January 8, 2020
Thank you for continuing with us in prayer for revival and for our prodigals. We really appreciate it.
As Rachel and I were reading together last night, we were comforted and reassured by the words of Psalm 130. Notice the language of the NLT:
A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. From the depths of despair, O LORD, I call for Your help. Hear my cry, O Lord. Pay attention to my prayer. LORD, if You kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But You offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear You. I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn. O Israel, hope in the LORD; for with the LORD there is unfailing love. His redemption overflows. He Himself will redeem Israel from every kind of sin.
This is one of fifteen songs that the Jewish travelers used to sing as they journeyed up to Jerusalem for their annual feasts. I'd like to share three applications from this psalm for our lives today.
First, is the distressing reality that life is not what we expected it to be. When newly saved, we had visions of how grand and idyllic our lives would be: living for God, no worries, no problems, everything glorious. Wow, that didn’t last long!
What we came to discover is that the Christian life includes many difficulties and trials. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a wonderful thing to be saved from sin and to have the privilege of living for the Lord. However, down where our feet touch the road on a day-to-day basis, life can be stressful, hectic, sad, and oftentimes downright painful. This is where the pilgrims were in verse one of our psalm. They were heading to Zion, the great city of God, but they were crying from the depths of despair. Their hearts were burdened and broken, and their only recourse was to cry out to their God.
You may be in this very place right now, dealing with an illness you didn’t ask for or facing financial uncertainty or grief over some major loss. As Christians, we do not need to gloss over the heartache and disappointments of life. They are real and often very raw! But our God cares. We have His attention. In the psalm, as they cried in anguish, it seems as if they are demanding God’s attention, but in reality, they already had it and so do we. Thank God for His open ear.
Secondly, the Lord has proven the depths of His love towards us by forgiving us of our many sins. In doing an overview of Numbers recently in preparation for a youth class, I noticed two themes permeating the book. One was the terrible rebellion that marked the people of God as they wandered through the wilderness and the other was the faithful provision of God towards them all the way through it. Here in our psalm, the people were well aware of how great their sin was toward God. They acknowledged that if God kept a record, there would be no chance of survival.
Rebellion is sin, and sin is rebellion. All sin is rebellion against God. It is selfish. It is prideful. It is hostile toward God. Every unkind word to your partner is a rebellion against God. Every act of disrespect toward another is rebellion against God. Every impure motive is rebellion against God. We all agree that we are in the very same category as these ancient sojourners to Jerusalem! Our sin is great, but we have all experienced the overwhelming forgiveness of God from the first day of salvation until this very moment. Like them, each of us can say, “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on Him.” The foundation of our faith is solidly based on a God who loves us unconditionally and has forgiven us totally. Allow the freshness and fullness of God’s unfailing love and forgiveness to wash over your heart today!
Lastly, our hope for the future is founded in our God. When our eyes are fixed on God, starting a new year and starting a new decade is really no different than starting a new day. It may seem intimidating, it may be overwhelming, and it may even feel depressing, but our hope is in the Lord. He will be with us every step of the way. As the night sentries who guarded the city eagerly longed for the first rays of the morning sunlight to end their work and allow them solitude and rest, so we long for our God. This longing after God is the idea of patient waiting, and waiting involves trust. As we wait for prodigals to return, as we wait for revival to take hold, as we wait for souls to be saved, as we wait for sicknesses to pass, we patiently trust in our God. Keep your eyes on Him!
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel