Sunday, February 12, 2017

Reading Through the Psalms #3 (30-41)

(Note: It is amazing how often the psalmist’s situation overlaps with mine, especially when undergoing trials as in the present situation. I have received great assurance of God’s presence through reading them.)

Psalms volume 1We finish the first book of the Psalms (1-41) today accompanied by Psalms, vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

Psalms 30-41 recount the experience of God's people of His presence and salvation in their lives. 30-31 recount experiences of illness where God refocused trust back on to Him and then listened and responded to the request for healing. 32 praises God for full forgiveness and the lifting of the many burdens brought on by sin and guilt. 33 is a joyous call for everyone to praise God because of who He is and what He has done. Sharing praise is good for us. Finally, 34 is an invitation to taste committed relationship with God and find out how full and satisfying it is.

When it dawned upon him that he had taken the presence of God for granted in a time when he no longer acknowledged that presence, he gave voice to his longing for God’s mercy (v. 9). Apparently, his spiritual awakening had come, and with it the realization of his utter dependence upon the Lord. Psalm 30, 248

Verse 5 becomes an open avowal of complete trust: Into your hands I commit my spirit—not my fate but my “spirit,” and what a different outlook that represents! The spirit, as here used, indicates the animating principle of life, and so, life itself (see Ps 146:4). This is a commitment or surrendering of the self to the care and to the will of the Lord. Psalm 31, 251

Here is the happiness of being restored to God’s fellowship and to his way, after having sinned against him. The theme is forgiveness. No attempt is made at self-justification. The joy is not predicated upon freedom from transgression, but upon the mercy of God in granting pardon. Psalm 32, 255

These are indeed a chosen people, but not so much as a privilege as to responsibility and to purpose. It is in the meeting of that responsibility and the fulfilling of that purpose that the greater blessing comes—as to a people living within the will and purposes of God. God’s counsel is sure. It stands forever. Praise his name. Psalm 33.12, 262

We are told specifically: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. The writer then proceeds to describe the manner of life that one who is seeking God will follow (what it means to fear the Lord). At the outset, he makes clear that this is the formula for life, for long life, for the good life. The instructions are not detailed nor extensive, but are inclusive. They have to do with right speech (v. 13) and right conduct (v. 14). One should note the absence of reference to any cultic requirements. The concerns are moral and ethical. Psalm 34.11-22, 270

In 35-39 we find psalms about how God has worked with and delivered the psalmist from problems in life. Psalm 35 is a prayer for deliverance from enemies. The psalmist anticipates that God will vindicate him. Psalm 36 compares the evil man with "unbounded" good nature of God and his reliance on the mercy of God. Psalm 37 is the classic that reassures us that the "committed life" is worth living even when the wicked seem to have it better than us. Don't envy them. Instead trust God and His way. In 38 the psalmist throws himself on God's mercy and asks for healing and deliverance. 39 is an appeal to God when all hope is gone. Even when we are at our end and there appears to be no reason for hope we know that God's presence is always. the greatest hope we have.

Praise of God in Israel was not a solitary event. One may have prayed in secret, but having known the blessings of God’s response to his prayer, he could no more refrain from the public praise of the Lord than he could refrain from breathing. Should not the praise of God be a shared experience? One may honor him in his heart and praise him in solitude, but it would seem that a heart overflowing with adoration for God could not restrain itself from the public declaration. Psalm 35, 279

In the light that God has revealed we have knowledge unattainable in any other way—certainly not through speculation, postulation, or meditation. Has God spoken? A more important question could hardly be imagined. The Scriptures tell us that he has, and the corroborative evidence is abundant. When we affirm, “Yes, God has spoken,” admittedly it is a statement of faith, but it is a faith based on evidence! Psalm 36.8-9, 286

When one becomes aware of the reality of God, trust in him becomes a natural response, and by choosing to do good (instead of evil) we show that we trust him. We will not resort to devious, deceitful, wicked means to achieve our aims; we will not have to embrace evil in our search for the joy of life. When we trust God, we discover that his way is the way to complete fulfillment, the way of fulness of joy. Psalm 37.3-11, 290

He has confessed his iniquity and has expressed sorrow for his sin. He has unburdened before the Lord the suffering that he has endured in body and soul, including his rejection by his acquaintances. And, most importantly, he has declared his continued trust in the Lord! “I wait for you, O LORD” (v. 15). All of this becomes the basis for his final prayer.  Psalm 38.21-22, 297

Of great significance is the fact that he clings to God even in the midst of deep depression. “My hope is in you” (v. 7). He then seeks deliverance from sin (v. 8), and closes his prayer with a petition that he may again experience cheerfulness before he dies (v. 13). Psalm 39, 298

Psalms 40-41 close the first book of the Psalms. Both are prayers. The first prayer (40) is that of a man faithful to the covenant who asks for God's promised healing and deliverance. He then pledges himself to continued faithfulness. The final (41) prayer also comes from a covenant person who recognizes his own sin and recognizes his hopeless situation, but draws hope from God's promises and expects God's deliverance. Hope comes from focusing on the promise rather than the situation.

