Deserted But Not Alone

“No longer will they call you ‘Deserted’
…for the Lord will take delight in you.”
Isaiah 62:4

When we think of someone deserted we may think of a lost child who is frightened because of the loss of mother’s visual presence. Or we may consider parents’ whose only child has no time for them any more and only wants to know what their inheritance is. Then there is the enemy called death that relentlessly steals from us our most beloved ones. Or the faithful wife whose spouse is not so faithful.

Perhaps one of the most haunting and frightening cries of desertion was heard outside of the walled city of Jerusalem a couple of centuries ago when Jesus uttered the words, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” These words have such a dreadful aspect to them that we shrink from even a serious consideration of them. Of all the forms of suffering Jesus endured while among us, that word conveys the most painful of all. It came after several hours of darkness and is the first of the last four He uttered before dismissing His spirit.

What pressed this word from the parched lips of Jesus was the fact that He had been made sin for His people. He never committed a sin, indeed sin repulsed His holy character yet He allowed our sins to be placed upon Him in order that we might have His righteousness. No one’s imagination can exceed the reality of what occurred during those hours of darkness. However you have been deserted today, be assured Jesus knows all about it and indeed much more.

The promise in our text is from Almighty God Himself. He assures His people who feel forsaken to understand He does not forsake any on whom His love rests. At times those who believe in His Son feel they are abandoned or left in the lurch for this reason or that. However God calls on us to understand He does not forsake the objects of His love ever.

It is because Jesus was abandoned—instead of His people—that they can never be forsaken. He has taken the punishment due our sins and therefore the Father can only look on us with favour. In dying—instead of us—Jesus drank damnation dry on behalf of His people. The cup is empty and now all that flows to us from the hand of God is designed for our eternal good. Regardless of who deserts you in this life for whatever reason, you are not alone for the Lord is with you.

Do you believe this today? Are you one who has called upon the Lord to rain mercy and grace on you? Are you certain that Jesus is your only Lord and Saviour? Have you placed yourself into the beneficial cross work of Jesus? If you have then rest assured today that you are forever safe in Jesus’ care. If you are not sure of this seek the Lord until you find Him, or more importantly He finds you. Then you will be able to say, “I was lost but now am found.” And you will be confident that your Creator takes delight in you.

Share this message:

What makes God sing?

“He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Have you ever thought about the emotional life of God? Certainly we are full of emotions, some good, and some not so good. At times our emotions get the better of us and cause us to do things we later regret. Other times our emotions run strong and it is an absolutely wonderful to experience. But what about God? Some think of God as having a long white beard, dressed in white and perhaps a little stern. Someone to be afraid of or who is unapproachable.

In our verse today we have God described as delighting, loving, and singing! What a contrast to the common image of the divine, especially the singing idea. Where does that come from? Well, it was not humankind who invented music and harmony that delights the hearer. It was God. He created the musical scale and the mathematics behind great music. He did it for our pleasure as well as His.

“The aim and final end of all music
should be none other than the glory of God
and the refreshment of the soul.”
—J.S. Bach

Bach was perhaps the greatest composer in the western world. He dedicated all his music to God. He knew his Bible and he knew that heaven is filled with glorious music. Who can listen to the majestic oratorio of Handel that we call The Messiah and not be profoundly moved by the magnificence of its parts? Did you know that some of the music composed on earth is sung in heaven? Rev. 15:3 speaks of it.

But imagine God singing and what causes Him to sing. We seem to have imagery here that is human rather than divine. How can God have human traits? We struggle to understand this. Is it just rhetoric, a way of describing God, that cannot be really true?

Well, to understand the emotional life of God we must look at Jesus. He tells us that if we see Him we see the Father. In John 15:11 Jesus speaks of His joy and how we can have it ourselves. In Matt. 3:17 we read of God the Father having pleasure in Jesus, and calling Jesus His beloved Son. Well, the love the Father has for Jesus is the same love the Father has for Jesus’ followers. In John 17:23 Jesus speaks of the Father loving us with the same love that He has for Jesus. This is indeed a staggering thing. To think that we are as loved by the Father as Jesus is.

Dear, so dear am I to God,
Dearer I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loved His Son,
Such is His love for me

How can God then suppress His love for us when He loves Jesus’ people as much as He loves Jesus His own Son? Find comfort today in the midst of your struggles in the thought of how precious you are to God because you believe in His Son the Resurrected One. You bring joy and delight to the heart of God no matter what the world thinks of you.

Share this message:

A Quiet Celebration

Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his saints.
Psalm 116:15

Some time ago I told the story of Donna, (not her real name), and how she came to faith in Christ. Donna gave us an assignment that we pray she would die soon. Well, we did pray and the Lord heard our prayers.

I received a phone call one Friday morning from the nursing staff that Donna wished to see me immediately. The staff explained that she had only hours to live. I decided to go that afternoon as our car was in for repairs that morning. Susan urged me to find a way to go immediately, so I made arrangements to go within the hour to the nursing home. When I arrived, Donna was conscious and knew me. I spoke to her about her favourite view of Christ.

