Monday, May 15, 2017

face lift

lift up eyes
(written by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Psalms 3 & 4
mark this: Psalm 3:3 (ESV)
But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
What causes wrinkles?
Age? The sun? Stress? Children? The Buffalo Bills? Gravity? All of the above?
Regardless of the cause, our society does not like them, and we've developed manifold ways to remove them from our bodies. Elective cosmetic surgery is a $10 billion industry in this country alone.
Thankfully, we're here today, not to talk about plastic surgery, but a different kind of face lift.
It's a lift that has nothing to due with wrinkles or crow's feet or Botox. It is a much deeper and more essential kind of lift. Its actually more of a "head lift."
Here in Psalm 3 we have one of the greatest titles for God as found in the Bible. God is the "Lifter of my head."
That is a wonderful thing- because so much of life, our experiences, our poor choices or those of others, and even our circumstances, can cause our heads to hang downwards. Despite all of our technological advances, despite our best efforts, life repeatedly lets us down, and our souls become "downcast." We see this multiple times in the Bible. In Cain's resentment and anger (1). In Hannah's unfulfilled quest to be a mother (2). In Job's suffering (3). In Jeremiah's despair (4). In Ezra's expression of his nation's shame and disgrace (5). In the faces of two disillusioned disciples (6). The sheer weight of these kinds of things literally drag our heads downwards.
And many of us stay there for a while. Shame. Guilt. Sorrow. Grief. Regret. These burdens add pound after pound to our countenances. And as soon as we find relief in one area, we find two more to take its place. Our world is full of hanging heads, and often the church is not much different.
The good news of this verse, and of the entire Bible, is that God is in the head lifting business. He is very much aware of everything His children go through, and He promises, in His time, to rescue and restore and renew. The Psalms frequently repeat the theme: "You lifted me out of the depths" or "the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down (7)." That is our hope. And in order to guarantee this promise- God did a little lifting of His own.
Jesus Himself said "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life" and "When I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (8).” The cross shows us the lengths that God would go to to enable our salvation- it is the only reason we have anything to hope for to begin with.
So when we say "cheer up!" it is not based upon wishful thinking or sentimentality. We, by faith, choose to participate in the victory that Christ has already won. And when there seems to be no immediate answer or relief, we trust in the One who was lifted up once for all. Here's a classic hymn that expresses it much better than I could:
Give to the winds thy fears,
Hope and be undismayed.
God hears thy sighs and counts thy tears,
God shall lift up thy head.
Through waves and clouds and storms,
He gently clears thy way;
Wait thou His time; so shall this night
Soon end in joyous day.
Still heavy is thy heart?
Still sinks thy spirit down?
Cast off the world, let fear depart
Bid every care begone. (9)
(1) Genesis 4:5
(2) 1 Samuel 4:10
(3) Job 10:15
(4) Lamentations 3:20
(5) Ezra 9:6
(6) Luke 24:17
(7) Psalm 30:1 & 146:8
(8) John 3:14-15 & 12:32
(9) written by Paul Gerhardt 1656

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