The ultimate proof of faith is to be seen, not in what one says, but in conduct. The psalmist demonstrates his trust in God by bearing testimony to others of the deliverance he has experienced. More than this, he pledges himself to walk in the way of the Lord. Psalm 40.6-8, 305

It is a prayer for help by one suffering grave illness who has confidence that his prayer will be heard and answered. His expectation is based on the belief that a devout, compassionate person is blessed (vv. 1–3). Consequently, he freely addresses his lament to God (vv. 4–9) and prays confidently for deliverance, since he has maintained his integrity before the Lord (vv. 10–12). Psalm 41, 308

An Update on the latest Medical Update

Hope, kind of, goes up and down as we experience this adventure/ordeal. We were all disappointed in the delay of the test results and long wait for the next appointment. I still think the key word in all of this is “Wait” I am not sure what God is preparing us to do or be in this, but we can rest in His care. Nevertheless, hope went back up the scale when my hematologist phoned us at the end of the afternoon yesterday. She said that the pathologist here had sent my specimens to Stanford for a 2nd opinion. Stanford would also call Monday and set up an appointment, possibly this week. So maybe we get that track going ahead of schedule. In the meantime we wait. Thank you for praying.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Another Medical Update

Well the news is “wait some more.” The pathologist would like to scrutinize the biopsy specimens a little more thoroughly and will not have a report out until late this afternoon. This means today’s appointment with the hematologist was cancelled and the next available is a week away. I am at the top of the list for a cancelled appointment. Please pray that God makes a way for a much earlier appointment. Symptoms are increasing which makes life a bit more miserable. Pray for healing and pray that we can maintain a Christ-like attitude through the ordeal. Thank you for your love and prayers.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

The Christian Doctrine of God, 1 Being 3 Persons, Torrance #2

(Note: It is Monday in California and we are waiting for phone calls from doctors. This time it is to hear test results. I am a little nervous as we wait to hear the extent of the lymphoma. Probably tomorrow. Thank you for praying with us and for all the birthday wishes. We appreciate it.)

TorranceThis month I continue reading through the very insightful and almost devotional, theology, The Christian Doctrine of God, One Being Three Persons, by Thomas F. Torrance. This book is a meditation on the great truth and mystery that God is a Trinity. I welcome comments and discussion on my Facebook page. I am using the Logos version of the book.

Jesus Christ stands revealed by the resurrection as the manifestation of the Triune God in the flesh—Jesus is Lord.

This stress on the Deity of Jesus Christ places in the very centre of God’s self-revelation, and therefore of the framework of the New Testament message, the unbroken relation in being and act between the Son and the Father. And this in turn carries with it the relation of Christ to the Holy Spirit as well, as the Spirit of the Father and of the Son sent from the Father through the Son to lead those who believe in Christ into all truth and to grant them through himself participation in the Communion of the Holy Trinity. Thus the central focus of the Gospel upon the Deity of Christ is the door that opens the way to the understanding of God’s triune self-revelation as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 49

The scriptures reveal God as One in Being, but three in mission and personality. The love of the Father is made available through the revelation of Son, which is applied through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Each of the three persons can minister all of the Being of God because they "inexist" (67) each other. The New Testament portrays all three persons in perfect cooperation in all the activities of the One God.

