读经：诗105:37-45 林后8:16-9:5 赛10:20-13:22
Love the Lord
What was wrong with these people? Were they weird? Was it a cult? What was this strange expression they seemed to use?
Of course I knew that God or even Jesus could be called ‘Lord’, but never before had I heard God referred to so often by a group of people as ‘The Lord’. In the years since then, as I have studied the Bible, I have begun to understand why these Christians, whom I first met at university, used this expression so often: they loved the Lord!
‘The LORD’ is the most common way of referring to God in the Old Testament. When written in capitals, this word translates the Jewish covenant name for God, YHWH. Out of respect for God, Jews do not use the word. Historically, we have often pronounced the word as ‘Jehovah’, when in fact it sounds more like ‘Yahweh’. When the Old Testament was first translated into Greek (c.250 bc) the name YHWH was translated as Kurios (the Lord). This translation is then reflected in the New Testament.
The New Testament gives us a more Trinitarian understanding of ‘The LORD’. It makes the remarkable claim that Jesus is the Lord. In fact, whether someone can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ becomes the test of Christian authenticity (1 Corinthians 12:3). It also makes the claim that the Holy Spirit is Lord: ‘Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Corinthians 3:17).
God the Father is Lord. God the Son is Lord. God the Holy Spirit is Lord. But there is only one Lord: ‘One Lord… one God’ (Ephesians 4:5–6). The one Trinitarian God is Lord. The New Testament understanding of the Lord helps us interpret the Old Testament use of ‘The LORD’. The Old Testament enriches our understanding of what the New Testament means when it speaks of ‘The LORD’.
1. Praise the Lord in worship
Psalm 105:37-45‘Praise the Lord’ (v.45b) sums up this whole psalm. This psalm worships and praises God for who he is and all he has done for his people. In this section he speaks of rescue (v.37), his protection (v.39a), guidance (v.39b), answered prayer (v.40a), satisfaction (v.40b), faithfulness (v.42), joy (v.43) and hope (v.44).
He writes, ‘They fell heir to what others had toiled for’ (v.44). Of course, this originally referred to the exodus. However, it is so often true in our own lives that we ‘fall heir’ to, or take possession of, what others have toiled for.
I often think of this in relation to Alpha. So many people worked extraordinarily hard over many, many years to lay the foundations for Alpha – Charles Marnham, John Irvine, John Collins, Sandy Millar and Nicky Lee to name but a few. Those of us involved now have fallen heir to what others have toiled for.
Are there people like this in your life? Are there parents, friends, pastors or others that you can thank God for today because you have fallen heir to what they have toiled for?
Supremely, we see this verse fulfilled in Jesus. We have fallen heir to everything that Jesus achieved for us through the cross and resurrection. He did the toiling. We are the heirs.
Praise you, Lord, for all that we have inherited through Jesus Christ our Lord. Thank you that you have brought us forgiveness, peace, joy, purpose, satisfaction, fullness, hope, fellowship, freedom, love, power, guidance and light. Praise the Lord!
2. Honour the Lord in giving
2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5Money matters. It can be a curse or a blessing. It can bring honour to the Lord or dishonour.
Paul’s desire is to ‘honour the Lord himself’ (8:19). Here ‘the Lord’ seems to be referring toJesus Christ (see v.23). He wants to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord (v.21).
In his handling of the offering (v.19) he is determined, first, to honour the Lord himself by ‘taking every precaution against scandal’ (vv.19–20, MSG). This includes any chance that someone might suspect him of using the money for himself (vv.20 –21).
Second, he is at pains to do what is right not only in the eyes of the Lord but also to be ‘as careful in our reputation with the public’ (v.21, MSG).
One way in which we can do this is to ensure that those who handle money in the church are like Titus, whom Paul describes as ‘rock-solid trustworthy’ (v.17, MSG). This is a good test for those involved in handling money in the church. Are they ‘rock-solid trustworthy’?
Another way in which we can honour the Lord with our money is through generosity. As someone has said, ‘We are cups filled from a spring. Others drink from us. They praise not the cups, but the spring when they see what God does.’
God has been so generous to us. Paul expects the Corinthians to be generous. He speaks of the ‘generous gift you had promised… a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given’ (9:5).
The enthusiasm of one group of Christians spread to others hundreds of miles away even at a time without modern forms of communication. St Paul writes, ‘your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action’ (v.2). How much greater is the impact that you can have now with global communication. What huge potential there is for any church to bring honour to the Lord.
Lord, help me to be generous with my money individually and within my community. May my generosity reflect your extraordinary generosity to me. May it bring honour to your name.
3. Know the Lord in relationship
Isaiah 10:20-13:22The astonishing truth is that, thanks to Jesus, you and I can know the Lord. We can all know the Lord.
God calls his people into a relationship with him. The expression ‘The LORD’ appears twenty times in this passage alone. The prophet Isaiah foresees a time when ‘the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea’ (11:9b). The kind of relationship God calls you to is a:
- Relationship based on faith
The prophet Isaiah looks forward to a time where his people ‘will truly rely on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel’ (10:20). He goes on to say that on that day they will say, ‘Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation’ (12:2–3).
Here, at the heart of the Old Testament, we see that faith (‘I will trust’) and salvation are strongly linked. The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that you are saved by your faith in the Lord (Jesus).
- Relationship based on respect
Isaiah speaks of ‘the fear of the Lord’. Isaiah calls the people of God to fear God but says ‘do not be afraid of the Assyrians’ (10:24). If you truly fear God (in the biblical sense of holy respect) you need fear nothing and no one else.
- Relationship brought about by the Holy Spirit
Knowing the Lord involves watching and listening to the Holy Spirit, allowing him to lead you in your hearts. Isaiah writes:
‘The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him,
the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength,
the Spirit that instils knowledge and Fear-of-God’ (11:2, MSG).
When the Holy Spirit comes to live in your life he brings you into a relationship of knowing the Lord. For me, it was only when I experienced the Holy Spirit that the expression ‘the Lord’, instead of sounding weird, became amongst the most precious expressions in the world.
Isaiah’s words were fulfilled in Jesus: ‘A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him’ (11:1–2a, see 53:2).
Isaiah goes on to speak about how God will be the perfect judge (11:3b–5). His reign of justice and peace will reverse the results of the fall (see Romans 8:19–22). ‘The wolf will live with the lamb’ (Isaiah 11:6). This promise strains our imaginations in a conflict-ridden world – one day ‘neither animal nor human will hurt or kill’ (v.9, MSG).
God has a global vision: ‘The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive, a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide’ (v.9, MSG). So should we. William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, said, ‘I am thinking up a plan, that when it is hatched, will bring blessing to the whole wide world.’
Jesus has made it possible for you to know God. The same Spirit of the Lord who rests on Jesus is given to you. He will give you wisdom and understanding, counsel and power so that your life can have a huge impact.
Lord, fill me with your Spirit that I may seek justice on behalf of the poor and needy. Help me to be a peacemaker and to play my part in spreading knowledge of the Lord until it covers the earth ‘as the waters cover the sea’ (v.9).
2 Corinthians 8:19–21
It is interesting how seriously Paul takes the handling of the money. There seems to be something quite reverential about carrying and administering the offering. They seem to be very aware that money can cause huge problems – corrupting, deceiving or bringing misunderstanding. Many church leaders and churches have found themselves in trouble. Paul and Titus were ‘taking pains’ not only to do the right thing under God, but to be seen to do the right thing and not bring the church into disrepute. I know I need constant wisdom and a pure heart in all my money dealings.