Thursday, January 17, 2019

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 37

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“The Favored Faithful”

Some folks need to be reminded the Bible is bigger than their favorite parts.

Some folks need to be reminded the big thing about Jesus is salvation by grace through faith in Him.

Some folks need to be reminded people who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus prove it – Calvin referred to it as “signs” of being saved – through behaviors punctuated by grace, mercy, forgiveness, and a thirst and hunger for reconciliation wrapped together by agape.

Jesus has a warning for those folks who forget the whole is equal to the sum of its parts: “Enter through the narrow gate.  For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it.  How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”

Peterson’s paraphrase is spot on: “Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.  Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.  The way to life – to God! – is vigorous and requires total attention.”

Immediately after saying that Jesus warns of false prophets who don’t speak on behalf of Him and the salvation offered to all so freely by grace through faith in Him but on behalf of themselves or someone or something else that doesn’t point to Him with the corollary being anyone who doesn’t point to Jesus alone as Lord and Savior is leading people straight to places other than heaven.

In short, prophets of God talk and walk on behalf of God and point to Jesus as Lord and Savior while false prophets talk and walk on behalf of themselves or other wolves who may even appear in sheep’s clothing like good guys.

Undeniably, Holy Scripture heralds the news that God favors the faithful.

Psalm 37 echoes this gospel truth with a verse that has brought existential comfort and eternal security to the faithful since God inspired David to sing it: “I was young but now I’m older; and for as long as I’ve lived, I’ve never seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging bread.”

Again, I Iike Peterson’s take: “I once was young, now I’m a graybeard – not once have I seen an abandoned believer, or his kids out roaming the streets.”

Again, it’s one of the greatest and most reassuring truths of our faith.

God favors the faithful.

It’s almost as if David were saying, “You’re faithful!  So don’t worry!  Be happy!”

We don’t have to “be agitated by evildoers…those who do wrong” because “They wither quickly like grass…It won’t be long before they are no more…The Lord laughs at them because He sees that their day is coming…Their swords will enter their own hearts…The arms of the wicked will be broken…The wicked will perish.”

God favors the faithful: “You’re faithful!  So don’t worry!  Be happy!”

David is certain about God favoring the faithful: “The Lord helps and delivers them from the wicked…Those who put their hope in the Lord will inherit the land…The humble in God will enjoy abundant prosperity…The Lord supports the righteous…The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it permanently…The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord.”

God favors the faithful: “You’re faithful!  So don’t worry!  Be happy!”

David urges lives of gratitude in response to God favoring the faithful: “Trust the Lord and do what is good…Take delight in the Lord for His favor…Commit your way to the Lord…Keep turning from evil to good…Wait for the Lord and keep His way.”

God favors the faithful: “You’re faithful!  So don’t worry!  Be happy!”

You could almost write a song like that.

David did in confirmation of the gospel truth that God favors the faithful.

Of course, to be faithful is a choice.

According to Jesus, too many people make the wrong choice and don’t go through His gate to glory.

My favorite mayor of all time sent a little story about this choice to me.

It’s about baseball coach John Scolinos.

Speaking to a baseball convention, he said, “You’re probably wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck…The reason I stand before you with a home plate around my neck is to tell you what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

He began, “Do you know how wide home plate is in Little League?  17 inches…Do you know how wide home plate was in Babe Ruth’s day?  That’s right.  17 inches…How wide is home plate in high school?  17 inches…How wide is home plate in college baseball?  17 inches…Minor League?  17 inches…Major League?  17 inches.”

He went on, “What do they do with pitchers who can’t throw the ball over those 17 inches?  Hit the pines!  Take a seat on the bench!  They don’t say, ‘Oh, that’s O.K. if you can’t hit a 17 inch target.  We’ll make it 18 or 19 or 20 inches; and if you can’t hit that, we’ll keep making it wider.’”

Having captivated the audience, Coach Scolinos continued, “Coaches, what do you do when your best player shows up late to practice or breaks team rules or gets caught drinking?  Do you hold him accountable?  Do you change the rules to fit him?  Do you widen home plate?”

Then he took out a Sharpie pen and began to draw on the home plate.

He drew a door and two windows.

The home plate looked like a house.

“This is the problem today with our homes and marriages and parenting today,” he explained, “as we don’t teach accountability or consequences for meeting standards.  We just keep widening the plate!”

Then he added an American flag on top of the house and said, “This is the problem in our schools today.  We’ve stripped away the tools of education and discipline for success.  We keep widening home plate.”

Then he replaced the flag with a cross: “This is the problem in our churches.  Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves and not protecting our children and saying things that just aren’t true to Jesus and Holy Scripture.”

“The same thing is true with our government,” he noted, “as our representatives and politicians make rules for us that don’t apply to them.  They take bribes from lobbyists and foreign governments.  They no longer serve us.  They have widened home plate for themselves.”

“If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach.  Here it is.  If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know is right…If we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards…If we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standards…If our schools and churches and government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to…”

Then he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside as he warned, “We have dark days ahead…Keep yourself at 17 inches…Don’t widen home plate.”

God favors the faithful.

Jesus has the last word on that: “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Lest anyone think that’s exclusive as the satanosly distracting pretend to seduce us from salvation, that last word continues, “Come to Me, everyone and all of you, and I will take care of you…I am knocking on your door.  Just open the door and I will come in and be with you.”

Yes, God favors the faithful because being faithful means the most important choice in life has been made in favor of God.


Blessings and Love!


Wake up! Look up! Stand up! Speak up! Act up for Jesus!

Shatter the sound of silence!

Salt! Shine! Leavenate!






Walton said...

Very, Very, Very, Good. I wish this could be one of your sermons at Church.
I wish it could be Broad casted all over the country. It`s a wake up call.
Thank you. God Bless. Walton

JW said...

Great sermon illustration about home plate and 17 inches. As a former college baseball player, I will use this illustration during Spring Training in March

James said...

I heard Joel Osteen has apologized for using the Lord's name in a sermon😃