Sunday, September 09, 2007

God Lives Here

From "The Pastor's Pen" in the September 2007 Voice of the Valley, the monthly newsletter of Valley Bible Church, by the Reverend Frank C. Emrich. Re-posted here with permission.

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I think one of my favorite months of the year is September. One of the reasons I love it so much is because it's a time of coming together again from summer activities. All of our various ministries start up again with renewed anticipation looking for ways to glorify our great God. One of the ways we can do that is by thanking Him every day for our salvation.

While on vacation this year I spent most of my devotional time in Psalm 1. My attention was arrested with the contrast between the believer and non-believer. The Psalmist says that the believer is like a tree firmly planted by streams of water....the wicked are not so, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.

What is chaff? Chaff is that which remains when the grain has been separated. The grain is the kernel, and around it is the husk. In the process of winnowing or threshing the grain is removed, the food with its life, its value, and what is left - the refuse - is the chaff. It is but a remnant of what it once was.

When God made man and woman, He made them in His own image, but that image has been lost. Men and women were made by God and for God; they were made in the image and likeness of God. That was their relationship to God. They enjoyed God and companionship and fellowship with Him. They had a spiritual faculty. But they are not like that now. S/he is not what s/he once was. The great thing that came from God has been lost. There is nothing left but ruins.

An old Puritan living three centuries ago said that man, as a result of the Fall and sin, is like many an old castle or a great old house that you can see sometimes in the country. One traverses a road and sees a ruin that is all grown over with ivy and moss, an obvious ruin. If one examines it, one might find a tablet or sign that says, "[So and so] once lived here". It was once the ancestral home of some great nobleman. But it is nothing now but a mass of rubble with children playing in it, walls fallen down, enthicketed with nettles and thorns. Said the Puritan, "Man is nothing but a ruin on which there is a notice that says, 'God once lived here.'" The image of God was once here. This was a noble creature, just as that was once a noble building. But one would not be seeing the real thing, but only the ruins.

Here is man as the result of sin and the Fall. He is nothing but a remnant, chaff without wheat, without the kernel, without the germ, without the life. God once lived here.

Beloved, that was the condition of all of us before we came to faith in Christ. Rejoice that you can now say, "God lives here!"
Learn to know Christ and Him crucified. Learn to sing to Him, and say, 'LORD Jesus, You are my righteousness. I am Your sin. You have taken upon Yourself what is mine and given me what is Yours. You have become what Your were not so that I might become what I was not.

-Martin Luther