Thursday, September 29, 2016

Romans 3:10-31

"There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.
Romans 3:10-11

"This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood." Romans 3:22-25a

We can not truly be thankful for the wonder of our salvation until be begin to understand the depth of our sin.  We often try to compare our lives with others. We can so easily imagine ourselves better than say a hardened criminal who has perhaps killed people.  The truth of the matter is, however, that outside of Christ we are all sinners.  If we would commit only one sin in our entire lives, we would deserve God's eternal punishment.  That is how horrific sin is in the eyes of God.  The fact remains, however, that we commit many sins against our Lord every day.

Romans 3:10-11 tells us, "There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God."  Not one of us is righteous before God in ourselves.  Only if we are washed in the blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, can we have a right relationship before God.  In our natural sinful state we have no understanding about God and about what is right and holy.  Romans 3:12b goes on to say, "there is no one who does good, not even one."  Our natural minds, hearts and wills are turned against God.  In our natural state outside of Christ there is only deceit and corruption.  Hence, outside of Christ there is no peace, humility, or reverence for God and the will of God found in our lives.  Romans 3:17-18 says, "And the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes."

But praise God, Jesus Christ has provided a remedy for this horrid sin condition in which we find ourselves!  Jesus Christ came to this earth to first live the sinless life that we fail to live and then to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.  If we have accepted Christ's awesome gift of salvation, we now stand righteous before God because of Christ's atoning sacrifice!  Romans 3:22-25a tells us, "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.  There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.  God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood."

What grace and what love was shown to us by our Lord and Savior!  It is only when we recognize the depth of our sins that we can truly be thankful for and delight in our salvation.  As we begin to more and more realize the depth of our sins from which we were redeemed, we begin to more passionately seek to live our lives in gratitude and service to the Lord.  It is only then that we begin to passionately desire to make Jesus not only our Savior but also the Lord of every area of our lives.  Some of us have heard the story of salvation so often that we may be in danger of beginning to became complacent in our awareness of the depth of our sins and the awesomeness of our salvation.  Let us spend time today thinking about the wonder of our salvation!  More importantly, let us live our live today and every day in gratitude for God's grace to us!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

I Kings 19:1-18

In our Scripture passage today; Elijah had just gone through a spiritual mountaintop experience.  In chapter eighteen of I Kings Elijah had been used by God in a powerful way.  God had used Elijah to demonstrate to the people of Israel that the Lord is the only true God and the only one who can hear our prayers.  God had shown decisively that Baal, the god the people were serving, was a false god.

In spite of this tremendous recent spiritual mountaintop experience Elijah now found himself in the depths of discouragement, depression, and fear.  The wicked queen, Jezebel, was seeking to kill Elijah, and he was fleeing for his life.  Elijah had just seen a wonderful demonstration of God's faithfulness and power on Mount Carmel in I Kings chapter eighteen.  In chapter eighteen Elijah had also demonstrated great faith and trust in God's power.  But  now when a new crisis had arisen in his life, Elijah was afraid and discouraged.  Elijah was not trusting the Lord to once again lead and protect him.  Elijah was looking at the difficult circumstance and looking away from God.

God has also been faithful to us.  He has answered so many prayers in our lives and has been with us each step of the way.  In spite of this, however, it is easy for us also to become afraid and not trust in the Lord when a new crisis arises in our lives.  We need to cling to God's precious promises, and we need to trust that He will always be with us.  There is great joy and peace in trusting in the Lord!

Elijah found himself so discouraged and depressed that he asked God to take his life.  Elijah felt that his life had been fruitless. Hence, he felt his life was not worth living.  He had temporarily lost his confidence in the ultimate triumph of God's Kingdom.  We too must remember that God is in control.  We must further remember that anything we do in our lives for God's kingdom is worthwhile.  This is true even when we do not always understand the workings of God in our lives.

In the midst of Elijah's depression and fatigue an angel touched him and ministered to his needs.  Some believe this angel may actually have been a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ!  The Lord also give us strength for each new day.  The Lord provides for our needs, and He gives us exactly what we need in the moment we need it.  We too might become discouraged by our circumstances at times.  This happens when we look at our circumstance and fail to focus on the Lord.  God is always there to refresh and revive us, however.

