Groan with Good Courage

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling… So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-5:2,6-9

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” Romans 8:23-25

A big birthday or anniversary; the passing of a loved one and with him, a generation; a new debility, or pain; downsizing, saying good-bye, closing a door, letting go– There are many events in our lives that notch our minds with an indelible memory and a sense of turning, that call upon our faith to put into perspective the meaning for the present and vision for forward. Though we groan, we are not alone. For this we were made, with eternity in our hearts and a longing for true shalom, peace, and home. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Today we hear, and may contribute to, much groaning. It is certainly not a new phenomenon for humankind to grumble about circumstances, but Jesus came to transform and invigorate our groaning to a yearning for what was meant and is to be. In this life that we live by faith in that life, we can invest our energy into living for the One who died to make it possible. He gives good courage to spend ourselves for the sake of His kingdom, that many will know the hope to which He calls us. (Exodus 16:2; Numbers 14:2Ephesians 1:16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:15,18)

Where are we focused, and what do we groan about? If we wallow in feelings and make ourselves the center of life, our groaning will poison our outlook and make miserable those around us. Would we not instead, with hope for eternity, courageously and zealously engage all we are to please our Lord and honor Him before others?

Father, may I live to proclaim Your sure promises. May my groaning for glory in this life stir hope for the next. Keep me fully convinced, by faith, that You are able to fulfill, now and in the future, all Your word. (Romans 4:20-21)

Never Too Important

David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and David took Metheg-ammah out of the hand of the Philistines. And he defeated Moab… David also defeated Hadadezer the son of Rehob, king of Zobah, as he went to restore his power at the river Euphrates…  Then David put garrisons in Aram of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David and brought tribute… And David made a name for himself when he returned from striking down 18,000 Edomites in the Valley of Salt. Then he put garrisons in Edom; throughout all Edom he put garrisons, and all the Edomites became David’s servants. And the Lord gave victory to David wherever he went.”

And David said, ‘Is there still anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?..’  And Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan, son of Saul, came to David and fell on his face and paid homage. And David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’ And he answered, ‘Behold, I am your servant.’  And David said to him, ‘Do not fear, for I will show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan, and I will restore to you all the land of Saul your father, and you shall eat at my table always.’” 2 Samuel 8:1-3,6,13-15; 9:1,6-7

David certainly had his weaknesses, but there is something very special about the combination of his remarkable, visionary, successful leadership and his kind compassion for individuals. His fame in battle and on throne did not negate his promise to his friend Jonathan, when he had every natural right to dismiss and even exact revenge on the family of King Saul, who had wronged him. He went out of his way to care and provide for a disabled son of Jonathan’s with generosity, love, and lavish attention.

The secret to this righteous motivation? He always remembered his place before Almighty God. He could have forgotten, and justified that due to his ‘more urgent responsibilities.’ He could have assigned it to one of his ‘inferiors’ to manage. But God had his heart, and he was ever too important to honor his supreme Lord. (Psalm 8:1,3-6)

When we are disciplined to behold God regularly, to humble ourselves before Him and invest time and affection in our relationship with Him, we guard against much pride and prejudice. It is difficult to think too highly of ourselves when we exalt the high, transcendent King of kings, and see ourselves in relation to Him.

Have we grown so accustomed to our important positions or comfortable places that we no longer notice or feel for those less fortunate, or out of our ‘circle’? What lures us away from compassion, sympathy, generosity, giving of our time and focus for others with no expectation for a return? Take time with Jesus. Gaze at Hm on the Cross, and on His throne. The One who is lowly in heart enables us to learn how it beats and pulse with His lifeblood. He gives us eyes to see the small, the mind to recall needs and preferences, the will to do the menial and unnoticed. (Matthew 11:29; Romans 12:3-5,9-11,14-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:14)

Good Father, remind me daily of who I am before You. May my efforts in life and service affirm others of their inimitable value, and Your supremacy.

