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GOD IS THE BLESSING!!!!

In looking at Psalm 112, what we see at first glance, if we’re honest, are things many of us want : self-sufficient offspring, “wealth and riches” in our “houses”, and, alongside that wealth, outsized generosity.

Yet, if we take a slower pace through this passage another narrative emerges.  Yes, there is blessing on this path but what may be hidden if we are moving too fast to see it, is that it all flows from fear of the LORD.  Amazingly, we don’t have to flip assiduously through the pages of the Old Testament to figure out what that this fear looks like and how to do it.  The next clause tells all: “blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who greatly delights in his commandments.” 

Let’s look more closely. In vs. 2 it’s “the generation of the upright that will be blessed.” In vs. 3, though it is true that “wealth and riches are in his [the blessed man] house” it is also equally true that “his righteousness endures forever”.  Yes there is philanthropy in vs. 5 but not merely almsgiving and “good deeds”.  No this man “deals generously and lends…conducts his affairs with justice.Where did this man learn such justice, uprightness, and righteousness mingled with such generosity, graciousness, and mercy that is producing all of this blessing in his life? He learned all of it from the God He loves and whose word he loves.  Just compare Psalm 111:3-4, which are words clearly about the LORD:

Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.        He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;  the Lord is gracious and merciful.

 --with these words from Psalm 112:

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,  who greatly delights in his commandments!       His offspring will be mighty in the land;  the generation of the upright will be blessed.        Wealth and riches are in his house, and his righteousness endures forever.        Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;  he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.

As we delight in God and in His word we become more like Him. We begin to see our lives take the shape of God’s own character and grow in righteousness, graciousness, and mercy.  This is the character that sees God’s blessing and the character that is resilient even in trouble because its knows that good times and wealth are not the blessing—or in the words of the psalmist “…he is not afraid of bad news” and “…It is well with the man who deals generously and lends”—but rather God himself is the blessing.  Praise the Lord!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Craig Lester with

AUDACIOUS HOPE

If we’re honest, there is truly nothing more painful than the times when we experience our Father’s discipline and displeasure.  Psalm 80 puts words to our feelings in those moments:

  • How long will you be angry with [my] prayers? (vs. 4)
  • My enemies are laughing at me. (vs. 6)
  • I’m eating and drinking my tears (vs. 5)

It leads us along a path of remembering too—of remembering God’s past favor toward us even against the impenetrably bleak backdrop of the present.

For Asaph this meant recalling God’s choosing Israel as a vine, and then bringing them out of captivity, clearing the ground, planting them only to see them take root and “fill the land” in every direction.  Yet despite God’s past favor, in the present God had “broken down” the walls of His vineyard and wild boar and beasts ravaged it and those passing by ate its fruit.  Asaph asks simply and painfully “Why then have you broken down its walls….”? Why Lord?  Yet here, we learn a helpful lesson from Asaph as to what we can do in this situation: keep praying.  Three times he calls out to God: “Restore us [or turn to us]…Let your face shine, that we may be saved.”  And each time he prays it, the intensity of his prayer grows.  The lesson is simple for us: when we fail and sin and suffer we must keep praying.  That was Asaph’s hope—hope in the God who will turn and need only smile to change our situation entirely.

However it is also helpful to remember in such times that the hope that Asaph had in part we now have in full. Even in the darkness we can dare to believe that God will turn to us and forgive. What gives us such audacious hope? Jesus.  He is our Shepherd, the true Vine, the one who gives life, the Son at God’s right hand—the one who faced the full turning away of the Father’s face and the fierceness and fullness of His wrath.  In Him is life. In Him we have access to the God who sits enthroned above the mercy seat. Forever.  In Jesus is our hope and trust.  Even in times of grievous sin with terrible consequences on our part, God will turn and be gracious to us and smile on us because of his Son. So then in the darkness let us continue to pray:

Restore us…Let Your face shine on us, that we may be saved.

Posted by Craig Lester with

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