“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10 (ESV)
These words although written by the psalmist are the Words of the LORD God. We have assurance that even when it seems like everything in our world is crashing down around us like a massive earthquake, that our Father God’s love will not fail and our promise of peace remains firmly in place. When we look at the mountains and hills we usually think of them as having been there a long time in our time frame. We don’t usually think of them as something apt to change very soon. And all that is true because of the way God created them. But even they can be moved. If the earth shakes enough. We are reminded that even in that extreme circumstance, God Himself is also here and he has been here forever – long before the mountains. He cannot be shaken and His love and his promises do not change. We can depend on His love no matter what happens in and to this world. We can trust God’s love no matter what happens in our lives. He will always love us and He will always keep his covenant of peace. Thank God today for never changing.
“Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer Nor His lovingkindness from me.” Psalm 66:20 (NASB)
Perhaps there are times when we feel as if God has not heard our prayers or maybe rejected them. God always hears the prayers of those who abide in Him and love Him. As so many of the songs we have in the book of Psalms in our Bible, this is an expression by the writer about what God had done for him. Written many centuries ago we can still believe this promise and it can become our own expression of praise to God. We know that God hears and answers our prayers and even in those times when we receive an answer different than our request, we know that God has not rejected our prayer. He may have answered it in a different way than we expected or hoped, but we know it is in a way that is best for us because He loves us and he does not withhold his love from us. Our promise today is that He has not rejected our prayer, and because he loves us so much, he has given us an answer that is better for us. Let’s trust Him today and enjoy His love for us.
“…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love,…” Ephesians 3:16-17a (NIV)
We sometimes select a verse that comes from a long sentence written by the Apostle Paul as is the case today. Much of our Bible in the New Testament was written by God’s apostles through letters to the first century Christians to encourage them. It is a prayer that begins with v. 14 where Paul says he bows his knees before the Father. Paul often wrote about how he prayed for his Christian friends. Today’s verse comes from one of those letters he wrote to the Ephesian believers. But not only to the church in Ephesus. His letters were circulated among all the churches. Also, these words were inspired by God for us too. God is able and ready to strengthen us with power in our inner being. Whatever you are facing today if the Holy Spirit is present in your life He will strengthen you and bring you through it. And, there is no limit to what God can do for each of us. It all comes, out of God’s glorious riches. Do your sense the need for strength and power? Don’t hesitate to trust God for whatever you need today, even right now.
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. I do not nullify the grace of God…” Galatians 2:20 (NASB)
The Apostle Paul made this statement, “I do not nullify the grace of God…” in a confrontation with those who wanted to compel new Gentile Christians to follow the Jewish Law. Paul argued that if righteousness and salvation were possible through obeying the law, then Christ died for no purpose. Being ‘good enough’ will never save anyone. We are declared righteous by what Christ did for us on the cross. Once was a young boy who was on a raft in the middle of a deep lake with his father. His father was diving off the raft to move it to shore, on one dive, the boy lost his balance and fell into the water. In a panic he tried to swim up but couldn’t. He was too far under water to reach the surface. As the boy went down a second time his father grabbed his arm and pulled him up and back onto the raft. There was nothing the boy could’ve done in that circumstance to avoid drowning. His salvation depended fully on his father. The boy added nothing – he didn’t nullify what his father’s did. That is the same with the grace from God that saves us.
“But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”- Hebrews 11:16 (ESV)
Our verse today records a promise that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and many others in the Scriptures. He promised that He was “not ashamed to be called their God.” Wouldn’t we want very much for God to say the same to us; “I am not ashamed to be called your God?” This possibility is surrounded by one reason before and one reason after. Take the one after, first: “…for he has prepared for them a city.” This first reason is that God has worked for us by doing something for us. He made us a city — the heavenly city “whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). It is not the other way around. Now, consider the reason he gives in the front. It goes like this: “They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.” The word “Therefore” signals that a reason has just been given for why God is not ashamed to be called our God. The reason is we desire a better country — a better country than the earthly one we live in. We desire a heavenly one where God is.
