After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said…”I thirst.”
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin—So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it—Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Ex.17:3 NLT; Jn. 19:28 ESV; Heb 4:15 NIV; I Pet.4:19 NIV; I Cor.10:13 NIV; James 1:2-4 NIV; Lk. 11:4 NKJV
Faced with circumstances I would not have chosen, helpless to relieve my discomfort or to meet my own needs, this is the perfect proving ground for faith. Will I give vent to frustration and thrash about for an escape complaining all the while? Or will I commit my way to God, ask Him for the way out and trust that His grace really is enough for me however it comes. This is the place where His glory shines in light of my weakness and where faith is made strong by resisting temptation’s weight and casting my cares continuously on the Lord.
“And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.”
You will know that I am the LORD, O people of Israel, when I have honoured my name by treating you mercifully in spite of your wickedness, says the Sovereign Lord—he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities—But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
There is only one God, and there is only one way of being accepted by Him. He makes people right with himself only by faith—God will also declare us to be righteous if we believe in God, who brought Jesus our Lord back from the dead—If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Yes, what joy for those whose sin is no longer counted against them by the Lord!
Ezek.20:44 NLT; Ps. 103:10 NIV; Rom. 5:8 NASB; Rom.3:30; 4:24; I Jn. 1:9 NASB; Rom.4:8 NLT
God does not treat us as our sins deserve, nor is He a doting parent who overlooks our wrongdoing. His honor is too important for that and so His mercy is severe, requiring the death of His own Son that we might be forgiven. What a humbling mercy this. Our comprehension of this mercy will be seen in our glad forgiveness of those who sin against us. This is the continuing good news the Gospel brings–forgiveness recieved and extended, for the honor of God’s name.
‘And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.’ Lk.11:4 NASB
When victory is sweet, when crises are resolved, when good things happen and God’s hand is made evident, JOY is natural. The Old Testament makes much of celebrating victories. Annual feasts were part of the Law of God for His people. “Celebrate!” was a command. With good reason. So soon we forget what He’s done on our behalf and settle back into an anxious mentality focused on the things we yet face.
Our family had a great victory this week. The legal issues that were before us (which I likened to crossing the Red Sea in last time’s post) vanished with breath-taking speed this week when the ‘opposition’ called a quick conference in which they conceded to the fairness of our complaint and agreed to make prompt payment of unpaid bills. It was jaw-dropping awesome how God swooped in and upheld our case! But what was more surprising (appalling really) was my heart’s response.
My elation over what God had done on our behalf was so short lived. I scarcely had time to share the good news with a few who had prayed before I felt my joy receding, edged out by the conflict to come over one thorny monetary detail not addressed. It’s one thing to concede a case but another to fully restore what has been lost. The juxtaposition of the exhilarating celebration with which Exodus 15 begins and the bitter complaint with which it concludes is telling. For truly, the crossing of the Red Sea was just the beginning of a journey through the desert, a journey which would take a lifetime. There was a LOT more that could go wrong, a LOT more that would cast the children of Israel into abject dependence on God and a LOT more opportunity for doubt and despair…
So quickly God’s awesome displays of power on our behalf can be lost from sight. Perhaps this is why He commands celebration. Rejoice in what I’ve done for you, lest you forget…
The Spirit is faithful to convict and lead and I duly bowed my head in repentance at the recognition of this foul condition of my heart in light of God’s evident goodness, before rushing out the door to a committment. But oh the nearness of our God, as I turned the key in the ignition to drive off, this song sang out:
Let the joy begin, let our songs ring out
Let our hearts be glad, love has banished doubt
See the empty cross, all our debts are gone
Only grace remains, for the victory’s won
Oh what a day, what a glorious day Oh what a day, what a glorious day When You conquered death And rose up from the grave What a day! What a day!
I could only smile a great big smile and press the gas pedal with a fresh thrill of joy at being so known, and loved anyway!
Of course, the victory which is our greatest joy is incomparable with trivial matters of money and health care. But should not this Joy of all joys be my underlying source so that I need not be so cautious in my celebration of earth’s little joys? They won’t bottom out, except into the expanse of God’s eternal glory.
I listened this morning to John Piper expound on what sets the believer apart from the one who names the name but has a short-sighted self-centric ‘faith’ which falls short of God’s intention for us. His opening question: “Do you feel more loved by God because He makes much of you, or because through Christ He enables you to make much of Him forever?” I heartily recommend his challenging thoughts!
(I know, ‘happy’ is a little trite–this is the NLT of Proverbs 16:20–but certainly when we trust Him there will be deep joy unruffled by loose ends. This is the state I want to live in, one that finds its foundation in God!)
(Whoops, written on Friday, but somehow having eluded being posted!)