Revive Us Again

I’m hoping David did not write Psalm 71 (though I suspect he might have). How come? ‘Cause Psalm 71’s songwriter self-identifies as “old and gray”, and David lived to be only 70 years old (2Sam. 5:4, 1Ki. 2:10-11). So, if Psalm 71 was written by David, then “old and gray” is being in your mid to late 60’s. Ouch!

But it’s not just the “old and gray” connection that’s grabbed my attention, but the reminder that “old and gray” doesn’t necessarily mean “retired and relaxing.” For Psalm 71 is another one of those psalms where the songwriter is crying out to his God for help.

Right out of gate, the theme of this song is clear: “rescue and deliver me . . . listen closely to me . . . save me . . . be a rock of refuge for me . . . deliver me . . . don’t discard me . . . do not abandon me . . . for my enemies talk about me” (71:2-10), “let me never be disgraced” (71:1). In his mid-60s, David’s not coasting into retirement. Though perhaps no longer leading from the front lines, he’s nevertheless still engaged in battle. If he thought the latter years were to be the “golden years”, he soon learned they were to be more like the “be purified as gold” years. Though he may have wanted to live out his final days reclining on a couch, in fact they were more like being refined in a crucible.

And yet, while the cry for help is real, so is the prevailing sense of hope (71:5, 14) and the persisting determination to praise (71:6-8, 14-16, 22-24). And the spring from which the old and gray songwriter’s hope and praise is sourced?

You caused me to experience
many troubles and misfortunes,
but You will revive me again.
You will bring me up again,
even from the depths of the earth.

(Psalm 71:20 CSB)

You WILL revive me AGAIN. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning.

This wasn’t David’s first season of trial, not the first time he had found himself in a situation he’d rather not have found himself in. Not the first time, over the course of his life, that he found himself praying 911 prayers. Not the first time in which, though he felt somewhat helpless, he did not feel altogether hopeless. David could sing out with praise, even as he cried out for help, because David was confident God would revive him again.

In the past, God had used dry seasons to provide renewal and refreshing. He would again. Because David could look back and see how God had brought forth fruit from time spent in the desert, he could know with assurance that God would do so again.

Remembering the past didn’t necessarily make the present any easier, but it did infuse a confident hope which made enduring the present possible. And hope does not disappoint (Rom. 5:5). In fact, Spirit induced hope can’t help but erupt as Spirit invoked praise.

For You are my hope, Lord God,
my confidence from my youth.

But I will hope continually
and will praise You more and more.

(Psalm 71:5, 14 CSB)

Old and gray, weary and worn, but not defeated and done. The songwriter still had a song, for he knew that His God would revive him again.

His song can be our song.

We praise Thee, O God!
For the Son of Thy love,
For Jesus Who died,
And is now gone above.

We praise Thee, O God!
For Thy Spirit of light,
Who hath shown us our Savior,
And scattered our night.

All glory and praise
To the Lamb that was slain,
Who hath borne all our sins,
And hath cleansed every stain.

All glory and praise
To the God of all grace,
Who hast brought us, and sought us,
And guided our ways.

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with Thy love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again

– William P. MacKay, 1863 –

Yes Lord! Revive us AGAIN.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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Nevertheless, By God’s Will

Paul had a lot to say as he wrote to the church in Rome, but there was a lot more he wanted to experience when he visited with them. Both at the beginning and at the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul talks of the anticipated fruit of face-to-face fellowship — “to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith” (1:1) and to “be refreshed together with you” (15:32b). Encouraged and refreshed together, that’s what he anticipated — “in the fullness of the blessing of Christ” (15:29), “with joy” (15:32a). That’s what Paul asked the Romans to pray for.

Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea, that my ministry to Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, and that, by God’s will, I may come to you with joy and be refreshed together with you.

(Romans 15:31-32 CSB)

We sometimes say that God always answers prayer in one of three ways — “Yes”, “No”, or “Wait”. But hovering over the last verses of Romans 15 this morning, it seems that He might also answer, “Mostly yes”, or “Yes, but not in the way you expect.”

Paul did end up in Rome, but perhaps not quite in the way he had envisioned it. Though he knew in his heart that he would rub shoulders with the believers there, he thought it would be done freely in their gathering place and not from a place of Roman confinement.

