Romans 1:16

The Gospel In Origin, Operation, Outcome, and Outreach

*Preached at Restoration Community Church on October 16, 2106

 

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everything who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (ESV)

ORIGIN: When we talk about the gospel we are talking about a message that comes from and is about the Son of God. Paul tells us this in the opening of the letter to the Romans. Chapter 1:1 says the gospel of God. So, my question is this... if this is about God, why are we ashamed?

THE GOSPEL IS ABOUT CHRIST.

OPERATION: Why are we ashamed of power? We most definitely behave as if we are scared of power. There is no reason to be ashamed of the power that can save and change the lives of the men and women, our brothers and sisters, who are so obviously enslaved by sin and are being actively oppressed by demonic forces.

THE GOSPEL IS THE POWER OF GOD.

OUTCOME: The word salvation carried some serious implications in Paul's day. It implied deliverance, both national and personal. The emperor was viewed as a savior because he had the power to shape the lives of the people. The physician was also looked upon as a savior because he could heal personal illness. Jesus is both ruler and remedy.

THE GOSPEL IS THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION. 

OUTREACH: The gospel is not an exclusive message. It is for Jew and Greek. We have a power-filled message that is to be taken to all people. Not just the ones you get along with. It is for all people! God does not ask people to behave in order to be saved, he asks us to believe.

THE GOSPEL IS FOR ALL PEOPLE.

 

 

Meditations on John 11 (Jonathan Wells)

This is the passage in which Jesus speaks one sentence and by His authority, brings a dead man back to life.

I thank the God in heaven, who provides me with fresher eyes to see how remarkable this passage is, and to feel, in a greater way, the depth of its implications.

The chapter begins with the illness of a man, Lazarus. It does not end with him being healed. We learn that Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, are very close to Jesus. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Love is not something that remains in words only; actions must follow. “So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” Jesus’ action was to wait. Consider the cause and effect here. Jesus was so filled with love for this family (cause), that He did not immediately come to ease their pain and suffering (effect). Can love be so great that it refuses to provide a healing balm in order to provide something greater?

“Lord, he whom you love is ill.” Is this not I? The illness of sin devastates all that it touches. He whom you love is ill, Lord. Will you not heal Him? No. And what is His reason? Jesus’ chief end is to bring glory to God in all things. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it”. This therefore must also be a loving act. If it isn’t, refusing to heal Lazarus was cruel and evil. These words never describe our Lord. Thus to see and savor the glory of God—and to be led to this sight—even if it requires immense suffering or wrestling, is the most loving act. “Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to wake him,” our Lord says. Jesus was fully aware of the moment in which Lazarus breathed his last. Though He says to the crowd of mourners, “where have you laid him?” with tears streaming down His face, Jesus knew full well. He was aware of the very mineral deposits in the boulder which covered Lazarus’ tomb, keeping the stench of death at bay. Yet after two days, He began His journey to see him. By the time He and His disciples arrived, Lazarus was dead four days. They say that the spirit of a man hovers over his body shortly after death. But after four days, any semblance of this possibility would be long gone.

It’s so strange, how close Bethany is to Jerusalem. This greatest of miracles, bringing back to life one who was dead, occurred so close to the place where the Author of Life would die for all sins. “Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off”. Unlike a prior meeting, where Martha was too busy serving to bask in the presence of the Christ, upon hearing of Jesus’ arrival to the town, she went to meet Him. She knew He could have saved Lazarus. She knew He had the power. But her sight was shorter than Christ’s scope.

“Your brother will rise again.”  Was He spouting religious platitudes, or seeking to awaken her faith and reliance on Him? “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”, Jesus asks all who read the question. Do you believe this, Jonathan Wells? Am I worth more to you than everything else? “Yes Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

BUT HELP THOU MY UNBELIEF! Fan into flame this fickle heart, oh God!

Consider: when calling the disciples, Jesus said, “come, follow me”. When speaking to the crowd on one occasion He said, “Come to me, all you who are burdened and heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. And to the dead man Lazarus He said, “Lazarus, come out.” Some translations will say, “Lazarus, come forth”. He commands us to come to Him. Shall we close our ears and stay in our grave clothes? Shall we remain bound in the strips of death?

