It was the truth concerning Jesus Christ in the Gospel, God’s Word, that came to us by God’s providence at some point in the past. And when we believed that Word, we were saved from the guilt of all our sins and given the Holy Spirit whom Christ had promised to send to his people. The Spirit’s presence in us is a “down payment” (earnest) of the full and final salvation to come at the time of resurrection of the saints.
Seeing the work of the Spirit in our hearts and lives, O Lord, we know that our conversion was real and that you have yet more blessings in store for us in the future. Help us to patiently wait for that day when our salvation from sin’s power and from even physical death is complete. Let us work while we wait and be found diligent servants of you at your coming.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1….2….3….3 and one quarter…3 and one half…Oh, the rally cry of many parents. We want to discipline our children, but we also want to give them every chance to do the right thing. So we delay our counting. Our friends laugh at us and see us as weak. They think we give too many chances. What they don’t understand is that we don’t want to have to punish. So we count…slowly. And we give punishments that we “forget” to enforce. It isn’t that we are slack. It’s just that we love our kids and we don’t want to have to follow through with something that we know will hurt them. This is how God works with us. He has promised us that there will be a judgment. And on that day, some people will be welcomed into Heaven and some will be doomed to Hell. But He desires that no one perish. So, He slows the count. He wants everyone to have a chance to turn from their wickedness. However, let us not mistake God’s kindness for weakness. He will keep His promise. And on that day, a price will be paid. The time to come to repentance is now, while He is still counting.
Does anyone sin anymore? We have a problem with admitting the existence of sin in our world today. We feel little responsibility to ask for forgiveness or to acknowledge that our actions have consequences. And so what happens with guilt? In today’s psalm, there is joy in the knowledge that God has forgiven the sins of the psalmist. He talks about how he felt carrying the guilt of his sins. They can be a heavy burden. Just because the moral code of today doesn’t like to admit that sin exists, our psyches as well as our bodies bear the brunt of our feelings of guilt. Many years ago I read an interesting piece of advice. Guilt can be heaped on us by others who didn’t get what they want from you and is therefore not real, and it can be because of something we actually are responsible for. The advice was to hang onto guilt for no more than 3 hours – enough to suffer for something false and enough time to ask forgiveness for anyone we might have hurt. One of my neighbors once came into my yard and stole an item he decided I didn’t want. When I confronted him and asked for it back, he gave it back but didn’t speak to me for 2 years, blaming me for his theft. It wasn’t until he acknowledged that he was to blame and asked for my forgiveness that he could relax and be a neighbor to others. Psychologists and psychiatrists have couches full of people whose guilt is wearing them down. How easy and difficult is the answer – acknowledge our sinfulness and ask God’s forgiveness.
As Christians, we long for the day we will meet our Savior face to face. We cling to the promise that our Lord will reappear and we will spend eternity worshipping him. Even on our toughest days, we hold to this blessed hope. When the world feels dark and troubling, we know this is just our temporary home. Our home is with our savior, Jesus Christ. It is this blessed hope that keeps us pressing onward and sharing this hope with the rest of the world.
Dear God, there are many days when I am reminded that this fallen world is not my home – my home is with you for eternity! When the weight of the world begins to overwhelm me, help me to cling to that blessed hope. You are returning! No one else in history has been resurrected and no one else in history will return to Earth except for you, O Lord. Hallelujah! It is this knowledge that gives me hope to press on and help others find hope in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Father, Thank You for Your mercy. You desire that no one perishes, but that all come to Christ. Thank You for the many opportunities You have given me to make the right choice. Thank You for not ending the count before I came to my senses. Amen.