Dear Church Family,
Greetings in the Name of the LORD! It was so good to be with you all over the weekend. What a blessing to be able to be in touch, even while we are going through all of this together. Hopefully, the end is near. It is important to be praying for those of our number who do not have the easy access to social media that so many of us enjoy; for them it is an especially lonely time.
Thomas Boston, who we have been referencing lately, suggests three reasons why the Lord can allow our circumstances to run contrary to our will and expectations, forming an unpleasant trial. The first, he suggests, is to make trial of our faith—whether we are a sincere believer and Christian or a hypocrite. Nothing reveals hypocrisy like a good solid crossing of our will and pleasure.
The second reason is to stir us up to a more careful exercise of our duties as believers. Again, nothing brings us to a more prayerful attitude or a more earnest interest in God’s Word than a stinging trial. When the flesh and the will get crossed, if our spirit is in the hands of the Holy Spirit, we will turn to the Lord for the grace and help we need.
In the story of the Prodigal Son, it is not the wasting away of his inheritance that bring him home—no, it is something else that can easily be missed in the story.
Luke 15:14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.
It was the famine that put him in such severe straits that he remembered his need of his father’s love and care.
And the third reason is to convict and correct sin. One day a person is walking freely in sin and suddenly something most unexpected cripples him or her—perhaps even literally—and the warning is obvious and serious. The path so thoughtlessly being followed, the sin so easily being tolerated, is suddenly brought to mind, and the conscience is pricked with guilt and repentance even as the course of life as usual is brought up short.
Joseph’s brothers came down to Egypt only to find out that the journey was going to be much different than they expected, and twice, when their plans were interrupted and they found themselves in unexpected trouble, they admitted that it was their sin against their brother which was at the root of those troubles.
Genesis 44:16 Then Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; here we are, my lord’s slaves, both we and he also with whom the cup was found.”
The present circumstances that we find ourselves in as a nation can certainly benefit from considering these things. As a nation who boasts that its trust is in God, is there any hypocrisy in the way we function? In the churches within the land, in our own church, has there been any neglect of duty? And thirdly, is there any reason to suspect that perhaps some course of tolerated sinfulness is being brought to mind? As a nation that continues to undervalue life—at both ends of the spectrum—is there anything to be considered in the shutdown of our economic prosperity?
Dear LORD, we are among those who believe that You are the Ruler of the nations and that providence is not just fate mindlessly at work, but divine will being exercised for Your glory and our blessing. The things that have befallen us are not without purpose and design, and it would be foolish of us to assume otherwise.
Father, make us to see any hypocrisy in ourselves, and Lord, by grace give us a spirit of repentance and the comfort of forgiveness through Christ. In the larger realm of our nation, we pray that those who hold power and rule over us will realize that they must be just, ruling in the fear of You, the living God, and that all those nations that forget You will be turned into hell.
Where we have neglected duties, forgive and energize us, that we might serve You faithfully from the heart; and Lord, please arrest us in any foolish path of sin by Your grace.
And, O LORD, thank you for Your faithfulness and goodness to us. Thank you for hearing our prayers for Margaret and Malou. Thank you, LORD, for the fellowship in Your Word and camaraderie we enjoy as believers. Thank you, Father, in Christ’s name, Amen.