Sure, prayer was answered, but not as anticipated. Yeah, he made it to Jerusalem and fulfilled his ministry to the “poor among the saints” (15:25-26). He did end up coming to Rome, and that as a “guest” of the Roman government (Acts 27:1). And Paul was “rescued from the unbelievers in Judea”, but only after significant conflict and not without significant, dragged-out consequence (Acts 21-26). I wonder, though, if Paul didn’t have in mind a “rescue” which would have avoided all together confrontation, incarceration, and years of repeated self-representation.

Nevertheless, Paul ended up in Rome. And I know it was all by God’s will.

Prayer answered. Outcome achieved. Not necessarily according to plan. Nevertheless, by God’s will.

Thinking there’s a takeaway here for me.

Oh, to submit to the sovereign purposes of God. To be content along His permitted paths. Okay with the reality that, while God may have given you insight as to the what of His plan for you, he reserved knowledge of the when and the how for Himself. To rest when God has landed you where you thought He would even though it wasn’t in the way you thought He would. To dare to be willing to ask to know the joy of being in Rome even when it’s from inside a Roman prison cell via a volatile Jerusalem.

By God’s will.

Enabled by God’s grace.

For God’s glory.

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A Salvation that Protects

Verse 21 tells me that it’s messianic in nature, that what the songwriter chronicles was to foreshadow what the Son of God would know as well. But beyond just providing insight to the Savior’s sufferings, it also provides deep connection to the Savior’s understanding of the human condition and experience. A reminder that “He had to be like His brothers and sisters in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest” (Heb. 2:17). A reminder that the salvation He brought was not only sufficient to open the gates of heaven, but sufficient to sustain us through the griefs of earth. This morning I’m chewing on the salvation that protects.

The song begins by getting to the point. “Save me, God” cries the psalmist with his opening words. He feels like he’s drowning. Unable to plant his feet on solid ground, the water of felt opposition gets deeper and deeper and he is unable to rise above it (Ps. 69:1-2).

While the flood is fed by those “who hate me without cause” (v.4), David is more than aware of how his failures have helped open the floodgate.

God, You know my foolishness, and my guilty ways are not hidden from You.

(Psalm 69:5 CSB)

Yet, the insults the songwriter endured went beyond his failures. He had become a “stranger” to the brothers in his own house because of the consuming zeal he had tried to live out for God’s house (69:8-9). And so, discredited, derided, and discouraged the psalmist laments before His God:

You know the insults I endure—
my shame and disgrace.
You are aware of all my adversaries.
Insults have broken my heart,
and I am in despair.
I waited for sympathy,
but there was none;
for comforters, but found no one.
Instead, they gave me gall for my food,
and for my thirst
they gave me vinegar to drink.

(Psalm 69:19-21 CSB)

Gall for food, vinegar to drink — there’s the messianic connection (Mt. 27:34, Jn. 19:29). But hover over the shame and the disgrace, the broken heart and lack of comforters, and, for how many of us at one time or another, is there found the human connection?

But we don’t stop reading there.

But as for me—poor and in pain—
let Your salvation protect me, God.
I will praise God’s name with song
and exalt Him with thanksgiving.

(Psalm 69:29-33 CSB)

Let Your salvation protect me. Worth chewing on, I think.

Our salvation is not only a redeeming salvation, a rescuing salvation, a delivering salvation, but it is also a protecting salvation. A salvation that keeps those it saves. A salvation that sources endurance when endurance is needed. A salvation which is more than making sure a name is written in a book for a future day, but that the person attached to that name is secure in the Good Shepherd’s care each and every day. A protecting salvation so sure that its remembrance evokes praise. A salvation which so guards the soul that the spirit can’t help but sing a new song when it is invoked.

Let Your salvation protect me. The ESV renders it more literally as let Your salvation “set me up on high”. God’s salvation is a protecting salvation because it is a salvation that sets on high. It’s an exalting salvation even in the midst of hostility. A salvation promising a glorious end, so that every valley encountered before that day will always be a valley which will eventually and assuredly be ascended. Every pit then becomes part of the path used to complete the good work God has begun in us (Php. 1:6).

