VIDEO Pardon Me, O My God

Jan 6, 2009

A hymn written by Tieleman J. van Braght, a Dutch Mennonite elder who wrote the Martyrs’ Mirror, a record of the lives of over 4,000 16th century Anabaptist-Mennonites who were tortured and died for their biblical beliefs.

Paranoia In Reverse

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. —1 John 4:18

I remember watching television news reports in 1991 as the nonviolent revolution took place in the streets of Moscow. Russians who had grown up in totalitarianism suddenly declared, “We will act as if we are free,” taking to the streets and staring down tanks. The contrast between the faces of the leaders inside and the masses outside showed who was really afraid, and who was really free.

Watching the newsreels from Red Square on Finnish television, I came up with a new definition of faith: paranoia in reverse. A truly paranoid person organizes his or her life around a common perspective of fear. Anything that happens feeds that fear.

Faith works in reverse. A faithful person organizes his or her life around a common perspective of trust, not fear. Despite the apparent chaos of the present moment, God does reign. Regardless of how I may feel, I truly matter to a God of love.

What could happen if we in God’s kingdom truly acted as if the words of the apostle John were literally true: “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). What if we really started living as if the most-repeated prayer in Christendom has actually been answered—that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven? By Philip Yancey

Far, far above thy thought
His counsel shall appear,
When fully He the work hath wrought
That caused thy needless fear. —Gerhardt

Feeding your faith helps starve your fears.

The Gift of Forgiveness

Colossians 3:12-17

Webster defines gift as “something given to show friendship, affection, support, etc.” Using this definition, it seems logical to give gifts only to people we love, not to those who hurt or abuse us. Yet Scripture clearly tells us to offer one of the greatest possible gifts—forgiveness—to those who mistreat us.

To forgive means “to give up all claims to punish or exact a penalty for an offense.” No strings or conditions can be attached, or else it ceases to be a pardon. Ephesians 2:8-9 expands on this by contrasting the gift of salvation with works. Neither salvation nor forgiveness can be earned; both must be freely given. God granted us forgiveness, which we did not deserve and could not earn. And in much the same way, we are to release every offender from any form of penalty.

Unforgiveness is emotional bondage that consumes minds with memories of offenses, distorts emotions with revenge, and fills hearts with churning unrest. Its tentacles reach deep into the soul, affecting both spiritual and physical health. But the one who chooses to put on love and offer forgiveness is ready to receive the peace of Christ. Let God’s Word help you release hurt and anger into His caring hands—then watch as vengeful thoughts are transformed into praise and gratitude to the Lord.

Thankfully, the gift of pardon is not something we have to manufacture in ourselves. This present is wrapped in the love of God and tied with the red ribbon of Christ’s sacrifice. It is freely given to us by the Savior, and our job is simply to pass it on to others.

The Throne of Grace

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

The Lord Jesus Christ is able to help in every time of need for two reasons. First, as the Creator, He is fully able to do anything. Secondly, He has solved, once and for all, the dilemma of the sin which had separated us from God’s holiness, by paying the price Himself for our salvation.

To do that, He had to become man so that He could first overcome temptations such as those to which we succumb. He could not pay the price for man’s sin if He were not a man, nor could He pay it if He were a sinner. He must be a man, but a sinless man—a criterion no other man could satisfy.

Therefore, He was tempted in all points as we are. This does not mean, however, that He felt a real inward temptation to sin. He was “tested” under the most extreme circumstances to which humans could be subjected, and He always passed the test. He could never have failed, because He is also God, but now all men, and angels, and devils know that He cannot fail.

Thus He fully understands every one of our needs, and He is indeed able and willing to help. As we come boldly to receive His amazing grace, we must first “obtain mercy” (v. 16), confessing and receiving forgiveness for our sins (1 John 1:9). Then, we are ready to boldly request grace to help in every other need. Our faithful High Priest has been there before us. He knows (not just “knows about”) our problems, and is always there to help, waiting for us to come. Since “he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted,” and can “save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Hebrews 2:18; 7:25). HMM

He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls

Do all things without murmurings and disputing.—Philippians 2:14.
He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.—Proverbs 25:28.

BEHOLD., the paths of life are ours,—we see
Our blest inheritance where’er we tread,
Sorrow and danger our security,
And disappointment lifting up our head.
ANNA L. WARING.

ONE valuable way of practicing self-control is in checking grumbling, and an unnecessary display of vexation at petty inconveniences. A workman has fulfilled his task imperfectly, some order is wrongly executed, some one keeps you waiting unreasonably; people are careless or forgetful, or do what they have in hand badly. Try not to be disturbed; be just, and show the persons to blame where they are wrong, even (if it be needful) make them do the thing over again properly; but refrain from diffuse or vehement expressions of displeasure. A naturally quick, impetuous person will find that to cultivate a calm external habit is a great help towards gaining the inward even spirit he needs. H.L. SIDNEY LEAR.

A repining life is a lingering death. BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE.

He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness

He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Psalm 107:9

Ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; to see thy power and thy glory. — My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the LORD: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God. — Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better.

I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. — They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. — They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. —My people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.

1 Peter 2:3. Psalm 63:1,2. Psalm 84:2. Philippians 1:23. Psalm 17:15. Revelation 7:16,17. Psalm 36:8. Jeremiah 31:14.

I am with thee to save thee

I am with thee to save thee. Jeremiah 15:20

Shall the prey be taken from the mighty, or the lawful captive delivered? But thus saith the LORD, Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered: for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee. And all flesh shall know that I the LORD am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob. — Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. — In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. — The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.

Isaiah 49:24-26. Isaiah 41:10. Hebrews 4:15. Hebrews 2:18. Psalm 37:23,24.