Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost
Why? Why? Why? Even when we don’t understand, we can still say, ‘My help comes from the Lord.’
The Lord has listened long enough! He’s listened to a lot of ‘empty-headed words’. He has listened to a long, heated debate. There’s been a lot of heat and not much light. Everything seems to be as clear as mud (Job 38:2). Now, it’s His time for speaking! What does God have to say? He invites Job to look at the bigger picture. Being preoccupied with our own problems doesn’t really solve anything. ‘Why has this happened to me? Why did it not turn out that way? Why this? Why that?’ – We go round in circles, thinking about these kind of questions. We don’t have all the answers. There are plenty of things we don’t understand. Even when we don’t understand what’s happening, we can still say, ‘I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’(Psalm 121:1-2).
Are you drifting away from the Lord? It’s time for a new beginning. It’s time for an ‘all my life’ commitment to the Lord.
‘I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live’(Psalm 104:33). Do you feel like giving up? Other things are becoming more important to you. Worshipping the Lord is being pushed out to the edge of your life. Wrong attitudes are creeping in. It starts with the idea, ‘Worship’s just an hour on a Sunday’. Then, it becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I feel like it’. It soon becomes, ‘I’ll worship the Lord when I’ve nothing better to do’. Before long, all desire for worshipping the Lord has gone! Little-by-little, you are drifting away from the Lord. It’s time to start thinking about what’s happening. It’s time for a new beginning. It’s time for an ‘all my life’ commitment to worshipping the Lord – not just on a Sunday, not only when I feel like it, not only ‘when there’s nothing better to do’!
‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ Yes. We were there. It was our sins which He took with Him to the Cross.
In this remarkable prophecy,.we see Jesus Christ, crucified for us – ‘the Lord has laid all our sins on Him’ – and risen from the dead – ‘After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life’(Isaiah 53:6, 11). ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’(Mission Praise, 745). We might put this question to Isaiah. In one sense, he wasn’t there. He lived long before the time of Christ. In another sense, he was there. God opened his eyes. God gave him a glimpse of what was going to happen in the future. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’. In one sense, we weren’t there. These things happened long before we were even born. In another sense, we were there. It was our sins which Christ took with Him to the Cross. It was our sins which He left behind Him when He rose from the dead (Romans 4:25).
In Christ, we have the victory –‘Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.’
‘Surely He will save you from the traps of the hunter’(Psalm 91:3). God has given us His warning. We must ‘be alert’- ‘Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour’. He also gives us His promise – ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’. How are we to resist the devil? – We are to ‘resist him, standing firm in the faith’(1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7). We must not try to resist the devil in our own strength. We will be defeated. He is much more powerful than we are. We must resist him in the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, we have the victory – ‘Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’(1 Corinthians 15:57). Satan is out to get us. He’s trying to trap us. Let’s never forget this: Jesus is able to ‘deliver us from the evil one’(Matthew 6:13).
None of us ever reaches a stage when we no longer need to hear and heed God’s words of warning.
‘Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts’. These words from Hebrews 3:7, 15, are repeated in Hebrews 4:7. Make sure that you don’t miss the point! These are words that we need to keep on hearing – again and again. None of us ever reaches a stage when we no longer need to hear and heed God’s words of warning. Reading God’s Word can be a very uncomfortable experience: ‘God’s Word is living and active… God’s Word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions. No creature can hide from God. Everything is uncovered and exposed for Him to see. We must answer to Him’(Hebrews 4:12-13). This may not be the kind of thing we like to hear. It’s what we need to hear. We will only pray for ‘mercy’and ‘grace’ when we see how sinful we really are. Then – and only then – will we come to Christ for ‘eternal salvation’(Hebrews 4:15-16; Hebrews 5:9).
Never think, ‘Glory for me.’ Always think, ‘Glory to God.’ ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.’
Jesus was ‘going up to Jerusalem’ – to the Cross (Mark 10:32). He came to die, ‘to give His life as a ransom for many’(Mark 10:45). The death of Christ lies at the very heart of the Gospel (1 Peter 1:10-12; 1 Corinthians 1:23 1 John 1:7, 2:2 Hebrews 2:9). Don’t think, ‘Glory for me’(Mark 10:37). Think, ‘Glory to God’(Mark 10:43-44): ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’(Galatians 6:14). Bartimaeus cried out to the Lord for mercy (Mark 10:47). ‘How embarrassing’, some people thought – ‘how undignified’(Mark 10:48). When God is at work, some people don’t like it! They like everything to be dignified – dull and dead! When God is at work, people get converted. This may not please the ‘critics’, but it pleases God – and that’s what matters. Cry to God for mercy. Your prayer will be heard – and answered.