The salvation that protects. That’s our salvation. That’s a salvation worth praising God for, a salvation worth thanking God for, a salvation worth singing about. Amen?

By His grace. For His glory.

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Disputed Matters

I think the reality of it is that it’s hard to learn and apply important life lessons “real time”, at the moment they are actually needed. Best case scenario is that you’re prepared for a situation in advance, have thought it through and have grounded yourself in the appropriate biblical principles before you need to be applying those principles. Case in point? Engaging with what the CSB refers to as “disputed matters” (Romans 14:1).

Prior to this last couple of years, how many of us really had to weigh in on, or make decisions concerning disputed matters of significance? Meat sacrificed to idols? What day is to be regarded as most important? Not really topics that we’ve had to deal with in “real life.” But dealing with masking up, or rolling up your sleeve to get a “strongly encouraged,” quick to market vaccine? Now, those are issues none of us have had the luxury to avoid. And talk about a disputed matter! Families split, churches split, friendships fractured — who hasn’t either experienced it personally or been up close and personal with those who have?

For many of us, Romans 14 became one of our “go to” texts on trying to navigate parts of the “COVID years.” As I hover over Romans 14 this morning, here are my main take aways from the past couple of years which, Lord willing, will help me be better prepared for the next time I’m enveloped in disputed matters (and, considering our present cultural reality, it’s not a matter of “if” but of “when” that’s gonna happen).

Here are the verses I highlighted this morning:

Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind.

For none of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord.

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Whatever you believe about these things, keep between yourself and God.

(Romans 14:5b, 7-8a, 12, 22a CSB)

Wherever you land regarding a disputed matter, be firmly CONVINCED IN YOUR MIND. Disputed matters have a way of becoming emotional matters. When dealing with them, we need to engage the mind. Not that engaging the mind means everyone will consider all the same facts or come to the same conclusions, but that we will have done the work of working through the matter — engaging our minds, calming our hearts — so that we can at least articulate a reason for why we believe what we believe and why we’re responding the way we’re responding.

However you land there, run it through the filter that, ultimately, you LIVE FOR THE LORD. While our answers to disputed matters may have a way of dividing us, it is our common over-arching, sincere desire to live for the Lord which can offset its polarizing potential. As those who own Jesus as Lord and want to walk in a way consistent with His lordship, we then extend goodwill to brothers and sisters who are also seeking to direct their lives under the lordship of Christ — even if they end up in a different place than we do.

Whatever you do as a result of landing where you land, remember YOU’LL GIVE AN ACCOUNT FOR IT. Regardless of where you stand on a disputed matter, how you respond and treat others matters, as well. Paul reminds these Romans believers — a mixed congregation of Jew and Gentile with more than enough disputed matters to work out within the walls of their church — that having the “right answer” is far less important than treating others in the right way. The Bema Seat of Christ (1Cor. 3:12-13, 2Cor. 5:10) isn’t going to deal with what answer we arrived at but how we treated others who arrived at a different answer. How did we make every effort to leave at peace with others (Rom. 12:18)? How hard did we strive to maintain the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3)? We’ll give an account.

And perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned through this, wherever you land regarding a disputed matter, keep it between YOU AND GOD. I might discuss it, and even debate it with others, but I need to resist the urge to impose it on others — at the end of the day, it’s between me and the Lord. Honestly, when I’ve done the work, when I think I’ve sourced the best data sources, when I think I’ve rightly divided the word and applied the right biblical principles, I want credit for it from others. Even though I know it’s a disputed matter, I want to end the dispute with others acknowledging that I’m right. Yuck! That’s a no win. Instead, I need to keep it between me and God. Where I’ve landed, He knows. How I see it as consistent with my call to follow Jesus, He knows. How I’ve responded to others, He knows. And that should be enough. Forget winning the favor of popular opinion, when all’s said and done, I need to rest in doing what I do before God alone.

Much more to process here, but for a morning meal, and a morning brain dump, that should give a flavor of how I’m thinking about disputed matters.

By His grace. For His glory.

That’s all that really matters.


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A Good Overwhelming

I don’t know how many times I’ve read this passage, but it’s been many. Not just my annual reading of it, but, because it’s in Romans, encountered frequently over the years, every time I’ve had occasion to study Romans or have heard Romans preached. So, it’s a pretty familiar passage.

