Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Saturday Series - 34 - "One... Three"

(Friends:  Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto.  I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you.  Glen).

(A repeat from 2013

The Saturday Series - 34

"One… Three"       
    An inarguably monotheistic Bible nevertheless pluralistically refers to God as the Scriptures begin their revelation of man's existence and nature.   

    "And God said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness" (Genesis 1:26).   

    Note the significance of this statement.  One God speaks, but refers to Himself in triune terms: Us, Our, Our.  Thus, in the Biblical introduction of man, the Holy Spirit provides the greater and more important introduction of the nature and being of man's Creator.  Our Lord exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God dwelling in and as three distinct persons and personalities.  Scripture, unapologetically proclaims the truth, never seeking to explain as it affirms the Divine plurality existing in the Divine unity.    "To us there is but one God, the Father" (I Corinthians 8:6).    "Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, o God, is forever and ever" (Hebrews 1:8).    "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24).   

    The fact that "God is love" requires His plurality (I John 4:8).  The Lord has always been as He is - "I am the Lord, I change not" (Malachi 3:6).  By definition, love "seeketh not her own," that is, love must have an object other than itself in order to exist and express itself (I Corinthians 13:5).  Thus, before the creation of angels and humans, the unchanging God required a recipient of His giving essence.  This He possessed in Himself.  The three Persons of the Godhead gave and received to and from each other, even as the Lord Jesus Christ declared to His Father, "O Father, glorify thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was... Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:5; 24).  The love of God is, in fact, the very essence of reality.  When nothing else existed, one God did, one Lord dwelling as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in a sublime and pristine glory of otherness and devotion to one another.     

    No truth more illuminates our hearts and minds, and no truth more escorts us to the brink of mystery.  The beauty of Triune glory presents to our minds a conundrum of perplexity.  How can One be Three, and Three, One?  Whenever this question comes to mind, I tend to smile and think of what the Lord might say if we could directly ask this question.  "How could One not be Three, and Three not be One?," He might suggest.  "How could an egg exist merely as a shell, rather than its three components comprising one delicious edition of your breakfast this morning?  Or how could a single ray of light be composed of anything less than light, heat, and ultraviolet constituents?"     

    Fullness of faith does not require fullness of understanding.  The Bible declares God to exist as a "He" and as an "Us."  This is truth.  This is essence.  This is reality.  This is what, or rather, Who, existed when nothing else did.  Let us bow to worship the Father, through the person and merits of the Son, as led and empowered by the Holy Spirit.  Yes, let us bow to worship this one God, dwelling in and as three glorious and wondrous Persons.

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord."
(Deuteronomy 6:4)  

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not."
(Jeremiah 33:3)

Friday, September 29, 2017

"That Relationship"

"That Relationship"  
      Life, in spiritual terms as defined by God, is relational.  This truth begins in the Lord Jesus Christ, who declared,  "I live by the Father" (John 6:57).  It then proceeds to those who God quickens by His grace, as received by faith: "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

     One of our dear Orange Moon friends, Fred Carlson of Michigan, shared this truth in a beautiful and succinct expression of truth: "Knowing God rightly and fully is equivalent to having and enjoying right relationship with Him. It is that relationship, that knowing God, that infuses man with life, the ability to live up to all of his original, God-created potential. This is what Jesus meant when He prayed, " And this is life eternal, that they might know You the only true God, and Him whom you have sent" (John 17:3). Paul meant the same thing when he penned his aspiration, "That I might know Him, the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering" (Philippians 3:10).

    Fred echoes the words of the Apostle Paul, who affirmed, "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).  Thus, to be alive as God defines life means that He has spiritually birthed us into living and personal relationship with Him through the Lord Jesus.  We would expect this to be true in light of our original creation in the image of God.  Before anything else existed, our Lord Himself dwelt in the reality of the triune Father, Son, Holy Spirit relationship that constitutes the very essence of life.  There was only God.  But He was not alone.  He rather lived in the glory of an infinite, perfect, and eternal bond of loving devotion, even as the Lord Jesus referenced in His prayer recorded in John 17: "Father Thou lovedst Me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24).  The God who constitutes the very essence of life was fully alive because He was fully relational.  The personal nature of His being led - and leads - to every aspect of His doing.  The same is true in us.  How we relate to the triune God determines the nature of our living in both the factual and functional sense.  The former is given to believers as a gift.  We are "alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:11).  The latter flows in direct proportion to how well we avail ourselves of the personal relationship God gives to us in Christ.  "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25).

