“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.’ 2 Corinthians 9.15
Paul speaks about two things that he cannot describe: (1) heaven) and (2) Jesus, the Son of God. He speaks about his “out of body experience” in 2 Corinthians 12:4 “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” In this verse above he says that God’s gift of His Son Jesus is the “unspeakable gift.”
Jesus truly is unspeakable. How do you describe God and man in the flesh? How do you explain one who loves you so much that He was willing to die for you to keep you out of hell? How do you explain one who is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah? There simply are NO words.
But the key to this verse is the opening phrase: “Thanks be unto God … ” I am fearful that far too many of God’s children fail to take time to thank God for the gift of His Son, Jesus. We are reminded over and over in Scripture to be thankful. The words or phrases give thanks, be thankful, or thanks occur 65 times in the KJV. 31 times in the Psalms alone the psalmists remind us to give thanks or have thanksgiving in our hearts.
So, let’s begin today with a commitment to God that we will make giving thanks a part of our daily prayer lives. If you do not have a prayer list, let me suggest that you start one. Then you can put giving thanks at the top of your list. It may be helpful to take time when you are not praying and make a list of the people and things for which you are thankful, including the unique things that God has done for you through the person of His Son, Jesus. This will take time, but it is well worth the time you decide to commit to it. Just my thoughts …
“But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15.57
We seem to live in a world in which people see themselves as victims in so many life situations. Just because we have a bad experience, or are born with a less than perfect body, or have less than a perfect marriage, or less than a perfect job does not mean that we are a victim. It simply means that life is not perfect – and no one has a perfect life.
What is Paul saying to believers here in this verse? His reference to victory is speaking of victory over death. That does not mean that we will not die, but that the sting of death has been conquered. That is one of the things Christ conquered for us on the cross. Of ALL the things that the death of Christ accomplished for us, the knowledge that the sing of death has been conquered is a wonderful truth. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (v. 55)
You and I must remember the words of 2 Corinthians 5: “We ae confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” If you have lost a loved one who is a believer., you know the comfort those words bring you.
But if you and I are victors over death, does that truth have any bearing on the rest of life? If death has been conquered, what else is there to fear? So often we are bound by fear when dealing with sickness and/or relationships. The simple truth of the matter is this, if God can handle death (the ultimate blow to life), then He can surely handle a terminal illness, a wayward child, a spouse who chooses to walk away, a job that may terminate tomorrow, or a problem with another believer that may seem unsolvable to us. Just remember that we are victors, not victims. Just my thoughts …
“Our soul waiteth for the LORD he is our help and our shield. (21) For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. (22) Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” Psalm 33.20-22
When we think about TRUST, we know that it is something that is only exercised with those that we consider trustworthy. I am not sure why so many of God’s children struggle when it comes to trusting Him. He has ALWAYS done everything He SAID He would do for us. So, when we look at David’s words here in Psalm 33, we should be encouraged by David’s TRUST in His God. Let’s take a look.
“Our soul waiteth for the LORD he is our help and our shield.” Can I ask if you have learned to WAIT upon God? That may seem shallow, but when was the last time you PATIENTLY waited on God to do something in your life? “Why wait” you ask? Because He is “our help and our shield.” Wanting to “get ahead” of God means I am willing to leave His help behind and I am willing to risk going ahead without His being my shield. Both of those are dangerous positions.
“our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name.” I WANT to have a rejoicing heart. There is NO OTHER NAME that is absolutely worthy of my trust. So my decision to wait on the Lord is a reflection of how much I already trust Him.
“Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.” Hope is POSSIBLE because of trust. Is it a stretch to suggest that God extends His mercy in abundance in accordance with our trust and our hope? That SEEMS to be what David is saying here. If you are struggling with trust, today would be a great day to put your ABSOLUTE trust in the LORD and let Him be your help and shield. Just my thoughts …
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, (12) Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2.11-12
Would you agree that most of us don’t really struggle with the parts of the Bible that we don’t understand, but with the parts of the Bible that we do understand and struggle to do? In the verses above, Paul gives Titus some very practical information – information that is practical for us too.
