The Pastor’s Pen

Lincoln writes to encourage and build up God’s people with God’s Word.

Jesus Christ our Intercessor

While compromising Lot was living in Sodom, he would have had no idea that Abraham was a short distance away interceding face to face with the Lord to spare the city from imminent destruction. Abraham said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten righteous are found there. The Lord answered, For the sake of ten righteous I will not destroy it (Genesis 18:32). Well, unable to find even ten righteous people in Sodom, two angels conducted an emergency extraction of Lot, his wife, and two daughters. As far as we are aware, Lot never discovered the critical part Abraham played through intercession with the Lord.

This depicts well, the intercessory work of the glorified Lord Jesus Christ on behalf of every believer. Invisible, yet critical to every Christian, Christ’s tireless ministry goes unnoticed by the church for the most part. Every child of God should ask themselves the following question with gratitude, who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:33-34).

Asaph the Psalmist rightly declared, “Whom have I in heaven but you?” (Psalm 73:25). Asaph realised that in heaven, there is only one who is of use to sinful mankind. Angels, Mary, dead Christian ancestors, the apostles, and even our forefathers of the faith, are of no use to us in the throne room of God Almighty. There is only One in heaven who serves and operates on behalf of sinful mankind, and that is God Himself through the second person of the trinity. God’s Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom also He created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power. After making purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs (Hebrews 1:2-4).

Only Jesus Christ, who is eminent over all created beings, who alone has made purification for sins possible through His sacrificial death on the cross as our substitute, is of any use to us in pleading our case before His Holy Father. Only Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high, from where He intercedes on our behalf. Only Jesus Christ, equal with the Father (Philippians 2:6), who lived in human flesh yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15), and has satisfied the wrath of God on sinner’s behalf (Romans 3:25-26). Only Jesus Christ ministers tirelessly at God’s throne to administer and maintain the repentant sinner’s cleansed status. While God the Holy Spirit intercedes with the Father, presenting our prayers and progress of sanctification on believer’s behalf, it is Christ alone who intercedes through His own blood sacrifice for our salvation.

Job’s understanding and appreciation of God was heightened through his suffering. And he, having lost everything of earthly value, testified, as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives… (Job 19:25). Amen Job! It is Jesus Christ who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). This we belief and rejoice in with confidence, that Jesus Christ our Redeemer, intercedes on our behalf, securing our  salvation which He purchased at the cross.

Tiredness and refreshment in Jesus

Few people, if any, have never thought or spoken the words “I’m tired.” It’s a universal part of being human, tiredness creeps up on us all at some time or another. Many things can cause it, and tiredness can manifest itself in different ways and to different extents. Likewise, we all have different ways of addressing tiredness and with differing measures of success. Whether caused by lack of sleep, illness, stress, grief, malnutrition, overworked, depression, medication, or inactivity, tiredness can wear us down. 

Similarly, spiritual tiredness can be very real, and often caused by multiple factors which require attention before refreshment can occur. Isaiah considered this condition and provided simple suggestions which can help. The LORD is an eternal God, the creator of the whole earth. He does not get tired or weary; there is no limit to his wisdom. He gives strength to those who are tired; to the ones who lack power, he gives renewed energy. Even youths get tired and weary; even strong young men clumsily stumble. But those who wait for the LORDʼs help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eaglesʼ wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired (Isaiah 40:28-31 NET).

Isaiah’s point is this, the Lord is infinitely able and willing to meet our needs caused by exhaustion. As always, our right response to God, who is always within our circumstances, makes blessing possible. When fatigued, our senses and reasoning often become dulled, which can cause us to forget our spiritual resources and disciplines in Christ. As with many spiritual difficulties, we simply want tiredness to go away, but it never seems to work out that way.

