Friday, October 1, 2021

When Being Outnumbered is a Good Thing

I expect all of us know what it’s like to struggle with some kind of stubborn behaviour that we know isn’t pleasing to God. I sure do. A typical struggle in my life is how I can react very selfishly and imperatively toward people when I’m feeling under pressure. People I love get hurt. And then when the dust settles, I not only need to resolve things with them, but it can feel like God is disapprovingly waiting for a conversation as well, arms folded, with a furrowed brow. And I’m reluctant to even talk to him about it – yet again.

Even King David could relate to that. He wrote in Psalm 40:12, “My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head. Therefore my heart fails me.” But despite such struggles, David was full of hope and encouragement as he wrote this psalm.

David began the psalm by describing God as being inclined to him, and willing to help him, despite his unworthiness. In fact, I’m amazed at how a man who later described himself as being surrounded by “innumerable evils” and as having more sins than the hairs on his head (v.12) also had the faith to describe God as having thoughts toward him that are “more than can be numbered” (v.5). Do you ever feel like your sins can’t be counted? Then try counting God’s thoughts toward you! Hairs can be numbered, but God’s thoughts of you can’t be.

And God’s innumerable thoughts toward us are not disapproving thoughts. We know that because of how David began the psalm by describing how God had helped him: “he brought me up out of a horrible pit… He set my feet upon a rock… He put a new song in my mouth” (vv.2-3). That doesn’t sound like a frowning God looking down on our feeble frames. Then in response to what God had done for him, David poured forth his "new song" in response: “I have proclaimed good news of righteousness… I do not restrain my lips… I have declared your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your lovingkindness and your truth” (vv.9-10). David did “not restrain” his praise for a God who clearly did “not withhold” his love from David, despite his many sins. This is why we don’t need to feel reluctant to approach God, whatever our struggles might be.

It’s no wonder that David ended the psalm by declaring, “The Lord be magnified!” (v.16). David then repeats the amazing contrast: “I am poor and needy [meaning, my sins are ‘more than the hairs of my head’]; Yet the Lord thinks upon me [with thoughts that ‘are more than can be numbered’]. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” (v.17). I’m so glad he’s still inclined to help us too.

© 2021 Ken Peters

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Heartbeat of Heaven

Do you want to hear God’s heartbeat? God’s thoughts are expressed in the Bible, but his heartbeat can be heard in the words that are repeated in that book, age after age. 

An example is found when Jesus spoke for the last time with
his disciples, before leaving this earth. He said, “Go...”

When the living Word spoke that word “Go” to the ones he had called, I hear a heartbeat. How could Jesus’ heart not have harkened back to a day long before, when God said, “Go” to one pivotal person? Nearly 2,000 years before Jesus told his disciples to “Go,” God called a man and said, “Go,” and promised to bless every nation through his obedience.

“The Lord said to Abram, ‘Go...’” – leave what you know to pursue my plans so that many people will be blessed (Gen. 12:1). That word is a heartbeat from heaven. “Go,” God said to him, and I will make you a blessing to nations. Then centuries later, Jesus said to his followers, “Go,” and I will send you to nations that I want to bless.

God’s heartbeat says “Go” and obedience to God’s heartbeat means believing God’s heart for us. Abraham obeyed God because he believed God. He trusted God, which is why he was so willing to relinquish his past as he set out on a journey to lay hold of an unknown future in God. We too are invited to believe God – to trust him – and to relinquish our lives as we begin a journey of living for God, going to others with all the blessings received from him.

And the sound of God’s heartbeat goes back many centuries further. When Jesus, through whom “all things were created, in heaven and on earth” (Col. 1:16), said “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19), how could his Creator’s heart not have harkened back to when God blessed his creation and said, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28)? Each of those moments is a commissioning. 

With each new disciple, God’s people are multiplying and filling the earth as God commanded the first people he created. That’s the fulfillment of a Father’s heartbeat – a Father of creation, and of a family of many nations. It’s the heartbeat of Father who not only sent his servant Abraham, and every follower of his Son, but it’s the heartbeat of a Father who also sent his Son.

“Go” is the heartbeat of a living God that has been beating since the first days of creation, and is beating still as God says, “Go” and share the life-changing love you have found in my Son, Jesus.

© 2021 Ken Peters