Friday, February 12, 2016

God is our reward

Looking for things to be thankful for. This classic hymn I played on my flute this morning seemed a good place to start: "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." (by Martin Luther)

the notes at the bottom of the page say it was based on Psalm 46. So I looked at that.

Psalm 46:1-7
"God is our refuge and strength,
an ever present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah"
I'm thankful:
1. That God is my refuge and fortress
2. He is my strength
3. He is with me in trouble

verse 8 is a little surprising:
"Come and see the works of the Lord,
the desolation he has brought on the earth."

We don't like to think of God bringing desolation or trouble of any kind. It's an especially mind bending thought given the desolation that is happening in the world right now due to ISIS and similar groups in the Middle East and Africa. We pray it will end and especially that it will stay far away from us. The cause, to our materialistic Western thinking, is primarily flawed foreign policy decisions. Our answer, especially during an election year, is to, "vote the bums out." But, could this desolation that we abhor so much actually be brought about by God himself? This passage seems to say so. Why?

verse 9
"He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear,
he burns the shields with fire.

That's better! We want wars to cease!

verse 10
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

Maybe this is the point of verses 8 and 9. He is God. We are not.

We like to say "God is in control." But we mainly think that means that he will fix whatever problem is troubling us. Does it?

Author, Larry Crabb doesn't think so. In his book "The Pressure's Off" he writes that he believes it means,
"nothing thwarts His plan for His people. What is the plan? To give us a Better Life now, as we define it? No. It's to reveal Himself as the greatest treasure the human heart could ever imagine." 
"The plain fact that we moderns have trouble grasping is that God is not cooperating with our agenda to make this world a safe and wonderful place to live." 
 God is moving, even through trials and tragedies, to reach His agenda: to "have a people who think He is the greatest, who value knowing Him and worshiping Him and serving Him above all other blessings." 
Sometimes it seems, for me anyway, that I need to go through trials before I really see that knowing and loving God is really the most important thing. Like God said to Abraham in Genesis 15, God himself is our "very great reward." Abraham had suffered losses and reversals (read chapters 12-14). He also had not yet seen the fulfillment of God's promises to him. But God's word to him was, "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward." He did eventually give Abraham more blessings and the answer to his prayers for a son, but what God seemed to really want was for Abraham to value knowing God above every other blessing. I believe that is what God wants for us too.

...I am thankful...
4. That we can know God.
How about you? Leave comments here or on facebook to help fill in #5. :-)

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