Yesterday I wrote about how my Bible study ended with me coming to a settled conviction that though some of the smaller details seemed to vary, the incidents recorded in Mark 14 & Matthew 26, and the incident recorded in John, are speaking of the same incident.
I explained how I’d come to that conclusion after for a time initially believing the opposite.
After I finished sorting out the incident itself, there is the theological point to consider. I got to thinking about Mary and her vial of nard, worth 300 denarii. Her letting down her hair to dry Jesus’ feet. There is much to consider here.
One of the ways God intervenes in the world is providence. The quote below is from a sermon titled “Secrets of Contentment“.
“There are two ways God can act in the world: by miracle and by providence. A miracle has no natural explanation. In the flow of normal life, God suddenly stems the tide and injects a miracle. Then He sets the flow back in motion, just like parting the Red Sea until His people could walk across and closing it up again. Do you think it would be easier to do that—to say, “Hold it, I want to do this miracle” and do it—or to say, “Let’s see, I’ve got 50 billion circumstances to orchestrate to accomplish this one thing”? The latter is providence. Think, for example, of how God providentially ordered the lives of Joseph, Ruth, and Esther. Today He does the same for us.”
I find it incredibly restful to dwell in the knowledge of His sovereignty and His providence. It doesn’t mean I kick back and drift like a twig down a river, doing nothing. I still pray, study, and diligently perform all the things the Bible says we are to do. But I know that He is directing my steps. His providential care of me is in the best hands. What a great and glorious God we serve who providentially orders all events simultaneously to come together at every given moment to ensure His works come to pass!! How can I NOT worship a God who, from the moment He breathed life into Adam, has superintended every event at every moment to accomplish His divine will?
More importantly in terms of our worship, no one is self-sufficient, and everyone is answerable to God. Nebuchadnezzar praised God, saying,
“all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth;” (Daniel 4:35)
The sermon I linked to above concludes,
Contentment comes from learning that God is sovereign not only by supernatural intervention, but also by natural orchestration. And what an incredible orchestra it is! Appreciate the complexity of what God is doing every moment just to keep us alive. When we look at things from that perspective, we see what folly it is to think we can control our lives. When we give up that vain pursuit, we give up a major source of anxiety.
That God is ordering our steps, and doing so for all 8 billion people on earth, and every creature, and every storm, and every tide, and every cloud, and heaven’s hosts, and so on, should yield a gratitude that we can know this magnificent and powerful God. In your gratitude and prayers and praise, consider the providence of God. He preserves His own, down to the minutest detail.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” (Matthew 10:29)
I think if we were allowed to see God’s providence in real form and in real time, how He connects everything to be consistent with His will and His glory, it might look like this photo by Steve Irvine for NatGeo, called Moth Trails at Night
Puritan Thomas Manton wrote of providences as one portion of our heritage. Here again we shout in gratitude-
“It is a full heritage, and nothing can be added to the completeness of our portion; for in the promises here is God, heaven, earth, providences, ordinances, all made ours, and all inward comforts and graces they are a part of our portion; and what can a soul desire more? Here is God made over to us; the great blessing of the covenant is, I am thy God. Other men say (and they will think it a great matter when they can say), This kingdom is mine, this lordship is mine, this house, these fields are mine; but a believer can say, this God, this Christ, this Holy Spirit is mine.”
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
What is adoption? “A. Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory.”
Think of that for a moment…how great and bountiful this gift is.
At Thanksgiving we often see the American symbol of the ‘horn of plenty’ also known as the Cornucopia. The horn is filled to overflowing with harvest items from this time of year, such as this depiction :
Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are given gifts from HIS harvest of plenty. Picture the overflowing cornucopia of plenty from Jesus with His harvest treasures:
–the number of his children, –have his Spirit sealed within them, –are under his fatherly care, –admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, –made heirs of all the promises, and –fellow-heirs with Christ in glory.