   Knowing God in the relational sense infuses us with the essence of life, and then enables us to exercise the potential of expressing that life in how we think, speak, act, and relate to people.  Anything less cannot be viewed as life in accordance with God's definition thereof.  Thus, when we think of life, or what it means to be alive, we must consider the matter in terms of relating to God through the Lord Jesus and by the leading and enabling of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing else suffices.  Indeed, anything else that we view as life, be it circumstance, condition, situation, or any person other than God, must be acknowledged as an imposter who cannot suffice to make or keep us truly alive.  Again, Fred's words, based upon God's Word, ring clear, true, and beautifully: "It is that relationship, that knowing God, that leads to life."  Or, as Moses proclaimed...

"He is thy life."
(Deuteronomy 30:20)

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not."
(Jeremiah 33:3)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

“Made To Worship, Enabled To Worship"

"Made To Worship, Enabled To Worship"  

      We either worship the living and true God of Scripture.  Or we invent a god of our own devising (even if we don't refer to the object of our devotion in spiritual or religious terms).

     "Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (I Thessalonians 1:9).

     By definition, human hearts always worship something greater than ourselves.  We may or may not be conscious of such consecration, and many people seem devoted to themselves rather than the master who governs their existence (one of the deadliest aspects of spiritual deception).  We nevertheless worship by nature, the nature woven into our being by the God who actually exists.  He made us as dependent creatures with the freedom to determine the object of our devotion.  "Choose you this day whom ye will serve" (Joshua 24:15).  Thereby genuine relationship and fellowship become possible and actual in those who respond to the overtures of "the living and true God"' who beckons us to Himself through the Lord Jesus Christ.  "He is thy Lord.  Worship thou Him" (Psalm 45:11).

    Our capacity for worship requires the presence of the Holy Spirit to empower devotion to our Lord.  "I will love Thee, o Lord my strength" proclaimed the Psalmist, beautifully expressing both the determination and dependence that characterizes true consecration to God (Psalm 18:1).  David longed to genuinely walk with his Lord in committed and affectionate fellowship - "I will love Thee."  He knew, however, that true worship required  the Lord's working in his heart - "O Lord my strength."  By definition, coerced devotion would be oxymoronic.  However, the quest to empower our own walk with the Lord is just as contradictory.  Thus, we will to worship in response to God's overtures as the Holy Spirit moves upon the waters of our hearts.  And we look to the same active Presence in those waters to direct the current of our love toward the throne of grace and its worthy King.  "I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy" (Psalm 5:7).

    Everybody worships.  All will to follow something or someone outside of themselves as the object and power of devotion.  The God of the Bible alone serves as the deity who leads us to life both now and forevermore.  We do well to continually remind ourselves and others that He made us to worship, and to worship "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).  The course of this day and of eternity depends on our response to the calling, and confidence that the living and true God will lead and enable us in our devotion to Him.

"We are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
(Philippians 3:3)

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not."
(Jeremiah 33:3)

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

“Losing and Killing, Gaining and Living"

"Losing and Killing, Gaining and Living"  

      In God's spiritual economy, we lose in order to gain.  Or even more graphically, we kill in order to live.

     "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?  Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:25-26).
      "If ye though the Spirit do mortify (put to death) the deeds of the body, ye shall live" (Romans 8:13). 

