My Comforter

“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” asks David in Psalm 22:1. We can fall into what seem to be terrible times of trial and feel like everything, even our own God, is against us. This feeling is what David expresses in his question. Trials can come in many ways and forms: perhaps we feel so fallen into a sin that even God can no longer save us, a loved one has been taken from us despite their youth and healthiness, or we ourselves suffer with some terrible illness. However, all of these things are only a minor comparison to what Christ, our caring Shepherd, has suffered. Christ suffered the full pouring out of God’s wrath for innumerable sins of an innumerable amount of His elect people. In His suffering, Christ became our Mediator who knows all our burdens and grants us full assurance of peace in salvation.

For us, Christ “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men,” (Phil. 2:7). As a man, we know that “Jesus wept” and felt the pain, weakness, and tiredness of our bodies (John 11:35, John 4:6, Matt. 8:24). He also knew what it felt like to be hated and unjustly tortured. Countless times the Pharisees questioned Jesus with wicked motives, men tried to push Him off of a cliff, He lost His friend Lazarus, and all His suffering climaxed when He bore the wrath of God on the cross. Now, the One who suffered all these unimaginable miseries has become our Mediator. Jesus, who suffered more than is imaginable–for this punishment came from the all powerful God– understands any pain that you or I may ever encounter. This merciful Saviour, our gracious Comforter, speaks to us and comforts us in the scriptures, through His voice in the preaching, and in speaking with us and answering our prayers.

In His word, Jesus assures us of our salvation, which brings us peace in any trial, saying “therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Every week Jesus spiritually renews us with the preaching so that it is fitting to compare the preaching to milk or meat as is done in I Corinthians 3:2. On the Sabbath, we are assured that we have no need of fear, but may live instead devoting all our heart and soul in joy and thankfulness praising the God of our salvation. Lastly, Jesus works peace within us by answering our prayers. He is our “Emmanuel… God with us” and He knows everything we need (Matt. 1:23).  For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (I Pet. 3:12)

Through any affliction we may face, our Lord Jesus is our comfort. He has been touched with our infirmities and knows the feelings of temptation (Heb 4:15). There is no man who can comfort us like our gentle Shepherd. He fully understands and comprehends the burdens we may face and has a compassionate love towards us, His sheep. How blessed we are to have a full assurance and confidence in Him knowing He is our faithful Mediator who “change[s] not” (Mal. 3:6).

Luke Christian Potjer

 

Everlasting Love

I have this picture in my house; it was given to me by my mom because it is a painting of horses with Jeremiah 31:3 written on it: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” It is a beautiful picture with a beautiful verse, and it has provoked a lot of thought over the last few years that I’ve been looking at it. I’ll tell you why.

Working with horses over the years, I’ve learned to accurately read their body language. One of the horses in the picture is displaying interest, attention, and care toward the other horse. His ears are up; head held high, eyes are bright! Everlasting love, right? Just like the verse written below it says!

The other horse in the picture, however, isn’t quite on the same page. He is quartered away from his companion. His ears are pinned back, head lowered and eyes diverted. He is displaying annoyance, anger, and maybe even disgust. This is why I’ve spent so much time staring at this picture over the years. Why put a verse about the everlasting love of God below a painting that seems contradictory to that verse?

At first, I thought maybe the artist was just naïve, and probably didn’t know a thing about horses, putting a verse like that on such a picture. I don’t know the author, but the more time I spend looking at the picture, the more I think the artist knew what she was doing. After all, with some contemplation, the verse makes perfect sense in that context!

Everlasting love is an easy concept when we think of loving our friends, or when we think of God loving us while we sing in church, pray, or study His word. Even though we know our sin, that everlasting love is warm and fuzzy, and easy to see, but what about when we pin our ears? The moments (and they are constant) that we turn away from God, show Him annoyance, anger and even disgust at His will for us are the moments where the everlasting love of God is most amazing. Realistically, each moment of our lives is a “pin our ears” moment, whether we realize it or not.

So, what if this artist knew what she was doing? Maybe this picture is more than a pretty painting and a beautiful verse. Maybe the artist is saying something about this everlasting love. Even when we don’t show love to our God, even though we quarter away and pin our ears, His everlasting love holds us. He doesn’t stop and leave us alone in our misery. He continues to love us because that love is everlasting!

Let’s spend each day not only trying to reciprocate that love, but thankful for each moment that we reject and try to run from God that He draws us in with lovingkindness time and time again. No matter how many times we pin our ears and turn our heads, His love is unconditional and everlasting, and gently leads us back to Him. Recognize the moments in life that you pin your ears at God, or at friends and loved ones, and apologize to them and to God for those moments of annoyance, anger and disgust. Pray that He will show you also to love with everlasting love!

Suzie Altena

If you’d like to view the painting in reference by Jennifer Pugh, please click here.

Worthy (2): Knowledge

In closing my last article, I spoke of how, although we know so much about God, there is still so much more for us to learn. As we gain knowledge, we not only learn how to better give God what He is worthy of, but also our knowledge of Him is something He deserves. It is important that we distinguish what kind of knowledge to gain. “All heathen wisdom is but folly. Of all knowledge, the knowledge of God is the principal. There is no true knowledge without godliness” (Bridges). It is not heathen wisdom, such as the knowledge of things here below, but true knowledge of God that is important. God is worthy of knowledge first, so that we may better praise Him, second, so we may reverently and affectionately obey His law, and third, so we can better love Him.

As mentioned in the previous article, our praise comes from an acknowledgment of what God has done for us. To be able to render any kind of praise to God we must have true knowledge of Him. When we consider that God is worthy, which the Bible says many times, (II Samuel 22:4, Psalm 18:3, Rev. 4:11, 5:9, 12) we consider the weight of God. God is worthy. God is worthy of so much above and beyond what we can ever render to Him. Yet, as children of God we have the desire to bring our best fruits and our best sacrifices before God as did the children of Abraham. It is only natural then that we yearn to know God better and to understand all that Christ has suffered for us. The more we learn of Christ’s death and God’s forgiveness of us, the more we realize we are undeserving and God is so merciful. As we realize this more and more we can better praise God for His work.

In Proverbs 1:7, we read of knowledge and its connection to our obedience of God’s law. We read that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” The fear of the Lord is “the affectionate reverence by which the child of God bends himself humbly and carefully to his Father’s law” (Bridges).  Knowledge comes from and is obedience to God’s decree of His command. We must know God’s command and then we will have a mind that is obedient to Him.

To truly know God is to love Him. John points out the importance of knowing God in I John 4:7-8. John says that one who loves God will inevitably have knowledge of God and if one does not love God then he surely will not have any knowledge of God. We need knowledge to love God. That is why God gives us His perfect book, and reveals Himself to us with all the creation around us. We must know God is God, the God of infinite perfections, to love Him. It is important we do not make up a God, but we must know the One true God for who He is. When we truly know who God is we will be overflowing with love towards Him. We will be as the lame beggar who began walking and leaping and praising God when He first learned the name of Christ.

God is worthy that we must render so much unto Him. We know He is worthy of our gratitude, knowledge, praise, obedience, love and yet so much more than that too. Most importantly we must walk in a life of gratitude towards God which walk will be filled with learning about God and much more. How great a joy and blessing that God has shared His name with us so we may know Him!

Luke Christian Potjer

Bridges, Charles. “Proverbs”. pp. 3-4. 1846, First Banner of Truth Trust edition.