David, an adulterer and murderer, boldly claims:
I am ready, and I am not troubled; to keep thy commandments. (I am ready, and I have not delayed, to obey thy commandments.)
What gives David his confidence? Is his confidence in himself? Is he honest when he claims he is ready? Does he correctly assess himself when he says, “I am not troubled; to keep thy commandments”?
In what, in whom is David’s confidence?
I don’t remember the exact date God asked me to do this, but He did. I used to think I must be arrogant to believe God asked me to write about a single verse every day. I used to obey every day but I’ve fallen off now and again only to get back to it, recalling this morning what He clearly commands in His Word:
Go on, then, encouraging one another and building up one another’s faith.
Noah condemns the world by his faith in God’s Word. God tells Noah to build an ark, to gather two of every kind of fauna, to put his family into the ark, and to wait while the world drowns via non-stop rain for forty days and forty nights. When Noah obeys God, he condemns the world — the world which does not believe and obey. “The waters surge upon the earth 150 days.” (Genesis 7:24) And, “[God] wipes out every living thing that is on the surface of the ground, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they are wiped off the face of the earth. Only Noah is left, and those that are with him in the ark.” (Genesis 7:23) For over ten months, Noah waits in the ark for God to release him and those with him. Forty days after the tops of the mountains are finally visible, Noah sends out a dove who returns. The second dove he sends out returns with an olive leaf; the third dove does not return at all. Noah waits a few months longer before God tells him to exit the ark with those saved through Noah’s obedience to God’s Word.
The world drowns in God’s rain; and by his faith, Noah condemns the world.
I’m not completely sure I understand why it is that the faith Noah has condemns the world except that his faith leads him to obey God in spite of the world’s derision. That Noah does not stand on a pedestal and shout, ‘repent for the end of the world is at hand!’ is revealing. Rather than striving to save the world from its destruction, Noah strives to do God’s will, continuing to build the ark in preparation for the flood he has been told is coming upon the whole world. Noah regards God as more important than his neighbors and friends, building the ark even as the world goes about its business of ignoring God.
By his faith, Noah saves himself and his family.
“He makes us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life.”
Jesus says, “Don’t assume that I come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I do not come to destroy but to fulfill. For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches to do so is called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commands is called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5: 17-19) Then He tells us to surpass the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees — who make an extraordinary effort to obey the letter of the Law.
The letter kills, says Paul. The letter of the Law kills because we can not fully obey it. Even “the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter” is capable of killing us. Jesus says even if we do not actually murder another person, our simple anger at that person is enough to make us “subject to judgment.” Even calling that extremely rude and bad driver in front of us a “fool” makes us “subject to ‘hellfire.'” (Matthew 5: 21, 22) Jesus even says that “anything more than [‘yes’ and ‘no’] is from the evil one.” (Matthew 5:37)
No wonder Paul laments, wondering who is able to rescue him from this body of death. The new covenant says that Jesus is our rescuer. No amount of self-effort will result in our righteousness. Only “the Spirit produces life.”
Jesus says, with His last human breath, “It is accomplished.”
“The Spirit produces life.”
“All of you should be like-minded and sympathetic, should love believers, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult, but, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you are called for this, so you can inherit a blessing.” ( 1 Peter 3: 8 – 9 )
Peter calls us to hold to sound doctrine and so be “like-minded;” but he also calls us to be “sympathetic,” recognizing that on some less critical matters, we may disagree with one another yet with understanding. We decide to be “sympathetic.” Peter calls us to “be compassionate and humble.” Often pride is what separates us from one another. We claim to be closer to Christ than another, and so build a wall — our spiritual pride destroying Christian fellowship.
Sometimes, we even go so far as to insult one another. And, we often pretend that it is because we have a special knowledge to which another Christian is not privy. Sometimes, we go so far as to call another Christian “evil.” In doing so, we “pay back evil for evil.”
Peter calls us to “love believers” and to “give a blessing”: actions which are completely contrary to pride and revenge. As we give blessings, Peter reminds us that we then “can inherit a blessing.”
As Greg Surratt, senior pastor of Seacoast Church, said in a recent sermon, “Blessing follows obedience.”
Jesus says, “If anyone loves Me, he keeps My Word. My Father loves him, and We come to Him and make Our home with him.”
“As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be committed and repent. Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me. The victor I give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I also won the victory and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3: 19 – 21)
Belief, commitment, endurance, repentance under discipline, listening, opening, communing — these are the keeping of God’s Word of which Jesus speaks.
Jesus commands us to listen. We are reminded to be still and know God. His Word speaks to us in stillness and silence. “If anyone hears My voice,” says Jesus. Without hearing, how can we believe? Open the door when He knocks; let Him come in. Sit at His feet, and listen.
When Samuel is a child, God calls him three times. This is a time when “the Word of the Lord [is] seldom heard, and no vision [is] granted.” (1 Samuel 3: 1) Samuel is in the service of Eli; sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the Ark of the Covenant is kept. Samuel does not know the Lord; the Word of the Lord has not been disclosed to him. Yet, God calls him three times.
God calls a child who does not know Him; He calls him into His service. God appoints Samuel His prophet even before the child knows Him.
When God calls, Eli instructs the child in his service to respond, “Speak; Your servant hears You.” (1 Samuel 3: 11)
Samuel obeys Eli. As he grows up, the Lord is with him. And all of Israel recognizes that Samuel is confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. “So the Lord continues to appear in Shiloh, because He revealed Himself there to Samuel.” (1 Samuel 3: 21)
The Lord calls; the Lord reveals Himself before we know Him; before His Word is disclosed to us.
As you seek to save your life, you lose it. As you give up your life for Jesus’ sake, you find it.
God provides a ram in the thicket for Abraham to sacrifice as a substitute for his son, Isaac whom he is willing to give up to God. Do not be mistaken — Abraham loves his son more than life itself. Isaac is Abraham’s only son. But he rightly fears and loves his God even more. As he raises his hand against his one and only son, God commands him not to strike Isaac.
Earlier when Isaac asks, where is the sacrificial animal, Abraham reasons with his son, saying that God provides “Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22: 8) And indeed God provides that sacrificial lamb — a ram caught in a thicket by its horns.
If Abraham seeks to save his son’s life, he loses. If he gives up his rights to his son’s life, he wins, gaining the very sacrifice a lost world seeks.
Because Abraham willingly gives up his son, God promises to bless, “multiplying…thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore…and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because thou obey My voice.” (Genesis 22: 17, 18)
“And Abraham calls the name of that place Jehovah-ji-reh, as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” (Genesis 22: 14)
“For God is not unkind, unjust, unrighteous.”
He remembers your works. He does not ignore them; He does not forget them. Only, your works — for God or for the saints — do not save you. They do not make God love you. Rather, God remembers your faithfulness to Him. He cherishes your loyalty. He honors your obedience.
God forgets your sins, but He remembers your works.
Yes, it is that simple!