After Lazarus is unbound from his grave clothes, the Pharisees are unbound as well. It is at this miracle that they begin the pursuit of my Lord’s life. For surely they cannot refute this miracle! Surely they cannot say that Lazarus is still dead! So they did only what they thought they could: they plotted to bring destruction on One who remained peaceful. If they didn’t, they reasoned, their positions among the people would be jeopardized. So bent on maintaining their status and perception of control, they could not see Jesus as He truly was and still is: The Christ, the holy one of God.

 

Bowed Down Within Me

Lord, the desire to seek a life of worship, praise, and devotion to you is not something I can produce on my own. The call to work towards the well being and spiritual safety of your beloved church is too much for me to carry at times. I have failed many times. And, many times your grace has been sufficient. Father, discipline me, for what son is there whom his father does not discipline (Heb 12:7). Restore me. Equip me. Holy Spirit, fill me once again. My soul is bowed down within me (Lam 3:20). Sweet Jesus, remind me afresh of your grace. Speak to me as you spoke to Paul. Tell me that your grace is sufficient (2 Cor 12:9), have me boast in my weakness so that your power, not my own, would rest upon me.

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: Psalm 144 for March 19

Blessed be the Lord, my rock,
    who trains my hands for war,
    and my fingers for battle;
he is my steadfast love and my fortress,
    my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield and he in whom I take refuge,
    who subdues peoples under me.

O Lord, what is man that you regard him,
    or the son of man that you think of him?
Man is like a breath;
    his days are like a passing shadow.

Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down!
    Touch the mountains so that they smoke!
Flash forth the lightning and scatter them;
    send out your arrows and rout them!
Stretch out your hand from on high;
    rescue me and deliver me from the many waters,
    from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
    and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

I will sing a new song to you, O God;
    upon a ten-stringed harp I will play to you,
who gives victory to kings,
    who rescues David his servant from the cruel sword.
Rescue me and deliver me
    from the hand of foreigners,
whose mouths speak lies
    and whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

May our sons in their youth
    be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
    cut for the structure of a palace;
may our granaries be full,
    providing all kinds of produce;
may our sheep bring forth thousands
    and ten thousands in our fields;
may our cattle be heavy with young,
    suffering no mishap or failure in bearing;[b]
may there be no cry of distress in our streets!
Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
    Blessed are the people whose God is the Lord!

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: 2 Corinthians 4:1-12 for March 18

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: 2 Corinthians 2:14-3:6 (March 16)

But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15

From Wearing God by Lauren F. Winner:

“After the cross, after the resurrection and ascension, Jesus still emits a smell, and we, it seems, are it. But while Jesus emits a distinct scent, that scent doesn’t smell the same to all people—or, alternately, the same scent doesn’t smell the same to the same personal all the time. Those who are turned toward God will find the smell of Jesus-in-us delightful; those who are turned away will find it noxious.

“On one level, Paul seems to be saying, simply, that the baptized are agents of Jesus—we carry information about God with us everywhere we go. Paul could have, perhaps, written, “We are the light of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing” or “Our voices are the voice of Christ among those who are saved and those who are perishing.” But smell is an apt metaphor for Paul to use, precisely because smell can convey the presence of something that is far away. I smell bread baking the minute I walk through my front door, even thought the source—the loaf in the oven—is in the kitchen; the smell tells me the loaf is there somewhere. So, too, the Source of whatever goodness the baptized do and are is far away—but the goodness insists the Source is there somewhere. My friend Sarah and her family provide a regular illustration of this. They keep open a Christ room in their home, and they always seem to be welcoming yet another woman, recently released from prison, to live with them for a few months. Their hospitality is much like smell: as the scent of bread testifies to its source (the bread in the oven), so Sarah’s hospitality testifies to the hospitality’s Source—which is not, finally, Sarah herself. Sarah is one of the strongest people I know, but she is not strong enough to do all this welcoming of strangers on her own steam. Her capacity for such hospitality comes from, and points to, the God who welcomes us and bids us to welcome others. Sarah’s hospitality becomes the aroma of Christ, and if I let it, it will direct my attention to its Source: to Jesus, the Fragrance of Life, the Treasure of the Perfumes.”