In His Courts, In Awe, and Satisfied

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion,
    and to you shall vows be performed.
O you who hear prayer,
    to you shall all flesh come.
When iniquities prevail against me,
    you atone for our transgressions.
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near,
    to dwell in your courts!
We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house,
    the holiness of your temple!

By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness,
    O God of our salvation,
the hope of all the ends of the earth
    and of the farthest seas;
the one who by his strength established the mountains,
    being girded with might;
who stills the roaring of the seas,
    the roaring of their waves,
    the tumult of the peoples,
so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs.
You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.” Psalm 65:1-8

Trouble in the cities, and the secret counsels of men. Sins against us, sins enflamed within us; bitter words sting from without, bitter hearts foment within. Rebellion flames in crowds, rages on airways, stirs turmoil in minds and wills. When the world and its ugliness prevail, we can turn to God who is worthy of prayer, praise, and hope. In grace, He chooses to draw us near. His courts are the place of blessing.

We can sing these songs. We can practice praise. We can perform vows of spiritual disciplines that keep us near His heart, His thoughts for the world and for us. Our flesh can rest in His atonement, our spirits find goodness and be satisfied in His holy presence. Let us come!

Let us decide to hope! To expect and listen for His answer! To rejoice in His free salvation– salvation from condemnation, despair, fear, insignificance, loneliness! Let us lift our eyes to marvel at His awesome deeds in creation, to consider His vast and exquisite beauty, to delight in His boundless and purposeful creativity, to rejoice in His radiant and glorious splendor, to exalt His unmatched and limitless power! Let us exult in His faithfulness and steadfast, unfailing love with the going out of the morning and evening and His signature in nature of awesome signs! Let us remember and recount His deeds of kindness, guidance, and meeting needs; of comfort, provision of strength and wisdom, peace!

“O worship the King all-glorious above,
O gratefully sing his power and his love:
our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

O tell of his might and sing of his grace,
whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
and dark is his path on the wings of the storm.

Your bountiful care, what tongue can recite?
It breathes in the air, it shines in the light;
it streams from the hills, it descends to the plain,
and sweetly distills in the dew and the rain.

Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
in you do we trust, nor find you to fail.
Your mercies, how tender, how firm to the end,
our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend!”  ~Robert Grant (1833)

Gracious God, keep me in awe of, and satisfied in, You alone.

Multiply the Thanksgivings!

“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.”

“For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you… As grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.”

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work… He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. They will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others… Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!2 Corinthians 1:8-11; 4:11-12,15; 9:8,10-13,15

Paul was all about his work in response to God’s call to spread the gospel, and sprinkled it throughout with thanksgiving for His continual grace. His passion was that people be saved and grow in their faith, but over all it was that God’s will be done and He be praised. Paul was more than willing to suffer and be spent for the sake of his Lord, in order that thanksgiving abound in great measure to Him. (Philippians 1:3-5; Colossians 1:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)

There is nothing like impossible situations to set God up for receiving thanksgiving! Whether a challenging work or travel predicament, an arresting medical diagnosis, a disheartening disability in us or a loved one, delay and possible interruption of a set schedule or life plans are opportunities for dependence on the Almighty, and ultimately increased praise to Him.

Our confidence in God to see us through trials reveals His sufficiency to those who are watching, and inspires rejoicing in God. Our prayers with others in difficult afflictions engender praise to God for His protection and deliverance. Our support for His people in the face of suffering awakens gratitude for His salvation and abounding grace. Our generous giving that meets needs multiplies thanksgiving to God from those who receive, and those praying for provision.

Are we intent only on doing, or the ultimate glory of God? Do we serve, express needs, pray specifically, and share answers in such a way that we contribute to thanksgiving to God?

Lord, may my rejoicing, trust, and serving all give thanks to You, who alone are worthy to receive it.

