3 May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
the tongue that makes great boasts,
4 those who say,
“With our tongue we will prevail,
our lips are with us; who is master over us?”
6 The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.
7 You, O Lord, will keep them
Martin Luther used a system to read, study, meditate and pray through Scripture that seriously helps me. It’s shortened to this: TACS. What is the passage TEACHING? What does it reveal about God that I need to ADORE? What does it reveal about me that I need to CONFESS? What need arises that requires God’s SUPPLY? To help my tendency to not be Jesus-Centered enough, I added an R after the T: How is Jesus REVEALED…thus making is “TRACS“.
Here’s how I used this structure with Psalm 12:
Teach: This Psalm shows that we all have use “words” to our advantage (to make myself look good; to flatter others in order to get what I want; to deceive; to mock; to slander; to hurt…ultimately to mock God). But God’s words are Truth and Pure. They are used to love and redeem; to perfect and instill hope. In order to do this, he sent Jesus, His Word, to us to live Truth that would then be counted on my behalf.
Reavealed: Jesus is the “Word” of God (John 1:1) and is himself pure and true. Likewise when he spoke, he only spoke truth. So when he said that it “is finished”, that cannot be untrue or undone because he himself was the fulfillment of his own words.
Adore: God, thank you that I can trust what you say. It doesn’t seem like it a lot of the time, but in the end, it’s continually revealed that you only speak truth and your words build up your people….even when your words aren’t what I want to hear sometimes. Also, I adore you for making your Word come into Flesh in Jesus to that Truth lived and lives among and in me.
Confess: Forgive me for using what I say just for my own advantage…for stretching the truth; omitting the truth; gossiping; crude joking that crosses the line. I’m sorry. I’m also sorry for not trusting what you say is true. I doubt you and ignore you; I don’t “hide” your words in my heart where they can grow and produce fruit. I call you a liar even though it’s not even possible for you bend or omit the truth.
Supply: I really need you to help me with what comes out of my mouth. Today, let me use my words to lift up my wife and kids; to encourage people that I talk with; to praise you. Help me to also trust you and what you say, leaning on nothing but Jesus as The Word.
So my daughter took our dog Chili camping. He usually does really well, has a loads of fun and comes back exhausted. This time was different. He went off exploring, which is normal, but never returned. He was gone. And wasn’t wearing his dog tag. No amount of whistling or yelling helped. He was swallowed up by the 801 Sq. Miles of Pisgah National Forest. My wife and I were out of town, so we called in all of our resources. We had a friend who works at the local NBC channel tweet a plea for help to his masses; another friend posted her own reward for the dog; many other friends went out scouring. Amy and I were left 5 hours away overcome with worry, anxiety and prayer. Yes, we love our little dog.
The morning that Chili took off, literally at the exact time, Amy and I were listening to a Timothy Keller sermon on Prayer and Mediation (http://www.gospelinlife.com/how-we-live-as-believers-6324.html). He walked us through Psalm 1 and how, as our roots are dug deep into the river of the Gospel, we won’t be utterly dismayed when dark storms thrash around us. We won’t be like the chaff that has no roots and blows with the wind. Well, once again, call me chaff. I am well aware of my mood, faith and heart fluctuations. It’s annoying to me as well. But it also tutors me in the Gospel. As my heart-pendulum swings, it reminds me of how much I need Jesus, who is not only the example of my faith, and not only the object of my faith, but the power of my faith. I can’t do it on my own, so I keep requiring him to do it for me; keep reminding me that I truly am His and that he won’t let me go; that he has forgiven me for all my ugly sins, including my ugly faithlessness when I forget the depths of his love and care for me.
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.”
So, as it turns out, a couple of hikers stumbled upon Chili and had him join them on the rest of their long hike. When they returned to Asheville, they had him scanned for an implanted chip, which revealed who he belonged to! They brought him back home where he belongs. When I keep straying from my Father, He keeps bringing me back. Over and over. I have the Holy Spirit perfectly and permanently implanted in me, which not only reveals my identity, but has the power to bring me home.
“Here’s my heart, O take and Seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”
Ephesians 1:13-14 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
1 Corinthians 1:20-21 20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
We love to be in control. When we grew to a family of 5 and had to go the mini-van route, one of the key needs we had was the button that allowed for “rear control” of the A/C…but with the ability to override their control. We live our lives like this with God and each other. We give lip service to “let go and let God” but in reality we retain all veto rights to who we are, what we do and who gets what credit. We absolutely HATE weakness and fundamentally DEMAND control. I hate weakness because I want people to love and respect me. I grab control because, deep down, I am sure that I know better than God and that He doesn’t really want what is best for me.
But the Gospel is fundamentally based on weakness. God chose Israel, the weakest nation; he chose outcast women, temperamental fishermen and tax collectors. He decided to come into the world as a vulnerable weak infant in order to save the weakest. The message of the Gospel demands that we simply admit and own our absolute weakness, and this is all that we bring to the table. It’s not that we bring nothing. We bring less than nothing. We bring a deficit. And he takes that deficit for us while crediting to us his strength. Not just salvation, which would be enough, but strength in this life that is all Him. But Him through us. For some reason he decided to empower us to be his hands and feet, knowing full well our tendency to take full credit for what isn’t our doing. But he did and does it anyway. Once again he lowers himself lower than us in order to raise us up with him.
So today, enjoy your weakness. You are far weaker than you can possibly imagine, but have been empowered and elevated far more than you could possibly dream. The more we can understand that concept, the more we will elevate and enjoy Jesus. And isn’t that the whole point anyway.