Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 27, 2015 - along the Way ...

Well, we have come to the end of another year.   2015 will soon be only a memory, as a new year arises.  2016 is filled with anticipation for all that might be.  So as we move from one year to the next, we are confronted with the realities of time.  

There are a number of songs, which capture our preoccupation with time. 

“Time Marches On” by Tracy Lawrence which includes the line, “The only thing that stays the same is everything changes.”
“Nineteen Something” Mark Wills with the repeated line in the chorus, “I wouldn’t trade those days for nothin”
“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel with the lines in the chorus, “... It was always burnin’ since the world’s been turnin’ … No, we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it.”

        Popular culture has often mirrored our preoccupation with time.   But how should we, who follow Jesus, look at time?

In Psalm 90, the Psalmist, whom the scripture identifies as Moses, gives us some help in how we, who believe God’s promises, ought to view time.

(Read Psalm 90) p. 480

There is a simple message offered in this psalm.  The Lord is our dwelling place for all generations.  He is our home.   Yet in the midst of that simple message comes all the messiness of life.

The psalm is made of 3 parts.  

Part 1 is praise.  It recognizes God’s eternal being and His constant sovereign care.
Part 2 is a lament over the troubles and transience of life.  
Part 3 is a prayer for God’s help throughout life.

So let’s begin with Part 1 (verses 1-2): Praise

The Psalmist begins by declaring the Lord to be his home, and not only his home but the home of all who believe in Him from generations past to generations to come.   The Lord is eternal, and from everlasting to everlasting He is God.

Therefore, the Lord alone is worthy of our praise!

Yet Part 2 (verses 3-12) acknowledges the brokenness of a sin-sick world.  

Two themes offer evidence of the brokenness of our world.

Transience - We are only here on earth for a short time.  Each year that passes is one less in the number God has given us.  As 2015 comes to a close, it will never come back again.  It is gone forever, and all that will be left are memories.  And who we are now is not who we were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, or even at the start of 2015.   Things change, we change, yet God never changes!

Trouble - Not only are our days short in number, but they are accompanied with trouble.   God is good, but sometimes life is not.  I am sure everyone of us has experienced some type of hardship or trouble this year.   There have been good times, but there have also been times we wish would never have come.

Yet through it all, God is acknowledged as the One in charge, and fear is His due.  

Jewish wisdom literature teaches, “The Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 1:7)  Fear is respect, and the knowledge that God is great and I am not.  It is as one commentator has said, “I know two things for sure: First there is a God, and second I am not him.”   God is God, and fear is His due.

Finally, in the midst of the transience and trouble of life, the Psalmist leads us in a corporate prayer for help.   This is Part 3, and it is where we find our hope and our home.

Remember that the Psalmist began by telling us that the Lord is our dwelling place.  He is our home.  Well, if the Lord is our home, then He is the one to whom we should bring our troubles, cares, and concerns.  He is the One who can help in our time of need. 

Part 3: Prayer for help

Gladness for trouble (affliction)
Establishment for transience
Favor for wrath

God has granted us His grace through His Son; the eternal Word who became flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.   This is the miracle we celebrated at Christmas, and He is the miracle we celebrate all through the year. 

But as one year passes and a new year dawns, what do we, as those who believe God’s promise fulfilled in Jesus, learn from this Psalm?  

Our time on earth is limited.   We have a set number of years.  There will be trouble and hardship, and eventually our troubled days will come to an end.  Therefore, wisdom teaches us to number them, to feel them, “to taste tears and enjoy laughter”; to use them as best we can to make the truth of God’s kingdom come alive!

Our time, as are our lives, is in God’s hands.   We belong to God.  He has been our dwelling place for generations.  He is our home.  He will watch over us, and no matter what we think or feel, He will never leave us or forsake us.   

Finally, time is moving toward an end.  It is not an endless cycle, repeated over and over again, rather time is linear.  It will never be repeated, and it is heading toward a pre-determined end.   God knows when that day will be.   Jesus will return and will make all things new and all the sad things will come untrue.

Our times and our lives are in God’s hands.  We can trust Him because to Him the future is already history. 

To God be the glory!  Great things He has done, is doing, and will continue to do!