But this morning, as I hovered over Romans 12:9-21, read it again, chewed on it, and read it again, this familiar, easy to read passage became a little hard to handle. A little overwhelming.

My CSB titles this section, “Christian Ethics.” I look at the twelve verses in front of me and each one of them, in part or in whole, is underlined with purple colored pencil. Depending on how you might group them (or not), I’m counting twenty-eight commands to obey. Twelve verses that are pretty easy to read, but twenty-eight explicit “to do’s” to consider, if you’re serious about walking the walk that’s worthy. As I slow down and do the mental math of how well I’m observing how many of them . . . well, let’s just say, “Heavy sigh!”

Detest evil? Okay, pretty good there. Serve the Lord? Maybe a passing grade there. Rejoice with those who rejoice? Mostly (when I’m successful battling envy). Out honor others in showing honor to my brothers and sisters? Mmm . . . maybe . . . sometimes. Some shoring up to do there. Bless those who persecute you? Can I just move on to the next reading?

The problem with staring into a mirror is that eventually, if you have eyes to see, you’re gonna come to grips with the blemishes, the imperfections, the — let’s call it what it is — the sin.

But then, something (Someone?) reminds me of where these verses are placed within this letter. These twelve verses / twenty-eight commands for living out the Christian life come after thirteen chapters explaining the power and dynamic of the Christian life.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, first to the Jew, and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith.

(Romans 1:16-17 CSB)

Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.

(Romans 8:8-9 CSB)

Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

(Romans 12:1-2 CSB)

The gospel is the power of God for salvation. The power for salvation past, when I was saved from the penalty of my sin. AND it is the power for salvation present, when I am learning to walk in a way that is saving me from the power of sin.

A walk not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. The Spirit of Christ in me reading these twenty-eight commands along with me and whispering, “Yeah, I know how you’ve struggled, but WE are the ones told to live into your new reality. Let’s do it! You and Me!”

My new reality, the walk of righteousness. Righteousness credited to my account for eternity by faith in the finished work of Christ. Righteousness becoming more evident practically every day I choose to continue to walk by faith and seek to be led by the Spirit.

Twenty-eight commands which really just require obedience to one great commandment, “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” That’s the determination that results in transformation. The determination that lets me acknowledge this morning’s Romans 12:9-21 report card and determine to keep wanting to live as I should, to keep trying to walk as I should.

Twelve verses, twenty-eight commands, one triune God, all catalyzed into real righteousness lived out by the gospel.

Overwhelming? Yeah. But, as I chew on it, a good overwhelming.

Because of God’s grace. For God’s glory.

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Adoration Connected to Donation

Hovering over some verses in Deuteronomy this morning which put a bit of a different lens on how we might think about our giving to the Lord.

“Each year you are to set aside a tenth of all the produce grown in your fields. You are to eat a tenth of your grain, new wine, and fresh oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, in the presence of the Lord your God at the place where He chooses to have His name dwell, so that you will always learn to fear the Lord your God. . . . You are to feast there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice with your family.

(Deuteronomy 14:22-23, 26b CSB)

When’s the last time I heard a sermon on “Tithing — A Way to Learn to Fear the Lord your God”? Never. How about “Tithing — A Way to Rejoice with Your Family”? Uh, not that one either.

Hmm . . .

Not enough time this morning to rethink or restate a theology of giving a tenth to the Lord, but for some reason (a Holy Spirit reason?), this passage popped and has given me something to noodle on.

They were not only to take a tenth into the presence of the Lord, they were to eat of it in the presence of the Lord. The didn’t just drop it off at the door, didn’t just mail in a check, didn’t just sign up for auto-payment, but they were to do something that consciously connected themselves to giving back to the Lord a portion of that which the Lord had first given to them.

Tithing was to be helpful in learning to fear the Lord. Perhaps not evoking “reverential awe” as much as a regular responsive appreciation. Not only a reminder of their dependence on the Lord for what was harvested, but also igniting a delight in the Lord for the abundance they enjoyed. Their giving being less an obligation for what they had received at God’s hand, and more of a celebration at God’s faithfulness and goodness. Their tithe was to be anything but “out of sight, out of mind” as it was to again bring in view, and bring to mind the abundant provision of God.

Their tithe was to be an impetus for a family affair — to feast in the presence of the Lord and to rejoice with their family. Far from a reluctant parting of a tenth off the top, it was to be an excuse for a party. The whole family partaking in giving to God a portion of what He had first given to them. Dad, mom, brother and sister, all together acknowledging the goodness of God in the giving of their wealth.

Like I said, hmm . . .

How connected am I to my giving?

How can I ensure that every time I drop that envelope in the plate, or have that automatic withdrawal taken from my account, that it in some way brings me into the presence of the Lord, continuing to learn to fear Him as I continue to learn to love Him, even as I rejoice with my family in Him?

Seems to me I may be wasting an opportunity to grow in adoration if I’m not mindful of, nor connected to my donation.

Something to chew, I think.

By His grace. For His glory.

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For Your Own Good

Honestly, as I think back over those first years (decades?) of being born again, I wonder how much I thought obedience was just the “price” I had to pay for heaven? That it was the “quid” expectation of my life here and now for the “pro quo” of God’s gift of eternity. Maybe not the best view of obedience to have.

Over time, the “obligation” of obedience morphed into the “response” of obedience. I obeyed not just because I had to but obeyed because I wanted to. After all, Jesus gave His life for me, shouldn’t I, in return, give my life to Him? Yes. For sure? For all that Jesus did for me, it was the least I could do for Him, right? For how much He loved me, my obedience was a small token expressing the love I had for Him. A better approach to obedience, I think.

But something I read in Deuteronomy this morning makes me think there might be an even better and sustaining motive for wanting to walk in God’s ways.

Keep the Lord’s commands and statutes I am giving you today, for your own good.

(Deuteronomy 10:13 CSB)

How’s that for a reason to obey? For your own good.

Obedience is then the out-working of believing that, having been designed and wired by the Creator, the Creator knows how to “optimize” that design and wiring for living life. That because He made us He understands us — better than we understand ourselves — and knows the walk that will allow us to “have life and have it in abundance” (Jn. 10:10).

Okay, maybe you’re thinking, “That’s sounds like a somewhat selfish reason for obedience. For my good? For my quality and fullness of life? Shouldn’t we obey for God’s glory?”

Yup, we should. But what if for our good and for God’s glory aren’t mutually exclusive? What if it’s not an either / or proposition? What if for our good is integrally and intrinsically connected with for God’s glory? What if “life in abundance” makes known the God who loves in abundance and graces in abundance?

I was also reminded in Deuteronomy this morning that Moses prayed repeatedly for God’s mercy toward His rebellious people, arguing that to “destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven” (Dt. 9:14) would discredit the name of the God who had delivered Israel from Egypt, “lest the land from which you brought us say, ‘ . . . the LORD was not able to bring them into the land that He promised them'” (Dt. 9:28). Entering the promised land and prospering as a people of promise would magnify the power of the God of promise to save, and to save to the uttermost. Their good would ultimately be for God’s glory.

So, we should seek to walk in obedience.

For our own good.

And that, for God’s glory.

And only by God’s grace.


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What Jesus Could Have Prayed

Hovering over Matthew 26 this morning and a garden. A garden called Gethsemane, born of another garden, Eden. A garden of obedience made necessary because of a garden of disobedience. A garden of divine prayer, God’s response to a garden of human pride.

And as I chew on it, I imagine what Jesus could have prayed.

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and troubled. He said to them, “I am deeply grieved to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with me.” Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me . . . provide Me here and now with more than twelve legions of angels.” 

(Matthew 26:36-39a, 53b CSB)

Peter pulled a sword when they came to arrest Jesus (Mt. 26:51, Jn. 18:10), a single sword. Jesus could have called 72,000 angels. With a whisper He could have beckoned a football stadium of mighty, spiritual warriors. With a word to His Father, Gethsemane could have been flooded with a cohort of 6,000 heavenly beings to protect Jesus, along with eleven other cohorts, one to stand fast for each of His disciples.

“Father, let ’em have it!” That’s what Jesus could have prayed.

But that’s not what Jesus prayed.

