We had a great worship service yesterday celebrating our Lord’s resurrection. Church was full. We sang great hymns, heard a fine message, gathered around the altar to share the Holy Sacrament, and declared again He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! But today Monday. We have a week before us of routine work, some pleasant tasks, some not so pleasant. The week may contain some illness, or a funeral service, as ours did last week. So as great as our service was yesterday, we are back in the midst of life today. But that is just the point of all that yesterday’s service proclaimed. Our Lord knows who we are and all we face in day to day life in a broken world. God sent His only begotten Son into this world to bring us life, not just for one special day but for every day. “I have come”, Jesus said, “that you may have life, and have it to the full.”(John 10:10) In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave the power of sin, death, and the devil have been broken. Through faith in His name we have life. Today is Monday. The Lord is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
“This is the day which the LORD has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”(Psalm 118:24) I don’t know what you have planned for today, or whether you circumstances are good or bad. Even so this verse sets the tone for our days. Whether good or bad we are assured that the Lord is not far off. He is a part of our days with wisdom, guidance, strength, and help. This Psalm is also part of the messianic psalms. Just two verses before this one is the verse Jesus applied to Himself when talking to the Jewish leaders. “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” Jesus is our Chief Corner Stone in all times and in all situations. He is the Rock on which we stand and in whom we have hope. You may want to take time to read all of Psalm 118. It is certainly a good one for each day.
“I love you, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”(Psalm 18:1-3) David gives us a wonderful prayer of trust in this Psalm. He is clear in saying that life is a struggle. There are many battles and enemies to the point where he feels overwhelmed, but the Lord is always there, bringing him through to life. This is our trust in all times, and all conditions. Life in our fallen world is not easy. There are many things that try to separate us from our trust in the Lord. Circumstances don’t turn out as we would like, or even as we can understand. Yet, God is there. He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer. He is worthy of our praise in all times, and our praise turn the eyes of our heart to Him.
We don’t have to look far to know that we are in a broken world. The trials and pains of life come to all of us. It is how we deal with them that matters. And I must readily admit that I don’t always deal with them in the right way. I am not a good patient when I face some pain. I took a fall last week that wrenched my back. It is painful when I move and have to use a walker to get around. I don’t like not being able to get up and go. Which leads to frustration, etc. etc. etc. I said I’m not a good patient. I often wake up with the verse of some song playing in my mind. This morning it was a reminder that I needed. It was an Easter song highlighting the events of the cross and empty tomb. “Then came the morning.”
Then came the morning
shadows vanished before the sun
death had lost and life had won
the morning had come.
This is the assurance we have. This is the message of the Gospel. God has come to share our burdens and to redeem us from the power of sin, death, and the devil. We have that assurance in the empty tomb. The morning has come, and with that truth we have the assurance that it will come for each us. I’m still not a good patient, but whatever I go through today is not the final word. My present pain will ease up, but more importantly we live the daily hope that in Christ all things shall be made new. Including our broken bodies.
A great hymn and one of my favorites is Great Is Thy Faithfulness. It was written in the 1920s by Thomas Chisholm as a testament to God’s faithfulness through his very ordinary life. One doesn’t need to be rescued from life-threatening danger or see God’s miraculous provision in the direst of financial crises to truly know the faithfulness of the Lord. God remains faithful day in and day out in the largest and smallest of circumstances. “Chisholm explained toward the end of his life, ‘My income has not been large at any time due to impaired health in the earlier years which has followed me on until now. Although I must not fail to record here the unfailing faithfulness of a covenant-keeping God and that He has given me many wonderful displays of His providing care, for which I am filled with astonishing gratefulness.’”* One of the lines in Chisholm’s hymn says that we “have strength for today and great hope for tomorrow”. Whatever you have planned for this day, whatever tasks you face, the Lord is with you. “The Lord’s mercies are new every morning great is Your faithfulness. ‘the Lord is my portion,’says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!'” (Lamentations 3:22-24)
*Some information was taken from a Bill Gaither website – gaither .com
Yesterday we looked at the statement, seeing is believing. My son-in-law wrote to say that the reverse of that statement is the real truth. Believing is seeing. And it certainly is. When we begin to see life through the eyes of faith things start to make sense. We don’t have all the answers, but we believe in a God, our God, who truly cares about us. We believe in our God who has come among us to share all parts of human life. We believe that God’s Son has given His life to redeem our lives from the power of sin. We believe in the depth of His love that has a purpose for all that happens. Because we believe we see our life as one piece of a very large picture the Lord is putting together, a picture that will be gloriously beautiful. Because we believe we can look to Him in hope. Believing is seeing the hand of God near and active in all the events of our days. Let us bow before Him in worship.
We like to think that we are capable of doing what needs to be done, and for the most part we are. We have talents and abilities. We solve many problems as they come along in our days. However, as smoothly as things go along for a while, something always seems to crop up reminding us that we are not always in control. Be it a computer glitch, a sudden illness that puts one in the hospital, or even an unexpected death, things happen that we can’t change. The Lord, in His grace, uses these times to remind us to look beyond ourselves, check our priorities, set aside our pride, or a variety of other lessons aimed at focusing our attention upon Him for strength, wisdom, and guidance. No, we do not have the ultimate control of our lives. There is One far greater than we who does. And His nature is pure love and grace. We continually look in trust to Him.
Hurricane Florence is battering the eastern coast of the U.S. There were necessary preparations and evacuations in the Carolinas. There will be a great cost and effort to rebuild after the storm passes. Tragically, some lives may even be lost. Whether natural disasters or trials cause by the sinfulness of man, we are faced with the truth that we live in a fallen world. Yet it is a world into which God has come with His redeeming love. It’s hard to see that love in the midst of the storm, but it is there. It is seen in the lives of people who give aid. Ultimately, it will be seen in the fulfilled promise of God making all things new. At one of the most critical and frightening times in the lives of His disciples Jesus said to them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”(John 14:27) We may lose property. We may even lose physical life. But we cannot lose the love of God who will make all things new.
Psalm 125 declares that “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore.”(vss.1-2) This is a great word, and a great encouragement, but we also find ourselves in the midst of a world of trials, problems, and uncertainties. We can find it difficult to keep our trust in the Lord. But we do have the many real promises from our Lord that He is there for us “both now and forevermore”. Even further, we look back in our own lives seeing the times God has acted in life’s situations. He has brought us through many difficult times. Both Old and New Testaments teach us not to worry or be anxious, but to keep the eyes of our hearts fixed upon the One who is faithful. In Him “we cannot be shaken”.
Everyone hates the C word. There is apprehension and fear when one hears a diagnosis of cancer. It usually means lengthy and painful treatments. A person wants to seek the best medical option that is currently available. The value of the treatment is in proportion to the seriousness of the disease. We have learned how serious this disease is, and so seek the best treatment possible. Now to my spiritual parallel. I am thinking of people’s attitude toward our Lord Jesus. We have a serious, in fact terminal, disease called sin. “All have sinned,” Paul tells us, “and fall short of the glory of God”.(Romans 3:23) The Christian faith declares that because of our sin we are lost, condemned, and separated from God. We deserve eternal death. Yet Jesus took the penalty for our sins in His own body, dying in our place, and giving us as a free and unearned gift His perfect righteousness before God. We have salvation and life through faith in Jesus Christ. The problem is that too many today minimize the seriousness of sin. In so doing they minimize the value of the Saviour. He becomes only a great moral teacher, and a perfect example of love. Think about the disease. One far more serious than cancer. And humbly bow in worship of our gracious Lord.