Did you know you can get dressed up as a Christian? You can put on your neatly pressed, fully cleaned heart like a garment especially tailored for you!
“Put on therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, long-suffering;”
The heart you put on is not like your own human heart. Rather your tailored heart is like Christ’s — “a heart of compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and long-suffering.” Christ’s heart makes you “God’s elect, holy and beloved.”
God has a purpose for your life. Of that I am certain. Because His purposes are perfect, it follows that “all things work together into good” for those who are “called saints.” God perfectly manages events, people, tragedies, successes, changes in your life in a manner that ultimately leads to good for you, one of His saints.
“And we know, that to men that love God, all things work together into good, to them that after purpose be called saints.”
Your perspective however may not allow for you to fully appreciate the good. At times, suffering is so intense it’s easy to lose sight of the “good and perfect will of God.” At these moments, remember Jesus dying a slow painful and lonely death on the cross. Remember His words to the thief at His side, “Today, you will be with Me in paradise.” Jesus never loses sight of the good He’s pursuing.
Notice the great, the precious promise — you can be a partaker of the divine nature! You can escape the corruption that is in the world! You can be called to glory and virtue! And this is accomplished through God’s divine power. He gives us knowledge of Him and also “all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” To His gift of faith, we find added both virtue and knowledge. Give diligence, says Peter, to these three. He writes:
“3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;”
“13For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.”
Jesus says if you can’t or won’t forgive those who’ve wronged you, then neither will God forgive you for the wrongs you’ve done against Him. If you can’t or won’t show mercy to your enemies, then God will not show you His mercy. Judgment without mercy ought to terrify your heart. Mercy without judgment ought to cause your heart to rejoice.
Jesus does not come to earth to judge; rather He comes to earth to show mercy. Since He is God, and we are not; it only follows we should not judge.
Imagine the cherubim of the Lord and the flaming sword barring the entrance to Eden, keeping Adam and Eve from returning to the garden, cutting off access to the tree of life. Here is the beginning of the ‘day of the Almighty’ as described repeatedly in His Word. This day is near; it comes like a tempest. We are banished from paradise and from the presence of the Lord God. What a day, says Joel.
“15 A! A! A! to the day; for the day of the Lord is nigh, and shall come as a tempest from the (Al)mighty. (O! O! O! what a day! for the day of the Lord is near, and it shall come like a tempest from the Almighty.)”
Death begins; we are eternally damned, separated from God. The tree of life is outside our reach. A flaming sword flashes back and forth to guard the way so that we do not live forever. We are actually kept from God and prevented from eternity.
The day of the Almighty is close. What a day! A day of nakedness and shame. God asks Adam, “Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:11, NIV) Now we know both good and evil; and evil dominates our lives.
Paul cries out, “When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” (Romans 7:21) “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24)
The only rescue from the day of the Lord is through the finished work of Jesus the Christ. Jesus Himself declares as He dies on the cross of Calvary, “It is accomplished.”
People worship gods of their own making; the reasons for this are explained in sociology textbooks — I’m sure. Maybe people worship stone carvings or imaginary beings because people can’t handle life on their own in this big universe. At any rate, apparently most people believe in a god, a higher power. Peter writes to the Christian:
“But hallow [honor] ye the Lord Christ in your hearts, and evermore be ye ready to [do] satisfaction to each man asking you reason of that faith and hope that is in you, but with mildness and dread,”
I can’t remember the last time anyone asked me why I have faith and hope in me. I’m not certain anyone is aware that I have hope and faith in me. I look in the mirror; I look about the same as everyone else. My work culture calls for behaviors that most Christians recognize as “Christ-like,” so I don’t particularly stand out there.
My defense, my satisfaction, is usually in written form — typed on WordPress and added on Facebook. I don’t know if I satisfy those who might want to understand the reason for my hope in Christ. Only one reason comes to mind: I hope in Christ because He takes hold of my life and never lets go.
The essential or basic sin is idolatry — putting something or even someone before or above God. David asks God to search him, to know his heart, to test him and recognize his concerns. Of course, God sees David’s offenses clearly. David expects God to not only see his idolatry, but also to lead him out of it and into the way of everlasting life. David sings:
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my concerns. 24 See if there is any offensive[idolatrous] way in me;
lead me in the everlasting way.
Jesus comes to earth to lead us out of death and into everlasting life. He comes so we may have life and have it abundantly.
God tells Joshua no one will be able to stand against him for God is with him in all things “to which [he] goes.” God commands him to be comforted by his knowledge of this truth, and so not to dread or fear anything he may face.
“Lo! I command to thee; be thou comforted, and be thou strong; do not thou dread, nor be thou afeared; for thy Lord God is with thee in all things, to which thou goest. (Lo! I command thee; be thou encouraged, and be thou strong; do not thou fear, nor be thou afraid; for the Lord thy God is with thee in all things, to which thou goest.)”
If you believe God is with you in all things, then fear is impossible. Only comfort makes sense.
God is clear. He calls those who thirst and who are poor to come to Him. He asks rhetorically why those who are poor should spend what little they may have for things that do not satisfy? He says, “Come to Me.” And, He tells every one of us we need not pay. The covenant He “smites” us with is free!
“1 All that thirst, come ye to waters [All ye thirsting, cometh to waters], and ye that have not silver, haste, buy ye, and eat ye; come ye, buy ye, without silver and without any (ex)changing, wine and milk. (All ye who thirst, come to the waters, and ye who have no silver, hasten, buy ye, and eat ye; come ye, and buy ye, wine and milk, without any silver, yea, without any exchanging of money.)
2 Why weigh ye (out) silver, and not in loaves, and your travail, not in fullness? (Why spend ye your silver, but not for loaves, and the fruits of your labour, but ye be not fulfilled?) Ye hearing hear me, and eat ye (that which is) good, and your soul shall delight in fatness.
3 Bow ye [in] your ear, and come ye to me; hear ye, and your soul shall live; and I shall smite with you a covenant everlasting (and I shall strike with you an everlasting covenant), the faithful mercies of David.”
I don’t think Job says it much differently than “God proves me as I pass through fire” as I indicate via the title of this little note. Job must feel as if the fires of hell are descending upon him as his children, his servants, his animals die, and as his own body is attacked. Yet, he denies sin. He cries out:
10 But [God] knoweth my way, and he shall prove me as gold (and he shall assay me like gold), that passeth through the fire.
11 My foot followed his steps; I kept (to) his way, and I bowed not away from it.
Job claims to follow God’s steps, to keep to His way, and to not stray from the truth. His friends protest, saying that can’t possibly be true; but God scolds them.
Job continues to maintain his innocence until God confronts with this: “Who are you to question Me?” God says to Job, “Brace yourself like a man; I question you, and you will answer Me.” (Job 38:3, NIV)