It’s Saturday morning, January 14, 2012. It’s 35 degrees outside at 7am, but should reach a very comfy 64 this afternoon. Should be a beautiful day. We have our usual set up for The Exchange Church at 830, then grocery shopping. But after that, we plan a trip up to Denton for lunch with Rachel and Justin. I’m hoping for an opportunity to visit Recycled Books while we are there. It’s the most amazing used book store I’ve ever seen.
Yesterday went pretty well. Christ’s “events” both went pretty well, and it looks like they are recommending that she move on to another one. It’s like a contest, huh? Anyway…we’re staying on the prayers for that.
I don’t have much time today, so I’ll move right on.
My Utmost For His Highest
And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” Isaiah 6:8
“God did not address the call to Isaiah; Isaiah overheard God saying ‘Who will go for us?’” Thus begins today’s reading. He follows by saying, “The call of God is not for the special few, it is for everyone.” I both agree and disagree with that statement. I believe that God does issue special calls for people. Or perhaps we confuse “gifts” with “calls.” Are people truly “called” to be pastors or missionaries? That’s the way we have stated it for over a century. Jesus said “Many are called, few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) Chambers says, “The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ whereby their disposition has been altered and their ears unstopped, and they hear the still small voice questioning all the time, ‘Who will go for us?’” Isaiah was brought into the very presence of God, and when he heard the question, felt that there was nothing else to do but say, “Here am I, send me.” Chambers says that when Jesus selected his disciples, “there was no irresistible compulsion from outside.” With all due respect, I’m not sure I agree with that. And when Jesus said, “Follow me,” was he not speaking only to those few? Kind of like when he said, “Lazarus, come forth.” If that had been a general call, every corpse within hearing distance would have come out of its tomb.
In short, I believe that God does issue specific calls to specific people. That’s why there are people like Billy Graham, Lottie Moon, Martin Luther, etc. I don’t believe that the potential to be “Isaiah” resides in every person. I do, however, agree with the assessment of who the “chosen ones” are. We have come into that relationship with God through Christ, and our dispositions have been altered, and our ears unstopped, so that whatever call God does issue to us, we will hear it.
Weekend reading, called “Therapeutic Praise.” Writer David Murray states that the Psalms seem to be experiencing a bit of a resurgence. The reason, he believes, is that they have “therapeutic value.”
“First, the Psalms balance divine revelation and human emotion.” I like that statement. And, what he says about modern worship songs is true. There are many that stir the heart, emotionally, but have little theological content. “The heart is engaged, but not the mind.” In a move of overreaction, some have composed songs full of theology, but with no emotional engagement. Remember what Jesus said; we need to worship “in spirit and in truth.” The Psalms are a perfect balance of the two. (Also, I will say that, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with an occasional song that simply engages my emotions.)
The Psalm writers constantly shout “Praise the Lord!” then give real reasons why this should be done. God is proclaimed with a passion, and is “described in such a way as to stir up our hearts and cause us to interact with Him through His self-revelation.”
Second, the Psalms seem to express every possible kind of emotion that a human can experience. John Calvin called the Psalms “an Anatomy of all Parts of the Soul.” Even more important, (this is number three) the Psalms do not give us a false portrayal of the Christian life. The Christian life is not “victory upon victory,” as some would have us believe. Much of our contemporary worship is so upbeat and positive that we sometimes experience a “disconnect that eventually leads to cynicism and a loss of assurance.” And let me tell you right now…the guy typing this is a mast of cynicism! I struggle with that on a daily basis. Dr. Murray says that the Psalms give us “bold and bald honesty.”
“Fourth, the Psalms are a welcome outlet for our painful emotions.” He asks if I have ever sung about assurance while being full of doubt. Or sung about joy when I’m depressed. Oh, yeah. Because the guy picking the songs isn’t in MY head, is he? It’s quite a terrible feeling. As we read the Psalms, we can truly “sing” what we feel. There are Psalms of doubt and despair (88), Psalms about struggles with God’s sovereignty (73), even Psalms that can guide us through depression (42, 78).
“The Psalms open the pressure valves of our hearts and direct us in how to articulate our most painful emotions.” And after we are permitted to vent our emotions, they teach us how to transform them! They don’t end in despair, but show us hope!
“Fifth, the Psalms call us to sympathetic emotions.” They teach us how to understand what someone else is feeling. “The Psalms call me to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice, even if I feel exactly the opposite.” His final statement: “The Psalms turn me inside out.”
Excellent article, Dr. David Murray!!
The Bible Panorama
Matthew 10:1-20; Genesis 33-35
Matthew 10 begins with the naming of the “Twelve” disciples (1-4). He has already called some of them, and the whole group is named here. He gives them a “Task” (5-16) and instructions for their mission. At this point, the reading splits in the middle of a paragraph (I had a feeling this would happen eventually.) In the next few verses, Jesus predicts “Trials” (17-26) that the disciples will encounter as they go about their tasks. We will revisit this word tomorrow.
Genesis 33–First, we see “Suspicious Defensiveness” (1-3) as Jacob prepares to meet Esau. He is truly afraid of Esau’s reaction. However, there is “Surprise Drama” (4-5a) as Esau greets him enthusiastically and even asks about his family. Jacob displays a “Submissive Demeanor” (5b-11) as he insists on giving Esau the gifts that he has presented. However, Jacob is “Still Devious” (12-20). When Esau suggests they travel together, he makes up an excuse as to why he is unable, suggests a meeting somewhere else, then goes the opposite direction!
Genesis 34–This chapter begins with the “Defilement” (1-2) of Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, as the son of a local Hivite ruler basically rapes her. After her “Disgrace” (3-7), Shechem (the son) feels strongly for her and wants a marriage arranged. We see “Directness” (8-12) as Hamor and Shechem approach Jacob and his sons, asking for the marriage. Jacob says nothing, but his sons act in “Deceitfulness” (13-24) and say that they will agree to the marriage if all of the Hivite men get circumcised. This, of course, leads to “Disaster” (15-29) because, while the men are still in pain, recovering from the circumcision, Jacobs sons go in and slaughter the city. This causes some “Desperation” in Jacob (30-31), as he fears the reputation this will give him.
Genesis 35–This chapter begins in “Bethel” (1-15) as Jacob revisits this special place and builds an altar. The Lord again affirms the renaming of Jacob to Israel, at this point. We see the birth of “Benjamin” (16-20), as Rachel bears her last son, but dies in the process. In 21-22a, Reuben has relations with “Bilhah,” one of Jacob’s concubines. As the chapter draws to a close, we see the “Birth” (22b-26) of Israel as the twelve sons are named, and “Burial” (27-29) of Isaac, with both Jacob and Esau participating.
Father, I pray for our day today. I pray that the setup will go smoothly and safely. I also pray that we will have a safe trip to Denton and and enjoyable time with our family today. As I reflect upon your call on my life, let me live with my eyes and ears open to any additional tasks that you may have for me. Let not the fear of trials and tribulations sway me from obeying your call on my life. I pray for faithfulness to your Word and to your hand on my life.
I praise you and thank you for everything in my life, for it has all come from you.
Time is short, and I must go, now.
Let the Psalms turn you inside out!
Grace and peace, friends.