Tag Archives: Bible

Suffering – Ten lessons from Peter

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Everybody hurtsI have never met anyone who has never known some degree of suffering in their lives. As the famous song from R.E.M. says,

“Everybody hurts sometimes.”

The key is understanding how to glean the best from such experiences, how to light a candle in the dark rather than just cursing the abyss. Peter’s first letter to a suffering church gives us some good guidelines.

Before I begin I need to say that I am not a masochist! I do my very best to avoid needless suffering. I pray for Shalom and protection every day. The tradition of the Church has sometimes earned a bad reputation for a kind of perverse glorification of suffering coupled with a hatred of the natural body. I certainly do not want to lead you down that path. However, in rejecting the extremes, let us be careful not to throw out the proverbial baby with the bath water. There are some difficult verses in the Bible concerning suffering. What does Paul mean in 1 Colossians 1:24?

“Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.”

There can be no insufficiency in the Lord’s finished redemptive suffering on the cross. What is lacking is the application of that redemption, via the mission of the Church, into the world. Suffering must have a purpose, a missional purpose. The lasts posts have dealt with such missional suffering via intercession.  This was Peter’s message which he condenses into ten lessons to help his flock understand and cope with their own persecution and suffering.

1) Suffering tests and builds up faith.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith– of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire– may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:6-7

2) Suffering unjustly is a grace, giving us deeper intimacy with Christ.

“Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable (charis – grace) if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” 1 Peter 2:18-19

3) Don’t experience “useless suffering” through your own sin.the scream

“But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God… If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” 1 Peter 2:20 & 4:15

4) Suffering is part of our calling as we follow Jesus and take up our cross.

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” 1 Peter 2:21

5) Suffering sanctifies our lives and character – it gives us depth.

‘Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.” 1 Peter 4:1-2

6) Suffering is a normal part of the Christian experience – everybody hurts sometimes.

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” 1 Peter 4:12

7) Suffering, not in the present experience but in the wild faith perspective, calls us to rejoice in our missional communion with Christ.

 “But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” 1 Peter 4:13

8) Suffering releases a hidden blessing and anointing on your life.

“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” 1 Peter 4:14

suffering9) Suffering builds confidence and faithful perseverance in our mission.

“So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:19

10) Suffering is limited in time but it makes us strong, giving us an indestructibility which fits us for eternity.

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

So, do not lose heart, focus on the invisible, focus on the Lord Jesus.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Prayer – Protecting the promise

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Two bouncersWe saw from last week’s post the incredible power in the prayer promise to those who find their identity in the 41414 Club.

This promise and power must be protected from wrong or immature use. This is why there are two major “bouncers” on the door to this promise club guarding the entrance.

The name of the first “protector” is “Sonship”.

The power of prayer is protected by the proven character of Jesus, the Son, modeled and built into our lives. Like a baby’s first cry as it leaves the womb, so our first Holy Spirit inspired prayer, which births us into the environment of faith, reveals the Son in us.

“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

Jesus underlined that this was the first requirement for learning to pray in answer to his disciples request  to teach them how to pray. He gave them the key to the prayer door.

“This, then is how you should pray: Our Father…” Matthew 6:9

Matthew 7:7 – another elite club – “club 77”, also emphasises the strong “sonship” element needed to seize the power filled promise of “Ask and it will be given to you.”

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:11

God is working to create within us the character of His Son.

One way of doing this is to spend time remaining, abiding, in His presence. Spending many hours imbibing the character of the Son through His Word in the Bible is a vital part of this process of daily transformation.

“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7BarMitzvah

Like Daniel in the Old Testament, we need to be able to fuel our prayer through a vital understanding of God’s prophetic word and purpose. ” In the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years.” How long will the “desolation” of our churches last? At least until dutiful sons give themselves to prayer and understanding of the Word of God. We need a genuine Bar Mitzvah – we must become true sons and daughters of the commandment, entering into the maturity of ministry and prayer.

Flawed character leads to wrong motivation and a frustration of the whole prayer experience. The apostle James puts it very clearly:

“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3

Hedonism and love for the world will take us out of the genuine prayer experience.

True intercessors are in the “word system” not the “world system”.

The road to sonship is paved with discipline and correction. Hebrews 12: 5-12 puts this very clearly.

