Endless Grace – May 21, 2022 (140-141/365)

We’re halfway through this month, and half a month before the halfway point of the year. How have you been?

Much as I would love to hear from you, I don’t know, I guess what I can say is that my heart is full, and because you’ve stumbled upon this article today, I’d like to just pray. For you. Yes, you. As the Lord has been good to me, so I remind your soul, right here, and right now, that He is good to you as well, no matter what you’d tell me, no matter what you’d keep from me… God is good, all the time. And all the time, God is good.

I get it, it sounds all cliche and cheesy but I think it’s just timely considering that we’re going through Psalm 20 today, which is chock full of reminders (for myself, and for you, dear reader) of just how good God is – a sampler, if you will.

And I’ll be honest, I’m trying to beat the clock again here. No, I don’t care much if I am not able to post this before midnight. It’s just that we lost electricity here in our place around 10 minutes ago, and now this laptop is running on fumes (genius me forgot to charge it when I could), and the powerbank providing alternate power to the router is also on its last legs.

May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble!

May the name of the God of Jacob protect you!

May he send you help from the sanctuary

and give you support from Zion!

Psalms 20:1-2

Indeed, if you are going through something right now, or if you’re being troubled, being filled with fear and anxiety, know that our God is faithful and true. Apparently, not only does He hear us when we cry out to Him, but, read – He would also answer in our day of trouble. And I keep reiterating this, the bad news may be that He may not answer according to our expectations, but this is well and good, considering our expectations fall and fail miserably before the infinite knowledge and power of our Creator. Indeed, may we be put in peace, just to know that the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God, who is beyond time and space, hears us and responds according to HIS infinite wisdom and strength, for the glory of His name.

Our reputations may be compromised during these days, and surely we would cringe and shudder at the thought of being humiliated publicly, but we give thanks to God – for in His responding, as we have mentioned, He responds for the glory of His name. Since we are His, anything that happens to us is also an affront to His glory… and I have a feeling that our God need not respond at times, knowing that even at the mention of His name, we are fully protected.

And the protection we receive is apparently no ordinary ‘protection’ according to how our senses would have us define it. No, we read elsewhere that our help comes from the Lord. First of all, this means that the help we have is from the Creator of Heaven and Earth. And from what we read here, we can say that the help we receive from the Lord comes from nowhere less than His sanctuary, His support coming from nowhere and from no-one else but from the heavenlies. For a moment I imagined it as we would usually dramatize it – God’s great and mighty hand reaching down to us from above, from the vastness of the galaxies down to the earth. However, nowadays I suppose I think of it also merely as God reaching from the infinite, giving help and support to us in the finite. Infinite assistance for our finite needs, situations and circumstances.

May he remember all your offerings

and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices! Selah

Psalms 20:3

I could imagine how stringent the Levites were during the times of the Old Testament, needing to check the quality of the animals being offered. And moving further back, closer to the beginning of time, I imagine how Cain could have felt, with his offering of fruits being rejected. Here we were, through all this time, thinking that the way we handled our sacrifices and offerings had a direct relation to how God would remember us and regard us.

And oh, did we try.

Here in church there used to be a time that we would love to quote the book of Malachi here at church, especially in the offering portion we had in every service. We used the verses within in a pretty twisted and vain effort to have us give more money to the church. And if it wasn’t in giving, we would be so strict in upholding ‘standards’ in our music ministry, insisting on a level of ‘excellence’ according to our standards, thinking the better we played, the closer we got to God, and the more people would be drawn to Him.

Pretty noble of us to think, right? But that’s the thing. It didn’t matter if it was at the Garden of Eden, or in our sanctuary…. our focus was off. It wasn’t until just recently till we realized that it wasn’t our efforts that mattered when it came to getting our offerings and sacrifices to pass, for God to remember them and to regard them with favor.

I’m led to thinking that if there was any doubt on our part on if God would ever remember our offerings, or regard our sacrifices, or hear our prayers, or listen to our cries… Well, it wasn’t in how we were doing, but it all boiled down to the sacrifice offered. Because even if we did things perfectly, again, as the Levites did, it wouldn’t sustain us. If we followed things as we used to in the Old Testament, we would still need to repeat the entire ordeal of offerings and sacrifices at least every year.

No, a perfect sacrifice was needed. See, at the end of the Old Testament, in the book of Malachi, the Lord was telling the nation of Israel, that even if they were following the instructions of the Law down to the smallest detail, it still wasn’t ‘enough’ in the sense that the essence of the entire thing was lost on them. They became complacent in their sacrifices, and I would imagine they would be offering more animals with blemishes and that sort of thing. But that’s the thing – I’m led to think that a perfect sacrifice had to be offered at the perfect time as well. It was exactly at this time that Christ was born from the infinite to our finite reality. And we all know this – He didn’t come to OFFER the perfect sacrifice, as if to emphasize the methodology for us to follow. Counterproductive. No, He WAS the sacrifice, and He was PERFECT. It was as John the Baptist would profess – He was the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Take that in. Scripture continues to say that the blood of bulls and goats would only cover the nation of Israel for a season – but here, Christ is the Lamb of God that not only covers, but REMOVES sin, and not only for Israel, but for the WORLD.

