Yes, and Amen

Yes!
Yes!

Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen as you read.  This version is from Grace by David Tolk.

Now there is a word I have not used lately.  How about you?  Unless you were in a formal business meeting and the moderator called for the question to be answered yea or nay, I think the chances are pretty slim.  Let me be clear that this is simply an affirmative answer, but it sets up the powerful declaration which follows, while at the same time affirming the truths that have already been sung.

The last stanza we considered made very clear we have hope that God is with us and for us throughout this life.  That is a needful and powerful thing, but it is not all that we have.  Herein is evidenced one of the most beautiful things about many of the great hymns, in my humble opinion, a declaration of the hope of life beyond this.

Forever

Heart
Heart

A few stanzas ago as we tuned to the idea of God as our portion, we examined one of the verses that specifically speaks of this truth.  We come back to that verse now and acknowledge what seems to be one of the hymn writers favorite verses, since it offers not only an allusion to this Scripture but almost a word-for word transcription.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Psalm 73:26 NIV

What this verse reminds us of is that not only is God our portion “as long as life endures”, He is actually our portion FOREVER.  It makes even more sense that the stanza would start with a strong “YES” affirming God has been our portion as it prepares to put forth the truth that He also will be.

Possession

We will think a little more about the veil in the next piece, but let’s just a take a moment and consider what the FOREVER portion looks like.  Three things stand out, with the first one being a little less obvious than the latter two.

  1. Even when this mortal life comes to an end, another life will still be mine.  For those who might be tempted to fear death, this statement comes as a great comfort.  I will die, but even when I do, I will live, and truthfully I will be more fully alive that ever.
  2. My life beyond this life will be marked by joy.  Joy can be defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness, or the prospect of possessing what one desires, but that seems to fall way short of what we will actually possess, because our feeling will not be connected to a prospect, but to ac actual, eternal possession.  Joy will be ours.
  3. My life beyond this life will also be marked with peace.  Peace is often defined as the freedom from disturbance, or a state of quiet and tranquility, but again I think our concepts fall short of what will actually be ours.  I have heard it said, “Peace is not the absence of conflict.  Peace is the presence of God.”  That is a better description of the peace we will know.

Let’s apply these things.   To tune today, simply take a few moments and thank God for all that will be yours when this life ends.  Then ask Him for the grace to live today like someone who believes there are far better days coming.  That way, even when the threat of flesh and/or heart failure, you will still be able to say, so be it, “Amen!”, because you know that when this life ends, an even better life begins.

When you are tempted to feel a little glum today because life is not going the way you want, say “Yea!”, it’s going to get better, way better.  And all because of grace.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You for the reminder today, that even when my heart and my flesh fail, when this mortal life ends, You have a eternally better life in store for me.  Help me to live out that hope today because someone may need to see it! In Jesus name.  Amen.

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Shield + Portion = Strength

Chi Rho (Christ) Shield
Chi Rho (Christ) Shield

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen as you read.  This version is from Grace by David Tolk.

Think about it.  As long as life endures, in other words, throughout my earthly existence.  I would agree that the Lord is far more than just Shield and Portion for far longer than the dash that is this life, but we will take that up at another time, Lord willing.  For these thoughts, let’s center in on what the Lord keeps away from me, and what He brings to me, all for His glory and my good.

Shield

Psalm 28:7 says it this way.

The Lord is my strength and shield.
    I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
    I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.

He keeps things away from me.  Another way of saying it, He keeps me from getting things that would harm me.  He is my Shield.

The Chi Rho shield above, reminds us that Christ is that Shield, those two letters representing the first two letters from the Greek spelling of Christ.  [If you are intrigued and need more on that, you may indulge your curiosity here.] Jesus is the One who protects me.  He keeps many things that would harm me from ever getting close enough to do damage, even though I flirt with them at times.

Portion

Psalm73:26 says it like this.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

He provides me with things that will help me.  Another way of saying it, He is everything I need.  He is my portion.

This one seems either a little less straightforward than the other, or maybe just a little more complex.  Saying God is my Shield has a singular focus.  Saying He is my Portion has more protracted implications.  There are several primary nuances of such a claim, and here is the short list.

  • share of a meal
  • part of a sacrifice
  • soldier’s share of plunder
  • someone’s inheritance
Share in a meal
Share in a meal

The first, and most obvious one seems to be connected with this idea of one’s share in a meal.  Think family style like the photo above. I do not have to jostle and fight for my share.  God is my share.  I can be at rest and enjoy all that He has provided for me.

