Daily Devotional: Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2020

Today’s prayer is an excerpt from a particularly long prayer in Piercing Heaven:  Prayers of the Puritans.  This is an excellent collection of prayers I have found very useful in my daily devotions. 

“A Prayer for Revival”  by Phillip Doddridge1

Eternal, unchangeable Jehovah!  Your perfections and glories will never change.  Jesus your Son is “the same yesterday, today, and forever”.   The closer the eternal world gets, the more I must consider it.  But sadly, my views, my affections, and my best intentions keep changing—just like my poor body.

Where is the blessing I once had?  My joy in you as my Heavenly Fahter was so obvious that strangers could not miss it.  My heart overflowed with so much love to you, and passion for serving you, that it felt like self-denial not to express it.  Where did I fall? You see me still, but I am not the same. I blush to see how cold and indifferent I have become.

Even when I do speak with you, my prayer is comld and formal.  What happened to the passion I once felt, the intense pursuit of you, O God?

Give me grace to turn toward your testimonies, without further delay, that I may keep your commandments (Ps. 119:59-60).  

Search me, Lord, and try me.  Get toteh root of this disease which spreads itself over my soul, and heal me.  Show me my sin, Lord, that I may see its horror. Show me Jesus in such a light that I may look upon him and mourn, that I may look upon him and love. 

Grant me your abiding presence to stir my affections for you and all things spiritual again.  Amen.

Psalm 106:21, 45  The Perfect Timing

They forgot God, their Savior, who had done  great things in Egypt…45For their sake he [God] remembered his covenant, and relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

This is a longer Psalm, it has 48 verses, and is considered a historical Psalm.  It’s historical because it recounts the history, or at least part of the history, of Israel.  There are other historical Psalms throughout the Psalter, and like this one, most of them, if not all of them, focus on God’s faithfulness.  And sometimes, like Psalm 106, God’s faithfulness is made all the more bright against the backdrop of Israel’s sin and rebellion.

As you read through this Psalm you notice that it follows some chronological pattern after first acknowledging personal sin (we have sinned, v.6) as well as corporate sin (and our fathers, v.6).  So the basis of this Psalm is found in confession of sin and a plea for help. The sins of Israel, like my own sins, are many. 

 They sinned in Egypt.  They sinned right after being freed from Egypt by God’s mighty hand (6-12), they sinned by grumbling (13-15), they sinned in jealousy (16-18), and idolatry (19-23).  That’s just their “wilderness” sins before the 40 years of wandering! The Psalmist goes on to their sins involving the Promised Land and wandering about in the wilderness.  First they refused to enter, they doubted God’s word (24-27), and then they worshiped another god (28-31). In the Promised Land it doesn’t get any better, the Israelites didn’t destroy the Canaanite inhabitants as God commanded, resulting in pagan practices, idolatry, and human sacrifice (34-39).  This eventually resulted in Israel’s exile from the Promised Land (40-46), yet God remembered his covenant for their sake, he relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.

Like Israel and like “A Prayer for Revival” above, I’m prone to forget God.  I’m prone to lose my energy and verve for God on an embarrassingly regular basis.  The thing that keeps me going isn’t me at all. It’s God’s faithfulness to his covenant according to the abundance of his steadfast love!  There are days when we might feel like God shouldn’t love us and shouldn’t have sent Jesus to be our savior, but who are we question God? What right has the pot to say to the potter why did you save me when you should have cast off this broken pot and start again?

Yet we do.  We can look at our histories, or even current state of our hearts and just wonder at God’s mercy and timing.  Mercy in that God shows me mercy when I fail him and rebel against him so often. That makes me wonder and be thankful.  And also God’s timing. Timing in that why are you taking your time in fixing this broken pot? Why aren’t you fixing me into the thing you have planned NOW?  That makes me wonder and be, well, be all kinds of things that aren’t thankful.

Don’t forget God.  He has all of life worked out and the way he works it out is through a Redeemer, through Jesus.  The law, summarized in the Ten Commandments, could only save if it was kept perfectly, in body and soul.  Which means all of us were excluded because of our union with Adam, the first sinner, our first human father.  “21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:21-25)  

In our timing, well in my timing anyway, I think I wouldn’t have redeemed Adam and Eve at all, but if I were going to I’d have done it right away.  That’s not God’s plan, and his plan is perfect! If there’s one thing I know about my plans, it is that they are very far from perfect! Eve though Cain and Abel might be the promised seed, then she put her hope on Seth.  Abraham wanted Ishmael to be the promised son, but even Isaac wasn’t the ultimate son. Israel looked to Moses as the final deliverer, then Aaron as the priest, then Joshua as the conqueror. The list goes on and on, the point is Israel was looking for Jesus to come for a long time—why did God wait?  He waited for the perfect time.

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.” (Gal. 4:4-7)  

God’s timing in our lives is perfect, too.  His timing in our trials. His timing in our sanctification.  His timing in our children’s faith. God remembers his covenant for our sake according to the abundance of his steadfast love!  Part of God’s covenant includes being called children of God and receiving the Spirit of Adoption to pray to him in heaven, crying out for renewal, revival, restoration, and rejuvenation!  

May God be present with you today in all that you do.  May he grant you to see the fruits of your labors and encourage you with his perfect steadfast love and timing.

Pastor Matt

1Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans. Robert Elmer, ed.  Bellingham, WA: Lexham press, 2019. P. 76-79.

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