How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…
—Psalm 139:17, 18
It's All About Motives
Reading: 2 John
I suppose I could be accused of seeing the Ten Commandments everywhere I look these days. That’s the natural outcome of preparations for the series that I am teaching beginning in January. But honest, I saw them again as I was reading 2 John this morning.
Traditionally, we see our relationship to God in the first four commandments:
·No other gods
·No misuse of God’s name
·Honouring the Lord’s Day.
We consider that the last six of the Ten Commandments have to do with our relationship with others:
·Honour your parents
·Don’t commit adultery
Keeping the rules turns into legalism if the proper motivation for keeping those rules is not in place and John, who seemed to turn from crusty, fire-breathing fisherman to the apostle of love after his encounter with Jesus, addresses the motivation factor which turns the potential for legalism into Christ-honouring lifestyle.
“…I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love” (2 John 5b, 6, NIV).
When we look at these verses and compare what John is saying to what God handed down to Moses, we can see the vertical and horizontal connections between the two. Vertically, we show our love to God and honour the first four commands by walking in obedience and giving God the respect that He deserves. Horizontally, we honour the last six by walking in love. We do nothing that would harm our neighbor.
The motivation makes all the difference in the world.
So many of the psalms are cries for help. That, in itself, should tell us something.
God doesn't mind cries for help. And David was usually not shy about admitting his needs. God knows we can't.... Feel free to fill in the blanks with whatever it is that you can't do, or be, or feel.
I'm not sure if David composed Psalm 143 as a bedtime prayer. I imagine it that way because of verse 8: "Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love." As he pours out his grief to God, not knowing what the next day may entail, he admits his need for mercy, for relief, for forgiveness, for protection, for encouragement, for a touch from the Lord Himself (vss. 1-6).
His desperation requires an immediate answer:
"Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit faints with longing. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you."
The place is Egypt on the night of the 10th plague, on the night the Lord struck down the firstborn in every Egyptian household, on the night the Israelites were finally free to leave after more than 400 years under Pharaoh’s power.
It was the night of the first “Passover.” The very name tells the story. The Israelites were instructed to pack their bags. They were give specific details as to how to prepare for their last meal in Egypt. Most important of all, they were told to brush the blood of the lamb designated for that meal on the doorposts of their homes. By this sign the angel of death would know not to touch the firstborn of that home. That child was protected by the blood of the lamb.
The analogy is obvious. As that ancient household was protected by the blood, so is anyone who accepts Christ as his or her Saviour protected by the blood that He shed on the cross. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, clean…