You can tell when someone is praying if they “know God” or just “know about Him.” The author of Psalm 94 “knows God” intimately. He knows that in the end when all else around him is falling apart he can trust God who is the Avenger of all that is wrong. The author is really asking us this: When your life turns upside down where or to whom do you turn? Psalm 94 answers that question poignantly and with faith: Lord God You alone are my avenger of all that is so wrong even if I do not see it now. I can trust you to right all wrongs in your time frame.
But, in our instant gratification world in which we live, we find ourselves asking the “why” question: how long will the wicked celebrate, spew out threats, speak defiantly and boast and in the process they crush believers in body and spirit. Beloved it is then that we must recall the faith and truth of the author of Ps 94 and Romans 11, “the Lord does not forsake his people, he does not abandon those who belong to him.”
When we face a world that seems upside down remember “your loyal love, O Lord, supports me. When worries threaten to overwhelm me, your soothing touch makes me happy.” Claim the promise: O Lord you alone are the God who avenges and wait on Him.
© Mark Rasmussen | Dreamstime Stock Photos + words of Ps 94
Now we enter Romans 11 and Paul continues his argument to draw the Jew into realizing that Jesus was the Messiah and this is why they should believe. He would be willing if he could to offer his own salvation for them. His heart was not only broken but soft as he saw them dying and entering a Christ-less eternity. In Rom 11 he continues his argument reminding them that God has not abandoned them “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” But, because they are still wandering in the wilderness as their ancestors, God has opened wide the door to salvation for the Gentiles and will continue to let the unbelieving Jew sadly harden their hearts until the fullness of the Gentiles is complete.
Can we find any promises in all of this? First there was and always will be a remnant who have bowed the knee and called Jesus Lord of all! Second God is faithful to the end because he is a promise keeper. Thirdly we cannot even begin to understand the plan of God and must trust in this truth: the “secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants.” And here is the reason why: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!”
The question before us is this: Will we believe that Jesus was the Messiah? Romans is a classic legal argument as to why.
Piper’s series on Romans is a must to read and know more. You can find him at http://www.desiringgod.org/
In Romans 9 we saw the broken heart of Paul but today we want to focus in on the heart of those, that is you and me, who bear the message of salvation and we stand at a crossroads in Romans 10.
The question is this: is it all about me first? I think it is and here is why I think that. It begins with a soft heart of the messenger, you and me, to share the overwhelming evidence of the love of God and it first begins in chapter 1 “ For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made.” Then you and I must recall the challenge that Jesus left us: You should go, make disciples, baptize them and teach them. [Matt 28 paraphrased] And lastly we must also think outside our comfort zone and ask these questions: “How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”
Are our hearts soft so we are aware of those who still need to hear? Are we being obedient to go or are we waiting on the “call”? The call has been given and here is the promise: As it is written, “so faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.” and “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” They hear what we proclaim: Christ came, Christ died, Christ rose again so that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
So in the end it really is about “you and me” first because until our heart is as burdened as Paul’s we will not move out of our comfort zones into the lost realm where Satan has a hold on the souls of those lost.
Perhaps you know of someone, like I do, who shared his kidney “just because” it was as he said.,..the right thing to do. He stepped up and offered a kidney to save another whose life hung in the balance. But here is the question: what if God said you could give your salvation to someone who is in need—would you like Paul be willing to spend eternity in hell so they could spend eternity in heaven?
Thankfully we know that for certain that we are redeemed and sealed and our salvation is secure–and this would not be a possibility but there still is that question: would we be willing? What does our response say about our heart?
As Paul continues to pour out his heart to the unbelieving Jew his heart is literally broken as he knows what lies before them if they do not repent. So it is with us who have unbelieving loved ones, friends and those across the world that are following false religions seeking to earn their place in paradise/heaven. But, is our heart as broken as Paul’s? Does it send us to our knees praying diligently for them daily because we know they are seeking eternity on their own terms and they will with all certainty fail? One day they will only hear “I never knew you” from the lips of the Savior because “they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible) by works.” In contrast “the one who believes in him will not be put to shame.”
May we earnestly not only contend for the faith but pray for those who are walking in darkness.
Prov 20:6 “Many people profess their loyalty, but a faithful person – who can find?” They are like the pearl of great price. They are “a righteous man who walks in his integrity…” [vs 7]. To find these faithful ones we must be willing to search with “the ear that hears and the eye that sees—the Lord has made them both.” We must be discerning because many are they that are duplicitous or hypocritical.
Listen to the words of Jesus: “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.” [Luke 6]
Thus we who would be wise should know this precious truth: “There is gold, and an abundance of rubies, but words of knowledge are like a precious jewel” and it is in Jesus Christ that we can find all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. [Col 2] So if we want to find this faithful person we must hide these pearls of wisdom and entrust ourselves to the Illuminating Holy Spirit for revelation.
A TV series was aptly titled “As the World Turns” and so it is with those whose lives are bound up by the adversary the Devil. They live in hostility against a holy God whose “wrath…is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness,” [Rom 1]. But we who are in Christ Jesus are no longer under God’s condemnation! “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him” [Jn 3]
Beloved, we have received this sacrificial gift of redemption! Even when our adversary comes bringing a Scarlet Letter to hang about our neck to condemn us we have this truth: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We no longer need to be “afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” [Mt 10] Instead we can recite the words of Micah “I will wait for the God who delivers me..” And this why we can echo “If God is for us, who can be against us?….[we are] “convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Have you ever tried to talk to a non-believer about sin? We might say “they just don’t get it” and part of the problem is that an unbeliever’s standards are others but the believer’s standard is Christ. As Paul noted he too “would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” And that Beloved is the starting point for all of us. The Law revealed that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The master of sin, Satan, “ has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God” [2Co 4] and the consequence is spiritual death. But, Beloved, when the Holy Spirit revealed to us our depravity we fell upon our knees and sought God’s forgiveness which was freely given to us and then we embraced His grace like a man dying of thirst who finds an oasis.
Do we still struggle? As Paul noted the struggle will continue until we go home to eternity or Christ returns for us. One saving grace is this: “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.” [1Jn 1]
Photo: Trudywilkerson | Dreamstime.com
Jeremiah noted that we have lived so long in our sinful state that we don’t even blush at sin! Yet as he reminded the people they were standing at a crossroads and they should consider their path.[Jer 6] Paul is giving us similar advice by saying that we are not to remain in sin for we are now alive in Christ not because “works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. “ [Titus 3] Sin now has no mastery over us UNLESS we purposefully yield to it. Beloved we are to “not let sin reign…do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness!”
If we do the words of John should echo in our ears: “The one who says “I have come to know God” and yet does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in such a person.” So the test is really this: if we are living, moving, and enjoying sin we might want to check our status and see if we are living a life that is merely a charade because he who is alive in Christ “is a new creation; what is old has passed away –“ [2Co 5] and dead people do not sin.