A few weeks earlier, after she had confessed faith in Christ, I shared with her how the Good Shepherd goes before the sheep so that wherever they walk, the shepherd has walked before them. She loved the idea that Jesus was just a step ahead of her in her pilgrimage. That morning I reminded her gently of how the Saviour was just in front of her and would guide her every step of the way home. She quietly whispered, “Soon, soon.” By that she meant that she wanted to be taken soon to be with Him. I assured her that He would soon take her and then prayed for mercy to be shown her by the Lord. She seemed peaceful and comforted by our words and prayer.

An hour after I left her room, the Saviour embraced her in death and she was at peace. How glad I was that Susan had prevailed with me to go immediately rather than wait until the afternoon.

A few days later the funeral home called me to request that I do a committal service. They explained that because there were no close relatives, the family had dispensed with a funeral service and only wished a committal service at the grave. The distant relatives did not think they would be present but wished me to perform that function on their behalf. I happily agreed to render this service for them.

A few days later my wife and I along with the funeral director, a cemetery official and a VON nurse that had attended Donna before she had to leave her apartment and go to Ian Anderson House, gathered at the grave side for the brief meeting.

It seemed so sad and lonely to think that this dear one was being given such a simple departure from our midst. No relatives, no old friends, no sunshine, just the stream of Tuesday morning traffic and five strangers. Yet, there was a note of joy in our voices as we read the Scriptures and prayed there in the cemetery that cool fall day.

Donna’s departure from this world was only noted by five people, but her reception in heaven was attended by joyful celebration of all the heavenly host as she entered the presence of her newly discovered Saviour. What a difference between Donna’s reality and ours.

We were joyfully saddened by this quiet celebration of a life lived, but the Lord knows why He allowed such an event to go unnoticed by the busy world that autumn day in the peacefulness of the cemetery.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.

Share this message:

Don’t Waste Your Suffering

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters,
that my circumstances have turned out
for the greater progress of the gospel, 
so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ
has become well known throughout the praetorian guard
and to everyone else, 
and that most of the brothers and sisters, 
trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment,
have far more courage
to speak the word of God without fear…”
Philippians 1:12-14 (NASB)

Many of us have had loved ones whose physical suffering has led them to desire to depart and be with the Lord. Often we do not know what to say to them. We have a sad conflict of interest because we wish them to stay with us. Death is so permanent and to think of living without their presence breaks our hearts. Our desire to keep them with us is selfish. What we need to do in such situations is give them permission to die.

Something else that is exceptionally important is to urge them to use their suffering for the good of others. This is what Paul does in our verses for today. He has been imprisoned wrongfully. However, he has an audience he would never have had if he was not in prison. So, instead of simply feeling sorry for his situation, he witnesses to the guards and others sharing the Gospel in that segment of society that he could not otherwise reach.

Paul never felt sorry for himself. Instead, he found ways to share the Good Shepherd and sow the good seed of the Gospel wherever he was.

Can you use your suffering for the good of others? If you are a single parent, consider joining with others to organize a single mom’s/dad’s group in your neighbourhood. Find ways to share the Gospel when you go to the cancer clinic. Possibly your calm manner will get people asking why you can seem content—even joyful—as a cancer patient. At the funeral home making preparations for your loved one’s funeral the staff will observe your calm spirit at such a challenging moment in time. The peace of God which passes understanding will be the way you use suffering for a witness.

There are many ways to exploit suffering for the good of others. Instead of moaning about our trials get creative in how to witness and use these difficult situations for the glory of God and the good of others.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

– Isaac Watts

Share this message:

“You’re not my judge!”

The Bible calls on all of us to examine ourselves to see what possible evil lurks beneath the surface of our skin. For example Paul says in 1 Cor. 11:28 “A man ought to examine himself.” In Hebrews it says “See to it brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” (3:12)

Paul even calls on Christians to “…examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.” 2 Cor. 13:5. So we ought to check and make sure we are even Christians. Then the Bible even goes farther in our responsibility to check up on ourselves.

Sometimes we may hear someone say this to us when we have suggested that their actions are not right. They become defensive and tell us off with this statement. In one sense they are perfectly right. We are not an other person’s judge. We have enough to do judging ourselves in the light of God’s Word, the Bible.

We hear people in the Bible calling on God to examine them. This certainly removes any thought of going easy on ourselves. We must judge ourselves carefully and honestly, without missing any detail.

In Psalm 26:2 the Psalmist says, “Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” Again in Psalm 139:23 we read, “Search me O God, and know my heart; test me…”

What a challenge. Imagine inviting God in to our most intimate thoughts and feelings and asking Him to make a judgment call on what He sees! Have you ever thought of being so bold as to ask God to do this? It takes a humble person to do any such thing. It also takes a person who knows his sins are forgiven and his iniquities are blotted out. Make no mistake there is One Who is the judge of us all, and judge He will. Who will plead your case before His court?

The Bible calls on us to retain Jesus Christ as our Advocate. He alone is qualified to plead our case. If we confess our sins, forsaking them, and receive Jesus Christ as our Advocate, we shall be acquitted of our sins. If we do not, we shall have to plead our own case and the Bible tells us we shall lose the case and be left out for all eternity.

Seek Him while He may be found. Call out to Him while He is near.

Share this message: