Thursday, January 19, 2017

Psalm 32

Praise God for His awesome gift of salvation!  Psalm 32:1-2 says, Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.  Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit there is no deceit."  Blessed means happy or joyful.  Joyful is the individual whose sins have been forgiven by the Lord!

Experiencing the joy of God's forgiveness, however, depends on us first acknowledging and confessing our sins.  We need to run to the Lord in sorrowful repentance, and then we need to allow His Holy Spirit to shape our lives into something beautiful for God.  When we stubbornly refuse to acknowledge our sins, however, we will suffer consequences.  David was a child of God, but for a time in his life he stubbornly refused to acknowledge a serious sin in his life. Hence, David suffered spiritually, psychologically, and even physically.  David prayed to God in Psalm 32:3-4, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.  For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer." We as children of God must be careful that we do not persist in deliberate sin and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge sin in our lives.

When we acknowledge our sins, the Lord receives us with open arms of forgiveness.  David prayed in Psalm 32:5, "Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity.  I said, 'I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,'- and you forgave the guilt of my sin."  When we acknowledge our sins the Lord forgives our sins.  He also promises to be with us every step of our lives!  The Lord directs our steps during both the pleasant and difficult circumstances of life.

When David finally acknowledged his sin he once again experienced the Lord's blessings on his life. David prayed in Psalm 32:6-7, "Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him.  You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance."

We must acknowledge our sins, and we must also seek the Lord.  Then we will experience the Lord's favor and blessing on our lives. A God who is willing to forgive our sins is also a God whom we can trust.  He is a God to whom we can devote our entire lives.  When "the mighty waters" of chaotic and difficult circumstances arise in our lives we can trust in the Lord's protection and provision for us. He is our "hiding place" and protection.  The Christian goes from victory to victory in his or her life. A Christian in thankfulness can then sing "songs of deliverance."

Experiencing God's victories in our lives is dependent on following God's will for our lives.  God said to David in Psalm 32:8 and says to us today. "I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you."  God instructs us through His Holy Word, and we must immerse ourselves in His Holy Word every day.  God also directs us through the circumstances that He allows in our lives.  God is slowly shaping us into the people He wants us to become.  He is slowly instructing and teaching us in the way He wants us to go.

We must be submissive and not rebellious to the Lord's leading in our lives, however.  We must be careful that we are not "like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding, but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you." (Psalm 32:9)  Only in total submission to God's will do we experience the Lord's blessing and joy.  Psalm 32:10 says, "Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts in Him."  Let us daily examine our lives for any unconfessed sins.  Let us confess those sins, and turn to the Lord in repentance.  Let us submit to God's will for our lives and experience His protection, blessing, joy, and "unfailing love."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Psalm 27

Psalm 27 was a prayer of David in a time of crisis.  It was a confident assertion that the Lord would help him against his enemies.  It was also a confident prayer to God for help.  King David was secure in the Lord.  We also can be confident in the Lord.  When we face difficult or seemingly insurmountable problems we can run to the Lord.  We can say with David of old, "The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1)

The Lord is our light or our sense of well-being.  He is the One that guides, directs, and protects. The Lord is our source of all the blessings in our lives.  We need not fear anything or anyone, because the Lord is our stronghold.  Even when chaos and all kinds of fearful events seem to be breaking out all around us, we can be confident in the Lord.

The Lord must not only be our soul's confidence, but He must also be our soul's desire.  David said in Psalm 27:4. "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple."  It should be our consuming passion to grow in our love relationship with the Lord and to grow in our sense of the Lord's presence in our lives.  It should be our consuming passion that we grow in our perception of the Lord's beauty.  It should be our passion to meditate on His Word and to spend time in prayer.  It should be our passion to then enter the world carrying the fragrance of Jesus, because we have spent time lingering in the Lord's presence.

Psalm 27:5 reminds us that if we are lingering in the Lord's presence we will then experience His peace and safety "in the day of trouble."  In those days of trouble the Lord will hide us in His protection and will set us "high upon a rock."  That rock is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!  We as His children will go from victory to victory, and we will be filled with His praises!

The Lord is our light and soul's confidence.  He must further be our soul's desire.  The Lord is also our soul's prayer.  We must always seek the face of our Lord in prayer, because He alone is our helper.  We can not face one day without Him.  The Lord has promised to always be with us. Even if all others would reject us, the Lord will never reject His own.  His arms are always open wide to His children.  We are eternally secure in the Lord!

There is much turmoil in this world.  There is much we could fear, but a child of God need not fear. God's children can experience the Lord's peace.  We experience this peace by asking the Lord to teach us His ways and by walking in the Lord's paths.  Only those who know and seek to obey the Lord can experience His answers to prayer and His victories and peace in their loves.

