Song of the Drunkards


Count It All Joy

June 9, 2024 in Bible - NT - James, Meditations, Trials

James 1:2 (NKJV) 

2My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials… 

Few exhortations regarding trials are more quoted and more difficult to obey than the one we find here in James’ letter. He exhorts us to count it all joy when we fall into various trials. We are to count itreckon it, consider it to be, reorient our attitude concerning it. We are to count it all joy – not just joy, not just partial joy, not just intermittent joy, but all joy. We are to count it all joy when you fall – encounter, face, experience in God’s providence. We are to count it all joy when we fall into various trials – trials of all shapes and sizes, trials of health, of family, of work, of poverty, of war. Count it all joy when you fall into various trials.

So why should we count it all joy? It is so much easier to count it all inconvenience or tragedy or frustration or discouragement or anger. Thus, when we fall into trials, we must remind ourselves why we should count it all joy. What are our grounds, reasons, for joy? Consider a few:

  • I should count it all joy because God is sovereign. Though these trials may have caught me off guard, they have not caught Him off-guard. “I am the Lord, and there is no other; I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things” (Is 45:6-7). 
  • I should count it all joy because God is all-powerful. Though I may be at a loss to understand or control the circumstances of this trial, yet God’s hand is not shortened. He can save. So I can call on Him. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear” (Is 59:1). 
  • I should count it all joy because the Sovereign, Almighty God is also my loving Father. Though my sin separates me from God, Jesus has died and risen again to forgive my sin and reconcile me to God. Therefore, I need not fear. “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32).
  • I should count it all joy because my loving Father has ordained this trial for my good. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).
  • I should count it all joy because my loving Father is using this trial to teach me patience. This is the reason James gives, “knowing that the testing of our faith produces patience” (Jas 1:3).
  • I should count it all joy because my loving Father and His Son are with me in my trial. “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (Jn 14:23). The Father and Son dwell with us by the Spirit.
  • I should count it all joy because Jesus, the Son of God, suffered in order to carry my sorrows and griefs. He will support me in my hour of trial. “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Is 53:4). 
  • I should count it all joy because Jesus, as my fellow sufferer, sympathizes with me in my trial and I can have confidence that He will hear my prayers. “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:15-16).
  • I should count it all joy because Jesus, as my fellow sufferer, makes intercession for me and is able to save me from these trials. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb 7:25).
  • I should count it all joy because the Spirit too helps me in my weakness to cry out to God for deliverance. “Likewise, the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Rom 8:26).
  • I should count it all joy because Jesus bore my sin on the cross in order to purchase my peace. “The chastisement for our peace was upon Him” (Is 53:5). Trials are the opposite of peace – they are a visitation of chaos, turmoil, disruption. Therefore, my trials shall pass. Peace shall come. I have hope. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Lk 6:21).
  • I should count it all joy because this momentary, temporary trial is producing for me an eternal, a perpetual weight of glory. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor 4:17).

So are you counting it all joy when you fall into various trials? If you are like me, then you will have to review this list often and add to it in order to count it all joy. And so, reminded that there are grounds for joy even when we fall into various trials, and no doubt reminded that we often give way to frustration, complaint, anger, discouragement, or despondency, let us confess that we have often lost sight of our grounds for joy and given way to discouragement and despondency. And as you are able, let us kneel as we confess our sins to the Lord.

Declared to Be the Son of God

March 31, 2024 in Bible - NT - Romans, Easter, Meditations

Romans 1:1-4 (NKJV)

1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God 2 which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.

Today is Easter – the most significant of the various holy days in the Church calendar. More pivotal than Christmas, more central than Pentecost, more crucial than Epiphany – Easter celebrates the most transformative event in all human history. Because of the resurrection, we have the Gospel. Because of the resurrection, we have cathedrals. Because of the resurrection, we have new life, forgiveness, and peace with God – all because of the resurrection of Christ on this day.

It is this transformation that Paul highlights in the introduction to his letter to the Romans. After assuring us that Christ’s coming was proclaimed beforehand by the prophets and that he came as was foretold from David’s seed, Paul goes on to declare that Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection of the dead. So what does he mean by this clause?

