Right From Heaven Itself

God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all your sins. He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. COLOSSIANS 2:13–14

All the world religions can be placed in one of two camps: legalism or grace. Humankind does it or God does it. Salvation as a wage based on deeds done—or salvation as a gift based on Christ’s death.

A legalist believes the supreme force behind salvation is you. If you look right, speak right, and belong to the right segment of the right group, you will be saved. The brunt of responsibility doesn’t lie within God; it lies within you.

The result? The outside sparkles. The talk is good and the step is true. But look closely. Listen carefully.

Something is missing. What is it? Joy. What’s there? Fear. (That you won’t do enough.) Arrogance. (That you have done enough.) Failure. (That you have made a mistake.) …

Spiritual life is not a human endeavor. It is rooted in and orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Every spiritual achievement is created and energized by God.

He Still Moves Stones

A Man Worthy of Our Praise

Matthew 8:23-27

In today’s reading from Matthew 8, the men who traveled with Jesus on a stormy night asked something that ought to make us sit up and take notice: “What kind of a man is this . . . ?” (v. 27). We would do well to ponder that same question. Then we’ll begin to see the big picture of who Jesus is.

The Lord and His disciples were making their way across the Sea of Galilee to the region of the Gadarenes. Then a powerful storm hit—imagine a violent wind causing such turbulence that waves were covering the deck of their wooden boat (v. 24). Even the experienced seamen on board were certain that their death was imminent.

But Jesus was sleeping. He was resting quietly during a storm so frightening that the writer chose the Greek word seismos to describe it. (Our phrase “seismic activity,” which is used of earthquakes, comes from the same root.) What kind of man is this who can sleep while the boat heaves and pitches? The answer is, the One who created the seas and knows how a storm brews and what energy causes a wave to stay in motion. That’s the kind of man—a divine Being cloaked in humanity, who rebuked the winds and sea so that they became perfectly calm.

Scripture indicates that both the air and the water were instantly stilled. Such is the power of Jesus, the Creator and Lord over the universe. All the Bible stories about Him add to the big picture that He is the only man worthy of glory, honor, and praise (Dan. 7:13-14; Rev. 5:12).

Pray, Oh Pray

“Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas . . . and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:29-30)

The well-known account of the Philippian jailer is mentioned in the hymn “Brethren, We Have Met to Worship.” Paul and Silas were wrongly imprisoned for the gospel’s sake, yet they “prayed, and sang praises unto God” (Acts 16:25). God answered their prayer, and the jailer turned to them for rescue. This was the start of ministry on the European continent.

Is there here a trembling jailer,
Seeking grace, and filled with tears?
Is there here a weeping Mary,
Pouring forth a flood of tears?
Brethren, join your cries to help them;
Sisters, let your prayers abound;
Pray, Oh pray that holy manna
May be scattered all around.

The “weeping Mary” is either the mourning sister of Lazarus (John 11) or Mary Magdalene, who met her risen Lord outside the tomb (John 20:11-15). All the tears were very real. Heartache and tears should drive us to prayer, to the One who can answer, fill, and heal.

We are told that if we pray “according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:15). But even if we don’t know His will in a particular situation, we can still pray, for “the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

So, brothers and sisters, pray. JDM

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.—Romans 8:2.

NOT yet thou knowest what I do
Within thine own weak breast,
To mould thee to My image true,
And fit thee for My rest.
But yield thee to My loving skill;
The veiled work of grace,
From day to day progressing still,
It is not thine to trace.
FRANCES R. HAVERGAL.

GOD will have the service which comes of a sound mind and a joyous heart; and nothing more impedes and impairs soundness of mind and joyousness of heart than petty scruples. EDWARD M. GOULBURN.

Be content to go on quietly. When you discover somewhat in yourself which is earthly and imperfect, be patient while you strive to cast it out. Your perceptions will grow,—at first God will show you very obvious stumbling blocks;—be diligent in clearing these away, and do not aim at heights to which you are not yet equal. Leave all to God, and while you earnestly desire that He would purify your intention, and seek to work with Him to that end, be satisfied with the gradual progress He sets before you; and remember that He often works in ways unseen by us. JEAN NICOLAS GROU.

Noah was a just man

Noah was a just man. Genesis 6:9

The just shall live by faith. — Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour. — The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge ofsin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe for there is no difference.

We … joy in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect ? It is God that justifieth. — Whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified.

Galatians 3:11. Genesis 8:20,21. Revelation 13:8. Romans 5:1. Romans 3:20-22. Romans 5:11. Romans 8:33. Romans 8:30.

The entrance of thy words giveth light

The entrance of thy words giveth light. Psalm 119:130

This … is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. — God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. — The Word was God.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. — If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. — Ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light. — Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

1 John 1:5. 2 Corinthians 4:6. John 1:1,4. 1 John 1:7. Psalm 119:11. John 15:3. Ephesians 5:8. 1 Peter 2:9.