He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.” . . . Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” . . . He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 

(Matthew 26:39, 42, 44 CSB)

Three times He prayed as He anticipated the cross. Three times He petitioned His Father with the same petition as “being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground” (Lk. 22:44). Three times He could have prayed, send My horse, dispatch My army, give Me My sword. Instead, He embraced the cross.

Not as I will, but as You will.

Praise God Jesus didn’t pray what He could have prayed.

He could have called ten thousand angels
To destroy the world and set Him free.
He could have called ten thousand angels,
But He died alone, for you and me.

(A hymn from my past by Ray Overholt, 1959)

Behold, what manner of love!

O’ what wondrous grace!

To Jesus be all praise!

To God be the glory!


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Active Waiting

It wasn’t the wilderness just because it was physically the wilderness. No, beyond the barrenness around him was the abiding sense of a desert within him. His world had been turned upside down as he was forced to flee his kingdom. And while he was confident that he would again rejoice in God (Ps. 63:11), what’s caught my attention this morning is David’s approach to waiting on God while in the wilderness.

I eagerly seek You . . . I thirst for You . . . my body faints for You . . .
I gaze on You . . .
My lips will glorify You . . . I will bless You . . . my mouth will praise You . . .
I think of You . . . I meditate on You . . .
I follow close to You . . .

(Psalm 63:1-8 CSB)

Far from passively waiting for God to work out whatever God was going to work out, David pursues God in his waiting.

The loss of equilibrium brings about an intense desire to plant his feet firmly again on his Rock. And so, earnestly, diligently, David looks to connect with God. Thirsting for living water sourced from heavenly places. Fainting for manna sufficient for the day’s need. Rather than longing for Jerusalem, David sets his face afresh upon Jehovah.

With his mind’s eye, he sees again the strength and glory of God which had been revealed during those many times he worshiped God in the sanctuary (v.2). Thus, he refuses to let circumstance curtail the sacrifice of the fruit of his lips, glorying, blessing, and praising God “because Your faithful love is better than life” (v.4).

When he lies alone in his wilderness bed, he thinks of his heavenly Father. When he can’t sleep at night, he meditates on the One who has always been his helper — reminding himself that even in the wilderness there is still rest in “the shadow of Your wings” (v.6-7).

And so, even though he wanders in the wilderness, David follows close to God. Clinging to God, because he knows God’s right hand is holding on to him (v.8).

Active waiting. That’s what David did in the wilderness.

By God’s grace. For God’s glory.

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No One!

Sometimes, when all you can do is groan, you just need to remember: no domination, no accusation, no condemnation, no separation.

Finishing up Romans 8 this morning. Considering the sufferings of this present time and that they are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed (8:18). Acknowledging though, that at this present time “we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (8:23). Praying when we don’t know how to pray. Trusting the Spirit to carry the conversation when we’re tongue-tied (8:26-27). Knowing that all things will eventually work together for good for those who love God (8:28).

But in the meantime, we need to deal with the meantime. And so, Paul would have us ask ourselves four questions.

If God is for us, who is against us?
Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect?
Who is the one who condemns?
Who can separate us from the love of Christ?

(Romans 4:31a, 33a, 34a, 35a CSB)

Same answer for all four questions. No one!

It’s an answer of the head that needs to be transmitted to the heart in times of groaning, in times when the heart is weak, in times when hoping is hard and faith seems to falter.

This one answer to these four questions provides a foothold, a sure foundation. For this one answer, no one, is firmly established on the finished work of that great Someone, the Lord Jesus Christ. And so, as I read in the Psalms this morning, we pray:

. . . from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I . . .

(Psalm 61:2 ESV)

The Rock which reminds us that though there is much opposition, the victory will be ours. If God is for us, no one can bring domination.

The Rock which silences the charges of those who would discredit us. For there is no charge to be brought concerning God’s elect. No one can bring an accusation.

The Rock which assures us that the price has been paid in full, leaving no portion of the debt unpaid. No one can call for condemnation.

The Rock which envelopes us, leaving no place where we are and He is not. No one can bring about separation.

No one!

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

(Romans 8:37 ESV)

We are more than conquerors. Sometimes when the heart groans, the head needs to send that reminder.

For who is greater than our God? Who is able to save like our Savior? Who is able to intercede like the Spirit? No one!

All because of grace. Only for His glory.

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