We stand between the past and the future. We are to give thanks for the past. Let us “give thanks to the Lord”, remembering “the wonderful works that He has done” (1 Chronicles 16:8,12). We are to commit our future to the Lord in prayer. God promises His blessing to those who call upon Him in prayer: “If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). There is work to be done. It is God’s work. God gives His command to do His work. God gives the strength to do His work (Ezra 1:2,5). God raises up His servants to do His work. We must be committed to doing the work of the Lord (Esther 4:14,16).
Sometimes, in God’s work, we wonder what is going on. We wonder, “Where is God in all of this?” We need the encouragement of God’s Word: “He knows the way that I take” (Job 23:10). We need to be assured of the faithfulness of God (Lamentations 3:23). Whenever we don’t understand what God is doing, we must learn to look up and catch a glimpse of His eternal purpose for us: “He has put eternity into man’s mind” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Looking beyond the things of this world, we see Jesus. We see Him as “altogether lovely” – “outstanding among ten thousand” (Song of Solomon 5:16,10).
What is so special about our Lord Jesus Christ? What is so important about Him? He is our Saviour. He died for our sins. Though we had “gone astray”, He continued to love us. He saw that we had “turned every one to his own way”, yet He did not stop loving us. He showed His love for us by dying on the Cross for us: “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Through Christ, we have received full salvation.
God has made Himself known to us. He has forgiven our sins. He has become our God. We have become His people” (Jeremiah 31:33-34). He has given us “a new heart” and “a new spirit.” We have His Spirit living within us. We must seek to glorify His “great Name” (Ezekiel 36:26-27,23). With Christ as our Saviour, we have good cause to “rejoice in the Lord” (Joel 2:23). We look away from ourselves to Him, and we say, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). He is “the living God” – “the God of our salvation (Daniel 6:26-27). We are to “return to the Lord”, believing His promise: “He will revive us” (Hosea 6:1-2). As those who have returned to the Lord and have been revived by Him, we must live for Him, never forgetting that privilege involves responsibility. We dare not sit back and take it easy. If we do, there will be “a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 3:2; Amos 8:11). We need “vision.” Looking ahead to the Lord’s return, we must proclaim His message of salvation – “in Mount Zion there shall be those that escape” – and judgment – “there will be no survivors from the house of Esau” (Obadiah 1:17-18),
Before we can enjoy God’s blessing, we must hear the “witness” of the Lord “against” us. Before we can “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God”, we must see how far we have fallen short of His perfect standard for our lives (Micah 1:2; Micah 6:8). We need to see ourselves as we really are – sinners who need to be saved by the grace of God. We must remember that the Lord is a God of holiness as well as a God of love. In His holiness, He shows us our need to be renewed by Him. In His love, He renews us by the power of His Spirit. When He says to us, “Fulfil your vows”, we are conscious of our own inadequacy. When we look to Him for “strength”, we become aware of something else, something very wonderful – “the Lord is restoring” us to a life which will bring glory to Him (Nahum 1:2,7,15; Nahum 2:1-2).
In our sin, we come to the Lord with this prayer: “O Lord … in wrath, remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2). In His answer, God directs us to the Cross of Christ, where we see our Saviour, bearing our sin so that we might receive His forgiveness. When we pray, we must listen for God’s answer: “Be silent before the Lord God!” In His answer, God speaks to us of “the Day of the Lord.” It is “at hand.” It is “near and hastening fast.” It will be “a day of wrath” because of sin – we “have sinned against the Lord”, He leads us on the pathway which leads to true joy. Through Christ, we are able to “rejoice and exult with all our heart.” Our faith in Christ brings joy to us. It also brings joy to God: “He will rejoice over you with gladness.” He looks forward, with great anticipation, to the Great Gathering Together of His people, the Great Homecoming of the redeemed (Zechariah 1:7,14,15,17; Zechariah 3:14,17,20).
We must not allow ourselves to become bogged down in our present situation. God is calling us to “take courage, to draw strength from His promises: “I am with you … My Spirit abides among you … I will bless you” (Haggai 2:4-5,19). Sometimes, we may feel that the Lord has forgotten us. He remembers us. This gives us good reason to “rejoice greatly.” This joy is not a superficial thing. It is true and lasting joy. It is the rejoicing of those who have returned to the Lord. Never forget this: Our rejoicing in the Lord is always vitally connected to our returning to Him. To those who return to Him. To those who return to Him, He gives His precious promise: “I will return to you.” “The Lord Almighty” returns to us, and we are filled with His joy (Zechariah 9:8,13).
God will not forget His people. As those who belong to Him through faith in Christ, we have a very special place in His heart. He loves us. We belong to Him. He calls us His “treasured possession.” We have a special place in His purpose. He says, “My Name will be great among the nations.” “In every place”, He wants His Name to be glorified. How is God to be glorified among us? He will be glorified when we honour Him with the full commitment of our hearts and lives. God is waiting to pour out His blessing. He wants “to open the windows of heaven for us and pour down on us an overflowing blessing.” He will do this for us when, in our hearts, we put Him first (Malachi 1:11; Malachi 3:10).
May God help us to move into the future with Him – ready to be the kind of people upon whom He has promised to pour out His blessing.