Jan 12, 2017
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The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Exodus 34:6
When I studied Greek and Roman mythology in college, I was struck by how moody and easily angered the mythological gods were in the stories. The people on the receiving end of their anger found their lives destroyed, sometimes on a whim.
I was quick to scoff, wondering how anyone could believe in gods like that. But then I asked myself, Is my view of the God who actually exists much different? Don’t I view Him as easily angered whenever I doubt Him? Sadly, yes.
That’s why I appreciate Moses’s request of God to “show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). Having been chosen to lead a large group of people who often grumbled against him, Moses wanted to know that God would indeed help him with this great task. Moses’s request was rewarded by a demonstration of God’s glory. God announced to Moses His name and characteristics. He is “the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness” (34:6).
This verse reminded me that God is not impulsive, suddenly striking out in anger. That’s reassuring, especially when I consider the times I’ve lashed out at Him in anger or impatience. Also, He continually works to make me more like Himself.
We can see God and His glory in His patience with us, the encouraging word of a friend, a beautiful sunset, or—best of all—the whisper of the Holy Spirit inside of us.
Father God, I’m grateful that You are always compassionate, forgiving, and faithful.
Though we often change, God never does.
Being exposed to God’s perfect character drew two responses from Moses. He first responded with worship (34:8), and then he acknowledged the need for forgiveness (v. 9). These continue to be important responses toward our loving God who is perfectly holy, compassionate, and forgiving.
What is your response to God’s loving forgiveness?
Life is like an untraveled trail with twists and turns. Appealing activities can become detours that lead to the quicksand of sin. And engaging philosophies may start as small interests but turn into a mire of muddled thinking. Even the best route isn’t always sun-dappled meadows and quiet riverside lanes; we may have to journey over hard terrain or shadowed valleys. The only way to be sure we’re walking correctly is to follow one who knows the way perfectly.
God is the perfect full-service guide. No one can go wrong by keeping to the pathways He selects. Consider that He lovingly and intentionally created you for this time and this place. The Lord watches over your steps because He desires to see your purpose fulfilled and His plan come to fruition through you (Prov. 3:5-6). He has promised to counsel those who follow Him (Psalm 25:12), so when you sense God warning you away from a tempting sidetrack, realize it is because He foresees the dangers that lurk on that road.
There’s a correlation between ignoring the Lord’s guidance and ending up in trouble: The one who stumbles off course has trusted his own “sense of direction”—his emotions, desires, or personal version of morality. He has been pursuing what feels good or looks right instead of seeking the heavenly Father’s will.
God has mapped out the path before you. He is aware of every obstacle and miry pit, and He knows exactly which sidetracks will tempt you. What’s more, He has committed to walk beside you as a guide and comforter so that you never face the twists and turns of this life alone.
“If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:3)
The little phrase “if so be” (Greek ei per) is used four times in the New Testament, each time setting forth a vital spiritual result established on the basis of a vital spiritual premise. The premise in today’s verse is that a new Christian has truly experienced the saving grace of Christ. The result will be that these “newborn babes” will truly “desire the sincere milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2). The “word” (Greek logikos) is always both pure and reasonable.
Then, “ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Romans 8:9). When a person truly receives Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells his body, and the result is that he will henceforth live in the guidance of the Spirit instead of the flesh.
But this life in the Spirit will necessarily entail suffering for the sake of Christ, and this is the premise that assures our future inheritance and glorification. The indwelling Spirit bears witness that we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).
Finally, our future resurrection is assured by the certainty of the bodily resurrection of Christ. “We have testified of God,” Paul says, “that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not” (1 Corinthians 15:15). Christ’s resurrection is proved as well as any historical fact has ever been proved, so the dead surely rise also.
These “if so be’s” of Scripture, although seemingly expressed in the form of conditions, actually speak great assurances. The true Christian life is one of thirst for the logical words of God, guidance by the indwelling Spirit of God, certainty of future resurrection, and anticipation of a glorious inheritance in Christ. HMM
A terribly blasphemous letter written by Rabshakeh, Sennacherib’s captain, caused Hezekiah great distress, but he knew where to take his trouble.
2 Kings 19:14
This was a much better plan than attempting to answer his enemy in the same insulting language: an angry answer to an angry letter shews that the weakness and sin are not confined to one side of the quarrel. Praying over a letter is an infinitely wiser thing than going to law about it.
2 Kings 19:15-19
After acknowledging the power of the invader, and ascribing the overthrow of the gods of other nations to the fact that they were dead idols, the king appeals to Jehovah, the God of Israel, to prove his own reality and power by saving his people, lest the heathen should reckon him to be a God only in name. Appeals to God’s honour have muck power in them; it ought to be our greatest concern and our surest confidence. We are taught to begin prayer with “Hallowed be thy name,” and close it with “Thy kingdom come.”
