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Our Suffering, our Doubts, and Jesus’s Struggle at the Cross. A Good friday Devotion


clydes-cross-2Devotional Thought for Good Friday:
1  My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? 2  Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief.    Psalm 22:1-2 (NLT)

22  Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: 23  Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. 24  He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. 25  Here in this great gathering for worship, I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers.   Psalm 22:22-25 (MSG)

He is pleased to withhold from us the milk and honey of his consolation, that, by weaning us in this manner, we may learn to feed on the more dry and solid bread of vigorous devotion, exercised under the trial of distaste and spiritual dryness. 3. That as violent temptations frequently arise amidst these desolating drynesses, we must resolutely fight against them, since they do not proceed from God; but nevertheless, we must patiently suffer them, since God has ordained them for our exercise.

The Bible tells us that Jesus was tested in every way we are, that he faced the same issues, the same temptations, the same situations which can cause us to doubt, or to want to run.

We see that today, in the passage that Jesus quotes from the cross.

He too had moments where the Father seemed to far away, where the illusion of being abandoned was strong.  Where the feeling that God has left us on our own to struggle dominated every other feeling we have.

I’ve often wondered why God allows us to go through these times.  Surely they don’t come from God, yet St Francis de Sales indicates they are ordained by God for our exercise.  God allows them to come upon us, as He did Job and Jesus, for a purpose.

IN Jesus case, the abandonment was seen for what it was, a pouring out of wrath that far exceeded the wrath of the Pharisees, Sanhedrin, and the Roman guards.  A wrath that one taken upon Jesus would kill him, yet like the grain in the sand, it would give life to us, and to all those who believe and are baptized.

In our case, the suffering intended to defeat us, intended to drive us away from God can and does (eventually) ordain for us to be drawn toward Him.   De Sales calls this being drawn a vigorous devotion, I beg to differ a little.  Like the psalmist I look at my own pain, my own suffering to early, to often, being drawn down into the darkness, being overwhelmed by the pain.  But there He rescues me, He reminds me of HIs love, He shows me that He was always with me.

This is the point David is making in the Psalm, which starts out so dark, which so describes the pain of being crucified or struggling today.  The point where we can see as the light shatters the darkness, as our faith, no even more sure of God’s presences testifies to naturally, without even thinking.  read it again,

22  Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: 23  Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. 24  He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. 25  Here in this great gathering for worship, I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers.   Psalm 22:22-25 (MSG)

When we are struggling, when Satan and his minions are oppressing us, when all seems dark, this is what is true.  He is with you, He loves you, and you will soon be praising Him as the Holy Spirit convinces you of this reality.   Like the cross, the victory, the depth of God’s love is revealed in these trying moments, in the midst of the pain, and the darkness.  We then see the truth;

You weren’t abandoned, He was there… and you will tell others about this!

AMEN!

Francis de Sales, Saint. An Introduction to the Devout Life. Dublin: M. H. Gill and Son, 1885. Print.

Hope Generated in His Promised Plans: A sermon on Psalm 138…


The Simple Christian Life – Love, HOPE, FAITH

Hope Generated in His Promised Plans

Psalm 138

  † I.H.S.

May this message about the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ increase your hope and expectation of God’s role in your life!

 Abraham:  Blinded

Even though the sermon is based on the Psalm – I want to start with the Old Testament reading about Abraham.  God is talking about hiding His plans from Abraham, and there are days I wonder if the Trinity hasn’t had the same conversations about us.

Not that God is going to do something like he did through Abraham with us. I mean, having a kid at 100, or when Kay is 90?  Maybe that is Al and Shirley’s task?  Carol and Chuck’s?

But what about this idea that we don’t know the plans God has for us.  TO be honest, I am personally struggling with that one right now.  God, I don’t understand what You are doing, it doesn’t make sense!

You see that in the psalm as well – when at the end of praising God, when at that end of realizing that God has saved us while realizing that God will work out His plans for our life because His love is faithful.  The psalmist then pleads…

“Don’t abandon me. (remember) you made me.”

I get that… and yet.. the entire Psalm speaks to the fact He will not.

There, we can find the truth that helps us, when we don’t have a clue about what God has planned for our lives.

The answer is profound, and it will give a profound hope, an incredible expectation of what God can and will do in our lives.

Even after the praise – Even after the climb

I am going to shift for the moment, to the end of the Gospel of Matthew, to a seen that didn’t make sense to me when I first realized what it says:

16  Then the eleven disciples left for Galilee, going to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17  When they saw him, they worshiped him—but some of them doubted! 18  Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:16-18 (NLT)

They had seen him crucified, they spent significant time with him after the resurrection, and it said that some of them still doubted.

Just like the Psalmist.

Just like me when I am at a convention, or when I am struggling with not knowing which way life will twist next. When I don’t know the plans He has for me, and to be honest; I wonder if the plans are truly good and right.

Because of the sin of the world, because of my sin, because of the brokenness of everything, trusting, expecting, depending on everything to turn out right is a challenge at times. Sometimes it isn’t even about sin; it may be that we are simply tired.

Like the 11, some of us doubt,

It’s not new; it’s not something that will result in your condemnation, or in God abandoning you, even though it seems at times like He has, or He might or He should.

Just because you don’t know his plans, doesn’t mean that what He has planned for us is horrid or evil.

So how do we cope when we don’t know his plans, and this leads to doubt?

Back to the basics – He rescued us -why would he waste us?

We go back to what we do know, what we count on.

God.

Who He is.

Seven times his name, His personal name is used in this passage.  Eight more times David uses pronouns directly talking to or about Him.  2 more times he references the name of God.

We have to hear these things for ourselves.  Let’s read them together

  • You answer me
  • Your unfailing love and faithfulness
  • Your praises (backed by your name – who you are!)
  • You answer me
  • You encourage by giving strength
  • You will protect me
  • You reach out your hands
  • Your right-hand saves me
  • Your faithful love endures forever.
    and,
  • You made me.

 

The very reason we praise Him, along with Kings from all over the earth is that we Hear His words, we understand His care for all – especially those of us who are broken and humbled by life. They need to hear Him, and they shall, for this is His desire.

This is the reason we have hope in life, why we expect that at the end of our days there is life everlasting.  This is why we know that as we walk through this life – we hear Him.  For we are people who are people who are His priests and kings.

Behind the plans, God has made His nature, the very same nature we see backing up the promises He made and kept in the life and death, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Like Abraham, and even more closely, we walk with God, His Spirit dwells within us, His voice resonates in us because He is with you.

Which is why we do what he did,

Hear the words again,

I have singled you out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord, by doing what is right and just.

Does that sound like this?

19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.

We, those who God has made plans for, who are blind to them, and sometimes doubt, have the same call – to help all of Abraham’s children of faith, not matter Jew or Gentile, to hear His voice, including the answer to the last cry of the Psalmist

And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)


He won’t abandon us; He is with us… This is most certainly true.  AMEN

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