Being Conformed to His Likeness

My God, My God
Psalms 22:1-2 ESV

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.”

If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, we will not be forsaken by God. For, He said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb 13:5). But that doesn’t mean that, at times, we won’t feel as though he has forsaken us. Sometimes it will feel as though he is far off, and we can’t hear him speaking to our hearts through his Spirit.

Especially when we are going through difficult times, and our circumstances appear to be getting worse and not better, or else our life situations are still the same and nothing appears to be changing, we may feel as though God has abandoned us and that he is not answering our prayers.

You Delivered Them
Psalms 22:3-5 ESV

“Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.”

Sometimes when we are not rescued in the way we think God should have rescued us we may appeal to God on the basis of how he has done with others in the past. And depending on where our hearts are, this appeal may bear fruit. For, we have a parable in the New Testament that indicates that persistence in prayer will eventually bear fruit (Luke 18:1-8).

I recall how the Lord called me to this ministry in 2004 but that how it was many years where I wrote what he gave me to write and I posted it on the internet faithfully, but I was not getting interaction much with people and I was hungry for genuine Christian (spiritual) fellowship.

So, one day I appealed to him on the basis that he had disciples who were his close companions, and how Paul, even in prison, had people who came to see him and who ministered to him. And so I prayed for Christian fellowship and then the Lord provided me with Christian fellowship. All of a sudden I had people responding to me and we were able to share in the fellowship of Christ with one another.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the Lord is always going to answer us in a speedy manner. He has his timing for everything. But we should continue to call on him in prayer and make our requests known to him. But then we have to trust him with the timing of it all, and we must never give up hoping and praying for answers and for results, as long as we are praying according to the will of God and not with selfish motives.

Despised by the People
Psalms 22:6-8 ESV

“But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
‘He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’”

Some of this Psalm is a foretelling of Jesus Christ’s suffering and his death. As you read the whole Psalm, if you are familiar with the story of Jesus’ suffering and his crucifixion, you may pick up on some of the phrases, such as the opening plea, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

And Jesus said that if we follow him with our lives that we will be hated and persecuted as he was hated and persecuted. We will be despised and rejected by other humans if we are following the Lord with our lives wholeheartedly, and if we are doing and saying the kinds of things he did and said, and that he said we must also do and say.

Especially if we are sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ as Jesus taught it, and as his New Testament apostles taught it, we are going to be mocked, we are going to be accused falsely and called names and we will have our motives brought into question and we will even be accused of teaching what is false.

And we will definitely be ostracized and rejected even by family members and fellow believers (or professing believers) in Jesus Christ. They will reject what we are teaching because they want to hear the light and fluffy stuff. They don’t want to hear about surrender to God, and obedience to Christ, and forsaking our sinful practices and living holy lives pleasing to God.

So, if our lives are surrendered to Jesus Christ, it is not going to be “smooth sailing” for us. Thus, we should anticipate rejection and people not wanting to be with us or to hear from us. We should expect to be excluded. We should know that our faith will be tested, and we will have to make the choice to serve God or to be accepted by other humans.

From the Womb
Psalms 22:1-2 ESV

“Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.”

In the book of Jeremiah we read that even before Jeremiah was formed in the womb of his mother that God knew him, and that God consecrated him, and that God appointed him as a prophet to the nations. So, Jeremiah was called to his ministry even before he existed.

And we read in Psalms 139 that God/Jesus is the one who formed our inward parts and who knit us together in the wombs of our mothers. And the psalmist wrote that in God’s book were written all the days that were formed (or ordained) for him, even before they came into being.

And then we read in Scripture that those whom God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. And we read that we who are the Lord’s were chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

So, we get this picture here that God had a plan and a purpose for our lives even before the creation of the world, for even before he created the world he had us in his mind and he knew, and he had planned where we would be born and to what family, and the plans he had for our lives.

So, we have to trust in God’s sovereignty over our lives. Yes, we have the free will to choose or to reject Jesus and his salvation, and we are all responsible before God for the choices we make in this life, but yet, at least for those who have believed in Jesus, he had our lives planned out for us, and he had his hand upon our lives, and he had his calling for us even before we were even thought of by our parents.

And so what this means is that the things that are going on in our lives are things that God, at the least, allows and that he has a purpose for them in our lives and that he plans to bring good out of them in our lives. It doesn’t mean he approves of them, but suffering is part of the Christian life, for through suffering we learn obedience and perseverance and we grow in our walks of faith if we respond correctly to our suffering.

So, we need to trust the Lord in our suffering. Yes, pray for relief, but also pray for God’s will to be done, and pray that we will learn what we need to learn through our times of suffering so that we do mature through them in our walks of faith. For our Lord is conforming us to his likeness.

[Jeremiah 1; Psalms 139; Rom 8:29; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Eph 1:3-4]

Praise You in This Storm

Mark Hall and Bernie Herms

I was sure by now, God You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it’s still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
“I’m with you”
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I’ll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I’ve cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth

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