Moreover Blessing & Even Though Love

Moreover Blessing

It was something Authrine reminded me about. She was talking about how God responded to Solomon’s request. So I went to read 1 Kings 3 and loved how Solomon put himself at the mercy of God to just get the wisdom required to operate in his position as king. That degree of humility was something I took very seriously. No way I can carry out any of my responsibilities without that degree of humility – that knowledge that without God I am going to mess it up big time, but walking in line with Him, I can be thoroughly faithful in what He calls me to do.

God’s response to the prayer was the really exciting thing. The writer describes how Solomon’s request pleased the Lord. I love that thought. That thought that God smiled at it, as if He nodded his head because that was the kind of engagement he was looking for. Then that word in the NIV version popped up in verse 13 – Moreover. It got me excited to see God delighted to the extent that whereas Solomon asked for one thing, God gave Him so much more. That word moreover – suggesting it was time for God to show again He is a God of more than enough. As a man’s ways were pleasing to Him so He poured out a Moreover Blessing.

What I also noted carefully was how that bonus blessing was based on maintaining that humble desire to stick close to God. Things would go well for Solomon just as long as he remained committed to this relationship through obedience. It was sobering because it reminded me of that tendency to look for something from someone and as soon as the thing came the someone was either dismissed outright or became significantly less important. Yet here God emphasised how it’s all about the focus on the relationship. It’s not about the goodies we get from God – it’s about embracing the Giver as of far greater value than the gift.

The big deal was being in line with the heart of God and delighting Him to the point that we enjoy His Moreover Blessing!

Even Though Love

There’s brotherly love. It’s a great love among family, it is about those ties that boasts of a depth far deeper than casual and convenient acquaintances.

Yet, there is something about the love of God in Jesus Christ that still humbles me tremendously. What kind of love keeps trusting the people you will bring closer to you than anyone else even though they will misunderstand you, leave you in the lurch when it matters most, denies you three times and in one person’s case even betray and sell you out? What kind of love keeps going even though the wife you died for and longed to beautify time after time brings your name into disrepute?

No wonder it’s referred to as an amazing and divine love. That kind of even though love. A love that Paul evidently had in mind when referring the church in Corinth to it. This kind of even though love lifts us above the bitter resentment that lingers after hurt. This kind of even though love pours out liberating forgiving mercy and grace to others even as we are grateful recipients from an amazing Saviour who loves us even though

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Run to Win but not be Disqualified

Athletics? Nah.

I used to run a bit at school, but in my younger years. Then I got to the stage where I didn’t like running so much. I much prefer walking.

As for watching athletics, it was one of the few things my Dad would watch on TV. So I watched races and was duly intrigued by some of the stories in the races and behind the races. I remember 1988 and the furore behind the 100m final.

There was Carl Lewis, the great hope of America, up against Linford Christie, the great hope of Britain and against Ben Johnson, the great hope for Canada. Johnson won the race, claimed the gold and the adulation of his nation. Then subsequent tests showed that Johnson had ingested illegal performance enhancing drugs and in shame and scandal he had to relinquish his gold medal. He had been disqualified.

Almost 30 years later, there is still a strong degree of disgust at using performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage in the sport. Some competitors insist drug cheats should never be allowed back in the sport again. The degree to which mercy, forgiveness and restoration is lacking in this particular area is telling in the sport. Cheating spoils it for others who work hard, train diligently and apply themselves to run to win within the rules.

And that’s for a medal and a title that is temporary. The gold medal winner in 1988 is not the winner in 2008 or 2028. Time moves on, Lewis last week, becomes Michael Johnson yesterday, becomes Usain Bolt today and becomes another sporting great tomorrow.

Meanwhile there is another race the Apostle Paul referred to – a race to gain a crown that never perishes. Paul takes this race so seriously that he dare not do anything to see himself disqualified and he will get his body under control so he can be in it to win it.

That desire to be so careful in the race reminds me of the sobering words of Jesus that many will claim him as Lord, but be disqualified because He does not know them for being anything other than workers of lawlessness. They can boast all they want of the accomplishments they have racked up ‘in his name’ and still be disqualified for something a whole lot worse than using performance enhancing drugs.

I recognise how easy it is to encourage others to be faithful while I am being faithless. Talking a great talk, whipping up an enthusiasm for godly pursuits, while I am slowly sinking into a prideful selfish abyss of delusional and deceptive decay. The mercy of God has been rich in my life to wake me up to the futility and folly of the hypocrisy. To the point that when I recognise the symptoms beginning to sprout in my mind not only do I desperately pray, but I know that I need the help of my brothers in Christ to hold me up and restore me to right paths. I appreciate the support from within and without. Left to myself, I know that I wouldn’t be around and aware enough to write these words. God in His grace extends opportunity after opportunity to get on with the race and run to win.

That same grace propels me to encourage others in doing whatever it takes to focus on the only race that matters. Get ready for it. Train for it. Go for it. Do it in such a way that after you encourage others, you won’t be disqualified.

I would certainly prefer that race than athletics.

(Photo: Unsplash)

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Psalm 123 – Mercy From Contempt 

The collection of Psalms would have informed you by now that there are plenty of good reasons for praise and worship. This particular Psalm gives another reason for worship and it is a tough reason to take. 