Considered and Arranged by Corrie Mitchell

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: Mark 9:42-50 (March 15)

A fumbling forward by Jonathan L. Wells

He is walking and hears a voice,

So thirsty says the fire

So thirsty

He blinks back in agony, knowing he must continue on.

But if eyes could talk they would cry “enough!

For surely we were made for more than this!

This gazing into darkness

This tantalizing terror.

Enough!”

He plucks one to keep the flames at bay.

And hands like smoke float high in praise…

One reaching towards the darkness, one reaching towards the light

Shall he submit to these hollow pleasures?

sludge and silence, empty delights?

No.

So thirsty.

He cuts one hand to lighten the load.

One hand is enough anyhow.

He hops upon the foot still standing

Having lost the other on the way.

(It’s alright though

It merely weighed him down)

Call him Mr. Potato Head if it suits you.

Those pieces lacked are gained in time

He shall continue on.

And the fire still speaks.

his thirst is still greater.

 

 

The Fountain is ahead of him

His head and neck,

stone wrapped round

And should he fall he knows he’ll not be found

He says, “I will not lead them astray”

The rope is cut, he continues on his way

And finds

To his suffering nostrils

A saltiness in the air

An ocean where the fountain stood.

The roar of waves crashing

Produces stillness all around.

The fire’s voice grows thin.

He enters in.

The saltiness makes all else what it truly is.

Reflections and figments fade.

His journey ends and begins

In peace.

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: Psalm 31 (March 14)

Psalm 31

In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
    let me never be put to shame;
    in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
    rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
    a strong fortress to save me!

For you are my rock and my fortress;
    and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
    for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
    you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
    but I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
    because you have seen my affliction;
    you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
    you have set my feet in a broad place.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
    my eye is wasted from grief;
    my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
    and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
    and my bones waste away.

Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
    especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
    those who see me in the street flee from me.
I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
    I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many—
    terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
    as they plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
    rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant;
    save me in your steadfast love!
O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
    for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
    let them go silently to Sheol.
Let the lying lips be mute,
    which speak insolently against the righteous
    in pride and contempt.

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
    which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
    in the sight of the children of mankind!
In the cover of your presence you hide them
    from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
    from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the Lord,
    for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
    when I was in a besieged city.
I had said in my alarm,[b]
    “I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
    when I cried to you for help.

Love the Lord, all you his saints!
    The Lord preserves the faithful
    but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
    all you who wait for the Lord!


Even As I Have Been Fully Known: Psalm 145 (March 13)

Psalm 145

I will extol you, my God and King,
    and bless your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless you
    and praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
    and his greatness is unsearchable.

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of your majesty,
    and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds,
    and I will declare your greatness.
They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness
    and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The Lord is good to all,
    and his mercy is over all that he has made.

All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
    and all your saints shall bless you!
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
    and tell of your power,
to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

[The Lord is faithful in all his words
    and kind in all his works.]
1he Lord upholds all who are falling
    and raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food in due season.
You open your hand;
    you satisfy the desire of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and kind in all his works.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;
    he also hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord preserves all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.

My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
    and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 (March 12)

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith,so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

God is so good.

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: Exodus 2:1-22 (March 11)

Moses' introduction to the world was not ideal. He was born into a world of violence and chaos. He ends up being a sort of deliverer of the people. Moses, in many ways, points to the deliverer of all people who, like Moses, was born into a world of violence and chaos. 

Moses was saved from the chaos for a time of preparation. He was raised in Pharaoh's home. He received the best his culture had all the while being prepared for God's plan of liberating a people from bondage. Jesus, unlike Moses, was raised in a common home to common parents. He would soon do many un-common things on his way to liberating all people from a bondage that, if not for his work, would keep us from ever entering into the promised land.

Jesus delivers us from the bondage of sin and leads us through our personal wildernesses and into the promise of eternity in the presence of glory. Will we be awed, if only for a moment, by that today? 

