Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Psalm 43, Jesus and The Gospel

I read Psalm 43 today as part of my bible reading and by God’s grace it occurred to me that Jesus is all through this Psalm – and it was so encouraging to see God’s faithfulness in completing his promises and to remember that he is sovereign and everything that happened in Jesus was his plan all along.
Verses 1-2
Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause
    against an ungodly people,
from the deceitful and unjust man
    deliver me!
For you are the God in whom I take refuge;
    why have you rejected me?
Why do I go about mourning
    because of the oppression of the enemy?
These are words that David wrote about 1000 years about Jesus. And they are quite general – on one level they are simply David crying out to God for vindication and questioning why God seems absent from his sufferings.
Yet these are also words that the Holy Spirit inspired David to write (2 Peter 1:21), and thus we can trust that God had his perfect plan in them, and they point exactly to Jesus. Jesus was perfect and righteous, and therefore he alone deserved vindication from God (and that came when he rose again). He suffered and died at the hands of an unfaithful and rebellious nation – the Jews rejected him, their creator and God, preferring their self-righteousness and legalism. And likewise so did we, preferring our sin.
The words that specifically caught my attention are “Why have you forsaken me”, which are the same words Jesus cries out on the cross as he suffers the punishment that we deserved. When we put our faith in Jesus he takes our sins, and he takes God’s punishment for them, dying in our place when he died on the cross. He was rejected by God when it should have been us who were rejected by God (for we reject him and his way when we sin). He was forsaken by God so we could be adopted as God’s children. What a wonderful saviour!
Verses 3-4
Send out your light and your truth;
    let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
    and to your dwelling!
Then I will go to the altar of God,
    to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
    O God, my God.
These are actually the verses that caught my attention first up. Who is David’s light? Who is the truth? Who is the ultimate fulfilment of both of those images? Jesus! He is the light of the world (John 8:12), and in fact he was the one who created light on day 1 (Genesis 1, John 1). Likewise he is the way, the truth and the life – the only way we can be made right with God. He is the only one who can save us from God’s wrath against sin – only by faith in him and repentance can we be forgiven. (So have you put your faith in him? – 1 John 1:8-9)
In John 1 we learn that Jesus is the word, and God’s word is truth. God also spoke to bring creation into existence. And in Psalm 119:105 we learn that God’s word is a “lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path”. This then links into the second line of v3 – Jesus alone can lead us. He alone can lead us to God’s holy hill – to heaven. Because of our sin we deserve hell, God’s wrath. Yet Jesus saves! He lights the way, he is the truth, and if we follow him we have access to God! We will go to heaven to be with him (2 Corinthians 4:16-18*, forgiven for our sins (Acts 2:38) and adopted as God’s children (Galatians 3:26, Romans 8)! What a glorious gospel!
And so we have a resolution to the issue of Psalm 42 and 43. Why are you downcast O my soul? There’s no reason to be for we are forgiven! For even if the whole world falls apart. Even if the mountains fall into the sea (Psalm 46), we are forgiven and nothing can separate us (Christians) from the love of God (Romans 8).
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
    and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
    my salvation and my God.

Soli Deo Gloria.
Nath.

First posted on my new blog, Rock and Refuge.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Voice of the Martyrs Prayer Watch


IRAN: Update on Dual-National Detained for his Christian Activities

Saeed Abedini has been detained since 26 September 2012. In mid-March 2014 he was transferred to a hospital where he received limited medical care but his family were able to feed him, enabling him to gain some weight and regain strength.
On the morning of 20 May a number of intelligence officials arrived unannounced at the hospital. They violently removed Saeed from the hospital, beating him and reportedly giving him an electric shock. He was returned to Rajai Shahr Prison.
This incident follows similar mistreatment of Christian and other detainees within Iran's prison system in recent weeks.
In 2009 Saeed had been warned about his involvement with house churches and so he had focused on humanitarian activities during subsequent visits to Iran. In 2012, while visiting his parents and conducting humanitarian aid, Saeed was detained and in January 2013 he was convicted on charges relating to anti-state activities (which were derived from his involvement with house fellowships) and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment. Saeed has joint Iranian-US citizenship; his wife Naghmeh and their two children are in the US.
Source: Middle East Concern

PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray that Saeed will know the close presence of Jesus each day and that he will experience His healing touch and will receive due medical care.
  • Pray the Lord will give Saeed, his wife and their two children courage, patience and the ability to rely on the Lord's good timing and perfect purposes.
  • Pray all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him (Micah 6:8).

TANZANIA: Pray for Members of Area's Only Church

A church in the predominantly Muslim area of Mafia, Tanzania, was burned down on Friday 9 May, just hours before a scheduled prayer meeting. Radicals had threatened the pastor, Ombeni Omari, and the church for the past two years.
Pastor Omari, a Christian convert from Islam, escaped to Dar es Salaam with his wife and three children after learning of the attack. He had founded the almost 60-member church, the only Christian church in the area, and nearly all of its members were converts from Islam.
Although the church building was destroyed, Pastor Omari said he will return to the area because the work he was called to is not yet finished.
Source: Voice of the Martyrs USA

PRAYER POINTS

  • Thank the Lord for Pastor Omari's faithfulness and eternal priorities.
  • Pray the congregation will continue to meet together to worship the Lord, fellowship with one another and learn from Scripture.
  • Pray the Lord will have mercy on the perpetrators and other Muslims in the area so they too may be drawn to the one true God and worship Him.

KAZAKHSTAN: New Laws Threaten Religious Freedom

New laws with tougher restrictions on religious freedom are currently awaiting approval in Kazakhstan. The laws, which are currently being reviewed with the parliament's Senate, would usher in harsh new punishments that are raising concerns among human rights defenders and religious communities.
Restrictions include up to 60 days of imprisonment for leading religious meetings without state permission, or up to 45 days in jail for attending such an event. At present, these offences are only punishable with fines. It would also become illegal to build places of worship in prisons.
The reported deadline for adopting the new laws is 15 June, with the laws scheduled to come into force as of 1 January 2015.
Source: Forum 18 News Service

PRAYER POINTS

  • Pray that the authorities in Kazakhstan will seek to uphold and respect religious freedom for all, and that these proposed harsh restrictions will be overturned.
  • Ask God to grant wisdom to the church leaders at this time as they navigate these possible changes.
  • Pray the Lord will use these apparent hindrances to further His greater purposes for the church as a whole in Kazakhstan.

First posted on Rock and Refuge