A sleepy dog
In the passage, God brought the trials upon the Jews because of His wrath and anger; however, He then also provided the restorative and sustaining grace they would need to endure. Indeed they would not have endured without it!
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing v.3
"O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be! Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."
Fetter = chain or shackle for the legs/feet. something that restrains.
God is the primary agent acting on behalf of the Jews in this passage. He makes an everlasting covenant with them to not cease in doing them good. Though this promise is written for the Jews (and we must be very careful about taking promises made for someone else and claiming them as my own simply because they are good sound bites), I can still take comfort in this promise (the everlasting covenant) since I have been grafted into the children of Abraham as a believer (Romans 11:11-24). I have been inserted into the terms of this everlasting covenant.
In the final verse of this passage, the Lord states that He will rejoice in doing good for those in whom He has placed the fear of Himself. What is the countenance of the Lord, in your mind? Here He is clearly a rejoicing, happy God. The good things that He does in the lives of His children, He does with all of His heart and His soul. Is it possible to even conceive of the intensity with which He sustains me and the magnitude to which He enjoys showing me good? God is infinite, so it follows that when He says He is giving all of His heart and all of His soul for my benefit, these must be equally infinite.
The grace of God is incredibly powerful and is definitely amazing. I don't know that I grasp the gravity of the word, "grace" when I use it or read it. It overcomes everything that would otherwise hinder me from knowing or being known by the Lord. I reflect on the fact that I rightly deserve hell, if judged by my merit, yet I'm bound by the grace of Christ, for eternity in His courts.
11 August 2007, Saturday
Clean on the Outside…
Matthew 23:25, 26 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
Many times, I feel like the accused in the above verse. I’m quite good at “playing” Christian, regarding my actions and words when in front of others. Inside, though, am I really any different? Often, it sure doesn’t feel like I’m different. When no one is looking, I indulge my flesh, my selfish thoughts, my unrighteous actions. I don’t conduct myself like one who is redeemed. The fruit of this behavior rots my quiet times spent trying to read the Word. I’m left with poor focus, or even worse, no time spent reading at all. I manage to “get by” from day to day, with little energy actually invested in a meaningful relationship with my Jesus. Do I struggle against this dying flesh? Often, the answer is, “no.” But the example provided me in the Bible is one that continues to persevere in obedience, despite any struggles I have with my corrupt flesh.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
I know the Lord is the Author and finisher, or sanctifier of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), so I find myself here because He has allowed me to be here. During this time of rocky faith, I am called to return to the Lord, in obedience, and to persevere, despite lacking feelings. Since I am one of His children, I can be certain that He will restore me and cause my faith to grow through this. I am not to be driven by my emotions, or lack of them when reading/praying. This is commonly how modern society has encouraged people to act, though, in direct opposition to God’s command.
++If it feels good, do it….
++Let your heart be your guide (Jeremiah 17:9 says my heart is deceitful and wicked, and then asks who can know it)
++Follow your gut instinct…
God never teaches me to be this way! No, during tough times, I am to draw nearer to the Lord, seek to be more dependent on Him, not less.
Matthew 12:34b For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.
You are the Sovereign over all things. The resistance of my heart and my flesh is not stronger than your hand. Please break through my defenses and bring me to humble repentance before you. I undeservingly ask forgiveness for the hardness of my heart, the arrogance with which I stumble through my days, and for the casual manner in which I approach you. Please make me teachable and instruct me by your word in the way I should live. I believe it has all truth concerning profitable conduct before you, and I ask you to mesh the knowledge gained from it with your amazing grace in my life, that I would actually live the way you command everyone to.
Shield me from the constant attack on your word, offered by the world I live in. Instead of harboring doubts ignited by them, help me to seek out definitive answers in your word, and in other historical documents that serve as evidence on which to build a reasonable faith. Give me the ability to formulate logical, honest arguments that defend the reason for the hope I have in you, as you have called me.
Thank you for being bigger than every issue I face. Help me to remember this, and to quietly depend on you, instead of myself, for all provision. All of this I pray by the glorious grace of your perfect son. Amen.