We also experience the Lord's peace by trusting the Lord and resting our lives in Him.  We experience the Lord's peace by taking our eyes off our problems and the condition in which we find the world and by directing our eyes on the Lord.  We experience the Lord's peace by knowing that the Lord is in control and by waiting on the Lord.

Psalm 27:14 reads, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."  Waiting on the Lord involves not running ahead of the Lord.  It involves not forcing doors open before the Lord's perfect timing.  It involves seeking the Lord's direction, guidance, and help. Waiting on the Lord is a sure confidence that the Lord has every detail of our lives planned, so we need not panic in times of crisis or trial.  Waiting on the Lord means we are resting in the Lord for working out the details of our lives.  Waiting on the Lord means we are concentrating on our love relationship with the Lord and not on our problems.  Waiting on the Lord is being quiet long enough to hear His voice in His Holy Word and in our hearts.  Because Psalm 27:1 assures us that the Lord is our "light" and "salvation," we need to fear nothing.  He is our peace and strength.  Wait on the Lord!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Romans 12:1-12

"Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing, and perfect will."  Romans 12:1-2

The Lord God is such a merciful God to us!  He sent His own Son to die the horrid death on the cross for your and my sins! He also heaps undeserved and abundant blessings on us each day. He always protects us and is with us.  In light of all this, our Scripture passage today in Romans 12:1 tells us, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship"

This means that the Lord needs to permeate every area of our lives.  He must permeate our every action and our every thought!  Our faith must be expressed in total obedience to the Lord.  Our lives must be a "spiritual act of worship."  Our lives must show that we have the new life of the Holy Spirit flowing though us.  Our faith must not just be dead and empty ritual but must be based on a passionate love for the Lord. Our lives must be based on a zeal and passion to obey and do the Lord's will.  All we do must involve our desire to love and serve the Lord with our heart, mind, and will!  It involves more than our money, talents, and time but also the total giving of ourselves to the Lord. Jesus Christ gave His all for us on the cross.  The only reasonable response on our part is the giving of our all to the Lord.

Romans 12:2 tells us that we must not "conform any longer to the pattern of this world."  Rather me must be "be transformed" by the Holy Spirit.  This can only be accomplished by a "renewing" of our mind.  We must not follow the world's philosophies and ways of thinking.  We need to think Biblically and must think the way the Lord wants us to think.  We must pray to be transformed by the Holy Spirit in our thinking and our acting.  We must pray and desire to become more like Jesus.  We must pray to be transformed into a person who is pleasing to the Lord. Then you and I will truly "be able to test and approve what God's will is-His God pleasing and perfect will." Then we will be able to do what the Lord wants us to to do and not what our self-centered selves want to do in this life. His will is always good and "pleasing," because it glorifies the Lord.  It also leads to our spiritual and moral growth.  This is true even in difficult times when we do not understand the Lord's ways in our lives.  No improvement can be made on the will of God.  We must give our all to the Lord.

Our hearts and minds must be renewed and transformed by the Holy Spirit so that we are more and more in the center of His will.  We must not be squeezed into the world's mold, but we must be shaped by God's will and thinking.  We must prove in practice in our lives that His plan for us is good and moves us to spiritual maturity.  We must prove in practice in our lives that we are totally committed to giving our all to the Lord.  The Lord must be our master stylist!  We must adjust our lives to His will and mind.  Zeal for the things of the Lord must never be lacking in our lives.  We must keep our spiritual fervor and excitement for the things of the Lord and for serving Him.  We must be joyful in the certainty of His promises and patient with His will for our lives. We must also pray for the Lord's help in our lives.  Our lives must be "living sacrifices" to the Lord. This is the reason for which we were created, and this is the only path to joy for time and eternity!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Romans 8:30-39

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,"  (Romans 8:37-39)

As children of God we have victory in Christ Jesus, our Lord!  We need to fear nothing, for the Lord is on our side!  Nothing can separate us from the love of God!  What an awesome thought, and what an awesome promise!  In light of all this there should be overflowing joy in our hearts!

What wonderful victories, blessings, and promises we have in Christ Jesus, our Lord!  God choose us and called us  from eternity to be His own.  Romans 8:30b says, "those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified."  We not only have the forgiveness of sins, but we have a secure eternal future in Christ.  This eternal future is so secure in God's plan for us that Romans 8:30b speaks of this eternal future as if it has already taken place!