     The loss of life and soul to which are Lord refers can sometimes involve actual physical martyrdom.  However, the norm of this sacrifice involves everyday choices of faith and submission to God whereby we replace natural responses to circumstances, events, and situations with spiritual determinations to view life in accordance with our Lord and His Word.  Through the Holy Spirit's working in our hearts and minds, we put to death fleshly impulses, thoughts, and inclinations that conflict with Truth as defined by God.  The choices often involve initial discomfort as we act in opposition to human impulses.  Rather than retain a perspective, attitude, or belief that feels comfortable to our flesh, we rather remember and affirm the "Thus saith the Lord" of Scripture.  This often feels like loss, and it is.  Nevertheless we gain as we lose, or as our Heavenly Father enables us to kill in order to live.

    Suppose, for example, our spiritual enemies tempt us with fear.  While different people respond differently to such a challenge, we all have natural reactions that initially do not coincide with God and His truth.  We may bluster with pride - "Hah! I can handle that!" - or cower with fear - "Oh no, I can't handle that!"  Either way, our fleshly responses demand that we gain in order to lose, or kill in order to live.  Temptations to fear call us to faith - "What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee" (Psalm 56:3).  This demands that we remove our sword  - "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" - from its sheath, as it were, to execute the loss and death that leads to gain and life (Ephesians 6:17).  We internally embrace the truth of God's Word in order to conquer natural impulses, thought patterns, and responses.  "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith" (I John 5:4).  Thereby we lose, but we gain, and we kill in order to live.

"I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord."
(Philippians 3:8)
"Overcome evil with good."
(Romans 12:21)

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not."
(Jeremiah 33:3)

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

“Inclination, Ability, Promise"

"Inclination, Ability, Promise"  

      Our memory verse for the week beckons God's children to avail ourselves of His inclination, His ability, and His promise.

      "Call unto Me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not" (Jeremiah 33:3).

     I vented some frustration to a good friend last night about an issue involving a problem facing a loved one.  As I wrote the note that expressed my feelings, the thought kept returning to me that the matter, while unsolvable in human terms, actually provides yet another opportunity to trust our Heavenly Father for His personal working in my loved one's life.  The Lord is more than willing to act on our behalf, or in this case, on behalf of someone dear to me, and even more dear to Him.  We can be sure of His inclination.  "I will" He promises.

    We then rest our hearts in confidence of His ability and power to provide, protect, and weave both the pleasant and the painful into His good purposes for the lives of those we love, and who He loves even more.  "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Genesis 18:14).  Certainly God meant for Abraham to realize the absurdity of such a notion as He rhetorically asked the question.  In fact, the promise of His abundant working offers "great and mighty things" we would never see or know if challenges did not lead us to trust Him.  "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen" (Ephesians 3:20).  "Great and mighty things" He promises.

   Finally, the God who "cannot lie" has made countless promises to His trusting sons and daughters in Christ that cannot fail to be fulfilled (Titus 1:2).  This includes the assurance that calling on Him results in His promised working for the benefit of those for whom we care, and for whom He cares even more.  As we frequently suggest in these messages, every promise our Heavenly Father ever made has either been fulfilled, or is in the process of being fulfilled.  God keeps His word.  Always.  Ever, and forever.  I thought about that after my venting last night, and while I am most grateful for the dear friend who patiently endured the steam, I am even more grateful for the dear Friend who purposefully engaged His Spirit to remind and challenge me:  God can be trusted.  "I will answer" He promises.

"Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed."
(Romans 9:33)

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not."
(Jeremiah 33:3)

Monday, September 25, 2017

“A Heart To Know"

"A Heart To Know"  
      Christians rightly affirm the Biblical truth that salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ ushers us into personal relationship with God.

     "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent" (John 17:3).

     The word "know" in our Lord's declaration is translated from the Greek word "ginosko," implying a relational knowledge beyond the mere possession of facts.  Thus, we believe it possible that God can be known in our present lives despite our inability to perceive Him with our senses.  "We walk by faith, not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).  However, we also recognize that great challenge presents itself concerning the knowledge of God, even as the Apostle Paul acknowledged, "we see through a glass, darkly" (I Corinthians 13:12).  What does it mean to personally relate to God?  How do we actually do it?  What is His role, and what is our role in the bond of fellowship?  These questions require ongoing consideration, discovery, and application as we presently seek to avail ourselves of personal access to the heart and mind of our Lord.  If we have trusted in the Lord Jesus, our Father knows us in the sense of receiving us, and relating to us in familial terms rather than being merely our Creator.  Moreover, He desires that we might know Him in a manner that constitutes our awareness of Him in the context of truth, and in an experience we believe to be genuine and personally relational.  "Thou art my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation" (Psalm 89:26).  