Isaiah’s central remedy is that those who wait for the LORDʼs help find renewed strength. Some readers may think, “I don’t have time to hang around waiting while there’s so much needing to be done.” But waiting for the LORD is much more than inactively standing idle. Waiting begins with attitude, creating the space in our thoughts to pause and give attention to the Lord’s presence in the moment, in the day, and in the week. Waiting says, I’m ready to align my heart with yours’ Lord. Waiting recognises that we are the tired ones, not God. Waiting acknowledges that Yahweh has the resources we so desperately need, and we can’t take them by force. Waiting exhales independence and inhales awareness of Christ’s sufficiency to meet our needs. Waiting steps aside from the self-imposed pressures and says, I give up pushing, I’m going to lean on the Saviour. Waiting says NO to the things which don’t make it onto the biblical priority list. And waiting says, Lord I’m ready for you to take over everything. Now, and only now, can rest begin the process of refreshment.

Waiting is a decision believers’ need to make every morning, and possibly many times during each day. It’s the core intentional attitude that begins rectifying tiredness. Next, is the simple discipline of considering Jesus, who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:3). Christian, plan Jesus’ thoughts into every day and evening. Read God’s Word. Talk to Him while driving, while on the bus, while in the shower etc. During your breaks at work, read a Christian book, text or call another believer and talk about Christ. Tell a non-believer about the love and salvation of Jesus Christ. Whatever it takes, put Jesus into your thought life. Rectifying spiritual tiredness takes just a little effort, but the refreshing blessing is transformative.

Words of hope for backsliders

Spiritual backsliders are a reality in the Christian community. While some abandon all thoughts and expressions of faith in Christ, proving they were never genuinely born again in the first place, others fall short of abandonment. Some backslide in their faith by becoming lethargic and disconnected from the physical body of Christ which causes spiritual paralysis. Others, well, they turn their back on the LORD Jesus by pursuing sin. The fact is, anything which becomes a higher priority than the LORD  is sin and initiates a believer’s backsliding (Mark 12:30). Priorities are the truest tell-tale of faithfulness or not. Priorities can quickly identify idolatry at any level, and therefore, exist as an effective self-diagnostic tool. After all, evaluating the true condition of our heart is difficult due to our propensity for self-deception (Jeremiah 17:9).

No group of people have experienced spiritual backsliding more often and more severely than Israel. So, learning how the LORD responds is of great interest, as backsliding is a two sided story that rarely gives God the opportunity to speak. 2 Chronicles 30:8-9 speaks of Yahweh’s invitation to backslidden Israel. Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.”

No matter what the condition, mercy is waiting to be dispensed. The ear of our loving God is inclined, listening, prepared, and desiring to apply forgiveness and restoration. For all who repent, mercy is greater than judgement. Grace always prevails in heaven’s courtroom when sin is confessed and turned away from. Rejection by the Lord is not an option, He will not turn away his face from you.

Returning to the LORD requires a right understanding of the way forward. So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22). Abandon whatever took priority in your heart which led you away from obedience to the LORD. There can be no compromise as you yield to Christ as your God.

For the believers who welcome a restored believer back, it should be remembered that it takes a community of God’s people, as together they pursue righteous living. Open-hearted and united forgiveness that lives with patient and compassionate perseverance is essential for longevity of faith. Paul exhorts us in this endeavour, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1).

Recovery from backsliding is rarely easy, and it can be lonely if not surrounded by Christlike support and fuelled by a healthy diet of God’s Word, prayer, and worship. There should be no  delay, as cleansing and refreshment are readily available from the LORD. Return, seek the LORD to create in you a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within you (Psalm 51:10). Invite the Saviour to infuse His love for righteousness into you so that your desires and motives change to become His. Ask that His determination for faithfulness becomes your determination, for this is the will of God, your sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

The God of promise – Part 5

Promises help form our understanding of the depth and quality of relationships. The more precious the relationship, the greater the promises that get exchanged. And it is expected that the more precious the relationship, the greater the desire and responsibility to keep those promises faithfully.

Verse two of the hymn written by Russell Kelso Carter in 1886, expresses the Christians’ dependence upon God’s promises to them, through Jesus Christ, and printed in God’s Word.

     Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
     when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
     by the living Word of God I shall prevail,
     standing on the promises of God.

