Our Convention theme is: “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Be steadfast and immovable … Always abounding in the Lord’s work.” So I decided to use the word “abounding” or “abundant” as a focal point for our devotions.
In this first devotion we will consider the Scripture truth that we sinful human beings have an ABUNDANT NEED for the pardoning grace of our God…and how our heavenly Father has supplied us, through Jesus His Son, with His ABUNDANT GRACE to meet our need.
Recently we observed Confirmation Sunday in our congregation. Our young confirmand was invited to pick out several Bible topics from a longer list and then write a short essay on each as a testimony of his faith. One topic he chose was on the two main doctrines of the Bible: The LAW and the GOSPEL.
With regard to the LAW he shared the thought that God uses the Ten Commandments to bring home to our hearts the desperate need we have for a divine Redeemer to heal us of our sin-sickness.
In regard to the second great doctrine of the Bible, the GOSPEL, our young confirmand shared the thought that God uses such Bible verses as John 3:16 — “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Luke 2:10 — “There’s born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, Christ the Lord.” John 1:29 — “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” … for the blessed purpose of revealing to the world who our Redeemer is! His name is JESUS.
These two teachings are presented powerfully in our psalm. The psalmist confesses that if the God of holiness would keep tally of his sins, his situation would be hopeless. So he cries out from “the depths” of his ABUNDANT NEED. “Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my plea for mercy.” Then he finds sweet refreshment in the gospel assurance that “with Him is ABUNDANT REDEMPTION, And he shall redeem Israel from all His iniquities.”
I’m reminded of a vision God granted Isaiah when He called him as a prophet (see Isaiah chapter 6). Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on His throne in heaven, with the train of His robe filling the temple and six-winged seraphim hovering above. These angelic beings (holy as they were) considered themselves unworthy to stand in the presence of their LORD. So in reverential awe they covered their faces and feet with their wings and called out in praise of the Lord: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God almighty. The whole earth is filled with His glory!” The temple was shaken to its very foundation, and the sanctuary was enveloped in billows of smoke.
Isaiah was overcome with a profound sense of his unworthiness. If holy angels need to cover their feet and faces in the presence of the great God, what then will become of me, a poor sinful creature! “Woe is me! I am ruined!” he cried out. “I am a man of unclean lips and live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the Lord Almighty!” How can I think that He could use me as one of His servants?
In the next scene Isaiah watched as one of the six-winged seraphs took a red-hot coal with a tongs from the altar, put the coal against Isaiah’s lips, and said: “This has touched your lips. Your iniquity is purged.” This was God’s way of bringing home to His prophet the comforting GOSPEL truth that through the coming Messiah, who was to be wounded for his transgressions and bruised for his iniquities, his sins were atoned for. As one who trusted in this Messiah, Isaiah could go forward confidently and energetically. He could and did say: “Here am I! Send me.”
What marvelous application this has as we gather to discuss and plan the work to which the Lord has called us. As we look into the mirror of God’s Law, we may be inclined to feel as Isaiah did. Paraphrasing the psalmist, we too need to confess: “If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, how could we serve You aright? We’re not worthy! Woe are we, for we are a people of unclean lips!”
But then He comes to assure us in His GOSPEL, saying, in effect: “Through Jesus, My Son, in whom you have put your trust, I’ve made your sins which are as scarlet to be as white as snow. I have made you to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a HOLY nation, My own special people who can proclaim the praises of the One who called you from the dark night of sin into the sunshine of My gracious forgiving love.”
Yes, we too can say: “Here I am, Lord, send me! Bless the work I do in Your name in the interests of Your kingdom and the welfare of souls for whom You died.”
May our Convention then be a celebration of God’s ABUNDANT GRACE IN OUR ABUNDANT NEED! May the cross of Jesus be at the forefront of all we undertake. As we engage in God’s kingdom work in our committee meetings and floor discussions, may we not forget the reason we are here—namely, to herald the message that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”
And let’s look to God in faith to bless our work—work He created us to do in Christ Jesus and had planned for us to do before we arrived here…in fact, even before we knew Him…for the praise of His holy, saving name!