“Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge—no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.” – Psalm 91:9-11 (ESV)
Ever heard often about promises of guardian angels? We believe that they are watching over us although we can’t see them. Sometimes we sense God’s Spirit and presence and believe this is because of His angels watching over us. As we read this promise today, we are reminded who it is that gets this special protection. Notice that it is those who believe in the LORD, Most High. Our spelling and grammar checkers want to change the “Most High” to “Highest” but that is not really the same thing, is it? It is in the LORD Most High that we find our dwelling place and profess Him as our refuge. How do we dwell in the Most High? We do so by faith believing the promises God has given to us. So let’s remember that we live, or dwell in our LORD when we trust Him at all times – not just once in a while. We learn to trust and obey not only when things are tough but even when they are not so tough. Living in God is a constant that comes through a constant faith.
“Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:19-20 (ESV)
When Jesus was in his public ministry on earth he took advantage of things that happened each day to teach his disciples. This verse is from one of those times. A father had a boy who was possessed by a demon. Jesus’ disciples had attempted to heal the man’s son but failed. Now the father brings the boy to Jesus and pleads with Him. Jesus rebukes the demon and heals the boy instantly. The purpose of this teaching is not to encourage us to move mountains around. The real lesson which Jesus was teaching was about the nature of the faith which produces results. Jesus spoke of faith being as small as a mustard seed. Ever so small, the seed would produce great results. Jesus was saying that even if their faith was as small as a mustard seed, it would produce great results because the faith would be there. But the results of even such faith come from God and He is great. It is of when we make God – rather than ourselves – the object of our confidence that the greatness of God brings results, providing the faith is in our hearts.
“…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.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” – 1 John 5:4-5 (ESV)
We again find a promise in the first letter by the apostle John written to the believers in the surrounding churches. As the pastor/teacher to the congregation in Ephesus, his concern was for all those who believed in Christ and who were beset by false teachers and pressures of the world. Christians who truly believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior need to know that they are overcomers of evil. They need to know why and how they are overcomers. This promise tells us. Those born of God, everyone who is a child of God overcome the world. Jesus has made that possible and a fact in our lives. It is said very clearly right here, “this is our victory and we have overcome the world because of our faith.” Then, as John has done throughout this letter he emphasized by saying it again more forcefully. Take this as for each of us. Who overcomes the world? Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Unless a person believes that Jesus is who He said He was, they are out. But those who do believe Jesus, have already overcome the world in Him.
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.” – 1 John 5:1 (ESV)
We have been finding promises of God in the first letter written by the apostle John. Our verse today is essential in understanding the characteristics of who is a Christian. Using the label and claiming to be a Christian is not enough in itself. It’s sincere belief in Jesus of Nazareth and that He is the promised Savior that results in spiritual rebirth by God. Christians become overcomers, but not by their own good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Saving faith is the first characteristic of an overcomer. The term “believes” in our verse expresses the idea of continuing faith, which marks authentic believers. They continue in faith throughout their life. Saving belief is not simply intellectual acknowledgment, but is unreserved dedication to Jesus Christ that is eternal. Jesus is the Christ. If one asks who his Christian brother or sister is, the answer is that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God. It is not by being born to Christian parents. It is a believer’s faith in Jesus, that He is the promised Messiah or “Anointed One” whom God sent to be our Savior from sin, to die for sins of all people, and to rise again.
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” – Romans 5:1-2 (NASB)
Day to day we may not, very often, think about the grace in which we stand. Considering that grace in our lives is pretty much limited to the word “gracious” which, means kind, polite, civil, tactful, and courteous. Grace, however, is much more than politeness or civil behavior. Our promise in today’s verse is powerful because it explains what grace brings to us. Because of the grace God has for us we, who in faith believe in Jesus and His words, have been justified. Notice the “have been” there? It is past, it is a done deal. Being justified provides for us peace with God which is also by grace, our possession. We have such a possession of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and it is through Christ we were introduced by faith into this marvelous grace. We really need to think about this deeply and frequently. It is a gift which continues to develop into more gifts from God. The last promise is hope, and hope is ours because of what God has fully done for us by grace. It a hope for which we can triumph in the glory of God.
“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
We all lose things from time to time. They are misplaced is likely the main reason but sometimes just forgetting where it is even supposed to be. We look earnestly, even frantically. How many times do we go to the same places we have already looked because we’re convinced that is where our item is supposed to be? We keep looking until we find it because we believe we will. We believe it still exists in our world. Seekers who are looking for the Truth will find it where God is and has spoken – like the Bible. But finding God’s Truth requires our belief that He is real, that He exists because He does. Believing in the existence of God and His word is how our search must start. He is the God of the Bible. So when we believe that the God who reveals Himself in the Bible really exists and is there for us, it pleases God. Then too, we must believe that God responds to our desire to find Truth, to know Him, and He hears our prayers. That also pleases Him and He rewards our faith – He meets our needs.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”” – Romans 1:16-17 (ESV)
These are words of testimony from the Apostle Paul in his letter to the believers living in Rome. He wanted to preach and teach in Rome. These two verses form the thesis of the entire letter—the gospel of Jesus Christ—which Paul unfolds and clarifies in the following chapters. The apostle was not reluctant to preach the gospel, for he loved that good news. Our promise is that the righteousness from God is ours and is available to everyone who in faith believe. There is no distinction in God’s family. The push in our world today to identify each other by race or by any other classification is purely a human method of manipulation and it is not of God. We are promised and declared righteous in Christ by believing in His word. That is how we live, believing in why He came to earth. That’s the gospel Paul was not ashamed to preach. He suffered imprisonment, was chased out and had to be smuggled out of cities. He was laughed at, called a fool and even stoned nearly or to death. Because of God’s promise let’s also be eager to proclaim our faith in the Gospel.
“This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” – 1 John 5:3–4 (ESV)
Struggling to be obedient to God as if obedience is a heavy burden is not evidence of love for Him. Our acts of loving God amount to much more than just keeping His commandment. Truly, loving God is having a heart for God that enables us to keep the statutes and instructions without that becoming a burden. John explains why God’s commandments are not burdensome. When we are born of God – and this is for all who are truly born of God – He makes us overcomers of the world system. We have what overcomes the many pitfalls and obstacles to keeping God’s will. It is the new nature we have through being born of God. That new birth creates in us a new creature and that creates a faith developing and maturing within ourselves. This faith in God who loves us and gave us His only Son, does more than enable us to assent to God will, it also enables us to embrace all that He is for us in Christ. Eighteenth-century pastor Jonathan Edwards wrestled with this text and concluded, “Saving faith implies love. Our love to God enables us to overcome the difficulties that attend keeping God’s commands.”