All Christians have these and so much more to be thankful for. I know I am grateful for the opportunity to be grateful to Jesus forever.
Let’s see where we have come to! If you are saved by the blood of Christ, having repented and believed in His life, death, and resurrection, then you have not come to Sinai, but to Zion!
“For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, “IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.” And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.” (Hebrews 12:18-24).
Pretty far! Keep walking. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2:6-7).
We have much to be thankful for. As the verse says, we can be thankful for His city, for His angels, for His church, for His Justice, for His Spirit, for His mediation, for His blood. And as we know, someday we will be thanking Him in person. We will see His face. What a day that will be!
As this year draws to its close: I stand on the Cornerstone of all creation, because the mercy of Jesus saved me lo those many years ago. Gratitude fills my heart and my life with the blessings He has delivered to me, first fruit of which is that precious salvation. He Who is the fount from which all beneficence flows, in His mercy accepted my piteous cries for forgiveness and smiled upon my soul, bringing light and peace.
He continued to bless me by sealing the Holy Spirit within me to rely upon as my guide and teacher. He allows me to grow in His light and remain upon His paths by sending me wisdom as I read His Holy Word. He gives me earthly fulfillments- I am not hungry, I am in a warm home, I am clothed and I am employed. I learn from Paul who said to the Philippians,
“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13)
Contentment no matter the circumstance is truly a gift. Do you have a grateful heart as this year closes? The end time is a period when the Lord is shaking heaven and earth, and we see what remains. “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” (Hebrews 12:26).
Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:26-29). Gratitude and contentment in the midst of terrible circumstances is key to remaining unshaken. Paul was unshaken, content in all that occurred.
So was Abraham Lincoln. His Proclamation in 1863 at the height of the US Civil War was The basis of the holiday we celebrate nowadays. Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation was gratitude to the LORD. Notice how his decree began, not with a listing of current troubles, and if any man had a right to complain it was Lincoln. But the proclamation began with gratitude toward the Lord for blessings. Lincoln begins:
“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”
“In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.”
“No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”
“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
“And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.”
“In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington, this third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three…” (1863. end Lincoln proclamation)
Friend, you are of the Kingdom – the Kingdom that will not be shaken! My prayer for you is that your heart is filled with gratitude for all things, no matter the circumstance.
“Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” (Colossians 3:16).
About Thanksgiving, the holiday- I’m reminded of the hymn, “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.” My thankfulness stems from the root of it all: my salvation. I’m thankful Jesus came, taught, died and rose again for pardon of my sins. I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit’s ministry to guide me on all straight paths in His Light. I’m thankful for Father God Who made us in His image….and did not wipe us all out in the Flood. I’m thankful that He sends the angels to protect me. Am I thankful for friends? For turkey? For my job? Absolutely. But the gratitude for secular things pale in comparison to the center of the universe: GOD, and the fact that He resides in me through His grace and mercy. From that One Truth, all other blessings flow.
The most important question you can ask yourself at Thanksgiving, is “Am I thankful I’m saved?”
My dear sisters who are laboring under the tsunami of the world’s sin, grieving over hating your own, and mourning over others’- I offer a small message of encouragement, by way of a large message from Charles Spurgeon.
This Age of Grace is rapidly accelerating to the time of the end and the time of the Age of Tribulation and wrath seems to be on the horizon. Gaps are widening, we see that clearly. Believer vs. non-believer never had less in common. Poor vs rich were never more far apart. Those who are strengthening versus those who are apostatizing were never more numerous. It will all deepen and widen more tomorrow…and tomorrow… and tomorrow…
So those of us who are large in number globally but perhaps few in groupings locally, are daily made more aware of our sin. We thus are ever more knowing of our own wretched condition, which is forgiven sinner. We’re always heaping gratitude to Jesus when our sins prick up more vividly to our heart as each craven day passes. Sometimes we hate our own sin so much that we totter, weakened as we see the horrific face of it. But far better than we feel weak in our heart, fainting in knowledge of our sin, than our conscience be weak, failing to feel its prick.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)
Here is the encouragement. Charles Spurgeon preached a message to his congregation in 1882, called “God’s Non-Remembrance of Sin.” Far from being antiquated or irrelevant, it is even more alive today than it was when it was delivered, I venture to say. The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit and it’s 2000 years old and still relevant. In the same way, any sermon delivered by wisdom of and submission to the Holy Spirit is also alive today, and fresh.
