Dark Dozen


Recently a post addressed the godless expectations of Stephen Hawking. Many consider him to be the most intelligent person of our age.

In an earlier time the name on everyone’s lips would have been King Solomon of Israel. But in spite of his wisdom, wealth, diplomacy and beautiful estates he turned his kingdom over to a foolish son who followed bad advice which led to the sad division of the kingdom.

In the book of Ecclesiastes there are twelve chapters expanding upon the futility of all life “under the sun”. Good people suffer misfortune. Bad people prosper and receive acclaim. A seemingly healthy life meets grief and sickness. A diligent man’s estate gets turned over to a wastrel. Peace honestly achieved blows up into strife. Time and chance happen to all of us. Can a man expect anything good as a matter of right?

Hear his lamentation in the 8th chapter:

14There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

But what about the recompense promised in scripture? King David’s vision of a blessed afterlife (Psalm 16); Paul’s exposition on resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). Real fulfilment and reward in the presence of God and His Christ and a thankful family of faith. That is the target. This life is the preparation. Good News to be shared.

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Hush

Hush, Pause, Be Still

Not in the tumult of the rending storm,
Not in the earthquake or devouring flame;
But in the hush that could all fear transform,
The still, small whisper to the prophet came.
0 Soul, keep silence on the mount of God,
Though cares and needs throb around thee like a sea;
From supplications and desires unshod,
Be still, and hear what God shall say to thee.
All fellowship hath interludes of rest,
New strength maturing in each poise of power;
The sweetest Alleluias of the blest
Are silent, for the space of half an hour.
0 rest, in utter quietude of soul,
Abandon words, leave prayer and praise awhile;
Let thy whole being, hushed in His control,
Learn the full meaning of His voice and smile.
Not as an athlete wrestling for a crown,
Not taking Heaven by violence of will;
But with thy Father as a child sit down,
And know the bliss that follows His “Be Still!”

–Mary Rowles Jarvis

Complete Brokenness

 

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“Thou art the man!”

 

The prophet Nathan had seen through King David’s charade with the illegitimate child by Bathsheba. A year had gone by since the unfortunate death of her husband and the hasty marriage to the King.

The prophet had told a little parable to catch David in his own wrongdoing and the King fell hard. His words of repentance are recorded in the 51st Psalm. Truly it is a prototype for clearing the slate with God.

Four very incisive concepts stand out in this prayer:

  1. Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned and done this evil in Thy sight. We are not talking about the comparative righteousness of mortals here which might be traded off as one offends the other. We are talking about transgressing the absolute holiness of God. Any single sin brings condemnation. Let us not presume to prioritize them. Sin bars access and fellowship. The king could sense that his stumbling would adversely affect his entire family and nation.
  2. Create in me a clean heart. This is foreshadowing the new birth. Reformation will not hit the mark; neither will the best of intentions. God must intervene with a supernatural deposit. He will do so for the sincere asking.
  3. A broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. God specializes in broken things; things that will no longer function on their own. In helplessness and desperation the penitent cries out, and God undergirds with arms of mercy and rescue. A resolute “flushing” has occured, and it is time for new fellowship and service.
  4. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering. As we are reminded in Romans 8, it is impossible for good deeds generated out of the fleshly nature to please the Heavenly Father. But with this process of spiritual bankruptcy and restoration there comes a righteousness which is God’s alone. He is bound to be pleased with efforts of love and devotion sourced in Himself.

David in his total brokenness saw and prophesied all of this. In Acts 11 the Early Church referred to the process as “repentance unto life”.