April 2023

The LORD Will Remember

It can be difficult admitting when we’ve forgotten something, just as it can be disappointing or hurtful when others forget something that’s important to us. But not so with God, who forgets nothing, even though He chooses NOT to recall past sins of forgiven believers (Psa 103:10; Heb 10:17). Although our arch enemy loves to slander the LORD by claiming He has forgotten us, or that God never really forgives and forgets past sin, God’s testimony of Himself, and history proves the enemy to be wrong.

In Leviticus chapter 26, the LORD reminded Israel of covenant realities from living under His law. Blessings for obedience and discipline for disobedience, it was that simple. However, God’s loving faithfulness to Israel was not to be broken by their many and severe future failings. Even when disobedient Israel would be in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am Yahweh their God. But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am Yahweh” (Leviticus 26:44-45).

There is no relationship more secure than a covenant relationship with Almighty God. The Lord’s active memory is used for the blessing of His people due to His faithfulness to the covenants with them. Even when under the Lord’s correction for unrepented sin, Yahweh assures devotion to the promises He’s made. He’s a merciful covenant keeping God, whose faithfulness is never broken or distracted by His children’s inconsistencies and sinful stumblings. Wayward Israel was, and remains, in the loyal hands of their God who perfectly remembers His covenant promises to them.

God’s commitment in Leviticus 26:44-45 is spectacular, especially when compared to how quickly humans abandon one another when they stop getting their own way. When the Lord affirmed this to Israel, He knew they were going to fail severely. Yet, no matter how belligerent Israel would become, even in their future rejection of His Son Jesus, He would not spurn them. Rejection and disconnection would never be the Lord’s response to His covenant people. Neither will I abhor them remains His covenant commitment. Hatred and abandonment towards the beneficiaries of His promises is not the way of Holy God. Israel’s future is safe and certain because of God’s righteous and loyal commitment to His promises for their sake. Here, we see the eternal beauty of God’s integrity on display.

For us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel’s God equally reminds Himself, and us, that Jesus is the guarantor of a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22). Paul instructed the church in Corinth about Jesus’ declaration of His new and better covenant established by His sacrifice on the cross, and we enter into that better covenant by faith in Him. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:25).

As God remembers His faithfulness to the new covenant made through Jesus’ substitutional death, so we also are to continually remember Him. This is the heart of our communion service celebrations. This keeps us centred in our faith relationship, fuelled for worship, inspired for obedience, and motivated to share the gospel of Christ with the lost. By God’s grace, may this be true of our lives as we live for the LORD who remembers.

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Righteousness that counts

As Paul began writing to the believers in Corinth, he could not address (them) as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). They had become so distracted from the truths of Christ that they failed to recognise the sinful passions which had dominated them. Had they kept their thoughts and affections anchored in Christ as portrayed in 1 Corinthians 1:30-31, sin would never have overthrown them. Because of him (God), you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Salvation accomplished all the spiritual necessities that we could not provide for ourselves. God, not us, activated in Christ the four essentials required to be acceptable to Him. Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, all of which we could not produce. And even if we could, we would present them to God, claiming to be worthy of His acceptance.

Recognising our complete inability or desire to atone for our sin, the Lord exercised His sovereign will to accomplish that which we could not (Eph 1:5-10). He did this by appointing His Son, the spotless Lamb of God (1Pe 1:19; Rev 5:12), who personified all that we are not, or ever could be. Operating as God’s appointed High Priest (Heb 5:5), Jesus became our substitute wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. So perfect is He in this ministry on the sinner’s behalf, that it is impossible for the repentant believer to add to, to enhance, or to extend any of these four, even to the slightest degree. Christ is so sufficient in these four, that our Heavenly Father is fully satisfied with Him, and with us simply trusting in Christ’s sufficiency.

Even if we were to dedicate our life-long efforts in trying to obey God’s law, we would fail. As for our efforts, whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it (James 2:10). It is foolish to think that we can supplement Christ’s righteousness by attempting to satisfy even one component of God’s law, because we fail in so many other areas. But, praise God, Christ fulfilled every element of God’s law on our behalf, satisfying Yahweh’s holy demands fully.

This explains why Paul says in Romans 3:10-12, none is righteous, no, not one… no one does good, not even one. The moment mankind thinks they have attained even the slightest degree of righteousness through obeying even one tiny part of God’s law, we typically hold it up to God and say, “now I have earned or contributed to your grace.” To which God responds, by works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight… (Romans 3:20).

