Mirror, Mirror

I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins. – Isaiah 43:25

While most Christians may understand that it is God who delivers us from sin and the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ that makes this possible, some may miss His ultimate purpose in doing so. God “sweeps away transgressions and remembers sin no more,” but He does not do it for our sake. Yes, we are beneficiaries and recipients of His mercy and grace, but His purpose is His own. God redeems for His own name’s sake, for His own glory.

There is no such thing as a self-centered Christianity. God’s own glory must be the aim and purpose of all that He has done, including our personal redemption. To grasp this enduring truth is the essence of worship. To think otherwise is idolatry.

As harsh as it may seem, God is not interested in our “self-esteem.” Fact is, we see ourselves most clearly in relationship to our Creator. Absent that relationship, we can hardly see ourselves at all.

Most men seem to live to themselves, without much regard to the glory of God, or the good of their fellow creatures. – David Brainerd

Be Prepared

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

“Be prepared” is the motto of the Boy Scouts of America. I became a Boy Scout at the age of 12 and eventually earned the rank of Star Scout (before losing interest in my late teens). I always regretted not sticking with it and am so thankful for the great leaders I had and all that I learned. So many of the skills I attained have stuck with me (even 50 years later)! I still recommend that young boys be involved.

The idea of “being prepared” applies to all of life’s events and should certainly apply to the life of a Christ-follower. We must be prepared for the return of the Savior. In fact, as believers, if we are walking in the Spirit, we will be prepared for we “are not in darkness.” For most, the Lord’s return will be an unwelcome surprise, but certainly not so for those who love Him.

Are you prepared?

A Scout is never taken by surprise; he knows exactly what to do when anything unexpected happens. – Robert Baden-Powell

Our Only Task

“No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me,” declares the Lord. – Isaiah 54:17

In and of himself, no person may (honestly) claim complete innocence. If a court could examine each of us fully, not one of us would be free of all charges. Of course, we may not have committed any offenses worthy of incarceration, but offenses still occur, regularly. None of us is perfect. There are truly “none righteous.” Nope, not one.

Unless the court happens to be God’s and the accused is robed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ! The person who belongs to Jesus Christ can be assured that he or she will never have to endure eternal punishment, because it is not his or her innocence that matters, it is Christ’s and our Savior is perfectly, completely, absolutely righteous and innocent!

When the end comes, it will be Jesus’ perfection that matters, not our own. Our task, not a work, is to receive it.

All saints give testimony to the truth that without real effort, no one ever wins the crown. – Thomas Becket

What in the World …?

For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. – 2 Thessalonians 1:6-8

By what logic does God accomplish His purposes? What principles might be derived from biblical history and applied to our current situation? What in the world is God up to?

We may not know the specific answers to these questions, but we do have some truth to apply. For example, God always acts in holiness for His greatest glory. Whether or not we understand His actions is of secondary importance, though sometimes our understanding is hindered simply because we cannot see beyond our own selfish purposes. We also know that God hears the cries of His people. He does not ignore them. Neither is He incapable of hearing. He will ultimately punish those who persecute His church and He will give rest to those who are suffering for His Name’s sake. He may not act on our timetable, but He will act.

Ultimately, we may conclude that God is good, all the time, even though we may not understand or comprehend how the current experience could fit that equation.

Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God. – Corrie Ten Boom

Seize His Day

“It shall be in those days when you are multiplied and increased in the land,” declares the Lord, “they will no longer say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ And it will not come to mind, nor will they remember it, nor will they miss it, nor will it be made again.” – Jeremiah 3:16

What can replace a treasured past?

For centuries, the Jewish people longed for a return to the glory of a restored Israel. The evidence of this restoration would have been a rebuilt Temple, a reinstated sacrificial system, and the ark of the covenant firmly settled beyond the veil. In their minds, nothing could possibly erase such a desire for a glorious future, though something infinitely better was coming.

God was going to establish a new and improved covenant with Himself through the blood of His own Son, Jesus the Messiah! Unfortunately, as a nation, God’s covenant people (Israel) could not see it. In the same way, if we cling so tightly to our own treasured past, we will never experience God’s renewing power in our present.

Seize His day.

If we examine our thoughts, we shall find them always occupied with the past and the future. – Blaise Pascal

Get On Board

For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. – 2 Timothy 3:6-7

Paul, in his final instructions to Timothy, spoke of the “end-times” revealing his own personal view of the imminent return of Christ. Two thousand years later (with Paul’s words ringing in our ears), we continue to look for our Savior’s glorious appearance.

Someone once said that the American church contains some of the best trained Christians in the world. I would tend to agree. The wealth of material available to those within the confines of our culture is astounding. Yet, despite all the education and improved methods, our worldwide influence has not grown. Could it be that we have become addicted to “learning and never able to come to a knowledge of the truth?” Are we too willing to avoid the real work of taking the gospel to a lost world? Are we substituting faithless activity for obedient action? Perhaps, we are so busy preparing for the trip that we consistently miss the train.

People get ready. There’s a train a comin’. You don’t need no baggage. You just get on board. – Curtis Mayfield

Contending

Righteous are You, O Lord, that I would plead my case with You; indeed, I would discuss matters of justice with You: why has the way of the wicked prospered? Why are all those who deal in treachery at ease? – Jeremiah 12:1

Even though our God is all-knowing and dwells in unapproachable light, there were instances in biblical history when God’s greatest servants felt obliged to argue their point with the Almighty. Yet, in those momentary disagreements, God’s marvelous grace and mercy were still in evidence. How do we know? The Lord was not offended when an obedient child (acknowledging God’s holiness and authority) wished to debate a point or two.

Job argued with God and was ultimately blessed because He lived a submitted life.

Moses argued with God and was used greatly because He lived a surrendered life.

Jeremiah (and, of course, Jonah) also argued with God and He still managed to speak mightily through the prophet to a rebellious Judah.

We should never be afraid to reverently wonder aloud with our Sovereign at the “why’s” of this life. Submitted and surrendered contenders will always be needed if the work is to be done.

I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do. – Oswald Chambers