I sought the Lord, and He answered me. He delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame. (Psalm 34:4-5)
God is Love
Terry Wogan was a veteran BBC broadcaster on a breakfast show for nearly 40 years. When he was asked how many listeners he had, he said, “Only one.” In reality, he had over nine million listeners. But in Wogan’s mind, he wanted every listener to feel like he was speaking directly to them, because he was. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is like that. He is saving and gathering Jesus’ followers into a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language. We are part of a huge family of believers. But God loves each of us as if there were only one of us and He knows our names and all the days and details of our individual lives. When we pray, we join with billions of other needy people, asking for His help. But the Lord hears us as if we were the only one talking. He speaks to us by the Spirit working with His word, as if each of us were His only listener, leading and directing our individual paths to glorify and enjoy Him.
Ephesians is full of rich teaching on God’s love for us. It says He lavished the riches of His grace on us, gave us His glorious inheritance among His holy people, and has reserved a place for us beside Christ in Heaven. We are God’s handiwork, His masterpiece, His workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. He has promised to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us. The Lord enables us, as dearly loved children to walk in His way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.1 What a Savior!
Here are the last two stanzas from the hymn with comments. The Lord gives every one of His followers life, help, value, and dignity. Remembering Him is like oxygen to our souls.
Hymn: Seek we no more; content with these, Let present rapture, comfort, ease—
As Heaven makes them come and go: The secret this of rest below.
Comment: Like Brother Lawrence, mentioned in the previous post, Welsh poet Anna Waring (1823-1910) gratefully served God in humble ways that were not glamorous, including ministry to men in prison. Anna asked the Lord for daily wisdom and strength to blend with the ups and downs of ordinary daily life, while keeping close to Christ. She asked for contentment to fill little spaces for Jesus so that He be honored. She trusted that God had pre-planned all her life, so she could simply focus on pleasing Him. Anna didn’t want to be restless and hurried, seeking greatness for herself. She trusted Jesus to treat her as His adopted daughter and to guide her step by step each day. Following Christ, Anna Waring discovered that a life of self-renouncing love was refreshing. She lived at peace with God and with people around her. Don’t we want the same?
For more on Anna Waring you may like to read All My Life Is Portioned Out for Me.
In the Old Testament, Jeremiah reminded his friend Baruch not to seek great things for himself.2 Soon in Israel’s history there was going to be total upheaval. Jerusalem would be destroyed and many other kingdoms would rise and fall. So Baruch would not have a successful career and an easy life, but the Lord promised to preserve his soul, despite the turmoil all around him.
Prayer: Lord, help us to learn to be content whatever the circumstances. Help us to trust, obey, and serve you and other people in times of need and plenty, whether well fed or hungry. Teach is to enjoy prosperity while we can, but when hard times strike, remind us that both come from you. Teach us that nothing is certain in this life except you, our Rock and Redeemer, our Hope and Healer.3
Hymn: Only, O Lord, in Your dear love, Fit us for perfect rest above,
And help us, this and every day, To live more nearly as we pray.
Comment: Praise God, He gives us times of refreshing along the way through this life. Pastor William Still (1911-1997) wrote a helpful booklet called, “The Rhythms of Rest and Work.” He wrote that the fundamental blessing of Christian salvation is peace with God, shalom in Hebrew. And from that peace with God flow all the other blessings of the Lord’s love, life, joy, physical and spiritual health, and an eternal home in Heaven.
Keble’s hymn reminds us that we are not home yet, beloved. There remains an eternal Sabbath-rest for God’s people.4 God’s resting after creating the universe and the weekly Christian Sabbath, now called the Lord’s Day to celebrate Jesus’ historic resurrection, both point us ahead to God’s final dwelling with His people. “The Lord will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”5 Fellowship with God and serving Him here and now prepare for us for our final rest and refreshment there and then in the new heaven and new earth. When we are home with Christ, there will be only righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. The Bible closes with these words: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”6
Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun;
Let us talk of all His wondrous love and care.
Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, we’ll be there.7
Notes (various translations): 1 Eph 1:8,18, 2:6,10, 3:20, 5:1-2. 2 Jer 45:5. 3 Prayer based on Phil 4:11-12; Ecc 7:14. 4 Heb 6:15. 5 Rev 21:4. 6 Rev 22:20-21. 7 From the hymn by James M. Black (1856-1938).