Sunday, July 28, 2013

Greetings from Virginia - perhaps just a sermon since I don't get to preach this week.

"May we shout for joy over Your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!" (Psalm 20:5 ESV) While on vacation through the nation, this verse has struck me. I have read Psalm 20 numerous times (as is shown by the different colors used in underlining). The amazing thing is, this verse has NEVER been highlighted. There are only 9 verses in this Psalm, but verse. 5 never registered with me. Till now.

And I find it a powerful and meaningful verse for my life. The focus is not upon me, you or anyone else. The focus is upon God and what He has done. We shout for joy...why? Over HIS salvation, over what He has down for each of us. He has won the victory. He has defeated our enemies. How do I know that? We are able to raise our "banners." Those banners that are raised are ones of victory. It is like being in the midst of a battle for a fort, and whoever wins is able to raise their flag. Think of the Fort McHenry in Baltimore, where the "National Anthem" was written. What showed the victory after a night of bombardment from the British ships? The flag still waving on it's pole. So we raise our banners high - because God has won the victory for us! We are victorious, not by our strength, our intensity, our desire but by what He has done.

What is that? He has been raised on the tree, on the cross. He suffered unknown suffering in order to win the victory for us. Where is the victory seen? On the cross? Yes, but that is not where we truly see the victory. We can't raise the banner just yet if we stand at the cross alone. All too often we stand there at the cross and forget that there is more. He dies upon the cross, but we must go from there to another place - to a tomb. NO! We hate going to tombs. It terrifies us. It saddens us. Tears are shed there at the graveside. Too many can't get past the tomb. Why do we need to go there?

"He is not here. He is risen just as He said!" That is why! There, in the empty tomb, a tomb that contains only the cloths that wrapped His body, we see the victory, the salvation of our Lord. The Lord saves! He is risen. The grave is empty. Jesus rose from the dead. And it is right there, in the empty tomb, that we see the victory.

Then we encounter Him! We see the risen Lord - in the Word. As I read Psalm 20 several days ago, I encountered the living Christ in verse 5. All I could do is bow my head in humble adoration. And then I felt like dancing! I felt like shouting (I was sitting in the basement of Julie and Fred's house so I didn't - they were all still asleep). Shout for joy! OVER HIS SALVATION! What joy fills my heart. I encountered the risen living Lord in this simple verse. What joy fills my heart. Set up the banner! Lift high the cross - for that is my banner. Onward Christian soldiers. Christ Jesus lives! He has won the victory.

"May we shout for joy over Your salvation, and in the name of our God set up our banners!"

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