    We must consider the possibility and actuality of fellowship with God in both confidence and humility.  Our Lord can be known by His children, and He should indeed be the One who we know best.  Only God is with us always.  Only God has written to us a detailed document such as the Bible in which over the course of centuries, He communicated to all who will listen a vast portion of His heart and mind.  He also gave His indwelling Holy Spirit to inhabit our hearts when we believed, something no one else in our lives can do.  Thus, we should have great expectations regarding living communion with the Life of our lives as He promises to both live and walk in us (II Corinthians 6:16).  However, we also "walk humbly with thy God" in the knowledge that we are easily misled regarding this most vital matter of our lives (Micah 6:8).  No honest believer will fail to confess that we have too often misperceived our Lord's person, presence, and working in our hearts and lives.  The possibility of error and deception will remain with us throughout our earthly lives regarding our doctrinal and personal knowledge of God.  "Lead me in Thy truth, and teach me: for Thou art the God of my salvation; on Thee do I wait all the day" (Psalm 25:5).

   In Christ, God gives to us the greatest gift imaginable, namely, the gift of Himself.  "Ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (I Corinthians 3:16).  He knows us and we should expect to know Him in the light of truth and intimate experience.  We nevertheless receive the gift in solemn reverence and sober realization of how easily we neglect or wrongly perceive the blessing reality of "God with us" (Matthew 1:23).  Thus, we rejoice in the gift and also respect it in a manner that leads us in both grateful hope and godly fear.  God can be known, known personally, better than anyone else in our lives.  He should be, but we avail ourselves of the gift with much reverence and the realization of seeing through glass, darkly.

"I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God."
(Jeremiah 24:7)

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Call unto Me and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not."
(Jeremiah 33:3)

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Saturday Series -33- “Purity of Perception”

(Friends:  Most Saturdays for the duration of this year, I plan on sharing a message that relates to the character and nature of God, and our response thereunto.  I hope you will find it helpful, and as always, thanks for allowing us to send the devotionals to you.  Glen).

The Saturday Series - 33

"Purity of Perception"      

    Some are possessed of much knowledge, but have little understanding in order to coordinate and organize facts in their minds.  Others possess good measures of both knowledge and understanding, but don't have the wisdom to apply their thoughts in an effective manner.  There is One, however, possessed of immeasurable knowedge, understanding, and wisdom. 

   "God… knoweth all things" (I John 3:20).
   "His understanding is infinite" (Psalm 147:5).
   "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" (Romans 11:33).

    God comprehends, correlates and conducts Himself in pristine perfection.  He never acts in anything less than the best possible application of His mental and intellectual capability.  His ways may often seem mysterious to us, but even more, we must consider them marvelous as we ponder the glorious One whose actions forever proceed from absolute purity of perception.  "He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37).

   Our spiritual enemies often tempt us to wonder about God's ways in our lives, and the lives of others.  The very first devilish deception involved such darkness.  Satan tempted Eve to question God's character and working.  "God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5).  In other words, the devil suggested that the Lord omitted something in His creation of Adam and Eve that He should have included.  Or, He acted in a manner less than perfect in knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.  Every temptation of the human race thereafter always includes some form of this Satanic attack on God's judgment.  If we do not know know and frequently refresh ourselves in the Bible's affirmation of our Lord's infinite mind, we can be easily felled to question His perfection.  By definition, this is a fool's game, but acting foolishly is the human default position, based upon the glaring fact of our decidedly imperfect perceptions of God, Truth and reality.  The devil and his minions instigate such absurdity, and we must be ever on our guard to reject even the slightest aspersion regarding God's knowledge, wisdom, and understanding.