2 Kings 19:20, 21
Weak as she is, she is under the Lord’s protection and defies thee.
2 Kings 19:22-24
These were Sennacherib’s feats of war, which he emblazoned on his palace walls; he gloried in the devastations he had caused. Vainglory this! More becoming a demon than one born of a woman. The lust of conquest obliterates compassion. Great, however, as Sennacherib thought himself to be, he was now to find his superior, and to learn whence his power had been derived.
2 Kings 19:25, 26
It had been by Jehovah’s power that he had conquered, he had been used as a scourge in the Lord’s hand, to chastise the wickedness of the nations.
2 Kings 19:27, 28
Like a huge monster, he might rage and roar, but he would be made to know his master, and go back to his den at the word of command.
2 Kings 19:29
Provisions were at famine prices, and it was too late to sow the fields, therefore the Lord sustained the people for two years, by giving the earth an unusual fertility, thus fulfilling his promise, “so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.”
2 Kings 19:30, 31
Yet again would the kingdom revive, the people would again take root in the soil, and grow upward in prosperity. It is well in spiritual things to unite the two growths, so as to take root downward in humility and experience, while we grow upward in zeal and enthusiasm.
Ye that love the cause of Zion,
Though despis’d of men, and few,
Arm’d with boldness like the lion,
Fear not all that men can do.
What though all the world oppose;
God is stronger than her foes.
Now, ye people, walk around her,
View her walls, and count her towers;
See how God, her King and founder,
Keeps her safe from hostile powers:
Zion’s children live secure;
God has made their dwelling sure.
Foes of Zion, fight no longer;
Here submission will be gain:
Zion’s King will prove the stronger,
And with power her cause maintain.
He secures her gates and walls:
‘Tis on you the ruin falls.
Lord, I forego all anxious thought,
And cast on thee my care;
Content that thou art over all,
And rulest everywhere.
Teach me to listen for thy voice
When the storm howleth loud;
Help me to look for light from thee,
Beneath the darkest cloud.
Thy face I seek with earnest prayer,
For thou art all my stay,
Now let thy mighty arm appear
And drive my griefs away.
At thy rebuke, O Jacob’s God,
Both horse and chariot fell:
Who knows the terrors of thy rod?
Thy vengeance who can tell?
What power can stand before thy sight,
When once thy wrath appears?
When heaven shines round with dreadful light,
The earth lies still and fears.
Happy the church, thou sacred place,
The seat of thy Creator’s grace;
Thine holy courts are his abode,
Thou earthly palace of our God!
Thy walls are strength, and at thy gates
A guard of heavenly warriors waits;
Nor shall thy deep foundations move
Fix’d on his counsels and his love.
Thy foes in vain designs engage,
Against his throne in vain they rage;
Like rising waves, with angry roar,
That dash and die upon the shore.
Then let our souls in Zion dwell,
Nor fear the wrath of Rome nor hell;
His arms embrace this happy ground,
Like brazen bulwarks built around.
Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)
I once wrote something about how God loves us and how dear we are to Him. I was not sure I should put it down on paper—but God knows what I meant.
I wrote: “The only eccentricity that I can discover in the heart of God is the fact that a God such as He is should love sinners such as we are!”
On this earth a mother will love the son who has betrayed her and shamed her and is now on his way to a life in prison. That seems to be a natural thing for a mother. But there is nothing natural about this love of God. It is a divine thing. It is forced out by the inward pressure within the heart of the God of all grace. That is why He waits for us, puts up with us, desires to lead us on—He loves us!
My brethren, this should be our greatest encouragement in view of all that we know about ourselves: God loves us without measure, and He is so keenly interested in our spiritual growth and progress that He stands by in faithfulness to teach and instruct and discipline us as His own dear children!
“Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37
Is there any instance of our Lord’s casting out a coming one? If there be so, we would like to know of it; but there has been none, and there never will be. Among the lost souls in hell there is not one that can say, “I went to Jesus, and He refused me.” It is not possible that you or I should be the first to whom Jesus shall break His word. Let us not entertain so dark a suspicion.
Suppose we go to Jesus now about the evils of today. Of this we may be sure — He will not refuse us audience, or cast us out. Those of us who have often been, and those who have never gone before — let us go together, and we shall see that He will not shut the door of His grace in the face of any one of us.
“This man receiveth sinners,” but He repulses none. We come to Him in weakness and sin, with trembling faith, and small knowledge, and slender hope; but He does not cast us out. We come by prayer, and that prayer broken; with confession, and that confession faulty; with praise, and that praise far short of His merits; but yet He receives us. We come diseased, polluted, worn out, and worthless; but He doth in no wise cast us out. Let us come again today to Him who never casts us out.