Author Archives: Scott

My Rock and My Fortress

Psalm 18:20-24 (NASB) 

20 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness;

According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

21 For I have kept the ways of the Lord,

And have not wickedly departed from my God.

22 For all His ordinances were before me,

And I did not put away His statutes from me.

23 I was also blameless with Him,

And I kept myself from my iniquity.

24 Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness,

According to the cleanness of my hands in His eyes.

I have been reading The Crucified Life, by A.W. Tozer, for the second time.  If you haven’t read it, I would highly recommend it.  I won’t go into a book report here, but only mention it, because his discussion of what a sold out life, a crucified life, in Christ can and should look like, puts one in a certain frame of mind.  It is that frame of mind that directed my study on Psalm 18 and what I feel I am supposed to write about today.

Psalm 18 is a reflection of David’s personal expression of gratitude to the Lord found in 2 Samuel 22.  David adapts that expression into this psalm for the whole of the people to sing, as their security is now tied to David’s line, the ultimate culmination of which is our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  

Psalm 18 is a beautiful expression of the power and protection wrought by God on David’s behalf.  However, what I want to draw attention to is who (David) and why (his righteousness) God’s intercession and protection was provided.  

Tozer talks, in depth, in his book about the lack of desire for the Lord in today’s christian.  He talks about the willingness of those to gladly accept the freely given gift of salvation bestowed upon us by our Lord and Savior, but our unwillingness to give all that we have and are over to Jesus, a refusal to “crucify” ourselves, to be born aain into the new life that He promises.  We want the best that He has to offer, we want peace, protection and prosperity, but we so seldom are willing to pay the price.  

In Psalm 18 God intercedes on David’s behalf, because he has faithfully pursued God.  He has tried to honor God, follow His statutes, obey His commands.  In the onslaught cast upon David, God sees him as righteous, blameless, his hands are clean.  Now, do not mistake my meaning here.  I am not saying that David’s works saved him, but they did shine favorable light on him in God’s eyes.  He made faithful conscious decisions and for that God rewarded him.

Psalm 18:32-35 

32 The God who girds me with strength

And makes my way blameless?

33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet,

And sets me upon my high places.

34 He trains my hands for battle,

So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

35 You have also given me the shield of Your salvation,

And Your right hand upholds me;

And Your gentleness makes me great.

Now, God didn’t just snap His fingers and obliterate David’s enemies.  He equipped David with righteous instruments, He empowered Him to prevail over the evil that plagued him.  How often do we ask for God’s intercession, expect Him to just sweep in and save the day, but then miss the tools and means He equips us with to handle the hardship that plagues us?  What would we gain, in what way would we grow and mature, if every time we find ourselves in a tight spot, God just wiped it all away?  

David is an example, certainly, of bad things happening to a faithful, God fearing person.  He was persecuted, hunted, starved, unsheltered.  He had it rough, despite being a faithful servant, but he remained faithful.  Bad things do not only happen to “bad” people.  But God hears the cries of the righteous, as He did David’s.  When David was ready, God pulled Him from the grips of his enemies, equipped him to battle back and earn the monarchy God had established for him.

Another question, is the only time you come to God when you need something?  David was consistently desiring to know God intimately, to follow His statutes, to obey Him.  David sought righteousness, knowing to do so draws him closer to the Lord.  God was merciful and provisional, because David was humble, hungry for righteousness, and faithful.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

 

 

“Cheap Grace”

Romans 6:1-3…6-7 (NASB) What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? …knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.  

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran Pastor during World War II.  He was a man very much opposed to Hitler and the Third Reich.  He fled Germany at first, but chose to return.  He felt that he could not, in good conscience, be a part of the rebuilding of his country after the war, if he wasn’t willing to suffer along side his countrymen.  He returned to Germany, worked in heavy resistance to the Reich.  He provided comfort, peace and provision to the men and women who so desperately needed it.  His subversion to Hitler was covert, when necessary, and overt when possible.  Because of his work, the threat he presented to the Reich’s power by fear, he was imprisoned, tortured, relocated repeatedly and tortured some more.  This man, armed with conscious faith was as powerful a weapon as any the allies had to combat the evil that that plagued Europe.  Through this man, God brought hope to a hopeless people.  Through this man, God inspired others to courageous action.  Many died doing this work, including Mr. Bonhoeffer.  He was hanged just days before allied forces liberated the concentration camp in which he was held.  Those that knew him, spoke of a calm, confident peace about him.  A strength of character and assurance that would not waver.  Despite the suffering he endured, he continued on every day, until his last breath, caring for those within his sphere of influence, bringing a peace and a hope, that no matter what happened they were right where God would have them, doing as God would them. 

