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Whoever covers an offense seeks love,

But he who repeats a matter separates close friends. 

– Proverbs 17:9

What are the 2 greatest commands in Scripture? The first would be to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second is like it; to love you neighbor as yourself. Now we are really good at loving ourselves right? I mean, everything we do, we do to make ourselves happy. Whether we eat or drink, we do all to bring ourselves joy. We need not work at loving ourselves. Daily though we struggle to live up to God’s command to love others just as we love ourselves. It’s hard right? It’s hard to love others, especially other sinners.

Our call here today in this Proverb is once again to love, and the way we love others is by covering one’s offense. So what is an offense? Simply put, an offense is any wrong done unto us. It’s something that causes a person to be hurt, angry, or upset. We often say, “I am offended that you would say such a thing”. Now obviously I think it’s safe to say that we have all been offended. And when you are offended, what is your natural tendency? What do you tend to do? Do you just cover it up? Doyou pretend that nothing happened? No, probably not. Not if you are like me. My natural tendency when someone wrongs me is to get even. To make sure justice prevails. “They will pay for this!” is my cry.

If I’m driving down the road and someone cuts in front of me, before I even know what I’m doing, I lay on the horn, speed up on their tail, and make some type of hand motion (hopefully without using any fingers). What naturally happens is that I seek revenge. Now what if this happens with one of our friends or family? Maybe one who is close to us offends us by some silly comment. We get offended and say something snarky back. What happens is that the offense is separating us, as sins of anger and bitterness creep in and take root. Before we know it the offense has separated us, fellowship is broken and God’s law is transgressed.

So the question is, “How do we cover an offense when we are full of rage?” I don’t know about you but I don’t have the magic button that I can push that just let’s me release all feeling. Well, we must look to God. We must look to Jesus Christ who became sin for us that we might become righteous in Him. We must look to the Gospel. God created us. We rebelled sinning against Him. We offended Him, yet He covered us with grace and forgiveness, with the blood of the perfect Lamb of God. If you think that the offense committed against you was big, and it very well might have been big, think again at how many miserable filthy sins you have committed against the Holy Creator God. Yet He still covers you. He still showers mercy and grace upon you! Meditate on the good news when you are filled with wrath; when you feel powerless to forgive your offender. God’s love will empower you to cover the offense and restore your relationship. “Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.”

I close with an exhortation from 1 Peter where the Lord’s people are surrounded by difficulty. Know that in times of trial it seems that our patience grows thin, and offenses are always on the rise.  In this situation Peter says “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” –1 Peter 4:8. Remember that it was Christ our Lord, our Savior who covered the multitude of our sins by taking the due wrath of God upon Himself. May we be filled with this love today, and may we cover those who offend us.

-J.C. Hahne

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:3, ESV)

In Psalm 63, as in much of David’s life, he was under the constant threat of his enemies. Much like Paul in the New Testament, opposition surrounded him. Persecution, suffering, and trials were never absent, and there was no promise that they would escape them. Did these men shy away in their faith? Did they curse God? Did their light dim or fade? No! But why? Or how? How could these men keep on rejoicing in the Lord in the midst of such uncertainty? Their very lives could be taken away at the blink of an eye. How did they persevere?

Because His steadfast love is better than life. Paul said, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” Our identity, being found as His beloved children, gives us power to press on. Being found in His love is better than life, so that whatever we pass through, we know to whom we belong. What can separate us from His love? We all know the answer to that. Nothing!

Paul sums up his life by saying “to live is Christ”. For him to live is to be have Christ as the center of all things; to rejoice in His presence and comforts. But there is one thing better than that! The one thing that is better than living for Christ is to live with Christ; to be with Jesus in heaven, the place of fullness of joy. So death was never an obstacle. Death was the gateway to fullness of joy at His right hand. It is our hope, the end for which we live. To live is Christ, but to die is gain. There is no greater position than to sit in His steadfast love.

So back to Psalm 63:3. David’s lips will praise God through any painful circumstance because God’s love is better than life itself. The things of this world can not compare to the steadfast love of God. Stop and think today that if you are in Christ, there is now no longer any condemnation. We are His sons, His beloved sons. Children of the King, the Creator, the one who governs all things. There is no sting in death. No, there is victory in death as we will live in His steadfast love forever. Therefore, take courage and press on for His glory.

– J.C. Hahne

‎”He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but for the sins of the whole world.” – 1 John 2:2

We all know that the redeeming work of Jesus on the cross is our only footing to stand before God. It’s easy to remember that my sins are forgiven and thus I can easily forgive myself of my own short comings. But so often we are fooled into thinking less of brothers who have offended us, sinned against us, or simply don’t measure up to our own standard of righteousness. Pride wells up in our hearts and minds. I thank you Lord that I am not like other sinners. I fast twice a week, tithe of all I earn, etc. etc. It is wrong to think in such a way about fellow redeemed sinners.

We must remember that the failures and sins of our brothers are also covered in the blood of Christ, thus their sins are forgiven as well. If God the righteous judge, has made one clean, how can we not look upon those who have wronged us through the lens of forgiveness?

Remember that God will not let any of His elect fall from His hands. He will sanctify all His beloved. May we be vessels of encouragement to those who sin, and continually fall or offend. May we forgive seventy times seven. Christ has bore all our iniquities, as He is the Propitiation for their sins, as well as ours.

