Dear Cornerstone brothers and sisters,
As we considered last Sunday, what a good God we serve who gives us a day to rest and to worship him. The Sabbath (or the Lord’s Day) is a wonderful blessing, not a burden. Even today, may we begin to look forward to and to pray for our worship this coming Lord’s Day.
A few reminders:
The Ladies’ Mugs n’ Muffins will be Saturday, 11/16 at the Barnes’ home (2530 Teague Rd). Ladies, please mark your calendars for this opportunity to spend time together.
Please be in prayer for the denominational thank offering. We will collect this offering in three weeks. For more info on the thank offering, see here: http://opc.org/feature.html.
Finally, this week’s devotional is a reflection on the believer’s waiting on God from Psalm 130.
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Waiting on the Lord”
Psalm 130:5, “I wait on the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”
Psalm 130 is one of the Psalms of Ascents (Psalm 120-134). These psalms would have been sung as Jewish pilgrims living outside Jerusalem traveled to the temple for one of the three National feasts. A study of theses Psalms would be a rich and rewarding study as to the nature of the Christian life as a life of pilgrimage. Psalm 130 in particular is a Psalm about forgiveness. One could imagine a Jew singing or reflecting on this Psalm just as the sacrifices are offered at the temple and the blood of the sacrifice comes pouring down from the altar. Psalm 130 divides neatly into 4 stanzas; and for our purposes in this devotional I want to focus on the third stanza.
The Psalm begins in the depths of despair (vv. 1-2). The Psalmist pleads with the Lord that his prayer be heard: “O Lord, hear my voice” (v. 2a). The Psalm then begins to climb upward from the depths in vv. 3-4 with the glorious declaration of forgiveness: “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (v. 4). The blood that flows from the altar pictures the once and for all forgiveness purchased by the true lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:29; 1 John 1:7; Eph 1:7). And the Psalm closes on a note of hopeful joy. The Psalmist encourages his fellow Israelites to hope in the Lord. Having experienced the forgiveness of Christ, he calls his brothers and sisters to know the same forgiveness. With the Lord, he says, there is “plentiful redemption” (v. 7).
What I want us to note is the third stanza (vv. 5-6) – the stanza of ‘waiting’ (the word ‘to wait’ is used 5x in these verses). We might expect that after the statement of forgiveness in vv. 3-4, the Psalmist would immediately be soaring on the heights of hope. But that is not what we find. And this is why the Psalms are such a balm for wounded souls – they reflect the reality of living in a fallen world. I would argue that in vv. 5-6, the Psalmist is waiting to know the subjective assurance of the objective work of redemption. That is, the blood of the sacrifice (pointing of course to the true redeeming blood of Christ) objectively covers the sins of the people; however, it can take some time for the individual heart to know, experience, and feel the joy of such forgiveness. Let me be clear, it is not our experience that effects forgiveness – it is the once and for all objective work of Christ. It is not our feeling forgiven that effects forgiveness. In Christ alone there is forgiveness. The sins of those who rest in Christ by faith have been washed away (Is 1:18).
But the Psalmist is describing what is the common experience in the heart of the believer. Yes, I know I am forgiven in my head. I know that Jesus died for my sins. I know that in him I am washed whiter than snow. I know he has forgiven me for my sins of yesterday. But I still don’t know the joy of being forgiven. I still don’t know the freedom of being forgiven. The sins of yesterday (or last year … or even 10 years ago) still haunt me – they still whisper in my ear. Many of us – like the Psalmist – wait for the Lord. We wait for the assurance of his Spirit. We wait for the restoration of fellowship and intimacy with our Lord. We wait for his assuring word, “My child, I have forgiven you. Rejoice!”
Brothers and sisters, may we pray to know and to experience the joy of being forgiven. May we pray for the Spirit’s assuring voice. May we pray for the Spirit’s assuring presence. And may we know in our hearts what we know in our heads: “the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
Have a wonderful week and I look forward to worshipping with you this Lord’s Day,