[Romans 1:17] For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
To live by faith is a far surer and happier thing than to live by feelings or by works. The branch by living in the vine, lives a better life than it would live by itself, even if it were possible for it to live at all apart from the stem. To live by clinging to Jesus, by deriving all from Him, is a sweet and sacred thing. If even the most just must live in this fashion, how much more must I who am a poor sinner! Lord, I believe. I must trust You wholly. What else can I do? Trusting You is my life …
"All those who see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out their lips at me, and wag their heads (with hatred)." —Psalm 22:7
Mockery was a great ingredient in our Lord’s suffering. Judas mocked Him in the garden; the chief priests and scribes laughed Him to scorn; Herod discarded Him; the servants and the soldiers jeered at Him, and brutally insulted Him; Pilate and his guards ridiculed His royalty; and on the tree all sorts of horrid jests and hideous taunts were hurled at Him. Ridicule is always hard to bear, but when we are in intense pain it is so heartless and so cruel that it cuts to the very bone of life itself.
Think of the Savior crucified, racked with anguish far beyond all imagination. And then picture that motley multitude all wagging their heads or thrusting out their lips in bitterest contempt of one poor suffering victim! Their unanimous hatred was a display of the worst evil; and yet in the very moment of its greatest apparent triumph it could do no more than mock at that victorious goodness which was then reigning on the cross.
O Jesus, “despised and rejected of men,” how could You die for men who treated You so poorly? This is an amazing love, love divine, love beyond degree. We, too, have despised You in the days before our rebirth, and even since our new birth we have too often honored the world in our hearts. And yet You bleed to heal our wounds and die to give us life.
O that we could set You on a glorious high throne in all men’s hearts! We would ring out Your praises over land and sea until men should as universally adore you just as they once unanimously rejected you.
To fight hard for joy in Jesus Christ sometimes means fighting to only let go in complete surrender to Him. A surrender that is scary, but one that is sweet and assuring in knowing that in Him, our hope is secured and unfailing.
God’s merciful grip on us will forever be infinitely firmer and stronger that ours will ever be on Him.
It is when we are sufficiently aware and in complete understanding of our deliberate acts of disobedience, yet continue in them that our minds can become the most deceived and the most dangerous.
Something I was made very aware of these past few weeks.
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.
- 2 Corinthians 1:8-10
Don’t believe a lie that…there’s a verse that says, “God will never give you more than you can handle,” false! Totally false! There is a promise in 1 Corinthians [10:13] that he will always provide a way out of temptation for you; but it is false to say that he will never give you more than you can handle – He will give you more than you can handle. He will make you feel like you are “despairing of life itself,” but he will do that so you will not rely on yourselves but “on Him who raises the dead.”
- Jojo Ma, CrossLife Community Church; Introduction to Ephesians: By His Grace, For His Glory, 9/2/12
…he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
- 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
We find that quite often, it is simpler to seek reconciliation for the right thing, but not always the best thing.
Matthew 5:3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
What does it mean to be poor in spirit?
There is a distinct difference between being worthless and being lacking in self-sufficiency. The former is indicative that we have no value, we have no worth. But that is not true in God’s eyes for we are of utmost value to him. The latter is referring to our spiritual bankruptcy apart from divine grace, our absolute inability to offer something, anything of worth to our Holy God because of the sinfulness that consumes our hearts. To be poor in spirit is the recognition of our empty-handed presence before the throne of grace. A rendering of this verse is this – “Blessed are those who realize that they have nothing within themselves to commend them to God, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It’s only those who realize that they can’t get to heaven on their own that have any hope of getting there at all. (John Wesley)
The Beatitudes of the Lord Jesus Christ is the very antithesis, the exact opposite, of what this world believes. “They demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness. However, the Beatitudes give Jesus’ description of the character of true faith.” (John Piper) To walk with Christ is to blatantly stand against the world.
Faith saves, but deep rooted and sincere humility is the very posture of faith. We’ll not go to a doctor if we don’t realize that there is something wrong. In the very same way, if we don’t realize the severity of our sins, the urgency for a Savior, we will not recognize the necessity for salvation in Jesus Christ.
“It is our weakness that is the reservoir for God’s power. It is our inadequacy that is the place for His adequacy; our poverty that is exchanged for His riches; our humility that gives way for His confidence and authority; and ultimately, our emptiness and nothingness that gives way for His fullness. (David Legge)” [2 Corinthians 12:9-10 / Luke 18:10-14]
“The first link between my soul and Christ is not my goodness but my wickedness; not my merit but my misery; not my standing but my failing.” What a paradox! And what an amazing God to have shown us mercy and grace in light of our spiritual bankruptcy!
Returning to the Gospel. Our depravity before God is the very essence of what makes the Gospel so urgent yet precious. If we are indeed inadequate to offer anything that is of worth or value to God, what is it then that makes us worth so much in His eyes… It is first, a Creator’s love for his creation. Yet when sin divided an unholy creation from its holy and righteous God, it was only through Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross that justifies and redeems our souls. As we stand before God’s throne, he sees not a condemned sinner, rather he sees Christ before us, through whom we are made righteous. He sees Christ interceding on our behalf as his sacrifice on the cross was not one of fading hope but one of demonstrated power and authority and one that ultimately brings us reconciliation with our wrathful and sovereign King. It is not by anything we have done for God to have redeemed us, but it is only through the heavy price that was already paid on the cross for our sake and in our place. We are completely and utterly depraved, yet in Christ we have everything. With this truth reigning in our hearts, it is truly humbling to acknowledge the abundant mercies of divine grace in light of our empty-handedness. Let us Rejoice, for we do indeed have a wonderful Lord & Savior!