Those surprising scriptures!

I’ve been reading a load of Psalms recently after I found out that both N.T. Wright and Tim Keller have read 5 Psalms a day for many, many years which takes them 41yOTTFCKWL._SX347_BO1,204,203,200_through all 150 each month. (I noticed this comment made by both men in their books The Case for the Psalms by Wright and The Songs of Jesus by Keller.)

Unfortunately, my life is not normal lately, so I end up reading 1 97805259551461or 2 one day and then try to catch up by reading 8-10 another day.

I have enjoyed the emotions on display as I read and reread the Psalms but occasionally something takes me by surprise. This morning it was Psalm 55 verse 6-7:

The righteous shall see and fear,
and shall laugh at him, saying,
“See the man who would not make
God his refuge,
but trusted in the abundance of his riches
and sought refuge in his own destruction!”

Now I am used to those imprecatory Psalms in which the writer calls for the judgement of God upon his enemies. I understand why some may have a problem with this but I also understand why those who are oppressed will rejoice that God promises justice in the end.

What surprised me is this statement that the righteous will laugh at the downfall of those who trust in riches instead of God.

As I mulled over this, I came to the conclusion that this is a good thing. I’m still not sure about the laughing at those who face judgement but I do think it’s a good that I struggle over this. If the Bible is the written word of God, as I believe it is, then there should be portions of it which should surprise me. There should be parts that are difficult to understand.

Peter even warns us about this in his comments about Paul’s letters:
There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. (2 Peter 3:16)

This challenge for us is not to run for the surprises we find in Scripture.  But to embrace the struggle for understanding with faith.

Pray for understanding.

Pray for protection against twisting the words of the Bible.

And continue reading those surprising scriptures!

Daddy guides us along the way

Many years ago, I remember helping my kids learn to ride their bike.  They would sit on the bike wobbling around while I stood behind them holding the seat. As 16912426228_6bb4c16e52_zthey started to ride, I would run along gently holding the seat upright when they started to tip over to one side or the other.

After they rode and I ran a block or two, they would yell – “Look Daddy! I can ride my bike.”

Now are they riding a bike? Sort of.  But in reality it was my hand keeping them upright. Without my strength supporting them, they would have found themselves crashing on the street.

In the same way, we Christians can look at our lives and think – “Look everyone!  I have made a decision to repent and believe the good news of Jesus.”

Is this true? Yes – but it is not the full truth.

In reality, it is the hand of our Heavenly “Daddy” who has guided us and then called His child to Himself.  In the same way as I ran behind my kids as they learn to ride a bike, our Heavenly Father is behind the scenes guiding our paths.  He orchestrates the events and relationships that shape our lives unbeknownst to us.

And in the end, He even grants us faith as Paul tells us in Ephesians: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8)

The same God who called you to Himself continues to guide the lives of men and women across this globe.  He’s using events and building relationships to guide His children in unseen but nonetheless powerful ways.  And thankfully He’s a Daddy we can trust to guide us in the perfect way.

 

Sharing the Gospel? Here are THE 4 Key Points

Recently, I was asked to give an alter call after I preached to over 1000 boys at The Nairobi School, a Kenyan national school which takes the top boys from across the country. After I preached, 17 boys committed or recommitted their lives to Christ. I was able to spend some time with them after the chapel service and share what I consider the four most basic points of the gospel:

My son, Kaleb, and I in front of The Nairobi School
My son, Kaleb, and I in front of The Nairobi School

God is Creator
The triune God, (Father, Son and Spirit) is the Creator of the world and has made each of us in His image to reflect His purposes on this earth.

Humans have rebelled
The problem is that we have rebelled against God’s authority both directly through our own actions and indirectly through our representative, Adam. Now we are dead in our sins; unable to please our Creator and therefore deserving of His judgement. All of creation is broken by sin; not completely, but tragically so that now even the physical world we live in does not function as God intended.

God redeems His people
God, in His mercy, devised a rescue plan which is centred upon Jesus, the 2nd Adam, who has come to redeem a people to Himself. Through repentance and faith in the work of Christ, each of us can be restored into a right relationship with our Creator. Believers have their guilt and shame taken away because the penalty for sins has been paid for on the cross. God gives us a new heart by the power of the indwelling Spirit – bringing the spiritually dead to life. The believer is united with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection giving us the right to call God “Father” as adopted sons and daughters.

God calls His people into mission
God then calls his people to join Him in the renewal of all things. This starts personally, as the new believer, empowered by the Spirit slowly but surely changes to live the life God intend through repentance and faith in the risen Lord Jesus. God calls his people to join together into a worshiping and serving community, an alternative community, which seeks to both given Him glory and be His agents of redemption and healing in this broken world.

Obviously, the language along with the emphasis will be different each time the gospel is shared. But if any one of these four key points of the gospel are missing, I’d question whether the good news was shared at all.

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