    We close with Solomon's familiar and beloved charge to remember and affirm our confidence in the One who knows, understands, and wisely acts in accordance with His infinite and perfect mind.  We shall not be disappointed as we…

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths."
(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Weekly Memory Verse 
    Weekly Memory Verse 
   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
(II Peter 3:13)

Friday, September 22, 2017

“Further, Higher, Deeper"

    "Further, Higher, Deeper    

   We never know any Biblical doctrine so well that we can rest on the status quo of knowledge and understanding.

   "If any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (I Corinthians 8:2).

    Consider the doctrine of God Himself.  Perhaps the simplest Scriptural truth declares that there is one God.  "God is one" (Galatians 3:20).  However, Scripture also teaches that God is triune, plainly identifying Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the three Divine persons of the Godhead.

    "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Peter 1:3).
    "Unto the Son He saith, Thy throne, o God, is forever and ever" (Hebrews 1:8).
    "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?  Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? And after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?   Why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart?  Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 5:3-4).

    In this holy light, the simplest teaching of the Bible casts us to our faces in the realization that we can never completely comprehend any doctrine.  We can know God's truth well enough to enter into relationship with Him and walk faithfully in the light of His presence and involvement.  The truth nevertheless commands that we bow before its transcendence, including every doctrine that we may rightly but never completely understand.  While humbling upon first realization, no more thrilling thought should fill our hearts and minds as we recognize that fresh journeys into God's light ever await us as we seek Him in the pages of Scripture and the pathways of life.  "Come further, climb higher, dive deeper" beckons the Holy Spirit to God's trusting children in Christ.  Again, this includes every doctrine we hold dear, be it those that seem so simple a child can understand, and those so complex as to bewilder the most mature among us.

   "Nothing yet as we ought to know."  God's infinite nature and truth means that wherever we may find ourselves along the path of righteousness, our venture into His light has, in real terms, just commenced.

There is no end to the quest we know,
forever beckons on.
For we soar in skies so bright and blue,
above all clouds of storm.

Yes, we fly into the heart of God,
as in His Son we trust.
And earth will soon be nothing more
than long forgotten dust.

So spread your wings and catch the wind,
o journeyman of hope.
And race toward horizons blessed
with those who also know,

That the quest of hearts is Jesus,
He is our shining sun.
It matters not how far we've come...
the journey's just begun.

"But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be glory both now and forever, Amen."
(II Peter 3:18)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
(II Peter 3:13)

Thursday, September 21, 2017

“His Emphasis"

    "His Emphasis    

    Having been originally created in the image of the God who "is love," we would expect our existence to revolve around this central aspect of His character, nature, and way (I John 4:8).  It does.

   "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10).
   "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).
   "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22:38-39).
    "Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Ephesians 5:2).

    The Apostle Paul accentuated the Biblical truth of love by declaring that even if we gave our body to be burned, but did not have love, we would be nothing (I Corinthians 13:3).  Thus, we must be ever mindful to keep our spiritual attention directed toward the love of God, our response of love to Him, and love for people as the inevitable fruit of genuine relationship with our Heavenly Father.  This requires that we define love according to His terms.  Our human conceptions are always faulty in both understanding and application.  Again, Paul declares that what might appear to be the ultimate sacrifice - giving our body to be burned - could be weighed in the Divine balances and found wanting.  If our devotion does not originate, continue, and culminate in the love of Christ, the somber truth is that carnal and even devilish motivations characterize seemingly noble acts of self sacrifice.  This casts us to our knees and faces in the admission of how desperately we require our Lord to reveal His love, empower our response, and lead us in genuine love for Him and others.  Indeed, the Christian life is not for the faint in heart, but rather for faith of the heart, the trust that God will change us into His genuinely loving image by the progressive work of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

   Human beings continually use the word "love" while having little understanding of the concept, and far less application.  The God who is love must illuminate us with the light of His character, nature, and way.  This constitutes the very heart of His involvement in our lives as God's grace and truth in Christ leads us in His spiritual and moral likeness.  This is His emphasis.  It must be ours as well.

