I believe what the Word says in that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17). It doesn’t matter if it’s in RED letters (words of Jesus) or black letters in the Bible, the WHOLE Bible is the inspired Word of God. It’s erroneous to say that if Jesus didn’t say it or specifically address it that it’s up for debate or alternative interpretation! It is said that the Old Testament represents the “Law” and the New Testament represents the Grace of Jesus Christ and that since we are under Grace according to Romans 6:14, we are not subject to the law because Jesus did away with the law. But Jesus said: “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to “fulfill”. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled (Matt 5:17-18). That means that Jesus’ intent was that the “Law” be not only upheld, but actually fulfilled! To “Fulfill” means to bring to completion or reality – and that’s what Jesus is doing – every portion of ‘Grace’ fulfills the Law. Every promise made in those 66 books did, does or will come true as it is written! And just for clarity by the way, under Grace we as believers in faith are not subject to SIN under the law! Under the law there were the 10 commandments; under Grace the 10 commandments are “fulfilled” in Jesus’ two great commandments: to love God and love others (Matt 22:37,39)! Don’t be one to turn the truth of God into a lie just to justify yourself! His Grace IS the Law!
For BY GRACE are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph 2:8-9)~ Sin is the death of the soul. A man dead in trespasses and sins has no desire for spiritual pleasures. As we come to realize the nature and severity of our sins, we are thrown into an endless cycle of disappointment when we realize that we, no matter how much we resolve to repent, cannot meet the standards of holiness God demands. One of the worst feelings is when you are doing your best yet you know that what you do is not good enough for the One that matters! No matter how well we do what we do, our own guilty conscience simply reminds us of our failures! But oh devil, you are a LIE! See, WHILE we were sinners – with our dead souls, Jesus covered the wages of our sin and died for us; His unselfish and ultimate act of grace. The grace that saves is the free, undeserved goodness and favor of God; and He saves, not by the works of the law, nor by the penance of man, but through faith in Christ Jesus. His grace to our soul is new life to our soul. Regenerated, we become a living soul; to live a life of holiness, through being born of God; being delivered from the guilt of sin, by pardoning and justifying grace. Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of our self-promoting frivolous efforts, that we would find glory in our own vain achievements; no, all boasting is shut out. Instead, it is the free gift of God, and the effect of being quickened by His power. It was His purpose, to which He prepared us, by blessing us with the knowledge of His will, and His Holy Spirit producing such a change in us, that we should glorify God by our good conversation, and perseverance in holiness. When we realize what He has already told us, that we can’t on our own meet His standards, we turn our dependence to Him and accept and trust His grace to be our saving measure! Rather than the act of trying to do something to oppose the sin, His work, not ours, diminishes the impact of desire for that sin.. HE changes us… by His grace, we are that we are.
This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord ‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (Lam 3:21-23)~ God gave you today! Yes, another day; another chance; another blessing. That in itself should outweigh any other depressive feeling you might have, whether you are guilty of something or the victim of another’s actions. We all have in our lives some source of distress or temptation but every day that God gives us is another day to rise above it. In fact, as bad as things are or may seem, we owe gratitude to God that it’s not worse. Truth be told, as you complain and lament on the things in your life that are so terrible and you long for a better scenario, there is a countless band of others out there that would gladly trade places with you! But while there is life there is hope; and instead of complaining about things that are bad, we should encourage ourselves about the things that are good with the hope and expectation in Him that they will be better. No matter what happened to you.. it “happened”- you got THROUGH it. You didn’t succumb to it or perish in it! No matter what you did, God didn’t strike you down for it but each day you come back to this life, He has again shown you an incomparable act of grace and mercy. Tribulation comes in all forms and ‘messes’ with us in so many ways and it causes us to pause in our lives; waiting on ‘something’ from the Lord’s hand. If tribulation works patience, that patience will work experience, and that experience a hope that makes one not ashamed. We are sinful people, and what we complain of, is far less than our sins deserve. We should in our tribulations therefore seek and inquire of God, and not falsely complain of Him or His justice toward us (that He’s not even imparting by the way). We are apt, in times of calamity, to reflect on other people’s ways, and blame them; but our duty is to search and try our own ways, that we may turn from evil to God. Our hearts must go with our prayers. Due thoughts of the evil of sin, and of our own sinfulness, will convince us that it is of the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed. God’s compassions fail not; of this we have fresh chances every morning. Every morning you wake up, God has given you another portion that far surpasses anything this world could give you; far more than any achievement could earn you; in excess and abundance of any earthly gift you could receive. Portions on earth are perishing things, but God is a portion forever. For this my friend, rejoice today and every day because every… day…. God loves you over and over and over again; UNCONDITIONALLY! Even when we are faithless, He is faithFUL! When we are without love, He loves! Yes, God just loves us…PERIOD (no ifs, ands, buts or becauses)… and NOTHING can separate us from that, no matter what the worldly circumstance! The Lord is my portion; I desire to have Him for my portion and salvation, and in His word do I hope. Be blessed!
Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. Who passing through the valley of Baca make it a well; the rain also filleth the pools. They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God (Ps 84:5-7)~ The “valley” is not a form of punishment by God for some past transgression! It is not a stroke of bad luck or ‘karma’ and it’s not some type of withholding of God’s blessing on your life. We all have valleys that we will go through – no life is without them. There is much to gain in God’s provisioning in the valley and these are places where wisdom is developed. As we trust God in the valley and use it to our advantage, He gives us the strength (the well for the rain) to endure it and the wherewithal to overcome it. Learn what the valley will teach you. The trials you face will be experiences for your strength and preparing you for where God is taking you. You are going through this to have a testimony.. It’s not promised to be easy; you can’t be stuck and tired and frustrated – sitting there doing nothing but “being”. When you ‘wait on the Lord’ in the valley, you have to grow from it. They that wait on the Lord shall “renew” their strength…that renewing is an ‘action’! You can’t just sit and wait. When you are weak in the valley, He is strength for you! You now have to ask “what is it God is wanting me to learn from all of this?” …and you have to actively seek Him and His provision… Yes, while you are in that valley, GET READY for His provision… “build that well”! When you do this, he will give you the abundance of blessings (the rain for the well) IN THE VALLEY and what you need to go forward. What you learn in the valley you will use when God takes you to the next phase of your life and your destiny. Each of us has our ‘valley’ that answers to Him – that He will bring us through – but it starts with looking for the lessons you will learn in the valley and trusting in Him and being renewed out of the valley in His strength! You shall mount up on the wings of eagles- lifting you up in due time; you shall run and never be weary- never tiring from the abundance and strength He gives you; to walk through the valley and never faint – with the endurance and patience of eternity! Be Blessed!
Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (Rom 8:15)~ When we think about God, we think about Heaven, salvation, victory, triumph, strength, peace, joy, eternal life…the list goes on with all of these great and wonderful things that God brings us. Jesus promised us that by believing in God, who sent Him…believing in the Word He brings…we are free from the imprisonment of sin in our lives. Because you believe in Him, you are set free from the fear of death and can look forward to living forever with God in heaven. Yet we always find ourselves in a position of basically saying ‘Lord, I do believe…but help my unbelief!’ Yes, we come to a point where as much as we believe in Him, we exhibit unbelief! That unbelief is our “fear”. Not the fear of dangers and harm to our person – but the fear of walking in what we claim to believe God for! How can we talk about all of the great promises of God and know all about the ‘finished’ work of Christ, yet be fearful to walk in the deliverance of them? Why do we let fear imprison us? We have been given the victory but we walk in the shame of losers! We want to know victory and greatness in life and it’s given to us, but we keep living our lives like where we used to be! We want to see things differently but we keep looking for and walking in more of the same and we eventually dread our lives because we think nothing ever changes…then it turns out that the only thing that DIDN’T change…was US! Those of us who do not love the lives we have are the ones who were afraid to change…our fear of what change might make us has imprisoned us in complacency and mediocrity! Have you ever seen a team win a championship and go to the showers like they were the losers because they didn’t want to take the trophy they went all season for? No, they walked in the victory! The prison gates are open and we have been exonerated, yet we sit there in our same old position of imprisonment because we’re scared to change our pattern and walk out the door in that freedom we have! To expect great results, while never changing your actions is a recipe of consistent failure (and insanity). Experiencing that freedom and that new life you’re looking for comes from the walks of faith, to dare to be and do what you have never done before. Fear will cause you to become complacent and remain in a continual prison of mediocrity, never growing or becoming more than what you have always been. But when you walk in the faith of the belief in the Lord, you will find that renewed strength that gives you limitless LIFE under His freedom! We are fearful to step out in faith because we think our lives will turn out different than we planned for. My friend, that is the GREATEST thing that could happen!!! God said “.. I know the thoughts that I think toward you, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end (Jer 29:11)”; and “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways (Isa 55:8)”. In other words, when you walk in that victory God has given you and drop that fear of being different from your own plans…trust in Him with all your heart rather than your own understanding, your life WILL be different than YOU planned. It will be what HE planned! What would you do if you had no fear? Think about a time when you actually were bold enough and truly faced your fear…you’re still here aren’t you? You got through it! It felt liberating didn’t it? Jesus told Peter to “Come” – But Peter had to get over that fear and step out of the boat… of fear! God did not give us that spirit of fear… let it go … in fact, send it packing…and be free…and be blessed!
