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Archive for March, 2010

I am not shamed

It’s important to know the context of a Bible verse or passage. And it can be very enlightening to know when a Psalm was written (and the situation that surrounds it).

Psalm 34:5 says “Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame”
My first thought when I got to this verse (during my devotions this morning) was picturing Moses’ face shining with the glory of God after spending time speaking face to face with God. Radiant!
But then, recalling the context of the verse, a little word at the end really stuck out.
Shame.
Now there’s a couple of things you have to understand:
  1. I am a people-pleaser and have been struggling for the past few years with caring less what others think of me and more about what God thinks of me.
  2. The psalm is labeled as written “When [David] pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left”
  3. In biblical culture beards represented manhood. Thus to shave, pull, pluck or otherwise not take care of your beard brought shame (or was meant to – think of how the gospel writers tell us that the soldiers pulled out Jesus’ beard).
Are you seeing what I did yet?
Let me tell you a bit more about David and Abimelech. Now this was during the time when Saul was after David and he went to Abimelech (aka Achish), King of Gath (home of Goliath – of the Philistines). They recognized him and he realized this and so feared for his life. His response? To act insane and like he was out of his mind among them. How did he prove to them he was insane? He ¬†drew on the gates and let “saliva run down his beard.”
After all, no man in his right mind would shame his face or himself by drooling on his beard!
And then when David writes his Psalm he says, “… their faces are never covered with shame.”
How cool is that? He wasn’t overly concerned with his reputation, his pride, his face – even among (at that time “prestigious” and powerful) enemies. For he knew that those who look to God are truly never shamed.
Anyhow, it spoke to me. My value, esteem, personhood, etc comes from God – even if people think of me poorly or try to shame me!

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a wee little man…

And no, I’m not talking leprechauns… I’m talking about Zacchaeus. You know, the song we learned in Sunday School? Little man. In a tree. Jesus called to him. Major change.

I think we tend to talk a little about how he climbed a tree to see Jesus and then talk a lot about how (and even why) Jesus came to his house and he was then a different man…
But aside from him being short, it seems we rarely focus on the beginning – which is what caught my attention today. Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus and he figured out where Jesus was headed and he ran ahead to put himself in a position where he could, in fact, see Jesus. Of course, I’m not sure he expected to have such a personal encounter… but when Jesus called, Zacchaeus responded.
Come to think of it, I guess I have heard this all before, even the beginning part… but it still stuck out to me today?
Why?
How badly do I want to see and meet with Jesus? Do I put myself in a position where I can see and meet with Jesus? Or am I content to stick to my own busy schedule and be satisfied with other’s reports of when they saw, met or encountered Jesus?

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I really didn’t intend to write a poem. The pattern and rhythms are a bit off… but as I sat to journal reflection on today’s devos, this is what came out…

(Scripture was Luke 22:54-62)
“This man was with Him.”
How did she know
that Peter was there
for the highs and the lows?
The Mount of Transfiguration
and “You are the Christ,”
Then “Get behind me, Satan”
had cut like a knife.
Three years together,
of dirt and of sun,
traveling and watching
learning He was the One.
Did it show on his face,
was there a depth in his eyes?
How was time with Jesus
evident in their lives?
“This man was with Him.”
May it be said also of me.
Only when asked,
may I not deny Thee!

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My lectio divina this morning was on 1 Samuel 7:5-13. It’s already a favorite passage of mine as it’s the passage about the Ebenezer stone. (You may remember a blog a few years back concerning my own “Ebenezer stones” which mark and remind me of God’s movements in my own life.) And the guided reflection (it’s an intro to lectio divina book) focused on the stone and on remembering God’s works…

… but something else really struck me, earlier on, in verse 8. I guess it’s because in the daily Bible audio we’ve gone through Exodus and Leviticus and are now in Numbers…. so I keep hearing Israel over and over again complaining – that the Egyptians will kill them, that they’ll die in the desert, that enemies and the people of Canaan will get them (not to mention all the food and water complaints)…

So verse 8 stuck out. We tend to picture Israel as always faithless and sinning and complaining and doubting. (And to be honest, though it seems to happen often, they are not constant in such things and we are not as far removed from them as we like to think!) Here they had sinned again and their enemies had defeated them (and had taken the Ark – which has just been returned before this passage) so Samuel calls for repentance. And they do!

And as they are repenting and sacrificing the Philistines come up against them. Only this time it wasn’t a “woe is us – we’re doomed!” response. It was more “Samuel, please continue to pray so that God will rescue us.”

It’s a subtle difference really. So look again.

Verse 8: “Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.”

“That he may rescue us.”

As if they actually believed he could and would! This stood out sharply to me.

Oh that I would believe. Oh that I would have an attitude of repentance and prayer and belief rather than giving into complains and fears and doomsday visions!

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It’s early morning. Only she and her daddy are awake. It’s father-daughter time. She dresses up. Long skirt, soft shoes, hair up. A little girl, she plays the part of a princess…

These mornings have become precious to her. There with her father. She can see the delight in his eyes and feel the smile on his face. She is almost giddy herself.

Taking the ends of her skirt, she curtsies to her father, “may I have this dance?” And so she begins. She moves solemnly and she moves playfully. Lifting, sweeping, swirling, twirling, bowing, raising, leaping… There is laughter and joy and delight. She is in the presence of her father!

She tries to remember the steps she was taught. Foot position, balance, movement. She tries to dance gracefully. But she is just a child and her movements are more often awkward and clumsy. Yet she is graceful in the eyes of her father, who watches with a father’s love. It was never her grace anyway. It was always his. A gift. And in grace and through grace and, eventually, with grace she dances. Delighted. Delighting. In the presence of her daddy.

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Before it was a dry path through the waters.

Water was ahead
all that could be seen
No way out
no way through

So God created a path through the waters.

Dry ground
A path to life

But now He says “forget”
“do not dwell on the past”

For now everything has become desert.

Wilderness
Death

And now He is doing something new.

A new thing
Streams in the desert

New life. Again.

So that His people may praise Him.

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