Monday, September 21, 2009

By Grace I'm Saved

God has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity. II Timothy 1:9

I've been spending time in Ephesians - what a great book! As I was reading in Ephesians 2 this morning I was struck by the contrast between what I was like before Christ rescued me from the domain of darkness, and what I am now, living under His grace.

Before Christ:
-Dead in trespasses and sins (v. 1)
-Walking according to the course of this world (v. 2)
-Walking according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit working in the sons of disobedience (v. 2) - Yikes!
-Living in the lust of the flesh (v. 3)
-Indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind (v. 3)
-Children of wrath (v. 3)
-Separate from Christ, having no hope, without God in the world (v. 12)

This is not a pretty picture. I could have written "yikes" after every one of those. It is a sobering list.

I am thankful to God that He
-chose me in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world
-made me holy and blameless before Him
-predestined me to adoption as His child according to the kind intention of His will
-freely bestowed grace upon me through Jesus Christ, His beloved (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Because of His great love with which He loved me, I have been
-made alive together with Christ! (Ephesians 2:5)
-seated with Him in the heavenly places! (v. 6)
-shown the surpassing riches of God's grace in kindness in Christ Jesus! (v. 7)
-saved by faith, a gift of God! (v. 8)
-created in Christ Jesus for good works that have been prepared for me by God! (v. 10)
-brought near to God by the blood of Christ! (v. 13)
-given access to the Father by the Spirit! (v. 18)
-made a fellow citizen with the saints, a member of God's household! (v. 19)
-built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit! (v. 22)

Aren't you glad for this latter list? Does it apply to you? Have you made the decision to follow Jesus and live under God's grace?

If you have, I pray that you will meditate on this list and go to the Father in thankfulness.

If you haven't, I pray that you will seek His face and put your trust in Him. If you place your faith in Him, you will be saved, (a free gift of God!) and have eternal life with Him in heaven. Don't spend another minute living in that first list of who you are without Christ. Turn to Him today and be made a fellow citizen with the saints through your adoption into God's household.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! II Corinthians 9:15

By Grace I'm Saved
Words by Christian L. Scheidt

By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;
My soul, believe and doubt it not;
Why stagger at this word of promise?
Hath Scripture ever falsehood taught?
Nay; then this word must true remain:
By grace thou, too, shalt Heav’n obtain.

By grace! None dare lay claim to merit;
Our works and conduct have no worth,
God in His love sent our Redeemer,
Christ Jesus, to this sinful earth;
His death did for our sins atone,
And we are saved by grace alone.

By grace! O, mark this word of promise
When thou art by thy sins oppressed,
When Satan plagues thy troubled conscience,
And when thy heart is seeking rest.
What reason cannot comprehend
God by His grace to thee doth send.

By grace! This ground of faith is certain;
So long as God is true, it stands.
What saints have penned by inspiration,
What in His Word our God commands,
What our whole faith must rest upon,
Is grace alone, grace in His Son.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bless, O My Soul, the Living God

More than a year and a half ago, I wrote about a resolution: less whining, more worship. I've fallen off the wagon a bit on that resolution, so I wanted to write about a song of praise to remind us of our great God.

First of all, we serve a living God!

My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:2

But the LORD is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation. Jeremiah 10:10

For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. I Timothy 4:10

Let everything in us praise our Living God.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Psalm 103:1

This hymn exhorts us that God's favor should claim our highest praise. The Psalmist reminds us that His favor is for a lifetime: that is worthy of praise!

For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.
Psalm 30:5

We must not forget His wonders; or let them be lost in silence.

Your way, O God, is holy; what god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; You have made known Your strength among the peoples. You have by Your power redeemed Your people, the sons of Jacob and Joseph. Psalm 77:13-15

He has made His wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate. Psalm 111:4

It was our living God who sent His son to die for the crimes that we committed. He owns the ransoms and forgives the "follies of our lives."

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. Mark 10:45

Our living God is a God of power! He heals the vices of the mind, cures pain and redeems our souls from hell.

He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. I Peter 2:24

At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.
Luke 7:21

Our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14

You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. I Peter 1:18-19

His power is even capable of repairing our decaying youth.

Who satisfies your years with good things,So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. Psalm 103:5

He is righteous and just.

The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed. Psalm 103:6

He loves righteousness and justice. Psalm 33:5

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; lovingkindness and truth go before You. Psalm 89:14

Our living God has been working in His children for a LONG time.

He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. Psalm 103:7

He gave the Law to Moses, but He sent us truth and mercy in the person of Jesus Christ to us!

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

Let the whole earth His power confess! Let the whole earth adore His grace!

Let's stop whining and start worshiping!

The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Bless the LORD, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word! Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the LORD, all you works of His, in all places of His dominion;
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalm 103:19-22

Bless, O My Soul, the Living God
Words by Isaac Watts

Bless, O my soul! the living God.
Call home thy thoughts that rove abroad.
Let all the powers within me join
In work and worship so divine,
In work and worship so divine.

Bless, O my soul! the God of grace.
His favors claim thy highest praise.
Why should the wonders He hath wrought
Be lost in silence and forgot,
Be lost in silence and forgot?

’Tis He, my soul, that sent His Son
To die for crimes which thou hast done.
He owns the ransom and forgives
The hourly follies of our lives,
The hourly follies of our lives.

The vices of the mind He heals,
And cures the pains that nature feels;
Redeems the soul from hell, and saves
Our wasting life from threat’ning graves.

Our youth decayed, His power repairs;
His mercy crowns our growing years;
He satisfies our mouth with good,
And fills our hopes with heav’nly food.

He sees th’oppressor and th’oppressed,
And often gives the suff’rers rest;
But will His justice more display
In the last great rewarding day.

His power He showed by Moses’ hands,
And gave to Israel His commands;
But sent His truth and mercy down
To all the nations by His Son.

Let the whole earth His power confess.
Let the whole earth adore His grace.
The Gentile with the Jew shall join
In work and worship so divine,
In work and worship so divine.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord

I'm doing a topical study on Satan and spiritual warfare, and today I was studying the beginning of the story of Job. In addition to what I learned about Satan and how he gets his power, I was reminded about Job's faith and his response when faced with tremendous adversity. I think we all have a lot to learn from Job and his attitude in the midst of suffering.

Let's look at what happens in Job's life, as it is reported to him almost simultaneously in the first chapter of this book:

1. The oxen and donkeys were attacked and stolen by the Sabeans.
2. The Sabeans murdered Job's servants who were with the animals.
3. Fire fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants.
4. The Chaldeans stole the camels.
5. The Chaldeans also murdered the servants who were with the camels.
6. All of his children died when a strong wind toppled the house in which they were dining.

Nothing like this has ever happened to me, and probably not to you either. Our struggles pale in comparison. But how does our response to our struggles compare with Job's? Here's what happened next:

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God. Job 1:20-22

Job has just been told that many of his livestock are gone, his servants were murdered, and ALL of his children are dead. And he fell to the ground and worshiped! He blessed the name of the Lord, and did not sin nor blame God.

I can almost imagine Job singing this hymn (of course it hadn't been written yet!) or something similar as he worshiped. Job fully understood the sovereignty of God. He knew that whether the path would be smooth or rough, it would be the best for him because God had ordained it.

The story gets worse for Job. In the second chapter, Satan smites him with boils from his head to his feet. He is urged by his wife to lay aside his integrity and curse God. But he doesn't.

But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2:10

He knows what happens to him is in God's hands - and he leaves it there. He doesn't choose his lot - he knows that God has a plan for what is happening in his life.

I think there are several key lessons from these two brief chapters in Job.

1. We have a choice about how we respond when faced with adversity. We can choose to grumble to ourselves, complain to others, and blame God, or we can choose to worship God as the sovereign King who has a plan for our lives; He gives, and He takes away.
2. When we grumble, complain and blame God we are sinning. When we worship, we are obeying. We can choose to sin in response to suffering, or we can choose to obey.
3. We can be an example to others of living out faithful lives in the face of adversity. When others see us handling struggles in a way contrary to the world's notion of dealing with adversity, they will see lives consecrated to God's will and purpose.
4. God is worthy of our worship and praise in all circumstances. He is in control and can be trusted as our Faithful Guide.

Whatever you're facing today, large or small, know that the God of the Universe has ordained it for you, to sanctify you and to bring glory to Himself. I encourage you to face your suffering with worship, and to say along with Job, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord!"

Thy Way, Not Mine, O Lord
Words by Horatio Bonar

Thy way, not mine, O Lord,
However dark it be;
Lead me by Thine own hand,
Choose out the path for me.

Smooth let it be or rough,
It will be still the best;
Winding or straight, it leads
Right onward to Thy rest.

I dare not choose my lot;
I would not, if I might;
Choose Thou for me, my God,
So I shall walk aright.

Take Thou my cup, and it
With joy or sorrow fill,
As best to Thee may seem;
Choose Thou my good and ill.

Choose Thou for me my friends,
My sickness or my health;
Choose Thou my cares for me
My poverty or wealth.

The kingdom that I seek
Is Thine: so let the way
That leads to it be Thine,
Else I must surely stray.

Not mine, not mine the choice
In things or great or small;
Be Thou my Guide, my Strength
My Wisdom, and my All.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Isaiah 2:5

As I wrote earlier about Jesus being the light of the world, I was thinking about this hymn and my desire to walk as a child of the light. What does it mean to walk as a child of the light? This hymn tells me it means to follow Jesus. That led me to the Scripture to see what is says about walking as a child of the Light.

Therefore do not be partakers with them [the sons of disobedience]; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Ephesians 5:7-12

Paul tells us that we are to walk in all goodness, righteousness and truth as we try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. This theme is repeated in Paul's epistles. One of my favorite passages in Scripture is this prayer that Paul has prayed for the people at Colossae, that they will please the Lord in everything they do.

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. Colossians 1:9-12

And look what Proverbs tells us: there is great reward in doing what is pleasing to Him!

When a man's ways are pleasing to the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7

When I am walking as a child of the Light, when the Star of my life is Jesus, He guides me in His will and doing what He requires.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Of course, our ultimate reward for walking as children of light comes when we see Jesus face to face! When we have run the race here on Earth and God calls us to our heavenly home, we will live with Jesus for eternity. Let us stay focused on that day as we walk in all righteousness, learning what is pleasing to Him!

"Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end."
Revelation 22:12-13

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light
Words by Kathleen Thomerson

I want to walk as a child of the Light
I want to follow Jesus
God set the stars To give light to the world
The Star of my life is Jesus.

In Him there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The lamb is the Light of the city of God
Shine in my heart Lord Jesus.

I want to see the Brightness of God
I want to look at Jesus
Clear Son of righteousness shine on my path
And show me the way to the Father.

I'm looking for the coming of Christ
I want to be with Jesus
When we have run, with patience, the race
We shall know the joy of Jesus.