We rely upon the whole coherent evangelical structure of historical divine revelation given in the New Testament Scriptures. It is when we indwell it, meditate upon it, tune into it, penetrate inside it and absorb it in our ourselves, and find the very foundations of our life and thought changing under the creative and saving impact of Christ, and are saved by Christ and personally reconciled to God in Christ, that we believe in him as Lord and God. 53

Knowledge of the Son and knowledge of the Father are locked into each other, so that it is in and through the unique Sonship of Christ that the Fatherhood of God is made known as the ultimate Nature and Being of God, and is thus given supreme prominence, even in relation to himself, in all that Jesus proclaimed and taught about God as the one Lord of heaven and earth whom we are bound to love unreservedly with all our heart and soul and strength and mind. 56

While the Spirit is personally other than Christ, he nevertheless shares with him divine Lordship and is inseparably related to him in his incarnate mission from the Father. Thus it is by the crucified, risen and ascended Lord that his presence and power are bestowed. 61

Our words, theology, about God always fall short of the reality of our inscrutable God. This does not mean they are false when they are based on God's self-revelation but they can always be expanded and refined as our growth within the body of Christ and knowledge of the scriptures grow. This is true of the church as a whole as well and how the creeds developed. Their development was not just an intellectual exercise but flowed out of the church's experience of Christ, through the Spirit, within the body. Thus, doctrine is bounded by the revelation of Christ in the NT, but does not circumscribe our personal inarticulate experience of the Trinity.

In the mystery of God’s self-revealing there is an inarticulate as well as an articulate ingredient, an unspecifiable as well as a specifiable factor, such that in our knowing God in his self-revelation it is the inarticulate or unspecifiable element that governs what is articulated and specified in the incarnation of his Son in Jesus Christ: we know of him more than we can ever tell. 81

God interacts personally and intelligibly with us and communicates himself to us in such a personalising way or person-constituting way that he establishes relations of intimate reciprocity between us and himself, within which our knowing of God becomes interlocked with God’s knowing of himself. 88

It is as we tune in to God’s eternal purpose of love and grace embodied in the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ that under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit we are given the anticipatory insights or basic clues we need in developing formal cognition of that divine order, and so apprehend something of the trinitarian structure of God’s self-revelation and self-communication to mankind. 90

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Medical Update

I had the lymph node biopsy yesterday morning. I couldn’t post about it yesterday 20170203_100731 (768x1024)because as soon as I got home I fell into a deep sleep that lasted until about 8pm. Joyce drove me to the hospital through the rain and wind and we arrived at 9am. They got me right in and properly dressed. I confess, I took all the pain medication offered (hence the sleep later). The biopsy itself was pretty simple. It actually took longer to get me hooked up than to do the biopsy. They took a needle into my left lymph node and snipped off 5 pieces. The purpose is to determine if the lymphoma is in the lymph node. I am praying that it is not there because that will mean a shorter treatment is possible with a much greater possibility of success. It is all in God’s hands so we ask you to keep praying.

The people at Marshall Hospital were great. They even gave me a turkey sandwich and cookie while I was in recovery. Now we will wait to hear from Stanford as we move forward in the treatment. Thank you for praying.

Friday, February 03, 2017

Reading Through the Psalms #2 (16-29)

(Note: One reason I like the Psalms is that they make it clear that, although a basic faith and trust in God is the only way to live, it is still ok to present doubts, struggles, fears and any other extreme feelings to God. He hears and understands. I pray a prayer of faith and 10 minutes later have to give over fears and doubts to God. That is the way it is. Jesus is a faithful high priest-mediator because He has been through it and he can handle it.)

Psalms volume 1We will continue to read through the Psalms accompanied by Psalms, vol. 1, The College Press NIV Commentary, by S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn. I am posting quotes from the book on my Facebook page on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (NT is Mon-Wed-Fri) and we can discuss comments and questions about the passage there. As usual, quotes from the commentary are in blue below…

The next section of the Psalms (16-29) is focused on God's salvation. God is the only source of salvation because He is the only one capable of accomplishing it comprehensively. He has power over life and death. (16) The Psalmists know that God cares for the, and they turn to Him first in trouble (17) and give Him thanks for deliverance. (18) His revelation is a means of keeping a person from hurting him or her self. (19) He is the God who provides victory, individually (20) and corporately (21), to those who trust in Him.

He only knows that God is the giver and sustainer of life, and that he has power over death and the grave. Furthermore, he can believe that God, so near to him in life, will be near in death and even beyond death. Where God is, there is life. Psalm 16, 173

It is not too much to suppose that the God who has so provided for the care of the eye will be concerned for the whole man and respond to his call for help. Psalm 17.6-9, 177

The LORD lives! The victories experienced were a demonstration of the fact. Not that David ever questioned the existence of God but he now sings praises because it has become abundantly clear to him that the existence of God is greatly relevant: “Yahweh lives, and it makes a difference in my life.” Psalm 18, 186

As God gave the sun to illumine the earth, he has given the law to enlighten the mind and soul and to illumine man’s path upon the earth. The glory of God revealed in creation is paralleled by the glory revealed in the law. Psalm 19, 190