Mr. Bonhoeffer believed that the saving gift of grace, bestowed upon him by his Father through the Son, was but a beginning, to start a new.  He believed that because of the cost of that gift, he was obligated to go where called, and do what was asked no matter what.  For him that included delivering the gospel to all he could, the helpless and hopeless.  It included a martyr’s death at the end of a noose. 

Reading about Mr. Bonhoeffer got me thinking about my role in the world.  What am I called to do (big picture) and what am I asked to do (little picture).  We’re all given a cross to bear, some big, some small.  We’re also given a choice.  Do we pick it up and march on, or do we leave it setting on the ground and walk away?  Too many of us freely accept the gift of God’s grace, but stop there.  So often, so many of us do not or will not accept the price we are asked to pay.  Dietrich was not such a man.  Ask yourself, as I am, are you?  Have a blessed weekend.

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Forgive Them

Genesis 50:20,21 (NASB) As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. 21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.

For the past few weeks, there has been a consistently repeating theme being brought to my attention.  I’ve listened to a number of sermons, from various pastors, read a number of articles and devotions, and had a good many conversations all centered around forgiveness.  This past Sunday, Pastor Jon Duey sermonized on the subject in a way that virtually mirrored a sermon I’d heard on the radio 4 days earlier.  I might be a bit obtuse sometimes, so God had to make it abundantly, stubbornly clear that I need to give some serious attention to this matter.

The thing about forgiveness is, everyone wants to be forgiven the things we do wrong to others, in some instances almost demand it as a right.  However, most are not so generous in extending forgiveness for wrongs committed us.  We justify its withholding with thoughts of, “well, I’ve never done anything like that.  It’s too much.  I didn’t deserve that, so they certainly don’t deserve my forgiveness.  If they would just apologize, then maybe I might see my way clear to extend them some grace.  Until then…”  To forgive or not to forgive, that is the question.

As I have thought about forgiveness, the desire to receive it and the need to extend it, I couldn’t help but think about the story of Joseph.  In Genesis 50:20,21 we are witness to the reunion of Joseph and his brothers.  Joseph was cast into a well, by his brothers, after they had contemplated killing him.  They then decided to sell him into slavery instead.  Joseph went on to work his way up the chain of command within the Egyptian kingdom, until he attained the position of pharoah’s second in command.  It was because of his position and authority he was able to protect and save the lives of thousands through a time of disasterous drought and famine.  When Joseph was finally reunited with his brothers, they expected the worse.  They expected condemnation, vengance and death at the hands of Joseph.  Instead they were met with joy, grace, immeasurable love and, yes, forgiveness.  Joseph forgave and loved on his brothers, the very ones who had desired his death and sold him into bondage.  Most people would say that Joseph would have been justified in wrath and retribution, but he had only forgiveness and love in his heart.  

It’s hard to say, exactly, why bad things happen and are done to people.  It’s difficult to let go of it when it comes yur way.  But, to forgive is a choice we will all have to decide upon for all of our life.  To forgive is as much for our benefit as it is to the benefit of the recipient.  It grants freedom to the giver as much or more as the recipient. 

Jesus hung from the cross in order to lift the burden of our sin, with love and forgiveness.  While hanging there, to the bittersweet end, forgiveness filled His heart and fell from His lips.  “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace 

Train and Be Trained

Proverbs 22:6 (NASB) Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

I was listening to a sermon the other day, and the pastor was talking about this verse.  It’s a proverb none to most christian parents, but how often do we really render it out?  I never truly have.

