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Janet's Corner

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The Comfort of God's Pardon and Presence

Lesson 2:  The Comfort of God’s Pardon and Presence

 

We will look at the truth of receiving God’s pardon and living in God’s presence. Both are essential to receiving God’s comfort.

 

He assures his people over and over again of his presence and his pardon. Do you need that encouragement and assurance today?

 

The remnant of God’s people were waiting for deliverance from an exile caused by their sin. We can also be living in exile because of sin and need deliverance. Isaiah’s prophecies can bring us comfort today.

 

Look at Chapter 40:1-2.   (God’s Pardon)

 

1 Comfort, comfort my people,
       says your God.

2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
       and proclaim to her
       that her hard service has been completed,
       that her sin has been paid for,
       that she has received from the LORD's hand
       double for all her sins.

 

God’s voice of comfort is heard through the prophet giving them assurance of His pardon, His forgiveness. Speak tenderly means “speak to their heart,” proclaiming that her severe trials are over – giving the exiles hope - as they read this during their 70 years of exile in Babylon.

 

He speaks of the pardon that would be theirs – their sin would be forgiven and their exile would end. The nation had sinned greatly against the Lord with their idolatry, injustice, immorality and insensitivity to his messengers. But they were still His people and He loved them. He would chasten them, but he would not forsake them. Their punishment was fair, given in an equivalent measure to what they had done (Jer 16:18).  God’s people in exile needed to know of his forgiveness, and so do we.

 

There are consequences to our own conduct. but when we come to that place of correction, we can experience that love and comfort God is waiting to give. What comfort, what strength that brings to our lives – all through the powerful work of Christ on the cross, if only we believe. We need to live in God’s forgiveness, not just receive a clean slate at salvation. IJohn 1:7, (“if you say you don’t sin…”), reveals to us the truth of our tendency to sin and our need of receiving God’s forgiveness.  God’s desire for us is not to sin, but if we do, He is waiting to pardon us.

 

Are you assured of his pardon today?

 

 Isaiah 40:3-5   (God’s Presence)

 

A voice of one calling:
   "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness
       a highway for our God.

4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
       the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.

5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it.
       For the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

 

God’s voice of comfort is also heard as he assures them that He will go before them on the long road ahead. It is the oriental custom that a herald goes before the returning processions, announcing that a king is coming and commanding that a suitable road be made for this royal event. God’s people would be returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the temple. It would be a rough road, but the Lord would go before them to open the way. He portrays himself as an ambassador repairing the roads and removing the obstacles. The highway is a frequent picture in Isaiah’s prophecy. Doesn’t this remind you of a New Testament prophet’s words? In Matthew 3:1-6, we see this scripture fulfilled ultimately in the ministry of John the Baptist, as he prepared the way for the ministry of Jesus. When we have sinned, the way back from our exile may not be easy, but when we are trusting God, it will be easier. As we trust in God our Lord, He removes the obstacles and barriers in our lives – in our hearts and minds. And he promises not only his pardon, but his presence.

 

We will see that this is one of the truths that God through Isaiah reinforces over and over again – his presence. Read Isaiah 41: 10 – “So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God….”

Remember our acronym?

 

T   ruth

R   ely on & R  est in

U   nchanging

S   trength

T   ake hold

 

One component of trusting God is to rest in Him. And a component of rest is living in sharpened awareness that God is with us, revealing to us who He truly is. He longs for us to actively acknowledge the reality of His presence, not just considering him as a tag- along (there when we need him), but trusting the reality of His presence every moment of our lives  that brings us satisfying rest. In God’s presence we find rest – satisfying rest.

 

I would like to emphasize this matter of rest.

 

Isaiah 28:12 God says to his people “This is the resting place”. He had been trying to communicate this to them. Remember Isaiah 30:15 “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” But he follows this admonition by saying “you would have none of it.”

In Isaiah 28:15 he says to them “they would not listen.”

Jesus says to us today that He is our resting place. Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus calls us to rest in HIM. Listen to the message… Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." 

 

“To live freely and lightly” really caught my attention…so did “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” Do those descriptions fit your life or maybe the desires of your heart? Oh, how I need to know this place of rest in Him, so that wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I can find comfort and strength from being in his presence. Cindi McMenamin in her book, “When Women Long for Rest,” encourages us to find this person of rest and a place of rest.

 

She says that busyness and drivenness are Satan’s tools. We need to find this place of rest in our heart.

 

Listen to Psalm 32:7 in the message. “God’s my island hideaway; keeps danger far from the shore, throws garlands of hosannas around my neck.”

 

Think about that phrase “island hideaway” or if I may, “island getaway.” How often we say we have to “getaway” for a rest. When you come back are you rested? Changes of schedule and environment are great, but is that the kind of rest we are looking for that will ultimately satisfy us? Vacation actually means freedom, but vacations provide freedoms and even rests that don’t last. One of my nieces used to start crying about two days before she came home from vacation, as she anticipated what she had was not going to last. Even though those vacations are short lived, those days capture our hearts and remain with us through the longest of winters.

 

We need times that will do the same for us everyday of our lives – times with God, that will capture our hearts and minds, that have a lasting effect on our lives through every season of our spiritual walk.

 

No matter where we are - cooking, driving, doing the wash, changing a diaper, getting dressed in the morning – we can learn to let him place that garland of rest around our necks, as we become still in His presence. As I was sharing this with our RCBS team, one of the women said, just think about it as God throwing a little sand your way – like you were at the island getaway.

 

“We need to go way with him in our heart.” Let his presence calm your heart.

 

He says… Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life.

 

I do believe that it is absolutely necessary that we have those times in God’s presence - all alone, just you and him…to recover your life – life that God intended.

 

We need to find that place of rest. In your home – a nice comfy chair, outside on your deck. But what about when you’re away from home – do you look for that place. Do you miss the opportunities that God gives you? Maybe a canceled coffee with a friend or a play date with your children’s friends, allows you an opportunity to be still with God. How about planning an extra 15 minutes in your schedule when you have to pick up your child somewhere – just sit quietly – be still with the LORD. Look for these opportunities that will involve perhaps a choice of how you use your time. Choose to rest with the LORD.

 

When you find that place, just sit in his presence. Be quiet and focus on Him. What’s going to be the first thing that happens? A list of things will come to your mind that will distract you. Just write them down or ask God to bring them to mind later. Just enjoy Him while you are no longer focused on what you have to do or your anxiety. Just focus on him. Colossians says “Set your mind on things above.” Think on Jesus and his holiness – not just on those things that we take comfort in, like his kindness, trustworthiness, love, and patience, but sit in awe of the one who is with you - in awe of his holiness, his sovereignty, his omniscience. Worship him for his majesty and holiness.

 

Isaiah gives us a glimpse of his majesty and his tenderness

 in Isaiah 40: 10-11

 

See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power,  and his arm rules for him.
       See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.

He tends his flock like a shepherd:   He gathers the lambs in his arms
       and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

 

Do you see the contrast? God’s Majesty and his tenderness. Just as the people who had a long road ahead of them needed to know both God’s majesty and his tenderness, we do, too. It will be like a garland of rest to us. God will throw a little sand our way…. As we rest in His presence.