– J. C. Hahne

When God calls a man, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day, and hate another; or as princes, who make their subjects favourites, and afterwards throw them into prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no alteration. God’s call is founded upon His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out His people’s sins, but not their names.
— Thomas Watson

Oh, what comfort there is in the fact that God is nothing like us! Our love is so often based on the merits of the object. If our spouse, children, friends, co-workers are lovely that particular day, we bless them with affection. The minute conflicts arise, fellowship is broken and reconciliation must take place. Jesus’ love for his bride is unconditional. He has brought reconciliation once and for all through the blood shed for us. Our sins have been forgiven and He will not bring charge against us ever again. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor 5:21) His decree is immutable, and thus His love and our salvation is secure. “God blots out His people’s sins, but not their names.” May His great love with which He has loved us transform us in our everyday lives. May we be filled with this sacrificial, unconditional love for our brethren.

Today we got mail… Yes I am a big fan of going through the mail even if most of the time it’s only advertisements for mattress sales or coupons for the grocery store… Today’s mail included a letter from Desiring God Ministries along with the water bill. Okay, the water bill wasn’t too exciting, though it was 79 cents less than what I budgeted for. The letter from DGM however contained a very interesting article written by Jon Bloom.

It was all about God’s sovereign love in carrying out His will in His people’s lives. He shared about Joseph (Jesus’ earthly dad) and all stress, anxiety, and worry that he must have faced through the first few years of Jesus’ life. Traveling a 100 miles to Bethlehem on foot with pregnant Mary all because of a stupid census; Escaping to Egypt under the threat of the baby Messiah’s execution; Coming back to Nazareth instead of Bethlehem; always on the run, not being able to settle anywhere. He probably struggled to find work, and probably struggled to support his new family. Life was chaotic. All these things however fit perfectly into God’s sovereign plan of redemption. Prophesies were fulfilled, and nothing took God by surprise.

Bloom brings encouragement to his readers by saying,

The unplanned, inefficient detours of our lives are planned by God. They are common for disciples, and they commonly don’t make sense for the moment. But God’s ways are not our ways because our lives are about Him, not about us. He is orchestrating far more than we know in every unexpected event and delay… So when you find yourselves suddenly in a direction you had not planned, take heart, hold tight, and trust God’s navigation.”

I like that, “But God’s way’s are not our ways because our lives are about Him, not about us.” What comfort there is to be grasped knowing that God is in control of our lives and He will use us to glorify His name through any twist and turn in this life.

Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps”

J. C. Hahne

Here’s some more good stuff from Walter Marshall on the powerlessness of the unregenerate, gospel-less man:

We are alll by nature, void of strength and ability to perform acceptably that holiness and righteousness which the law requireth, and are dead in trespasses and sins, and children of wrath, by the sin of our first father, Adam… This doctrine of original sin, which Protestants generally profess, is a firm basis and ground-work to the assertion now to be proved, and to many other assertions in this whole discourse. If we believe it to be true, we cannot rationally encourage ourselves to attempt an holy practice, until we are acquanted with some powerful and effectual means to enable us to do it. While man continued upright, in the image of God, as he was first created, he could do the will of God sincerely, as soon as he knew it; but, when he was fallen, he was quickly afraid, because of his nakedness; but could not help it at all, until God discovered to him the means of restoration (Gen 3:10,15). Say to a strong healthy servant, Go, and he goeth; Come, and he cometh; Do this, and he doth it: but a bed-ridden servant must know first how he may be enabled.”

It is the Gospel that frees us, that regenerates, justifies, sanctifies and glorifies us. Apart from the gospel there is no power to perform the acts of holiness which God requires us to fulfill. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” – Galatians 2:21

One of the gravest mistakes of the church today and throughout the ages is the command to fulfill the command of God without giving the means to do so. Even as God gave the law through Moses to his people he gave them the means through the Gospel. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” Exodus 20:2. Here we see both the Gospel, and the helplessness of their state. God rescues them from slavery, and then proceeds to call them to holiness. Oh, how often do we forget the means to to the end.

Marshall says once again in his book The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification:

Men show themselves strangely forgetful, or hypocritical, in professing original sin in their prayers, catechisms, and confessions of faith; and yet urging upon themselves and others the practice of the law, without the consideration of any strengthening, enlivening means; as if there were no want of ability, but only of activity.”

May we continually feed on the means of grace.

ThegospelmysteryA new book that I started reading is The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification by puritain Walter Marshall. I picked it up thinking that any book dealing with the subject of sanctification  powered by the Gospel must be a keeper. Of course I haven’t been disappointed in my expectations though I am still just in the introduction. The book is divided into 14 different directions to the reader focusing on the sanctification through our unity to Christ.

Here’s a quote from his 7th direction as he lays down the foundation:

We are not to imagine that our hearts and lives be changed from sin to holiness in any measure, before we may safely venture to trust on Christ for the sure enjoyment of Himself, and His salvation.”

He continues on explaining:

To try to make ourselves fit for Christ is to be led away from Christ by a satanic delusion.”

Indeed we are not saved by our repentance or our good works. Those are the overflow of faith; The free gift of God. We simply come as broken sinners. Joel Beeke adds on in his Introduction to Marshall’s work:

Such people become spiritually distressed when they think they must have more love for God, more godliness of heart, more thoughts of God’s attributes, more victory over lusts, more cleansing of their hearts, more impressions of the wrath of God, more confession of sin, and more heart-felt prayer and praise before they trust in Christ for their salvation. Such erroneous ideas only keep people away from Christ.”

and again Marshall says:

While we endeavor to prepare our way to Christ by holy qualifications, we do ratheer fill it with stumbling blocks, and deep pits, whereby our souls are hindered from ever attaining to salvation of Christ.”

We cannot be sanctified before we are justified, for sanctification comes as we are united to Christ. Come to Christ broken as that taxcollector did, who would not dare raise his eyes to the heavens but beat his breast and cried out for mercy. I tell you, this man went to his house justified.

J. C. Hahne