May 24, 2008
Only by grace can we enter
May 24, 2008
Only by grace can we enter
We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. —2 Corinthians 4:7
Gideon was an ordinary person. His story, recorded in Judges 6, inspires me. He was a farmer, and a timid one at that. When God called him to deliver Israel from the Midianites, Gideon’s initial response was “How can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judg. 6:15). God promised that He would be with Gideon and that he would be able to accomplish what he had been asked to do (v. 16). Gideon’s obedience brought victory to Israel, and he is listed as one of the great heroes of faith (Heb. 11:32).
Many other individuals played a significant part in this plan to save the Israelites from a strong enemy force. God provided Gideon with 300 men, valiant heroes all, to win the battle. We are not told their names, but their bravery and obedience are recorded in the Scriptures (Judg. 7:5-23).
Today, God is still calling ordinary people to do His work and assuring us that He will be with us as we do. Because we are ordinary people being used by God, it’s obvious that the power comes from God and not from us.
Lord, I am just an ordinary person, but You are an all-powerful God. I want to serve You. Please show me how and give me the strength.
God uses ordinary people to carry out His extraordinary plan.
By Poh Fang Chia
Will To Be Faithful
…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve… —Joshua 24:15
A person’s will is embodied in the actions of the whole person. I cannot give up my will— I must exercise it, putting it into action. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God’s Spirit. When God gives me a vision of truth, there is never a question of what He will do, but only of what I will do. The Lord has been placing in front of each of us some big proposals and plans. The best thing to do is to remember what you did before when you were touched by God. Recall the moment when you were saved, or first recognized Jesus, or realized some truth. It was easy then to yield your allegiance to God. Immediately recall those moments each time the Spirit of God brings some new proposal before you.
“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….” Your choice must be a deliberate determination— it is not something into which you will automatically drift. And everything else in your life will be held in temporary suspension until you make a decision. The proposal is between you and God— do not “confer with flesh and blood” about it (Galatians 1:16). With every new proposal, the people around us seem to become more and more isolated, and that is where the tension develops. God allows the opinion of His other saints to matter to you, and yet you become less and less certain that others really understand the step you are taking. You have no business trying to find out where God is leading— the only thing God will explain to you is Himself.
Openly declare to Him, “I will be faithful.” But remember that as soon as you choose to be faithful to Jesus Christ, “You are witnesses against yourselves…” (Joshua 24:22). Don’t consult with other Christians, but simply and freely declare before Him, “I will serve You.” Will to be faithful— and give other people credit for being faithful too.
By Oswald Chambers
Many people believe that piling up good works makes them right with the Lord. Yet when it comes to sin, death is the only payment that can satisfy divine justice (Romans 6:23). Since we all transgress, this leaves us in a desperate situation facing an eternity apart from God.
Grace, the expression of divine love and kindness to the utterly undeserving, prompted the solution: God sent His Son Jesus to die in our place. According to Romans 10:9, all we need to do is believe. Jesus’ death satisfied God’s justice and brought us:
New Life. Our spirit is made alive in Christ the moment we acknowledge we’re sinners, turn from our rebelliousness, and believe that His death paid our sin debt in full.
Freedom. At salvation, sin’s power over us is broken and we are set free from its hold. Jesus raised us up out of the quagmire of disobedience and gave us the faith to believe. Now we can exercise our newfound freedom and follow Him.
Security. When we accept God’s judgment that we are, by nature, sinners and acknowledge our Savior’s sacrifice as payment for our sins, we’re permanently adopted into the heavenly Father’s family. Our status changes instantly: Once objects of wrath, we are now children of God. Someday we will be seated in the heavenly realms with Christ to enjoy life everlasting with Him.
God, the very One against whom we rebelled, substituted His Son Jesus in our place to receive the punishment that was rightfully ours. How will you show your gratitude to God for His saving grace?
