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Posts Tagged ‘Hebrews 12’

What follows is a guest post from my brother-in-law, Larry.  Yesterday in
church we had a Sharing Day, something we’ve done now and again to
provide testimony to what God is doing on behalf of his people.  Larry
stood up and gave such beautiful voice to many of the thoughts and
feelings that those of us in the family business have experienced during
the past decade as we have struggled with earthly loss only to find
unspeakably great gain in Christ along the way.  Through it all, Jesus has
been careful to teach us, to cut away idols and character flaws that do not
represent him, to provide in ways that we couldn’t have dreamed, to show
us his beautiful, tender nature, and to allow us to share in these
ordained sufferings.  [For more background on that, see here.]

 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

This has proven a true saying as the three (two brothers and their dad)
have been able to lift each other up when one or the other on any given
day was sinking below the weight of care.  God provided personal
encouragement to each man, which was used to encourage the others
in due season.  It is also a testament to the character of these three
and to the power of God within them, that after ten plus stressful
years they find themselves on good and loving terms.

– – – – –

 

In November of 2008, I (Larry) had been sharing about our business troubles that had begun just two years earlier in 2006. Well, just to bring you up to date – things got worse.

 

These have been long and stressful years for my wife Kim and me, for my brother Dana and his wife Kim, and for our Dad, Roland – years filled with financial hardships, difficulties and challenges resulting in many hard and difficult lessons learned.  There have been questions, realizations, and consequences – all stemming from decisions made, actions taken, and probably from actions taken too late.

 

Some verses come to mind –

Proverbs 22:7 “…The borrower is servant to the lender.”

Proverbs 27:23-24 “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations.”

Proverbs 23:5 “Cast but a glance at riches, and they are gone, for they will surely sprout wings and fly off to the sky like an eagle.

 

This has not been a quick test for us. The feelings and emotions we’ve experienced during this time along with the reaction to our circumstances have included confusion, frustration, uncertainty, uneasiness, anxiety, weariness, anger, and despondency. We’ve asked “Lord, will this never end?” At times I was tempted to apply Proverbs 31:6-7.

 

Now I have taken note of the difference between my plans and God’s plans. More so, up until this point, I had considered myself a man-of-action. I would go after projects, anticipate, think ahead, make lists, get supplies, get equipped, make – build – create – do – go, go, go!  Proverbs 16:9 tells us: “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps”; and Psalm 46:10 tells me to “be still…”

 

At times God says to me: “No,” “Stop,” “Not now,” “Wait,” “This way,” “Not that way.” Then, while in this position I find myself stuck and in an uncomfortable, unnerving, and seemingly unending set of circumstances. I’ve realized I can’t fix it, I can’t stop it, I can’t change it, I can’t free myself – God has brought me to the end of myself!  I’ve come to treasure this verse from 2 Chronicles 20:12 “…We do not know what to do, Oh God, but our eyes are on you!”

 

We’ve been learning that this is an example of how God may, at times, use the storms and afflictions of our lives to work His will and accomplish His good purposes. What are his purposes? Well, among them, He intends to make us aware of our dependence upon Him; to show His glory and power; to show His goodness and loving care; perhaps to discipline us, his sons (as in Hebrews 12); or perhaps to humble us; to turn our attention away from idols and earthly things – Pastor Walt recently reminded us this world is not our home.  Another important lesson God wants us to learn is the rare jewel of Christian contentment.

 

We can take comfort in knowing and believing that God’s timing is always perfect. He brings the storms. He controls the timing, intensity and duration of the storm. Remember the disciples in the boat with Jesus (Mark 4:35-41)? “…Even the winds and waves obey him!” The Lord our God is sovereign over the times and seasons and all circumstances of my life. From Ecclesiastes 3 we are reminded that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. Then later in chapter 7 we read: “When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.”

 

God gives us rest. He gives us his peace and comfort. He sustains me. He gives me my daily bread. He gives us hope, his mercies are new every morning! He delivers me, he rescues me. He lifts me up!

 

Perhaps God has brought you through the storm. Perhaps God has proven his faithfulness to you over and over and over again.  Walk with me, dare to trust God and lean on him when you enter the slimy pit and cannot find your own way out. Follow him where he leads, when times are hard and hopeless.  Do not become bitter toward your Savior. Do not be anxious.  Keep your eyes on Jesus. No whining, don’t grumble. Be thankful in all things.

 

“It is good for me that I was afflicted” (Psalm 119:71).  Don’t give up on God before his work in you is completed. Remember Joseph in prison – wait on the Lord. He brought me in and he will bring me out!

