Restoration by God – Psalm 90:13-17

May God Remember and Restore His People In Their Afflictions

13 Relent, Lord! How long will it be?
Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.

17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us-
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Compassion for Crushing

Moses was a man who spent so much time, and time spent so closely with God, came back from his meetings with God with his face glowing.  Moses, in this psalm, implores Almighty God to relent from His affliction upon the people.  They had been afflicted for so long, that a generation of people had lived and died in affliction, only seeing difficulty, and never seeing rest.

Moses cries out and asks that God would have compassion on His people, and relent from His anger.  How much do we do each day, whether in commission or omission, that angers God?  Our affliction is often brought upon us as a character building exercise.  We need to both remember that God is for us, and that we aren’t yet ready.  It is OK to ask God to relent and to show us compassion.  We are but a wisp of smoke, here now, fragile, and quickly dispersed.

Lavish Love

Moses asks that God satisfy us by lavishing His love upon us.  In the Western World, consumerism and competition vie for our efforts to earn more money to buy more things to supposedly satisfy and satiate our desires.  The only real satisfaction we receive is when we are reconciled to God, and we experience His peace through His Love.  It is only then that our restless hearts can be satisfied, and only with the love that He provides.

When we are satisfied by our relationship in God, we are much more able to experience joy in our hearts.  We know in our minds that everything that God says is true.  It is only after experiencing the truth of God’s love, and the truth of His word as it becomes real to us through experience, that we are truly able to tightly grasp our Savior, and cling to Him with joy and contentment.  It is only then that we can set aside the desires to accumulate wealth and power and importance and other things that the world offers.  For it is in the gentle, loving embrace of our Savior and Father and constant Companion that we are able to truly be satisfied.

Reciprocal Response

Moses goes on to ask God to grant us a time of gladness that is in exact proportion to the time that we have spent in affliction.  This may seem a little odd, as most people spend only a short time in affliction.  But ask anyone who has been afflicted with difficulty for more that a decade, and they will tell you how difficult and life-changing it would be to be rid of their affliction, and to receive a commensurate time of gladness following the trial.

Oh, what joy that would be!  To not only be rid of the constant pain that wounds and reminds us of its power in our lives, but that there can come a time of gladness.  For when a person deals with prolonged pain, suffering, and misery (especially misery), it can seem that the time of gladness will not come until the sweet separation of the spirit from the body in death.

Generational Good

Moses asks that God lavish His love and compassion not only onto this generation, but to each successive generation of people as well.  It is very important to parents that their children have every opportunity to thrive and survive, and generational, continual oppression through the wrath and anger of God and cause sane men and women to want to give up hope.  But if their children can continue to receive the bountiful blessing that they have received, even late in life, the pain, suffering, and misery was worth it.

Establish Efforts

One of the ways that Moses asks that God blesses His people is to establish the work of their hands.  Imagine that everything you did, no matter how spectacular or seemingly good, was immediately wasted or produced not real results.  What if everything that you did had no lasting meaning.  It is one of the most discouraging things that can happen to a man is to realize that all of their efforts came to nothing – that everything they did and worked for had no meaning.

While we should all find our meaning in Christ, men are wired to also find meaning in the successful labors of their hands and hearts.  When that comes to nothing, it can have a devastating effect upon people.  Moses therefore asks God to establish the work of God’s people’s hands, that they can look back upon their efforts and see that they did not waste their life and energy in vain.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  How do we cope with constant, unending, unyielding affliction?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, everything that You do is right, and You can do no evil.  Give me strength and courage as I remember Your character, for my affliction in great, and my suffering severe.  Have compassion upon me, Lord, and relent from Your anger towards me.  Though You use these trials to shape and mold my character, I ask that You remember me – act divinely upon my behalf – and restore me as You did Job once my trials have been completed.  Please do not leave me in my affliction without recourse, for I hope to believe that there is relief apart from death.  And once You have finished Your work  in these trials, I ask, Lord God, that You give me as many years of joy and gladness as you have sorrow and misery.  Remember me through all of this, Lord God.  Amen.

Want more? Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Restoration by God – Psalm 71:19-21

It Is God Who Brings Down And God Who Restores

19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.

Regaling Righteousness

David has the foresight to recognize and desire to see that the righteousness of God is to be made known to all.  Earlier in this Psalm, David writes:

13 May my accusers perish in shame;
may those who want to harm me
be covered with scorn and disgrace.

14 As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.

15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long-
though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.

As God’s children, we should greatly desire that the glory and righteousness of God be magnified among men.  Not only should we be displaying the righteousness of God in our everyday lives, but we must also speak the truth about His righteousness to others.  Faith comes through hearing the word of God.

