Sunday, September 5, 2010

Immanuel

Thoughts from my reading in Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy by Paul David Tripp. The devotional is indented and abbreviated.

Cast me not away from your presence.
Psalm 51:11

You haven't really understood Psalm 51 until you have realized that every word of this penitential psalm cries for Jesus. Every promise embedded in this psalm looks for fulfillment in Jesus. Every need of Psalm 51 reaches out for help in Jesus. Every commitment of Psalm 51 honors Jesus. The sin that's at the heart of this psalm will only ever find its cure in the grace of Jesus.

Yes, Psalm 51 is a prayer of confession. And it's true that Psalm 51 is all about what true repentance produces in the heart and life of a man. Psalm 51 defines how true repentance always produces heartfelt worship. But more than anything else, Psalm 51 is Immanuel's hymn. The forgiveness of Psalm 51 rests on the shoulders of the One whose name would be Immanuel. The Jesus who would provide everything that David (and we) need took a glorious name. It is a name whose implications are almost too wonderful to grasp and too lofty to imagine. It's a name that summarizes every thing the biblical narrative is about.

How different it was before Jesus came. I’m glad I am not living in the time of animal sacrifices; a time when there was only hope of redemption to come. Speaking of animal sacrifices, can you imagine what the present day animal rights people would have done in a time of animal sacrifice?

Genesis 1 reminds us that people were created for relationship with God. This was to be what separated us from the rest of creation and defined our lives. Genesis 3 chronicles the horror of people stepping out of the fellowship in pursuit of the vaporous hope of autonomy. The covenant promises of the Old Testament are God saying that he'll make a way for that fellowship to be restored. The cloud of glory in the holy place of the temple was a physical manifestation of God's presence with his people. All of these things were steps on a ladder that was leading to Immanuel. The announcement of the angels to those bewildered shepherds was God's announcement that Immanuel had come. The promise of the Spirit, fulfilled in the visible flames of Acts, declares that Immanuel had come to stay. The hope of heaven is understood only when you grasp what it means to dwell in the presence of Immanuel forever.

People hung up on religion don’t realize that what God really wants is a relationship with us. That’s what it’s always been about. It’s not about rules, doctrine or dogma although if you don’t have those right it will mess up or prevent a relationship with God.

What is all of this about for you today? David's hope is your hope because David's confession is your confession. You will only get what God has given you when you understand that you need much more than a system of answers; what you actually need is a Redeemer. Why? Because only a Redeemer can rescue you from you! And so God didn't simply offer you legal forgiveness. Praise him that he did that. But he offered you something much more profound. He offered you himself. He knew that your need was so great that it wouldn't be enough to simply forgive you. He literally needed to unzip you and get inside you, or you would never be what you were supposed to be and do what you were supposed to do.

The line above, “He literally needed to unzip you and get inside you” really stood out to me this week. I asked Jesus to come into my heart and I believe in the indwelling Christ but that sentence made me look at it in a different way. I believe it but do I live it? How should I live realizing that Jesus in inside of me, living with the decisions and choices I make; hearing what I say and looking at what my eyes focus on?

And so the whole redemptive story marches toward Immanuel, the Redeemer who would destroy sin's dominion in our hearts by making our hearts the place where he, in his power, wisdom, and glory, would dwell. So pray Immanuel prayers. Sing Immanuel songs. Exercise Immanuel faith. Live in Immanuel obedience. Be motivated by Immanuel glory. And be glad the hope of hopes has come. Immanuel is with you now and forever!

A question from the meditation:

Read Galatians 2:20. Reflect on what it means to live believing that Jesus lives inside of you and empowers you to do what God has called you to do where you live every day.

Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. This week’s meditation has really made me think about this. I pray daily to be filled with the Holy Spirit. I want God to live through me so I get to see Him living through me rather than Him watching me live. I know there is a big difference.

Philip


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