The Noonday Sun

THE NOONDAY SUN

“(God) will make your righteousness shine like the noonday sun”. 
Ps 37:6 GNB 

We sometimes refer to people who are obviously happy and positive as having “a sunny disposition”. They are a pleasure to have around. They seem to be heavily outnumbered by the doom-jonahs who spread misery and pessimism whenever they open their mouths. 

The poet of Psalm 37 was a man of deep faith and wide experience. He had seen that a strong faith in God tended to make people positive, hopeful and sensible. He had watched as believers surmounted difficulties, held on despite overwhelming odds, and came through lean periods stronger and deeper in their convictions. Moreover they were more caring and sensitive to others’ sufferings. He had witnessed, and probably known himself, “that confident joy of having peace of mind and refuge in God which fills the life of the godly person with sunshine. That person’s life is sustained by the hope that God’s salvation will rise over him like the sun, and that his just cause, which, after all, is nothing other than the cause of God, will triumph” (A. Weiser, The Psalms, p317). 

The Christian disciple will shine too, if, in the darkest night of human degradation he or she knows the presence and power of Jesus. Christians sing for joy when things are at their worst. They hold when others are breaking. They quietly move forward when other people are so confused and fearful that they don’t know which way to go. They hope when others have given in to despair. They care for others when caring costs time, effort and patience. Like Mother Theresa they go into places where there is darkness and suffering and bring light and relief. Wherever they go, God shines through them. 

Lord, help my faith to shine in others’ darkness.

Life And Light

LIFE AND LIGHT

“With you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light”. 
Ps 36:9 NIV 

What chaos we experience when a power cut puts out all the lights and we fumble around in the dark to find a torch or candle! We then wonder how people lived before electricity had been invented. We take light for granted – until our man-made lighting systems fail. 

Once again the psalm-writer repeats his statement that normal physical life depends on God. He is the source, or fountain, of life. It comes from him and is sustained by him. But in the story of creation the first action in creating was for God to create light. It is prior to anything else. Nothing can grow or survive without light. But the psalmist is thinking of more than the light of the sun. God’s glory is pure radiant light and the true life of faith is lived in communion with God so that we are exposed to – this – light when we are in fellowship with him. Without that- light we would be in real darkness and life would have no meaning. “Without God, man would be what the earth would be without the sun. Just as everything subsists on the sun’s light and heat, and just as the flower opens and blossoms in response to the sunbeams, so it is the ‘light’ of God, the heavenly light of the glory of his presence, which causes the life of humanity to grow and prosper joyously, and which gives it its meaning and transparency, its strength and stability. Without God man’s life is exposed to meaninglessness, darkness and destruction. In him and through him we live and move and have our being” (A. Weiser, The Psalms p311). 

Lord, help me, in your light to see light.

The Day I Died

The Day I Died

God takes sin seriously. Sin is a terrible thing in the Christian’s life. That is why God did not overlook sin, but dealt with it in one complete stroke of judgment by sending Christ to die for us on the cross.
Now that we have been saved by grace can we live any way we so please? Can we sin it up now that our fire insurance has been paid in full?

The apostle Paul responded to that arrogant attitude saying, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).
We died to sin. “Died” is in aorist past tense, indicating a once for all death in a judicial sense. We legally died (vv. 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 18). It refers to a single action that has taken place and has been completed in the past.

The idea of our death to sin is basic in this great chapter, and is essential to the sanctification of all believers.
“We died to sin.” When did you die?
The apostle Paul does not say we are going to die to sin, or we are presently dying to sin. He does not say we are continually to die to sin. The apostle has in mind a completed past action.

We “have died” to sin is already true of us if we have entered into a vital union with Christ. Charles Hodge notes, “it refers to a specific act in our past history.”

The apostle Paul tells us there is a watershed, a before Christ and after he came into our lives. Before Christ describes the old man, the old self, what I was like before my conversion. The after Christ came in describes the  new man, the new self, what my life has been like after I was made a new creation in Christ. The before Christ ended with the judicial death of the old self. I was a sinner. I deserved to die. I did die. I received my righteousness in my Substitute with whom I have become one. It describes my resurrection. My old life is finished, and a new life to God has begun.

Our continuing in sin is unthinkable says Paul because God by His grace took us from the position of being in Adam and transferred us into the kingdom of Christ. It is something God has already done. It is not something we do, or have done, but something God has done to us. We have been joined to Jesus Christ. The old life ended in that transaction, and a new life has begun at the same time.

In Romans 6:1-11 the apostle Paul compares our dying to sin to how Christ died to sin. Although He had never experienced personal sin, He died to sin by suffering its penalty on the cross. “The wages of sin is death.” He died as our substitute. He was punished for our sin in our place once for all on the cross. Jesus died to sin once for all. His relationship to sin is finished forever. By dying in our place on the cross He put an end to its claim upon us once for all.