When God Holds a Mirror

But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord. [He] sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’

Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! The Lord… anointed you king, delivered you out of the hand of Saul… gave you the house of Israel and of Judah… Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife…’ David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.’” 2 Samuel 11:27-12:9,13-14

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged.” Matthew 7:1-2

With an active, perceptive mind, why is it that we can more readily criticize another’s manner or behavior than recognize in our own what displeases the Lord? Even the self-serving can focus on others when it comes to judgment. But God, who is zealous about our sanctification, in grace holds up mirrors in our lives to reveal and convict us of sin. We may attempt to ignore our misgivings and walk away, but if we honestly look at our reflection in the errors we see in others, the Holy Spirit will reveal and redeem.

Where have we been quick to condemn or castigate someone, thinking ourselves above the possibility of falling into similar sin? Why do we denounce another’s foibles and tarnish them before others rather than consider our own actions and check our attitudes? Where do we smugly think more highly of our righteousness, self-control, and imperviousness to temptation than we ought? (Romans 12:3)

To rectify wrong thinking, a proclivity to judge, and our view of ourselves and others, we must nurture a high view of God. All of us have fallen short of His glory; every bit of our salvation is of His grace. It is in and by that grace He lovingly shows us to ourselves, that we might repent and be restored to Him. (Romans 3:23-24; Ephesians 2:8-9)

Father, make keen my eyesight by the mirrors You hold before me. So sanctify me that I reflect You in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Those Hands!

“He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…

Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.”
Isaiah 53:3-6

“I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.” Psalm 22:14-15

“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them.” John 19:16-18

Pain in my hand pulses hot and hard. Excruciating, meaning ‘out of the cross.’ I think of the Carpenter’s hands— cutting, shaping, connecting, and smoothing wood. The Healer’s hands that lovingly touched the leper, gently raised the fevered, powerfully raised the crippled. The Teacher’s hands that blessed children, broke bread for thousands, and grilled fish for the disciples. The Servant’s hands that washed feet, served the last supper to a betrayer, wrung tight and opened submissively in Gethsemane prayer. These are the Redeemer’s hands that carried the cross, that were nailed to the cross, that were pierced for my transgressions, torn for my brokenness. They bore the weight of my Savior, who bore the weight of my sin. Of all His children’s sin, past, present and future. (Matthew 8:1-3; 14-15; Mark 6:3; 10:13-16; Luke 22:41-44; John 6:9-11; 13:1-5; 21-26; 21:9-13)

How beautiful the hands of my Lord, active in creation and presently upholding all things by His power, as well as all my concerns in constant intercession as my Advocate for God’s perfect will. I wish I could hold them, lovingly like Nicodemus, tangibly like Thomas. I cannot in real life. (John 19:38-44; 20:24-27; Romans 8:26,34 ; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:2-3)

But I can be Jesus’s hands to others. His hands that never let us go give us freedom to go and be those hands, for His sake, in our world. He bids us to use them to do His work in the world and recognition to His name in places that know Him not.

What of my hands? With what Spirit-led industry are they occupied? Where am I building with energy, planting with vision, improving with care, maintaining with skillful stewardship? How am I using them to create beauty for God’s glory, to serve with generosity, to write to encourage with His messages of hope? With what gentleness and grace do they soothe the anxious, calm the fearful, caress the unsettled, love the lonely, and comfort the grieving?

“Take my hands and let them move
at the impulse of thy love.”
~Frances Ridley Havergal (1874)

I open my hands to You, my Lord, to relinquish my pride and self sufficiency, to offer in love and service to others, held high in glad surrender and grateful praise.

Who Does Our Thinking?

“Among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory… As it is written,

‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
    nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him’—

these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God… The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned…’For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 2:6-7,9-12,14,16

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” Luke 10:27

There are plenty of ‘influencers’ and ‘thought leaders’ who can play mind games with us today. From mainstream media to academic scholars to internet pontificators, we have a plethora of expertise and slant to pick, eat, and digest as our own. It is intriguing to hear exact verbiage of opinion repeated, illustrating the sign-on culture of allowing others to think, and speak, for us. Certainly God has gifted many of His children with intellect and spiritual insight, yet even with those we trust, it is important we confirm with scripture to make the truths our own.

There is also an enemy who seeks to disguise his lies and destroy truth, and he will do anything he can to distort and confuse God’s perfect word, will, and ways. We must vigilantly guard against his wiles, steeping ourselves in God’s word so we recognize his counterfeit antics. (John 8:44; 10:10; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 11:14-15)

Creator God has given us each a mind, and calls us to love Him with all of that mind. He has given the Christian His indwelling Spirit, who guides and inspires our thinking. We can and must trust Him to direct our thoughts to arrive at His convictions and conclusions. The Living Word is ours forever. (John 1:1-4; 16:13)

What are we regularly doing to renew our minds, to focus them on what is true, noble, and right, to guard them against falsehood and tasting the pernicious delicacies of this world? It takes discipline, and commitment, and time, to soak ourselves in the Scriptures, to concentrate in uninterrupted prayer, worshiping God for who He is and asking Him to elucidate His word. He will always show up to meet us, and is faithful to sanctify our minds. (Isaiah 50:4; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:7-8; Colossians 3:2,10)

“Take my life and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee.
..

Take my intellect and use
every power as thou shalt choose.” ~Frances Ridley Havergal (1874)

Oh Lord, ground me in Your wisdom, direct me to think Your thoughts, and grant me the mind to process and communicate Your truth.

His Voice, Our Voice

“Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
    ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
    worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
    the God of glory thunders,
    the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
    the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
    the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
    and Sirion like a young wild ox.

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
    the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
    and strips the forests bare,
    and in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’” Psalm 29:1-9

At His voice, all was created, weather whips, wars cease, life begins, life ends. At His voice, kingdoms are raised up, kingdoms fall, men are healed, men are saved. At His voice, hope is conveyed, God is glorified, men are raised to life. judgment falls, storms are stilled. Do we listen, listen to hear His voice? (Mark 4:39; John 11:40-44); 16:33; 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

When we consider the Lord and His voice, all it communicates and effectuates, we are compelled to silence, a holy hush. No words match, none adequately respond in like power, or splendor. Our human communication cannot touch the divine. We are stilled, speechless, and long to hear more and longer the roar of many waters. From the depth of our souls, our only worthy and appropriate response, at the close of all our listening, is to cry “Glory!” to His name. (Ezekiel 43:2; Revelation 1:15; 14:2)

In a society of noise, in person and virtual, from lips and screens, God’s voice can be lost. He does not always speak the loudest, or communicate in magnificent, obvious, audible ways, so His whisper can go undetected when we are bombarded with busy cacophony or tuned in to other alluring melodies or dissonant messages. (1 Kings 19:11-13)

What will it take for us to hush, watch, and listen? Would we observe the orchestration of His voice around us? Would we allow ourselves to get lost in wonder at His effectual word? Would we withhold judgment and jumping to conclusions? Stop short of taking credit, registering our opinions, making excuses, assigning blame? Will we determine today to humble ourselves, be still, and truly listen? Then pray in awe-struck, devoted, grateful response? (Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 26:41; Luke 9:34-36)

“I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up… And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called… And I said: ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’

Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’Isaiah 6:1,4-7

Father, may the rhythms and cadence of Your word be my delight every moment, every day. Shake my foundations with Your voice, and purify mine, for the sake of Your glory.

Who He Is, Who Am I?

Then King David went in and sat before the Lord and said, ‘Who am I, O Lord God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far? And yet this was a small thing in your eyes, O Lord God. You have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come,.. O Lord God! And what more can David say to you? For you know your servant, O Lord God! Because of your promise, and according to your own heart, you have brought about all this greatness, to make your servant know it. Therefore you are great, O Lord God. For there is none like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? And you established for yourself your people Israel to be your people forever. And you, O Lord, became their God. And now, O Lord God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken. And your name will be magnified forever, saying, “The Lord of hosts is God over Israel,” and the house of your servant David will be established before you. For you, O Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, “I will build you a house.” Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you, O Lord God, have spoken, and with your blessing shall the house of your servant be blessed forever.’” 2 Samuel 7:18-29

Through Nathan, God answered King David’s desire to build Him a house by reminding him His promises of a great name, a place, rest, a ‘house’ of offspring, a kingdom, a forever throne, His steadfast love. Could David want any more? Overwhelmed at his covenant LORD’s extravagant “all this greatness,” David went before Him in gratitude, with humble acknowledgement of His bounty and promises. Before this benevolent Almighty, who was he? (2 Samuel 7:1-16)

In days of watch me, listen to me, follow me, it is a healthy pursuit to look at our Lord. There is nothing like beholding His purity, providence, kindness, and rich mercies to put us in our places. God alone is our supreme Benefactor; apart from Him we have and are and produce nothing. (John 15:5)

When are we taking time to dwell on the Lord Himself? To speak specific thanksgiving over the many ways He has enriched our lives, directed our thinking, made our way, provided for our needs? Contemplating His greatness will reduce us to a sober and rightful position before Him, a place of glad receiving, and confidence in His word to us. (Romans 12:3)

Lord, keep me sitting before You in wonder, thanksgiving, and praise. May what I am be identified by who You are, that Your great name is known and exalted however You direct my life.

He Never Disappoints

Give ear to my prayer, O God,
    and hide not yourself from my plea for mercy!
Attend to me, and answer me;
    I am restless in my complaint and I moan…

For it is not an enemy who taunts me—
    then I could bear it;
it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—
    then I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man, my equal,
    my companion, my familiar friend.
We used to take sweet counsel together;
    within God’s house we walked in the throng…

My companion stretched out his hand against his friends;
    he violated his covenant.
His speech was smooth as butter,
    yet war was in his heart;
his words were softer than oil,
    yet they were drawn swords.

Cast your burden on the Lord,
    and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
    the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:1-2,12-14,20-22

An outgoing Christian couple who does not honor a contract, cheats a business partner, or constantly complains about their neighbors. A church leader who harshly manages his family. A wife who berates her husband. A deacon who is unfaithful to his marriage vows. A woman who spreads gossip about a sister in Christ. A church friend who forgets to call. These all disappoint, because they tarnish what we assume true Christians should look like, be like.

There is only One who is absolutely trustworthy, and will never disappoint. When we look for other people to be Jesus, they will never measure up, but when we seek Him directly, we will find Him the purest of friends. Dependence on people is guaranteed at some point to fail, because we are sinners all. But hope in the Unfailing One will never disappoint. Take hold!

The wonder is not only that our Lord is ever faithful and true, for that is His immutable character, but that He is true to us who are not. The perfect Friend came to pursue enemies, to give His life a ransom in the place of us who were rebels destined for death, so we could live with Him forever. Compared to Christ, we all fall short, but we are sanctified to be good friends by learning of Him and living in Him- selflessly serving, lavishly loving, refreshing and building up one another. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16; 15:13-16; Romans 3:23; 5:6-10; 1 Corinthians 16:14-18; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:4-5; Revelation 3:14)

What swerves us away from putting our trust in Him? Because we live in the flesh, we are prone to act in it, limiting our vision to what we can touch and see and forgetting that there is only one Savior. But faith calls us higher. When our security is fixed where it is meant to be, in Christ our best true Friend, we can see others more realistically, correct unfair expectations accordingly, and grow together in our steadfastness in Christ.

“Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! lover of my soul;
friends may fail me, foes assail me,
he, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah, what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
he is with me to the end.”  ~J. Wilbur Chapman (1910)

My Lord, tether me to You as first love. Teach me the unwavering faithfulness You extend to me, so in friendship with me, others recognize and come to know You.