July 30, 2012
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. – Romans 5:12-15
People who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior can’t do anything to bring themselves to God. This is true because by nature they are spiritually dead. Only God has the power to raise them up and connect them to himself. He accomplishes this with the message of salvation through Jesus. God works faith in their hearts and gives them all the spiritual blessings that Jesus won by his life, death and resurrection.
The apostle Paul is not contradicting this truth when he gives the instruction “to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” He is speaking to people in whom God has already worked saving faith. By the grace of God and the power of the gospel, they are believers. And now they live awaiting the fulfilled hope of salvation in eternity which God has promised through Jesus.
Paul is well aware that the believers’ life is a struggle. There are obstacles and dangers to our faith. It’s enough to make us tremble with fear because we know how weak we are. Through spiritual laziness we could turn aside from the way of salvation and lose all the blessings that Jesus won for us.
Therefore, we are encouraged in our Christian life to always rely on the power of God. Through his word he continues to work out his eternal will for us. He keeps us connected to Jesus until the end of our lives. Finally, according to his plan and promise, God will bring us to live forever in heaven with him.
So it’s vitally important to pay attention to the voice of God speaking to us from the pages of the Bible. He accomplishes his gracious purpose to preserve us as his faithful people and will bring us to the glorious fulfillment of his salvation.
Prayer: Lord God, keep me faithful that I may not lose the treasures of your word. Strengthen me in my connection to Jesus as my Savior that I may live to honor you and confidently look forward to the eternal glory that you have prepared for me. Amen.
July 23, 2012
Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked. – Jeremiah 20:13
Do you like to sing? Perhaps you’re one of those who sings in the shower, in the car, in church…everywhere. Or perhaps you’re one who can’t carry a tune in a bucket. No matter. It still is time to sing because you have been rescued!
No, you haven’t been rescued from your terrible singing voice (or other people’s terrible singing). However, the fact that there are terrible singers and even singers who are off key just a bit is evidence that we need rescue! In fact, if life were some TV show contest, none of the judges would even let us through the audition round – and that goes for those with perfect pitch too.
What is this rescue? How come we are all so terrible and offensive to the almighty God, the judge of all creation? It’s because we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. There is no one who is righteous. In fact God says very clearly, the soul who sins is the one who will die! This is far worse than getting sent home after the audition round. Because of our sin, we deserve hell.
I often wonder about some people who audition when it’s clear they have no singing talent. On what have they based their hope of being the next music star? There is no way they can make it through on their own abilities. The same is true for those who think they can earn their way to heaven. According to our own abilities we stink! We’re fooling ourselves if we think God is going to be so pleased with all the “good works” we have done for him that he’s just going to stand up and applaud us right through heaven’s door. Yet it’s still time to sing.
Whether or not you have the ability to sing does not change the fact that God not only has the ability to rescue sinners from the hands of Satan, but that he has used that ability! When God sent his Son Jesus to live the perfect life and shed his blood on the cross, it rescued all from the curse of sin. Jesus, our perfect substitute, has met the Judge’s full demands and satisfied him completely. Through faith in him, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Through faith in him we have been rescued! Now that’s something to sing about every day!
Prayer: Lord, may my life be a song of praise to you for you alone are my Savior. Amen.
July 16, 2012
Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations. – Romans 4:18
Ever feel surrounded by hopelessness? Its dark cloud can come from many directions. It can come from the condition of your finances. It can come from your workplace. It can come from your marriage, from your family or from your chronic bad health. It can come from bad memories you can’t shake. It can come from some sinful weakness that you’ve been battling for years. From wherever your sense of hopelessness rises, the devil loves to take it and spread it over you like so much tar. His goal, of course, is to smother you.
A similar kind of hopelessness surrounded an Old Testament believer by the name of Abraham. God had promised Abraham that he and his wife would give birth to a son, and that through his son’s family the Savior of the world would one day arrive. The problem was that Abraham was about 100 years old, and his wife was about 90. Human perception alone told them that the possibility of a son was simply hopeless.
But Abraham pierced the hopelessness by trusting his Lord’s promise. The rest is history. The son came. The son’s descendants grew into a great nation. And from that nation the Savior of the world was born. Abraham pierced the hopelessness not because of the strength of his character. Abraham pierced the hopelessness because of the strength of God’s promise.
You can do the same. Beyond your perceptions of hopelessness are the sure promises of God. These promises come from the same One who has washed your sins away in his blood, who has covered you in his perfection, who has claimed you as his own by the power of his word—the good news of salvation. His promises are vibrant. They are unbreakable. And they are real.
And so confront your sense of hopelessness. Face it. Pierce it. After all, you possess the strength of God’s promises to you.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, when the devil tries to surround me with hopelessness, empower me by your gospel to pierce it. Because at the end of the day, your promises are real, and my hopelessness is not. Amen.