Monday, October 5, 2015


The Word for today:
1 Kings 14
mark this: 1 Kings 14:25-27 --
In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem. He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made. So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.
Things deteriorate, they degenerate; the gold gives way to bronze.
I don't often bring in extrabiblical sources, but here's Robert Frost's expression of the natural inclination towards decline:
Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Frost observed that the first springtime leaf of the birch and the willow is not green but a delicate gold--which never lasts long, because "nothing gold can stay."
That was true in Eden. It is true in nature; youth and beauty are only fleeting in the natural world, which is under the curse and the spell of sin (1). And it is true in our scripture reading today about a king and kingdom which have departed from the LORD and are experiencing the same decline: the gold has turned to bronze.
But these are not the conditions in the kingdom of God.
I am not young. I almost don't recognize that person in photographs who is standing where I stood when the picture was taken! And yet, as I speak and write, I've told many, many people that these are the finest days of my life. These are the shining years.
I used to think that nothing gold can stay. Then I met Jesus Christ, who reversed the natural gravitational pull of sin's consequences, which is upon us all.
The life of Jesus I now live by his Spirit within me (2) is sinless and tending upward. It is a resurrected life that is lifting me up.
For the young, the old, and the inbetween, sin and self turn gold into bronze. Love gets lost and the children inevitably "follow time out of grace" --

And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.  (3)
If you recognize your life in the lines above, if you have followed time out of grace, then you need more than a helping hand. You need more than a support group, a vacation, a drink or a pill, a better job, or a new toy.
You need a brand-new life.
The life of Christ by His Spirit is yours for the turning. When you trust him enough to turn to his cross, he takes your sin.
But that' not all. He gives you his righteousness:
God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (3).
He turned water into wine. He'll turn bronze into gold,
when you turn to him.
(1) see Romans 8:21; (2) see Galatians 2:20;(3) from "Fern Hill" by Dylan Thomas; (4) 2 Corinthians 5:21

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