Psalm 106 – What Have We Done For God Lately?  

This Psalm plays like a complimentary piece to the previous Psalm. 

That previous Psalm gave us plenty of reasons to remember what God has done. This Psalm gives plenty of reasons to remember how we are likely to respond to what God has done and it’s not pretty. 

It would be comforting to think that the way God’s people responded back in the day was unique to them. Ah but in it we see reflections of the human condition and it’s not pretty. It is ugly. It is filthy. It is disgusting. 

How quickly we forget God’s goodness in the slightest sign of discomfort. How easy we disregard the great works of God as soon as we are comfortable and given other gods to play with. How simple it is to break our word with the God who keeps His Word. How seemingly natural it is for us to rebel against the One who has shown great kindness towards us. 

This Psalm shines a light on what we have done for God lately, and it is not pretty. 

At the same time when we are stuck or get in trouble what do we do? Go running back to Him, crying out to Him, pleading for help. Were some of us in God’s position, after a while we would be sick of the constant cycle of rebellion and repentance. We would become hardened to the desperately wicked and fickle heart of humanity. Yet this great and glorious God expresses that greatness and glory through patiently and consistently listening to the cries of His people and coming to their rescue. 

Reading a Psalm like this is all the more reason for us to respond in heart-felt gratitude and humble contrition. Reading of our God in these verses should give us cause for reflection and further repentance in the desire to cling on to Him and receive His help on the inside to reject that rebellious nature. Break the cycle of sin and live for this merciful and compassionate God, who time and again extends the invitation to know Him and be known by Him. This Psalm is another invitation to love Him who first loved you and still loves you even though what you have done for Him lately isn’t pretty.  

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Psalm 53 – Relief From Relentless Rebellion 

I know there is a concept known as atheism. I am very much aware of it. I just don’t think they really mean what they purport. It’s a bizarre movement that seeks to counter the existence of a being that would be beyond their conceptualising anyway. It’s like a turkey not believing in Christmas dinner – you can reject it all you like, but it’s inevitable. 

Where I think atheism would really be on a more honest plain would be rather than to dispute the existence of God, just blatantly state that they reject Him. That would make a lot more sense. 

This definition of atheism – not so much God does not exist, more a case of saying No to God is something rampant in our world. Indeed our very condition at birth was that way inclined. It’s a condition the Psalmist was very familiar with throughout the bleak observations noted in this Psalm. 

Be in no doubt, a world that rejects God is not a pleasant one to live in. For with the absence of the divine who defines we are left to do things for ourselves and in as much as we have the capacity to do beneficial acts, these are more than counteracted by that innate ability to do the grotesque, the abysmal, the dire, the depraved. That is the dark world outlined by the Psalmist which is not a strange one to modern readers. 

Making the last verse all the more poignant, not for the sake of escapism, but for the cry for righteousness to rule. To know that whatever the fool says in his heart, the truth remains there is a Sovereign who rules in the affairs of man and His righteous rule seen throughout time and epitomised in the life of Jesus Christ will one day wipe the fools and their foolishness off the earth and replace it with the peace and justice that comes from the God who cares for those He created. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Bad Fruit and the Self Life (The Fruit Series 12)

​And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16‭-‬17 NIV) 

The source of life and fruitfulness is God. 

Choosing to exist without the source leads to many complications that ultimately result in anything but having life. This choice, however, is one we are currently wired to be inclined towards. Someone suggested that we can do it by ourselves. Something left the impression that we didn’t need the source, we could be our own source. We can make it on our own. We don’t need no one and nothing telling us what we have to do and who we have to be. 

In some shape or form, human history has been the expression of efforts to live the self life. Either looking to be totally devoid of any reference to a source of being as typified many movements since the so-called Enlightenment period, or to merely use such notions to justify the quest for the pursuit of pleasing self. History has been expressing that and showing the consequences of such a pursuit and it has not been glorious. 

You don’t even need a history lesson to see how pervasive and influential the pursuit of the self life is. You experience it in some way every day. Just in the little thoughts that cross your mind hinting at just how important you are. Nudging in a little way at how,  really, you are the center of the universe and all of life really revolves around you. You can do whatever you want, it’s your life. Or how oppressive it is for anyone to tell you what to do, you need to break free to do your own thing. 

Here in England, consumer culture is the norm and it’s based on that appeal to the self life. You can have it, you should have it, you deserve it, so go get it. Anything that prevents that should be removed because it’s unfair that you shouldn’t have the best things in life. 

What’s wrong with that? 

Such independent, self-centred thinking detaches us from the source of life and leads down a path to destruction. Not blatantly at first, but as it becomes more apparent that the pursuit of the self life is not fulfilling, but rather leaves the yawning yearning even greater than before, so it’s futility leads to despair that’s often either a state that people leave themselves resigned to as though that’s all there is to life, or spurs an even greater effort to grasp for anything they think can fill that void. 

The bad fruit of the self life is incredibly addictive. Just when you think you can yield everything to return to the source of life, there can be that little nudge to get you back to your selfish ways. Even if you get that realisation of the pointless nature of that fruit, it gets incredibly hard to get off the stuff. 

Thank God for the good news of the good fruit. 

God did not leave us, even when we chose to leave Him. His pursuit of us in the course of history has been remarkably relentless. Episode after episode highlights His amazing love and mercy towards us. His offer to us is to counteract the effects of that bad fruit with the good fruit that derives from faith in Him, acceptance and recognition of what He has done through the death of His Son on the cross that now means beholding the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world gives us access to life once more. Reattach ourselves to the source and allow His life to be our life as He lives in us.

Constant reference to that source makes all the difference. That source gives us all we need to live and encourages us to actively build on those qualities of life we have been blessed with by connecting ourselves to Him. The more we do that, the more we are equipped to counteract the bad fruit and that’s good news. 