We are secure in Christ for time and for eternity.  Romans 8:31b reminds us, "If God is for us, who can be against us?"  Sometimes we may feel as if everything is against us, but the Word of God teaches us that the great God of the universe is always for us and is always with us!  Romans 8:32 says, "He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all-how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"  God proved His love for us by sending His only Son to die for our sins.  Surely we can trust Him to provide us with everything we need for time and eternity.  No one or nothing can ever oppose us as children of God and ultimately succeed.  In the dangers, trials, and uncertainties of life we can rest in the Lord.  We have the Lord God on our side, and we are victors in Him!

We have absolute security in Christ in all things, because He died for our sins and freed us from the guilt of our sins.  Christ is also in heaven sitting at the right hand of the Heavenly Father in the position of power.  Nothing can happen to us that is not in God's plan for our lives, so we need not fear.  Finally, Christ is always interceding for His children.  What a blessed promise!

In light of all this, Romans 8:35 says, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?"  The answer is that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!  No matter what hardship, trial, or trouble we may be experiencing in our lives at the moment, we are never separated from the love of Christ.  In fact, trials in our lives are part of God's plan and purpose for our lives to mold us to become more like Jesus in our characters and attitudes.  Romans 8:37 reassures us by saying, "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."

We become conquerors through the trials of life by patiently enduring these trials and by being submissive to the Lord's will.  We become "more than conquerors" by using these experiences to grow in our love and service for the Lord.  Also God will always see us through these difficult times and bring us to ultimate victory.  Victory is always assured for the Christian, if not in this life, then in eternity.  Absolutely nothing will ever separate us from the love of God and the victory we have in the Lord Jesus Christ! 

Romans 8:38-39 says, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Praise the name of the Lord for our victory in Him!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Romans 8:28-29

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers." 
Romans 8:28-29

Romans 8:28 is a promise we can rest on and trust in when our world around us seems to be falling apart.  It is a blessed promise, but it is also a promise with which we may at times struggle.  We can believe and trust this promise, however, even when we are overwhelmed and puzzled by adverse circumstances all around us.

The writer of this devotional remembers first struggling with the promise of Romans 8:28 when her dad was suffering the excruciating pain of cancer and radiation.  She wondered how "all things" could possibly be working for good in this case.  What could possibly be "good" about cancer and severe pain?  For that matter what could possibly be "good" about any pain or heartache or trial?   Since that time long ago there have been other heartaches in this writer's life such as her own husband's neurological disease, decline, and death.  She also fought breast cancer herself in the time period in which she was caring for her husband.  How could God be working things for good in these situations?

But God's Holy Word tells us that God works "all things," not some things or even most things for our ultimate spiritual good; if we love Him.  The key to understanding this verse is to realize that not all things are good in themselves.  Sin has wrecked havoc with our world, and there are many experiences in this world that are not good or pleasant in themselves.  God, however, works both the "good" and the "bad" events of our lives together for our ultimate good. 

It has been said that life is like a tapestry.  When you look at the backside of a tapestry it does not look beautiful.  There are knotted off ends and threads that seem to have no meaning or beauty.  When one turns the tapestry over, however, one sees a beautiful picture or design.  When we see life's trials and difficulties we see the backside of the tapestry of life.  God, however, is bringing all the threads or events of our lives together, both good and bad, into a beautiful tapestry.  The Lord already sees the top part of our tapestry of life.  The Lord already sees the beautiful end results of what He is accomplishing in our lives.  When we do not understand the reason for the difficult circumstances in our lives we must simply trust that the Lord is working out all things in our lives for His glory and to accomplish His plan.  He is also working out all things for our ultimate spiritual good.

The ultimate spiritual good that the Lord God is seeking to accomplish in our lives is that we might, as Romans 8:29 says, become "conformed to the likeness of His Son."  It is God's purpose and plan for us that we become more and more like the Lord Jesus.  He desires that we become more like Jesus every day in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions. 

In order for this to happen there must be a conforming process taking place in our lives.  This conforming process often can only occur during times of trial and difficulty in our lives.  Gelatin is only able to be conformed or shaped to the mold into which it is placed after it has been dissolved in hot water.  So we too often have to go through the heat of trials and difficulties to become more conformed to the image and likeness of Jesus Christ.

God has the pattern for our lives all figured out.  He knows and understands the beautiful tapestry that He is weaving for our lives.  He knows the beginning from the end.  We must trust the Lord to do His beautiful work in our lives even in times when life's events and circumstances seen very difficult and overwhelming!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Romans 8:17-27

"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."  Romans 8:26

As children of God we have everything we need for time and eternity!  Romans 8:17 tells us that we are "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ."  Along life's way it is inevitable that we will have a certain amount of heartache and pain, but we have the absolute assurance of God's presence with us throughout our entire lives.  We also have the assurance of a future entrance into our eternal inheritance in Christ Jesus. 

