Intro to Luke and Ps 48
Yesterday we finished our trip through the New Testament. For those of you who have been reading with us for almost two years, I wonder if this time through was a different experience for you? Did the slower pace this year allow you to dig in a bit deeper to God’s story? I’m hoping you felt less rushed as I did this time and that slowing down has helped all of us to absorb more of what God is trying to help us learn. Tomorrow we will start back in the book of Luke and take this last few months of the year to look at the gospels another time. Why you ask, would we start with Luke? The answer I was given was “to keep us all on our toes”.
So let’s refresh quickly on our author for this book and then we will spend most of our time in Psalms today. Luke was a doctor by trade and writes a sensitive and careful account of Jesus life on earth. He makes a point of showing us Jesus compassion toward women, the sick, the poor, and those who would be considered the outcasts of society. Luke also writes down more parables than any other gospel writer records. As we enter Fall and then the Christmas season, I love the thought of spending so much of these next few months looking again at Jesus birth, life and ministry. I’m praying that studying the gospels keeps our hearts focussed on why we celebrate Christmas as we walk through the season this year.
“Oh God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple. As your name deserves, O God, you will be praised to the ends of the earth.Your strong right hand is filled with victory.”
As I read these verses this morning, my thoughts carry me to last week when I had the opportunity to attend a banquet for some men, in a program, designed to reclaim their lives from the grip of addiction. Listening to some of their stories impressed upon me that these guys only hope was in God. Some had lived a good portion of their lives controlled by substances. They tried everything in their power to stop and get themselves out of their addictions, but no matter what they did, it wasn’t enough to make lasting change. Until these men could get in an environment where everything was stripped away and they had to get real with who they were and the value that each of them held in God’s eyes, things couldn’t change. But the beauty of a man’s softened heart and the light in his eyes after God has been invited in and allowed to “clean house” is a sight I won’t soon forget. When the daily choice is to “meditate on God’s unfailing love” and “praise God to the ends of the earth” people change. I think the beauty of this group of men is the visible 180 degree turn that each has made to put God above all in their lives. These men started this program at the darkest time in their lives and within a year they have seen and known “God’s right hand filled with victory”! It shows up more distinctly after an intense program, but what does putting God in His rightful place, above all, look like over my lifetime? Can others see the light in my eyes, do they sense a soft heart when they interact with me?
I think the bigger question is, am I inviting God into my life on a daily basis and allowing Him to work on changing me? No matter what our lives have looked like up to this point, we have all missed the mark. There is not one of us who deserves a relationship with God because none of us can even be in His presents without Christ paying the price for our sin and washing us clean before God. The truth is that without God we are ALL in the same boat! Because of this gift, this purchase and this new life in Christ, am I “meditating on God’s unfailing love”? Am I “praising God’s name to the ends of the earth”? Does my life exhibit “God’s strong right hand filled with victory”? After experiencing the fresh and intense beauty in these newly changed men, I am challenged! I have been washed clean just as they have, but I let time and complacency settle over me and I forget that I been gifted the same change as they have. How can I ever let my heart be unimpressed with the gift I’ve been given? Honestly I can hardly type that question. I’m so humbled and embarrassed before God to admit that there is ever a second of any day that I am not fall-on-my-face grateful for what He has done for me, but the truth is that I get distracted, busy, and think on my own agenda all the time, and before I even realize it, I’ve forgotten. Can we do better? Can we be conscious of His gift while we work? Is it possible to remember Who has purchased us as we interact with others?
I want to close today with the last verse in Ps 48. “He is our God forever and ever, and He will guide us until we die.” One more gift to be grateful for. He will NEVER leave us! He will guide us until we are done on this earth and in His presents. If I will allow Him to have His rightful place in my heart day after day, He will guide me until I can be with Him in “person”! Praise Him to the ends of the earth!