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

 

Trials

Trials are a blessing. What? Trials, a blessing? How are these stumbling stones, these thorns in my side, a blessing? Indeed. And not only blessings, but they are essential to life as a Christian and essential for us to bring our walk of faith closer to God. You see, to refine gold, there is a fire. To sharpen a blade, there is a grinding stone. A scar is fresh new skin, but first there is a cut. Everything in life that is good has most likely gone through a long and painful process to get the way it is. People are no different.

James 1:2-3 “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” Count it all JOY when you fall into temptation. Joy? That I have to fight my sinful nature? Yes. Because that proves the Spirit of God is in you and is fighting in you. You see your trials are not only proof of God in you but by those trials you are one step closer to finishing your walk of faith. One step closer to perfection. Your trials are battles and you are the warrior. Warriors get scars and injuries. Don’t be discouraged by your failures or stumbling. Failure is not falling down. Even the mightiest man falls down. Failure is when you refuse to get back up. May the grace of God and his strong hand lead you through your trials and make you better because of them. Make you sharper, more pure, more his perfect, wonderful, precious child.

Jared Vandyke

Knowing God as Lord

How can we know that God is Lord?  Do we know Him as Lord through the creation around us?  Through His revelation to us in His Word?  Through the earthly blessings we receive from Him?  These are all legitimate answers to the original question.  However, while they are probably the most obvious, they are not the only options.  One answer that particularly stands out to me is one that may at first seem paradoxical, especially in our current church world: we know God as Lord through His seemingly unfair actions in the world around and through His chastising of us.

For some time now, I have been working through the book of Ezekiel in my personal devotions.  One thing that I have come to notice is the frequent use of the phrase, “and ye shall know that I am the Lord,” or similar such phrases.  This line often concludes a verse in which God proclaims that he will send judgement on the people of the earth.  One example is Ezekiel 12:20: “And the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall be desolate; and ye shall know that I am the Lord.” Another example is Ezekiel 30:26 “And I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and disperse them among the countries; and they shall know that I am the Lord.” And there are many others.

This is an idea that is very unpopular in the nominal Christian world.  Saying that God causes the hardships in our lives and the seemingly evil events in the world around is seen as unfairly doing harm to the reputation of God as good and loving.  Many Christians refuse to acknowledge that God is the cause of our trials or of natural disasters, seeking instead to attribute these things to the devil.  I recently read a book entitled Against Calvinism in which this was a frequent point of discussion for the author.  His main point was that making God the cause of what seemingly to us is evil detracts from His loving nature – after all, God is love, is He not (I John 4:8)?

What this author and others like Him forget is that our human understanding is very limited – even the least of God’s wisdom far transcends that of man (I Cor. 1:25).  We are often unable to understand why He causes certain events to take place.  However, this does not make Him automatically unloving and unjust; on the contrary, it makes Him exactly what He claims Himself to be in I John 4:8.  Proof of this can be seen in James 1:2-4.  In verse 2, the word “temptations” can be understood as trials.  The idea is that God sends seemingly evil events (whether a natural disaster or a simple trial in one person’s life) to strengthen the faith of His people through patience. By these trials we are taught to rely on Him and trust more fully in Him.  In so doing, God manifests His love for us.  Meanwhile, for the wicked, God sends such events in just judgement for sinfulness.  Many would object to this, but our response ought to be God’s response throughout Ezekiel: “And they shall know that I am the Lord.”

Throughout this week, then, think of how you know God to be Lord.  See Him as Lord in His Word, certainly, as well as in creation and in your blessings from Him.  But, fellow Christian, forget not to see Him as Lord in the difficult events as well.  Remember that your trials work patience and that patience leads to us being made “perfect and entire” (James 1:4), and thus know that God is Lord.

Matt Koerner