Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Thought for Wednesday 14 October 2015

“Restore us, O God of our salvation, and cause Your anger toward us to cease.  Will You be angry with us forever?  Will You prolong Your anger to all generations?  Will You not revive us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?  Show us Your mercy, Lord, and grant us Your salvation.”  Psalm 85:4-7 NKJV

A plea for mercy.  A prayer of forgiveness.  The psalmist begins with a prayer of thanksgiving to The Lord for having “forgiven the iniquity of Your people” (vs 2), but now the prayer continues in acknowledgement that while the sin of Israel has been “covered”, there is still a matter of “restoration” and “revival” so the people of Israel may not “turn back to folly”.  If the sin of the nation has indeed been “covered” by The Lord’s mercy, what need is there for “restoration” or even “revival”?

The whole of humankind has been “covered” by the Crucifixion of Christ, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God.  What is left for us to do? 

We must respond, but that response must be more than a “one-and-done” prayer of confession.  To be truly “revived” is to have a renewed sense of purpose and a renewed determination to actually begin to live deliberately as a people of The Lord.  We must not simply take the Gift of forgiveness and only go back to that which caused Divine Anger and Wrath in the first place.   Vice does not suddenly become virtue, and the destructive nature of sin has not been transformed.  It is we who must be transformed in such a profound way that we have a genuine disdain for sin and pity for those so engaged.

In the Wesleyan Methodist tradition, we understand that the act of Mercy by which we are “covered” is by The Lord’s hand alone.  We are “justified” before the Throne of Grace and pardoned for the sin of our past.  “Restoration” and “revival”, however, can only come with our best efforts to live and to work and to worship as though the Kingdom of Heaven depends on it … because it does!  No, we are not “earning” spiritual points to find favor with The Lord.  We are “working out our salvation with fear and trembling” (sanctification), we are growing in faith and in love by renewed efforts toward goodness and virtue rather than to “turn back to folly”.  We are, by our faithful witness, showing others the way of salvation and inviting them to join us in this remarkable journey.  We finally understand they will not believe our empty words – only our acts of mercy and justice.

There is nothing magical about a relationship with The Lord and with The Lord’s Church.  Nothing will “just happen”.  We must be actively engaged in genuine relationship.  By the many means of grace (prayer, worship, fasting, Scripture study, etc.) we grow stronger each day to withstand the shifting winds of a culture that calls sin “progress”; and it is a culture that threatens to swallow us – and “all generations” – up.

Remain steadfast in the faith.  Wrestle with that faith as Jacob wrestled with The Lord.  We may walk away with a limp, but we will also walk away with His blessing.

Grace and peace,


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