“You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. ” – Psalm 73:24-25 (ESV)
Let’s take a moment and consider the first promise. We are guided by God and He does so according to His counsel which is without fault and prefect in wisdom. Understanding these verses really requires reading them in context with the whole psalm. He faces temptation and nearly slips into the evils of envious arrogance (v. 2-3). The author is in conflict inwardly (vs. 14-15) Embarrassed as to how to act, he finds deliverance from his dilemma (v.16). He ends up with this declaration. The Psalmist acknowledges that it is God who guides us and it is also God who sees to us being received in glory. He thus declares his allegiance to God. We truly have no one besides God who will guarantee, and assure our eternal future in heaven. Another promise is here in the next verse (v. 26) that God is the strength of our heart and His portion is our best possession. Hence, there is nothing on earth that should capture our desire besides God. Let’s not buck against this but instead, with Asaph, the Psalms author, let’s make the Lord God our refuge and testify of all His works (v. 28).
“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.
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” – Jude 24–25 (ESV)
How is it that we’ve received this promise from God? After all, we possess very little perfection to keep us from stumbling⸺actually no perfection or ability of our own. But, in this one-chapter book of Jude, we are promised that “Him who is able to keep you from stumbling…does so in order to present us blameless to God.” Wow! If that is not a promise that causes our hearts to leap for joy, it should. The ‘Him’ is God the Holy Spirit. After saving us by grace through faith⸺a bundled gift from God⸺we are promised that we will stand before the one and only God who chose to save us and we will do that through what the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. It is a bit mind blowing if we mediate on this promise. God is One and he is able to keep us from stumbling. God’s Holy Spirit presents us blameless in the glorious presence of God who saved us according to His will. All this is accomplished because God the Son provided a way through His obedience to death on a cross and God raised Him up from the tomb.
“Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.” Psalm 66:1-3 (ESV)
Psalm 66 in its entirety is the story God’s dealings with His people, especially how He dealt with Israel in helping them escape slavery in Egypt and find how God wanted them to worship Him. We can know how great God’s power is from this passage. So great that His enemies cringe before Him. What He does is awesome and God is deserving of our praise, worship and to receive glory through what He does. In this Psalm, there is also a warning given as a promise of what God will NOT do if we cling to our sinful ways. “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear;” Psalm 66:18 (NASB) We cannot pray through a screen of wicked behavior and habitual sin. SOMETIMES people quote promises, and say that God is bound to fulfill those promises to them, when all the time there is some sin in their lives they are not willing to give up. It is well for us to search our hearts, and find out why it is that our prayers are not answered. Psalm, 19-20, confirms that if we are confessing our sin, God hears and will not turn away from our prayers.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (NASB)
The signs of Christmas are all around us. Drive through Christmas themed parks, popular movies, even the commercials and advertisements which push the common Christmas message which began two months ago. We’ve seen the lights for some time and are now hearing the music of Christmas carols and seasonal holiday songs. The true meaning of this celebration is found in today’s verse from the first chapter of the Gospel of John. It tells us what those who saw Jesus when He was here on earth understood of the event that we celebrate at Christmas. As a disciple who knew and walked with Jesus, John says that they got to see His glory. John was not with the shepherds near Bethlehem who saw God’s glory the night Jesus was born. The glory Peter, James and John saw when Jesus was transfigured and his glory was manifest, and the glory other disciples saw was in His person because He was God in human form. This Christmas season, remember the promise of grace and truth and that Jesus is with us today we we can see His glory in the things He does for us because He lives in us.
“It is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:15 (ESV )
Gratitude is a positive and joyful emotion and especially so when it is for what God has for us. We have a sense of joyful appreciation for his grace. Does that mean, in a sense, we are still the beneficiaries of the very emotion of gratitude. By its very nature, gratitude exalts the giver. When we feel thankful, we acknowledge our need and God’s fullness, the riches of his glory. Just as when we humble ourselves and exalt the service provider in when we say, “Thank you,” so we humble ourselves and exalt God when we even feel gratitude to him. The difference, of course, is that we really are infinitely in debt to God for his grace, and everything he does for us is free and undeserved. The wonderful thing about the gospel is that the response it requires from us for God’s glory is most natural and; namely, thankfulness for grace. God’s all-supplying glory in giving and our humble gladness in receiving are not in competition. Joyful thankfulness glorifies God. A life that gives glory to God for his grace and a life of deepest gladness are the same life. And what makes them one is thankfulness.
Thanks to Desiring God and John Piper for this contribution.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6 (ESV)
Our Father in heaven has done so very much for us. Our Bible verse today reminds us of one of His acts that has affected our lives in a meaningful way. That act is God’s creation of light in the very beginning. He is a God of light in many ways and our verse reminds us that He brings light into our hearts. Without the light of God in our lives we are filled with darkness. In the beginning when the foundations of the world were created, the dark world was lit up when God said, ‘Let there be light’. More exactly, daytime was distinguished from nighttime by the creation of light. Without light, there is only darkness. We can know how wonderful it is that we don’t have to live in that darkness or with it in our hearts? God has made his light shine in our hearts and it is a glorious light for us who have believed. Let’s be encouraged today as we recognize that God is a God of glory and He wants us to know of His glory. It is a promise that will bring light to our hearts and to our lives.