July 2 – Given, Accepted, Never Earned


“…in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him. not having a righteousness of my own, legal righteousness but that (which is) through faith in Christ. the righteousness (which is) from God (and rests) on faith” – Philippians 3:9*

There is a purpose for us to also toss all our self-effort to please God on the refuse heap. This is a warning from the Apostle Paul for any who would think and expect that their own good deeds were in any way a righteousness that counts before God. Such “good works” will never be regarded as true righteousness. We’re to never expect God to accept us into His Kingdom based on how good we have been in life. Those that do will be disappointed. Some receiving this letter by Paul may have been offended by this. Paul says accomplishments which conformed to the Old Testament Law of Moses and the myriad of additional interpretations and traditions built up by the Jewish religious authorities since Moses. Yet it applies to any self-effort to please God and any effort by us to be righteous by following any set of laws. The only righteousness which is through faith in Christ has any value. By faith our hand extended to receive God’s free gift. Only righteousness that is imputed to the us sinners as God’s free gift is how we obtain this righteousness. Not earned, for a gift is never earned.

*(Translation from: William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Philippians, New Testament Commentary, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 5:164.)

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June 18 – Surviving the Rampage

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” – Romans 12:3 (NASB)

We find very little humility practiced in this world. Consider a current trend referred most often as “cancel culture,” (the term first appeared in 2016). Practiced by many who hold their views and attitudes to be the only correct and appropriate opinions while ignoring scientific orders and challenges our creator God’s clear truths found in scripture. There’s a current rampage against beliefs by those who don’t live according to these esteemed values or interpretations of right and wrong. In spite of fear of ostracism from others, this practice of intolerance is not becoming of those for whom Christ, by grace, has chosen, saved, and adopted as children of God. Today’s passage warns us to not practice holding ourselves above others as anyone’s “betters” – better based on the values they hold and demand others to accept and hold. Today’s promise is for each true faith believer who has received an allotment measure of faith from God sufficient to use sound judgement based our faith in God’s word. It’s this exercise which leads believers to recognize that in themselves we are nothing (1Peter 5:5), and will yield in us the fruit of humility without compromise.

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May 28 – Never Disappoint


“Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.” Psalm 33:22 (ESV)

The last verse in Psalm 33 is a short prayer. This is really a prayer of faith. When we think of God’s love as enduring and never failing, that is faith. We believe that God loves us and always will. The “steadfast love” can also be rendered as “unfailing love” and we can believe that God loves us and always will. Our verse also mentions our hope and of course that is not wishful thinking, it is expectation. When we expect God to show us His love that is also faith. So, in faith, let’s expect God to demonstrate his steadfast love to us. And, let’s expect it to be not a once in a while experience but a lasting all time experience. That’s what it means to have God’s love resting upon us all the time. God’s love is with us all the time, that is a promise God has given to us and we can trust in it with a hope that will not disappoint us – not ever.

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April 12 – Holy Tuesday – Faith Believing

“And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours..” Mark 11:22-24 (ESV)

This is Passion Week leading to Easter Sunday. We are considering events that happened in the life of our Lord just before He was arrested, tried illegally, and sentenced by Pilate to die on a cross. It was for us that He allowed all the events to happen. Many events of those few days and much of what Jesus taught that week are recorded in Scripture. Let’s look at one found in the Gospel of Mark. It was Monday morning that Jesus looked for fruit on a fig tree as he left Bethany to go into the City of Jerusalem. There was no fruit so Jesus said there would never again be any fruit on that tree. The next day, Tuesday, as they were passing that way again Peter noticed that the fig tree was all withered from the ground up and amazed he mentioned it. Jesus’ reply teaches the disciples about the power of real faith without doubt. Jesus was anxious to have followers who truly believed in God and who expect God to answer their prayers. Let’s keep his promise and with faith believing pray according to His will expecting God to give us what we ask for.

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April 6 – Doubting Is Dangerous


“But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:6-8 (NASB)

We all wrestle with doubts. Sometimes, they are proper but some doubts are dangerous. We read yesterday (April 5) that God has wisdom for us and is ready to give it to us without reproach. We are commanded to ask for the wisdom that shows us the way of living for God’s glory. Then, James puts out a serious warning against doubting. Why does he do this? Because when we pray for wisdom our prayers must be offered with confident trust in a sovereign God. Without any doubting. It’s more than merely because of mental indecision but it is rooted in inner moral conflict or distrust in God. If we are one who doubts God’s ability to keep his promise or willingness to provide this wisdom is likened to the stormy, restless sea, buffeted by the waves from the wind and moving back and forth. It is impossible to make progress when our expectations are so far removed from what God has promised. Such action is that of a double-minded person. The literal translation of this Greek expression means having our minds divided between God and the world. Let’s ask in faith and avoid the doubts of the unstable unbeliever.

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 February 13 – Do This…Don’t Do That

“The faith that you have, keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who has no reason to pass judgment on himself for what he approves. But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” – Romans 14:22-23 (ESV )

God knows our level of faith and He honors our sincere effort to live by it. Some have grown in faith to recognize that God loves and accepts us based solely on our faith not works. Others are still learning but remain committed by their conscience to observe rules of right and wrong. “Do this…don’t do that” becomes means of working to maintain God’s approval. However it is the believers with strongest faith who have an obligation to respect those who are burdened by these rules. The strongest Christian can bring harm to himself in the area of Christian liberty by denouncing or belittling the freedom God has given him and use it as a license to sin, or by carelessly flaunting his liberty without regard for how that might affect others. The Apostle Paul urges the strong believer to understand his liberty, enjoy it, and keep it between God and himself. The strong believer maintains a healthy conscience because he does not give a weak believer a cause to stumble or lead them to violate their conscience. When a believer violates his conscience, he sins. Acting contrary to our conscience is to act without faith.

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January 31 – Building With Faith

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 20-21 (ESV)

The letter by Jude is short with only 25 verses. It’s not one of the most read books in the New Testament yet it’s message is necessary for building our faith. Jude, a half-brother of Jesus Christ, wrote this letter to believers urging them to contend for the faith and to guard against and condemn the apostates. He called for discernment on the part of the church and for a rigorous defense of biblical truth.  The basis for our Christian life is our faith which is a gift from God. We became members of God’s family by His grace when we believed in Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is God’s desire that our faith grow stronger as it should be constantly increasing. This happens as we trust God in more and more areas of our lives. This growth in faith is the point of these verses. It is our responsibility to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. As we pay attention to what God teaches us about Himself through the Holy Spirit from what we hear taught in the Bible taught by preaching and study, we will be building ourselves up in our faith. 

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 November 4 – Properly Outfitted 

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:16–17 (ESV)

Depending on your counting, the Apostle Paul lists six or seven means of preparation faith believers need to have ready. Here two are defensive and one offensive armor pieces. These three are taken up when we are susceptible to an outbreak of lies? The Holy Spirit, through Paul gave us these instructions because He knew what we need in the battle. Everyday is a battle if we are walking obediently in the Spirit doing what Christ calls us to do. We are instructed to use our faith as a shield against the lies of Satan. They come at us from every angle and even from sources we may have trusted. Putting our faith in God’s promises is how we use our shied and stop those lies from getting to us. Our enemy tries to feed doubts into our thoughts and cause us to question our own salvation. The saved elect wear the helmet of salvation as a protection against such psychological attacks. And our knowledge of God’s word and putting it to practice is sharper than a double edge sword. Let’s stand firm therefore prepared for action defensively and offensively. 

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 September 28 – Easy Weight

“For 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)

Just yesterday we read the promise of Jesus that His yoke is easy and his burden is light. He offers to teach us how this is true. Today’s passage is from John the Apostle who continues the same promise. If we love God as He calls us to, we show that love by keeping the commandments He gives us.  Not many of us bow gracefully on our own under the commandments or restrictions that are laid upon us. We do not like the idea of being told by someone what we are to do. It can be difficult to buckle under to the mandates and the laws made by men. But not so with God’s commandments. It is our love of God that relieves us of any weight from keeping His commandments. Today’s promise is that God’s commandments are NOT burdensome. Why is this true? Because having been born of God we overcome the difficulties of obedience to God. What seems insurmountable we now overcome and we have our victory in this struggle. What is that victory? It is our faith in God. By faith we believe and this victory becomes ours. It’s how we love God and each other

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August 8 – The Good of Doing Good Works

“Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, awhile we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” – Galatians 6:9-10 (NASB)

We stress frequently that we cannot earn salvation and eternal life by doing good works. It is the gift of faith that brings us the grace we need to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. But good works are not to be forgotten. Doing good is a commandment in the Bible. We are promised that the good works we do in obedience to God will result in a harvest of righteousness. What we reap is lives that are saved from the wages of sin – death. (Romans 6:23) Humans can be a bit impatient however. When we do not see the positive results of our work for God, we are tempted to give up. We might even call it ‘burned out’ and we are also tempted to lose heart. Our calling as faith believers is to stay on task and trust that in due time, we will see results. Our good works are for all people, demonstrating the love and sacrifice Christ made for all the world. And even more, for all in the faith who are called children of God. When is the time to do good? It is “while we have opportunity” means NOW.

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