God Was Tatted Up So That He Would Not Forget You

Despondency and discouragement are an unfortunate part of the human experience. While not simply dealt with in many cases, the solution must always include turning to the LORD, through the Word.

Alec Motyer:

The Lord’s therapy is to bring us, by means of his Word, pondered and understood, out of depression and the downcast face (Luke 24:17) into the burning heart, bouyant step, and the assured testimony (Luke 24:32-35). (from Isaiah By The Day, p. 245)

My reading of Isaiah this morning provided an example of what a counseling session looks like between God and his people.

A despondent people:

And Zion has said:

‘Yahweh has left me;

and, Sovereign though he is, he has forgotten me!’ (Isaiah 49:14)

But then, a precious promise, spoken by God, for countering the despondency of his people:

Does a woman forget the infant at her breast,

so as to fail in compassion for the son of her body?

Even these may forget!

But as for me, I will not forget you.

Behold!

On my palms I have engraved you;

your walls are constantly in front of me. (Isaiah 49:15-16)

 

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Looking For Urgently Needed Rescue

“Luther wrote, “It is by living, no — more — by dying and being damned to hell that one becomes a theologian, not by knowing, reading, or speculating.” We learn on the road, as pilgrims making our way to the City of God through the trails, burdens, questions, and fears of our own hearts as well as the world around us. We learn truly of God’s providence as we suffer, of God’s forgiveness in our sins, of the resurrection of the dead as we lie dying. Luther’s poignant but hyperbolic statement does not mean that we do not read or study, but that even as we do this, it is more like looking for urgently needed rescue than contemplating eternal truths. We do theology on our knees, calling on the name of our Redeemer.”

– Michael Horton, The Christian Faith
(HT: Wesley Hill)

I Will Myself Shoulder The Weight

And right up to old age I, [Yahweh], am the same

And right up to grey hair I will myself shoulder the weight.

It is I who made,

and it is I who will carry,

and it is I who will shoulder the weight –

and rescue!

(Isaiah 46:4, translation by Alec Motyer)

I don’t know about you, but I need to hear over and over again that it is God that shoulders the weights, it is he who carries the burdens. And this is all of his rich and glorious grace, and because this is of God’s grace, it will last forever. “Our position on his burden-bearing shoulders is totally down to him.” (Motyer)

It is this that becomes the source of the kind of singing we belt out in How Firm A Foundation, by Richard Keen:

The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,

He will not, he cannot desert to its foes.

That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,

He’ll never, no never, no never forsake!

Accepting, and reveling, in this is Growing in Grace.

He Has Freed Us!

Revelation 1:5b-6:

“To [Jesus] who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

How Do You Measure Strength?

Proverbs 16:32:

“Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,

and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

The Moods Of Theology

From the late William Placher’s review of David Ford’s Christian Wisdom: Desiring God and Learning in Love:

“Theology should operate in all five moods: indicative (affirming what we believe), imperative (calling to obedience), interrogative (struggling with hard questions), subjunctive (exploring possibilities, as Jesus’ parables do so well) and optative (desiring in hope). Theologians have too long limited themselves to the indicative and the imperative.”

(HT: Wesley Hill)

Between Sundays

“Between Sundays” is a weekly e-letter written mainly for the people of Calvary Community Church, but that I hope will be a blessing to the wider readership of this little blog.

This last Sunday, we wrapped up our mini-series in Luke 4 called Tempted and Tried. Before we move on in the Gospel according to Luke, we are going to pause to consider God’s Word on another issue. We are going to take a Sunday to hear from God on the issue of homosexuality and marriage.

This issue is currently affecting every area of our culture: our judicial system, our government, our schools, our community, our politics, our neighborhoods, our businesses, our families, our friends, and our religious institutions. If you are reading this, I can’t imagine that you haven’t been touched by the issue of homosexuality and marriage in some way.

Further, it is an issue surrounded by controversy. It is uncomfortable to talk about. Conversations are riddled with words like “hate,” “bigot,” and “discrimination” (along with many other words I can’t use here). Discussions are filled with strong emotions – anger, hurts, sorrows, despair, arrogance, and unkindness. Stark lines have been drawn.

So, one might ask, given all of that, why would we spend a Sunday morning broaching such a topic? I have a one-word answer.

Love.

As I have read the articles you’ve been reading…As I have watched the stories unfold that you’ve been watching unfold…As I have considered the people of our congregation, doing their best to function in the culture as it wrestles painfully with this issue…As I bike and run through and live in this community of ours, and rub shoulders with its citizens…my heart has been enlarged with love. And that love is a mercy of God.

So, I will preach on this because I love our church.

I want to help you understand how God thinks about homosexuality and marriage. I hope that I may be able to speak clearly, on behalf of God, to those who may be struggling in our midst with same-sex desires. I want to help all of you understand the way he thinks about these things. And, very importantly, I want you to be clear on how you are supposed to talk about it. Namely, because of love and in love.

Paul, writing to his spiritual son Timothy about important issues of doctrine and the truth, said this:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:5-7)

Yes, we must speak clearly about what God says. But the aim of that charge is love. Yes, we must speak boldly about what God says. But also lovingly, gently, without quarreling, and with perfect courtesy. (Titus 3:2)

I will preach on this because I love the people of our community.

My preaching will be to equip you to be light in our community. Maybe some will even come this Sunday because they hear of the topic. And I want them to know, directly or through you – not what I think, or what Calvary as a church thinks – I want them to know what God thinks.

Namely, I believe with all my heart that what we find in the Bible are the very words of God, defining exactly the way things ought to be, to the end that we enjoy a rich and satisfying life. And I believe that to stand silently by, while the culture slips into massive confusion about homosexuality and marriage, leading to so much pain and damage, is not loving. We do not, bound by love, have the option to opt out of this discussion.

Now, I am not so naive to think that I, or we, will always be understood. I know that when I say this is loving, many in our community will disagree. They will say that my, that our, speech is not loving. But friends, we have been given the words of life. We have been given words of truth. We must speak them in love.

So I invite you to come this Sunday. I invite you to pray right now that God will prepare your heart to hear what the Spirit is saying.

And I invite you to pray for me, many times each day the rest of this week, that on Sunday I will be clear, loving, and honoring to God’s truth and the Gospel as we explore a difficult and sensitive subject.