Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Pastoral Pings ~ Good God and His Rejoicing Children

          I woke up this morning with a verse of a Scripture chorus playing in my head. It is based on these words, “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”[1]It was encouraging to consider such wonderful attributes of God as my groggy mind entered a new day.
          My first focus this week is on the exhortation from God’s word, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”[2]Rejoicing in the Lord absolutely requires that we know him as he really is. Many people miss out on rejoicing in the Lord simply because they believe things about him that are not true.
          Even among those who profess faith in Jesus Christ, many have a secondary program (perhaps primary for some) of negative thoughts and beliefs either disparaging God himself, or accusing them of being unworthy of how good he is. Either way, the wrong beliefs are a serious deterrent to rejoicing in the Lord.
          To rejoice in the Lord, we must believe and know that he is good. In contrast to all that is bad in our lives, God is good. In contrast to all the bad things people have done to us, God is good. In contrast to religions that are violently intent on doing harm to God’s children, God is good. When we believe this, and know this, we have grounds for rejoicing in our heavenly Father.
          To rejoice in the Lord, we must believe and know that he is forgiving. If we believe God is only a holy and righteous judge (he is that, but so much more), and we know that we are guilty of sin, how could we rejoice? To know there is a coming judgment against our sin is fearful. However, to believe and know that God forgives his children gives remarkable cause for joy.
          David knew this even while living under the law. He knew the kind of God who would provide so many sacrifices to continually deal with sin, to cleanse the child of God from all sins and transgressions. Every day we wake up to a Father who forgives all our sins. Now that we have the gospel record of Jesus’ death for sin, his once-for-all presentation of himself as the ultimate, complete, and eternal sacrifice for sin, we have reason to rejoice in the forgiveness we have received by grace through faith.
          To rejoice in the Lord, we must believe and know that he is abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon him. On one side, we must believe that God, by his very nature, is abounding in steadfast love. He not only is love, and he is not only steadfast in love, but he is abounding in his steadfast love. His love endures forever, and it endures as a non-ending, ever-flowing, overwhelming fountain of steadfast love.
          On the other side, we must believe that this wonderfully abounding steadfast love is to all who call upon him. If we think that God is wonderfully abounding in steadfast love to all the good people in church, but he would never relate to us in such a way, we have just dismissed a major cause of our rejoicing. Everyone who calls on God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ has the same absolute assurance, and the same cause for rejoicing. God’s steadfast love towards us endures forever. Rejoice!
          As I looked through Psalm 86 to get some sense of the kinds of things David was going through as he exulted in God’s goodness, forgiveness, and abounding steadfast love, I came to this hugely significant contrast:
“O God, insolent men have risen up against me;    a band of ruthless men seeks my life,    and they do not set you before them.But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”[3]
          While this gave so much reason to meditate on the comforts of God’s word, the essence of how this spoke to me was this: on one side, we have people who should be humble and merciful because we all know that we are sinners deserving the same just condemnation for our sin. Instead, David is faced with people who are insolent, who have risen up against him, who are ruthless, and seek his life. They have no regard for God, and so they seek his harm.
          On the other side, we have the God who has every reason to be against us, and yet David found him to be merciful and gracious. While his enemies were quick to anger, God was slow to anger. While his enemies sought to destroy him, God was abounding in his steadfast love and faithfulness toward David.
          While the wonders of the goodness of God overflow out of these Scriptures far beyond what a little blog post can express, the conclusion is still rather simple: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.”

© 2015 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Psalm 86:5
[2] Philippians 4:4
[3] Psalm 86:14-15

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