We like to emphasize the great truth found in the first phrase: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men … ” and we should. But the very next words take us to the real reason this is so important: “Teaching us … ” There is a lesson here for each one of us. It is a two-fold truth: (1) we are to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts in our lives, and (2) we are to live a lifestyle that is described here.
What does it mean to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts? Ungodliness may rear its ugly head in any number of forms, i. e. selfishness, laziness, arrogance, unconcern for the lost, and the list could go on and on. Worldly lusts are those desires that come to us and we know that if we choose them it will damage our testimony and our walk with God, but sometimes we choose them anyway.
“live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Another way to say “soberly” is to say “self-controlled.” We alone are responsible for how we act and react in this world. We may say, “So and so made me do it.” But the truth of the matter is this, no one can make you do anything. You must chose to do it. Righteous living is living above reproach. That does not mean perfect. It does mean allowing God to live His best life through us. That makes the next word “godly” fall right into place. Since we LIVE in this present world, we ought to LIVE the way God wants. Just my thoughts …
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Galatians 6.7-8
I have said this before, but it bears repeating. Most people want to sow their wild oats and then pray for a crop failure. But if God’s Word is true (and it is), then “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” This phrase is introduced by these words: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked … ” The very fact that God knows all is enough to cause us to rethink wrong behavior. We WILL reap what we sow.
A clearer explanation is given in v. 8: “he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption … ” If the ONLY kind of actions that I have are those that feed my flesh and its desires, then the only thing I can expect is to reap corruption – “the process by which something, typically a word or expression, is changed from its original use or meaning to one that is regarded as erroneous or debased.” That sounds a whole lot like wasted energy to me.
Let’s look at the alternative: “he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Now THAT sounds like worthwhile behavior. You may be asking, “But how do I sow to the Spirit?” Since the Holy Spirit resides in every believer, He is readily available for guidance and instruction. He is not going to hand you the next step on a 3×5 card and say, “Here, do this.” But He will respond to an honest heart that cries out for help.
I am reminded here of Romans 8.26: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” Look at this first phrase: “the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities … ”Let Him do what He does best, help us with our infirmities. Just my thoughts …
“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away. (25) But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the angel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1.24 – 25
I just turned 78 a few days ago. That probably seems old to some. But when I read these opening words, I am reminded again of the brevity of life down here on this earth: “all flesh is as grass … ” Look at the comparison Peter makes here between the grass that withers and the word of the Lord. “The grass withereth … But the word of the Lord endureth forever.” When we consider that all flesh is grass, that is referring to us. No matter how long we live, compared to the enduring word of God and the life we look forward to in eternity, this life is literally a “drop in the bucket.”
When you and I come to grips with the brevity of life, how does that affect the urgency of the gospel as it relates to this lost world? Does it somehow turn our focus from ourselves to the world that is rushing past us into a Christless eternity? If it doesn’t, it should.
Since this “word of the Lord endureth forever”, that knowledge tends to validate its authority and emphasize it purpose for our lives today. God’s plan has always been to get the message of the gospel to the whole world and when that doesn’t happen, it is not a reflection on Him, but upon His children who fail to carry out His plan.
So, in your mind, what is God’s plan for this world? Is it to leave thousands in darkness, never hearing the message of the gospel? Can you imagine them marching past the great white throne and saying, “No one ever came. We did not know you had a son named Jesus and that He died for our sins.” Oh my friend, we have three options before us. (1) We can go ourselves. (2) We can give sacrificially so others can go. And (3) we can all pray for the gospel to reach the untold millions who are still untold. Just my thoughts …
“Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. (2) Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High. (3) What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56.1-3
There are some days when I need to be reminded of God’s overwhelming love for His children and extravagant protection of His children. When David speaks here in Psalm 53, he is writing a Psalm of instruction for those who will come after him. The Philistines have captured him and his life is in real danger.
Here is his prayer: “Be merciful unto me, O God … ” I don’t believe for a moment that David though that God was not aware of his circumstances. But this is David’s heart cry. God wants us to be honest in our prayer time with him and David was very honest here. He continues: “for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.” This is not an occasional issue for David, but one that is a daily need. Most of us find ourselves in need DAILY of God’s intervention in our lives to deliver us from that which we cannot control.