Sacrifice
Sacrifice

The next is a little less obvious as it pertains to the part of a sacrifice that would belong to the worshipper.  The priest would get a certain portion, as would the Lord to whom the offering was made, but the worshipper would receive a portion of most offerings as well.  Again, God is my portion.

The last two are even a little more obscure, but just as meaningful.   After a battle every

Inheritance
Inheritance

soldier gets to take some of the plunder as their reward for winning, or their prize for still being alive.  When the battle of this life is over, God will certainly be our plunder, the proceeds of having lived victoriously.  This last one really resonates with me because of the lasting implication.  I might eat my meal, enjoy my sacrifice or plunder and then it’s gone, but inheritance seems at least a bit more permanent.  Not only that, but it is generally something entrusted to someone based on relationship.  I like the connotation of that.

Strength

One of the things that struck me about these two passages was one of the words they have in common, Strength.  The interesting thing to me is that a Shield protects strength and a Portion fuels it.  Both are related to strength, only in different ways.  I need strength to live this life, and that strength is God, and comes from God.

How’s strong is your spirit?  Are you allowing God to protect you, or are you trying to do it all yourself?  Are you seeking God to provide for you, or are you attempt to stir up your own provisions?  Honestly ask yourself these questions and let the Holy Spirit reveal the answers to you.  It will be worth the time and effort.

Jesus, thank You for being my Shield and Portion.  As one songwriter said, “All of You is more than enough for all of me.”  Help me to live that statement out, even as I come to understand it better everyday.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

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Promises, Promises

Double Rainbow
Double Rainbow

The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.

Amazing Grace
By: John Newton, 1725-1807

Listen as you read.  This version is from Grace by David Tolk.

The rainbow after the Flood was given by God as a sign of His promise to us.  It is only one example of the many promises we find in God’s Word to us, the Holy Bible, our source of hope.  A quick Google search will reveal numerous lists compiled around any number of subjects.  Type “Promises” in the search on YouVersion and you will find no shortage of devotionals structured around promises.  The problem is not with the promises, the problem is with us.

Context

I thought about compiling a list of the promises of good things that the Lord has promised to us, but the prospect of that was overwhelming, especially considering the scope of what it is I want to help you accomplish on a normal Tuesday.  I want to help you tune your heart.  Any musician will tell you, when it’s time to tune, you generally ask for one note.  Generally.

Violin Tuning
Violin Tuning

I was rehearsing with a violinist recently and learned a little trick.  I thought I should give her an A first, and I was correct, but then she asked for a second note to provide context, I believe it was the E below it.  She said it was a good way to impress a string player, to play that second note for context before the tuning player requests it.  I thanked her and we began.

I mention that here because I want to provide a single promise, but one whichI believe  provides a context for this tuning.  And what is that promise you ask, 2 Peter 1:4.

And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

This is the context of our hope, all His promises to me, and you.

Hope, Secured

Hope is generally defined as a feeling, and for us it is certainly that.  But because of God’s Word given to us it is that and a whole lot more.  You see, feelings are fleeting and often are reactions to external circumstances beyond our control.  This is not how the Bible describes the hope we have in God’s promises.

God's Promises
God’s Promises

To take this one verse as our context, consider the two aspects it sets forth.  Because of His promises to us we get to

  1. Share in his divine nature, and
  2. Escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

I don’t want to speak for you, but I draw a lot of hope from those two realities that flow from all of God’s promises to me.  I get to be like him, and be free of the corruption of this world, even while still living in it.

So let’s keep this simple.  To tune today, simply take a few moments and thank God for all of His promises.  Ask for His forgiveness for the times you have failed to believe them and so have not lived as if your hope was secure.  Thank Him for the blessing of sharing in his divine nature, and then ask him to reveal how he wants to change you so you may reveal it better today.  Thank Him for the privilege of escaping corruption, and then ask Him to show you what desires need to change in you so you can experience that freedom.

Then the next time you are reading some of His promises, and I hope it is soon, take a few moments right then to evaluate how you can experience them by adjusting your living within that context.

Happy Tuning!

Jesus, thank You for all the promises You have made to us in the Bible.  Help me to read them regularly, and when I do, to ask the Holy Spirit to open my blind eyes and give me understanding.  I want to learn Your promises, so they may fill my weary soul with hope. In Jesus name.  Amen.

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