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: March 09 (Genesis 50:15-26)

Genesis 50:15-26

When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, foram I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father's house. Joseph lived 110 years. And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph's own. And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

LECTIO DIVINA

(excerpts from David Kim, Gotham Devotional Series on the Psalms)

Introduction to Lectio Divina: A very ancient art, practiced by many Christians throughout the ages, is the technique known as lectio divina - a slow, contemplative praying of the Scriptures which enables the Bible, the Word of God, to become a means of union with God. This ancient practice has been kept alive in the Christian monastic tradition, and is one of the precious treasures of Benedictine monastics and oblates.  Use the following “movements” to read through today’s Scripture.

Prayer & Preparation (5 mins) Prior to reading the Scripture, engage in a transitional activity that takes you from the normal state of mind to a more contemplative and prayerful state. A few moments of deep, regular breathing and a short prayer inviting the Holy Spirit to guide the prayer time helps to set the tone and improve the effectiveness of the lectio.

The Four Moments

Lectio – Reading (6 mins) This first moment consists in reading the scriptural passage slowly, attentively three times. Reading in lectio divina is very different from the speed reading which modern Christians apply to newspapers, books and even to the Bible. Lectio is reverential listening; listening both in a spirit of silence and of awe. We are listening for the still, small voice of God that will speak to us personally - not loudly, but intimately. In lectio we read slowly, attentively, gently listening to hear a word or phrase that is God's word for us this day. The third time you read, underline words/phrases/ or verses in the scripture that stand out to you or grip your attention during this moment.

Meditatio – Meditation (7 mins) In the second movement, we will take the underlined words or phrases and meditation upon them. Repeat these phrases to yourself a few times slowly, perhaps even memorizing it. As you repeat this phrase allow it to interact with your thoughts, your hopes, your anxieties, your desires, your fears, your joys. Through meditation we allow God's word to become His word for us, a word that touches us and affects us at our deepest levels. Remember that God is present in His Word and through the Holy Spirit as He imparts spiritual understanding of the sacred text, what Reformed Christians have called—illumination. It is not a special revelation from God, but the inward working of the Holy Spirit, which enables the Christian to grasp the revelation contained in the Scripture. At the end of this time of meditation, feel free to write particular things that come to mind that you want to remember throughout the day.

Oratio – Prayer (7 mins) After meditation, pray through the things that come to mind whether they be prayers of thanks, petitions, and intercession. This is a response to the passage by opening the heart in dialogue with God. It is not simply an intellectual exercise, but a Spirit-led conversation with God to pray for the things that are upon the very heart of God.

Contemplatio – Contemplation (5 mins) This final moment is characterized by a simple, loving focus on God in stillness and silence. Affirm God’s presence in your life and consider this marvelous God who has call you. This is a beautiful, wordless communion with and contemplation of God, a rest simply enjoying the experience of being in his presence. “Be still and know I am God.”

Arranged by Sarah Clauser

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: Psalm 97, 99, 100, 94 & 95 (March 08)

Psalm 97

The Lord reigns, let the earth rejoice;
    let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around him;
    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him
    and burns up his adversaries all around.
His lightnings light up the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness,
    and all the peoples see his glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame,
    who make their boast in worthless idols;
    worship him, all you gods!

Zion hears and is glad,
    and the daughters of Judah rejoice,
    because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth;
    you are exalted far above all gods.

O you who love the Lord, hate evil!
    He preserves the lives of his saints;
    he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
Light is sown for the righteous,
    and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
    and give thanks to his holy name!

Light and Joy by Adrian Murphy

 

Light is sown for the righteous.

(But who is righteous? Faith is counted

As righteousness.)

Light is sown for those who believe.

Light falls from His hand.

Light is sown from the hand of the King.

 

Light is abundantly with Him,

He has enough,

And always more.

 

Light falls from His hand

To the ground and glows and grows.

From a Light-seed, into a Light-tree.

 

Trees of light grow behind Him as He walks.

Zion hears and is glad.

 

Zion is glad,

Her King lights up the world

With His light trees

And joy.

 

Joy is sown for the upright in heart.

