futility. Futility is alien to the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit, residing in the heart of the saint, is saying more than, “Eat, drink and be merry since you are going to die soon.” Here are just a few verses, representing the hope-filled spirit of the New Testament. They stand in stark contrast to Solomon’s wisdom.

He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (Ephesians 2:10)  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30) You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. (Matt 5:14)

So what are we to do with the wisdom of Solomon? Discard it? That would be unwise. His wisdom must be seen in the light of his day and the light of Christ. Given what he must now know, perhaps he would publish The Revisions of Solomon. I can imagine the …

Introduction

I have had a second and better look at what God has given us to do and I have revised my council. In the end, it really does make a difference what we do. Indeed God has made everything beautiful in itself and He has by no means left us in the dark in this regard. God has come in Christ so that we would know Him as well as what He is up to. 

In Christ, today is the right time for salvation. Today is the right time to wage war by way of our love. This is the opportune time to re-present the gospel. Speak up. Cheer up and laugh as this fuller gospel mends broken hearts and ushers healing and peace into the earth. True, the earth is fallen and a former angel is reigning in the darkness of deceit. But his rule is temporary. In the coming hours, the light of Jesus’ life will radiate from a Bride who has made herself ready for her Groom. Darkness will be displaced by the Light of Christ, in men – the hope of glory. 

One more thing; while it is not good for man to be alone, 700 wives and 300 concubines is a bit much. I now advocate monogamy. 

Father, none of us are exempt from being old wineskins since we are all in the process of being remade into your image. The seed has been planted in us. May our eyes look to the anticipated harvest. Equip our hearts with the wisdom embodied in our glorious calling in Christ. Amen.

An additional thought …

I imagine the word “right” is a joke to the atheist and an annoyance to the agnostic since rightness implies divine intent. After all, right and wrong only make sense in a moral universe and a moral universe implies a just creator. As Pilot asked, “What is truth?” the unbeliever and doubter must ask, “What is justice?”

Longing (Tuesday) – Romans 8:18-27

Longing – Romans 8:18-27

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. Romans 8:18-19 MSG

Our passage describes an inner tension we creatures share with creation. By design, creation can barely contain its longings. It knows God’s purposes are embedded in this longing. What purpose is this?

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Romans 8:22-25 MSG

As a younger man, I took issue with Paul; “A sterile and barren body? Speak for yourself!”  I was young and strong. I had visions and the energy to pursue them. Today, in my sixties, I am more sympathetic to Paul’s description of the body, “Yes Paul, I see what you are getting at!”  

The glory of young men is their strength, and the honor of old men is their gray hair.

Aging has helped me sympathize with creation regarding longing. God subjected us both to this sense of futility, “in hope“. While I would like to return to the garden of my youth, I find the angel, with flaming sword, still guards the gate. This is ok because there is something growing inside me greater than my desire to have it all in this life. It is that hope of what lies ahead.

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 MSG

The sixties are turning out to be times of transition, complete with their own unique temptations. When I am tempted to look back with longing for the glory of my youthful strength, the Spirit understands and patiently redirects my longing to his current presence and our future glory. Waiting, in his Word and His Spirit, is not hurting me. It is putting things in context. The declining glory of this life is a temporary arrangement. The longings of my temporal body are being exchanged for the more enduring reality of Jesus Christ and the inevitability of his coming kingdom.

So all things are good – even the aging of my current tent. I am so grateful for it. It has served me so well and still has some life in it. I intend to give it reasonable care and liberal use, as it will allow. But, as the canvas strains and the grommets rust, the ocupant can rejoice because a new tent will be issued, one that will never age. And midst the crucible of aging there is the opportunity to prove Jesus’ claim, that …

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Father, I pray that in this final trimester, in the presence of increasing weakness, our contractions will not be be despised. May a new light radiate from us as our longings are transformed into  joyful anticipation. May our hearts be at peace as we decrease and you increase. Reconcile all things unto yourself. Amen.