That counteracting has implications far greater than just going beyond the self life, as we will discover. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

Introduction to Bad Fruit (The Fruit Series 11)

​And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16‭-‬17 NIV) 

Not all fruit is good fruit. 

A fruitless situation is one that will lead to negative outcomes because of the absence of life. A bad fruit situation will lead to negative outcomes because of the presence of that which will corrupt. We can suffer because we lack something, but it’s even worse if we suffer because we actively initiated and brought about that outcome. 

Part of the narrative of the beginning of all things in Scripture is about the consequences of man actively disobeying the instruction of God and subsequently consuming bad fruit. It was not bad fruit to look at, it wasn’t even bad fruit in terms of its texture and taste, but it was certainly bad fruit for humanity because of the outcome. Which is to say some of the decisions we make in life could appear perfectly reasonable and indeed present itself as attractive and substantial, but as long as it veers away from what is right in God’s sight the outcome won’t be pleasant at all. 

We live with the consequences of bad fruit. Every day we are given an opportunity to avoid it and every day in some way we see a reflection of our inability in ourselves to avoid it. If the story ended with the inevitability of us living with the consequences of bad fruit the meaning of life would be … fruitless. Thankfully, there were two trees highlighted. One that had what turned out to be bad fruit for us and the other was something that would turn out to be very good fruit for us indeed. One consequence of the bad fruit was being banned from access to that good fruit, but in the fullness of time the plan of God gave humanity access to that tree of life again. That access would counteract the consequences of the bad fruit. 

In the light of the good news of the good fruit, in upcoming series of blogs within this bigger Fruit Series, I am going to explore some of those consequences of the bad fruit as well as consider how the tree of life counteracts those consequences. 

Something that remains abundantly clear, however, is that awareness of the goodness of God should be exalted to help deal with the consequences of the bad fruit. As we do so, it will be a big help in fulfilling our call to be fruitful. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

The Kings 11 – Solomon Strays

​The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord , the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. (1 Kings 11:9 NIV)

There are few episodes in scripture as tragic as this one. Here, in the 11th chapter of 1 Kings, the wisest man in his time who had enriched Israel and attracted such acclaim strays from God who gave him that wisdom with catastrophic consequences for the United Kingdom of Israel. 

It’s tragic because almost as reflection of the fall in the garden of Eden, Solomon strayed from God to follow the voice of women. To read of how Solomon went from acknowledging His dependence on the wisdom of God to rule, to following the gods of his wives is sad indeed. To have had such exclusive interaction with God and to be so greatly blessed by that relationship and then turn your back to that to pursue detestable gods is worthy of great sorrow. 

It is intriguing reading of the three gods in particular who Solomon pursues and then the three adversaries that God raises to oppose Solomon. It is also intriguing that Pharaoh’s daughter was among the first of Solomon’s wives and yet Egypt would prove to be the refuge for two of the adversaries – Hadad who came from a privileged refugee status in Egypt to oppose Solomon and Jeroboam who fled to Egypt after Solomon looked to kill him. 

The account given of how Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon is also fascinating. The account is of a prophetic encounter through Ahijah that let Jeroboam in on something that Solomon himself had been notified about. Namely the consequences of Solomon straying. Jeroboam being in receipt of the news that the Kingdom would mostly be ripped away from Solomon’s son made him public enemy number one. 

This is a truly tragic episode from which we see how important it is to check the state of your heart to ensure it is completely devoted to God. If the wisest person can be distracted to the detriment of his people, then we cannot think we are impervious. Obeying and following God is not a matter of legalistic obligation, it is a matter of the heart. When our hearts is not completely devoted it can lead to straying. There are plenty of detestable gods today which are well marketed and look for us to give them some of our attention. This is why it is so important to ensure we are wary of them and do not fall foul of the Lord by being enticed to serve them. 

God have mercy on us. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden 

It is a Relief 

There are different types of Columbo episodes. One I particularly admire goes along the following lines. 

As you know, because like me, you love Columbo, the show is not about guessing who did it. It’s about seeing how Columbo can outwit them so they may be duly caught. There are murders that take place, however, in which the efforts to cover their tracks actually highlights the pressure they were under to commit the murder in the first place. Such is the immense pressure with the lieutenant now on their case that by the time our mack-wearing detective finally gets them, it’s a relief to the murderer. The weight of their wrongdoing, the weight of the subsequent watching and checking is taken away. It almost makes them wonder why they didn’t give themselves up to Columbo in the first place. 

I was with a group of believers recently and we were exploring the issue of sharing faith and getting others to look at issues surrounding that. One person touched on the reasonable issue of some not acknowledging sin. When it’s explained to someone and they are challenged with it, some are insistent that this is not a condition that affects them at all. It’s certainly not our responsibility to force anyone to acknowledge that. We talked through in the context of the relationship or conversation, as the other person means much to us, we are to share and leave the rest to God as we continue to do good for the other. 

There are other people, though, who can relate very well with the concept of sin when it is shared to them. Not only can they relate but they can also see it in their lives and actually express that sense of the weight of it and how it is effectively a blockade against truly experiencing the fullness of life. It’s something that believers can also relate with. That recognition of sin, harboured for so long and such a weight that blocks fullness. God offers such a relief from that sin. 

In a way that not even Columbo can compare with, the Lord lovingly pursues us. Not to condemn us, but actually for us to realise there is a relief in confession and repentance. Once we see that he sussed us out from the start and awaits us to own up, He is there to relieve us of the guilt that weighs us down. 

That’s a relief – without needing to hear one more thing. 

For His Name’s Sake 

Shalom 

C. L. J. Dryden