(Hearts made upright by the work of the Son)

Joy falls to the ground

And is a fire before him.

Joy-fire, burning up his adversaries.

 

Zion hears and is glad.

 

The Lord of the earth makes

Joy-fire in his path and

Light trees follow in his wake.

 

So come, let us sing.

 

Let’s be consumed by His

Joy-fire.

When the cares of our hearts

Are many,

So many,

 

Let’s be consoled.

Zion is glad that He lights up the world.

 

The sea is His,

For He made it.

We also are His,

He made us.

 

Let the sheep of Zion sing

To the shepherd,

To the refuge

To the maker

Of Zion,

Of light and joy.

 

Oh come,

Let us sing.

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: March 07 (Psalm 89)

Psalm 89

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;
    with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.
For I said, “Steadfast love will be built up forever;
    in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness.”
You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
    I have sworn to David my servant:
‘I will establish your offspring forever,
    and build your throne for all generations.’” Selah

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
    your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
    Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
    and awesome above all who are around him?
O Lord God of hosts,
    who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
    with your faithfulness all around you?
You rule the raging of the sea;
    when its waves rise, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
    you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours;
    the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.
The north and the south, you have created them;
    Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
You have a mighty arm;
    strong is your hand, high your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
    steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Blessed are the people who know the festal shout,
    who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face,
who exult in your name all the day
    and in your righteousness are exalted.
For you are the glory of their strength;
    by your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
    our king to the Holy One of Israel.

Of old you spoke in a vision to your godly one, and said:
    “I have granted help to one who is mighty;
    I have exalted one chosen from the people.
I have found David, my servant;
    with my holy oil I have anointed him,
so that my hand shall be established with him;
    my arm also shall strengthen him.
The enemy shall not outwit him;
    the wicked shall not humble him.
I will crush his foes before him
    and strike down those who hate him.
My faithfulness and my steadfast love shall be with him,
    and in my name shall his horn be exalted.
I will set his hand on the sea
    and his right hand on the rivers.
He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father,
    my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’
And I will make him the firstborn,
    the highest of the kings of the earth.
My steadfast love I will keep for him forever,
    and my covenant will stand firm for him.
I will establish his offspring forever
    and his throne as the days of the heavens.
If his children forsake my law
    and do not walk according to my rules,
if they violate my statutes
    and do not keep my commandments,
then I will punish their transgression with the rod
    and their iniquity with stripes,
but I will not remove from him my steadfast love
    or be false to my faithfulness.
I will not violate my covenant
    or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
Once for all I have sworn by my holiness;
    I will not lie to David.
His offspring shall endure forever,
    his throne as long as the sun before me.
Like the moon it shall be established forever,
    a faithful witness in the skies.” Selah

But now you have cast off and rejected;
    you are full of wrath against your anointed.
You have renounced the covenant with your servant;
    you have defiled his crown in the dust.
You have breached all his walls;
    you have laid his strongholds in ruins.
All who pass by plunder him;
    he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
You have exalted the right hand of his foes;
    you have made all his enemies rejoice.
You have also turned back the edge of his sword,
    and you have not made him stand in battle.
You have made his splendor to cease
    and cast his throne to the ground.
You have cut short the days of his youth;
    you have covered him with shame. Selah

How long, O Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?
    How long will your wrath burn like fire?
Remember how short my time is!
    For what vanity you have created all the children of man!
What man can live and never see death?
    Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah

Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,
    which by your faithfulness you swore to David?
Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked,
    and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations,
with which your enemies mock, O Lord,
    with which they mock the footsteps of your anointed.

Blessed be the Lord forever!
Amen and Amen.

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: March 06 (Romans 8:11-25)

Romans 8:11-25

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

It is painful to want something and not have it.  It is so hard to sit in that feeling.  And the world tells us that there’s something shameful or pathetic about wanting and not having--that it must be your fault.  You didn’t try hard enough, weren’t good enough, didn’t deserve it.  So, we learn to shut down our longings, numb our pain, pretend the want isn’t there.  We choose to believe we are satisfied with less than we dreamed of.