 

Longing (Monday) – 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Longing – 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

Perhaps medical bracelets with “2 Corinthians 5:1-5” embossed on them would be appropriate for us groaners. When people hear us moaning as we try to move, we can just point to our bracelet and relieve their concerns. Hopefully though, we can do this with a wink so they can see that in spite of our aching bodies, our spirits have that glow of renewal.

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.  2 Corinthians 4:16

I confess, it is a daily temptation for me to loose heart as my outer man decays and looses strength. When Solomon says, “The glory of young men is their strength” I totally understand. I have desperately clung to every shred of my strength as it has bid me adieu. Men reach the peak of their strength between 30 and 35. It is hard to believe I have been saying goodbye for three decades! It appears that, for our physical bodies anyway, fading glory is our destiny but let’s not write our obituaries quite yet. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 sheds hopeful light on our circumstance …

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

 

Where does this light affliction come from that causes us to groan? I have decided it doesn’t matter. It only matters how we respond to it. Through the process of his life working itself out in us, we learn that temporal affliction, whatever its origin, can have a glorious outcome.

So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

If we can learn to respond in Christ, aging is merely light affliction which is producing for myself and my groaning brethren an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison. Redemption is embedded by grace into all the circumstance that touch our lives, especially aging. When we learn to respond to our trials and tests we are presenting our hearts of wisdom to the Lord.

What is mortal is being swallowed up by Life. Now He who is preparing us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge.

 

Father, while I remain grateful for it, I look forward to life swallowing up the mortality of my body. Until then, teach me to see the unseen as I age. I pray that as the world looks on, they will see the glow of renewal in our eyes, even if our backs are bent. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longing (Friday) – Proverbs 13:12-25

Proverbs 13:12-25

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life…….The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, to turn aside from the snares of death. Good understanding produces favor……The righteous will be rewarded with prosperity…… and the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. 

On Wednesday I proposed that Solomon’s wisdom was inferior to Jesus Christ – the wisdom of God. This comment might rankle  those banking that the wealth of the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity which (they typically reason) has come from the wealth of sinners which has been stored up for them. Even now I can hear the congregation, “Amen Brother!” I have noticed that many of the rankled have an aversion to the full gospel of the New Testament. I’m not speaking of the full-gospel that involves Jesus and His work of the cross; I’m speaking of the full gospel that refers to us taking ours up daily.

If it is wealth in this life that our hearts long for, we would naturally avoid a testament that does not produce one single testimony of a person finding worldly wealth because of their righteousness. The wisdom of God in Christ is superior and in conflict with righteousness-for- riches / quid pro quo Christianity.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wiseand the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

If Solomon could issue some revisions to Proverbs, I am sure he would defer to the resurrected Messiah, allowing that Jesusthe teacher of the wise (in His Person) is THE fountain of life, who turns us aside from the snares of death. This is revised understanding and it will indeed produces favor.

There are still those pining for that transfer of wealth from the wicked into their accounts. Many of them are stalwart and continue to confess the inevitability of this promise as a tonic to their sick hearts which suffer from so much misplaced and deferred hope. On the other hand there are those who have grasped that Jesus Himself was the windfall. It was always intended to be Him alone who would fulfill our longings. With or without an earthly portfolio these saints accounts are overflowing with an other-worldly satisfaction that defies all earthly knowledge and wisdom.

I believe Jesus is always inviting us to divest ourselves of our hope in this material world. I believe he is saying that the wealth stored up by the wicked is a grotesquely inferior treasure to that of His His Son for whom our hearts were created. It is those who grasp this who realize the abundance of Life the New Testament describes.

Father, May you lead us directly to those places where we can see exactly where are our hearts are invested. Deliver us Lord from the myriad usurpers who contend for the thrones of our hearts. Help us to hear Your invitations to come away with You, that place where we can truly conduct business with You with whom we have to do. Amen.

 

Proverbs 13:12-25

                  Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On Wednesday I proposed that Solomon’s wisdom was inferior to Jesus Christ – the wisdom of God. This comment might have rankled those banking that the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity which (they typically reason) has come from the wealth of sinners which has been stored up for them. Even now I can hear the congregation, “Amen Brother!” I have noticed that many of the rankled have an aversion to the full gospel of the New Testament. I’m not speaking of the full-gospel that involves Jesus and His work on the cross; I’m speaking of the full gospel that refers to us daily taking up our crosses and folowing Him.