 

I like the concept of restoration. These are comforting verses:

Psalm 90:15 “Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble.”

Joel 2:25 “I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten…”

 

I don’t know for sure what God has planned for all of my tomorrows. I know that my life is but a mist, a vapor that appears for a while and then vanishes (James 4:14). This world and all its troubles will soon be forgotten. But I do know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth (Job 19:25).

 

We want to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to all of you who have been praying for us.  We are privileged to call you our brothers and sisters in Christ!

 

So in closing I can say though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, …no sheep in the pens, no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior (Habakkuk 3:17-18)!  Praise the Lord!

 

– – – –
Painting: “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee” by Rembrandt

 

 

 

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Good Friday IV Here’s Good Friday from two very different sources. First from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible (1) –

“Papa?” Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky. “Papa? Where are you? Don’t leave me!’

And for the first time – and the last – when he spoke nothing happened. Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn’t answer. He turned away from his Boy…

The full force of the storm of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. Instead of his people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, “It is finished!”

And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.

“Father!” Jesus cried. “I give you my life.” And with a great sigh he let himself die…

“That’s the end of Jesus,” the Leaders said.

But, just to be sure, they sent strong soldiers to guard the tomb. They hauled a huge stone in front of the door to the tomb. So that no one could get in.

Or out.

The second from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (2) –

Now Jesus was perfectly holy. He hated sin with his entire being. The thought of evil, of sin, contradicted everything in his character. Far more than we do, Jesus instinctively rebelled against evil. Yet in obedience to the Father, and out of love for us, Jesus took on himself all the sins of those who would someday be saved. Taking on himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled created deep revulsion in the center of his being (2 Corinthians 5:21). All that he hated most deeply was poured out fully upon him…

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The question does not mean, Why have you left me forever? for Jesus knew that he was leaving the world, that he was going to the Father (John 14:28). Jesus knew that he would rise again (John 2:19). [In fact,] it was “for the joy that was set before him” that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2)… It is better to understand the question… as meaning, Why have you left me for so long?

Jesus, in his human nature, knew he would have to bear our sins, to suffer and to die. But, in his human consciousness, he probably did not know how long this suffering would take. Yet to bear the guilt of millions of sins even for a moment would cause the greatest anguish of soul. To face the deep and furious wrath of an infinite God even for an instant would cause the most profound fear. But Jesus’ suffering was not over in a minute – or two – or ten.

When would it end? Could there be yet more weight of sin? Yet more wrath of God? Hour after hour it went on – the dark weight of sin and the deep wrath of God poured over Jesus in wave after wave. Jesus at last cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why must this suffering go on so long? Oh God, my God, will you ever bring it to an end?…

[You see,] God had not simply forgiven sin and forgotten about the punishment in generations past. He had forgiven sins and stored up his righteous anger against those sins. But at the cross the fury of all that stored-up wrath against sin, [past and future,] was unleashed against God’s own Son…

If we ask, Who required Christ to pay the penalty for our sins? the answer given by Scripture is that the penalty was inflicted by God the Father as he represented the interests of the Trinity in redemption. It was God’s justice that required that sin be paid for, and, among the members of the Trinity, it was God the Father whose role was to require that payment. God the Son voluntarily took upon himself the role of bearing the penalty for sin…

Herein we see something of the amazing love of both God the Father and God the Son in redemption. Not only did Jesus know that he would bear the incredible pain of the cross, but God the Father also knew that he would have to inflict this pain on his own deeply loved Son (Romans 5:8)…

Then at last, Jesus knew his suffering was nearing completion. He knew he had consciously borne all the wrath of the Father against our sins, for God’s anger had abated and the awful heaviness of sin was being removed. He knew that all that remained was to yield up his spirit to his heavenly Father and die. With a shout of victory, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Then with a loud voice, he once more cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). And then he voluntarily gave up the life that no one could take from him (John 10:17-18), and he died.

God the Father saw “the fruit of the travail of his soul” and was “satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). The New Testament refer(s) to Jesus’ death as a propitiation… (having) the sense of a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God – and thereby makes God propitious, or favorable, toward us.

For those of us in Christ, there is now no more anger or wrath left in the Father toward our sin. He acts wholly propitious toward us – forever. And that’s why it’s called Good Friday.

(1) Lloyd-Jones, Sally, and Jago. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2007. 304-06. Print.

(2) Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1994. 573-77. Print.

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