Forgiven for God’s honor…

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

Let the Joy Begin!

What’s at the bottom of your Joy?

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:

Oh, What a Day–Mark Altrogge

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!

The Bottom of Our Joy–Piper

(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!)

–LS

(Whoops, written on Friday, but somehow having eluded being posted!)

We had hoped…

We had hoped the waters would part and we would skip across  on dry land, the case happily closed with all our wishes granted by a wise judge.

It was not to be.  Not because we did not pray, not because we had not prepared, not because we weren’t trusting God to supply for our lack…but just well, because.  God knows.  We stepped into the water’s edge with the ringing of the phone.  Within minutes of the phone-conference beginning we were up to our knees. Brr.  And I had scarcely opened my mouth before the water was surging up to our necks. Still standing,  but floundering, then treading water, scrambling for a rock to stand on, what could I say but ‘God help!’  as I took a deep breath and began to present my mom’s case.  The water did not retreat, but the Judge was kind, understanding, even sympathetic.  And by the hearing’s end when our reasons were exhausted without parting the sea and we had gathered up the few bits of flotsam at hand, we were still standing, my sister and I, in the stream on stepping stones. [Truth be told, she was huddled in a closet out of the way of the movers who had arrived late to pack up her house around her.  Lord?  what timing this hearing!] But there we were, together in the stream, with stones to stand on.  This is where we wait.  The waters have not parted.  They are cold.  But there is a Rock underfoot, and tomorrow, or next week, or next month when we need to take the next step, there will be another stone, another voice in our ear: “This is the way, walk in it.”

Miracles are not only in the parting of the water.  Miracles sometimes come in increments—in the unseen ways God works in human hearts.  God knows the testing my faith needs in order to grow robust, in order to overcome its aversion to loose ends.  So here I stand holding messy knot-filled strings wondering how they will ever form a life-line. There are many unknowns I cannot solve, cannot even hasten to an end.  There is SO much I want to see resolved today.  The case for justice and mercy seems clear to me, to God too I’m sure.  But it will entail a process of faith.  One step at a time, as He opens the way or shows the stepping stones hidden just beneath the surging water.

And this morning as I coddled my disappointment from yesterday’s hearing and tried to take stock of next steps, this oldie came singing into my morning.

One Day at a Time

And before I could get these words recorded here, official word came by email that one major knot has been untangled in our legal pursuit!  We stand in a current but not without a God who works mightily on behalf of those who wait for Him.

Thanks for sharing this journey,

Linda

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations.  For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Ps.108:3,4

I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.  Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.  Ps.116:1,2

This battle for faith

I love the LORD because he hears and answers my prayers.  Because he bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I have breath!—Pray without ceasing. 

Use every piece of God’s armour to resist the enemy in the time of evil, so that after the battle you will still be standing firm… truth, God’s righteousness, the peace that comes from the Good News…faith as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed at you by Satan…salvation as your helmet… the Spirit’s sword—the Word of God.  Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.  And pray for me, too.  Ask God to give me the right words… 

Don’t be afraid.  Just stand where you are and watch the LORD rescue you…The Lord himself will fight for you.  You won’t have to lift a finger in your defence! —It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man…I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. —The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when He delights in His way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong. for the LORD upholds His hand.

Keep steady my steps according to your promise,
and let no iniquity get dominion over me.  

Ps.116:1,2 NLT; I Thess. 5:17 ESV; Eph.6: 13-19 NLT; Ex.14:13,14; Ps.118:8,13 ESV;  Ps.37:23-24 ESV; Ps.119:3 ESV


I feel like I’m in a battle these days, not just the one marked with an upcoming Hearing date on my May calendar, but the battle for my mind and heart to rest in God’s power and leading in the meantime.  This battle for faith is far more significant than getting a fair hearing with a human judge, because fire-tested faith brings Jesus glory and honor.  He’s the Judge I most want to please.  I want to represent Him as the glorious, trustworthy LORD that He is.  Pray for me, won’t you?  Pray that He will be glorified in my weakness.

–LS

…that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ—the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials.
II 
Pet. 2:9 ESV; I Pet. 1:7 ESV

Wake up my soul!

My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises!
Wake up, my soul!

For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.

May your glory shine over all the earth.*

    

I’m awakening my soul this morning with words from the psalms and pictures from our whirlwind road trip to visit our kids and their kids.  It always seems to take a bit to get back in gear after much coming and going.  I’m so thankful for His steady love that steadies my own wobbly steps.

-LS

Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. Ps. 119:133 ESV

*Ps.108:1,4-5 NLT