It is the cross that makes the path very narrow and broad the way that leads to destruction. Yet, it is only through the cross that our sorrows and disappointments can be converted into joy-filled strength.

I pray that you will have (or make) the time to read and reflect further this AM in the MwM.

Blessings to you,

Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longing (Thursday) – Psalm 119:17-24

Psalm 119:17-24

                       My soul is crushed with longing for your ordinances at all times.

I believe this is one of the things that God saw in David’s heart that pleased Him – this desperation of heart for His word. David’s confession of hunger seemed to accompany him at all times. David was hungering as he tended sheep, as he was slaying giants, as he was reigning over Israel or repenting of his sins. How did this hunger come about in David? Could we or should we experience hunger for God’s Word as a part of the normal Christian life?

2 Timothy 3:16 informs us that the scriptures are God-breathed.  It seems Adam was birthed in similar fashion. Our new natures in Christ, are compatible with the spirit of the scriptures. As a new creation my heart has been formatted for His Word. So, when I read about David’s experience with God, I don’t just acknowledge David as a great and mighty anomoly who had special access to God. Instead I look at David and believe God is telling his story because it was intended to have become ours.  David is not an exception. He is a benchmark. Having the right reference points is an established pathway to longing. If David is a special case, we can excuse his experience. If He is our mentor we must follow in his footsteps. Once we see David in this light we have taken a big step toward this essential heart-component of those created for another realm who are just passing through.

Deal bountifully with Your servant, that I may live and keep Your word. Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law. I am a stranger in the earth; do not hide Your commandments from me. My soul is crushed with longing after Your ordinances at all times. You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed, who wander from Your commandments. Take away reproach and contempt from me, for I observe Your testimonies. Even though princes sit and talk against me, Your servant meditates on Your statutes. Your testimonies also are my delight; they are my counselors.

Father, thank you for Your Word and Your Spirit. May they work in concert to accomplish Your will in our hearts on earth as it is heaven. May hunger accompany and escort us into Your presence now and forever more. May this be.

 

I don’t just acknowledge David as a great and mighty anomoly who had special access to God. Instead I look at David and believe God is telling his story because it was intended to have become ours.  David is not an exception. He is a benchmark. Having the right reference points is an established pathway to longing. If David is a special case, we can excuse his experience. If He is our mentor we must follow in his footsteps. Once we see David in this light we have taken a big step toward this essential heart-component of those created for another realm who are just passing through.

Longing (Wednesday) – Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: a right time for birth and another for death, a right time to plant and another to reap, a right time to kill and another to heal, a right time to destroy and another to construct, a right time to cry and another to laugh, a right time to lament and another to cheer, a right time to make love and another to abstain, a right time to embrace and another to part, a right time to search and another to count your losses, a right time to hold on and another to let go, a right time to rip out and another to mend, a right time to shut up and another to speak up, a right time to love and another to hate, a right time to wage war and another to make peace. (Ecc 3:1-8)

I imagine the word “right” is a joke to the atheist and an annoyance to the agnostic since rightness implies that divine intention is embedded in all things. After all right and wrong only make sense in a moral universe and a moral universe implies a just creator. As Pilot asked, ‘What is truth?’, the unbeliever and doubter must ask, ‘What is justice?’

Most Christians claim to believe that the bible is inspired. Many even say that it is inerrant. Even though I can’t find that in the bible, I too believe scripture is inspired. (which means many things to many people) But, does inspired imply that Solomon’s words, as the wisest man who ever lived, were all the gospel truth? After Solomon has declared the rightness of things happening at appropriate times, listen to his conclusions…..