The heartaches and pain we suffer on this earth are temporary, and they can not begin to compare to the glory we will have with the Lord Jesus some day.  Paul said in Romans 8:18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."  Even creation is presently affected by sin and its consequences.  So the children of God also "groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." (Romans 8:23)  We already have the Holy Spirit in our hearts as a deposit or promise of what is to come in our glorious eternal futures.  We already have the forgiveness of our sins in Christ.  We are already free from the penalty and power of sin, but sin and its effects are still present in our lives.  So we groan in excited anticipation of the day when we will be completely free from the presence of sin and its consequences in the world and in our lives.  We presently "hope" or look forward with absolute certainty to the blessed eternal inheritance that we have in Jesus Christ!  Romans 8:25 tells us, "But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

As the blessed assurance of our eternal inheritance and future in Christ sustains us, so the Holy Spirit helps us in our prayer life.  Romans 8:26 promises the following, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."  Have you ever tried to pray and felt so overwhelmed with some heartache that you did not know how to pray?  Have you ever felt that you could not find the words to express in prayer the depths of your feelings and needs in your heart? 

God understand our weaknesses and has provided us a helper in our prayer lives.  That helper is the Holy Spirit Himself!  The Holy Spirit prays in and through us.  He also prays for us especially during those times when we are too overwhelmed with heartache to find the right words to express our pain to the Lord in prayer.  The Holy Spirit understands our sorrows and is our prayer helper, and He "intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express."  The Holy Spirit Himself pleads and intercedes for us before the Heavenly Father!  The Holy Spirit is our perfect intercessor before the Heavenly Father, because Romans 8:27b says "the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." 

Praise the Lord for His infinite blessings!  He is our salvation.  He is our source of strength, promise, and hope.  He provides for every need in our lives for time and eternity.  The Lord provides us the Holy Spirit to help us live for the Lord and to help us in our weaknesses.  Finally, the Lord even provides the Holy Spirit as our prayer helper and advocate!  What a glorious God we serve!  Praise His name!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Romans 8:1-17

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  Romans 8:1

Jesus Christ paid the penalty for our sins!  Many of us have heard that blessed truth since we were children.  Because we have heard this truth so often, we may be in danger of becoming complacent in our faith.  We must pause often, however, to think about the wonder of Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross.  Romans 8:1 says, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  Wow!  Praise the Lord!  We a believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are no longer separated from God by our sins.  As redeemed children of God we can now live a new victorious life in Christ through the Holy Spirit!  Through Jesus Christ Romans 8:2b tells us we are now governed by "the spirit of life," and we are set "free from the law of sin and death."

Because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins on the cross, Romans 8:4b tells us that we now have the power to "not live according to the sinful nature, but according to the Spirit."  Romans 8:5 goes on to tell us that in gratitude for what the Lord Jesus had done for us we must have our "minds set on what the Spirit desires" and not on what our sinful natures desires. 

Living for the Lord leads to life, peace, security, and joy.  We as children of God are controlled by the Holy Spirit.  We have Christ's resurrection power in us to live for God.  We will always struggle against sin until we go to be with the Lord, but we have the Holy Spirit's power within us to choose to reject sin and to live for God.  Romans 8:13-14 tells us that we have a responsibility to "put to death the misdeeds of the body" and to live lives "led by the Spirit of God."

There are wonderful blessings in living a Holy Spirit controlled life.  We are no longer a slave of anxiety, fear, or sin!  We are now sons and daughters of God!  The Holy Spirit in our hearts now "testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. (Romans 8:16b)"  When we are going through difficult times in our lives we can call on our heavenly Father.  Romans 8:15b reminds us that we can cry out to Him saying, "Abba, Father."  The cry "Abba Father" is not the cry of a Christian at his or her highest level of spiritual experience.  It is the cry of a child of God who is hurting.  It is a desperate plea of child of God who is crying, "Heavenly Daddy, help me!"  It is at this point of need that the Holy Spirit helps us and confirms that we are children of God!

Finally, there is yet another blessing we receive in being a child of God and living Holy Spirit controlled lives.  Romans 8:17 tells us that we are "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ!"  All the riches and blessings of an eternity with the Lord are available to us through Christ Jesus!  All of God's promises, strength, power, and grace are always with us.  All of God's love, mercy, peace, and joy are at our disposal.  All that belongs to God, the Father, also belong to Jesus Christ and to us as His "heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ!"  We must be diligent in God's Word and in prayer so that we are not spiritual paupers and overlook any part of what we possess in Christ Jesus.  There is victory and not condemnation for a child of God!  Let us live our lives in the center of the will of God through the Holy Spirit's power!