“And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard” – Colossians 1:21-23 (NASB)
Being on the ‘outs’ of Christian fellowship was our circumstance before we received faith that made it possible to believe that Jesus, the Son of God is our Savior. We are converted from being ‘out’ to being ‘in’ God’s family when we are born of God – a work that God does for us according to his will and promise. It is a real transformation of our lives because before, or as our verse says, formerly we were alienated and had a hostile attitude. We were engaged in what is evil. Yet even in that state, doing nothing ourselves God reconciled us. When did this reconciliation happen? It happened on the cross, at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. That is when the work of reconciling our sinful selves with our perfect God happened. Here is our promise: He did this so we can appear before Him holy and blameless (forgiven) and beyond reproach. We are to continue in the faith firmly founded and unwavering, not moved away from the hope of the gospel.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” – Romans 5:10-11 (ESV)
Before most of us came to believe by faith that Jesus Christ is our savior, we lived thinking that we’re pretty good people. We even believed a God exists. All we had to do was live a good life. However, we remained enemies because by not believing, we were rejecting God. We were at odds and in conflict with God. Our promise today is: God provided a way for all who would believe to be reconciled to Him while still enemies. He made a way for us to have peace. This was accomplished by the death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Since reconciliation was provided by Him for all who believed, all can trust absolutely in the truth that they will be saved by Christ. The promises don’t end with that. Our reconciliation comes with our rejoicing in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Imagine being in a serious conflict with someone who spent all his time doing what you need to cross over and join their side. Imagine all he does is to make a way for you to be able to be his friends and brother/sister with him. Forgive and forget – that’s His way.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.” – Romans 5:8-9 (NASB)
Truth has always been absolute – even when mixed in with untruthful statements, the part that is true is absolutely true. Today we hear that there is “my truth” and “your truth” even when they contradict one another. This leaves “truth” that cannot really be trusted, doesn’t it? It’s relative truth which isn’t truth. A politician’s promises are spoken and we understand that there is little if anything to trust in those false promises. We learn to distrust because of the pattern of untruthfulness. God has a different way His truth is absolute and based on His character. We can trust Him because of His pattern of truthfulness. When God says He loves us, we can know it is the truth. He demonstrated and proved His love before we were redeemed by Him, when we were still separated from Him by our sin. Doing nothing for it, God demonstrated His love toward us. We have been justified by Christ’s shedding His blood His death and resurrection. The promise He gave us is that we will be saved from the wrath of God’s judgment through believing in Christ Jesus. We’re secure in His Absolute Truthful Word.
“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1b-2 (ESV)
We are to look to Jesus as the object of faith and salvation. Why are we to look to Him? Because He is both the Author and Perfecter of our faith. The word “author” is a term that means originator or even the preeminent example; it suggests that Jesus “pioneered” the path of faith Christians should follow. He also “perfected” the way of faith since He reached its end successfully. The term expresses the idea of carrying through to completion. It also might mean ‘maturity’ of the kind that is moral completeness. It is only in Christ that we find a faith that is perfect and it is only through Christ that that perfect faith become a reality for us. For those reasons, we live our lives in His and through Him our faith is perfect. On our own it is nothing more than daydreaming or wishing. We fix our eyes on Jesus and because of what he did, enduring the cross despising the shame He sits at the right hand of the throne of God. We are there too seated with Him (Ephesians 2:4-6) because God gave us a gift of faith which led to our salvation. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race…” – Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)
The word “therefore” is frequent in the Bible. When we come across it we find out what it is there for. This time it bridges a transition between Chapters 11 & 12 of Hebrews where is a list of deceased people whose lives witnessed the value and blessing of living by faith. The author of Hebrews is giving us reassurance that is drawn from the saints in the past who faithfully believed in the LORD God. We are encouraged to rid ourselves of sin because sin entangles us and inhibits our ability to live with endurance. We are all on a path that is a race of sorts, not against each other but against the wickedness of Satan who is set on causing us to stumble and fall and fail to reach our goal. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:13-14) explains this, and like him, we have a goal that we are straining forward to reach. A life pleasing to God. Therefore we are pressing on toward the goal God has set before us. Sin entangles us and misdirects us and causes us to miss out on the prize of blessings God has set for us.