"And now abideth faith, hope, and charity (love), these three.  But the greatest of these is charity."
(I Corinthians 13:13)
"And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment."
(Philippians 1:9)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
(II Peter 3:13)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

“The Best He Can"

(A repeat from 2015)

    "The Best He Can    

    We've all said it, and if sincere, the words indicate good and noble intentions: "I'll do the best I can."  What more can we do than this commitment to our utmost ability and opportunity?  The answer may surprise us.

    "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).

   The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ sends His Spirit to dwell within all who believe, enabling a life far beyond human capacities.  He calls us to live according to His abilities and capacities.  Thus, life for the Christian does not involve doing the best we can.  We rather seek to do the best He can.  

   "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (I Corinthians 15:10).

   The Apostle Paul testifies to a Power beyond his own strength, indeed, to "Christ, the power of God" (I Corinthians 1:24).  The indwelling Holy Spirit makes such a life possible, as revealed in the trusting, submissive, expectant heart of all who believe the many Biblical promises regarding God's enabling.  Is Christ who He declares Himself to be in Scripture?  Is He as present as promised?  Does He dwell and walk in us, as the Bible affirms?  If we answer yes to these questions, a great and privileged challenge awaits us in this moment and always.  Our Lord calls us to live according to His best rather than our own.  The standards of Scripture regarding heart, attitude, demeanor, action, and relationship far transcend our abilities because by definition, power for the Christian life involves the life of Christ rather than our own.  We "live through Him" (I John 4:9).  No sane person would seek to be like the Lord Jesus apart from the promise that His Spirit lives within us to enable such a life beyond our capacities.  "Without Me, ye can do nothing" He declared (John 15:5).  But with Him?  That'a a different matter altogether!  "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Philippians 4:13).  

    "The best He can."  This is the life and aspiration to which God calls His trusting children in Christ.  Indeed, we have this day in which to realize the power from Above that vibrantly teems within our redeemed spirits through the presence of the Spirit of the Lord Jesus.  A trusting, submitted, and expectant heart prepares us to experience the wonders of a transcendent life, the life of the risen Christ.  His best constitutes the possibility and actuality of a life that honors God because it springs forth from His own being, ability, and strength...

"He is thy life."
(Deuteronomy 30:20)
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God."
(II Corinthians 3:5)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
(II Peter 3:13)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

“The Guilty and the Innocent"

    "The Guilty and the Innocent

     The indictment against humanity is universal, save one.

    "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19).
    "Christ… through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God" (Hebrews 9:14).

    The Lord Jesus Christ could die for our sins because He had none of His own.  He experienced temptation to a degree beyond all others - "in all points tempted like as we are" - but never once did He succumb to His enemies' attempts to mar the necessary perfection of His character and way - "yet without sin" (Hebrews 9:14).  Conversely, those born of Adam's race experience temptation to a far lesser measure and degree.  We nevertheless have disbelieved and distrusted our Heavenly Father in more ways than any of us can remember or want to acknowledge.  Left to ourselves, we are all "guilty before God," whose standard of pristine perfection condemns us to His rejection and wrath against the sin that would destroy His creation if allowed to continue.  Thankfully, God does not leave us to ourselves.  He rather sent the Lord Jesus to bear His judgment for us, again, the One who could justly die for our sins because He had none of His own.  He suffered as "the Just for the unjust" declared the Apostle Peter, whose declaration resounds with the most fundamental truth of the Gospel, the wonder of which we will never fully comprehend (I Peter 3:18). 

    It is a good idea to frequently return to the altar where we remember the Lord's innocence and our guilt.  Upon this acknowledgement, we then affirm that He bore our guilt so that now we bear His innocence.  Indeed, on the cross of Calvary, God gave to His Son all that we deserve so that He might give to us all that the Lord Jesus deserves.  The "Lamb without blemish and without spot" became our sin-bearer, and even more, was "made to be sin for us" (I Peter 3:19; II Corinthians 5:21).  Thereby God made a way to freely impute His righteousness to believers as a free gift.  He absolves our guilt on the basis of having applied our guilt to His innocent Son.  Again, no more fundamental truth of God's way with humanity exists.  And no more fundamental truth must be remembered and reaffirmed with grateful praise.  Certainly in eternity we will gaze upon the nail prints on our Savior's glorified hands and feet to over and over again consider the price of our pardon, the sacrifice that secured our salvation, and the Lamb's innocence that became our innocence because He made our guilt His own.

