How Secure Do You Think You Are?

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 4Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, 5For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1.3-6

As Paul writes to these Philippian believers, he speaks words of great encouragement to them. He begins by telling them that he thanks God for “every remembrance” of them. God puts it in the hearts of those who serve Him in leadership positions to pray for those they are leading. We take that responsibility seriously. This responsibility fills Paul with joy.

His joy was found in their fellowship that was created when they came to Christ for salvation. Now we read the principle thought found in these verses: “6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul’s confidence was not in THEM but in the God who saved them. It is a somewhat common question raised among Christ-followers: “How do I know that God will not leave me? If I commit some egregious sin, will He still take me to heaven?” Paul answers that question with great confidence: “Being confident of THIS very thing … ” There is NO DOUBT in Paul’s mind, nor should there be in ours, that questions God’s ability to keep us safe “until the day of Jesus Christ:

Since we KNOW that God is omnipotent, we must conclude that He is ABLE to keep us. I like the words of Jesus in John 10:28-30: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall NEVER perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and my Father are one.” You will note in the KJV that the word man is italicized, meaning it has been supplied to clarify the meaning. But if I read, “neither shall any one”, that would include Satan too. The same is true for both uses of the word man. So, take note, we are ABSOLUTELY safe in God’s hand and He WILL keep us “until the day of Jesus Christ:” Just my thoughts …

All Things? Really?

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8.28

These words are filled with a promise from God. Paul declares that we can KNOW this one thing: “all things work together for good to them that love God … ” Have you ever struggled with this verse? I must confess that I have. But I think that my question has been this: “How is God going to make this _____________ work together for me in my lifetime?” And then the thought comes to mind, “Why does it MATTER HOW God is going to do it? If He said it, it will happen.”

Let’s loo for moment at the phrase “all things … ” Does that mean the death of a spouse? Yes! Does that mean the death of a child? Yes. Does that mean the premature death of a parent? Yes. Does that mean the loss of a good paying job? Yes. Does that mean a grandchild who is born with birth defects? Yes. Does that mean a marriage that goes wrong and ends in divorce? This is only a small portion of things that we could include in God’s “all things.” But if the verse is going to mean anything at all to us, we must literally believe “that all things work together for good to them that love God … ”.

Some manuscripts read, “God works in all things for the good.” But what is the context of meaning for this last phrase: “, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”? Let’s consider this translation: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” What is God’s purpose for me? For you? I believe His purpose for us is to be His hands and feet, mouth and ears to a lost world. How are they going to know The Christ we know if He is not reflected in our lives? Perhaps today we should consider BEING His hands and feet, mouth and ears to the lost world around us and to the believing world of which we are all a part! Just my thoughts …

When Waiting Pays Off!

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait and in his word do I hope.” Psalm 130.5

Waiting is one of the most difficult things that any of us do. We wait on our spouse, or our children, or the order at the fast food restaurant, etc. I find one of my most difficult waiting times is when I am stopped at a traffic light and it seems like I need to shave when it turns green – I have been there so long.

But what we are looking at here is a totally different “wait”. Sometimes in our haste to “do what’s right” we get ahead of God. We may forget that God does not work on the clock the way we do. His view of things is from eternity past, to the present, and into the future with no end in sight. So waiting for the Lord to give us the next step must be more than an exercise in patience. It must be our daily routine.

As if the phrase “I wait for the LORD” wasn’t enough, the psalmist adds: “my soul doth wait … ” indicating that in his inner most being he has made the conscious decision to wait on the Lord. That may not seem like a big deal, but I can’t remember the number of times I have heard someone say, “the Lord told me to do it,” and whatever “it” was turned out to be the total opposite of what God had already told us in His Word.

Finally, the reason for waiting on the Lord is given in this last phrase: “in his word do I hope.” Remember that the word hope here does not mean that there is a possibility that something WON’T happen. Quite the opposite – it means that whatever God says WILL happen is as good as already done. That, my friends, is genuine hope. Let’s bank on that today. Just my thoughts …

The Riches of His Grace!

In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1.7

The beginning words “In whom” refer to Christ. We have redemption through His blood. It is relatively easy to find someone who believes that all they need to do to get to heaven is have enough good works to offset their bad works. The only problem with that belief is that it is contrary to what this verse says. Redemption is ours BECAUSE of the shed blood of Christ. We read in Hebrews 9.22: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and without shedding of blood is no remission.” The ONLY reason Christ came to die was to pay the necessary price demanded by His Father for our sins to be covered. I can’t thank Him enough every day for paying this price for my sin.

