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

Do Not Praise Yourself

June 27th, 2019

Let another praise you, and not your own mouth—a stranger, and not your own lips. (Psalm 27:2)

Our mouths are meant to praise the Lord; our tongues to honor Him and point others to Him. Second only to that is speech given to lift up our fellow man — both male and female — and to affirm and encourage, to teach and instruct, and to rebuke and help restore. Even a rebuke given in love is a positive thing, and can lead to growth.

James 3:9-10: “With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not be!”

Ephesians 5:19-20: “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your hearts to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

But Not for Ourselves

But speech is not given to us to call attention to ourselves, to beat on our own chests and boast about how great we are. We show our character by our deeds, not by our words. We show our wisdom by kind and gracious words to and about others, not by boasting.

James 3:13: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good conduct, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

1 John 3:20-21: “If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And we have this commandment from Him: Whoever loves God must love his brother as well.”

The Danger of Boasting

1 Corinthians 5:6: “Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?”

When we boast about ourselves, we cease to boast about God, or to be considerate and complimentary towards others. We will have started down that slippery path of self-exaltation, which will become our real goal, and we will justify any action that makes us look good by comparison. We will criticize others — fairly or unfairly — not because there is something to be learned from their mistakes, but just so we will look better. We will be and do the opposite of the scriptural command: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19).

When we boast about ourselves we will be blind to God’s greatness, and, by our selfishness, apathetic to our brother’s or sister’s abilities or needs. We will have dangerously cut ourselves off from further growth as Christians and as professional or social people. We will also be insensitive to our brother’s situation. Some servants may face opposition in their ministry or be called to a difficult and unresponsive place of service and have little observable results to show for their service, and we may have had a relatively easy and fruitful one. Yet they may have demonstrated more true faithfulness in their spiritually cold climate than we have in our spiritually warm one. God warns us:

1 Cor 4:5: “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.” 

A Fair Assessment of Ourselves   

There is nothing wrong with a fair and honest reporting of our experiences and even what God has done through us in our service. The Bible records the sharing of results of the gospel as positive things, encouraging the believers, for examples:

Acts 14:27: “When they arrived, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them, and how He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”

Acts 15:12: “The whole assembly fell silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul describing the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them.”

But all such reporting should remain as objective and self-effacing and humble as possible, pointing to the power and grace of God, and not to ourselves. It should plant a desire in the hearts of the hearers to be used of God. We should not impress others with how great we have been but with how great God is, how great the needs in the world are, and how God can use them. Notice this example of Paul speaking of Epaphras’ ministry among the Colossians, how he put the emphasis on the power of the gospel itself, and not on Epaphras’ personality or talents.

Colossians 1:6-8: “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood the grace of God. You learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also informed us of your love in the Spirit.”

So let another praise you, not you yourself. 

 

 

Authenticity in the Faith, Daily Devotions