"And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
(Revelation 5:9)
"He hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."
(II Corinthians 5:21)

Weekly Memory Verse 
   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
(II Peter 3:13)

Monday, September 18, 2017

"Things I Have Learned"

(Friends: yesterday marked the 42nd anniversary of my salvation.  I thought I'd take the occasion to mention a few truths regarding the ongoing spiritual education process of God and His truth, as experienced by slow learner.  Indeed, if anything, I have discovered that our Heavenly Father is marvelously patient and longsuffering with His children.  Amen to that a thousand times over!  I have also learned that His people constitute one of the greatest gifts of God's saving grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.  People like all of you, for whom I am and will be eternally grateful.  Thanks, Glen).

    "Things I Have Learned" 

I.  God is Christ-centered and Christ-circumferenced.  Everything He does flows with the current of revealing and glorifying His Son.
    "That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him" (Ephesians 1:10).
     "This is My beloved Son.  Hear ye Him" (Matthew 17:5).
     "Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shw you things to come.  He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." (John 16:13-14).
    "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand" (John 3:35).

II.  Our experience of genuine life as known from, by, and through God, flows with how well we join our Heavenly Father in seeking to reveal and glorify His Son and our Savior.
    "To live is Christ" (Philippians 1:21).
    "I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No man cometh unto the Father but by Me" (John 14:6).
    "Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love Me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of Myself, but He sent Me" (John 8:42).

III.  Christ, the living Word, and the Bible, the written Word, are perfect companions of one another.  The Bible is Christ in print.  The Lord Jesus is the Bible personified.
    "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life.  And they are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39).
    "He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).
    "In Thy light shall we see light" (Psalm 36:9).


IV.  God is devoted to our best interests, as He defines them.
    "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31).
    "He careth for us" (I Peter 5:7).
    "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).

V.  This includes fulfilling the desires of our hearts that align with His glory, and thus with our best interests.
    "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart" (Psalm 37:4).
    "It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13).

VI.  This also includes His working in ways that are not pleasant, but which are necessary and no less the expression of His love for us.
    "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11).
    "Whom the Lord loveth, He chasteneth" (Hebrews 12:6).
    "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18).

VII.  "As for God, His way is perfect" (II Samuel 22:31).
    That which our Lord does and that which He allows are in accordance with the perfection of His love, wisdom, knowledge, understanding and eternal purpose in Christ.  Perfect, not just good or great, or even very good and very great.  Perfect.

VIII.  Moments can change things in a manner that affects forever.
    "My times are in Thy hand" (Psalm 31:15).
    "In that day sing ye unto her, A vineyard of red wine. I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day" (Isaiah 27:2-3).

IX.  People are God's gifts to us - all of them.  He works in our lives through those who are pleasant to us - and through those who are not.
    "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now" (Philippians 1:3-5).
    "Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good" (Genesis 50:20).

X.  Fear God.  Fear nothing else.
    "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (II Peter 7:1).
    "God hath not given to us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7).
    "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee, because he trusteth in Thee" (Isaiah 26:3)

XI.  "Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord" (Proverbs 18:22).  

    In a word, Frances.  Those of you who know her and what she is to me will completely understand!

XII.  "Children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward" (Psalm 127:3).  

    We had all our children and grandchildren together on both Saturday and Sunday, not an easy thing to do because of schedule.  But what a gift on the anniversary of my coming to know our Lord!


XIII. "He is altogether lovely" (Song of Solomon 5:16). Eternity will not be long enough to fully discover the infinite goodness of so absolutely wonderful a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    "Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen" (Ephesians 3:20).

XIV.  No one has ever trusted in the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and been disappointed for doing so.  And no one ever will.
    "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17).
    "He that believeth on Him shall not be confounded" (I Peter 2:6).

Weekly Memory Verse 
   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
(II Peter 3:13)