Music is throughout the Psalms, and some gets quite noisy – sounding of trumpets, harps and lyres, tambourine and dancing, strings and flutes, the clash of cymbals, and resounding cymbals. (Ps.150) But it is all aimed at the outpouring of praise and thanksgiving to our gracious God. Or consider Psalm 71. “I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you – I, whom you have redeemed. …”(vss.22-24) “Well,” we might say, “that is really not my style of worship.” The point here is not one of style. It is a a heart so filled with gratitude to our gracious Lord that it can’t be contained. We have just come through the Easter account, retelling the amazement of those first witnesses to the risen Christ. Their joy couldn’t be contained. It was so great that they spread the word to all the world in their generation. Jesus is still alive, and has done just as much for each of us. Should not our hearts overflow with joy?
I ran into a sentence in yesterday’s newspaper that I wanted to comment on. It was a great line, and would have made in interesting Good Morning. The problem is that I can’t remember what it was. Senior moment or whatever, but it is gone, and I didn’t write it down. Moses had a similar problem with Israel. He told them a lot of important stuff, including the Ten Commandments, and he tried to help them to remember. “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them … tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”(Deuteronomy 6:6-9) But they, like me, too often forgot. My sentence in the newspaper was not all that important, but the word’s of the Lord are vital. We do all that we can to remember them, and to live them.
A central doctrine of the Christian faith is the fallen and corrupt nature of mankind. However we understand the early chapters of Genesis, there was at some point, a perfect creation by God, and a later rebellion by man, which has corrupted all mankind to this present day. If this were not true there would be no need for Incarnate Christ and His sacrificial atoning act on the cross. Yes, man has done many selfless acts at various time, but that doesn’t change his inward nature. Thomas Jefferson said, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” This would not be necessary if we were not concerned about one people’s evil intent over another. Consider what rigors we currently endure to travel by air. Am I looking for a utopia? Yes, but it will not happen here. True freedom, true peace will only come when the Lord of Peace changes the corrupt nature of the heart.
We, i.e. much of society, spends a lot of time and money worrying about what others think of us. We spend billions of dollars on clothes and cosmetics, hair preparations and jewelry. We all want to look nice when we go out, but so much value is placed upon presenting a good image. It really doesn’t matter how we compare to others, or what they think of us. The only thing that really matters is what God thinks of us. God’s value is a heart that is clean and presentable before Him, but that is something we really can’t accomplish, try as we might. It is something that He has done for us in Jesus Christ. God has said, “I love you. I have given the atoning blood of My Son to cleanse your heart. In Him you are perfectly acceptable to Me.” We hope others like us, but God has demonstrated His love and acceptance of us in Jesus Christ. No other opinion really matters much.
In some ways we have listened too closely to Jesus. He told His disciples, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man,…” (Matthew 15:11) We have taken this quite seriously with our fast food and over eating. We are a substantially overweight culture with many diet fads that watch carefully what goes into the mouth. But Jesus went on with HIs lesson. “What proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man. … The things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man.” (vss.18-20) Being substantially over weight is a serious problem, but it is only physical. What is in the heart is spiritual, and that touches one’s whole being. It is always the heart that need to be on a good diet of God’s Word, and staying close to His life.
There are a couple of sayings that are fairly common and generally believed: “All’s well that ends well.” and “The end justifies the means.” But are these really true? They view life strictly in a pragmatic way, and assume that, if the end result seems good, it really doesn’t matter how we got there. I think it does matter a great deal. The means have to do with the internal values of a person. While the results are only a temporal solution to a problem. God is always more interested in what is going on in the heart of a person than just the results that are achieved. And conversely, God can take any results, even those seemingly quite bad, and use them for the eternal good of a person. This is what God meant when He said to Isaiah, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (55:9). God is looking for hearts, not results.