. . . my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts—Isaiah 55:9
We men go through lengthy stretches of our lives with an “I’ve got this” posture. We convince ourselves we know what’s best in any particular situation or what’s right against any particular problem. We convince ourselves that we “get it.” We maintain this belief . . . until we can’t anymore . . . until we find we don’t actually know all that we think we know. We maintain it until we finally face the reality that God is God and we are not!
“I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:24-25).
Never can we have God’s knowledge or wisdom. Because of who He is, because of who we are, there’ll always be a tremendous amount of mystery in the relationship. We must be willing to accept and embrace it—and not let it become an impediment. We may “need” to know why something is the way it is or why something happened the way it did, but most times we simply cannot—and still we must believe, and still we must obey. To be in right relation to God we must instead adopt a posture of “I don’t know . . . and I’ll do what He asks nonetheless.”
Nevertheless, Not My Will But Thy Will Be Done…
In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them (Prov 14:3)~ How you use your tongue, one of the most difficult things to rule, dictates how you are treated in life. Both death and life are in the power of the tongue, and if you indulge yourself in talking, you will realize one or the other result. There are consequences to pay for your speech. Harsh and proud speech brings punishment and trouble; discreet and gracious speech brings blessing and safety. A fool cannot control his proud speech, and it causes others and him grief wherever he goes. When a fool talks proudly with his mouth, the pride in his words causes others to dislike and resent him. He loses friends and relationships, but in his ignorance does not know why. But a wise man is preserved and honored by his tongue. He uses speech for the good of others, and they love him for it. His gracious and kind words win the blessing and favor of others. He preserves his soul from much grief by wisely dealing with those around him. When a wise man graciously and humbly sets within himself to always advance others, they respond with affection and appreciation. He gains in friends and honor. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Eph 4:29). What do you have to say…for yourself?
…that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish (Eph 5:26-27)~ We can try to live a holy life among a lost world, and we can persevere not to allow the influence of darkness stain our garments; but in truth, each day we stand before the Lord in need of new mercies. We hear and see things that can bend our thinking and tarnish our purity. Even in times when we’ve not sinned, our spirit can still pick up the stale odor of the world from just having passed through it—kind of like walking through a shroud of cigarette smoke.. We didn’t smoke it but we might come away smelling like we did…its influence is on us! God has made provisions for our continual cleaning and re-cleaning. He knows that we’ll encounter constant challenges to our faith, constant pressures to compromise, subtle foxes spoiling our vines from beneath where we don’t always see them. Our Lord is the master of cleaning our dirty laundry. He can lift any stain, press out any wrinkle, and remove any lingering odor of unrighteousness. God’s grace provides for us a good washing when we need to be cleansed from being out in that dirty world. Jesus paid an awful price to make possible this holiness we can so freely wear it, and He did it not just for our benefit…He intends to present Himself with a perfect, flawless Bride, without one speck of soil on the wedding garment! When we allow Him to use the soap of grace, applied against the washboard of loving discipline, and rinsed in the water of the Word, we come out as pure, forgiven, and sanctified as if we’d never been dirty in the first place. So Fresh; So Clean!
My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (Ps 42:2); But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John 4:14)~~ We search all of our lives for things that will satisfy us. We try every solution, every option, every recreation; we strive for every achievement, every goal, every milestone to satisfy and gratify ourselves; we look for any way to fill the desires of our heart, our soul and our flesh. Unfortunately too often we get what we “think” is the answer but we find it to be temporary and we also find that when we come back for it again, we need more and more… it’s a vicious cycle that takes us deeper and deeper into its dependence… resulting in our doing almost anything, even sin to get it. Carnal hearts look no higher than carnal ends. Of whatever waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things, But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matt 6:32-33). Whoever partakes of the Spirit of Grace, and the comforts of the gospel, shall never want… it is that which will abundantly satisfy his soul. Let us then look off from the things which are seen in our own eyes; let us cease to seek for worldly advantages, or to fear present distresses. Let us give diligence to make our future happiness sure. Put that same ambition and energy that you use to fulfill yourself into having a relationship with The Lord! He promises fulfillment of every need, not just satisfaction but fulfillment! He is not slack concerning His promise…and they that wait on Him shall have great strength to get through the times they must wait; and in that due season when God does deliver us, we bountifully reap…if we just hold on to HIM!