Tag: questions

Undissected Praise

magnifying glassWe humans have a tendency to dissect things to the point that what was once whole becomes a pile of unrecognizable pieces.

 

We think that looking at things from every angle helps us see more clearly, but I wonder sometimes if it actually puts our focus in the wrong place.

 

I’m not sure if this has always been the case, or if it is one of the effects of modern technology. Our access to information can be a curse as much as it can be a blessing. We watch and discuss and listen and post and read and tweet, taking the pieces of life apart to discuss them, not realizing that we might not know how to put them back together.

 

We do this with the Bible. And it pulls apart our faith.

 

Yes, we should come to the Scriptures as educated pursuers of its truth. We need to realize that how we read things will be shaped and misshaped by our own experiences. We should remember that the words are thousands of years old, from a culture vastly different from our own. We ought to do some work to understand how different translations approached the original text, and maybe even do some language study.

 

But also? We should remember that the same Holy Spirit that was with the authors of the Books as they wrote their words is within us as we read them. We need to sometimes leave the questions on the table and let our heart be captured by the wonder of an unfathomable God. We ought to worship our God alongside the worshipers of long ago, without worrying about whether the words are translated precisely for  our modern day.

 

So yes, Psalm 47 is a Psalm written by and for Israel. It is praising God for giving them victory over their enemies and a safe city in which to dwell. We could dissect whether it is appropriate for believers today to use its words. We could question and argue about how to translate its words, like “maskil.” (Does it mean “psalm of praise” or “skillful psalm”?) We could get into long theological debates about what it means for God to be king over the earth, and how that joins together with the existence of human free will.

 

Or, we could just sing it.

 

We could sing Psalm 47’s words of praise to God without dissecting them to pieces. We could join with those who have sung words throughout the ages that praise God for His strength and might. We could clap our hands in joy that this God
is the One who Reigns
is the One who Loves
is the One Who Died
is the One Who Rose Again
is the One Who is with us in all things
is the One who Forever Will Be God.

 

Clap your hands, all you nations;
    shout to God with cries of joy.

For the Lord Most High is awesome,
    the great King over all the earth.

God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
    the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.

Sing praises to God, sing praises;
    sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing to him a psalm of praise.

God reigns over the nations;
    God is seated on his holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble
    as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
    he is greatly exalted.

- Psalm 47:1-2, 5-9

 

Amen.

 

walk through the psalmsWalk through the Psalms is a series working its way through the book of Psalms, one Psalm a week, one post a week, in order. It is grounded in the belief that as Psalms swirl through prayers of pain and praise, they paint a portrait of a life of faith. And, as with any walk, it is better with company; all are welcome to join. To learn more, read this.

 


Linking up? Grab the Psalms button:

<a href=”http://www.everydayawe.com/tag/psalm-series” target=”_blank”><img alt=”Psalms” src=”http://www.everydayawe.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/walk-through-the-psalms-psd.jpg” /></a>

Big Rocks and Nagging Questions

 

It is a question that rattles around like that pebble in our shoe that just won’t go away. Irritating us. Rubbing against our foot. Distracting our minds from the walk.

 

We fear what will happen if we shake that stone lose. If others see, they will know that we have been walking on rocky terrain. We worry what they will think about our journey.

 

But perhaps even more than fear of the asking is the fear of the answer. What if we shake that question lose, only to put our shoe back on and find the nuisance still there? What if asking doesn’t make it go away, but only makes us notice it all the more? What if it is replaced by another, and another, and another question until the load in our shoes is so heavy we cannot walk on any further?

 

These pebbles have various shapes and sizes and forms, but they are of the same color, fallen from the same rock.

 

It is the stone of disappointment.

 

is God trustworthyWe all face it somewhere on our journey of following Jesus. Often, in more than one place. What was once a smooth path is suddenly blocked by a rock built of unmet expectations and broken dreams and lost relationships. We breathe hard and our muscles ache from trying to climb to the other side. And then, even if we find the strength to heave our way over that boulder, we still wind up stuck with a pebble in our shoe. A remnant that we bring with us in the form of an unanswered question:

 

Is God really trustworthy?

 

Because this boulder we had to climb? That sure doesn’t seem like what we signed up for. What we heard from others their life was like, what we heard from God about that path we should take.

 

For me, today, this rock comes in the form of an unrealized dream. A dream I believe that God has put on my heart. So why hasn’t it happened yet? I say that it has not yet been God’s timing. I say that I still need time to grow and learn. I say that one day, it will happen. And mostly, I believe those things. But as I move forward, as I see others achieve the dream that I hold close, sometimes this walk feels more like a climb than I thought it would be. And then I have that pebble nagging at me from my feet.

