“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” ~1 Peter 2:9-10
“And it shall be said, ‘Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstruction from my people’s way.’ For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.'” ~Isaiah 57:14-15
I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told…
As I heard this verse last Lord’s Day, I was struck anew with the marvel of God’s love and mercy shown to us…”indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us…” II Thessalonians 1:6-7.
That God considers it just to reward us! It is easily granted that it is just for the Most High God to reward those who despise his name with affliction–but that he is also just to reward us along with the martyrs–that is a marvel!
“And why?”, I then asked.
Why? Because of Christ.
Because we are Christ’s. Because Christ has completely satisfied the justice of God due to us for our sins; because Christ covers us before the eyes of the Father; because the Father delights in blessing his Son; thus God delights in blessing us in Christ. We shall be justly blessed throughout eternity because the Christ has set his name on us.
This is a marvelous thing for which I am ever thankful.
Related post: Taking a Name
We can never be free from sin while in this life…yet God is merciful to us and carries us through, for “salvation is of the Lord.”
“Thou shalt not be afraid of them; but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharoah, and unto all Egypt. Deut. 7:18. Be ye not terrified because of them; for the Lord your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.” Deut. 20:3,4. Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” Job 38:11.
The assaults of original sin will ever return; and we must not be surprised when one conflict is over, that another arises. This contest is unavoidable, for the enemy is within us. It makes us more careful and humble to know this, than to believe that we have only to encounter with sin from without, and not from within: and if we desire to feel less evil in us than God suffers us to have, we may be…
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“O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old; you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free; for not by their own sword did they win the land, not did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.” Psalm 44:1-3 (ESV)
Stories from our fathers–the grist and gist of history–should not readily be forgotten by Christians. For the stories from our Christian forefathers are full of the work that God has done for his people…and that is what caught my attention this morning….
Not by their own sword have the people of God been freed over and over again. Time after time, God had saved his church by seemingly impossible coincidences of events. Why? The Psalm says it was because he delighted in them.
God delights in us? In us? This far-too-often squabbling motley multitude made up from all backgrounds, from all continents, from every imaginable error…(kind of like our little church…but we don’t often squabble–we debate…). The wonderous thing is that GOD–the Sovereign of the universe–delights in us enough to put forth his powerful arm and save us by his own providence….
Yes, he does. But not for our sakes. He delights in us and saves us for his name’s sake. Not because we deserve his protection. Not because the collective merit of the people of God have built up enough to somehow obligate God to save and plant the church. Not because the congregation of the saints is beautiful to him in itself, for we are a struggling mass of humanity, constantly finding ourselves lured away from the love and fear of the holiness of God by the flitting lusts of the world.
Yes, God delights in his church, in us, in individual believers, for his name’s sake. We were given to Christ by covenant–we have become, coporately, the body of Christ. He delights in us because we, as the people of God, are under his name, under the covering of the Triune God of Scripture–we are HIS. Therefore, he extends his special care and providence over the church, all the way from Adam up to the millions of believers that now tread upon this fallen creation. His beauty is poured out on the church–his holiness covers her blemishes.
Yes, he delights in us because we are being comformed more and more unto the image of his Son, into the likeness of Christ Jesus, our Head. And we should want this. We should want to be continuing in sanctification that God would delight in us. By the Spirit of God within us, we are also enabled to delight in him, to trust in him to save us, to work for us, to deliver us, for his name’s sake. We do not need to look to our own plans as the way of salvation. God has clearly shown us in Scripture and in the events our lives that our own arm cannot and will not save us. We may plan prudently or foolishly, but it is the work of the Father–the Father who delights in us–that is accomplished.
A nearby Psalm contains this thought, also. Lest I wax even more loquacious than usual, this shall be my conculsion–I shall avoid all temptation to mention the many things that could yet be said from these beautiful passages…
“Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to shame him who tramples on me. Selah. God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness!” Psalm 57:1-3 (ESV)
The story of the two blind men Jesus healed outside of Jericho delights me. In the midst of a noisy crowd, Jesus hears the voices of the beggers on the side of the road petitioning mercy from their King. Even though those around them tried to quiet the sightless fellows, they cried out even louder. Finally, Jesus called them to himself. Instead of hastily laying hands on them and going on his way, he stops to hold audience as a King, asking them what they would have of him. They present their request, still believing, and are granted their desire. Thereafter, they follow him among the throng, now praising God.
Even though Matthew records the simplest rendition of this story, he is the one who tells us that there were two men. He is also the only one that mentioned that this healing was accompanied by Jesus’s touch. The other two tell us only that He spoke and they were given sight. Mark gives us the name of one of them, Bartimaeus, son of Timeaus; while Luke mentions that the whole crowd joined in his praises for his healing.
There are many things to be seen in this simple story. First, these lowly ones in Israel recognized Jesus as the Christ, the promised Messiah and King who was to sit upon the throne of David forever. Second, Jesus Christ acted as that just King, stopping to hear the requests of His people. Third, He required the men to think about what it was that they wanted from Him, thus demanding true faith from them. Fourth, this miracle was done for the glorifying of God in the restoration of these men to fullness of life among the people of God, as well as a witness to others of the power of God. As blind men, they were made an example of the mercy of God to all who have faith in him at their healing. Of course, there are probably a few more points that can be drawn from this passage, but these are the main ones that I see.
One primary application of this story is related to how we pray. If we remember that the One to whom we pray is the true Son of David, we not only will praise Him, but will also be aware of what we ask. Would we dare answer His question, “What would you have Me to do for you?” with something that might be sinful? If we keep our Lord’s question which He put to these two blind men in sight, we will be better prepared to pray aright.
Therefore, let us pray in faith, truly believing that the Son of David whom we petition is God Himself, ready and able to hear us when we call to Him. Let us remember to seek His will above our own and never forget that the King who healed Bartimaeus and his fellow begger outside of Jericho is King of the whole creation and especially our King.