Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

A blog by Josh Humbert

The Sudden And Slow Work Of God: Part One.

***Note: The series of posts here (“part 1, part 2,” etc) are from my category called Get In The Word. To read more like this, you can click the Get In The Word category from the drop-down menu on the right side of this page. Essentially, these posts are from my own sermon writing and preparation. My goal with this category is to help you see truth in Scripture, and to assist those who might be preparing their own sermon or study. I highly encourage each person to do their own reading, studying, and praying, but my goal is to provide a look into how I handled it and maybe spark some ideas in your work. May you benefit from this as you Get In The Word!***

GRILLS and the GLORY of God

There’s something quite amazing about grills, right? First off, you get to play with fire and that is something I truly enjoy (kids, please don’t play with fire). So the visuals are great as you watch the flames rise. Then the sounds please your ears as that ‘sizzle’ begins when a piece of meat hits the grill. Following quickly thereafter is the smell! Oh the smell! Your olfactory system is soon in on the party as that meat on the grill is now emitting a pleasing aroma. Grilling is a joy for all your senses….and we haven’t even arrived at taste yet!

I….I have made fire!

When I was a kid playing with friends outside in the neighborhood, I would take particular enjoyment when the scent of sizzling meats would reach us as we played and I could claim it was my father who was on the grill that night. They would soon respond with charges of “lucky!”

I would submit there’s a connection between grills and the glory of God. For instance, think in terms of how versatile the grill can be. Some meats, like steak, you want to grill quickly, suddenly. Hit it with the heat, turn it once, and it is off the grill in minutes. Friend, you’ve got yourself quite the dinner there! Sometimes, God moves, intervenes, and saves just like that. He breaks in quickly, suddenly. In a moment, He has done something miraculous and amazing.

Suddenly Steaks….

However, it can go very differently! Being a Texan all my life I can attest to the wonder of a slow-cooked brisket. A brisket will reach it’s peak flavor only when it’s been patiently smoked for hours with a careful eye on temperature and smoke level. Then, only after a long period of waiting, will that brisket yield it’s amazing taste. Sometimes, God moves, intervenes, and saves just like that. He breaks in slowly, ever so slowly. Over time and after much waiting, He has done something miraculous and amazing.

Slowly Brisket….

Both approaches, the sudden and the slow, produce delicious results. So it is with God – He does wondrous things be they sudden or slow. This is the picture Psalm 126 gives us.

What follows is the first in a three-part series on Psalm 126….

The Joy Of His Freedom

Psalm 126:1-3

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad

Remembering Freedom He Provided

In these first 3 verses, the Psalmist is reflecting on God’s work from previous times. He’s remembering the goodness of God in the past. We aren’texactly sure WHEN the Psalm was written – but there were MANY times Israel had found themselves in deep trouble because of their sin and needed God’s saving work. So this could have been written on any number of occasions. The Psalmist here is remembering the FREEDOM God had given them! He is seeing the JOY of God’s Freedom.

Note just how special the memories are to the Psalmist by how he describes them. When God helped them in the past – “we were like those who dream.” He says, “we couldn’t help but laugh, our mouths were filled with shouts of joy!” You see incredible, emphatic language here – but also incredible celebration.

One pastor, Charles Spurgeon, summarizes it this way: “God’s mercy was so unexpected, so amazing, so singular that they could not do less than laugh; and they laughed much, so that their mouths were full of it, and that because their hearts were full too.”

When the Lord brings freedom and liberty – it is like that. It stuns your imagination, it brings laughter unceasing, and your mouth is FULL of His praise.

Memories Of His Freedom

Do you have memories like that? Do you have days like that? I’ll give you one of my own.

One of my very good friends was going down a wrong path in his life and in marriage (wrote about it some years ago – you can read more here). It got to the point that I had to break fellowship with him. We hung out, talked all the time, and were in multiple text threads together. But I was seeing the damage his choices were having on his wife and kids. So I felt compelled to break fellowship and step away from the friendship until things were addressed. It was an incredibly difficult decision I had to make. He wasfurious and that was the end of things.

About 4 years go by – then the day comes. I get a text, it’s him, and it’s a crisis now. His marriage is falling apart fast and that path he had been on was bringing him to it’s logical destination which was a place of devastation. He sought help and wisdom as he was attempting to fix it all. Another friend and I basically stayed in constant communicationwith him for the next several months as he turned away from sin and tried to reconcile with his wife. He sought the Lord everyday and it was like he was a whole new person.

Still, it was very, very precarious and I thought at a couple different points that their marriage was too far gone. And it looked like that was going to happen – she was scheduled to sign divorce papers on a Thursday. My wife and I happened to be in Austin for a concert that day. I was excited for the concert but there was a heaviness in my heartbecause I knew that was the time she would be signing the papers and ending it all.

The concert ends and as we get back to our car, I check my phone. A voicemail from him awaits. Tentatively, I press play.

He’s almost shouting because he’s so happy. At the lawyer’s office, she had the pen in her hands to sign…. and she put it back down. There would be no divorce – they were going to try once more to put their marriage back together and honor the Lord. I called him on our drive back to SA and we just laughed and cried tears of joy the whole way home as we celebrated what the Lord had done!

Hear me, it’s not been an easy road but in the years since then, we’ve seen the JOY of God’s freedom in their lives once again. Some old sins were gone, some old chains were broken. NEW life, NEW liberty that only God provides. So….I celebrate that. When I think about those days, that’s when I see JOY of His Freedom.

True Freedom In Christ

We are called to do the same thing now. We are called to SEE the Joy of His Freedom. Consider these words from Scripture:

Galatians 5:1

It is for FREEDOM that Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Peter 2:16

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

Psalm 118:5

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered and set me free.

We are to see the Joy of His freedom because when you see it, you celebrate it.

Be The First To Celebrate

Notice in verse 2, even the other nations take note:
then they said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” Then, in verse 3 God’s people agree: “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.” 

Simply put: the world shouldn’t celebrate God’s freedom in your life BEFORE you do! Be the FIRST to praise Him as you see the joy of his freedom.

A Gospel Freedom

Observe this as well – the original audience, the Israelites, would have those memories to look back on like we talked about. God saved them from Egypt, from enemies all around, from captivity. They had so many times in the past they could recall where God had saved them.

If you’re a Christian today, you can read Psalm 126 in light of the Gospel.You can and should recall the spiritual FREEDOM that Christ brought to your life. Through His life, death, and resurrection He saved you from certain ruin. Let’s SEE the JOY Of His Freedom that we receive graciously from our Lord Jesus Christ.

Questions To Consider

If I had to write the finishing words to verse 3, what would I choose? “The Lord has done great things for me and I….

-can’t recall any of them right now.

-still doubt He will come through again.

-am praising Him and thanking Him for His freedom.

Are there chains I need the Lord to break today? Are there people I love who are dealing with chains that need breaking? Will I bring those things before God or will I try to break them on my own?

Have I experienced the spiritual freedom that Jesus provides through salvation? What’s holding me back?

2 comments on “The Sudden And Slow Work Of God: Part One.

  1. Pingback: The Sudden And Slow Work Of God: Part Two | Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

  2. Pingback: The Sudden And Slow Work of God: Part 3 | Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

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This entry was posted on January 14, 2021 by in Blogroll, Get In The Word and tagged , , , , , , , .

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