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Psalm 38

 

O LORD, rebuke me not in your anger, nor discipline me in your wrath! For your arrows have sunk into me, and your hand has come down on me. There is no soundness in my flesh because of your indignation; there is no health in my bones because of my sin. For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me. My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness, I am utterly bowed down and prostrate; all the day I go about mourning. For my sides are filled with burning, and there is no soundness in my flesh. I am feeble and crushed; I groan because of the tumult of my heart. O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me, and the light of my eyes - it also has gone from me. My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague, and my nearest kin stand far off. Those who seek my life lay their snares; those who seek my hurt speak of ruin and meditate treachery all day long. But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear, like a mute man who does not open his mouth. I have become like a man who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes. But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer. For I said, "Only let them not rejoice over me, who boast against me when my foot slips!" For I am ready to fall, and my pain is ever before me. I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty, and many are those who hate me wrongfully. Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good. Do not forsake me, O LORD! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation! (ESV)

Hope of Righteousness

Thursday of Pentecost 21

6 November 2014

Those who are justified are quiescent. They are waiting on the action of God. Good things have come to those who wait. Quiet repose is characteristic of those who are held by God to be righteous in His sight (Ps 37:7). His doing has done everything for them. Why shouldn't they just wait upon His rescue? He has done pretty well without their help. The world looks upon this kind of repose as unspiritual, weak, and enervating. According to the world you have to walk the walk, if you talk the talk. This may be true in the kingdom of the world, but it is not true in God's kingdom where we walk not in our works, but we walk by faith (2Co 5:7). Here God does the talking and we do the listening. God does the walking and we receive the benefit.

 

In this sense, faith is primarily waiting; waiting on the Lord. We are like the small child who has been told that his grandparents are coming to visit. He sits on the front porch looking down the street anticipating the appearance of their car at the last bend on his street. We wait with that same eager hope. God has never failed to come. God has never disappointed out watchfulness. Our waiting has never been frustrated by God, although it can be frustrated by our impatience and unbelief.

 

Thus the truly spiritual life is not one of hyper-activity, but quiet repose in hope, waiting on the Lord. Hyper-activity is the effort to be justified by the flesh, that is, through works. My flesh has gotten me into this sin trouble in the first place. What would make me think that it could get me out of that trouble now? This is like the gambler who doubles down to recoup his losses; not a very successful strategy. It only makes the debt deeper and the loss more painful. No, the spiritual know-it-all will never get there, no matter how hard he might try or think. The gospel must remain entirely and completely a gift to those who wait in hope for righteousness.

 

Martin Luther

 

"'For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness' (Gal 5:5). Paul concludes here with a beautiful exclamation, saying: 'You want to be justified by the law, by circumcision and works. We do not seek this righteousness, lest Christ become useless to us, lest we be debtors to serve the whole law, lest we be severed from Christ, and lest we fall away from grace. But through the Spirit, by faith, we wait for the hope of righteousness.' The individual words should be weighed carefully, for they are very emphatic. He did not merely want to say, as he usually does otherwise, 'We are justified by faith' or 'through the Spirit by faith'; but he added: 'We wait for the hope of righteousness,' involving hope at the same time, so that he might cover the whole content of the faith. When he says 'through the Spirit, by faith,' we must consider what the opposite of the word 'Spirit' is, as though he were saying: 'We do not want to be justified by the flesh, but we do this in order to be justified by the Spirit. And when we say "Spirit," we do not mean a spiritual fanatic or an someone who considers himself a born authority, as the sectarians boast of the Spirit; but our Spirit is "by faith."' The Spirit and faith have been copiously discussed above. But here he not only says: 'We are justified through the Spirit by faith;' but he continues: 'We wait for the hope of righteousness,' which is a new addition. 


Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.5
 
Prayer

Lord Jesus, You have given us the Spirit that we might in faith and confidence await your rescue in hope. Help us not to become impatient but to rest peacefully in Your perfect promises. You have counted us not guilty in Your sight. Show that there is nothing better to know or believe. Amen.

 

For Kim Cheng, that the Lord Christ would be with her granting her strength and healing

 

For Pastor Sagar Pilli, that the Lord Jesus would encourage him his labors to call all nations to the gospel

 

For Pastor Charles Wokoma, that he might be kept safe while teaching in Nigeria
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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