May 6 –A Deposit Which Guarantees

“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” –  2 Corinthians 5:5 (ESV)

One fact that we can know and rejoice in is that God has plans for us who have believed and accepted the free gift of salvation. We are reminded of this in our verse. God has and is continuing to prepare us for living with Him in heaven. It is God who had made this happen, for there is nothing we can do to receive the Holy Spirit who is our guaranteed promise. We realize that His plans for us are really beyond our ability to comprehend. God knows, and that is the reason He has given us His Spirit. In part the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to show us a bit of what heaven will be like. Even that we take by faith for our eyes have not seen, our ears have not heard, all that God has prepared for us who love Him. The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives guarantees eternal blessedness for us in heaven. Paul emphatically states that the believer’s heavenly existence will come according to God’s sovereign purpose.  Let’s be sure our hearts are open to what the Holy Spirit wants to teach us about heaven.

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May 5 – Able to Sympathize

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:15-16 (ESV)

As we look at the promises in today’s passage, let’s glance back just a bit at our promises from yesterday and remember our sleeping savior. On the stormy sea, the disciples were fearing for their lives. Experienced fishermen had to have been in storms before so to frighten them this had to be a really serious storm. Jesus needed sleep, he finds a cushion for comfort and goes to sleep unbothered by the storm. The very fact that Jesus needed to sleep reveals that He had a real human body that knew the feelings of fatigue and thirst and hunger. Hebrews tells us our high priest, is able to sympathize with human weaknesses. If Jesus had not known the weaknesses and temptations of humanity, He would not be a sympathetic High Priest, capable of offering us mercy and grace from the heavenly throne. But He does know our weaknesses because His experienced weaknesses too. He knew the pain of rejection: “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11) There’s no pain or insult we might know that Christ hasn’t had—and because He knows such struggles, He invites us to come to Him.

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May 4 – Hushing Up The Storm

“Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they *woke Him and *said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing? And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?”” – Mark 4:38-40 (NASB)

Our Savior Jesus Christ when he lived on this earth was fully God and fully human also. He experienced fatigue, hunger, and stress. The crowds of people were always around. Jesus would heal all who came to him of all diseases and cast out demons. Crossing the Sea of Galilee, a serious wind storm blew in and threatened to swamp the boat. Jesus is asleep on a pillow in the back of the boat. The disciples frightened to death wake Jesus up crying for help. “Don’t you care we’re about to die!” Jesus gets up and with the economy of words, says, “Be muzzled!” That is the literal meaning of the original words translated “Peace be Still” or “Hush, be still” Storms normally subside gradually, but when the Creator spoke the order, the natural elements of this storm shut down immediately. Daily Jesus was teaching and demonstrating his authority and power every day. Yet, it still had not dawned on his disciples that God’s power was present in Jesus and so present with them. Our promise is that by abiding in Jesus and He in us, we too have God’s power present in our lives. Let’s have faith in that.

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May 3 – Walking In Newness

“Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” –  Romans 6:4 (NASB)

In a very real sense spiritually, all who have truly  believed in Jesus Christ have been united with Christ by faith.  His death and burial become ours and we are saved from ever experiencing our own spiritual death. Even physical death becomes for us a temporary stay until the resurrection of believers. God our Father chose us for this by his mercy. What the Son of God, made real He did out of His own love and will. By God’s grace we walk in newness of life because in Christ we died and were buried with Him, and we have also become one with Him in His resurrection. Paul uses the word “baptized” in a figurative sense; in the same way we might say someone was immersed in his work or when someone experiences a hard test of their character, we might say they underwent a baptism of trials. We experience a new quality and character to our lives, and live according to a new principle of life. As Christ’s burial shows that He actually died, a Christians’ “burial with Christ” shows that they in fact died with Him to their former sinful ways of living.

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May 2 – Near and Far

Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23: 23-24 (ESV)

We all are likely to have times in our life of faith that God seems distant when He is always right beside us. God is always in the process of revealing to us what He is like. In today’s verses there are three questions that we believe are intended to help us know better how God is involved in our lives. As we read the verses we can see that the last question actually contains the answer to the first two. God asks, “Am I only a God that is nearby and not a God that is far away?” Well He is both and all thing time for God is everywhere. He fills heaven and earth. He fills all of His creation. He wants us all to know this because it reveals what a wonderful and caring God He is. There is nowhere that God is not and so no matter where we are, near or far, he is there with us. He is drawing us near to Him and as He is with us today, He is and will be with us tomorrow and forever – He fills our world and beyond.

