December 31, 2009
“He turns rivers into a wilderness,
And the water springs into dry ground;
A fruitful land into barrenness,
He turns a wilderness into pools of water,
And dry land into watersprings.
He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly;
And He does not let their cattle decrease.
Then they are diminished and brought low
Through oppression, affliction and sorrow,
Whoever is wise will observe these things,
And they will understand
The lovingkindness of the LORD.”
(Psalm 107: 33-35; 38, 39, 43)
The risen Christ chastises complacency in the lives of His authentic disciples. We learn this from the third chapter of the book of Revelation. This is a letter to a lukewarm church in which He tells them He would rather they would be hot but if they’re not going to get hot He prefers them to get cold because their complacency makes Him want to vomit! He chastises those He loves in their church. He is knocking on the door of their lives and that knocking is chastisement motivated by His love for them.
We have the same message here in this great psalm of redemption. God blesses His people and then at times He diminishes them and they are brought low. After expressing that truth with beautiful and eloquent metaphors this inspired hymn writer informs us that if we are wise, when we observe these things we will see in them the lovingkindness of the Lord! This is God redeeming us from our COMPLACENCY because He loves us.
It is easier to see the Providence of God when we look back. As you stand on the threshold of a new year and you look back over your life can you resonate with this fifth level of redemption? Then say so!
December 30, 2009
“… For He commands and raises the stormy wind,
Which lifts up the waves of the sea.
They mount up to the heavens,
They go down again to the depths;
Their soul melts because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man,
And are at their wits’ end.
Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble,
And He… calms the storm.” (Psalm 107: 25-28)
In these verses we learn about still another level of redemption. Those who have been redeemed from their chaos, chains and choices can be redeemed from their storms or CRISES. Observe that God commands and raises these storms.
In the Gospels we read about an event where Jesus wanted to teach His apostles about faith. His classroom that day was a great storm, which He turned into a great calm by asking a great question. His question was “How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4: 35-40)
In this wonderful psalm we are being told that because the God of our redemption wants to deepen our faith, He commands and raises storms that bring us to the place where we are at our wits end, our soul melts within us and we reel to and fro like a drunken man. Then the God who commanded and raised the storm calms the storm and we find that we have entered into a deeper level of redemption.
Do you meet yourself in this psalm when you hear this level of redemption? As in all these other levels of redemption, when we realize we have or are experiencing this fourth level of redemption we should thank the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!
December 24, 2009
“… and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 NKJV)
The essence of Christmas is consistent with the five stanzas of the hymn of redemption in Psalm 107 we have been considering.
If there was anyone in the Christmas story who had the right to an explanation of what was happening, it surely was Joseph. The angel who shared these words with Joseph expressed what Christmas is all about when he told Joseph to call the baby Mary was going to have “Jesus” because He would save His people from their sins.
The word “Jesus” actually means “Savior.” But I would like to call your attention to the reality that the baby was to be given this name because He would save His people from their sins.
Many evangelical believers seem to put a spin on this statement of the angel that was never intended. Our spin is something like “forgive His people for their sins.” However, the hard reality is the angel declared that it was the purpose on the heart of God to save His people from their sins.
In the words of the redemption hymn, when He redeems us from our chaos it is also His plan to deliver us from our chains. That is obviously on the heart of God when His angel pronounced this Christmas Good News.
Redemption means “to buy back and bring back that which was lost.” Rehabilitation in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” He came to forgive us for our sins but He came to offer us much more than that. He wants to save (deliver) us from our sins.
Have a personal Christmas – believe the declaration the angel made to Joseph!
December 23, 2009
Psalm 107 (cont’d)
17 Fools, because of their transgression,
And because of their iniquities, were afflicted…
19 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
20 He sent His word and healed them,
And delivered them from their destructions.
After being redeemed from chaos and chains the refrain is repeated that men thus redeemed should thank the LORD for His goodness and for His wonderful works in their life.
When the third level of redemption is described in the stanza above, observe the emphasis upon the hard reality that those being redeemed in this way are responsible for the consequences they are experiencing. Five times we are told that they are suffering the consequences of their transgression, their iniquities, their trouble, their distresses and their destructions.