See, the point of all this is for me to just share that we can be assured of God remembering us. We can be assured of God regarding us with favor. Was it because of how we made our offerings? Was it because of our burnt sacrifices? Not at all. It was Christ, the Perfect Sacrifice, that guaranteed that we are heard, and we are helped.

I have a feeling that as we keep on going down this Psalm, we’re going to see the same pattern – that Christ has already fulfilled what the Psalmist merely proclaimed over anyone and everyone who would read or sing his song.

May he grant you your heart’s desire

and fulfill all your plans!

May we shout for joy over your salvation,

and in the name of our God set up our banners!

May the LORD fulfill all your petitions!

Psalms 20:4-5

Could it just be possible that the one thing that all of our hearts want, collectively and as individuals, was also fulfilled by the death and resurrection of Christ? I mean, the way I see it now, is that it’s not that He would grant our wishes like a fictional genie would, but He went a whole lot deeper than that.

The writer of Psalm 51 asked for God to create a new heart within him. Ezekiel prophesied that we would no longer have tablets of stone, but tablets of flesh. Before any our desire our hearts would make, it appears that it was God’s desire for our hearts to be made new first. Through Christ’s death and resurrection we have been made new creations, and as such, we have been given new hearts – What’s more is that Paul tells us that in the process of our renewal through Christ’s finished work, we no longer have to strive to be obedient (which inevitably leads us to disappointment and frustration), but we have been made obedient from the heart (see Romans 6:17).

Knowing that we have been given new hearts, and we see the nature of our new hearts as being naturally obedient towards God, we have peace. We have peace, knowing that the underlying issue of our hearts has been addressed, so therefore we could take a more practical look into our desires and plans, and pursue them according to how our heart leads us.

This isn’t to say that everything we do is going to prosper. It’s not even to say that all our desires are pure, or should be pure. While we are alive in this reality and while our beings are influenced by our finite senses, we are still basically existing within a world at the mercy of percentages. What do I mean by this? Since the fall, sin and death have totally infected this world so that in any endeavor we may have, there will never be a guarantee of absolute success or absolute purity. Or am I looking at it the wrong way? Can it be that when our ancestors partook of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, so we tried to handle said knowledge, and are reaping the consequences of our apparent failure in doing so?

Either way, I guess the point I’m trying to deliver here is that it’s not like our having a new heart is going to guarantee our improved condition, or better circumstances in this reality. The reason for the seemingly absolute margin of error may not be clear, but those of us who have allowed the knowledge of Christ and His finished work to minister to our beings shouldn’t despair. The Truth of the matter is that Christ paid such a great price for us to enjoy His absolute Life, even in this variable reality. Christ paid such a great price for us to celebrate His infinite power and peace, even in this finite world.

That’s salvation in my book, and indeed, may we shout for joy over this salvation that Christ has given us! Let us proclaim this Gospel on the mountaintops, raising our banners for all the world to come to the knowledge of His saving grace!

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed;

he will answer him from his holy heaven

with the saving might of his right hand.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses,

but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

They collapse and fall,

but we rise and stand upright.

Psalms 20:6-8

I have to take this time to just thank God for the gift of being able to write all this and to just keep on going without any concerns, or more importantly, without any fear. I must confess that there was a time I was selfish – I was frustrated with how my co-ministers, how a good number of our elders weren’t actually able to see things the way that I was seeing things. Yes, selfish. But in my frustration, I needed to ask myself – How WAS I seeing things?

And, folks, it is by writing that I was able to clarify my thoughts and to actually put what I was thinking and believing into actual words. If you’ve made it this far, and if there’s something in your mind that seems alive yet unclear, you may want to consider respecting that energy by writing what you have in your mind, again, without fear, just as Christ has filled us with perfect love. I felt I needed to share this as I went further, and also to point out that these final verses of Psalm 20 may stand out, but in the face of all we wrote so far, it just gives us a clearer picture.

For indeed, we have been saved. Christ reached from His holy heaven, and by His deliberate death and resurrection, we have been made alive by His saving might.

Furthermore, our eyes are no longer fixed on the chariots and the horses that the world would have us pursue, for our hope is in no less than the name of our Savior, the only Son of God, Jesus Christ. Through Him we may stumble seven times, but we will rise eight times. We may collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.

And with all this being shared, I just hope that we have all been reminded of the faithfulness of our God, and the finished work of the finished work of Christ.

From the earth to the cross, my debt He paid

From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky

Lord, I lift Your name on high.

God bless us all.

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