Friday, May 3, 2019

Scratching the Surface of the Psalms - 49

Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)


Scratching the Surface of the Psalms


“The Way Back”

With sales still trailing the toothy guy in Texas by about a trillion to one – talk about humiliation – I wasn’t surprised when a guy at Bad Ash Cigars down in Oregon, Illinois said après I gave a box of non-best-sellers to the owner Barry to give away to anyone that would take ‘em said, “Hey, I didn’t know you wrote books.”

I replied, “That’s O.K.  Obviously, there aren’t many people on the planet that know I’ve written books.  As a matter of fact, I think Amazon is giving ‘em away and offering free postage to anyone that’ll take ‘em.”

I should have taken a hint in speech class in seminary.

While we had homiletics classes to learn about the theology and methodology of preaching, we also had speech classes to work on delivery.

My first speech professor was Virginia Damon.

She died in August 2010 at the age of 94.

She was an accomplished actress before joining the seminary staff and had toured with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney as Alice Cramden for The Honeymooners.

Virginia was a tough and no nonsense demanding teacher and coach.

We called her V D for short.

Anyway, I’ll never forget what she said to me after my first “performance” in class: “Well, you’re not a basket case.  We’ll see what we can do with you.”

I should have had her review my writing too.

It’s true for all of us.

“There but for the grace of God go I.”

That’s the shortened version of 1 Corinthians 15:8-10.

We’re all basket cases without God.

We worship God because God deserves to be worshipped and we need God because, as David sang, “God inhabits the praises of His people.”

That’s the main message of Psalm 49.

We’re all basket cases without God.

Specifically, David says God can be trusted and only God can be trusted for sanity, safety, and security: “Only God redeems/restores my life…God snatches me from the clutch of death, He reaches down and grabs me.  He saves me.”

David differentiates the sanity, safety, and security of trusting God alone from the futility of trusting anyone or anything but God.

David writes, sings, and prays about the futility of seeking sanity, safety, and security from anyone and anything but God throughout the Psalms and his son Solomon does the same in Ecclesiastes: “My advice is to remember your Creator…Remember Him…Worship in reverence the one true God, and keep His commands.”

Solomon, like his dad as confirmed throughout Holy Scripture, concludes everything is meaningless, temporary, and unsatisfying apart from God: “Life is fleeting, like a passing mist.  It is like trying to catch hold of a breath…Pleasure, work, wealth, wine, laughter, accomplishments, achievements…All are fleeting.”

I’ve always thought early 15th century monk Gerard Groote as recorded and edited by another monk Thomas a Kempis caught the difference so well in the opening pages of The Imitation of Christ: “’He that followeth Me,’ saith the Lord, ‘walketh not in darkness’…Let therefore our chiefest endeavour be, to meditate upon the life of Jesus Christ…Whosoever will fully and with relish understand the words of Christ, must endeavour to conform his life wholly to the life of Christ…Surely profound words do not make a man holy and just; but a virtuous life maketh him dear to God…All is vanity except to love God, and to serve Him only…Vanity therefore it is, to seek after perishing riches…to hunt after honours…to follow the desires of the flesh…to long after that for which thou must afterwords suffer grievous punishment…to wish to live long, and to be careless to live well…to set thy love on that which speedily passeth away, and not  hasten thither where everlasting joy abideth.”

The punch line: “Endeavour therefore to withdraw thy heart from the love of visible things, and to turn thyself to things invisible.  For they that follow their own sensuality, defile their conscience, and lose the grace of God.”

God alone for existential and eternal salvation is the answer.

Repeating this timeless and time-conquering theme of faith is the unequivocal conclusion of Psalm 49: “There is no such thing as self-rescue…The cost of rescue is beyond our means…There isn’t enough wealth in the world to save ourselves…Wealth, wisdom, and every other human effort and invention fall short…Anyone can see that the brightest and best die…So don’t be impressed with those who get rich and pile up fame and fortune.  They can’t take it with them…Only God saves!”

In short, life is meaningless apart from God.

Life, as David concluded the psalm, ends without God: “We don’t last long.  Like our dogs, we age and weaken.  And die.”

If we want to live better in time and live forever after time, there is only one way: in, through, and for God.

Hence, the most important decision anyone can make while still breathing is to get back to God.

That’s why Jesus told us to go out into the world to be witnesses to the confident living and eternal life available to everyone/anyone by grace through faith in Him.

That’s why the most loving thing that anyone can do for anyone else is to point them to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

We used to call it evangelism or spreading the best news of all that everyone/anyone can live better in time and live forever in paradise after time by grace through faith in Jesus.

If we know God in Jesus as Lord and Savior, we make God in Jesus known as Lord and Savior.

We tell what/who we know.

Paul wrote, “Jesus wants everybody to be saved.”

Or as Jesus Himself said, “For God so loved the world that He came in Jesus to save it; so that whoever believes in Him will live forever.”
God didn’t go through all of the trouble of the manger and cross for any other purpose than to save people for Himself in heaven.

Again, Jesus said, “God did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save it.”

I’ve always liked the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.

You know the story.

Quick summary.

A child leaves home and lives like a bum in the pigpens of life.

He comes to his senses, goes home, and his father welcomes him and restores his life.


Of course, the older brother, who was much better than his younger brother except for pride that some say is the most deadly of sins because it plays out as if the person doesn’t really need to be saved as if that could be accomplished without grace through faith in Jesus, has to be convinced by the father that there’s always got to be a way back home for everyone/anyone because that’s what the father wants most.

Get it?

God the Father wants everyone to come back home.

It goes like this.

Everyone/anyone who has left home and lived in the pigpens of life can return home as long as they wake up, come to their senses, and head back home to the Father.

There is a way back home for everyone/anyone.

That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Everyone/anyone can be saved from the meaninglessness of life accentuated by trusting in anyone and anything that never delivers in the end by turning back to God and renewing their relationship with God.

Admittedly, there are some people who can’t be renewed in their relationship with God by grace through faith in Jesus because they’ve never been newed or born again and above.

If a person hasn’t been newed, they can’t be renewed.

If a person has never invited Jesus into the heart as Lord and Savior and has never really trusted Him as Lord and Savior in time for all time, the way back begins with that decision to invite Him into the heart as Lord and Savior.

Whether renewing or newing, the way back to God is by grace through faith in Jesus.

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

Annnnnnnd to the liars and deceivers and other suppressors of the truth in conspiracy with satanos to steal and slaughter souls, Jesus doesn’t care who, what, where, when, why, or how a person finds her/his way back to Him.

He wants everybody back home.

He wants to save everybody.

Jesus is the way back home: “Come to Me, everyone/anyone, and I will take care of you…here and now…and forever!”


Blessings and Love!


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

Shatter the sound of silence!

Salt! Shine! Leavenate!





1 comment:

Casey said...

Amen! - this message based off Psalms 49 is awesome. Perhaps the best one yet
God and Jesus are rejoicing and V D is beaming with Christian pride. Well done.