When life fails to meet your expectations, or you consider everything is going against you, that is the time to express faith by calling to your attention the promises God has made to you. Dig deep into God’s Word, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:2-5).

You will be able to say with David, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4). As you choose to be content with what you have, you will cling onto God’s promise that says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), affirming not only your eternal security in Christ, but the daily presence of God in all circumstances. As you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, all these things (food and clothing) will be added to you (Matthew 6:33), assuring you that God provides the necessities of life in all circumstances. Therefore, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7) we are able to experience a layer of peace that overshadows the stresses of our day.

Jesus’ half-brother James rightly instructed believers to count it all joy… when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4). When the enemy mutters words of defiant challenge in your ear because of personal difficulties, remember, he is a liar! As painful as trials can be, God promises that if you face them with a right and dependant attitude, those trials will manufacture steadfastness. Plus, as if steadfastness is not enough, God adds the extra blessings of promised spiritual maturity and Christlikeness. The very trials that others challenge God over, will be your source of accelerated Christian completeness and sufficiency in Christ. Praise God for such unimaginable grace to sustain us!

Don’t allow the world’s fear, suspicion, and mistrust, to drag you into a hopeless existence with no certainty and nothing but darkness beyond the grave. Believer, your Creator God lovingly and invisibly walks with you, providentially administering His universe for His glory while meeting your needs and preparing an eternal Home for you in heaven. With these realities in our thoughts, let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

The God of Promise – Part 4

While the world’s turmoil continues, God’s people can rest in the many day-to-day promises of God. Even though there are times when God’s people are providentially caught in the world’s disasters, God remains faithful, keeping His Word through the most difficult circumstances.

King David, who was far from perfect, had a heart which repeatedly gravitated back to Yahweh, he testified the following of God. Blessed be the LORD! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him (Psalm 28:6-7). Now, it’s important to grasp the practical nature of David’s praise in these two verses. David is NOT saying that all his problems vanished, as if prayer is a magic chant that removes all difficulties. Nor is he saying that prayer transformed him into a super-spiritual person who became invincible. Here, David declares the absolute essentials of what it means to live a faith which produces perseverance and a realistic joy in the LORD.

It starts with worship; Blessed be the LORD! Above all else in life, good, bad, or indifferent, the LORD is worthy of us acknowledging His majestic and holy character which are displayed through His actions. David knew that our circumstances, and the poor decisions we sometimes make, do NOT change who God is. This is our first point for confidence, the Lord’s worthiness of worship.

Therefore, acknowledging Yahweh’s worthiness, David knows the certainty of Him attentively listening to our prayers. No prayer is too short or too long. No prayer will ever catch God off-guard or by surprise. Plus, the God who is love (1 John 4:7), hears our prayers with a bias towards mercy. Meaning, when we appeal to God’s mercy, we are speaking to the very essence of who He is. This should begin to grow confidence in even the most nervous of believers who pray. None of God’s children who pray, ever go unnoticed or get ignored. This is our second point for confidence, our pleas for mercy get heard attentively.

Reminding ourselves of the first two points motivates us to acknowledge that the LORD is our strength and our shield. This shifts our dependency from self to God, releasing us from the deception that says we control our own destiny. Consequently, David, like us can say with determination that in Him my heart trusts. The application looks like this. Colossians 4:2, Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. Job adds; What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient? (Job 6:11). A praying trust in God watches for His activity while we wait patiently for His timing. Watching, we recognise when God answers and we will be able to identify His help, even if divine help is delivered by human hands. This is our third point for confidence, God mercifully helps.

David ends where he started, with worship, repeating our first point for confidence. The outcome of biblical styled prayer, especially in times of great trial, is that our heart’s exult. That means, having worshipped, prayed, and seen merciful answers, at every level of our inner beings, we are jubilant with gratitude to the LORD. Emotions should not be able to contain themselves. Thanks, and appreciation will testify through words and singing. Leaving us with our fourth point for confidence, our impatience does not stop God answering in His time and way.

God’s promises, when truly believed, changes our perspective of trials.

To be continued…

Scroll to Top