Worship from the pain of contempt. Enduring the pain of active insults and bitterness that’s experienced. It is as if the Psalmist knows what it is to go through the day being drenched in human waste poured on him from all angles. The stench of malice, the stink of contempt – it’s his strife and it’s his lot. So for relief, for mercy, for respite, he goes to the only source he knows. 

When there is the feeling of being overwhelmed, worship is not just a relief, it is the source of release to relay that which overwhelms you. As you do so in the posture that recognises the great one who cares for your needs, so there is found the reminder that He goes with you. Indeed He knows Himself what it is to face the deluge of the human waste that is sin. To face it and yet overcome it. Making a way for those who worship to likewise be empowered to face it and perhaps … 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 101: Singing Out For Justice 

This Psalm is not backward in coming forward. 

Sure, there are times to sing of beauty, wonder and grace. There is a time to sing of peace, sweetness and all things pleasant. That’s all good. That has its place. There is also evidently a time for us to sing about the things that matter to God. Be in no doubt in as much as His mercies endure that does not mean He is going to let the unfair, wicked and proud get away with their evil. The passion of this Psalm is palpable and challenges us as to whether the deal about justice is as close to our hearts as it flows through our actions as it clearly is to God. 

Hear the ferocity as those who do evil and are evil are summarily dismissed from God’s very presence. Consider the strong language to declare evocatively what happens to those who slanders, who are haughty, arrogant, deceitful and full of lies. There is a clear line between being merciful on one hand and tolerating the stench of iniquity in its various forms subtle and blatant. The Psalmist reflects the zero tolerance policy God has on such behaviours and attitudes. 

Sharing those qualities challenges us to share that commitment to walk with integrity. That aspect of character that is consistent and is fair, right and just whether one is observed or not. This is done not for the attention of men, but because that is what someone is when reflecting God. 

That challenge is something worth singing about as well as the lovely sentiments to a beautiful Saviour. Not just singing about them, either … 

Think on these things. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 100 – Why Worship? Here’s Three Good Reasons

Three reasons to worship God. 

1. For the Lord is good; 

2. His mercy is everlasting, 

3. His truth endures to all generations.
Think on these things. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 32 – Forgiven

There is talk about needing to forgive yourself. I understand that – it can be quite something when the biggest weight of condemnation is the one you place on yourself.

Yet, forgiveness is not primarily something we should be looking to do to ourselves. First and foremost the issue of forgiveness should be seen in the light of what it means in the light of a relationship with a loving heavenly Father. Where you and I can let each other down and where we often let ourselves down, there is a great Creator who invites into a relationship with Him. In this relationship He is faithful and just, kind and compassionate and consistently never lets us down. Yet we persistently let him down, it is a default to look to please ourselves rather than acknowledge Him. What that does to any relationship can be more than damaging.

The Psalmist in this piece can relate to what it is to live in rebellion to this God and the effect that it has on us. Yet when he finally acknowledges and confesses that sin he is the first to see the relief of forgiveness that is found in God. He knows what it is to be blessed in those ways. Truly experiencing how relieving it is to know that all your sins have been dealt with. Truly seeing that the access to a right relationship with God that is hindered by sin can have that hindrance removed through confession and acknowledgement to God.

What needs to be taught to others is just how valuable that experience can be in anyone’s life.The life of anyone who thinks they have done too much to ever be considered, someone who feels that their behaviour and inclination can never be forgiven. For them to come across the expression of grace and truth in God is the greatest release and turnaround possible. To call it liberating is a massive understatement.

No, forgiving yourself has nothing on truly experiencing and embracing the forgiveness of God and that done so that you can have a right relationship with the God who desires to be known by you.

For His Name’s Sake

Shalom

C. L. J. Dryden

Sam’s 2nd Epic 24 – Learning from a Senseless Census

The book of Samuel concludes with an episode in which David sins before God. It’s fascinating that David pressed on with the census despite good advice telling him not to do so. It’s just as fascinating that David’s conscience hits when he recognises what he’s done. 

There is much to learn from this episode. It’s good to know that  no matter how well you know God, you cancan still be susceptible to ignoring good advice and make bad decisions. That’s good to know because it is humbling to never think of ourselves as above sin. We are to be consciously aware of how we can be trapped by it. 

It’s good to know that our conscience can convict us so we can acknowledge the wrong that we have done. On a previous occasion, David had to be arrested by a prophet for the wrong he did. On this occasion, he knew it himself and was alert to respond in the light of that. Being convicted of wrong should motivate us to see what we can do right. 

It’s good to know that God is sensitive to our remorse and our repentance. David’s anguish over the suffering of his people reflects his desire to do what is right in God’s sight. 

It’s good to know that these episodes of wrongdoing can be platform for repentance, worship and monuments to God’s righteousness and mercy. The altar that David built, based on sacrifice and not just accepting a gift, is a monument of devotion to the God who hears and answers prayers. This monument is a significant memory of trusting in God alone and not our own way, and in doing so He responds. 

This episode has been written for us to learn from it. To learn so wewe can prevent such things happening to us as well to learn if and when such things happen to us. We can avoid wrongdoing if we remain humble and completely trust in God. Yet even when we don’t, God does not cut us off and as we are sensitive to Him, so He will make a way of restoration for us by His mercy. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden