For Unto Us

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Unto you. Unto me. Unto us.

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Jesus was born. A child yet a king, helpless yet perfect, hungry yet needing nothing, young yet wise, under authority yet having all authority, sinless yet becoming sin for us as our Savior. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

He is one and only Son of God, and Son of man. Fully divine, and fully human. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of a virgin woman. With God in the beginning, and from the line of Abraham and David. (Matthew 1:2,6,16,18,20-21; John 1:1-2; 3:16)

The government was, and is, and always shall be, upon his shoulder. Between His shoulders we rest, underneath His everlasting arms we are secure, and by His arm we are ruled and rewarded, held and upheld and carried, redeemed and delivered. (Deuteronomy 33:12,27; Isaiah 40:10-11; 41:10; 50:2)

He has a name, “Jesus,” a strong tower to which we can run and be safe, and saved from sin. His name is Immanuel, “God with us,” a name above every other name, before which one day all will bow. He owns one indescribable name known only to Him, and also is identified as King of kings, Lord of lords. (Proverbs 18:10; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21,23; Philippians 2:9; Revelation 19:12,16)

His name is Wonderful, from everlasting to everlasting working wonders. He is Counselor, abiding with us forever to teach, remind, help, comfort, console, convict. (Psalm 77:14; John 14:16-17,26; 16:8)

He is Mighty God, incomparably strong, almighty, the One against whom none and nothing can prevail. He is Victor, the shield round about us, our fortress, high tower, rock. He contends with those who contend with us, and shares His power with the faint. (Psalm 3:3; 18:2; Isaiah 40:25,29-31; 49:25; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

He is the Everlasting, beloved Abba Father. How great is His love for us that we’re called His children! He has called generations of children from the beginning, and keeps us to the end, never fainting or failing and always showing compassion. He has carved our names in the palms of His hands, knowing we are but dust, and disciplining us as His own. (Psalm 103:13; Isaiah 40:28; 41:4; 49:16; Romans 8:15-17; Hebrews 12:7-11; 1 John 3:1)

He is Prince of Peace. His peace is not as the world gives. He gives peace with God through redemption, and is our peace with others, breaking down walls of hostility. His peace rules over the storms, and abides in the midst of them. His peace is beyond human understanding, more powerful than any tribulation, and guards our hearts and minds in His power and name. (Mark 4:37-39; John 14:27; 16:33; Romans 5:1; Philippians 2:14; 4:7)

To us, this Savior has come. To us He is real, alive, and present.

What difference is He making in our thinking, our living, our loving? These truths about Jesus transform every doubt, fear, wound, grief, motivation, and longing. He is here, in and for us.

Incomparable God, thank You for all You have given to me in Jesus. In turn, I offer myself to You, that I live and breathe and love fully unto You, and for Your renown and glory.

 

Mere Words vs. the Word

In the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah, Sennacherib king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah and took them. And the king of Assyria sent the Rabshakeh to King Hezekiah at Jerusalem, with a great army. And he stood by the conduit of the upper pool on the highway to the Washer’s Field… And the Rabshakeh said.., ‘On what do you rest this trust of yours? Do you think that mere words are strategy and power for war? In whom do you now trust, that you have rebelled against me?.. If you say, ‘We trust in the Lord our God,’ is it not he whose high places and altars Hezekiah has removed?

Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: ‘Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord by saying, ‘The Lord will surely deliver us. This city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria… Beware lest Hezekiah mislead you. Has any of the gods of the nations delivered his land out of the hand of the king of Assyria.., that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’ But they were silent and answered him not a word, for the king’s command was, ‘Do not answer him.’” Isaiah 36:1-2,4-5,7,13-15,18,20-21

The taunts of the haughty Assyrian king seem long ago and far away, but they are as common today as they were in ancient Israel 3000 years ago. The ancient kings personify flesh–driven passions, agendas, and persuasions who ridicule and tease to veer God’s people off the path of truth. Their words, by way of accusation and threat, can topple our confidence, or turn us to cling to the true Word that does not change and will always stand.

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We fortify our cities with infrastructure, material wealth, civic leaders, government authorities, and industry. Opposition threatens our self-made security in the form of rival powers with differing or destructive agendas, greed for success, competing business, and social or philosophical movements. Spiritually, those who love the Lord and are fortified by His word are publicly accused of false stances, distorted views, self-serving motives, or unworthy allegiances. Since Eden, the enemy has used words to undermine, deceive, attack, and try to shake our devotion and resolve. (Genesis 3:1-5)

These tests present opportunities to cling evermore to the unchanging, living, powerful Word of God. The words of man may hurt and shake us, but they need not upend and break us. The hearers from Judah answered not a word because of their sovereign’s stronger command, and Hezekiah took the stinging attacks to his Lord, affirming what he knew was true about Him. The effects of verbal enemy poison can always be abated by the mightier, lovelier, redemptive Word of God. What are we investing of time and attention to know it well enough to handle it rightly, and spread its healing power? (Isaiah 37:14-17; John 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 4:12)

Lord Jesus, may I hold tight to You, the Living Word made flesh, now glorified. It is Your word that counts, stands, delivers, and cannot be shaken. (Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35; John 1:14; James 1:21)

He Will Judge

He who planted the ear, does he not hear?
He who formed the eye, does he not see?
He who disciplines the nations, does he not rebuke?
He who teaches man knowledge— the Lord—knows the thoughts of man.” 

Let the heavens be glad, and the earth rejoice;..
    for [the Lord] comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
    and the peoples in his faithfulness.”  

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” 

He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.” 

The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble!
    He sits enthroned… exalted over all the peoples.
The King in his might loves justice.
    You have established equity;
you have executed justice and righteousness.
    Holy is he!”  Psalm 94:9-11; 96:11,13; 97:2; 98:9; 99:1-2,4-5

Assigning motive is a dangerous practice. We set our correctness radar and hand out tickets for reactions and behavior like those with authority to condemn. We base our assumptions on personal worldview, or limited perception of a situation, or a narrative imposed on us that may or may not be so. But do we know every fact? Can we see with no filter? Are we able to discern someone else’s intentions? Omniscient God is the only One who knows the human heart and the whole truth, and understands why people do what we do. (Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 2:11)

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In this world, we see in a mirror dimly. It is difficult enough to understand ourselves- why we despair, what stokes our impulses, why we are enraptured by certain beauties, why some people and situations attract us more than others. Even with His Spirit, we know God with limited understanding, though we crave and strive to know Him better. What would make us think that we can comprehend the inner workings of another person?

We look at the outside of a person or situation, yet only God sees and judges righteously by the heart. We seem to be certain how others feel and why they act out, yet bristle when someone falsely assigns an attitude or motive to us. We assess, surmise, determine, and blame, yet very quickly defend ourselves when accused by another, proving it is easier to play judge than to be judged. (1 Samuel 16:7; Matthew 7:1-2)

What would change if we met others at the foot of the cross, the great equalizer, where dripped Jesus’s cleansing blood for every sinner? How would we perceive and treat one another differently if all labels– victim, privileged, left-wing, right-wing, inexperienced, enlightened, oppressed, elite– were set aside, except that of ‘image-bearer’?

Would I, when observing behavior that wrenches my heart, bow down and worship the omniscient Lord and Judge of all, ascribing to Him the glory due His name? Would I set aside pontificating and assigning camps to the people created in His image, and instead exalt Him?

Will we look with hope to the time when “Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together”? (Isaiah 40:4-5)

Exalted Lord, I trust Your judgments. Search me, know my heart, and cleanse from any grievous way. Lead me to live and communicate with Your righteousness, purity, and equity. (Psalm 98:9; 139:23-24)

All Sides, No Sides

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the brothers… And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, ‘Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith.'” Acts 15:1-3,7-9

“The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial.” Deuteronomy 10:17

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” Colossians 3:11

How prone we are to have a side, and want to take sides! We can be tenacious in our opinions, our alliances, our preferences, and in our zeal be unaware of the divisions we cause in the church, neighborhoods, society, even families, because of our narrow or single-view. Dissension is not a new problem– it began in the Garden, festered in the early church, and foments in cultures today. As God’s children, how are we to handle these challenges?

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“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, ‘Are you for us, or for our adversaries?’ And he said, ‘No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord.’ And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped. The commander of the Lord‘s army said to Joshua, ‘Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.’ And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:13-15

How? We worship the Lord of all, align with Him instead of a side, and proceed as His representative. We open wide the doors of our hearts to others in unprejudiced love, and listen attentively to all sides of a matter. We pray for understanding, and genuinely express affirmation and compassion.

Open discussion and respectful, civil debate lead to conclusions that enlighten, unify, and encourage. Sometimes there is healthy compromise, sometimes God clarifies Scripture anew. It is vital we be willing to place our rigid viewpoints, allegiances, and preferences on the altar and scoot around to look at issues from other perspectives while seeking truth and the mind and plan of Christ. (Acts 15:23-32; Romans 12:2; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13; 2:15-16)

Lord, let me never hold onto a side more tightly than I hold to You. Teach me impartial, gracious listening, clear speaking, and let all I convey be glorifying to You.

“All the Great Work”

Consider today the discipline of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, his signs and his deeds that he did in Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land, and what he did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and to their chariots, how he made the water of the Red Sea flow over them as they pursued after you, and how the Lord has destroyed them to this day, and what he did to you in the wilderness, until you came to this place, and what he did to Dathan and Abiram.., how the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, in the midst of all Israel. For your eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord that he did. You shall therefore keep the whole commandment that I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and take possession of the land that you are going over to possess, and that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to give [your fathers] and their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey.” Deuteronomy 11:2-9

In our flesh, we might define “great work” as peace, prosperity, happiness, comfort, plenty. After all, ‘things are great’ and ‘I’m feeling great’ are not natural responses to illnesses, sadness, weariness, unemployment, unrest. But God’s word lists together for remembrance discipline, greatness, His mighty hand and outstretched arm, signs and deeds of judgment, destruction, fantastic plagues, death, displacement, and loss. These ALL are the great works He calls us to consider. (Exodus 7:14-12:32; 14:21-31; Numbers 16:25-33)

This is because God uses all things to bring glory to Himself and work good for His people and kingdom. In the peaceable, pleasant, and pretty things, we quickly see His loving hand. In the harsh, hurtful, and confusing events, we must trust it. The same hand that slays is the one that soothes- all in sovereign love and perfect wisdom. (Isaiah 43:7; Romans 8:28)

Furrowed ridges in rain-filled ditch

When we do not understand why emotions run amok and out of control, why certain events transpire and certain words flame, we can trust that omnipotent God knows and uses “all these great things” to accomplish His high and holy purposes beyond our comprehension, and will waste nothing in His righteous economy. What appears as a scary, sleuthing serpent is actually the hand of Jesus fingering the soft sand of our souls to conform its shape to His beauty, to reflect His light. (Jeremiah 33:3; Romans 11:33)

Am I in the habit of picking and choosing what I deem comes from God’s hands? Do I label some things “great” and others “not so great, not for me, thank you,” what I like, “God’s kind gift,” and the hard and harsh things, “out of His control”? Every gift comes from Him, and we understand His rich, many-faceted character better when we receive all He gives as useful and redemptive in His plans for us. (Job 2:10; Matthew 5:45; James 1:17)

Father God, open my eyes to see all Your great work, and consider it just that. Show me Your ways, that I may know You, and gratefully live for Your pleasure and honor. (Exodus 33:18)

There’s Something About Time Spent

At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Cut for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain and make an ark of wood. And I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets that you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’ So I made an ark of acacia wood, and cut two tablets of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand... I myself stayed on the mountain, as at the first time, forty days and forty nights, and the Lord listened to me that time also… And he wrote on the tablets, in the same writing as before, the Ten Commandments that the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly. And the Lord gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark that I had made. And there they are, as the Lord commanded me.” Deuteronomy 10:1-5,10

The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.” Mark 6:30-33

We have eyes, we have ears, we have moments and hours. And every day we decide what we will do with them all. Before us is an overstuffed menu of what to read, watch, listen to; who to agree with, disagree with, argue with, or contradict; activities of work, service, self-improvement, pleasure. Moses had thousands of complaining Israelites, the apostles had crowds of curious, needy onlookers, and they chose to ‘come’ and spend time with their Lord.

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There is something wonderful and life-giving about spending time with Jesus. It is divine conversation, listening and hearing, pleading and receiving instruction. It restores our souls, it inverts our human thinking from man-driven horizontal to God-kissed vertical. It refreshes and resets our emotion-colored limited perspective to a clear eternal one. It replaces frenzy with peace. Are we brave enough to turn off and turn aside, then turn toward our beckoning Lord? Would we close the screen, the paper, the remote, and open God’s word? Would we put away and put off in order to put ourselves before His throne? How deliberate are we to push away the plate of stale and slanted media fare that leaves us wanting and unsatisfied, and be sated by the sweet and savory of God’s living bread? (Psalm 23:1-3; 32:8; Jeremiah 29:13; John 6:33-35)

We will give an account for how we employ the hours we are given. Let us spend time with our loving, wise Prince of Peace whose shoulders bear the government of all the world. (Isaiah 9:6; Romans 14:12)

Lord, may I readily respond to Your every beckon. May I relish and be transformed by time spent with You, so those I see will desire it too.

Get Off Your Pedestal!

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers… Take care… lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness,.. and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock… You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant. And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish… 

“O Israel: you are to cross over the Jordan today, to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, cities great and fortified up to heaven… Do not say in your heart, after the Lord your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the Lord has brought me in to possess this land…’ Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in.., but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord is driving them out from before you.., for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord… Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose you above all peoples.” Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 8:11-15,18-19; 9:1,4-7; 10:15

Repeatedly, in preparing Israel for entering the Promised Land, the Lord warns them to keep any ounce of self, any credit, any success, any deserving, any idol or ideal, off their pedestals. He was LORD alone. Puffery and swagger would not serve them well as His children, and would lead only to His discipline and their demise. An ego-erected pedestal of their own righteousness would topple. Beware, remember, do not forget! How graciously God instructs us, and oh, how virulently our pride constructs against Him!

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Israel had staggered under horrendous slavery, yet once freed thought themselves rightful to plenty. We cry out in helpless need, yet when God provides, we forsake His generosity and take credit ourselves. We are a rebellious and stubborn people whom God has mercifully loved and redeemed through His greatness, power, and outstretched arm. May we never forget! (Exodus 1:13-14; Deuteronomy 9:26,29; Numbers 11:1-6; Romans 5:6,8,10)

Quarrels, distrust, and strife come from an inflated sense of self-importance, our own insecurities from our unstable balancing act on self-made pedestals. Would we stop, climb down, and exalt the true Victor?

Lord, may I actively, continually, gratefully remember You, and all You have done for me. To You belongs all glory.

Rest, Remember, Rejoice!

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.” Deuteronomy 5:12-15

If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth.” Isaiah 58:13-14

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
    I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and exult in you;
    I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” 
Psalm 9:1-2

In the beginning, God rested after six days of creating the heavens and the earth, blessing the seventh day as holy. On Sinai, He established an end-of-week Sabbath rest for His people from the pattern He’d set in Eden. In Deuteronomy (the “second law”), Moses recounts the giving of the ten commandments and includes the caveat that this day of rest should involve reflection on God’s delivering them out of slavery. He set apart the day for pausing from a normal schedule and self-driven pleasure to delight in Him, to remember His great salvation from sin’s captivity and rejoice in His freedom. ‘Remember where you were, and where you are going.’ (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11)

