Archive for October, 2012
“How blessed are those who dwell in Your house ! They are ever praising You. Selah” (Psalm 84:4).
The response of God’s people is forever one of adoration, praise, honor, and glory. We do not evaluate our circumstances to determine whether He is worthy of praise. He is praised not because of what He has done or might do, but for who He is.
“The Lord said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians'” (Exodus 3: 7-8).
Every time I read of this particular action of God in human history, my mind goes immediately to the miracle of the incarnation–“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in Him” (Nahum 1:7).
While the Lord has decreed his church to be an offensive movement against evil and for the redemptive purposes of God–that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it–he, himself, is our defensive refuge in our days of trouble. To know and be known by him is to be protected by him.
“He (Ezra) read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law” (Nehemiah 8:3).
As the people of God, could you imagine how different life would be without His inspired Word; the sacred Scripture to guide, instruct, and comfort us as we seek to live in relationship with our Heavenly Father and those with whom we abide in the fellowship of the saints? Yet, because you do own and have access to a Bible, perhaps a more appropriate question is, what difference is it making in your life?
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (Zephaniah 3:17).
At great cost, our Heavenly Father has fought for us as a passionate and fierce warrior and won. While evil would seek to haunt you, Satan cannot have you. The resurrected Christ brought a victory so complete and pervasive that the celebration of God is overflowing in excess and redundancy–exulting with joy and rejoicing with shouts of joy. His love is quiet because His actions have said it all.
“The good hand of his God was upon him” (Ezra 7:9).
When my oldest was nearly three-years-old, she ran ahead of me to push open the large glass double-doors of the church office. They wouldn’t budge. By the time I got to her she was huffing and puffing, but still pushing. Without her knowing it, I placed my hand on the door above her and gently pushed. As the door began to open, I could tell by the look of pride on her face that she was completely unaware that it was actually my hand that had opened the door. I wonder how often we have taken credit for some accomplishment when it was, in fact, the unseen hand of God moving the doors of the obstacles before us.
“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the Gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else” (Philippians 1:12-13).
When difficulties arise our view often becomes myopic and narrow in scope; focusing on the misery of our present circumstances. While imprisoned, and facing the possibility of a death sentence, Paul’s perspective was that his circumstances were making possible the furtherance of the gospel. This “greater progress” came from a word originally associated with a group of woodcutters, who travelled ahead of a military unit cutting a road through what appeared to be an impenetrable forest. Your response to the sufferings of life may well be cutting a path through the hearts of people that you never imagined being reached with the gospel.