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?…No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Allow the painful experience of life to train us for prayer.

DisciplineThe apostle John never gave up on the prayer promise theme, and, even in his old age, he was constantly coming back to the theme. He emphasised that prayer was all about having the right character, the right heart. Being an obedient and pleasing son was far more important than having intellectual gifts or charismatic prosperity formulas.

“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” 1 John 3:21-22

And what then ultimately pleases God? What must I do to please Him and obey his commands?

“And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.” v.23

Faith and love – Pistis and Agape. Two essential qualities of character which release the power of the prayer promise to us.

And the greatest of these is love…

Prayer – One thing is needed…

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“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” Luke 10:39

“Ruth approached quietly, uncovered his feet and lay down.  In the middle of the night something startled the man, and he turned and discovered a woman lying at his feet.” Ruth 3:8

At Jesus feetThe previous article on prayer encouraged us not to worry, and this one begins with the same exhortation of Jesus himself as he is confronted with the hustle and bustle of Martha’s desperate ministry! Like many of us, Martha is “worried and upset by many things.”  Jesus calms her down and shows her the importance of simply focusing on “one thing.”

We need to discipline ourselves to find the “priority position” to take in our lives. We must find “what is better” and what lasts forever – our intimate relation with Jesus, the ultimate kinsman redeemer. It is a place of listening to His word – a place of obedience and submission. Mary found this place at Jesus’ feet. Ruth, at the feet of Boaz, also gives us some beautiful insight into this priority position of prayer. Let’s take a quick journey into Chapter three of the book of Ruth.

“My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for?” Ruth 3:1

We find identity and a home with Jesus.  Relation with him is where all true provision begins.clothed in love

“Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes.” Ruth 3:3

Confess and repent of your sins, washed in the cleansing blood of Jesus. May the incense of prayer and worship arise from our contrite hearts and may we clothe ourselves with the fruit of the Spirit and with power from on high.

Colossians 3:12-14, gives us a whole wardrobe of “best clothes”. Compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…and the “overalls” of love!

“Spread the corner of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.” Ruth 3:9

How we need the garment of grace to approach our Lord. This is not our own garment but it is given to us freely. As Christ spread out his loving arms on the cross to embrace fallen humanity, so he extends his individual grace to each of us and clothes us in his righteousness. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

remb_ruth_boazThere is a wonderful promise attached to the place of prayer. It is a “leitmotif” which runs throughout the Bible and which we will look at in the following studies. It is the wonderful promise of provision and answer which Ruth hears through the affectionate, intimate words of Boaz:

“And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I will do for you all you ask.”  Ruth 3:11

and which we, modern Ruths, like Jesus’ own disciples, also hear.

“You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”  John 14:14

I’ve seen de light…

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Here is a rough guide for breaking into the Old Testament in your Bible. Let’s begin at the place of beginnings…Genesis. Why not make Genesis 3:16 a prayer for this year?

“Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

DelightEve is the first bride taken from the side of the first Adam. A greater Bride, the Bride of Christ was created from the blood and water that poured from Christ’s side on the cross. May your desire for Christ grow this year and may his Kingdom come more fully in your heart.

Now we move onto the Psalm for the day….Oh what a surprise, Psalm 1. Speak to me Lord from Psalm 1

“His delight is in the law of the Lord…Whatever he does prospers…”

Do you want a truly prosperous life? Delight is the key to prosperity!

Learn to savour the Lord’s presence. Enjoy Christ. Delight in Him!

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Ps 37:4

“They feast on the abundance of your house, you give them to drink from your river of delights.” Ps 36:8

Whenever a relation begins to break down we lose our “delight” in the other. Religion and duty can take the place of the passion and delight in our walk with the Lord.

When was the last time you took real delight in reading the Bible? Or praying? Or in meeting other people?prayer duty or delight

The devil hates delight!

He longs to steal our happiness in the Lord. Being renewed in innocence and purity will bring us back to a fresh delight in the Lord. Delighting in the Lord is also the way to satisfaction and success in 2013.

Delight will encourage us to spend more time praying.

Prayer has been one of the foundational values of Christianity. I sometimes wonder what has ever been achieved by so many hours spent “praying for nations”. I can well remember whole 40 day periods of continuous prayer and fasting during our early days of our ministry. Does being shut in with the Lord really achieve anything? Why not just get on with the evangelism so essential for effective church planting?

I was recently reading about some of the great praying personalities of French history and a phrase spoke strongly to me. It said that such praying people were exercising,

“une secrète fécondité apostolique – a secret apostolic fecundity.”

Vision 50Without this “secret fruitfulness” a life, a church or a mission loses its ability to sparkle and bless a world. As we step into responsibility for a small church (15 members) – a lone evangelical witness nestled in an area where 300,000 people live in small towns and villages, pray that we will know something of this missionary fruitfulness. Add your secret prayer as we are believing for 50 new people to be added to the church family this year…

I wish you and yours every success and fruitfulness in your own projects.

May you see the light in delight…..It will bring its own reward.

 “I delight to do your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

 

“Then will I go to the altar of God, to God my joy and my delight…” Psalm 43:4

The prayer dialectic…

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“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

ForsakenThoughts on Psalm 22

God’s promise and perspective: My early Christian beginnings were nourished in the victorious context of a prayerful missionary movement. I fed on the nectar of such Biblical promises from Matthew 7:7 and John14:14 – “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” My guiding principle was:

“Prayer means answer.”

What do I then do with the shuddering God forsaken cry that comes from a broken man?

“O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer…” v.2

What do you do in face of failure? How do you handle a cross? Jesus himself spent a lifetime resisting the Devil’s promises to answer prayer. The last temptation of Christ was to come down from the cross:

“Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:40

Theologians come up with two useful phrases that help me understand God’s apparent failure and weakness. Kenosis and Epistemological distance…the first is based on the humility of the incarnation, the fullness of deity, “making himself nothing kenosis(kenosis)” Philippians 2:7

The second speaks about a necessary limitation on the knowledge of God in order to protect our freedom to love. God doesn’t write his name high in the sky or play miracles to the crowd in order to impose Himself. He hides in humility, and sometimes pain, waiting to be discovered by those who long for true intimacy.

Perhaps my own prayer weakness may also be a sharing of the same principles? I am not a “prayer superman.” I need the discipline of learning obedient sonship, leading me, like Solomon in the face of the prayer promise – 2 Chronicles 1:7, to ask for more wisdom.

So should we all just give up and abandon the prayer promises? Surely not!

My experience is always less real than God’s Word and promise. In the face of transient non-answer and pain – Hang on! Be a limping Jacob, refusing to let go of the promise:

“I will not let you go unless you bless me.”  Genesis 32:26

In the Psalm, the suffering hero appeals to the Sovereignty of God and decides to praise Him anyway, whatever the circumstances – can we not do the same?

“Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.” v.3

Other’s testimony and my experience: Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the victorious testimony of others compared with your own meager experience of victory? v.4 speaks of the testimony of history where “Fathers” trusted and were delivered. Others “cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed.” Wonderful, Hallelujah, buy the DVD…But what about me!Fail

“I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people…” v.6

There seems to be a glaring contradiction in the heart of intimacy. The bridal delight of “Hephzibah” in Isaiah 62:4 seems to have been perverted into the restrained “delight” (Chaphets) v.8, of God towards his servant. I should be a glorious Bride…but I feel like a worm! Kenosis and distance are again at work.

What can I do? Appeal to destiny – throw yourself into the ultimate purpose of God.

“Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even from my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” v.9-10

Demonic oppression, yet victory in His presence: Bulls, lions and oxen speak of the fearsome reality of the demonic opposition let loose sometimes upon holy servants. Hearts turning to wax, being “poured out like water” v.14, are experiences of many burnt out, fearful – yet faithful, men and women of God. The “piercing” v.16, of hands and feet points us to Christ’s passion, but it is the same physical or mental torment of many of his people throughout time and geography.

BullsOnly the presence of the Almighty can give us strength in such times:

“But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.” v.19

The apparent contradiction of the opening “abandon” finds a deeper answer of intercession in the ultimate Presence:

“For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” v.24

My testimony: Intercession, prayer, praise and proclamation.

“I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.” v.22

My mission: Geographical – “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.” v.27-28

Social – “All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him-those who cannot keep themselves alive.” v.29 The whole social structure from the rich to the “dirt poor” will be impacted by such intercession from his Church.

