Sunday, July 07, 2019

His Power and His Glory

“I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory.” Psalm 63:2

I am reading my way through a series of devotions based on the life of St Francis of Assis. Some days I find myself almost irritated. He ranks alongside of those Bible heroes that don’t seem to make mistakes and set a very high bar when it comes to walking a good testimony. God reminds me that He is not looking for another Francis, just a Mel. I would add “doing the best she can” but I think I fall woefully short of that description. I am aware that there is a gap between “doing the best she can” and “just doing”.

Yesterday, I felt that Francis was almost in reach. He loved scripture and found joy in chewing it over. If you want to know God better and live a life that is pleasing to Him, the best start is reading the Bible. Reading, for Francis, was not about following a reading plan that got you through the Bible in a year. It wasn’t about ticking off the chapters every day.

“How” you read scripture was more important that how much you read.

Read it like a lover’s note. 
Read it and read it 
Over and over
Trace each letter with a finger
Taste each word on your tongue
Catch the scent it
Fold it up
Put it in a pocket
Take it out two minutes later
Unfold it and read it again
And again and again
When the paper gets creased and smudged
When the ink fades
Don't fret
The words are there in your memory and
Lodged in you heart

There is no casual read and an almost forgetting when it comes the what God has written – or there shouldn’t be.

This morning I caught myself just casually reading Psalm 63. I closed the Bible after reading it through just the once. Of course, I had read it before. I assumed I had, at some point, sucked all the goodness out of it in a Bible study, but not particularly recently.

“Is that you done?” asked God. He suggested I read the psalm again and again and again. Not skim reading as I often do, but slow and paying attention.

I stopped at verse two in the last of the read throughs.

“Did you?” asked God. “Did you see Me in My sanctuary and gaze upon My power and glory? Perhaps not, “did you?” but “will you?” as you are going to church this morning. Will you look for Me in worship, in prayer, in testimony or in the Word? Will you, as Francis did, “hear nothing in Vain”? (those were the words I had thought about yesterday from the devotional)

The songs were not familiar. The melodies were not easy to sing. The words on the overhead projector were not keeping up. See – don’t we fall into a trap sometimes when it comes to the singing part of worship?

“Don’t sing,” said God, “just listen. Lift your hands. Kneel if you want to (God knows I have a dodgy left knee – getting down is slow and ponderous. Getting up might require the use of a crane.) Close your eyes if you like.” I have a problem with songs that have endlessly repeating lines. Sometimes though we need to be reminded about truth over and over again, or it slips through one ear and out the other.

There was an opportunity to share what God had been doing or saying and there was a queue. I usually have a poem to hand, but not this time.

One man spoke of a conversation he had had with a woman sitting on a bench. She was a little worse for wear, struggling with alcohol. God picks his servant well. I would have had nothing to say, at least not from my own struggles. This man had, with Jesus help, crawled out of an alcoholic hole and knew what she needed to hear, from one who had been there. God’s power and glory were there to see.

Another man spoke of an evangelistic crusade he had organised as part of a Bible college course. It was well out of his comfort zone but a course requirement. The young people came, not out of any urgency to be saved. They wanted the free crisps and fizzy drinks on offer. In the coming, and the staying and the eating of crisps, they listened and all but one made a commitment to Jesus. God’s power and glory were there to see.

An invitation was given out to join with other churches in Inverness in a week’s outreach at the last week in August. Prayer meetings in the morning would be followed by city centre outreach – conversations, prayers for healing and challenge issued.

“The last week in August”. God had that dreamy smile on His face. “Remember 1976 and the last week in August? That’s when we found each other. There is almost a symmetry to it, don’t you think? Someone else being found in the last week in August.” God’s power and glory will be there to see.

I heard nothing in vain.

I heard of God’s power and glory.

I lived Psalm 63:2.

I will again tomorrow.

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