Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 29 February 20:
Psalm 25:21 – “I wait for you.”
Psalm 25 begins and ends with a fundamental virtue of Christian faith: the ability and willingness to wait upon the Lord, which is not the product of sheer willpower but rather a fruit of the Spirit – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22, 23) Waiting upon the Lord is at the heart of faith; it is trust in God based upon our belief in His trustworthiness, regardless of apparent circumstances. But you can’t trust someone you don’t know. The key to growing in faith, hope and love that trusts and waits, that is joyfully patient and perseverant, is growing in intimacy with the Lord, knowing Him more each day – knowing is growing. Jesus’ greatest prayer for us before the Cross was that we would experience the eternal life that comes from intimacy with Him – “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3) This was the prayer of David in today’s Psalms – “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him.” (Psalm 25:14)
Intimacy with God – “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (James 4:8) “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) Intimacy with God is a virtuous cycle. You must have faith to draw near to God, but the more you draw near to God, the more faith you will have, and your blessings will be multiplied, not just added. “In Your presence is fullness of joy.” (Psalm 16:11) “These things I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:11) As the former Adrian Rogers once said, “God does not have favorites, but He does have intimates.” So, how do we draw near to God so that we will trust to wait on the Lord?
Confidence in Grace. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16) Draw near to God, confident in the grace and access you have received freely through Christ. You have received grace, so claim grace, have faith in grace, and confidently obey God in the grace you have received and through the power of the Holy Spirit which you have also received in salvation. “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:22)
Clean Hands. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8) Drawing near to God requires cleansing and purification. As a Christian, the Bible says, “You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11) Now walk with clean hands and a pure heart, with pure actions resulting from a pure heart. Remember what we read last week in Psalm 24 – “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. (Psalm 24:3-6) John says, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3, 4) Waiting on the Lord is not idleness, it is obedience. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21) “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Bathing in God’s Word. Prepare for intimacy with God by being freshly cleansed by the word of God. “How can a young man [or woman] keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” (Psalm 119:9) Most people bathe their bodies daily so they will be presentable to the public, but they don’t wash themselves in the word daily to be presentable to the Lord. Begin your daily walk with Jesus with prayerful Bible study. Then, walk the word with the Lord. Bible study is insufficient without Bible life application – doing the word. Bible study gives you knowledge; Bible application gives you understanding. Bible study gives you knowledge about God; walking in the word with the Word gives you knowledge of God (intimacy). “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22)
Confident Confession. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7-9) Confident in the grace of God, maintain a humbly repentant spirit as you strive imperfectly to walk in the light (which is always done in fellowship with other believers). “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Trusting through Trials. “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death….” (Philippians 3:10) Take up your cross and confidently follow Jesus through the trials of life, boldly and joyfully proclaiming Jesus through inevitable persecution and through the harsh realities of a sinful world. Intimacy with the Lord results in a joyful, confident trust and hope that has no bounds. Job said, “Though he slay me, I will hope in him.” (Job 13:15) This confidence is grounded on the faith that Christ is the resurrection and that Christ has overcome death – “Do not fear what you are about to suffer…. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) It is intimacy and trust in God that will give you the readiness to step into your personal ‘Red Sea,’ the rushing waters of your ‘Jordon River,’ your ‘fiery furnace,’ and your ‘lion’s den,’ that you will inevitably face, knowing confidently that God is with you through it all, working all these things for good and in accordance with His purpose of conforming you to the image of His Son, Jesus. When people go through trials together, it draws them closer. Likewise, when we patiently endure trials and persecution with Christ and in His Name, we experience a special intimacy with Him – “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13) “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:9-13)
Are you willing to obey God’s command, “Be still, and know that I am God”? (Psalm 46:10)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 29 Feb 20: Pray for the strength to be still and to wait on the Lord, not in idleness but in loving obedience.