But God…

???????????????????????????????For those in our church:  you really missed a great blessing if you missed last night’s service.  We had a special evening of testimonies and singing, and it seemed as if God drew back the curtain to give us a glimpse of what He has been doing behind the scenes.

Hard things

It can be easy to look at and even focus on the hard things, or the things we view as bad that are going on in our lives. I certainly have been guilty of this.  When we do this we forget that God is still there, still working out things for His glory and our good.

Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery

Remember Joseph?  Hated by his own brothers – this is bad.  Sold into slavery – how could those brothers be so mean? Falsely accused and thrown into prison – that Mrs. Potiphar was really wicked.  Languished in prison when the butler forgot his promise – how could he?

The story, as we know does not end there.  Joseph was not only brought out of prison, he was appointed second highest official in the land.  In Genesis 50:20 Joseph reassures his bothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.”  When we look at part “A” and react to all the bad stuff, we are forgetting part “B,” “But God…”

Saul wanted to kill David

David, anointed to be the next king of Israel, had to be constantly on the move to avoid the murderous plans of jealous king Saul.  Day after day Saul pursued David and day after day David moved out of the way.  To onlookers this chase must have appeared to have an uncertain outcome, until we read in 1 Samuel 23:14, “And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand.”  God was protecting David all along in spite of appearances.

Jesus was crucified

When Jesus conducted His preaching and teaching ministry many followed Him with gratitude and joy.  Yet one terrible day He was falsely accused, beaten, and killed.  His followers were shocked and grieved.  Some did not realize these events fulfilled biblical prophecies of the coming Messiah. Paul recounts the crucifixion story in Acts 13:29-30, “And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead.”  What initially seemed to be a terrible injustice was, in fact, planned by the hand of God for the salvation of mankind.

But God…

When we arrive at the end of our rope, the end of our hope, the end of our courage, or the end of our strength, we need to be encouraged by the “but God” verses of Scripture.  Psalm 73:26 reminds us, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”  Forever means today, tomorrow and every day of our future.

God is still there

Are you burdened about something in your life, your family, your church, your wider circle?  As I listened to the testimonies last night I was encouraged that in every case when people got to the end of themselves God was still there, still involved, still leading, and still loving.  God is faithful to His word and is still using those who are willing to let go and give Him glory in their lives.

God’s choices

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 reminds us, “For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

Take heart!

Something difficult may be happening in your life today.  Take heart! The same ‘but God’ verses which encouraged saints in the past are still true for us today.

He Is Not Here; for He Is Risen!

Jerusalem Graden Tomb sign

The Garden Tomb

Visiting the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem was my highlight of our tour to the Holy Land.  Our site guide gathered the group and before the tour started and gave a clear gospel message interspersed with cultural facts and archeological information.  Walking through the well-groomed gardens brought amazing clarity to my previously fuzzy impressions of the biblical setting of the resurrection.

Earlier in the day we stopped at Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives and read the scriptures describing Christ’s agony in prayer as He anticipated the cup of suffering and separation from the Father facing Him. Such a sobering reminder of His submission to the plan of redemption for mankind!

Good Preaching

What a blessing it has been to hear messages on each of the seven sayings from the cross these past few weeks!  The reminder of Christ’s fulfilling Old Testament scriptures and considering the needs of others, all while experiencing the humility and excruciating pain of crucifixion, helps us to better reflect on the great price that was paid for our redemption.

He is not here; for He is risen!

Jerusalem at Garden Tomb

Jerusalem Tomb entrance at Garden TombThough seeing the garden and the hill of Golgotha was impressive, the most joyous moment was stepping down into the empty tomb.  ‘He is not here; for He is risen!’  My heart overflowed with gratitude as I stood inside that empty tomb and realized anew that Christ had broken the bonds of sin and death on my behalf!

One of my favorite newer hymns is ‘His Robes for Mine’ by Chris Anderson and Greg Habegger.  The hymn, full of rich theology, speaks to the heart of every believer who has accepted this undeserved exchange. Hallelujah!  What a Savior!

His Robes for Mine

His robes for mine: O wonderful exchange!

Clothed in my sin, Christ suffered ‘neath God’s rage.

Draped in His righteousness, I’m justified.

In Christ I live, for in my place He died.

 

Chorus:

I cling to Christ, and marvel at the cost:

Jesus forsaken, God estranged from God.

Bought by such love, my life is not my own.

My praise-my all-shall be for Christ alone.

 

His robes for mine: what cause have I for dread?

God’s daunting Law Christ mastered in my stead.

Faultless I stand with righteous works not mine,

Saved by my Lord’s vicarious death and life.

 

His robes for mine: God’s justice is appeased.

Jesus is crushed, and thus the Father’s pleased.

Christ drank God’s wrath on sin, then cried “‘Tis done!”

Sin’s wage is paid; propitiation won.

 

His robes for mine: such anguish none can know.

Christ, God’s beloved, condemned as though His foe.

He, as though I, accursed and left alone;

I, as though He, embraced and welcomed home!