Archive

Archive for the ‘Evening Devotionals’ Category

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

Saved By Grace

January 23rd, 2019

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance as our way of life. (Ephesians 2:8-10 BSB)

Paul has been working toward this truth since the first line of his epistle, where he identified himself as an apostle according to the will of God. A question often asked is which comes first: the calling of God or the credentials of dedication on the part of the disciple? The answer is abundantly clear here, that the calling of God comes into our lives when we were without any credentials to recommend us to God. As He spoke the world into existence in the darkness of nothingness, so He calls to us in the darkness of our selfishness and sin and draws us to Himself.

No precondition required

Grace means unearned favor, and that means that there is no pre-condition that must precede the calling. God chooses, God calls, and then and only then can we believe. God prepares the heart to believe, just as Paul must have been influenced by the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 7:54-60), but that also is His work. When Jesus and Nathaniel first met in the flesh, Nathaniel asked him “How do you know me?” And Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree” (John 1:48). 

It is God’s calling that credentials the disciple, and not the disciple’s morality, or good works, or religiousness, or seeking, or “spirituality” that credentials God’s calling. God uses Christians as they mature in their faith – an “overseer” should not be a brand new Christian, for example (1 Tim. 3:7). God led Samuel to anoint David and said, “Men look on the outside but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).  But let’s not confuse this issue and suggest that God saved David because of David’s heart. The opposite is true, that God’s salvation is the explanation of David’s heart. 

In fact, the scripture emphasizes just that: “He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds” (Psalm 78:70). God’s choice always comes when the one He chooses has no credentials to recommend him to God or to salvation. Jesus said, “Many are called but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). It was said against the background of the Parable of the Wedding Banquet, where the originally invited guests did not come, so the servants were sent out to invite as many as they could, “both evil and good,” to the great banquet. But one guest was not wearing proper “wedding clothes” and was cast out (Matt. 22:1-14). The point of Jesus was precisely on this issue of grace received through faith. 

The guest cast out is the kind of person who would have said, “Well, I should have been invited with the first group, along with the so-called ‘important guests.’ And I’ll show my displeasure by not dressing properly.” And this guest depicts those who hear of the gospel but decide to come to God through any other means other than through faith in Christ, whether it be personal morality, or another religion, or whatever. They were called, but did not come the way the invitation was given. They may say, “Well, I’m just as good as many Christians I know.” But God can see that they have not dressed in the robes of grace that come through faith in Christ and are the only thing that can cover our sinfulness. 

Created for good works

The disciple then becomes God’s “workmanship,” God’s project. We are “created” anew, fresh, by God and He is the One who enables us to do truly good works. He changes our motives, and aligns our steps with His own, and with those other disciples who are following Him by grace through faith. Our lives are divided into two sections now, before Christ and since Christ. Before Christ our works were our own, even our good works, and though God might have used them to do His will not a single one of them came from transformed hearts. “Since Christ” He now works in us and through us. 

“Through faith” is an important phrase, because the New Testament is careful never to assert that our faith alone is the foundation of our salvation. Our salvation rests upon the foundation of the work of Christ, and we come into salvation by the choosing and calling of God. Faith is not the stubborn believing in what we have decided is true, rather it is surrender to God’s witness through His word and through His Spirit. It is all by grace and only by grace. The “good church child” still is in need of the grace of God, and the transformation of his heart that can only come by the Spirit of God. 

The miracle of God at work in us

And this is the miracle that Paul has been stressing throughout these first two chapters, that anyone who hears God’s call and repents and trusts in Christ, becomes a miracle in progress. God’s surpassing greatness is at work in him. Nothing can compare to God – and perhaps the most deceived is the one who trusts in his own righteousness rather than Christ simply because he does not think he is so bad as the others. But we have ALL walked in sin.

At one time we all lived among them, fulfilling the cravings of our flesh and indulging its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature children of wrath. (Eph. 2:3)

Perhaps some of us did not stand out like others in human society, but God who sees the heart could see what was going on inside of us. Heaven will not be populated with good church people who are still unconverted in their hearts. Heaven will be filled with those who were sinful, beyond hope, children of wrath but who have been saved by grace through faith, and have become re-creations of God’s great mercy and love. 

Doctrinal Studies, Ephesians, Evening Devotionals