There is a distinct biblical truth here. Christ’s blood paid for our sin so His Father could forgive us, and that forgiveness is based on the shedding of the blood of Christ. Make no mistake about it; He does not forgive us because we deserve it. On the contrary, if God should give us what we deserve, we would all spend eternity in hell. Our acceptance to God is made possible by the sacrifice made by His Son.

In this final phrase we find the words that make all of this possible: “ … according to the riches of his grace.” GRACE – just the sound of the word speaks volumes. Someone has suggested this acrostic: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. We can NEVER measure the bountifulness of God’s grace. When we have drawn heavily upon God’s grace we leave Him with no less grace than He had before we asked. Think of the repeated times in your life when God has extended grace to you – times when you did not deserve it, times when you had to strain to recognize it – and yet God was faithful. Thank Him today for His boundless grace and rejoice in the life he has given you “according to the riches of his grace.” Just my thoughts …

A Life Like No Other!

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10.10 – 11

Abundant life – what is that? What does it look like? I can tell you what it is NOT? It is not a life of continual complaining, continual blaming someone else for my problems, continual whining because life has dealt me a terrible blow. It is not living life like I am a victim instead of an overcomer. If that sounds a little strong, then lets think for a bit about what Jesus said.

The abundant life is a life that looks at the beginning of each day and says to God, “Lord, today you and I make a majority. I can handle it because you have prepared it.” Sound too simple? Not at all. It is a matter of knowing who is in control. When I am willing to release my day, my hour, my minute to God for Him to control, then I can embrace and enjoy the abundant life. The abundant life does not mean that I am happy all the time, because happiness depends on what happens. But I can still have a joy-filled life in the midst of my greatest storm – because I have transferred control of my life to God.

Transfer of control is not a one-time deal. It is something that I need to do every day. Perhaps more than once a day, depending on whether or not I insist on taking back control because I think I can handle it better than God can.

When we look at verse 11, we quickly discover a valid reason for embracing this abundant life. In stark contrast to the thief who comes (1) to steal, (2) to kill, and (3) to destroy, our Shepherd sealed everything for me when he gave His life for me. As one of His sheep, I know His purpose for me, and that is for me to embrace the abundant life, and when I do that, my life will bring honor and glory to God. Just my thoughts …

A Pretty Good Exchange!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5.21

When you received Christ as your personal savior, did you ever wonder what happened to your sin? Most of us have heard enough preaching to know the answer to that question. But let’s look closely today at what Paul is telling the Corinthians and us in the verse above. He (God) has made him (Christ His Son) who knew no sin, to be made sin FOR us (in our place); and why? He did it so that we might be made the righteousness of God in him (Christ).

It will be worthwhile for us to grasp the significance of this truth – Christ being made sin for us. When Christ was born, in that Bethlehem manger, He was born to Mary and Joseph as far as the legal heritage was concerned. But Joseph was NOT the real father for we read in Luke 1.34-35: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Mary knew that this child she carried was the Son of God, not the son of Joseph.

This holy child lived a perfect life, went to the cross, and became the only sacrifice that God the Father would accept. While He was on that cross, He took upon Himself the sins of the world: “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, byt also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2.2) He took our sin so that when we received His payment for our sin, we could take His righteousness. Remember Paul’s words: “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” I am so thankful for this divine transaction that made salvation available to me. I think you are too. Just my thoughts …

 

God CAN Do It All!

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19.26

This verse is short but filled with a powerful truth. I shouldn’t be surprised, but after 50+ years of ministry, I still hear people say things like, “God’s can’t do that.” We have all heard the phrase, “Think outside the box”, but I fear that many of God’s children want to put God IN a box. Not only is that not a wise thing to do; but if our view of God is limited, then our daily life and our prayer life are subject to being bound by the borders of the box into which we have put God.

Since these words are from the lips of Jesus, we must make the choice to believe them or live a life of fear, frustration, disappointment, and that would be calling God a liar. I don’t think anyone wants to go there. Now I know these words have a context and I don’t want to try to make them say something they don’t really say. But you and I can take these words, “with God all things are possible” and believe them in any circumstance. Remember, there is a difference in what God CAN do and what He CHOOSES to do.

