Good afternoon. It is Saturday, October 6, 2012. Welcome to the afternoon edition of Revelling in the Overflowing Grace of God. Today is “Mad Hatter Day.” For some reason that one got my attention over the other five or six options for this day. I’m a big fan of Alice in Wonderland, so perhaps that is why.
It was on this date in 1866 that the Reno Gang carried out the first recorded robbery of a moving train in the U.S.
On this date in 1991, Elizabeth Taylor married husband number 7, a construction worker named Larry Fortensky. Who??
Charlotte Bronte, using the pseudonym Currer Bell, published the book Jane Eyre on this date in 1847. It was an immediate success. Well, she didn’t really publish it. Smith, Elder and Co. published it.
And it was on this date in 1926 that Babe Ruth set a World Series record by hitting three home runs in game four of the series between the Evil Empire and the Cardinals. Two years later, he would repeat that feat. In game four. Against the Cardinals.
Well last night was bittersweet. The bitter part was the Rangers losing the “playin” game to the Baltimore Rangers, 5-1. I know you think they are called the Baltimore Orioles, but when they have Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Pedro Strop, Darren O’Day, Endy Chavez, Taylor Teagarden, and are managed by Buck Showalter, well…you get the picture. Anyway, the Rangers were clearly out of the playoff picture long before they lost first place to the Athletics this past Wednesday. It prompted me to come with this statement, and yes, I made this up. I may not be the only one who made it up, but I did. It doesn’t matter how long you were in first place if you weren’t in first place when it mattered. That was the Rangers this season. They led the AL West division pretty much the entire season. Until the very last day. The one that mattered.
On to the “sweet” part of the night. Christi and I traveled to Deep Ellum in Dallas last night, to The Prophet Bar, which is kind of the back room to The Door, a club in Deep Ellum which mostly specializes in Christian rock music. The main attraction last night, at least for us, was The Choir, one of my favorite bands since the eighties. They played a few songs from their 1988 album, Chase the Kangaroo, including this one, “Children of Time.”
The guy over there on the left is playing an instrument known as a lyricon. It is fascinating, and he is the only one I’ve ever seen play one. That’s Dan Michaels, with Tim Chandler next to him on bass, Steve Hindalong on drums, and Derri Daugherty playing lead and singing. The concert was a lot of fun. They also performed some new songs from their newest album, The Loudest Sound Ever Heard, including this one called “Cross That River,” which is about our need for each other in the Christian life and community.
After the show, we hung around and helped the guys pack up their gear and load it into their two vans out in front of the club. I didn’t know it, but we had parked right behind the van Dan Michaels was driving. They were very appreciative of our help and posed with Christi and me for a picture.
Father, I pray that you reveal a glimpse of yourself to me during this time today. Keep me meditating on your marvelous mercy and grace.
Today, I’m reading Psalm 119:73-80. There are several ideas in this segment.
73 Yodh. Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O LORD, that your rules are righteous, and that in faithfulness you have afflicted me.
76 Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.
78 Let the insolent be put to shame, because they have wronged me with falsehood; as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes, that I may not be put to shame!
He begins by the acknowledgment that it is God who has made him. Therefore, he prays for understanding to learn God’s word. There is, indeed, a sense of rejoicing when people who know and fear God gather together. The fact that we all place our hope in God’s word brings a sense of community to us; a commonality that cannot be easily broken.
I see a connection in verses 75-80, although I admit I might be fabricating it. The psalmist first acknowledges the righteousness of God’s rules and that God has been faithful, even in bringing affliction to him. He prays for comfort through God’s steadfast love, according to His promises. He also prays for mercy, in the midst of the affliction, because he has taken delight in God’s word. Many have told lies about him, possibly spawned by the affliction mentioned in verse 75. Who among us has not been guilty of thinking that someone must have done something wrong to be “punished” by God in such a way. We, too, should be put to shame, because there is always something that we don’t know in any given circumstance. He will continue to meditate on God’s word, even while people accuse him falsely. Others who fear God will, as a result of this, turn to the one being afflicted, and be encouraged by God’s word in his life. His heart will remain blameless; he will not be put to shame.
Once again, this is all tied to an understanding of, and meditating on, God’s word.
In today’s reading from My Utmost For His Highest, called “The Bent of Regeneration,” the Scripture reference is Galatians 1:15-16. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone… Chambers keys in on the part of God being pleased to reveal his Son.
“If Jesus Christ is to regenerate me, what is the problem He is up against?” At the beginning, I have “a heredity that I had no say in.” I’m not holy. I’m not going to be holy. If all Jesus can do is to tell me I must be holy, this does nothing but plant the seeds of despair in my soul. “But if Jesus Christ is a Regenerator, One Who can put into me His own heredity of holiness, then I begin to see what He is driving at when He says that I have to be holy.” All of the standards that Christ has given us are based on the fact that he, in the act of Redemption, can place in us the disposition of holiness that was in him. “His teaching is for the life He puts in.” This goes back to what I have realized about the Beatitudes in recent weeks. Those teachings are not for me to try to live by. They are for the life of Christ, being lived out in me.
Father, I thank you for the regeneration that you worked in my life. You took this life, full of sin and unholiness, and placed within it the seed of holiness, the heredity of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. In doing so, you began forming the life of Christ in me, a lifelong process that will reach its climax when I see him face to face. I pray for the continuation of this process. I know that you will continue it…you will not give up on me, nor will you leave me or forsake me. Thus is your promise in the Scriptures. You chose me before I was born, set me apart before I was conceived. Yet you still had to, at some point in my history, reveal yourself to me, that I might be made aware of my need for you. Thank you for doing so.
I pray that the attributes of Christ might be fully formed in me, as his life continues to be formed in me. Reveal yourself to me continuously, each day that I live, that I might see you, that I might glimpse your face.
I pray for the remainder of this day, that we might be rested for tomorrow’s worship celebrations. Give Christi and me grace and strength as we serve you tomorrow at The Exchange church. May you be glorified by our service and by our worship.
As I continue to learn of the benefits of the life of Christ in me, I am amazed at what God is doing. More and more, I understand that it is all his work and none of mine.
Grace and peace, friends.