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God Does Not Abandon His Work

June 28th, 2019

The LORD will fulfill His purpose in me. O LORD, Your loving devotion endures forever — do not abandon the works of Your hands. (Psalm 138:8)

We can see some things clearly. We can evaluate circumstances correctly, and actually do so from time to time. Yet it seems so often we must fight through the fog of our own fears or pride to see anything as it truly is. An innocent word spoken by a friend can be misinterpreted and meanings put into it by our overactive imagination. We may feel betrayed when friends are loyal, and feel confident when the very ground we stand upon is about to be upturned. 

The Lives of Great Believers

Great men and women of the Bible all fell into this web of discouragement. Peter faltered as he walked on the water when he saw the wind and the waves. Moses cried out to God in frustration in leading Israel because of their constant complaining. Martha asked the Lord, “Don’t you even care?” Wherever we look in the lives of great believers, we will see that they each fell in their own way into discouragement when their fears overran their faith.  

Because our hearts are so prone to being overrun by these emotions, the Bible repeatedly reminds us of God’s faithfulness. Even Christ, who never succumbed to discouragement to the point of unbelief, was ministered to by angels following His wilderness temptation experience: “Then the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered to Him” (Matt. 4:11). If the perfect Son of Man sought the ministry of hope, we should not be surprised when we also need it.   

The Myth of Position

David had endured much difficulty in his journey to become king. He demonstrated the false human thinking, which we all have, that once he became king his troubles would be over, that faith in God’s deliverance was needed when he was running from Saul, but once he came into his kingship it would no longer be necessary. However, David discovered, as we all do, that even the seemingly powerful are set in “slippery places” (Psalm 73:18). The only true hope that any of us have is found in God and in His faithfulness to His purposes to redeem His people.

Confidence in God

Between these two extremes, one of seeing an enemy under every rock and within every shadow and the other of a false confidence of earthly security, we find confidence in the faithfulness of God. There is really no place else to stand, but we find that this is exactly what the Lord desires of us — hearts that simply trust in Him and in His faithfulness to His work of redemption in us. Our hope is not in “problemless-ness” nor in our own genius, for that, too, can and will eventually fail. Our hope is in God. 

He who in Christ died for us, who has from eternity past planned to redeem us, He who did not spare His own Son, He will also in Him “freely give us all things” (Romans 8:32). He will not abandon the works of His hands in our lives, but will redeem us fully.

Philippians 1:7: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 

Regrets?

Christians can look back on certain failures in their lives and be filled with regret. Regret, which could take us to repentance, confession, and to God’s cleansing us of sin, can morph into an unhealthy obsession with our failure. The Bible calls this “worldly sorrow” which does not lead anywhere but downward to depression and failure (2 Cor. 7:10).

In dealing with our regrets, if they are only guilt-laden and negative memories of failures, we will not find in those types of regrets positive power for living for God. Perhaps the most justifiable regret is of those times in our lives, whether they are days or years, when we did not live in the overflowing love and life of God. 

A married man who only regrets the harsh words he spoke to his wife has not thought thoroughly enough. He should also regret the lack of joy he could have experience with her, not enjoying her love for him, and the positive words he could have said. And that regret could then lead not just to not saying bad words, but also to enjoying living with her and enjoying life together. 

And so it is with God. As we believe in His faithfulness to us, of His desire for our redemption, we find His power available for us to move forward in His grace to intimacy and power in Him. He will not abandon His work. 

Daily Devotions, Eternal Security, Evening Devotionals, Psalms

Light in Darkness

June 25th, 2019

Light dawns in the darkness for the upright—for the gracious, compassionate, and righteous. (Psalm 112:4)

Are you discouraged? Do you feel darkness surrounding you? Discouragement is too often part of our thinking.  

Here is a promise that should lift our spirits. When anyone determines to think and act graciously, compassionately, and righteously, the Lord notices and turns to aid him.

First, thinking positive things about others, rather than negative, seeing them as objects of grace changes our attitude about life. When we think this way towards others a sadness is removed from our hearts. It is as though the blinds that kept out the light are taken away.  

To be constantly annoyed by others, to be quick to think the worst, to be quick to judge and feel false emotions of our superiority and their inferiority, is to invite darkness to make itself at home in our soul. I know so many deeply conservative Christians who are also deeply unhappy. They see only the bad, and sadly they are so quick to believe the worst, that they have lost their joy and their hope. They quickly latch onto the worst news items, even if such “news” is not based on fact at all, or even a misrepresentation of facts.

Why not be gracious? Philippians 4:8-9 says:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me, put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

Second, when we think graciously, we act graciously. Our actions follow our thoughts. We live in a fallen and sinful world, but we live in this world with a new hope that comes through Christ. Our personal world need not be darkened by hate and doubt and sin. Our own hearts can rejoice daily and can see the true potential of each life. And when we think this way we will act in accordance with our thoughts.

Years ago, when our daughter was a young teenager seeking to grow in her faith, she was going through that “agony of the soul” stage where she was understanding both her own sinfulness and the sinfulness of the world itself. She was seeking unsuccessfully to share her faith with her friends at school, and one day I asked her: “Are you seeking to win your friends to Christ so they can be as miserable as you?”

She outgrew this stage and has gone on to be a beautiful Christian woman. How we need Christians to witness not just with their words — and it IS essential to bear a verbal witness about Christ — but also with their attitudes and their kindness, AND their fairness. 

Third, when we think and act graciously, the Lord comes to our aid. He rushes to help us, to sustain us, to protect us: “Light dawns for the upright!” Consider these scriptures:

“A generous soul will prosper, and he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” (Prov. 11:25).

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

“Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your harvest; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9-10). 

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not out of regret or compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:6-7).

“He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse” (Prov. 28:27).

None of this means we shut our eyes to the reality of sin, to the evil that is in men’s hearts, and certainly not the evil that is in ours. It does not mean that we shut our eyes to the judgment of God or the fallenness of this world. It means, rather, that we do not let our imagination stop there. We consider also the grace of God and the potential of each life. We are willing to risk having our words and gracious behavior rejected – which they will be from time to time.   

When we do this we will live in light, we will touch others with hope and love, and God will come to our aid. 

Psalms