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May 1 –Lifting Up Our Cups

“What shall I render to the Lord For all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation And call upon the name of the Lord.” – Psalm 116:12-13 (NASB)

The benefits we faith believers receive from the LORD are more numerous than what we can count or list. They are poured out upon His children because He is a merciful God, loving and without change. God needs nothing and puts no price on His free mercy and grace. Although many believe and strive to “be good enough” to earn God’s approval, such acts do nothing to secure their salvation.  The psalmist says something interesting “I shall lift up the cup of salvation.” This is the only place in the Old Testament where this exact phrase is used. It might have the meaning of ‘the cup’ in Psalms 16:5; 23:5; which speak of the circumstances God provides to the redeemed. In contrast may be Psalm 75:8  and the cup of God’s wrath. Drink offerings were part of thank offerings in:  Exodus 29:40-41.  More likely it refers to that part of the sacrifice included with his thank offerings. Both grain and drink both expressed thanks for having received salvation – which delivered them death. The cup is lifted up in praise to the LORD of Hosts.  Others hearing are edified, which is one of the purposes of public praise.

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April 30 – Love Made Perfect

“The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:” 1 John 2:4-5 (NASB)

We have two verses today but are looking mostly at the second one for our promise. The use and repetition of the words know and keep emphasizes that those genuinely born again display the habit of obedience. Obedience results in assurance of salvation. God has given us many instructions in the Bible and we realize that He expects us to obey them. Someone may profess a fellowship with God but how they live their life shows they do not possess. John was not shy to call this kind of claim what it really is: a lie. Moreover, it may be said of the same person that the truth is not in him. If we truly love God we will want to live a way that is according to what He wants us to live. We obey God’s word and our love for Him is demonstrated. We show our love through obedience. When we obey God’s word His love for us is also demonstrated and His love for us is made perfected. He has given us instructions because He loves us and knows what is the best way for us is to live.

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April 29 – Accomplished All We’ve Done

“O Lord, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works.” – Isaiah 26:12 (ESV)

The Book of Psalm is often called the song book of the Bible. Other Books also contain songs and today’s verse comes from one in the book written by the prophet Isaiah. This prophet spoke the Words of God to the people and leaders of Israel; words given to him by God which contained many promises and warnings. This is a reminder of the involvement of our God in our lives. God has been involved in the lives of His people since before Israel’s time. In the kingdom believers are promised that they will enjoy the peace God gives and will know God’s work on their behalf. In our verse God’s people recognize that anything accomplished through their lives is really the work of God. So we do need to remember that we can’t do anything of real value on our own. And, we must never forget that our God is really involved in the things we do each day. To recognize His involvement does give us peace in our hearts because we know that what He does in us is worthwhile and has eternal value and effectiveness. 

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April 28 – He Hears When We Call

“I love the LORD, because He hears My voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, Therefore I shall call upon Him as long as I live.” Psalm 116:1-2 (NASB)

What reasons come to our minds when we think about why we love the LORD God? This is an intensely personal “thank you” Psalm to the Lord for saving the psalmist from death. The occasion and author are unknown, although the language used by Jonah in his prayer from the fish’s stomach is remarkably similar. Compare Psalm 116:3-4 with Jonah 2:5-6. In these words in this song the psalmist tells how he reacted to the way the Lord responded to his call for help. These words may well also express our feelings in reaction to how God responses when we cry for mercy. It’s surely true that when the Lord responds by turning his ear to our call for help our hearts respond in love for Him. Yes He is a wonderful, faithful Lord and we do love Him. And isn’t it true that when God does hear our prayer it encourages us to again and again call on Him whenever we need help? This is a habit we want to have throughout our lives. Let’s join with the psalmist, saying what he said in our verse “I will call on him as long as I live.”

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April 27 – Need More Than ‘Seems Right’

“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:3; 16:24 (NASB)

Our verse today from is included twice in Proverbs. Both chapter 14 & 16 were compiled by Samson so this truth must have been important to him. It is also an important warning to us. It’s a promise that warns of death. In WW2 the crew of a B-24D plane ignored their instruments which didn’t seem right by their senses. The plane flew past their base until it ran out of fuel and crashed in the Sahara desert. All 9 crewmembers died trying to find their way out of the desert. In Matthew 7:13 Jesus also warns us to not trust what might only seem right. The wide gate may look appealing but many are led through it to destruction. It’s the narrow gate that Jesus directs us to. Both the narrow gate and the wide gate are assumed to provide the entrance to God’s kingdom. Two ways are offered to people. The narrow gate is by faith, only through Christ, constricted and precise. It represents true salvation in God’s way that leads to life eternal. The wide gate includes all religions of works and self-righteousness, with no single way, but it leads to hell, not heaven.

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