God has revealed himself to his people by name. He is not the great Unknown. And that name represents what he has been through the ages—the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yes, and much, much more—the God who kept his covenant with Israel, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God of our fathers and mothers. When “we remember the name,” we too have confidence in victory. We have an assurance for the future predicated upon our remembrance of the faithfulness of God in the past—blessed memories. Psalm 20, 196

On the king’s part, trust is emphasized—for the king trusts in the LORD. And on the Lord’s part there is ḥesed—steadfast love, loyalty, mercy. As a result there was joy, victory, blessing. Moreover, there was confidence for the future. So long as the king continues to trust, he shall not be moved. Psalm 21.7, 200

22-24 are three of the best known psalms in this ancient hymn book. Though the righteous sufferer feels that God has abandoned him and his neighbors vilify him, in the end he realizes that God never left him or stopped caring for him and vindicates his righteousness in the end. Psalm 23 celebrates God's gracious care and provision as a shepherd, guide and host. Finally, Psalm 24 extends this care and salvation to the gates of the New Jerusalem.

The psalm expresses both agony and ecstasy, despair and jubilation. The change from the former to the latter comes abruptly at the end of verse 21. Verse 22 introduces words of praise and thanksgiving. The lament, “You do not answer,” has given way to the shout of triumph, for God has heard. The suffering reflected in the opening verses is seen as but the prelude to the glory that would come after. Psalm 22, 203

To follow him does not mean that I shall be spared the vicissitudes of life nor the walk through the valley of the shadow of death. But I shall not walk alone...Whatever the circumstance and however trying, the presence of this divine guide would be adequate to dispel all fear—I will fear no evil. Psalm 23.4, 212

In Israel the unclean were not permitted within the sacred precincts of the temple, and ceremonial washings were required before entrance was granted. But here the context makes it clear that it is not ceremonial cleanness that is in view but purity of heart and of life. Fundamental to such a life is a basic devotion to the Lord, the devotion of one who does not lift up his soul to an idol. Psalm 24.4, 217–218

Psalms 25-29 are prayers that express the psalmist's desire to draw near to God. The psalmist expresses his request for protection, confidence in God's guidance and contemplates his forgiveness in 25. Then in 26 he asks God to vindicate his commitment and assure him that he is on the right path. He knows he can trust God in a present crisis because God has been faithful in the past. (27) He wants the whole community to know what God has done for him (28). Finally, God is trustworthy because He is the One God ruler of the universe. (29) Who else would you trust?

As his thoughts moved from one subject to another, in each he found, in the words of Albert Barnes, “something to be thankful for, or to pray for, or to rejoice over, or to anticipate with pleasure, or to hope for, or to be penitent for, or to contemplate with gratitude and love.” In this, his experience might well be an example to us in our own moments of meditation upon the exigencies of life! Psalm 25, 222

Committed to the Lord, willing to be tested, there yet remains a question such as Job might have asked. “Who can be pure in the sight of God?” Surely no one can lay claim to having earned the favor of the Lord. Some such thought must have prompted the prayer that follows: Redeem me and be merciful to me. For all of his resolve and dedication, he does not lose sight of his need for God’s help and grace. Psalm 26, 230

Here is expressed a faith that could only have arisen out of deep turmoil, from which deliverance has come at the hand of the Lord. These are not the words of a novice. They come from one who has tried, and experienced, the life that is possible only through the presence and help of God. Psalm 27, 232–233

Very definitely, the relation of the individual to God was seen as having a social dimension—there are no hermits in the OT. To be a child of God was to be related in life to the people of God, not to live apart in solitude. Every child of God an individual? Yes, definitely, and precious in God’s sight, but an individual in community. Psalm 28, 238–239

The Lord whose glory is acclaimed in heaven is the eternal King in the midst of his people. He whose power and strength were displayed in the storm imparts strength to his people. And he who calmed the tempest brings to his people the blessing of peace. Psalm 29, 244

Medical Update

The waiting between the first and  second round of testing is over. I will have my lymph node biopsy tomorrow morning at 9.15 Pacific time. I would appreciate your prayers. This test will go a long way to determine my future treatment and the extent of the lymphoma in my body. Honestly, I am very nervous about this test. I know God will sustain me, no matter the result, but this test will tell me a lot about what I will be doing in the next few months and maybe the rest of my life. I know that God is in control. Please pray for Joyce and I, for peace of mind, an accurate test and healing. We appreciate it.