As some of you know, who live in New England, I’m hoping to launch a school of sorts for Christian leadership, the Gander Brook Center for Christian Leadership. By “a school of sorts” I mean that it is a place for learning how to lead in the Lord’s church, but don’t be scared by the word school. There may be homework and plenty of assignments, but this is a school for attaining skills and knowledge. If you imagined term papers and the possibility of flunking out — reboot! We’re interested in people learning how to grow in Christ, getting folks equipped to become what the Scripture calls for in its leaders, providing the information and resources for effective and biblical leadership for the future, and the skills to preach and teach the word. It’s beginning this month, August 26-28, at the Edgewood church of Christ (Mansfield MA); and I would like to encourage you to enroll! It’s very inexpensive; lodging is available, and you and your congregation will be glad you did. Check out this link for more information: http://web.me.com/parklinscomb/GBCCL/Welcome.html OR call 603.623.5559.
With that “commercial” out of the way, let’s dive into our readings for today, Psalms 113-115.
Who humbles Himself to behold (Psalm 113:6) — Although it sounds funny to say something positive about someone by saying that this person “humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth”, in God’s case, it’s a wonderful thing indeed. After all, He is God. He owes us nothing, He’s given us everything, and He really is supremely superior to anyone and anything. The created world is not an American democracy where even the lowest citizen is to be considered equal with the president; the relationship and the paradigm is altogether different — it is a supreme honor that God would even take notice of us to begin with (have you already noticed this sort of language from time to time in earlier psalms?). It is a fact not to be ignored or taken for granted. God is not our pal, not our bud, not our equal, and He owes us zero. He has condescended to allow those in covenant with Him to call Him “Father” — amazing all unto itself — which speaks not only of a relationship (that we don’t deserve because we are creatures — sinful creatures) but also of a hierarchy (including respect, obedience, and honor) that we need to respect. Indeed, the larger context of this verse begins by asking the very salient question, “Who is like the LORD our God…?” So, when He condescends to abide with His people on, say, the Lord’s Day or some other time of assembly of God’s people, how should we act, respond, and speak? When we become the dwelling of His Holy Spirit, how should we live our lives?
Judah became His sanctuary (Psalm 114: 2) — I’m reminded of a contemporary spiritual song, Sanctuary, as I read this verse. What a privilege for Judah and Israel is expressed here, that God had deigned to make them His sanctuary, His temple. Of course, as we sing the song, Sanctuary, today, we’re singing about the Holy Spirit’s indwelling of Christians (Acts 2:38), marking them as God’s own (Eph. 1:13), strengthening them in the inner man (Eph. 3:16), interceding for us about groanings (sufferings) with words to the Father that humans can’t express (Rom. 8:26), uniting them into a temple of God (Eph. 2:22), and helping to produce good fruit in their lives (Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:22). What a privilege!
You become what you worship (Psalm 115:8) — This verse almost slides in under the radar, when we read. It comes at the end of a great list of things that idols can’t and never will be able to do — speak, see, hear, smell, feel, walk, or talk. The point is that they are inanimate, dead, and nothing more than the dead material that they’ve been made from (stone, lumber, or metal). And “those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them”. Huh? The point is that idolatry is a “dead” end — compared with worship and trusting in the LORD, the living God, which leads to real life! Think about that next time you are tempted to trust in money, houses, technology, entertainment, government, etc. — to mention only a few of our modern idols — you will become what you worship.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.
I want to reply to your ‘commercial’ for school. I am studying the Great Commission text of Matthew 28:16-20 and ran into this comment by Bruner on the command to “make disciples”:
“Interestingly, the usual missionary terms are not employed here: “preach,” “convert,” “win,” and the like. A slower, lower-profile verb is used, an almost scholastic, schoolish word, “disciple.” To disciple means “to make students of,” “bring to school,” “educate”–or, in modern-English terms, “to mentor,” “to apprentice.”
School is an amazing asset, especially in the Spirit-empowered hands of the Christian community. Yes, you may have to update your language due to current associations with words like “school,” but I am grateful to people like you called to make disciples…”teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”