Generational – Our lives of faith, prayers and sufferings lay a solid foundation for those who are to follow. Nothing is wasted. Can you believe that part of your mission is for the yet “unborn?” Those who sow in tears can be encouraged by this long-term perspective.

“Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for he has done it.” v.30-31

No-one has hired us!

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 I’ve always been inspired by the parable in Matthew 20:1-16 of the workers in the vineyard. It is a great encouragement to see how, throughout the ages, the great “landowner” has been pursuing His purpose of sending out workers into the harvest field.

Great missiologists, like David Bosch in his classic book “Transforming Mission”, have seen different paradigms of mission throughout the ages. Here is a brief summary of the 6 different periods of mission – with a few comments and verses to sum up some of the essentials of each age:

  •  The apocalyptic paradigm of primitive Christianity.
  • The Hellenistic paradigm of the patristic period. 313 AD – Edict of Milan – (Principle of Theosis –John 3:16.)
  • The medieval Roman Catholic paradigm. Latin – 600 – 1500 middle ages (Luke 14:23 – compel them to come in) Individualisation & Ecclesiasticisation of salvation.
  • The Protestant (Reformation) paradigm. 1517 – Wittenberg  – Romans 1:16
  • The modern Enlightenment paradigm. 1700 Newton 1750 Voltaire
  • The emerging ecumenical paradigm. After 2000 – Death of modernism.

So for Bosch, the “emerging ecumenical paradigm” or “post modern” period would perhaps equate to our “eleventh hour” in the parable.

God is raising up new missionary armies from the four corners of the earth to facilitate the task of gathering the harvest. A prophetic word given during a prayer vigil held in Jerusalem in May 1989 over Pentecost gives an encouraging confirmation of all that is in God’s heart for the last days.

“Today is the time of harvest and ingathering, a time when the Spirit is being poured out upon all flesh in these last days… Through the centuries he has called workers into his fields and has promised that they are worthy of their hire… These have indeed borne the burden and the heat of the day. And still, the harvest is not finished.

 Now, the Lord says, I will send to work at your sides eleventh hour workers, those who have been idle because no man would hire them… This army of workers will be mostly young people who will go forth to proclaim the gospel without fear or compromise … They will come from the nations and peoples that you least expect. They are a great company that you do not know at this time, but the Lord is preparing them even now…

 You must pray for and welcome these eleventh hour workers that I will give to you. You must not be jealous of them but rejoice at the reward that I will give them – for they were willing to come at the last hour – and without them the harvest would not be complete …”

 All encouraging stuff…but the reality of the eleventh hour seems to be a bit more challenging. Sometimes we find it so hard to break out of the beloved “paradigms” of the 8th, 9th and tenth hour. The wave seems to be coming to an end and we find it hard to catch the new one!

I was recently teaching at a well-known Bible school who had only a very few students while many mission agencies are reporting record low numbers in candidates and immense financial challenges. I know that this is not the same story everywhere, but there seems to be a mismatch between the present needs and the available workforce. At the “eleventh hour” the workers were abundant…but redundant!

 “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?”

 Their reply is perhaps God’s word to us at this time.

 “No-one has hired us”

No context had been created to link the tenth hour to the eleventh – a “paradigm” shift is needed.

We are called to create a context for the next generation of young eleventh hour workers.

 I can think of three pioneer areas which might begin to knit together a context to release the full potential of these end time labourers.

  1.  Missional business.
  2. Global partnership and mentoring contexts for the emerging missions in the Global South.
  3. Wild, radical, prayer and worship communities.

No easy answers on the above, but the fundamental factor for every worker will be the privilege of bearing, “the burden of the work and the heat of the day”.

 Our reward is the sharing in the sufferings of Christ himself and also in His glory. (Romans 8:17). If we lose sight of Him, our portion, we will quickly slip into legalism and grumbling. The work will become heavy and joyless rather than a glorious celebration of Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death. Christ Himself was the first and last (Revelation 1:8), the first worker at the Father’s side in creation and the last worker returning for the heavenly harvest. He fills up each hour with his life and gift of himself. To see who truly bore the burden of the work and the heat of the day we need only to look to that naked figure nailed to a wooden cross under the hot Palestinian sun, bearing the sin of the world and the heat of hell upon his shoulders. No grumbling for him! Rather the glad accomplishment of the heavenly mission.