Jesus died. That will never happen again. It will never be repeated. It is a completed action in the past. Paul makes this emphatically clear in verses 9-10, “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”

Moreover, Paul tells us that our old life of sin in Adam is over. We died. Just as Christ can never go back and die again, we can never go back to the old life in Adam. That part of our lives died. The result of our vital union with Christ in His death and resurrection is that our old life in Adam is past, over with, and we now have a new life in Christ.

Our life is divided into two parts at the point in which we believed on Christ and were born again. At a specific act in past history we accepted Christ as our Savior and we became new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

Can you point to a time in your life and see the change before and after Christ separated by the new birth? When we put our faith in Christ as our Savior and were born again the old self died through union with Christ and was buried. The penalty of our sins was paid in full by Christ’s atoning death. At the same time the believer rose again from death, a new person, to live a new life in Christ. We were crucified with Christ and rose with Him to new life.

We died to the life of sin. God counts the utterly perfect righteousness of the risen Christ as ours. He sees us risen in Him. We live a new life in Christ. The old one died, and it was buried.

Does your life have a dividing line marked Christ?
“O for a thousand tongues to sing. . .” the triumph of His grace in a thousand different languages! 

Give Yourself

GIVE YOURSELF

“Give yourself to the Lord; trust in him and he will help you”. 
Ps 37:5 GNB 

We come into this world depending on our parents. Our attitude is, “How can I get what I want?” And most people, when they first come to know God, carry on that same mind-set. They want to know, “How can I get God to give me what I want out of him?” For many, prayer is regarded as a set of techniques for getting something out of God that he is reluctant to part with. 

The psalm-writer had advanced beyond that childish conception of God. For him, God was not a slot machine into which you put your coin, press a button and get out a chocolate. The essence of faith was giving yourself to God in commitment, come what may. In mature faith you have confidence in God, giving yourself to him and putting yourself at his disposal. Part of this relationship is finding that your faith is rewarded when God helps you surmount the difficulties and overcome the setbacks of life. Faith is not a technique to get. It is a way of life in which you give. 

The disciples of Jesus were to find this out later. When he beckoned to them and invited them to “Follow me” he was calling them to give themselves to him. Little did they know that by responding they were giving themselves to a way of life which, for some, would ultimately lead to martyrdom and death. Stop thinking of God as the great chocolate machine and start giving yourself, body, soul and spirit to Jesus Christ. Do not hold back, and if you have already given yourself and later drawn back, renew that commitment. NOW. 

Lord, you have called and I am ready to respond.

It’s A Feast!

IT’S A FEAST !

“We feast on the abundant food you provide”. 
Ps 36:8 GNB 

Whilst there is talk of hunger and poverty in this place and that, there is also plenty of evidence to suggest that there is plenty of food – if you can afford it. Supermarkets are bulging with supplies of every conceivable food. Generally prosperity is rising – even in Africa – and one of the first ways in which people spend is on food. Health clinics abound with courses on how to reduce weight caused by over-eating. The rising incidence of obesity is causing major problems. The restaurant industry appears to be flourishing. Television programmes abound on how to cook ever tastier dishes. And all food derives from nature. 

The Hebrew poet looked on the world and on life and could see that there was plenty of food. That was without the help of modern farming methods and fertilizers. And he saw it for what it was. It was all the gift of God. The soil in which it grew, the fields in which the cattle fed, the hillsides on which the sheep grazed, the rain that fell from the sky – they were all in one sense or another gifts of God. Whilst there were problems here and there and people had to work hard to make use of what there was, it meant that life was one long feast. 

Today many people take their food for granted. Others worry about where they are going to get a crust of bread to ease their hunger pains. Yet others steal to get things to sell in order to buy food (a major cause of crime). Be grateful if you have enough. But also be mindful of those in dire straits. 

Lord, help all who starve today and provide them with food.

Waiting On God

Waiting On God

“Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” – Psalm 37:7

I don’t like to wait in long lines at restaurants, being stuck in traffic during rush hour, or being put on hold by a computer. Waiting is a waste of time.

This is why waiting on God is so difficult for many believers. That’s also why many people quote the verse that is not in the Bible, “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s American ideology, but it’s not biblical.

The statement speaks to the lack of faith, how God needs us to take charge to get things done. But one thing’s for sure: What we need to do is to trust God and be willing to do His will, in His timing, not our own, for the right action at the right time equals the right result.

Waiting on God is tough, but God’s timing is always best for us and for others.

I Am The Resurrection And The Life

I Am The Resurrection And The Life

“I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.” – John 11:25-26

One of the more outrageous claims of Jesus was, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” He concluded this claim by asking the crowd, “Do you believe this?”

How would you have responded?

Jesus was claiming to have power over death. He was claiming that He was the source of eternal life. He was claiming that even if a person dies physically and they believe in Him, they will never die spiritually. Do you believe this?

How you answer Jesus’ question concerning His claims about Himself and power over death is the most important decision you’ll ever make. Let’s put it this way: if He didn’t rise from the dead, the decision is easy. Don’t believe Him. But if He did, we have an important decision to make – a decision of life and death.

I believe Him. How about you?