Grace For The Journey
Our greatest barrier to knowing God better
May be how much we know
About how much God knows about us.
We struggle with God because we feel so bad about ourselves, and if we know the truth about ourselves, think of how much more God knows us!
We can’t fool Him. Sometimes we don’t want to pray, or read the Bible, or think about God because of our view of ourselves. When we look in the mirror, a lot of times we feel like saying, “You’re a big disappointment” or “You ought to be a lot better by now.”
We’ve all felt that way from time to time, and I imagine that many people reading these words feel that way right now. It’s been a hard week, or a bad month, and it seems like a time of waste or failure. Someone has captured the truth in one simple sentence:
“I think we run from God
Rather than to Him
Because we know
Our own hearts
All too well
And His barely at all.”
I probably don’t need to spend any time convincing you that you are a sinner. You probably know that truth about yourself all too well. But . . .
It’s the other truth that we need to talk about.
We don’t know God’s heart very well.
That’s where Psalm 103 can help us tremendously. We will take the next two blogs to discover the valuable truths in the wonderful passage from God’s Word.
Perhaps no other
Chapter in the Bible
So clearly reveals
For His people.
If you’re wondering what God thinks about you, take a journey through Psalm 103 and discover the liberating truths about God’s heart. I want to use today’s blog to focus briefly on these powerful principles.
- God Loves to Help the Needy.
Verses 6-7 say, “The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel.”
The “oppressed” are those who can’t help themselves. In the Old Testament the word especially referred to widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. When we are tempted to take advantage of others because we are strong and they are weak, God says, “Think about this first.” He takes the side of the weak. Our God keeps His eyes on the helpless, and when others hurt them, He moves to balance the scales of justice. Someone has said, “The arm of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.” There are days and times when this is hard to believe, but this truth stands like a solid rock for the believer. We know this much . . .
Eventually God will bring everything to light,
And He will judge with impartiality.
In that day there will be no hiding,
No excuse-making, no bribes,
And no way of escape.
All those who labor for a better world and a more just society and those who stretch out a helping hand – you have to believe this or you can’t go on. The words of James Russell Lowell come to mind:
“Truth forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne –
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and, behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own.”
Are you needy? The answer is yes whether you know it or not. You are needy and God is on your side. That’s a great place to start.
- He Shows Mercy to Those Who Don’t Deserve It.
Verse 8 declares, “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”
Don’t miss the four great attributes of God that are declared in this verse:
1) The Lord is compassionate – He pardons us.
2) The Lord is gracious – He gives us what we don’t deserve.
3) The Lord is slow to anger – He is patient with us when we fall.
4) The Lord abounds in love – He loves us more than we can imagine.
- There’s no fishing like fishing in the sea.
- There’s no eating like eating at the king’s table.
- There’s no love like God’s love.
- When He saves, He saves completely.
- When He forgives, He forgives all my sins.
- When We sets free, We are free forever.
The King James Version translates the last phrase of verse 8 by saying that God is “plenteous in mercy.” Charles Spurgeon (in The Treasury of David) takes that phrase and offers this application:
All the world tastes of His sparing mercy,
Those who hear the gospel partake of His inviting mercy,
The saints live by His saving mercy,
Are preserved by His upholding mercy,
Are cheered by His consoling mercy, and
Will enter heaven through His infinite and everlasting mercy.
I like that! Six kinds of mercy in just one sentence! That’s plenteous mercy for anyone who needs it.
- He Tempers His Wrath.
Verses 9-10 say, “He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever. He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”
Have you ever known anyone who loved to argue? We all know people who love to keep a quarrel going because they are so angry. God is not like that . . .
He is willing to end the quarrel
And welcome us back home.
Sometimes the real problem is
That we want to keep fighting him.
He’s more ready to forgive
Than we are to be forgiven!
- When we forget to pray, He remembers to feed us.
- When we forge to give thanks, He sends us restful sleep.
- When we idle in sin, he sends His Holy Spirit to convict us.
- When we refuse to give, He keeps on giving still.
- When we fall, He lifts us up.
- When we disappoint ourselves and others, He still calls us his children.
God even blesses those who don’t believe in Him.
An unbeliever like Christopher Hitchens writes a book called God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and merrily debates every religious-type person he can find. He is clever, witty, a gifted wordsmith, widely read, quick with a comeback, and completely committed to debunking religion of every type and even more committed to the concept that God is simply not necessary. But, in spite of his attitude and actions, the mercy of God is very vividly seen in his life. Instead of crushing him like an empty eggshell, the Lord feeds him and nourishes him and gives him health, life, and love. It is the longsuffering of God that allows Christopher Hitchens to deny Him. And why would God show such kindness to someone utterly dedicated to eradicating His influence in the world? Because God is not in the least intimidated by Christopher Hitchens. or Richard Dawkins, or Sam Harris. They are part of the atheist crowd . . . they shout their unbelief at God on ground He provides from them, with the breath the He provides for them, with words that He has enabled them to speak.
The fact that God withholds
Punishment to His enemies,
Is evidence of His mercy.
And why does God do this?
The Bible tells us in Romans 2:4, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”
What are the verses we have looked at in Psalm 103 telling us?
We are richer than we think,
We are more blessed than we know,
We have more than we realize.
We frail, mortal sinners
In the mercy of God.
And we have found that mercy – or rather, that mercy has found us, in the cross of Jesus Christ. During one of his sermons Billy Graham told the story of a patrolman on night duty in a town in northern England. As he walked the streets, he heard a quivering sob. Shining his flashlight into the darkness, he saw a little boy in the shadows sitting on a doorstep and tears were running down his cheek. The child said, “I’m lost. Please take me home.” The policeman began naming street after street, trying to help the boy remember where he lived. He named the shops and the hotels in the area but the little boy could give him no clue. Then he remembered that at the center of the town there was a church with a large white cross that towered above the rest of the city. The policeman pointed to the cross and said, “Do you live anywhere near that place?” The little boy’s face immediately brightened up. He said, “Yes, sir. Take me to the cross and I can find my way home.”
Oh! That is God’s Word for us today!
Go to the cross
And you will find
Your way home to God.
All that we believe, all that we have, all that we hope for is found in the cross of Christ.
- Are you weak? So am I.
- Are you needy? So am I.
- Are you guilty? So am I.
- Are you frail? So am I.
- Are you like dust? So am I.
And God says to us, his weak, needy, guilty, frail, children of dust, “I know you through and through, and I love you anyway. Come to me. Rest in me. Make me your Rock.”
God’s mercy in Christ
Is more than enough
For all of us!
We will finish looking at the truths in Psalm 103 in tomorrow’s blog.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”