The Righteous Right Hand of God

We had a good day of worship yesterday, as pastor Joel Engle shared some of the new songs he has written for worship, and pastor Ben Carr gave us a message on why he loves his church, going along with our current “I ❤ My Church" campaign. The main point of his message was "I love my church because Jesus loves the church." And of course, the church is not a building or the staff or the things that we do. The church is us. The church is you (if you are a believer in Christ) and me. My worship experience was hindered, though, sadly. For the first service I sat at the very back, because I would be leaving early to come back home to pick up Stephanie for the second service. When I got back with her, I was recruited to run the video camera for the podcast in the second service because the guy who was doing that had to leave. So there I was at the very back again for the second service. The reason that this hinders my worship (I did worship, don't misunderstand me…worship is not dependent upon sound quality or anything like that) is that, sitting in the back, the intensity is not as strong. I like being up front with most of the other people behind me. That way, I'm encouraged by the sound of the other people singing, as well as the band's playing. The sound quality of the music was fine. But there is just something not right about being all the way in the back. I haven't been a "back row Baptist" for years. I like sitting close to the front. Now I know it sounds dangerously like I am attaching some condition to my ability to worship. That's not true at all. I can worship anywhere. It's just more intense when I'm in the middle of a group of people who are also worshiping. There is strength in numbers, and I believe that's one reason we are encouraged commanded to worship together, corporately.

Bible readings from Discovering the Bible, by Gordon L. Addington:
Isaiah 41
The Lord encourages Israel in verses 8-10: But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off”; fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. In the following verses, the Lord goes on to say that their enemies will be “put to shame and confounded.” Can we claim these promises for ourselves? This is one thing that I have been somewhat confused about for a long time. There are many promises in Scripture that seem to be exclusive to Israel. I have heard many over the years take these and “claim” them for us, saying that, since we are the “new Israel,” all of these promises apply to us. I have to say, I’m on the fence on this one. That being said, I have no problem proclaiming that the Lord is my strength and my helper. I believe that God will uphold me with his “righteous right hand.” I also believe that if I walk in his Spirit, he will “put to shame” and confound my enemies. I believe with all my heart when he says, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (v. 13)

Verses 17-18 say, When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. We could certainly use some of that right now. I don’t remember when the last time it rained (significantly) in our area. Yeah, we got a couple of hours of a nice soft rain a couple of weeks ago, but that wasn’t nearly enough to put a stop to this drought. And it’s a beautiful 72 degrees in Fort Worth right now, with no highs over 100 predicted over the next 10 days. There is also zero percent chance of rain for the next 10 days! Father, we need rain desperately in our area! We pray that you would supernaturally bring an end to this drought. I say “supernaturally” because the forecast shows no chance of rain. It would be a miracle if it suddenly appeared. Verse 20 explains that, if this were to happen, people would see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this, the Holy One of Israel has created it.

Matthew 24:1-28
There is much that is discussed and, possibly, misunderstood in Matthew 24 as Jesus talks to his disciples about the signs of his coming and the “close of the age.” But to me the most important lesson in this passage is not trying to understand what the “abomination of desolation” means or any of that. It is verses 26-28. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather. When Jesus comes back it will be unmistakable.

Father, I pray that we will not be led astray by false prophets as we anticipate the return of Jesus. Let us take the words of Christ, himself, to heart, as he tells us that his return will be like lightning flashing across the sky. It will be unmistakable. We will all see it, and there will be no denying it. Let us not listen to the ramblings of false teachers and preachers as the day approaches.
I take comfort in knowing that you are my helper and my strength. I pray that I will always avail myself of the resources that come from your hand as I live my life. Too often I find myself worrying or stressing over things, when I know in my heart that you have it all well in hand. You are sovereign, Lord, and you have all things under you control. Let us, the Church, never forget that!

I pray that, as we observe this holiday, we will be safe and have a restful day. I also, as already done above, pray for rain in our area. We are desperate, Lord.

If things look bad or out of control for you, remember who’s in charge. And it’s not “Charles.”

Grace and peace, friends.