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
As the sun provides physical light for the world, so Jesus Christ is spiritually “the light of the world” (John 8:12). However, we clearly can see His light only through the light holder, the lamp, as it were, of His written Word. The Word, therefore, is a lamp and, since it contains and reveals the light, is also a light in its own right. Without the Holy Scriptures, this world would lie in the deepest darkness, but “the entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the living Word, and “without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:3-5). Although He “was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9), when He Himself came into the world, those who were made by Him refused to receive Him. “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).
Just so, although the written Word has come into the world, the world does not receive it, either. The lamp and the light of the written Word have been in the world (in complete and final form) for 1,900 years, but men still reject and ridicule it, and the world still lies in darkness. Nevertheless, for those who receive it, there is wonderful light. “Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light” (John 12:35-36).
God’s Word always brings light. His first spoken Word was: “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3), and wherever He speaks, God sees the light, and it is good! HMM
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. —Ephesians 4:15
In an effort to get the work of the Lord done we often lose contact with the Lord of the work and quite literally wear our people out as well. I have heard more than one pastor boast that his church was a “live” one, pointing to the printed calender as a proof—something on every night and several meetings during the day…. A great many of these time-consuming activities are useless and others plain ridiculous. “But,” say the eager beavers who run the religious squirrel cages, “they provide fellowship and they hold our people together.”
To this I reply that what they provide is not fellowship at all, and if that is the best thing the church has to offer to hold the people together it is not a Christian church in the New Testament meaning of that word. The center of attraction in a true church is the Lord Jesus Christ….
If the many activities engaged in by the average church led to the salvation of sinners or the perfecting of believers they would justify themselves easily and triumphantly; but they do not. My observations have led me to the belief that many, perhaps most, of the activities engaged in by the average church do not contribute in any way to the accomplishing of the true work of Christ on earth. I hope I am wrong, but I am afraid I am right.
Help us, Lord, to be willing even today to look at our church programs and evaluate what we do in the light of the truth of this challenge. Amen.
Then cried Jesus in the temple… I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. John 7:28
Too many people believe that truth is something that can be received and held by the intellect and that truth can be reduced to a code—just as we know and accept that two times two is four.
Two thousand years ago, the theological leaders marveled at Jesus. They said to one another, “How does this man know letters, having never learned?” and “How does He get His wonderful doctrine? He has never been to the schools of the rabbis.”
This tells us that those Jewish leaders held “the truth”—and you can spell it with capital letters if you please—to be intellectual merely, capable of being reduced to a code.
To them, there was no mysterious depth in divine Truth, nothing beneath and nothing beyond—two times two made four!
It was exactly here that they parted company with our Saviour, for the Lord Jesus constantly taught the “beyond” and the “beneath.” He showed them that He was simply a transparent medium through which God spoke.
He said, “My doctrine is not mine—I am not a rabbi just teaching doctrine that you can memorize and repeat. I say nothing for myself—what the Father speaks, that I speak!”
In His day or in our day, the rationalist sees no beyond and no mystic depths, no mysterious heights, nothing supernatural or divine. He holds the text and the code and the creed and passes it on to others. The result is we are dying spiritually!
They… are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. LUKE 8:14
I believe we are mistaken in Christian life and theology when we try to add the “deeper life” to an imperfect salvation obtained through an imperfect concept of the entire matter.
Under the working of the Spirit of God through men like Finney and Wesley, no one would ever have dared to say, “I am a Christian” if he had not surrendered his whole being, taking Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior!
Today, we let them say they are saved no matter how imperfect and incomplete the transaction, with the proviso that the deeper Christian life can be “tacked on” at some time in the future.
Brethren, I believe we must put the blame on faulty teaching—teaching that is filled with self-deception.
Let us look unto Jesus our Lord—high and holy, wearing the crown, Lord of lords and King of all, having a perfect right to command full obedience from all of His saved people!
O Lord, it is a real challenge in today’s world to filter out all the worldly “stuff” from our lives. Lord, help me to surrender the things in my life that are hindering the production of fruit for You.