Archive for April, 2017
“We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” ~ Ephesians 2:3-5
What an incredible passage! These verses proclaim the good news of Jesus as clearly as any other passage in the Bible.
For someone who sees no need for Jesus, take note that each of us started on the same side: as enemies of God and children of wrath.
For the Christian, we are reminded that we were dead in our sins but were made alive by the richness of God’s mercy and the greatness of His love. We must not pretend that we are better than those unredeemed. Our redemption came, not from our own efforts or goodness (Ephesians 2:8-9), but from God’s mercy, grace, and love.
May we never lose perspective of the darkness from which we were all brought into light.
Sometimes we reduce our salvation to going to heaven when we die. Of course, heaven is part of our salvation, but the depth of our salvation is vast. Psalm 18 mentions several key attributes of God regarding in our salvation: Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, and Stronghold.
Each of these attributes are meant to be help us as we go through life. Life has a lot of ups and downs, and at different points in life, we have specific needs only God can fill. In difficult times, for example, we rely on God to be our refuge, or when circumstances or people come against us, we need God to be our fortress or deliverer.
Jesus said “I have come to give you life to the fullest.” Other translations say “life abundantly.” Part of God’s plan for giving us abundant life is His provision and protection for us during this life. This shouldn’t be misunderstood, however, as protection from bad things or difficult circumstances. In fact, Jesus said much to the contrary: You will have suffering in this world. (John 16:33, emphasis added) Even here, though, Jesus immediately followed this warning with a victorious statement that should bring peace and comfort to every follower of Jesus: Be courageous! I have conquered the world.
God, help me to rely on You when I face troubled times as my Protector because You have conquered the world.
Years ago there was a song called “He’s Still Working on Me” which said “how loving and patient He must be ’cause He’s still working on me.” (https://youtu.be/AGjrqV-EOfg)
Last week on Good Friday, we celebrated the completed work of salvation in Jesus’ death on the cross. However, His work of sanctification continues on in the lives of Christians all around the world as we are “conformed into the image of [Jesus].” (Romans 8:29-30)
In my daily struggle between a willing Spirit and a weak flesh (Matthew 26:41), I am thankful for the confidence that “He’s still working on me.”
“Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (CSB)
Have you ever been really thirsty? Maybe after a long workout or run. Maybe working out in your yard on a hot summer day. Maybe you’ve been oversees or in a desert area of the US. Do you remember what it was like when you finally got that first sip of water? For most of us, that feeling of quenched thirst is an incredible relief. What’s interesting, though, is that as relieving as that drink of water was, at some point afterwards your thirst returned. You needed another drink of water.
Our bodies were created to yearn for water. In fact, water is a necessity for life. It’s no surprise that Jesus used water as a metaphor for Himself, calling Himself Living Water. Ever since humanity’s relationship with God was broken by sin, our spirits deeply yearn to be reconciled with their Creator.
David cries out “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.” (Psalm 63)
What a picture! For me, too often my spiritual thirst wanes. I long to be close to God, but the things of the world distract my attention away from the only One who can completely satisfy.
God, may my spiritual thirst for You match the intensity of my physical thirst.
“Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (CSB)
Do Not Be Afraid
Do you remember a time when you were afraid? Fear comes in many forms often as a result of something unknown such as fear of trying something new, fear of being in a new places, fear of something uncontrollable, fear of a strange noise in the middle of the night, and many others. We all feel fear at some time and in some way.
Moses had passed away, and Joshua had taken on the mantle as Israel’s leader. He was standing face-to-face with a whole world of questions and unknowns. Could he be as good of a leader as Moses? Would God’s people follow Him even when things get tough? Could he lead God’s people to take the land God had promised?
God instructed Joshua to be courageous and not be afraid. God’s gave two primary reasons Joshua had no grounds to be fearful of what was ahead: 1) God’s promise to be with him (v 5) and 2) Joshua had “God’s Word” to lean on (v 7-8).
These are the same promises we have as followers of Jesus. Jesus Himself promised He would be with us always (Matthew 28:20) and Peter reminds us we have “all we need for life and godliness” through the indwelling Spirit of God and the Scriptures (2 Peter 1:3)
We must be careful, though, not assume our trust in God guarantees all things will work out in the exact way we want. No, our courage is based on our trust in God who is working out His plan.
Psalm 56:3 gives us a great prayer: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”
God, when I am afraid, help me trust that You are with me and have given me all I need to be courageous.