Whiter than snow

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Whiter than snow

Psalm 51: “A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bath-sheba.”

Reading 2 Samuel 11-12, I questioned how David, “a man according to [Jehovah]’s heart for Himself” (1 Samuel 13:14), could commit such a sin as to break five of the Ten Commandments (murder, adultery, stealing, false testimony, coveting). But reading Psalm 51, my question became, “How can someone be “whiter than snow” after doing that?”

We’re so complicated. We think that it will take a lifetime of good-doing and God-serving to make amends for a sin like David’s. But to God, the blood suffices. “For by one offering [Christ] has perfected forever those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14), therefore “[God] then says, ‘And their sins and their lawlessnesses I shall by no means remember anymore'” (10:17).

It’s really that simple. When we repent and confess our sins as David did, the blood of the Lamb immediately cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). There’s no condemnation, no record — God does not even remember it. Right there and then, we become whiter than snow.

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There are times…

There are times in my life when my heart is embittered; there are questions unanswered…  Yet You’re drawing me to enter into Your blessed sanctuary and turning my eyes heavenward; the questions of constant inquiry are changed to these words:

Whom do I have in heaven but You, dear Jehovah? My flesh and my heart constantly fail, but God’s still the strength of my heart and my portion; to Him forever I’ll draw near. I’ve made Jehovah my sweet refuge, so now throughout the years…

Turn my view to see You; how I need to see Jesus…though I don’t understand the ways that You take.

Lord, make me a babe and suckling always praising, enjoying Your worth day by day. Let each experience constitute me ’til Your life I display in every way.

(tune)

I have a bit of a phobia of birthdays. Aside from the dread of them landing on the first day of classes (as was the case this year), they tend to follow the pattern of the wedding feast in John 2. Whatever celebration I may have and however many wonderful birthday wishes I may receive, the question always remains at the end of the day: “Now what?”

This week has just been one of the “there are times.” I wasn’t exactly embittered about the same things as the writer of Psalm 73, but I certainly shared his sentiment that “my flesh and my heart fail.”

Thank the Lord for but. But God is the strength of my heart and my portion. Everything’s going wrong, but He has holden me by my right hand. Everyone will forsake me, but there’s One whom I do have in heaven. Nothing’s worth looking forward to, but there’s One I do desire on earth.

But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

Christian Students at UBC: year in review

School starts again in 2 days…! For me, that means

  • dragging several suitcases of stuff from home (2.5 hours from class) to an apartment on campus (5 minutes from class).
  • learning to cook…!! (and to grocery-shop… not sure which is the more daunting task).
  • testing my limits by taking an abnormal number of courses.
  • getting a second try at trying to not procrastinate.
  • going back to never getting enough sleep.
  • enjoying and pursuing Christ with fellow lovers of Christ on campus!

Yep, it’s a new term for Christian Students at UBC: starting with a Welcome Dinner this week. So I thought I’d look back at some of the highlights of the previous year to get myself ready for a fresh start.

The weekly Bible Studies were always much looked-forward to, not only because of their uncanny applicability to the particular circumstances of my week, but much more because they taught me to look away from everything to just praise the Lord Jesus Christ.

Each week covered a select chapter from the book of Psalms. Here are some of my enjoyments:

  • 2:12 – “Kiss the Son…Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.”
    Our concept of what it is to be a Christian is often so complex, but God just wants us to believe into & receive Christ (“take refuge in Him”) and to love & enjoy this One whom we’ve received (“Kiss the Son”).
  • 8:2 – “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to stop the enemy and the avenger.”
    The Lord gains His glory not through the strongest spiritual giants but through the youngest, smallest, and weakest ones. When all our natural, human activity is stopped through our experience of His salvation, when all we can do is just open our mouth to praise, then we’re strengthened to deal with the 3 categories of negative ones.
  • 16:3 – “As for the saints who are on the earth, they are the excellent.”
    When brothers and sisters get along well, we may declare this verse in exaltation. But what about when friction occurs? When we see some backsliding ones? When we’re offended? How we need to see the saints as God sees them!
  • 23:4 – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I do not fear evil, for You are with me.”
    What should we do when we’re going through the troubles and sufferings of life (“the valley”)? We should simply remain there and rest in the Lord! He may not bring us out of the valley, but His presence will remove the death!
  • 51:17 – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
    At some point in our Christian life, the Lord may allow us to fail/fall in a way we never thought possible. But hallelujah, when we have a thorough repentance (turn) and confession, God is faithful to forgive. His forgiveness issues in our loving much (Luke 7:47). Only when our heart is broken and contrite can the Lord gain His intention, His building, in us.
  • 68:19 – “Blessed be the Lord, who day by day loads us with good…”
    Christ is the only good in the universe. Praise the Lord that He loads us day by day with nothing but Himself!
  • 73:25-26 – “Whom do I have in heaven but You? And besides You there is nothing I desire on earth. My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
    We need to speak v.25 to the Lord in faith until it becomes our reality! God’s intention is for us to take Him as our unique portion and to not be distracted from the absolute enjoyment of Himself.
  • 84:5 – “Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.”
    Lord, duplicate Your heart in me!
  • 90:12 – “Teach us then to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
    The only days that count are those of dwelling in God — having our living in God and taking Him as our everything.
  • 110:3 – “Your people will offer themselves willingly in the day of Your warfare, in the splendor of their consecration. Your young men will be to You like the dew from the womb of the dawn.”
    There’s a war raging in the spiritual scene! What a splendor when we pour ourselves out as a refreshing drink to Christ the Commander in chief!
  • 137:1 – “…Indeed, we wept when we remembered Zion.”
    Does Zion — the desire of God’s heart — remain deeply in our consideration?
  • 133:1-3 – “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell in unity! It is like the fine oil… Like the dew of Hermon…”
    How sweet it is when believers live (not just meet) together under the anointing of the Spirit (“fine oil”) and the supply of grace (“dew”) to express the genuine oneness!

This year’s theme is “Life’s Principle”. May the Lord really speak a personal word to each student through the Gospel of John.