Before affliction…

Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word.- Psalm 119:67 (NIV)

I went astray. Often, it has a negative connotation. It means that we have chosen the evil paths of this world. We have become adulterers, liars, thieves and murderers, by the standard of this world. But, a Christian life has a higher standard. We may not do any of these things that are considered evil in the eyes of the world; actually we may be living a moral life, yet in the eyes of the Lord, we may have gone astray.

Isaiah 53:6 says, that each of us have gone astray and the prophet goes on to explain that – each of us turned to his own way. Now, nowhere it is said that our own ways are evil and immoral. But just simply that we turned to our own ways. We turned away from the Way, from Jesus Christ and we have gone astray.

Sometimes, we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and realize that we have left His guidance and turn to His ways. But at times, we become strong headed, as in our eyes, there is nothing wrong in the way we are travelling; actually everyone is telling us how good we are and how we have chosen wisely. And, to abandon all that and to follow the voice of the Lord, actually, looks like foolish and we are worried about what others would say… and then the tender hands of our loving Father afflicts us in a sweet manner… now we obey His Word.

Oh, heavenly Father, thank You for Your infinite love and mercy. We thank You for giving us Jesus Christ, our Good Shepherd. We also thank You for Your loving hand that afflicted us, so we realize the folly of choosing our own ways over Your way. Now, we obey Your Word. Thank You. Through Your Son and our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Psalm 119_67

The Lord will guide you continually…

The LORD will guide you continually… – Isaiah 58:11

Many Christians are under the impression that if God is not with them, then they will not be able to receive any blessings. So, receiving a blessing is seen as a sure sign that God is with them. As a result of this, there are few Christians who are convicted of their sins by the Holy Spirit, but when they receive blessings, they harden their hearts without confessing their sins and seeking the forgiveness of our Lord, through Jesus Christ, our Saviour. Their reasoning is if the Lord has not forgiven, if He is not with us, how would He bless us in this matter?

In the 33rd chapter of Exodus, the Lord tells Moses to go ahead to the Promised Land. That He would give the land to the Israelites by driving their enemies away as He had promised their forefathers. Yet, the LORD specifically says that He will not with them, instead will send an angel with them. In essence, God is telling them that they would be blessed and they would see the promises of the Lord being fulfilled, except that the Lord would not be with them.

Many Christians seek the blessings and answers to their prayers as a sign that God is with them. These things are not sure sign that God is with you. Jesus tells that our heavenly Father makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, that He sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:45) So, let us not look at the blessings and answered prayers as a sign of how good we are. Those are the signs that our Lord is good.

Moses understood this, that was why he refused to accept such a blessing. We may not receive a single blessing on this earth, but is God with us? Then that is more than sufficient. That is what we, Christians, must seek – that the Lord is with us, and that He will guide us. That all the blessings and promises we receive are the side-effects of God being with us.

In this New Year, the Lord promises to guide us continually, forever. Oh, if we are not perfect, why would God promise such a thing? Because of His grace. It is not because of anything else, but because our God is gracious and compassionate. As a result, He promises to guide us. As He said to Moses, He says to us: “You have found grace in My sight.” (Exodus 33:17)

And we receive this grace, because Jesus Christ has taken our sins away from us. Let us look at Calvary on this New Year, confess our sins, humbles ourselves before the Holy Lord, and seek His forgiveness. And we will find grace, and we will see that the Lord is guiding us continually. So be it. Amen.

Exodus 33_17