Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit

May 7th, 2019

For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. (Psalm 31:3-5 ESV)

The believer ultimately leaves his entire life in the hands of God, for God to lead him through whatever challenges He has ordained for him to face. This is not a matter of hopeless resignation but of hopeful confidence in the grace and power of God. 

Notice that this prayer is not merely about entrusting circumstances into God’s hand, but rather it is about entrusting the very spirit of the psalmist into God’s hands. It is in our spirits that victory must be found. As Christ prayed this very prayer on the cross, He reminded us that our bodies shall be taken from us one day and it is the spirit that lives on. It is the spirit, not the body or our finances or any physical or material element of this life, that will live on for eternity. 

Our spirits are built up by God’s Word and by His Spirit, and we are strengthened in the midst of the passing but physical realities of this life. While the psalmist prayed for mercy, deliverance, and for every consideration, he ultimately said – as we all must say – “Lord, my times are in your hand” (31:15). This is faith – the faith to remember that we are not n end in ourselves alone, that God has called us to bear witness to His grace and power. If we may bear a better witness through our sufferings than we can through our blessings, then we leave those matters in God’s hand. 

We should remember when there are frustrations, that every life has such things. Rather than being jealous of someone else’s struggles that seem less than ours, we should realize that the very understanding of what a struggle is depends entirely on the strength of faith and character in each of us. What to one Christian may be a matter of great difficulty, may be to another who has greater faith and who displays the transforming work of God’s Spirit in a deeper way simply a mild inconvenience. 

The secret of enduring all difficulties is an ever deepening faith that trusts the Lord in all circumstances. There is nothing wrong or immature about praying for our deliverance, for Christ Himself taught us to pray, “Deliver us from evil!” And it is also plain foolishness to try to leap into hardship and difficulty, as Christ also said, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt. 6:34). But having lived our lives with prudence and holiness, having entrusted our souls to the Lord, having daily dedicated ourselves for the good of the Lord, and having discharged all duties God has assigned to us, then we have nothing to worry about, other than the duty to be faithful to God.

What circumstances are you currently dealing with that you would prefer not to? Health issues? Difficult people you have to bear? Frustrating work and challenging situations? A person is entitled to his reputation, but do not seek to endure these things only for your own reputation. Seek to do it for the reputation of the Lord and of His people. Live beyond yourself, as God has called you to, and you will find the peace and grace of God will sustain you in all that you face. 

Do not aspire merely for a happy and problem-free life on the surface – no such life exists. Do not compare your life with others, for we can never fully understand another’s burdens. But rather entrust each day into God’s hands and be prepared to handle whatever He gives you. Remember the prophetic words Christ spoke to Peter at the end of John’s gospel. When Peter asked about John’s challenges, which seemed at first sight to be less than his own, Jesus said, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” (John 21:22)

Daily Devotions, Dealing with Difficulties, Psalms

Resting in the Resurrection

April 22nd, 2019

For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If our hope in Christ is for this life alone, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:16-20 BSB)

There is so much depth here! Paul has already in this chapter defended the resurrection of Christ along two lines: the biblical prophesies and the eye witness accounts. Now he launches into a defence of the resurrection on the basis of logic, that it is illogical to think that human life ends at death, and if any man has ever been raised from the dead it is Christ.

One of the more interesting aspects of the biblical writings is that the emphasis of the Bible is not so much the immortality of the human soul as it is the resurrection of the body. Scientists have identified the difference between the brain and the mind – the brain is the biological mechanism that allows for thought but the mind is the thought itself – but many have wondered if the mind can exist without the body.

Paul does not enter into that discussion, per se.  However, he does support the importance of the body to the human soul. There does come a time when our souls and spirits leave our bodies, and the Bible says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50). Apparently, as it is sustained by God, the human soul may have an existence without a body for a while as we await our resurrection. Believers “enter into peace; they find rest, lying down in death” (Isaiah 57:2). To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

But this non-body existence is temporary, intermediate, and not permanent. We receive a new body that is imperishable, that is made for eternity, that is a fitting home for the new spirit that is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Then we will have a new body for eternity.

One of the mysteries is how will we see, hear, and know things without a body. The human soul by itself has no hearing or seeing or sensing. It must be fed by some source, and the answer is that God shall tell us what we need to know. He shall supply our soul’s hearing and seeing and informing. Without the knowledge of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving God, the thought of sightless and deaf spirits roaming any realm is frightening and disturbing. This fear gives rise to many superstitions, from ghosts to reincarnation.

But the Christian rests in the love of God, and the knowledge of His love removes all fear from what life after this life will be. Heaven stands out in the book of Revelation as a place of mercy and order and, thereby, praise. There is the triple awareness of the forgiveness found in mercy, of the restoring of order to what sin disrupted and corrupted, and of the new purpose found in redemption.

There is the sense of time in this three-fold work of God: the past is redeemed, the present is set in order, and the future is purposeful and meaningful. Because of God’s redemption of our souls in Christ, we can be confident in His love and rest in the reality of the resurrection – both Christ’s and our own! Then by faith we can live each day in this faith and confidence. God is faithful!

Daily Devotions, Heaven