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “Soon or late every man must sit down to a banquet of consequences.” The third stanza tells how God redeems from the consequences of stupid and foolish CHOICES. Again the refrain is repeated that we should praise Him and thank Him when He delivers us in this way.
Those of us who have experienced the first two levels or dimensions of redemption can still make foolish and stupid choices that can land us in difficult situations or even in the hog pens of this world. Like the prodigal son we must come to our senses and be redeemed from the consequences of our foolish choices.
The prodigal in the story of Jesus experienced his elderly Father running to him and smothering him with love and affection. In the same way we will find the love of God passionate about redeeming us from the consequences of our foolish and prodigal choices.
December 22, 2009
Psalm 107 (cont’d)
10 “Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death,
Bound in affliction and irons…
13 They cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
And He saved them out of their distresses.
14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death,
And broke their chains in pieces.”
The second stanza of this great hymn describes redemption from our CHAINS. In this second stanza God broke their chains in pieces. When God became flesh and dwelt among us He could not pass up someone who was not free. This reminds me of a poem:
“A famished bear whose foot was clenched within a murderous trap wrenched about in fright and pain around the tree that held the chain emitting many a hideous howl. His state was noticed by an owl, who, perched above him, fat and free philosophized from out of the tree, ‘To what avail this fuss and noise? The thing you need good bear is poise!’”
The person who anonymously wrote this little poem was telling us there are two kinds of people in this world-those who are free and those who are not free. Sadly, those who are free often look down in detached apathy upon those who are not free. From this great Psalm and when God became flesh we learn that God is no “fat owl” as He looks upon those who are not free.
Are you free? If you are free, how do you relate to those who are not free? How do you believe the God Who lives in you wants to relate through you to those who are not free? If you are free should you not step up and say so to the glory of God?
December 14, 2009
“They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way;
They found no city to dwell in.
5 Hungry and thirsty,
Their soul fainted in them.
6 Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
And He delivered them out of their distresses.”
An excerpt from the first stanza of this great hymn of redemption describes how God redeemed His people when they were wanderers in a wilderness. Their way was desolate. They were hungry and thirsty to the point that their souls fainted in them. Then they cried to the LORD and He delivered them from their distresses.
Deliverance is a synonym for salvation and salvation is a synonym for redemption. This first stanza describes how God redeems His people from their CHAOS.
In the Gospel of Matthew we read several times that when Jesus saw the multitudes He wept for them because they were like lost sheep that had no shepherd. They did not know their right hand from their left. In the Gospel of Luke the entire fifteenth chapter is called “The Parable of the Lost Things” because it describes the loving heart of Jesus for those who are lost. The key verse of that Gospel tells us that Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost (Luke 19: 10).
From Genesis to Revelation we are told of the great loving heart of God for those who need to be redeemed from being lost. After eloquently and graphically describing this first level of redemption, the theme of this psalm is repeated: that those who have been redeemed from their chaos should step up and thank the LORD.
Can you resonate with this first level of redemption and then step up and say so?
December 10, 2009
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,
And gathered out of the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.”
This is a great hymn of redemption. Simply stated redemption means “to buy back and bring back that which was lost.” It’s like the word “rehabilitation” which in its Latin root means “to invest again with dignity.” The theme of this great psalm is that the great loving heart of God has a passionate desire to redeem and rehabilitate His people. They were once in His possession but He has temporarily lost them.
The people God is redeeming are a global people. They come from every point on the compass. The exhortation of this psalm, which is repeated many times, is that those who have been redeemed of the Lord should step up and say so. This initial exhortation is followed by five stanzas which describe different levels of redemption. After each level is eloquently and graphically described, the theme exhortation of the psalm is repeated like a refrain that the redeemed should thank the Lord for his goodness and His wonderful works in their lives.
As I begin the 80th year of my life I look back over my journey and see in the five stanzas of this hymn a summary of the way God has worked in my life. They fill me with grateful worship. I pray that as you become acquainted with these five graphic descriptions of redemption you will meet yourself in this psalm and then step up and say so.