“For by their own sword they did not possess the land, And their own arm did not save them, But Your right hand and Your arm and the light of Your presence, For You favored them.” Psalm 44:3 (NASB)
It’s Veterans Day in the United States. On this day we honor those who have served in our armed forces. One of the ways that the Children of Israel preserved their history and it’s stories was in songs. Psalm 44 is a song written for the purpose of remembering what God had done for them in securing the Promised Land and to offer up prayer and thanksgiving to God. It was good for them to remember that God was the one giving them the victory. Although God is Spirit this song says uses terms we can visualize. His right hand, His arm, and the light of His face, protects and providentially cares for us out of His love for us. We can rejoice that God is the same today and Christians around the globe are God’s children and members of His family wherever we are. He cares for us and watches over us just as He did for the people of Israel. As we reflect we can remember the ways God has intervened in our lives and it is by His grace and power and wisdom that we make it through day by day.
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” “– But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” – Romans 8:35,37 (NASB)
Paul asks another rhetorical question, to say “no one will ever be able to separate us from the love Christ has for us.” This is not our love for Christ but Christ’s love for us. In verse 37 Paul emphasizes that we have the victory, because we have conquered each of the threats “through Him who loved us.” The word translated ‘tribulation’ in the version we use here is also translated ‘affliction.’ In fact this Greek word means ‘persecution, affliction, and distress. Friends, each of these threats are real matters in the lives of those who believe in and profess Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This is not simply Paul spouting philosophical concepts. No, for if we read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29 we find Paul had already suffered the first of these seven hardships before he took to writing this letter* to Christians in Rome who were facing them as well. The apostle was speaking not only by inspiration but also from experience, therefore, when he stated that none of these things can bring about separation between believers and their Lord. He knew what he was saying!* Nothing exists that can separate us from God’s love. It is unbreakable!
*William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 12-13:291.
Things happen and we react. Maybe we’re primed for a response that is not the right response or time to act. When we do, we often learn quickly of our overreach just as Peter does the night Jesus is arrested. Jesus had just gone three torturous rounds in prayer about the cup he was facing. Now Jesus has to ask Peter if he was trying to divert God’s plan. Impetuous Simon Peter, of course—wielding a sword! Peter was no stranger to jumping right in with both feet. He had jumped out of the boat attempting to walk on water to Christ. He had spoken his mind thinking to rebuke Christ. He had offered to lay down his life for Christ and swore he would be true, always. But shortly after stepping up to defend Jesus, fear would grip Peter and he would deny even knowing Him. Our impatience might push us to interfere with what God had declared, with His plans. What God has declared; He will do. Let’s learn to put away our figurative swords. Let’s trust God’s plan as we understand it and, wait on His timing. Acting on God’s command is how we serve Him best.
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” – John 19:26-27 (ESV)
How many people were standing around observing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the two criminals? Some were mocking, others overwhelmed with grief. From Matthew and Mark, we know there was a good number. John was the only disciple whose presence was noted. Jesus’ mother was there with John and other women who loved and followed Jesus to the cross. In midst great pain and suffering, Jesus felt Mary’s sorrow. He honored His mother by acknowledging and entrusting her into the care of John, “The disciple who He loved,” was the way John always identified himself in the Gospel he wrote.. Jesus, as first-born of the family, did not give the responsibility of caring for His mother to His half-brothers because they were not sympathetic to His ministry nor did they yet believe in Him. In stark contrast with the cruelty and indifference of the soldiers, this group of women watched with heart-broken love and grief. The promise we find in today’s verse was one given to Mary many years before. The anguish of Jesus’ mother fulfilled the prophecy of Simeon: “A sword will pierce your own soul too.” It was a promise of Jesus’ mission. (Luke 2:35). .
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (ESV )
The word of God is our only hope. The good news of God’s promises and the warnings of his judgment in the Bible are sharp. They are alive and active enough to drill down to the bottom of our heart and show us that the lies of sin are indeed lies. The things we do and justify doing based on our desires and fears are not capable of reaching our need and making things right. Dishonesty and false teaching can be countered by the word of God. The promises in God’s Word is like opening the windows letting in the bright morning sunlight on the roaches of sin cloaked as satisfying pleasures in our hearts. God has given you us good news, his promises, his word to protect us from the deep deceptions of sin that try to harden your heart and lure it away from God. Take heart because the word of God is living, active and sharper than any two-edged sword. it will go deeper than any deception of sin has ever gone. It will reveal what is truly valuable and what is truly worth trusting and loving.
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