Saturday, March 29, 2008

God Finishes What He Starts

You have heard someone say “God is good” and others responded “All the time!” Both those statements are true because that is God’s nature. Everything God does, has done, and ever will do, is always good!!

Our promise this week deals with God’s good work within us. That work, in a sense, had it’s beginning long before we took our first breath. In fact it started before He laid “the foundation of the world”(a) and it will continue until we have become like Jesus.(b) Everything God brings or permits into our lives is for that purpose.(c) While God’s good work on our behalf started from the dawn of creation, we personally began to respond to that work when we opened our hearts to Christ and accepted Him as our savior. That’s when He specifically began His good work in us.

God works in us through His Word, as we become familiar with it and apply it to our lives. He works in us through His Holy Spirit as we yield to His leading and promptings. We experience His work in us as we worship Him and as we develop loving relationships with fellow Christians. He works in us through the pleasant things He brings into our lives. But He also works in us through sad and painful experiences which He allows.(d) We welcome the pleasant and joyful times, but in reality it is in the hard times that we become more like Jesus if we respond to them in the right way.

“Sometimes life seems hard to bear;
Full of sorrow, trouble and woe
It’s then I have to remember
That it’s in the valleys I grow….

Thank you for the valleys, Lord
For this one thing I know
The mountaintops are glorious
But it’s in the valleys I grow!”(e)

Whatever life brings us, difficult as it may be, our God will never abandon us, He will continue His good work, which He has begun in us. Some people quit the job before it s completed – not so our God! Our God will continue His good work in us until it is finished. He carefully plans His work so He will have it done on the very day we see Jesus. With some of us he has more work to do than with others, but we can all trust Him to be right on schedule. What confidence that should give us, whether it is when He calls us home, or when He returns for His Church. When we see Him we shall be like Him!!

Let’s Pray –
Father, thank you for your faithful work in us, molding us into the image of your Son. We are so grateful that we can have full confidence that you will finish what you started! Grant us grace to completely trust you.

(a) Ephesians 1:4, (b) 1John 3:2-3, (c) Romans 8:28, (d) James 1:2-4, (e) Mary N. Nelson

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Saturday, March 22, 2008


The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a dark day. Jesus has been executed on a Roman cross; His dead body is placed in a tomb sealed with a large stone. From a purely human standpoint, He is gone – it was all over for Him. His disciples were hiding behind closed doors afraid that they might be next. Their hopes that Jesus would establish an earthly kingdom were utterly crushed. It indeed was a dark day! Jesus had told them at various times and in different ways that He would die and rise again,(a) but it just hadn’t sunk in. The forces of hell thought they had destroyed the Son of God, and His disciples were confused, and didn’t know what to think. It was Saturday, a very dark day, but Sunday was on the way!!

Some women who were followers of Jesus went to the tomb early Sunday morning intending to anoint the body of Jesus with spices. They found that the stone, which had sealed the tomb, was rolled away. The tomb was empty, and an angel announced to them “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen.”(b) The women hurried to tell the disciples who couldn’t believe their ears when they were told that Jesus was alive.

You know the story – how Jesus appeared to the disciples on numerous occasions over a period of 40 days and taught them about the Kingdom of Heaven. Then one day He ascended up into heaven while they watched. Attending angels said, “Why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go!”(c) Jesus is alive!! And He is coming again!!! That’s why we celebrate Easter!

The fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and is alive, has a monumental impact on every human being. If He were still dead, we would still be in our sin and under God’s eternal judgment with no hope of ever being forgiven. But the glorious news of Easter is He is alive and we have forgiveness through faith in Him.

Because Jesus is alive “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”(d) I can’t imagine anything more encouraging than to be assured that Jesus as our High Priest is eternally making intercession for us.

And furthermore, because Jesus is alive, “we sorrow not, as others who have no hope.”(e) When we stand at the graveside of a believing loved one, even though it is terribly painful we have this firm conviction that they are with Jesus and “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”(f) That’s the Good News of Easter.

Our resurrected, ascended Lord is coming back again one of these days as the scripture promises. “The Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.”(g)

May this Easter season be special for you as you meditate on these truths about the resurrection of Jesus and His coming again.

Let’s Pray-
Oh Jesus, how can we ever thank you enough for the realities of Easter - for the blessed assurance your resurrection brings us? Because you live we to shall live, forever! Help us to so live our daily lives that we will bring honor to you.
In your name we pray.

(a) Mark 10:33-34 NLT, Matthew 16:21 NLT, (b) Matthew 28:6 NLT, (c) Acts 1:11 NLT, (d) Hebrews 7:25 NKJV,(e) 1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV, (f) Revelation 21:4 NLT, (g) Acts 1:11 NLT

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Assurance of Salvation

Not being sure about something makes us feel uneasy. Trivial stuff really doesn't matter, but when it comes to serious matters we need to make sure.

Our soul is the most valuable part of our being. Jesus pointed that out when He said, “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?”(a) Our soul is eternal and if there is anything we need to be sure about, it is the destiny of our soul.

It seems odd, but many people give little or no attention to the security of this priceless possession. When we die it’s not all over, our soul continues to exist forever. Scripture clearly teaches about heaven (b) and hell (c) as real places, and our soul will spend eternity in one place or the other. There is no in between.

Everyone in his right mind wants to go to heaven. However, people have different ideas how to get there. The most common is if we do more good than bad we hopefully will make it. The problem with this approach is we can never be sure that we have done enough good, so there is always a doubt whether we’ll make it. And rightly so, because scripture says, salvation is not a reward for our good deeds.(d) Good works can never bring assurance of salvation!

Salvation is the free gift of God’s grace, which can only be received by faith. “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”(e) On the basis of God’s grace we can know without a doubt that we will go to heaven when we die. We can be sure of our salvation! “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.”(f)

As clear as that is, there still are people in church every Sunday who don’t have the assurance of salvation, simply because they go by the assumption that somehow they have to be good enough to go to heaven.

Dear friend, it is not faith and works that brings us assurance of salvation. It is confessing by faith what the Lord has done for us! We can’t add anything to the finished work of Christ. We must simply trust what God says in His word to have assurance of salvation. Good works are the by-product of salvation – it’s what we do because we are saved. As the Word says, “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.”(g) “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.”(h)

Let’s Pray-
Thank you Jesus, for dying in our place and paying for all our sin.
And thank you Lord, that even the faith to believe that, is a free gift from you!!
Forgive our pride in thinking we could help you with it.
You are so gracious!!! We love you Lord.
Help us to serve you with all our heart because we are saved.

(a) Mark 8:36, (b) Matthew 18:10, 28:18, Mark 16:19,
(c) Matthew 7:13, Luke 2:15, 2 Peter 2:4, (d) Ephesians 2:9,
(e) Ephesians 2:8, (f) Romans 10:9-10, (g) Philippians 2:12,
(h) Ephesians 2:8-9

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

PRAYER - Brings The Peace of God

Peace of heart and mind is a rare commodity in this troubled world we live in. The PROMISE for this week is preceded by requirements, which must be met before we can “experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.”
The first requirement is something most of us have a problem with, namely, Don’t worry about anything. If our scripture passage stopped here we would be in trouble, but it goes on to tell us how not worrying is possible.

Prayer is the answer! Instead of worrying, we need to pray about everything. That is something all of us are able to do. It’s just a matter of taking the time to do it. So often we try to fix things ourselves – we try this and we try that without success, and our worry grows. The answer is to pray about everything. We need to be talking to God about everything that goes on in our lives, not only the big and weighty things, but also the simple and seemingly insignificant.

Our scripture instructs us to Tell God what you need. Our prayers need to be more precise than just “Lord bless this and Lord bless that.” We honor God when we clearly name what we feel our needs are, and it also helps us to know when our prayer is answered.
Our worry usually stems from an unmet need. God knows what we need before we ask, we are not telling Him something new. But it’s for our own spiritual benefit that He requires us to tell Him what we need. It helps us be reminded on whom we are truly dependent, and He is the one who supplies all our needs in Christ Jesus.

Not only do we need to tell God everything we need but we also must thank him for all he has done. God has done so much that we are aware of and infinitely more we know nothing about, and everything He does is good! We need to thank Him for it all. Like the old hymn says “Count your many blessings, see what God has done.” We must not take any of God’s gifts for granted. An ungrateful heart will not be a heart at peace.

As we pray about everything, clearly telling God what we need, thanking Him for all He has already done, we will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. A peace so deep and profound we can’t begin to comprehend it. While we are not able to get our human minds around it - we not only can experience God’s peace, we will experience it!! We can’t understand it, but we are able to sense the calm quiet rest with which it fills our entire being.

Furthermore, God’s peace will guard our hearts and minds as we live in Christ Jesus. The word “guard” literally is “garrison” a military metaphor. God’s peace - like garrisons of divine soldiers will surround our hearts and minds and keeps worry and fear out as we live in Christ Jesus! How blessed we are!!

Let’s Pray:
Thank you Father, for having made every provision for our lives to be filled with your peace.
Please forgive us for not always praying about everything and instead end up worrying.
“O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!"(a)
Help us Lord to pray without ceasing. Post your guards around our hearts and minds so we will always experience your peace!

Footnote: (a) Joseph Scriven,

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Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Lord is close to all who call on Him

How are you doing today? Having a great day with a sense of the Lord’s nearness? Or have you had better days and today isn’t one of them?

Life can be a battle, because we have an enemy who works overtime to make God seem far away. He works on our minds, especially when we are tired and discouraged. He feeds us a string of lies – “it will never get better - you won’t get out of this - there’s no hope - God doesn’t care for you - He has forsaken you.”

But just the opposite is true! Like today’s promise assures us - our Lord is filled with kindness and is close to praying people. Numerous Scriptures show us that He is near to us no matter how we may feel or what we are going through. His Word says, “Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.”(a) “Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord will hold me close.”(b) “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”(c) “For God has said I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”(d)

The truth is our Lord is always close to us. It’s only when we pay attention to Satan’s whispered lies that doubts begin to fill our minds and God seems far away. We need to deliberately choose to trust God's promises without any reservations and believe that He is the only one who can help us as we “call on him in truth.” Praying “in truth” is praying in faith and not giving up until the load is lifted – until the prayer is answered. The answer may come surprisingly soon or it may take a long time coming. The important point is that we keep on praying until the answer is realized. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” The context of that passage deals with persistence in prayer until the answer comes.(e)

So if today finds you feeling sorry for yourself – downhearted and God seems a million miles away – cry out to Him for help to focus on His promises rather than the negative stuff the enemy tells you. Start praising the Lord for His promises and claim them for your very own – and keep on doing it! Remember – “The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.”

Let’s Pray-
Father, if someone reading these comments today has fallen for the lies of the enemy – please grant them faith to claim your promises. Thank you that a sense of your presence is on the way as they call on you in truth. And Father, thank you also that “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”(f)

(a) Psalm 23:9, (b) Psalm 27:10, Psalm 34:18, (d) Hebrews 13:5b, (e) Luke 11:5-10, (f) Isaiah 26:3


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