Monday, October 10, 2016, 4:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 40:1-10 (NASB).
Out of the Pit (vv. 1-3)
I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord.
I’ve been doing a lot of crying today, and calling out to God in my distress. I am going through a very uncomfortable trial right now, but the Lord is speaking his words to my heart, and he is guiding me through it all. I need much wisdom in this, so I am praying for his guidance and direction.
I am leading a Bible study on Wednesday nights. We are studying the book of John. This Wednesday we are covering John 6:15-21. It was right after Jesus fed the five thousand. He went on a mountain by himself. The disciples got into a boat and set off across a lake. It was dark. Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing, and the waters grew rough. They saw someone walking on the water coming toward them, and they were afraid. It was Jesus. He said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” They willingly took him into the boat with them, and immediately they reached their destination.
I had written questions last week for everyone to answer for this week. I went back over those today, and God spoke clearly to my heart. What I am going through is like being on a boat in the middle of a lake in the dark where I can’t see what lies ahead, and I don’t understand it all. The temptation to be afraid is blowing strong against me, and the circumstances are quite rough at this moment, but the Lord is there, and he is speaking, and he is saying, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” So, I am taking him into my boat (my circumstances) with me in prayer, crying it all out to him, and praying that he would bring me safely through this. My destination is ultimately heaven, but the destination that is immediately before me is to learn what he wants to teach me through this, and to grow in his love and his grace.
He is giving me his strength and courage and determination, and he is filling me with his peace, even in my storm. And, he is helping me to keep praising him, believing that he will carry me through this, and to not let this bring me down, but to keep singing, and to keep smiling and trusting in Him. You see, he doesn’t always deliver us from the difficulty, or at least he doesn’t always do so immediately, but he will carry us through these times. We just have to put our trust in him, and keep leaning on his everlasting arms.
How Blessed (vv. 4-5)
How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,
And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which You have done,
And Your thoughts toward us;
There is none to compare with You.
If I would declare and speak of them,
They would be too numerous to count.
We are blessed (joyful, fulfilled, peaceful) when we make the Lord our trust. If my trust was not in the Lord right now, I would be going crazy over this situation. He is my only peace! If I did not know that he allowed this in my life for a purpose, and that he is going to carry me through this, it would be difficult to bear. I am not promised immediate relief or smooth sailing, but I am promised his continued presence with me, his grace, his love and his power and strength to make it through.
I also have to stay focused on the big picture, not that I know all that that is exactly, but I have to stay focused on Christ, and on where we are headed, and I have to have an eternity perspective of the whole situation. In other words, I know my God is working all these things for good in my life, and I believe in the lives of others, too, and that he has eternal purposes for this, which he is going to accomplish. And, so I must keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and not on my circumstances, believing him to work it all out for his praise and glory.
I Delight (vv. 6-8)
Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God;
Your Law is within my heart.”
There is a huge difference between following a set of rules and true obedience. We can go through all kinds of forms of religion, and we can do all the right things, seemingly, and appear religious and godly on the outside, but still not be walking in obedience to God. Our Lord does not want what we are willing to sacrifice for him, or give to him of our time and talents, etc., if it is on our own terms.
There are many “good deed doers” in this world who don’t know God at all! Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. He wants us, as living sacrifices, given over to him, living holy lives pleasing to God. In other words, he wants all of us, not just what we are willing to sacrifice. He wants us listening to him with receptive ears, and following him wherever he leads us, even if he leads us through some tough times.
I Have Proclaimed (vv. 9-10)
I have proclaimed glad tidings of righteousness in the great congregation;
Behold, I will not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You know.
I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have spoken of Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great congregation.
One of the end goals God may have for us as a result of going through some tough times is that we will proclaim him and his righteousness in the great congregation (in the church, worldwide). He will want us to give praise to him, not just because he delivered us out of our difficulties, which he may not do, or which he may not do immediately, but because of what he taught us through them, and because of how we learned to rest in his grace and strength through them. The purpose of this would be so that we can encourage other believers in Jesus, who are going through difficulties, with the comfort we received from our Lord. There are many followers of Christ throughout the world going through enormous suffering for their testimonies for Christ and for his gospel, and they need to be encouraged.
Sometimes, too, when things are going well for us, we may become lax in our commitments to proclaim our Lord and his salvation to the world, and even within the church, because not everyone who meets with the church is truly saved. So, when we go through hardships, and we call on God in our despair, and he answers us, and he strengthens us and helps us, it helps us to refocus and to retool, i.e. to reequip for his service. So, our trials thus work good in our lives in drawing us closer to our Lord and in producing within us much seriousness of purpose. And, having gone through them, we are much more eager to share the gospel message of hope and healing with the world around us so that many will be saved.
The glad tidings of righteousness we are to proclaim, though, are not that Jesus died merely so we could escape hell and go to heaven when we die. He died so that through faith in him we might be crucified with him in death to sin, and be resurrected with him to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). His grace to us is not a free license to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. His grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14). When we were still under the control of sin, we were free from the control of righteousness. Now that we have been set free from sin – if we have – we are to be servants of his righteousness.
We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations
H. Ernest Nichol
We’ve a story to tell to the nations,
that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy,
a story of peace and light,
a story of peace and light.
We’ve a song to be sung to the nations,
that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,
a song that shall conquer evil
and shatter the spear and sword,
and shatter the spear and sword.
We’ve a message to give to the nations,
that the Lord who reigneth above
has sent us His Son to save us,
and show us that God is love,
and show us that God is love.
We’ve a Savior to show to the nations,
who the path of sorrow has trod,
that all of the world’s great peoples
may come to the truth of God,
may come to the truth of God.
For the darkness shall turn to dawning,
and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,
the kingdom of love and light.