November 1

Psalms 130:3-6 (NIV) 3If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? 4But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. 5I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.

The LORD does keep a record of sins. Every idle word we speak, we will give an account of in the Day of Judgment. BUT – That word must be the most valuable conjunction to man. "But with You there is forgiveness!" Since we know it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to wash away sin, this can only be looking forward to the justice of God born by the Son of God. The ransom of our soul is precious indeed. It removes all our sin as far as the east from the west.

If there is forgiveness with God, one would imagine that fear would then have no place. The psalmist says there is forgiveness, therefore He is feared. In 1 Kings 8:37-40 we may find the source of the thoughts of the psalmist. When we are rebellious toward God, He brings difficulty into our lives. Then we turn to Him, who knows our every deed, and seek forgiveness. He then heals our heart and our conditions. The fear comes from knowing that He will justly deal with us when we rebel. Look at it another way. A parent will deal with their child more severely when the child is acting in a way that is dangerous. A parent who doesn't forgive, doesn't care, and will not bother with discipline. The fact that He cares enough to provide forgiveness, should show us that He is to be feared when we are rebellious.

Waiting on the LORD is a lost discipline. We are such a busy society, we have forgotten what it means to wait for something. The psalmist trusted that the word of God is true, and so he could wait for God to respond in God's time. That does not mean he is not eager to see the answer. On the contrary, he is watching with expectation, like the watchman that waits for the sunrise when his shift ends, and he can finally close his eyes and rest. Waiting is inseparable from hoping in God's word.

Consider: Wait expectantly for God to respond to your prayers, to meet you in your need. Watch like that watchman looking for sunrise.

November 1

2 Timothy 2:3-6 (NIV) 3Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer. 5Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor's crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

Paul gave us three vocational analogies to the Christian life. First, he suggests we are like soldiers. Soldiers endure hardship. They are not at home but out in the field for a cause. Their time of hardship is temporary but necessary to secure freedom. As a soldier, they do not get involved in civilian affairs. They want to please the commanding officer. Civilian affairs would be a distraction. It is not what they are there for.

What a great analogy for our walk with the Lord in this life. Some Christians complain, "I didn't know it would be so hard!" Then why did you join the battle? You could have just stayed a slave, but do you realize how hard that would get? The good thing is that this is a short tour of duty. We are going home soon. Don't get wrapped up in this world and its affairs.

The athlete is our next analogy. He trains hard and goes without many of the simple luxuries of life, because he wants to win. Then, as he competes, he must do so according to the rules if he is to win. As Christians, we, too, go without some things that the world may consider essential. We are after a heavenly prize. We want to hear our Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." That's why we discipline our soul and operate according to the guidelines of the Spirit. We don't want to be disqualified for the prize.

Last is the farmer. He works hard to raise a crop. He's up at dawn and quits at dark. Day after day he tends the soil, the crop, picks the weeds, ensures the crop gets water. There is never an end of things to be done, but he is first to be rewarded with a share of the crop!

Consider: Reward is coming fellow laborer. Keep up the hard work. We will go home. There is a prize. You can almost taste the fruit of your labor.