From beginning to end this last Lord’s day was an expression of God’s grace to his people. All of our prayers, songs, scripture readings, the preaching, the sacraments, the fellowship, all joining together in choral refrains of praise, singing, “the Lord has dealt well with me,” and, “it is well, it is well with my soul!”
Our Elder Candidate Jon Herrera led us through the next two stanzas of Psalm 119 in our Summer in the Psalms series preaching through Psalm 119:65-80. The first words from our appointed text say it all. “You have dealt well with your servant…”
 You have dealt well with your servant,
O LORD, according to your word. (ESV)Psalm 119:65
Jon did a masterful job expressing how God’s goodness in dealing with us may not always align with our feelings of what, “goodness,” might look like in a given situation. God so often works through the darkest and most difficult situations in our lives to bring about the greatest harvests of righteousness, and maturity, as well as the closest moments of intimacy with our triune God. As I have said in the past, if it were up to us we would never suffer, and therefore never attain the blessings that God has at the end of those times of affliction. If it was up to our enemies, or even the enemy of our soul, we would never see the end of our suffering and affliction and would be destroyed. But God, who alone is good and does good, not only allows us to go through affliction but uses those times for our good and his glory. In his goodness He ensures that though we may be pressed on every side, we will not be crushed. Instead, what is released, in the pressing, is the sweet perfume of God’s sanctifying grace that sees us through each one of these afflictions and conforms us just a little more into the image of the Son.
Where we may not see it, let alone express it, in the moment, in hindsight, we can, without guile, say, “you have dealt well with your servant.”
So good is He, even through our afflictions, that we may even eventually say with Charles Spurgeon,
“I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the Rock of Ages.”Charles Spurgeon
All that Jon preached was only underscored by the four baptisms that took place at the end of our service. Four individuals in whom the grace of God has been evident as their love for Him can only come as a result of his having loved them first!
It was such a gift to see and witness each of them enter into the waters of baptism and to know that the judgment of death that those waters represent was completely absorbed for them by their faithful savior Jesus Christ. Jesus embraced their punishment through death on the cross and burial in submission to the Father, and the only expectation for each of them as they were brought through the waters is new life. The life they lived before has been left behind in the water. They have been crucified with Christ, and buried with him in baptism, and the life they now live, they live by faith in, and by the faithfulness of, the one who loved them and gave himself for them.
I wish that we could baptize people every week. It is true that, in general and in the best cases, a baptizing church is a healthy church, obviously that can become a bad criteria if it becomes the pursuit instead of the fruit, but for now, we will take these unforced rhythms of grace and trust that each one, like a birth in the family, is evidence that things are working like they should and that God has blessed our union.
Praise God for his faithfulness to our church body!
Truly, God has dealt well with us, and it is well with my soul!
Have a great week, see you on the Lord’s day!