Saturday, December 12, 2009
Fallen leaves remind me that the earth is in a constant state of flux. Although God, in grace, grants us the gift of beauty in the nature with which He surrounds us, nature is not constant, except in its constancy of cycles. Night follows day. Winter follows summer. Harvest follows planting. Death follows birth.
I sometimes become discouraged at the suffering that God uses to refine us, because this, too, seems to be a constant. There is virtually no growth without pain, no change without loss, no improvement without discipline. Sometimes this truth makes me feel tired. I am a lazy person.
Last year I spent much time in Job and then in 1 and 2 Peter. These books of the Bible teach a lot about suffering. I should be strengthened and built up; I know God promises to stay with us, helping us, holding us up, carrying us through. He is our shield and the lifter of our heads. Such a baby I am... I don't want my head to need lifting.
Lately, God has brought me to the Psalms in the 120's. Psalm 121 is one of my all time favorites. It was such a comfort to read it the other day. You should read it, too, if you need a word of encouragement. But, today I am going to write about Psalm 125, verse by verse.
Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
We will endure forever if we trust in the Lord. We will not be shaken. Our eternal destiny is secure as long as our trust is in the Lord. It's going to be all right.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.
I just love that imagery. God is there, as solid and steadfast as the mountains around Jerusalem, surrounding us and protecting us. He will even outlast the mountains of Jerusalem when the earth comes to an end. He will remain forevermore, our shield and protector.
The scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous, for then the righteous might use their hands to do evil.
This is a little harder to understand. I think the key is where it says that the scepter of the wicked will not remain over the land allotted to the righteous. This means that God has a territory reserved for His people where evil cannot reign, where we will be utterly safe from any evil influence, and where His perfect justice is absolute. One of the things that astounds me most about the idea of heaven is this: I will not even be tempted to sin anymore; there will be no more battle with the sin nature. I think this verse supports that.
Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart.
Once I was reading the Psalms and I became very disheartened at the promises and blessings on the righteous. My own sins and daily failings keep me well aware that I am not righteous, blameless or pure. I remember thinking, "That would be great, if it only applied to me... but clearly, I am not righteous." One day, while I was reading a Psalm and thinking this negative and self-incriminating thought, God's voice broke through in my mind and He told me, "You have the righteousness of my Son. It is in Him that these promises apply to you. I have imputed my Son's own perfect righteousness to you, through grace, so that you may indeed be counted among the righteous." (You can find proof of this truth in Romans 3:22, 5:17, 10:4, and especially 2 Corinthians 5:21.) It was a most wonderful and glorious day when God brought this truth home to me. I had heard it many times, but on that day, He spoke to my heart and I understood. When the Psalmist asks the Lord to do good to the righteous, he really is asking the Lord to do good to me.
But those who turn to crooked ways the Lord will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be upon Israel.
OK, I know we aren't supposed to gloat. But I think this means that everyone who enjoys hurting us and forever refuses to be sorry will be banished by God from the presence of His children, and peace will reign.
Yes, "peace be upon Israel" means peace to the children of God, and that means those of us who believe, putting our faith in him. Galatians 3:29 tells us: "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Abraham was the father of Israel (Israel the nation... he was grandfather of Jacob who was renamed "Israel"). If we are Abraham's seed, then we count as the children of the promise, the chosen ones of God.
I don't know about you, but I needed this lift today. God is surrounding us like a range of mountains, keeping us safe, and blessing us with peace.