Peter Misselbrook's Blog
May 22 2019 - Proverbs 3 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart

In his book, The Radical Disciple, the elderly John Stott spoke of one of the key lessons of old age, learning afresh our dependence upon others. We come into the world completely dependent upon others to care for us but as we grow towards adulthood we learn to become independent; to stand on our own two feet. And that is quite right; we need to grow up. But there is always the danger that we may persuade ourselves that we have become the master of our own soul.

Proverbs 3 exhorts us to remember our continual dependence upon God.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight. (vv. 5-6)

Before God, we remain like children who lack knowledge and understanding. We have a tendency to get things wrong and to go down the wrong path. Verse 7 warns us, "Do not be wise in your own eyes." It is only as we trust the Lord and seek his direction for our lives that we will live the life for which he created us. Submitting to him and learning from him "will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones" (v.8).

But why should we trust God rather than living to please ourselves? In the preceding verses Solomon says,

   Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
   bind them around your neck,
   write them on the tablet of your heart. (v. 3)

The primary reference is probably to those qualities of character which spring from wisdom and adorn the life of the one possessing them – a genuine concern for others and an unswerving commitment to their good. But these are qualities we have learned from God. He is the one who has loved us with a love that surpasses our understanding; he is the one who is faithful to all his promises and never turns his back on us. His love and faithfulness towards us, particularly in the Lord Jesus, demonstrate that he can be trusted – trusted with our life and with its every decision. We dare not trust ourselves; we cannot do better than trust the one who has loved us with a love stronger than death and whose unshakeable faithfulness makes him utterly trustworthy.

But such trust does not mean that we will never face difficulties in life, as verses 11-12 remind us:

My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline,
   and do not resent his rebuke,
because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
   as a father the son he delights in.

There are times when God stops us in our tracks and seems to smash all our hopes and plans. Such times call for us to turn to him afresh for wisdom. Have we been pursuing our own path, depending upon our own understanding? Have we been wise in our own eyes rather than seeking to discern his way for us? Times of disappointment need to be times of fresh learning from God, times when we seek his face and his leading with fresh vigour (see John Newton's hymn, "I asked the Lord that I might grow…").

A life lived in dependence upon God – out of a knowledge of his character and grace, and seeking his leading and wisdom – is a life lived well (see vv. 13-18). It is the life for which he created us.

Father God, help me to know that I never grow beyond dependence upon you. Teach me more of what you would have me be and fill me with the wisdom whose ways are pleasant and whose paths are peace. Help me to follow Jesus in the path that leads to life eternal.

May 22 2013 - John 12:20-50 – We would see Jesus

In John 12 we read that some Greeks, that is, some Greek speaking Gentiles (non Jews), came to Philip asking to see Jesus. Philip went and told Andrew. Andrew and Philip then together went to tell Jesus. But Jesus’ response seems rather odd – indeed, we never do learn whether the Greeks managed to see Jesus. Instead, Jesus begins to speak about his approaching death.

Jesus declares that the time has now come for him to lay down his life. His death will be like a seed being planted in the soil. The seed must die, but in doing so it will bear fruit.

On the face of it, Jesus’ words seem to be a very strange response to the request of Greeks to meet with him. But not so strange perhaps when Jesus goes on to describe his death in these terms, “When I am lifted up I will draw all manner of people to myself” (John 12:32). Jesus’ death and resurrection will be the means by which God’s promise to Abraham will at last find its fulfilment, “Through you, all peoples on earth will be blessed.”

A few Greeks were asking to see Jesus. Jesus says that a time of crisis has now arrived through which their desire will be answered in a way beyond their imagination. Jesus has come as the light of the world and many are being drawn into the light – even some from among the Gentiles. But the powers of darkness are gathering as the Jewish authorities put together their plans to destroy Jesus. How will it all end? Jesus came into the world for this very crisis – he came for “this hour”. Nor is there any doubt about how it will end, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out” (12:31).

Jesus faces the cross with horror (see v 27) yet also with anticipation of victory. The cross may seem to be the place where Jesus is judged and executed, but in reality it is the place where the prince of this world is judged; the darkness that gathers and threatens to put out the light will be utterly defeated. The cross which was designed to humiliate Christ and expose the emptiness of his claims becomes the place of Christ’s enthronement and vindication; this is where the Son of Man will be glorified. And as a result of his victory he will draw all peoples to himself. The arms that were stretched out on the cross “would all mankind embrace.”

Already we see the seed beginning to bear fruit – a few Greeks are seeking Jesus and even a few of the Jewish leaders have come to believe in him. Beyond the cross and resurrection, thousands upon thousands will believe in him, both Jews and Gentiles. He will save for himself a people from every nation, language and ethnic group until there stands before him in glory a great crowd beyond all numbering.

As we follow the news there is much that causes pain and discouragement. It may seem that the darkness has not diminished as we read of violence, hatred, injustice and plain evil and as many lives are enslaved to damaging addictions. Where will it all end? Yet we also see that there are many who are still seeking Jesus. The powers of darkness will not have the last word.

Father God, as Jesus your Son taught us, so we pray that your kingdom may come and your will be done on earth as in heaven. This is our longing and our prayer. Help us by your Spirit to work for the coming of your kingdom and to lead many to the Lord Jesus.

Peter Misselbrook