David knew that God was pleased with integrity. Meditation on this passage produces rich reward. Richard Baxter, writing on the importance of integrity in pastoral leadership, makes a statement that is crucial for any leader to consider:
“Take heed to yourselves, lest your example contradict your doctrine, and lest you lay such stumbling-blocks before the blind, as may be the occasion of their ruin; lest you unsay with your lives, what you say with your tongues; and be the greatest hinderers of the success of your own labors. It much hindereth our work, when other men are all the week long contradicting to poor people in private, that which we have been speaking to them from the Word of God in public . . . but it will much more hinder your work, if you contradict yourselves, and if your actions give your tongue the lie, and if you build up an hour or two with your mouths and all the week after pull down with your hands . . . He that means as he speaks, will surely do as he speaks.”*
This English “pastor to pastors” has a wise word for any leader who wants to encourage their followers to “do it right.” Read this quote again and think about the implications for your own life as a leader with integrity.
* Baxter, The Reformed PastorI, 63.
Taken from NIV Leadership Bible
What Makes Jesus Rejoice
In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Luke 10:21)
This verse is one of the only two places in the Gospels where Jesus is said to rejoice. The seventy disciples have just returned from their preaching tours and reported their success to Jesus.
Luke writes in verse 21: In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes: yes, Father, for thus it was well–pleasing before you.”
Notice that all three members of the Trinity are rejoicing here: Jesus is rejoicing; but it says he is rejoicing in the Holy Spirit. I take that to mean that the Holy Spirit is filling him and moving him to rejoice. Then at the end of the verse it describes the pleasure of God the Father. The NIV translates it: “Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”
Now what is it that has the whole Trinity rejoicing together in this place? It is the free electing love of God to hide things from the intellectual elite and to reveal them to babes. “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes.”
And what is it that the Father hides from some and reveals to others? Luke 10:22 gives the answer: “No one knows who the Son is except the Father.” So what God the Father must reveal is the true spiritual identity of the Son.
When the seventy disciples return from their evangelistic mission and give their report to Jesus, he and the Holy Spirit rejoice that God the Father has chosen, according to his own good pleasure, to reveal the Son to babes and to hide him from the wise.
The point of this is not that there are only certain classes of people who are chosen by God. The point is that God is free to choose the least likely candidates for his grace.
God contradicts what human merit might dictate. He hides from the wise and reveals to the most helpless and unaccomplished.
When Jesus sees the Father freely enlightening and saving people whose only hope is free grace, he exults in the Holy Spirit and takes pleasure in his Father’s election.
Falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife of assaulting her, Joseph is put into prison. Some time later he interprets the dreams of two other prison inmates.
The Bearer, the Baker . . .
While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning. When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset. “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.
And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.”
“Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.” . . .
“. . . Within three days Pharaoh will lift you up and restore you to your position as his chief cup-bearer. And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.” . . .
When the subject of dreams came up, Joseph directed everyone’s attention to God. Rather than using the situation to make himself look good, he turned it into a powerful witness for the Lord. Joseph recognized an opportunity to connect God to others’ lives. When the opportunity arises, we must have the courage to speak, as Joseph did.
The cup-bearer and the chief baker were two of the most trusted men in Pharaoh’s kingdom. The baker was in charge of making Pharaoh’s food and the cup-bearer tasted all of Pharaoh’s food and drink before giving it to him, in case any of it was contaminated or poisoned. These trusted men must have been suspected of a serious wrong, perhaps of conspiring against Pharaoh.
When Pharaoh’s cup-bearer was freed from prison, he forgot about Joseph. Two full years passed before Joseph had another opportunity to be freed (Genesis 41:1). Yet Joseph’s faith was deep, and he would be ready when the next chance came.
When we feel passed by, overlooked, or forgotten, we shouldn’t be surprised that people are often ungrateful. In similar situations, we should trust God as Joseph did. More opportunities may be waiting.
As you face challenges and difficulties today, even if you are overlooked or forgotten, see them as opportunities to trust God and to strengthen your faith.
Streams in the Desert – May 20
Shall I refuse to drink the cup of sorrow which the Father has given me to drink? (John 18:11, Weymouth).
God takes a thousand times more pains with us than the artist with his picture, by many touches of sorrow, and by many colors of circumstance, to bring us into the form which is the highest and noblest in His sight, if only we receive His gifts of myrrh in the right spirit.
But when the cup is put away, and these feelings are stifled or unheeded, a greater injury is done to the soul that can ever be amended. For no heart can conceive in what surpassing love God gives us this myrrh; yet this which we ought to receive to our souls’ good we suffer to pass by us in our sleepy indifference, and nothing comes of it.
Then we come and complain: “Alas, Lord! I am so dry, and it is so dark within me!” I tell thee, dear child, open thy heart to the pain, and it will do thee more good than if thou were full of feeling and devoutness.
The cry of man’s anguish went up to God,
“Lord take away pain:
The shadow that darkens the world Thou hast made,
The close-coiling chain
That strangles the heart, the burden that weighs
On the wings that would soar,
Lord, take away pain from the world Thou hast made,
That it love Thee the more.”
Then answered the Lord to the cry of His world:
“Shall I take away pain,
And with it the power of the soul to endure,
Made strong by the strain?
Shall I take away pity, that knits heart to heart
And sacrifice high?
Will ye lose all your heroes that lift from the fire
White brows to the sky?
Shall I take away love that redeems with a price
And smiles at its loss?
Can ye spare from your lives that would climb unto Me
The Christ on His cross?”