It has always been known by the enemies of God that faith comes through hearing.  That is one of the reasons why there is such a great effort placed on muzzling the voice of truth in society.  They know that if people hear the truth, and believe the truth, the truth will set them free.  Only by silencing the truth and then speaking lies are the enemies of God able to continue to exert their control over people.

There is an old nursery rhyme that exemplifies this truth:

Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

This is a bald-faced lie told to children to help them cope with the emotional trauma of the power of the spoken word.  Words DO hurt.  And words CAN help.  When we pretend that what we say has no effect upon others, we deceive ourselves and lay the groundwork for all manner of mischief.  After all, if spoken lies have no power, then lying must be OK, because it doesn’t hurt anyone.  But Jesus addressed this very poignantly:

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

When we lie, we murder the truth.

Terrible Trouble

God is sovereign.  We know this in our minds, but question it in our hearts when terrible things happen to people – murder, rape, theft, disease, and all other manner of difficulty and trials.  The understanding that God is sovereign and is responsible for allowing difficulty into our lives is characterized well in the life of Job.  Job recognizes the sovereignty of God, and tells his wife after his afflictions:

He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Job’s relatives, after Job had gone through his trials, acknowledged the responsibility and sovereignty of God in their actions and words to Job:

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver and a gold ring.

We would do well to remember that God has not forgotten us in our trials, but rather has sovereignly allowed them into our lives to bring about change in us and glory to Him.  And after those trials are over, God restores us.  We must also remember that God does not do evil, but may allow evil to come into our lives through our circumstances for His purposes and our sanctification.

Rescued in Resurrection

Not everyone is restored in this life after trials.  Job and many listed in the annals of the righteous in Hebrews were restored while they lived on the Earth.  Jesus was not restored on the Earth.  He passed into glory to fulfill what God has intended for our benefit and His glory.  Many who endure great trials will not be redeemed until the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We can take heart and have peace, knowing that our pain and suffering will not last forever.  God will rescue us from all our troubles, even if it is not on this side of life.

David recognizes this and records it for us to give us the opportunity to soberly consider these things.  And just because God does not redeem a person during their life certainly does not mean that He will not redeem them going forward.  We must always have our eyes fixed upon the cross of Christ and the future glory that awaits as we will patiently wait for God to act.

Pleased in Peace

David consoles himself knowing that God will restore and increase his honor at a later time.  He knows that God will comfort him at a future time, in God’s time, for God’s purposes, to bring about the maximum glory to God.  We can rest as well in the knowledge that God will comfort us in our afflictions, for He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.  Using our intellect, we must direct our will to force our emotions into line with the truth.  Otherwise, we will be led by our emotions, and that can have disastrous consequences.  Everything has its proper place and purpose.  Let us reassure ourselves in the character, power and sovereignty of God when all seems bleak.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask a question:  What comes out of our mouth when we face trials of various kinds?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, Your glory is over the Earth.  You are to be magnified and glorified.  My lips should be singing praises to You, and revealing Your great and mighty deeds to those who will listen.  Give me the courage to stand strong when people seek to silence the truth.  Help me to remember Your goodness and mercy and grace as You allow me to suffer through my trials.  Help me to overcome, and to speak of Your deliverance to your people so that they would be encouraged.  Help me to speak to strangers and those who do not know You that they may know that the Living God loves them and desires to be in relationship with them.  Prepare the hearts of the people, Lord God, and direct me to them that You would be magnified and glorified.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

Submission to God – Colossians 3:1-4

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

The world, the flesh, and the devil all vie for the attention of our thoughts.  If they can just persuade us to take our eyes off of Christ, we can be led astray.  Paul provides us with the framework for preventing this, in that our lives are hidden in Christ.  Our thoughts should be continually towards the things of God.  We are also told where our treasure is, there are our hearts also.

Time and time again, we are distracted with the troubles of life.  Even when we are focused on God, tragedy seems to occur to cause us to take our eyes off of the object of our affection, and be focused in the here and now of trials and tribulations.  It takes great self-control to refocus on the things that matter, as the threat of pain, suffering, and loss loom over us in those moments.  We are directed (both imperative commands!) to set our hearts and set our minds on things above.  It is an act of the will, contrary to our natural inclinations.

It is an act of submission of the will to God that enables us to make this unnatural change in our thought lives.  In everything, Christ submitted Himself to the Father through submission to the Holy Spirit.  In the same manner we need to submit ourselves the same way to the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s ask the question:  How well are we submitting to the Holy Spirit?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, we are so easily distracted by the difficulties of life.  Give me strength today to have a heart that is steadfastly focused upon Your Son, Jesus Christ.  Remove the veneer of importance from those things that try to grab my attention, and place everything in its proper place, so that You are honored in everything.  Guard my heart, and help me to submit to Your perfect will.  This I ask in the precious name of your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?