It is so easy to do this with our longing for God and for his kingdom.  The world is so broken, and it is so hard to be in it and believe his promises and wait.  Sometimes it can seem like it would be easier to just turn it off--want less, be satisfied with what this world has to offer.  We zone out and settle for what we can see, telling ourselves that it’s good enough and we can’t expect more anyway.

Romans 8 tells us that the whole creation is groaning.  It is wanting.  It is longing and not yet having.  “Hope” can seem like such a sweet, easy word--but hope is so hard.  It means keeping your longing alive, stoking the flame even though it is painful to want and not yet have.

Romans calls us to fan the flame.  The world will try to convince you to be happy with less than God, less than his kingdom.  Spend time imagining, dreaming of the day we’ll be with him completely, in his presence, basking in it, no more sin, no more struggle, no more pain.  Believe that it is true, and spend time meditating on it.  Let yourself want it.  In a while, you’ll have to step into the world, broken and hurting, and wait.  And it will hurt.  But don’t let that make you afraid to want and groan for what we have been promised.  Your longing draws you to him.  It stretches you.  It grows your capacity to taste his goodness, to receive him, to look upon him in complete worship.  If our present sufferings are truly not worth comparing to the glory to be revealed, we’ve got to dream about it--that we might cling to it and hope in it completely.  This groaning will make the day we step into his presence so much sweeter than we can imagine.

Considered, written in part, and arranged by Lauren Wrenn

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: March 05 (Psalm 87)

Psalm 87

On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
    the Lord loves the gates of Zion
    more than all the dwelling places of Jacob.
Glorious things of you are spoken,
    O city of God. Selah

Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
    behold, Philistia and Tyre, with Cush—
    “This one was born there,” they say.
And of Zion it shall be said,
    “This one and that one were born in her”;
    for the Most High himself will establish her.
The Lord records as he registers the peoples,
    “This one was born there.” Selah

Singers and dancers alike say,
    “All my springs are in you.”

Born - Words & Music by Over the Rhine

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

Pour me a glass of wine
Talk deep into the night
Who knows, what we'll find

Intuition, deja vu
The Holy Ghost haunting you
Whatever you got, I don't mind

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

Put your elbows on the table
I'll listen long as I am able
There's nowhere I'd rather be

Secret fears, the supernatural
Thank God for this new laughter
Thank God the joke's on me

'Cause I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
And I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

We've seen the landfill rainbow
We've seen the junkyard of love
Baby, it's no place for you and me

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
And I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
And I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
And I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: March 04 (Mark 6:47-56)

Mark 6:47-56

And when evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. And he saw that they were making headway painfully, for the wind was against them. And about the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the sea they thought it was a ghost, and cried out, for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” And he got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Even As I Have Been Fully Known: March 03 (Psalm 42)

“Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.”

Psalm 42:5

John Piper on preaching to your own soul:

The psalmist preaches to his own soul. Verse 5: “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” O how crucial this is in the fight of faith. We must learn to preach the truth to ourselves. Listen to (Martin) Lloyd-Jones take hold of this verse:

Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself? Take those thoughts that come to you the moment you wake up in the morning. You have not originated them but they are talking to you, they bring back the problems of yesterday, etc. Somebody is talking. Who is talking to you? Your self is talking to you. Now this man’s treatment [in Psalm 42] was this: instead of allowing this self to talk to him, he starts talking to himself. “Why art thou cast down, O my soul?” he asks. His soul had been depressing him, crushing him. So he stands up and says,: “Self, listen for moment, I will speak to you.” (Spiritual Depression, 20-21)

On this side of the cross, we know the greatest ground for our hope: Jesus Christ crucified for our sins and triumphant over death. So the main thing we must learn is to preach the gospel to ourselves:

Listen, self: If God is for you, who can be against you? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for you, how will he not also with him graciously give you all things? Who shall bring any charge against you as God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for you. Who shall separate you from the love of Christ? (Romans 8:31–35 paraphrased)

Learn to preach the gospel to yourself.

-Read through Romans 8. Preach grace and truth in Christ to your own soul. Use the last paragraph above for a guide. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you to rejoice in the gospel.

Written and arranged by Jake Mitchell