In our Biblical narrative Elijah retreated to a cave.  In I Kings 19:9b God approached Elijah and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?  God repeated that question in verse thirteen.  Groveling in self-pity in a cave was not where God wanted Elijah to be.  Elijah was not where he was supposed to be, and he was not in the center of God's will.  Elijah was following in his own misguided plan of action instead of God's will for his life.  Both times Elijah answered God's question. "What are you doing here, Elijah?" with complaints and lack of submission to God's will.  God wants us to trust Him in all of life's circumstances, and He wants us to be submissive to His will in all areas of our lives.

God then spoke to Elijah in a gentle whisper.  Elijah had to learn the lesson of being quiet and calm in his spirit, so he would be able to hear the Lord's voice,  We too have to be still and listen for God's voice speaking to us.  When you and I read a Scripture passage, we are not to rush through the passage.  Instead we need to quietly think about what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us personally in our lives through the Scripture passage.  Our hearts and souls need to be tuned to God, so we can hear His voice.  Then we must respond in obedience and submission to the Lord's will for our lives!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Psalm 25

"To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in You I trust, O my God." Psalm 25:1
"Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long."  Psalm 24:4-5

In Psalm 25 David prayed to the Lord for relief.  David was going through a crisis in His life, and he needed the Lord's help.  Psalm 25 is a prayer for God's help in David's time of illness, distress, or attacks from enemies.  David said to the Lord in Psalm 25:1, "To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in You I trust, O my God."  David lived in a deep personal love relationship with the Lord.  Hence, in his moment of crisis and need, David could immediately and confidently go to the Lord in prayers for help.  David approached the Lord in prayer with a humble heart.  David recognized his own unworthiness and the Lord's great power and love.  In this way, David experienced the power of prayer and of the Lord's presence and love in His life.  When our lives are saturated with God's Word and with prayer we too can experience the power of prayer and of the Lord's presence in our lives.  We too can then be used by the Lord in powerful ways.

David needed the Lord's direction and guidance in his time of crisis.  David said in Psalm 25:4-5, "Show me Your ways, O Lord, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long."  This must be our prayer also both in times of crisis and in times of relative calm in our lives.  God has a plan for our lives.  Psalm 33:11 tells us, "the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations." 

Since the Lord already has a plan for our lives, we need to only ask the Lord to direct our steps.  We need only to pray, "Show me Your ways, O Lord."  The Lord already knows the way that He wants us to go.  We often wish that we could see ahead into the future.  Peace, however, comes by simply letting the Lord take care of our future and by trusting Him to lead step by step.  We must patiently trust in the Lord's guidance and not seek to run ahead of Him.

David asked the Lord to teach Him the Lord's paths and ways.  This must be our prayer also.  Who could be a better teacher and guide for us in this life than the Lord?  He is the one who made us and takes care of us in love.  The Lord is the One who knows the beginning from the end, and He is the One who has planned our lives.  We need to trust that the Lord will guide us along the way.  The Holy Spirit will use Scripture, prayer, and circumstances to guide us step by step through this life.  Psalm 25:9 tells us that the Lord "guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way."  Psalm 24 goes on to say in verse ten, "All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant." 

In spite of our weaknesses and sins Psalm 25:12b promises the child of God that the Lord "will instruct him in the way chosen for him."   Hence, we can face the future unafraid.  We simply need to keep our eyes focused on the Lord and not on our circumstances and on the unknowns in our lives.  Even though we do not know what our future holds the Lord does, and we can trust Him.  We can say with confidence along with David in Psalm 25:15, "My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only He will release my feet from the snare."  The Lord will remove any obstacle from our paths in our journey through this life.  We need only to bring our needs and our desires for His guidance before the Lord.  He will guide us.  We can trust the Lord and say to the Lord with David of old in Psalm 25:21b, "my hope is in You."  The Lord is our source of certainty for our salvation and for eternity.  The Lord is also our trustworthy and faithful guide through each step of our lives!  Praise His name!