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In days of turmoil and hours of frenzy, we seldom stop to contemplate. The God who made us knew our human tendencies, and how vital it is for our spiritual health and outlook to clear our vision, get perspective, and be thankful. Every present Sabbath is an opportunity not only to reflect on God’s past deliverances, but to rejoice in the soul-rest Jesus gives now and look forward with glad expectancy to the ultimate rest He promises. (Matthew 11:28-29; Hebrews 4:9-11)

When engulfed in a tumult of chaos and violence and agitated emotions, our hearts can rest in Jesus. He who ordered the original Sabbath as a sign has won our ultimate one at the cross, where He overcame sin and death, injustice and pain, confusion and despair. His sure promises are trustworthy. Will we take Him at His word, and choose to rest in the true respite and peace offered in Him alone? (John 16:33)

Good Father, keep me regularly still long enough to remember, to look both back and forward at all You have done and will do. Lift my heart above the fray to rest and rejoice in You, Ruler over all.

“Because the LORD Loves You”

“You are a people holy to the Lord your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:6-9

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you… My heart yearns for him; I will surely have mercy on him.” Jeremiah 31:3

Much is mentioned about the worth of a life these days. The pre-born, the elderly, minorities, majorities, ‘likes’ and ‘cancels’ and ‘babies on board,’– fallen man confuses labels with value and neglects God’s truth about love. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another… God is love.” Grasping this deep love of Jesus establishes our faith’s foundation and our relationship to Him and others. (1 John 4:7-11,16)

Two bronze people embracing, Atlanta airport

John described himself as “the one whom Jesus loved.” He knew the extent of that love as recipient of its lavish expression, and in witnessing His innocent death on his behalf. He wrote from first-hand knowledge. (John 13:1-5,23; 19:26-27)

Are we as overwhelmed as he, that God would set Hs affection upon us, and pursue us to salvation? That He would lovingly sacrifice His life to wash our hearts, and give us individual purpose? This is an amazing love which envelops us forever. Insecurity lurks and pesters because of horizontal cursory comparisons and superficial evaluations. How can we communicate and behave differently to show others their intrinsic worth as God’s image-bearers? How can we display His unconditional, covenant love? (Genesis 1:26-28)

“My faith has found a resting place,
Not in device nor creed;
I trust the Ever-living One,
His wounds for me shall plead.

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.”  ~Eliza Edmunds Hewitt (1851-1920)

Lord, it is enough, and the highest esteem, that You created and died for Your people. May I treat others as beloved, by You and by me. May they see You and be drawn irretrievably by Your pursuing affection.

Remember the Whole Way

And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but… by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep [his] commandments by walking in his ways and by fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land… And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God… lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them,.. your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord, who brought you out of… slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness,.. that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end… You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power.” Deuteronomy 8:2-7,10-12,14-16,18

Forty years is a long time, and God wants His people to remember His leading and provision and lessons through them all– their captivity and His miraculous split of the Red Sea to their freedom, the unknown path through wilderness and His pillars of fire and cloud, their hunger pangs and His provision of manna and quail, their parched thirst and the water flowing from rock, their viper bites and His healing. Whose sandals would not wear thin after four decades of walking unpaved land? What leader could remain steady and vigorous through hundreds of months with grumbling cohorts? Only God could have brought them this far. (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:21-22; 16:13-15; 17:6; Numbers 21:6-9)

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The whole way God leads us is to do us good in the end. How quickly we can choke in the pressure of the urgent, high emotions of the moment, tangling difficulties, arresting set-backs, lack and loss, consuming sorrow, and forget to consider the whole way. And once we are relieved of weighty burdens, we can drift into ease and smugness and forget God altogether. His eye is on us from beginning to end. He is always working good that results in conformation to His image and ultimate glory for those who love Him. From a place of broad perspective, would we want anything less? (Deuteronomy 11:12; Psalm 34:15; Romans 8:28-30)

We know God best when we consider His whole counsel and method in our sanctification. Will we accept and expect His good for us through every test?

Lord, keep my hope in You, not circumstances. Give me eyes to see Your hand and Your glorious ends.