No. 09 – “The Acceptable Time”
So far in our series we have been learning that we cannot do anything right. All of our own good best works are as filthy rags. Because of our sinful condition, our works are contaminated, no matter how good and perfect they may be. And so God has promised that He will give us His own perfect works – He will work obedience in us. But we must have a faith that will trust Him to do it. And then, of course, we must LET Him do it.
We saw how this was the experience of Jesus Christ. He came right into our situation and letting go of His own life, He let His heavenly Father live His own life in Him.
This is a beautiful reality. It brings us so much peace. We try so hard to do things right, to overcome sin and be ready for Jesus second coming. But even less than that, we try so hard to have a good day! This world and the life we live is so unpredictable. When we are least expecting it, something catches us off guard and we are stressed, or are angry, or done something else that we did not want to do. And then there’s this huge mess that needs to be cleaned up.
Everything that we have been studying really does come down to just one thing – our sense of need. We read in Philippians 2:12 that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. We are now understanding what that means – we are to be afraid of our own selves; afraid that it is we ourselves doing the works! And so when we wake up in the morning, our first thoughts should be, Lord, thank you for a new day, but please HELP me not to ruin it! Please don’t let me do my own works – you do it! And as we go into the day and practice the things that we are learning, coming to a situation and giving it to God to deal with, very quickly the morning prayer will become the constant prayer of the heart. And God will train us to reach out for Him to do the works every moment of the day. In EVERY situation, and EVERY temptation.
But you know, there’s something that I have to show you. You have heard that faith is like a muscle. It has to be strengthened by exercise. It takes time to learn these things and to form the HABIT of LETTING God live His life in us, and it is very easy for us to get discouraged when we fail – when we forget God for a moment and do our own thing. And we think, Aah! How could I have done that! And when we do that, we feel like we have let God down. But then we try again, and we fail, and then we fail again, and eventually we might start to think that I am such a failure, I have let God down so much, that He doesn’t want anything to do with me anymore.
Because of this, I want to share with you something very special. And this study is called, “The Acceptable Time”.
You remember that we read that the whole Bible is a manifestation of Christ. On the road to Emmaus He showed the two disciples in ALL the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Come to another verse in Luke 24 where Christ is now speaking with the disciples in the upper room after His resurrection:
44| And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
In the law of Moses, in the prophets and in the Psalms. Christ is all through the Old Testament. Let’s see if we can find Him in the Psalms, and see what we can learn.
16| For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17| I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18| They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Who here is talking? This is Jesus, isn’t it? “They pierced my hands and my feet… They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” Definitely Jesus talking here in Psalm 22, right?
Are you sure?
Read verses 1 and 2:
1| My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? 2| O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.
Yes. This is definitely Jesus in Psalm 22. You remember Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why hast Thou forsaken me?” OK. So Jesus is talking in Psalm 22. Remember that.
Now come to Psalm 69 and read verses 20 and 21:
20| Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21| They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
Who is talking? Jesus? Yes. They “gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” It says in Matthew 27:34:
34| They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall…
And so here in Psalm 69, again we find Jesus. And here we get to see what is going on inside His head while He is hanging on the cross. Come to verses 1-3 of the same chapter:
1| Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. 2| I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. 3| I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
Now remember, Psalm 69 is Jesus talking. And here He says that He feels like He is drowning. Why? Read verse 5:
5| O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.
“MY sins?” Is this really Jesus talking? Absolutely! In Isaiah 53:6 it says this about Jesus:
6| The LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
All of our sins were laid upon Jesus Christ. Everyone who ever lived. The guilt for all of those sins was laid to His charge. This means that He felt as though He was the one who committed every sin that has ever been done. Our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who NEVER sinned, felt as though He was the most terrible person in the whole universe. There was no sinner as bad as Him.
He stepped right into the shoes of a sinner. And as He looked at His life, feeling that He was the one who did all these terrible things, the horror of what “HE” had done came upon Him and swept into His soul like a raging torrent of waters. And He says, “The waters are come in unto my soul… I sink… They overflow me…”
Have you ever realised who you are as a sinner? Ever looked at the mistakes of your life? At your sins? And felt the sense of condemnation come flooding into your soul? And you look with horror upon the consequences of your actions? Yeah, there’s no “BACKSPACE” in the real world is there? There are some things you just cannot change no matter how much you want to. And when you see what you have done, you feel like you are drowning in regret and sorrow.
Jesus knows exactly how you feel at those times because He felt the same way.
Come to Psalm 40:
12| For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.
Who is talking in Psalm 40? There is only one man who has ever died of a broken heart because of sin. Yes. Its Jesus. And He says again, “My iniquities”, “my sins”. Yes. He says they were His sins, because they were laid upon Him.
Friends, what do we think Christ’s suffering was on the cross? The crown of thorns that was pressed into His skull, the swelling lacerations on his back from when He was whipped, or the nails that were driven into His hands and His feet? This was NOTHING! His internal, mental pain was so much more than this. We have movies that show Him being whipped, and His hands being nailed, and they move us in pity and horror at His physical suffering. But this distracts us from what His suffering really was.
He was perfect! He never ever did anything wrong! But He was blamed for something that He never did. He was blamed for everything that we ever did! He hated sin! He had seen the suffering it has caused this world and He was repulsed by it like the ends of two magnets. And yet the guilt of the whole world was heaped upon Him. The law stood in front of Him, it pointed at Him and said, “YOU, You are the guilty one! Look what you have done! You have done all these terrible things!” And Jesus had no choice, but to say – yes, He had a choice, He could left us to die and bear the guilt of our own sins, but He loved us, and wanted us to be with Him through eternity, and so He had no other choice but to say, “Yes. I was the one that did it. I am the guilty one.” And all the guilt, and all the shame and the remorse and regret came flooding into His soul with such a weight that it crushed out His life. And His Father, whom He had been with through all eternity, it felt like He had abandoned Him to suffer and die because of His great wickedness. His heart literally ruptured because of the intensity of all these feelings. And He didn’t do anything wrong! It was we who sinned! We put Him there!
