Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Psalm 68: The Gospel of Salvaging

KEY TEXT: Psalms 68:4-6, 20, 34-35 Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land... Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death...Ascribe power to God, whose majesty is over Israel, and whose power is in the skies. Awesome is God from his  sanctuary; the God of Israel—he is the one who gives power and strength to his people. Blessed be God!

KEY THOT: When we speak of salvation, we think of salvaging broken lives, broken hearts and broken relationships. God offers us salvation to salvage our brokenness and through his Spirit bring forth light from darkness, beauty from ugliness, and life from death. The psalmist calls us to celebrate this awesome God who "gives power and strength to his people" (v.35). Our Saviour-God is in the business of salvaging broken people: He is the "Father to the fatherless"; He is the "protector of the widows"; He "settles the solitary (lonely) in a home"; and he "leads out the prisoners to prosperity".  The orphans, the widows, the lonely, the prisoners of sin and Satan--these are the broken people God delights to save and salvage. Healing and deliverance is the key ministry of the church. If a church is not doing such ministry of restoration of broken people, it's not offering salvation for which Christ secured for us at the Cross.

It's time for the Church to rise up to our calling as a "people belonging to God" (1 Peter 2:9, NIV). But who is this God we belong to? The psalmist describes and extols him thus: "Our God is a God of salvation, and to God, the Lord, belong deliverances from death" (v.20) and "Awesome is God from his sanctuary; the God of Israel--he is the one who gives power and strength to his people." We have a powerful God who can save us from spiritual, mental, emotional and even physical death. The Gospel is a message for "dead" people who are still walking around--the Gospel is the power of God to deliver such people from death to life and from sickness to wholeness.

It's time for the Church of Jesus Christ to re-examine the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus came to proclaim. Many pastors are enamoured by Paul's Gospel of Grace but have forgotten Jesus' Gospel of the Kingdom that releases God's power and presence to heal. Jesus has commanded His church: "proclaim as you go, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.'  Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons" (Matthew 10:7-8). Some shy away from this supernatural ministry and stick to the "safe" (human) ministry of counselling and talking. But there are many people struggling with unforgiveness and bitterness leading to spiritual, mental, emotional and physical sicknesses and diseases. The fact of sicknesses and diseases is telling us that we have many broken people around us in need of the Gospel of Salvaging.

And the Church has the cure to all these sicknesses and diseases whose roots are in sin. The cure is the Gospel of Jesus Christ--not just about Jesus Christ but from Jesus Christ. He has proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom that primarily saves people not from the other-worldly hell but from this-worldly "hell" they are now experiencing in their spirit, soul and body: "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

It's time we stop playing church by keeping God's people busy with trivial pursuits: religious events, socializing activities, self-focused seminars, time-wasting recreational trips, expensive tours, etc. Let's return back to our basic calling and self-identity: we are a missional people belonging to God, commissioned to "proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9). 

Father, deliver us from our trivial pursuits so that we may proclaim the Gospel of Salvaging for broken people for whom Your Son has paid the price at the Cross with His blood. Amen.

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