The sermon I linked to above is and wonderfully concise and encouraging. If you are feeling low because of your sin and the state of the world, if hopelessness starting to fray the edges of your mind and heart, take hope from this sermon. Our sins are not only forgiven, but forgotten!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
All too often we focus on our sin and plead with the Spirit for strength to withstand them another day. We confess and repent, and rely on His Goodness and Grace to forgive, but we still remember. He does not!
I’ll excise a few pieces of Spurgeon’s sermon for you:
“What the Law asserts, the understanding also asserts, for within the awakened man there is the memory of his past offenses—and on account of these his conscience passes judgment upon his soul—and condemns it even as the Law does. “God must punish wickedness,” is the utterance of conscience.”
“Thus, for once, the devil craftily cooperates with the Law of God and with conscience—these would drive men to despair, but Satan would go further and compel them to despair as touching the Lord Himself, so as to believe that pardon for transgression is quite impossible.”
“With the desponding I shall try to deal at this time and may the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, help me to console them–”
“Our first theme is this—THERE IS FORGIVENESS. Our four texts all teach us that doctrine with great distinctness. Is not that a sublime assurance, “I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins”? Does not Paul put it sweetly as from God’s own mouth, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Remember how the Psalmist, in the 130th Psalm makes this a special note of thanksgiving “There is forgiveness with You that You may be feared.” Let us adore the Lord because He delights in mercy!”
“Secondly, THIS FORGIVENESS IS TANTAMOUNT TO FORGETTING SIN. This is a wonder to me, a wonder of wonders—that God should say that He will do what, in some sense, He cannot do—that He should use speech which includes an impossibility and yet that it should be strictly true as He intends it. God’s pardon of sin is so complete that He, Himself, describes it as not remembering our iniquity and transgression.”
“The Great Father’s heart is not brooding over the injuries we have done—His infinite mind is not revolving within itself the tale of our iniquities. Ah, no! If we have fled to Christ for refuge, the Lord remembers our sin no more! The record of our iniquity is taken away and the Judge has no judicial memory of it. Sometimes you have almost forgotten a thing and it is quite gone out of your mind—but an event happens which recalls it so vividly that it seems as if it were perpetrated but yesterday. God will not recall the sin of the pardoned.”
“I, even I, am He that blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and will not remember your sins.” (Isaiah 43:25) . “For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34). “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12.) “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17). —end SPurgeon excerpt
Please take heart! Please do read all of Spurgeon’s gem. Thanksgiving Day is coming, but our thankfulness to the Lord for His mercy, forgiveness, and forgetting of our sins is something we are thankful for every day, even through the time when day shall be no more and time shall be no more, and we still have an eternity to be grateful.
Next week is Thanksgiving, a time when we traditionally celebrate the blessings we enjoy in life. Many families have a tradition of sitting around their table and each guest or family member saying what they are thankful for.
I’m thankful for my salvation. For that to be possible I am thankful for the Holy Spirit drawing me to Jesus. For that to be possible I am thankful to Jesus for obeying the Father and dying on the cross. For that to be possible I am thankful for God who created all the world and who is so Holy that His Son obeyed Him and took all the wrath that was destined for me on that cross. I am thankful He revealed Himself to us in His word, and that we have the privilege of prayer, the Bible, the gifts, the fruits, and eternal life. I am thankful for the promises of prospering us in the regenerative process of growing in Christlikeness, for treasures and rewards in heaven, for the promise of rest and peace.