 

Is God really going to come through?

 

What I love about the Psalms is that they put words to every human experience. None of our feelings are foreign to God. People have experienced them for centuries.

 

In the case of Psalm 44, the questioning of God’s trustworthiness was not just the pondering of one person, but the frustration of the entire nation.

 

We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
 With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
 You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love. –Psalm 44:1-2, 9-10, 23, 26

 

Their ancestors told them God was good, but they have not yet seen the evidence. Their nagging question cannot be kept silent anymore. Will God really come through for them?

 

Yes.

 

There may have still been battles in which they wondered why the outcome was not what they thought it would be. And when that happened, this Psalm was one they could cry in frustration.

 

But in the end, those three words that end this Psalm are the key: your unfailing love.  For the Israelites, that meant His covenant. For us, that means His Son.

 

Is God trustworthy? The answer is yes.

 

Not because we won’t be disappointed, but because of Jesus. We can dump out that pebble, be honest about how it felt, look up into the eyes of our Savior, and keep on walking towards Him. Until we get the next pebble, And then we do it all again.

 

walk through the psalmsWalk through the Psalms is a series working its way through the book of Psalms, one Psalm a week, one post a week, in order. It is grounded in the belief that as Psalms swirl through prayers of pain and praise, they paint a portrait of a life of faith. And, as with any walk, it is better with company; all are welcome to join. To learn more, read this.

 



Linking up? Grab the Psalms button: <a href=”http://www.everydayawe.com/tag/psalm-series” target=”_blank”><img alt=”Psalms” src=”http://www.everydayawe.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/walk-through-the-psalms-psd.jpg” /></a>

Advent Series Day 22- through Joseph’s eyes

Stories aren’t the same when you know the ending.

That’s one of the difficulties with the Bible. Many of the stories are familiar. We are looking at them thousands of years after they occurred. It makes it difficult to put ourselves in the shoes of the characters. We forget what it would have been like before the ending was known.

That happens with the birth of Jesus. We look at the Christmas story through the lens of the nativity. We know that Joseph was at the manger side when Jesus was born. But what about before that? Have you ever thought about what it was like for Joseph before the angel came to him in his dream?

With Zechariah and Mary, an angel came to them to announce pregnancies before they happened. With Joseph, an angel came after he already knew.

It was Mary who broke the pregnancy news to Joseph. I cannot imagine what that conversation was like. Mary’s nervousness. Joseph’s disappointment.

They were pledged to be married- a pledge so strong that a formal divorce was needed to break it. Mary was a virtuous girl. Someone who knew God’s law and knew God. I wonder about the questions running through Joseph’s head. The shock. How could Mary do something like this? How could she betray God? How could she betray him? What was he supposed to do now?

I’m sure Mary told Him about the angel. About the miracle. But how could Joseph be expected to believe something like that? Would you?

I’m not sure why God did not give Joseph the forewarning. Perhaps because so many before him had taken matters into their own hands when they heard of promises like this. (Remember Abraham and Hagar?) Perhaps because Mary needed to trust in God and not in Joseph on this journey of becoming the mother of the Messiah. Perhaps because Joseph needed to wrestle with the decision of what to do before God told him what to do.

Eventually, Joseph came to a decision.

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. – Matthew 1:18-19

Joseph decided to divorce Mary quietly. He could have exposed her to public disgrace. He could have punished her for bringing such shame and betrayal to him. He showed his love for God by choosing the way of grace instead.

Then God showed his love to Joseph by revealing the rest of the story.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. – Matthew 1:20-25

What did Joseph feel when he got up from that dream? Relief? Awe? Fear?

The angel answered Joseph’s questions. But, the angel also told him more. The angel confirmed that it was not just Mary that was chosen, it was also Joseph.

In Jewish culture, it was the role of a father to name a child. In revealing Jesus’ name to Joseph, the angel was revealing Joseph’s role. He was to be the Messiah’s earthly father.

And, just as Mary had responded in faith, so did Joseph. He woke from the dream and he obeyed. He took Mary as his wife and Jesus as his child.

I’m sure Joseph still had questions. How does one father the son of God? But He also now had something he could look back on to remember. To remember that God had chosen him for this role. To remember that God was with him.

To remember that Jesus’ birth means Immanuel.

© 2014 Everyday Awe

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