Think for a moment – when was the last time you can remember being in a difficult situation and only God could bring you through it? Were you reluctant to ask God, did you seek to solve it for yourself first, or did you go immediately to the throne of grace to find help in a time of need? I am willing to gladly admit that I come to God first a lot more times in my life now than I did when I was younger. That gives me a freedom to live my life without thinking I must solve every problem myself. I am glad that “with God all things are possible.” I want each of us to take this truth with us through today and then for the rest of our lives. Just my thoughts …

Glorify God HOW?

But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. 16Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.” 1 Peter 4.15-16

Peter has two thoughts running side by side here and we need to hearken to both of them. His first concept here is that our suffering ought not be because we have done something we should not have done, such as murder, stealing, evil doing, or sticking our nose into someone else’s business. We may need to read that last one again and ask God to deliver us from being too noisy.

Then he tackles the concept of a Christian suffering. Looking back at the book of Job, we see Job’s friends ASSUMING that Job is suffering because he has done something wrong. Not just one of them makes that claim, but all four of them. So when you and I see another brother or sister in Christ suffering, let’s not assume they have done something wrong and God is punishing.

If you are the one who is suffering, there is no shame in suffering. And God alone may be the only one who knows WHY you are suffering, and He may choose not to reveal that to you. So what is the attitude that we should take if we are suffering? Peter tells us: “let him glorify God on this behalf.” You may ask, “How can God be glorified in my suffering?” Is it possible that God is allowing you or me to suffer to show those who are watching us that God is enough – even in our suffering? I think there are times when we neglect to think that our suffering may not be about us at all. It may be about those around us who are waiting to see how we respond to our suffering.

It is also possible that God allows us to suffer so that we can do as Paul suggests in 2 Corinthians 1.3-4: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” While these are just my thoughts, they are worthy of our consideration …

This Is REAL Trust

In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56.4

When you read the phrase, “I will not fear what flesh can do unto me”, what comes to your mind? David certainly had occasion to fear flesh – especially when Saul wanted to kill him. So, what can we draw from this verse that will help US? David’s opening words give us the secret to not fearing what flesh can do to us.

In God I will praise his word … ” You may ask what does praising God have to do with overcoming fear of the flesh? We cannot, we will not, give praise to a powerless God. On the contrary, when we realize not just who our God is, but also come to understand His immensity and His power, praising Him is the natural by-product of KNOWING God in an intimate way. When Paul said in Philippians 3.10: “That I may know Him … ”, this word know is the same one used to describe a man knowing a woman in an intimate way. That is how we want to know God.

Now, David says: “ … in God I have put my trust … ” We exercise trust everyday in so many different ways. We walk into a room and sit on a chair that we trust. We flip a light switch because we trust the power company to supply the power. We get in our cars and start them, trusting it will take use where we want to go. So when it comes to trusting God, we need to use our trust in a greater degree because our ability to trust God more and more enables us to “not fear what flesh can do unto (us).” This is such a liberating place to be – knowing that God is worthy of our praise, is worthy of our trust, and is able to deliver us from whatever “flesh” may want to do to us. Just my thoughts …

The Great Acceptance!

All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6.37

Those of us who have already come to Christ for salvation realize the truth of this first statement. The Father’s desire is for all men to be saved (2 Peter 3.9) and He does not override our will. He could make us robots and we would not have any say in the matter, but He gave Adam a free will and He did the same for us.

I want us to look closely at this second phrase: “him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” Over the years I have heard so many people make this statement: “How do I know that God will save me? Just asking seems so simple.” In Romans 10.13 we read: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” That is as clear as God can make it.

But let’s think for a moment about the phrase, “I will in no wise cast out.” There is no need to worry whether or not we are going to do something that will cause God to be so angry with us that He puts us out of the family. In fact, as I have stated before, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. His unconditional love for us was clearly demonstrated at Calvary. No one ever came to God for salvation and heard Him say, “Your sin is too great. I can’t save you.” On the contrary, we read these words from Paul’s pen: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of who I am chief.” (1Timothy 1.15) The conclusion that you and I draw from this is simply that God is willing to take anyone who is willing to accept Christ’s payment for his sin. Every sinner qualifies. Not all sinners are willing to accept Christ’s payment. Just my thoughts …