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law… the righteousness of God (is) through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe only in Christ’s substitutional righteousness (Romans 3:21-22). Christians boast in Jesus Christ’s righteousness at the expense of self. Even a superficial understanding of how Christ’s righteousness has been credited to a believing sinner is humbling and exhilarating at the same time, as Christ is exalted within the redeemed heart.

May we examine our hearts to check there is no sense of deserving merit because of our adherence to rules and regulations. May we only boast in Christ’s accomplishment, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10).

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Distinctive Humility

Humility is God honouring and manifests the character of Jesus Christ. Few would ever complain at being in the presence of humility, and humility is rarely found complaining or demeaning others. The apostle Paul walked in humility and often as the result of great suffering.

During his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders, Paul testified of himself, that serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me (Acts 20:19-23).

There are many lessons here, of which we shall touch upon just a few. If anyone had reason to complain, to take offence, or to carry a grudge, it was Paul. Yet, we don’t read any of those self-entitled responses to the harsh realities of his life of service. Instead, we hear the tones of an open-hearted man humbled by the ugly trials of life and the controlling influence of the Holy Spirit. A soft-hearted man who never denied or cowered from trials and used the pains of life to grow Christlikeness instead of resentment. Within Paul, the high cost of following Christ nurtured courageous humility which strengthened his determination to graciously declare Christ through both public and private teaching of the gospel and sound doctrine. Grace enabled humble courage with perseverance.

The inescapable fact that others witnessed in Paul was that he cared more for Christ and others than he did his own comfort and desires. Declaring Christ clearly so that others benefited was his priority. Living the truth and love of Christ with authenticity was the constant motivation in all Paul’s relationships and activities. Ethnic differences were never an issue in the gospel Paul proclaimed as he testified both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. He knew that once repentance of sin and faith in Christ as Lord is neglected or removed, the gospel ceases to exist.

Humility before God emboldened Paul’s integrity with passion to teach the gospel of Jesus and to follow His lead. Consequently, he could say that he was constrained by the Spirit, meaning, Paul lived in bonded and surrendered fellowship to the Holy Spirit who directed his desires, his ambitions, and his purposes. This resulted in Paul realising that as he travelled to Rome, even though he didn’t know the micro details of what was ahead, he accepted that there would be imprisonment and afflictions. As the Holy Spirit revealed these certainties, so He also enabled Paul’s resolute and humble walk into the future. Paul mimicked Jesus’ humility in that when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23). Neither Jesus or Paul lashed out, they didn’t turn back or stop serving, they didn’t whisper slander or share gossip, they entrusted themselves to God and continued faithfully.

May the Holy Spirit grow our humble dependence upon the Lord for our inner resources to remain faithful to Christ. May we seek to nurture humility like Jesus and Paul for God’s glory and the blessing of others.

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Memories for God – Part 2

God administers His perfect memory well for His glory and our blessing. I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD (Leviticus 26:45). Yahweh  reminds Himself continuously that He is a covenant keeping God, meaning, in spite of Israel’s or our foolishness and  sins, He will show Himself to be glorious. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth (Genesis 9:16). Not only does God place the rainbow in the sky to remind mankind of His promise to every living creature, but as a reminder to Himself of the everlasting covenant He made and will never break.

As we are unlike God in so many ways, memory serves as a good evaluation tool of our faith, as it allows us to relive and catalogue the lessons of the past as well as those in the present. Moses instructed Israel to remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not (Deuteronomy 8:2). Don’t just recall the favourable past, and don’t unduly linger on the painful parts either, but give consideration to the whole way in which God has providentially led you over the years. In spite of our many unwise decisions and inconsistent patterns of behaviour, God has faithfully kept us within the boundaries of His will and purposes. Give thought to the many silent and invisible ways God’s grace has protected and preserved you, provided for you, directed you, and woven His will into your life.

Remembering the whole way that the LORD has led us should firstly imprint into our wayward hearts that He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:10). In all circumstances of life within this wicked world, our LORD shows compassion to those who fear him (Psalm 103:13).

The apostle Paul, who suffered more earthly pain than any other New Testament believer, was sure  that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). It is good for us to remember daily the certainty of eternal life in Christ and God’s commitment to walk us through our mortal lives into His presence. Wise memory management is an essential part of a healthy Christian life, as it keeps Jesus Christ central in our thoughts. A wisely administered memory is informed from Scripture of who to forgive and the offenses to forget. It tells us often the path worth walking based upon past lessons. It warns us of the dangers of doing things our way rather than God’s way. It instructs us where to go for wise and compassionate counsel in times of confusion. But most of all, it informs us to remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my (Paul’s) gospel (2 Timothy 2:8).

Today, may you remember Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 1:24-25).

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