 “For the joy set before Him, he endured the cross and scorned its shame.” Hebrews 12:2

His joy was seeing the army of workers who were being raised up to follow him. His joy was in the emerging missionary communities – the African, Brazilian, Chinese or Korean missionary armies. His joy is in us! Perhaps we feel last as a person or a nation, but God wants to make us first in our desire to witness and glorify Him. We may be the last in a long history of missionary movements but perhaps we may be the first to usher in the return of the King!

 “…The last will be first, and the first will be last.”

A few years ago my wife was pregnant with our third child. As the bump grew bigger I asked the Lord to give me a prayer of blessing for the child. I laid hands on the yet unborn child and heard the Lord give me the verses from Mat 20. Could there be a greater blessing or privilege than being a worker for God and inheriting the glory of Christ.

 “Oh God, please may there be some work left for her as she grows up! Give her the joy of serving you!”

My daughter is now 22 and finishing a business degree. In the same way may he give the emerging nations of this world, may he give you, the joy of being eleventh hour workers in his harvest!

“You also go and work in my vineyard.”        Matthew 20:7

Silence and Alliance…

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“In your anger do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.”    Psalm 4:4

 Anger, frustration and agitation often find their source in inner wounds. Aristotle noted that:

“man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all”,

indicating the terrible potential we possess to inflict hurt on one another. Our words betray our inner scars as we justify in the subtlest of ways how we became a hero or victim; how we trampled on or were trampled over. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth so often speaks.

Anger, gossip and moaning are the most easily observable but even the most sophisticated theology can be tainted by inner pain and abuse. These feelings need to be released and we all need an ear or a platform. Strong emotions often bubble up like stew in a pressure cooker and we find ourselves waking up in the night with a head full of anxious thoughts ready to explode. This is when it is very easy and natural to sin! We can be so desperate to get some release that even wallowing in the mud with the pigs seems preferable to pain. The journey to addiction begins for many. How many works and churches have divided because the anger of the midnight hour was channeled into the criticism of a brother or sister, crucifying charity and embracing paranoid lies?

Don’t choose sin! Search your heart with your heavenly comforter. Persevere in silent communion with Jesus rather than opting for the cheap release that the abundance of words or activities brings.

In one line –

“Learn to meditate deeply on the healing word of the Lord.”

 Many of our problems find their source in an abandonment of the warm relation with God’s Holy Living Word. On a cold day in the north of France I love to come home and sit in front of our warm fire. It brings me peace and relaxation. In the same way the word of God is a fire to our cold hearts. We must learn to bask daily in its warmth. Practice silence and God’s Word rather than the noise of your own words and explanations for everything.

God calms us down with His love.

 The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love,he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zeph 3:17

He heals us and brings us to the place of security and satisfaction.

 My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.  But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both now and forevermore. Psalm 131

God calms us down to speak His promises into our lives. His promise is more than just words. It is a covenant, an alliance based on an indestructible love relation. Jesus took the Jewish Passover cup and proclaimed:

“Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Drink deep from the covenant promises. This is a vast field of study but I’d like to simply encourage you to meditate on two “Alliance” words from Isaiah 54:10.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.

 Hesed and Shalom.  Peace and love before John Lennon! Look up the wider meaning of these words if you can. Solidarity, loyalty and friendship. Nothing missing; nothing broken!

I’ll leave the last words to the erudite renditions of messieurs Henry and Gill.

 “but my kindness shall not depart from thee; the love of God to his people is an everlasting love; it always continues; it never did, nor never will depart, notwithstanding their fall in Adam, their depraved state by nature, their actual sins and transgressions, their many revoltings and backslidings; though the Lord may hide his face from them, and afflict them, still he loves them; whatever departs from them, his kindness shall not; though riches may flee away from them, friends stand aloof off from them, health may be taken away, and life itself, yet the love of God is always the same; and so, whatever providences may attend his church and interest in any period of time, he has the same paternal care for it, and kindness for his people, as ever:”    Gill

“Therefore the covenant is immovable and inviolable, because it is built not on our merit, which is a mutable uncertain thing, but on God’s mercy, which is from everlasting to everlasting.”  M. Henry

May you be blessed in the midst of your many revoltings!