Have you ever just wanted to crawl away and hide because of the mistakes you have made in your life? Just wished you could DISAPPEAR?
Do you remember who was speaking in Psalm 22? Yes. It was Jesus. Now read Psalm 22 verse 6:
6| But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.
When our sins were laid upon Him, my Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, felt like a worm! A worm that just wants to crawl away and hide! And “no man” – unprofitable, useless, good for nothing. Can’t do anything right. This worm the verse is referring to isn’t just any worm. It refers specifically to a maggot – the larvae of a fly that feasts on dead people! This is how Jesus felt as our sins were laid upon Him. Like the worst person ever!
Yeah, he knows exactly how you feel when you see your sinfulness – but He felt it a lot more than you do. You only feel the guilt for your own life – He felt it for everyone’s!
And isn’t that the time when we feel that God will never want anything to do with me ever again? Do you know what I mean? We feel like we are just one big fat disappointment, so stupid, so filthy with our own sins that He won’t want to come anywhere near me. That’s how we feel, right? Watch this:
Come back to Psalm 69. Remember Jesus is talking here. Now read verse 13. Jesus knew something about His Father that we MUST learn.
13| But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.
Jesus says, as He is at the bottom of the pit, feeling like the worst person ever, He says, “Father, in the ACCEPTABLE TIME” I am praying to you. What! Isn’t this presumption? I mean, here is what the law considered to be the worst person ever, here is Jesus, with all our sins laid upon Him, and He says, the time is now ACCEPTABLE? REALLY? Do you really think His Father will listen to Him?
7| Thus saith the LORD, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the LORD that is faithful, and the Holy One of Israel, and he shall choose thee.
Here is Jesus hanging upon the cross – the Redeemer of Israel, “Him whom the nation abhorreth”. The Jewish nation hated Christ and it crucified Him. Now read verse 8:
8| Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages;
The Father answers Him. When?! In the ACCEPTABLE TIME! When Jesus is hanging upon the cross with all the burden of our guilt laid upon Him. And God says, “I have heard Thee and I have helped Thee and I will preserve Thee!” Wow! And what else will He do? Last part of verse 7 again: the Lord shall do what? “He shall CHOOSE Thee!”
My dear friends, there is something we must learn here. It was when Jesus was lying there at the bottom of the pit, all broken, feeling like He was the worst person ever, that the Father said, “I will choose Thee.”
Friends, this is the ACCEPTABLE TIME – this is the time when we are MOST acceptable to God. The time when we think we are useless, we can’t do anything right, the time when we think that there is no way that God would ever want anything to do with me, this is the time when God says, “I will choose thee”!
You see, until we reach this experience, where we are all broken and shattered and can see nothing good in our life, we still thought that we can do SOMETHING to make things right. We still thought that WE can do SOMETHING, that our works are good enough, – God, just give me the strength to do it and I’ll do it! No! Until this time we didn’t think we needed God! We thought that we could make our way to heaven just fine, we’ll just keep on trying, little realising we are pushing God away!
But now, when everything has fallen down around us, when we see that we CANNOT DO ANYTHING RIGHT, then THAT is the time when we give up. That is the time when we throw our hands in the air and we say, “I CANNOT!”. And God says, Aha! Now I will choose you. Because now I can work with you! Now you will actually LET me do the works for you.
God is waiting for us to reach this point in our experience. So often, though, we run from the consequences of our actions, or we distract ourselves from the realities, or we want to keep doing the things that boost our egos, that feed our pride, and when by our own stupidity we are knocked down we want to keep getting up and trying again and again in our own strength to make things right. When we make a mess of things think we can clean up the mess. But who made it in the first place? We are afraid that if we will admit how terrible a sinner we really are, God will reject me.
Never, ever think that thought. Never ever be afraid to confess who you are without Him. He is waiting for you to be honest with Him, and with yourself. And when you are all broken at the foot of the cross, He will wrap around you His loving arms, He will whisper sweet words of comfort in your ear, and He will Help you. Now you will LET Him do the works, and NOW He will sort out all of your problems.
He is waiting to do that for us – sort out all of our problems. His heart has been hurting our whole lives as He has had to watch us try to sort the problems out ourselves and making an absolute mess of it. He is so happy when we finally LET GO and LET HIM, that the Bible tells us that He, the Father Himself, sings! yes! Can you imagine that?! because of YOU! One little individual in this whole universe! Yes, He sings because He is so happy that now you will LET Him take care of you.
Return with me to Psalm 40, and let’s now read verses 1 to 4:
Remember who is talking? Jesus is talking, and He says:
1| I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. 2| He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. 3| And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. 4| Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust…
Blessed indeed, WHEN we learn that we can trust the Lord.
I pray that the Holy Spirit will help us to remember these things. Because this world is rapidly plunging into a time of intense darkness. And we must be learning now what Jesus learned – that no matter how He FELT, He trusted that His Father had not left Him, and there, in that darkness, He found Him, and He said, Into Thy hands I commend My spirit. No matter how dark it is for us, He is there with us, waiting for us to also give our lives to Him. I really hope and pray that we do.
In our next presentation, we will begin to see HOW close God really is to us. God be with you until then.