 In the end, does it really make a difference what anyone does? I’ve had a good look at what God has given us to do—busywork, mostly. True, God made everything beautiful in itself and in its time—but he’s left us in the dark, so we can never know what God is up to, whether he’s coming or going. (Ecclesiastes 3:9-11)

Solomon’s conclusion causes me to believe that old testament wisdom has limitations. If this council in Ecclesiastes is dependable, I must conclude that God, in all His sovereignty and goodness, has crowned us with blindness and busyness as our glory.  if Solomon is on point, the only application I can come up with, since what we do has no bearing on anything, is to eat, drink and be merry for we are all going to die.  Solomon has acknowledged God’s sovereignty, yet it has led him to promote a wisdom that will lead to indifference. Can you reconcile the lyrics of this dirge with the song and spirit of the new testament? 

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: a right time for birth..

In the fulness of time, at just the right moment, it was time for God to come to earth and make some things clear that the old testament in itself could not bring into focus. Birthed in obscurity to a virgin, God made His understated entrance into our time and space at just the right time.

There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth: a right time for birth and another for death

In the fulness of time: at just the right moment, it came time for Jesus to sacrifice His life for us – those condemned to die for our sin in the context of divine justice. Christ willingly laid down His own life as an unblemished sacrifice, an offering that satisfied the debt we owed but could never repay. With this He took us far beyond Solomon’s wisdom. He revealed Himself, as the mystery of the ages, a surprise that had been withheld until just the right time.

I do believe that the revelation that Solomon had was the ultimate wisdom of his day. With this partial light in his heart, crying and lamenting over life’s futility was in order. But with Christ, who had come as the light of the world, who had come to inhabit the tabernacle of the believing human heart, is it appropriate to agree with Solomon that we do not know whether He’s coming or going or that we can never know what God is up toHas God left us in the dark?  If you think it is, then I propose it is the right time for you to read the new testament afresh.  Here are just a few verses that represent the spirit of the new testament. They stand in contrast to Solomon’s incomplete understandings and outlook. These reverse any notions about the wisdom of simply eating, drinking and being merry.

He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. (Ephesians 2:10)  I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (John 10:10) For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified and these whom He justified, He also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30) You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. (Matt 5:14)

So what are we to do with the wisdom of Solomon? Discard it?  I think that would be unwise. I believe the new testament saint is one being led by the Spirit. He has the Word to inspire him and the two (the Word and the Spirit) working in concert, warn the saint against the folly of  brushing the futility of sin under the rug, teaching him to avoid the demonic doctrines that can disconnect the saint from any suffering and cause him to forget that we live on a battlefield not a playground designed for his amusement while awaiting heaven.

The new testament saint would also acknoweldge that he is the beneficiary of those right times that all old testament saints anticipated. With an awareness of sin and empathy for the damage it creates, the new testament saint lays hold of the wisdom that is in Christ. While we often sing dirges, highlighting the potency of our sinful natures, bemoaning our plight in a corrupt generation, we should also be composing and singing new songs of triumph, highlighting our rebirth into a new kingdom, celebrating our new identities as sons and friends of God, counting our circumstances all joy as we co-labor with Christ with our specific gifts and callings, all which are intended to have now-impact in our world. I believe if Solomon were here and privy to the mystery of Christ, he would say something to this effect….

I have had a second and better look at what God has given us to do and I have revised my position. In the end, it really does make a difference what we all do. Indeed God has made everything beautiful in itself and He has by no means left us in the dark in this regard. God has come in Christ so that we would know Him as well as what He is up toSolomon might just continue to preach…

“In Christ, today is the right time for salvation. Today is the right time to wage war by way of our love. This is the opportune time to re-present the gospel. Speak up. Cheer up and laugh as this fuller gospel mends broken hearts and ushers healing and peace into the earth. Yes, its true that earth is fallen and a temporary prince is reigning for a time in the darkness of deceit. But his reign is only temporary. In this coming hour Christ’s light and life will ultimately radiate from the Bride who is preparing herself and being prepared for Her Groom. Darkness will ultimately be displaced by the Light of Christ in us. Darkness will be vanquished.

Father, none of us are exempt from being old wineskins. We are all in the process of being revitalized, redeemed and restored to Your image. The seed has been planted in us. May our eyes look to anticipate Your harvest. Equip us to keep searching and to keep building with our hearts steeped in the hope of our glorious calling in Christ. Amen.