Our Greatest Blessings From God

“The Son of Man will die, just as the Scriptures say.” MATTHEW 26:24

God’s greatest blessings often come costumed as disasters. Any doubters need to do nothing more than ascend the hill of Calvary. Jerusalem’s collective opinion that Friday was this: Jesus is finished.

What other conclusion made sense? The religious leaders had turned him in. Rome had refused to bail him out. His followers had tucked their tails and scattered. He was nailed to a cross and left to die, which he did. They silenced his lips, sealed his tomb, and, as any priest worth the price of a phylactery would tell you, Jesus is history. Three years of power and promises are decomposing in a borrowed grave. Search the crucifixion sky for one ray of hope, and you won’t find it.

Such is the view of the disciples, the opinion of the friends, and the outlook of the enemies.

But God is not surprised. His plan is right on schedule. Even in—especially in—death, Christ is still the king, the king over his own crucifixion.


When We Are Abused

Luke 6:26-28

Knowing basic suggestions for handling abuse is wise. The problem is so widespread that even if you are not personally affected, someone closer than you realize probably is. Had I received this counsel early enough, perhaps I could have responded better to my stepfather’s abuse.

Seek God’s guidance. There is no standard answer for how to handle abusive situations, because they are all different. They range from irritating classroom bullying to life-threatening domestic violence, and are motivated by different reasons and emotions. Solutions also vary; severe conditions may warrant leaving the situation. Don’t simply do what others say they would do. Instead, ask, “Lord, what would You have me do?” Always check with God’s Word. He will never encourage doing anything that violates Scripture.

Pray for the abuser. As difficult as it seems, we are called to pray, even for our enemies. Ask that God’s love will make a difference in your oppressor’s life—that he or she will see the evil of the abuse and be set free from such harmful behavior. Pray that the Lord gives you understanding about the abuser’s motivation, which can be helpful as you deal with the situation.

This advice isn’t easy to follow; praying for the abuser goes against both our human nature and the popular message of our culture. However, there are former victims of abuse who testify that the Lord didn’t “waste” their suffering—and that some positive outcomes resulted from their experience (Rom. 8:28).

Song of the Rock

“And David spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies, and out of the hand of Saul.” (2 Samuel 22:1)

This is the first verse of a remarkable poem inserted here near the end of 2 Samuel. With certain significant exceptions, it is the same as the 18th Psalm. David wrote many wonderful psalms, but this is the only one also found in the historical books and so must have special significance. In view of 2 Samuel 23:1-2 (“these be the last words of David”), it may even be David’s last psalm, as slightly modified by him from Psalm 18, just before his death.

In 2 Samuel 22:2-3, he ascribed nine wonderful names to God: rock, fortress, deliverer, God of my rock, shield, horn of my salvation, high tower, refuge, Savior. In the midst of this unique list of metaphors appears his statement of faith: “In him will I trust.” Although this psalm flows from David’s personal experiences, these words are quoted in Hebrews 2:13 as coming from the lips of Christ in His human incarnation. Thus, the song is actually also a Messianic psalm. Its testimonies go far beyond the experiences of David, reflecting the mighty events of Christ in creation, at the judgment of the great Flood, and His work as our Redeemer. It is significant that the concluding name in David’s list is Savior, which is the Hebrew yasha—essentially the same as “Jesus.”

Two of the names (Hebrew cela and tsur) are translated “rock,” but refer to different kinds of rock. They are the same words used for the rocks from which God provided water for His people in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11), except that the order is reversed. One is the great rock of provision, the other the smitten rock of judgment. Our God of creation, Jesus Christ, is our daily sustenance but first must also be our sin-bearing Savior. HMM

Be ye kind one to another

Be ye kind one to another.—Ephesians 4:32.

THE remedy for sadness is prayer. But as sadness broods in selfishness, and is inclined to rest rather in our own unhappy thoughts than on God, the soul turns to prayer with reluctance. Hence the saddened one must first turn to God by vocal prayer, persevering in which that reluctance will be overcome; and as the sadness subsides, the spirit will enter anew into the heart of prayer. The second remedy against sadness is to break out of it by some external act of kindness or generosity.

For the malady consists in a morbid concentration upon one’s self, and a brooding within one’s self that repels sympathy and kindness, as being adverse to this melancholy mood, a mood that can only be cherished in isolation of spirit. But let the will make a little effort to be kind and considerate towards another; and it is amazing how soon that malignant charm is broken that held the soul spell-bound to her saddened thoughts and imaginary grievances.

A smile, a kind look, a few gentle words, a considerate action, though begun with effort, will suffice to open the soul, and set the spirit free from its delusion.

To cultivate kindness is a great part of the business of life.

The trees of the Lord are full of sap

The trees of the Lord are full of sap. Psalm 104:16

I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shalt be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. — Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.

Hosea 14:5,6. Jeremiah 17:7,8. Eze. 17:24. Psalm 92:12-14.

They that feared the Lord spake often one to another

They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord harkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. Malachi 3:16

It came to pass that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. — Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst ot them. — My fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and adonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. — Exhort one another daily, while it is called to day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. — Behold, it is written before me.

Luke 24:15. Matthew 18:20. Philippians 4:3. Colossians 3:16. Hebrews 3:13. Matthew 12:36,37. Isaiah 65:6.