We find our comfort in v. 3: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Some days bring more fears than others, but the truth is the same for every day, “I will trust in thee.” You may ask, “How do I know can and will take care of me?” IF your God is merciful (v. 1), and He is, then your faith must bring you to the place of BELIEVING that He is WORTHY of your trust and then trusting Him. While trust is a bridge that must be built, we must not be afraid to cross that bridge in order to come to the place of alleviating our fear. Just my thoughts …
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” 3 John 1.2
The books of 1, 2, and 3 John are powerful in that they contain such practical counsel for believers. If we aren’t careful, we might miss John’s comparison here between the physical body and the spiritual life of the believer. There is no doubt that he knows the audience to whom he is writing. He indicates that they are experiencing a healthy spiritual life. And his desire for them is that their physical life would be as good as their spiritual life. Look again at his words: “ … that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
Let’s take a look at this as it may apply to our lives. Would you want someone to say to you, “I pray your physical well-being is as good as your spiritual well-being”? I am fearful that for many of God’s children, we take far better care of our physical bodies than we do of our spiritual lives. We say things like, “But I have to eat. I have to get enough sleep. I have to go to the doctor when I am sick.” I don’t think anyone is going to fault us for doing those things. They ARE a necessary part of life.
But on the other hand, are we willing to say, “I have to read my Bible. I have to take time to spend in prayer. I have to go to church to get what I need from my brothers and sisters in Christ”? No one reading this would say, “I’m going to eat breakfast in the morning. That should hold me until next Sunday morning.” If you are like my, breakfast is a vital part of my day everyday. And yet many will attend a service tomorrow and then decide they don’t need to do anything else to nurture their spiritual lives until the next Sunday morning. Let’s make every effort to nurture our physical life and spiritual life with at least the same degree of attention and watch our souls prosper. Just my thoughts …
“For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4.16
What is the reason Paul gives us this verse (other than the inspiration of the Holy Spirit)? I think we find it in the preceding verse: “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.” We don’t use this word “redound” very much. What does it mean? “To contribute greatly to … ” So why do we faint not? We do not faint because the grace of God is at work in us daily, and the manifestation of that grace will “contribute greatly to” the glory of God. Isn’t that supposed to be the purpose of our lives every day? We may not see it that way, but God does.
“ … though our outward man perish … ” We grow older each day and the things that we once did with ease we now struggle to do. But “the inward man is renewed day by day.” Our spirit is daily being renewed by God’s Spirit who lives within us. I believe we are responsible to release control of our spirit to God each day in order for Him to “renew” us each day. Sometimes that renewal may come in the form of encouragement from another believer. Sometimes that renewal may come in the form of a reminder as we read God’s Word and see something that we knew but really needed to see again.
Examine where you are today in your walk with God. Are you about to faint? Turn from your circumstances to your God who controls your circumstances and find your renewal in Him. In the words of Francis Schaffer, “He is There. He Is Not Silent.” Let Him be Who He alone can be for you! Just my thoughts …
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another, as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. (35) By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13.34-35
As Jesus speaks these words, the disciples pick up on the words “a new commandment”. They knew the 10 Commandments, but their Master was adding something new. What could He possibly add to what had already been given? Well, here it is, “love one another … ” That seems simple enough doesn’t it? But He doesn’t stop there. Observe. “ … love one another, as I have loved you … ” Now they (and we) must analyze HOW He loved them. This doesn’t really require analysis, just acknowledgment of how Jesus loves us all. None can deny that it is an unconditional love. It is more than just “putting up” with someone because they say they are Christians. It is more than just tolerating a church member because we are “supposed” to love one another. Jesus’ words are clear … you love them the way I have loved you. And, just for the record, this is not a suggestion, but a commandment.
Why is this so important? Jesus said, “By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Jesus knew the world would be watching His followers to see if there was any difference between the world and the follower of Christ. If our love for our fellow brothers-and sisters-in-Christ is unconditional, the world can’t help but notice. They won’t hear us whining about the behavior of others. They won’t see us turning our back on a fellow Christian who is in need. Instead, they will see actions that are a direct result of our unconditional love for fellow believers, and maybe, just maybe, they will want to know more about this Christ who has made such a difference in our lives. Just my thoughts …