Many have supposed that Paul is describing Christ’s twofold nature: according to his human nature he was of the seed of David but he was also the Son of God. However, the text does not support this idea. For how could Jesus’ status as the eternal Son of God change as a result of the resurrection? He has and ever will be the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. This is not what Paul is addressing.

Rather, he is describing the change that occurred in Jesus’ status as a result of the resurrection. Jesus was born of the seed of David – in other words, He had the natural right to rule as God’s King. But simply having the natural right to rule does not establish that one does in fact rule. Bonnie Prince Charlie may have had a rightful claim (de iure) to the throne of England; but a rightful claim to the throne does not make one king de facto. So Paul insists that Jesus was not only born of David’s seed – not only did He have a rightful claim to the throne of His father David – by His resurrection from the dead He was declared to be the Son of God with power, authority. In other words, in the resurrection Jesus was crowned as God’s Son, His Messianic, Davidic King. Jesus not only has a lawful claim to the throne, He is now seated upon His throne, ruling with power as King.

So what is the significance of Easter? On this day we celebrate the coronation of our King. Nearly two thousand years ago Jesus was crowned King of the Universe, the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him and this includes, because He has conquered death, authority over death itself. He has the keys of death and hell. He opens and no one shuts; He shuts and no one opens. So death is conquered; death is destroyed. Christ is risen and all those who trust in Him shall arise as well. We can say to death, “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory in Christ Jesus our Lord!”

Is this not good news? Brethren, Christ is risen! (He is risen indeed!) Let us shout Alleluia! (Alleluia!) So give heed to the exhortation in Psalm 2, the coronation psalm of our King:

10Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling. 12Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

And so reminded that Jesus is Lord of all and that we are to serve Him with fear and rejoice before Him with trembling, let us join together in confessing our sins against Him, our disloyalty to Him as a people. As you are able, please kneel before your King.

Humble & Lowly

March 24, 2024 in Bible - OT - Zechariah, Meditations

Zechariah 9:9-10 (NKJV)

9“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. 10I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

Have you ever been taught that while Jesus came as Savior in His first coming, He is waiting until His second to arrive as King? He is waiting, so it is said, to establish His kingdom on earth. If you have heard or even, like me, embraced that kind of thinking in the past or perhaps still do, then you may have a hard time understanding Palm Sunday. For Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as our King come to establish His kingdom. As Jesus entered the city, our fathers and mothers laid branches of palm upon the ground and sang psalms in order to fulfill Zechariah’s summons, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you.”

But if Jesus entered Jerusalem as King, why, some ask, didn’t He appear very kingly? Why is He lowly and riding on a donkey? Yet such questions reveal that we often allow the world rather than Jesus to define true kingship. For Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem to establish justice, to deliver His people, and to advance both the glory of God and the good of His people is the preeminent illustration of what it means to be a good king. What is it to be a good king? It is to be just and to bring salvation to your people; it is to be humble and lowly; it is to be a servant, to bring blessing and light to your people. And it was precisely this type of King that our Lord Jesus was and is. 

To our fallen nature this type of kingship can seem utterly ineffective. Among pagan nations, might makes right. Rex lex. The king is law. The king is to be served, not to serve. And the measure of his success is how many cower before him. Pagan nations extol those like Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar who push and prod and pursue their own glory. It is kings like that who accomplish great things.

But the prophet Zechariah extols the glory of our King’s rule. Our just and humble King will so rule as to destroy warfare from Israel and bring peace to all the nations of the earth, “I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, And the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations.” On the one hand, He eliminates warfare; on the other, He brings peace. And because He is a King of Peace, God promises to extend His kingdom throughout the earth, “His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.’”

So what of you leaders out there – what type of kingship have you been exercising? Whether you are a husband, a father, a mother, an employer, a foreman, a manager – what type of rule have you practiced? Have you demanded, cajoled, manipulated, and wormed your way to the top? Or have you been just, looking to bless those whom God has entrusted to your care? Are you humble, considering others’ interests more important than your own? Are you living as peacemakers showing all humility in the fear of God? Are you imitating the glory of pagan kings or the glory of our Great King who entered Jerusalem this day?

Reminded that we have been unrighteous kings and queens, demanding our own way rather than imitating our great King and willingly serving others, let us confess our sin to our Lord. As you are able, let us kneel together as we do so.