On the surface, it appears to be a guarantee that if you raise a child correctly, he/she will grow and live a correct and positive life.  The fact is, I’ve known a great many people who have done the very best they knew how, educated their child in the knowledge of the Lord, only to have the child stray from the narrow path into a life of sin, hardship and disappointment.  In turn, I’ve known people who have looked unfavorably on those parents of wayward youth, as if to say, “well obviously, you didn’t do what you should.  If you had, as Proverbs 22:6 clearly assures, they wouldn’t have followed that path.”  That’s shameful.

I see it as more of a warning to parents of the probable results of bad, permissive parenting.  As if to say, “allow a child to do what he/she wants and they’ll continue on that path.”  This proverb, like most of them, is an illustration of choice, something to be mindful of and possible outcomes.  

The next thing I want to address here is the choice of the word ‘train’ in the English translations.  This is an important word choice, as ‘teach’ could have just as easily been selected.  The Hebrew word used in this passage was chanokh.  The use of this particular verb refers to vital spiritual education that brings a child into definite, real, spiritual experience.  For that, it is not enough to teach it to them, they must be trained in it, dedicated to a life’s pursuit of God.  

As an archery coach, I can teach proper mechanics.  I can instruct someone in equipment setup and maintenance, but if do not continue to drill it, aid them in their pursuit of it, honing and refining these skills, all I did was teach them.  Teaching is not training.  Training infers a dedication to a specific course and discipline.  The reason for the Hebrew use of ‘chanokh’ and subsequently the English choice ‘train’ is vital.  This infers deliberate, life long devotion, drilling and internalizing God’s word and ways.  That means it doesn’t stop, ever, for all of our temporal life.  It also means that there is a starting point.  Proverbs 22:6 is directed at parents and the raising of their children, in particular adolescent/teens (the Hebrew word na’ar was replaced by child but more commonly referred to unwed teenage men), but can be applied to each and every one of us at any age.  Which means, it’s not too late to start.  After all, when one comes to know Jesus, profess Him Lord and Savior, are we not made new, a born again child of God.  That means our training is just beginning.  It means the mature saints have an obligation to aid in the training of others, as well.

Who would have thought that so much could be said in so few words.  Have a blessed weekend.

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace

Made Perfect

Hebrews 5:8-10 (NASB) Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation, 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of the living God, was born innocent, pure, but not perfect.  What?!  That’s right, He was born innocent, but made perfect.  We celebrate Christmas for the day of Christ’s birth, but that was just the beginning.  What Jesus accomplished in the salvation of man kind was the result of a process, a refining process to create in Him the only perfect being to walk the face of the earth.  

Born of the line of David, from the tribe of Judah, He wasn’t even born of the priestly tribe of Levi.  In Jewish tradition, only those from the tribe of Levi were permitted to enter into the priesthood, allowed to enter into the inner most court of the 3 court Jewish tabernacle.  

David found another way.  David cried out to God.  He desired to know Him, be near Him.  He pursued Him.  He wanted to be in His presence.  He discovered this access through the order of Melchizedek.  Melchizedek was the king of Salem (peace), a priest, but not of the tribe of Levi.  David recognized this and in doing so understood it’s importance and its foreshadowing of the coming Messiah.  By Jewish tradition, much of what David did, prophesying, offering sacrifice, etc was an outright atrocity.  However, he could do so, without reproach, because of his desire and full on pursuit of God.  His heredity didn’t make him eligible, justify and sanctify him.  God made him worthy because of his unwavering desire to know Him.

Jesus, the Son of God, is a priest of this order.  He’s granted access to God the same way that David was, through desired pursuit and obedience to Him.  He wasn’t born perfect, He was made perfect by His pursuit, obedience, suffering, love, victory over sin and unceasing desire to do His Father’s will.  Jesus summed it up from the cross, when He said, “it is finished”.  The process was complete.  He had been made perfect. 

All of us will fall short of the glory of God.  None of us are perfect, but Jesus’ atoning work, through His life’s process and His ultimate sacrifice are our assurance of the perfection that awaits us in glory.  Have a blessed weekend. 

In full pursuit of the greatest Trophy,

Scott Pace  

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