Starting Point

Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered. Job 36:26

Our minds jump into overdrive when we encounter obstacles, tension or conflict: We frantically search for a solution by getting as much information as we can. We consider our resources and weigh our options as we scurry toward a solution.

When the twelve spies entered the Promised Land their mission was simple: discover what they could about the land God had promised to give them. But somewhere during their excursion, they forgot. They stopped looking through the lens of God’s power and focusing on their own. When the ten spies declared that they could not take the land, they were partially right. In their own strength they did not stand a chance. Only Joshua and Caleb began with God’s power in mind. They remembered God’s faithfulness and made decisions from this starting point. God had parted deep waters before them, provided food from the sky, and guided them by a pillar of light at night and a supernatural cloud at day.

While we may not be conquering a land, we have the same choice when faced with problems and obstacles. Will we start with God’s faithfulness and power in mind?

I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God’s hands, that I still possess. Martin Luther

Are You Experiencing God’s Love?

Ephesians 3:17-19

In today’s passage, Paul prays that the Ephesians will grasp the depth of Christ’s love. Though divine care is beyond human comprehension, the apostle says God will give spiritual understanding so we can experience Him more fully. But there are four things that keep us from getting a handle on His love and resting in it.

1. We think God’s acceptance is imperfect and conditional like ours. Yet the Bible tells us that His compassion comes from His character and is not dependent upon our morality, choices, or thoughts. (See Rom. 5:8.)

2. When we recognize our sin, we often experience guilt. Sometimes this leads to feeling unworthy of the Father’s ultimate love. Instead, let a guilty conscience lead you back to God so that you can repent. Realize that His love and forgiveness are greater than any sin. He promises that there is no condemnation for His followers (Rom. 8:1).

3. There are some teachers who encourage legalism. This traps a person into feeling he or she must earn God’s favor. It also contradicts the divine truth that our Father loves His children without condition.

4. Some of us have a difficult time reconciling God’s love with His discipline. These can exist together, however. His correction flows from compassion, just as loving parents must redirect their children.

Recognizing God’s love will bring peace and joy to your life. At the same time, it doesn’t give license to sin. Like any caring father, the Lord will use discipline to bring you back to Him. Instead, why not let His love motivate you to walk in a holy and obedient manner before Him?

Showing the Way of Salvation

“The same [a demon-possessed servant girl] followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17)

Paul and Luke first witnessed to European unbelievers in Philippi and saw them wonderfully converted (v. 14), but a young “soothsayer” continually interrupted them, mocking and interfering. Paul cast out the controlling spirit of divination (v. 18), denying her owners their source of income. In retribution, they convinced the city leaders to have them brutally flogged and thrown into the innermost prison (v. 24).

But God had other plans. A mighty earthquake seemingly freed them, causing the jailer to prefer suicide rather than face capital charges for his “offense.” Paul intervened, and the jailer desperately pled, “What must I do to be saved?” (v. 30).

What would cause a Roman official in a decidedly pagan culture, who had heard little (if anything) of the truth, to abruptly turn to God for salvation? Certainly the earthquake had captured his attention, as had Paul’s behavior through his trial and abuse, but what made him think the truth was with Paul? Why did he ask for salvation from an incarcerated prisoner?

Perhaps during the trial he had heard of the slave girl’s testimony. In our text she had exclaimed, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” Was this ringing testimony, given in derision but heard nonetheless, involved in his decision?

We can’t know for sure, but we do know that this was the introduction of the gospel to Europe. Surely God’s ultimate plan can be seen in the events at Philippi that day. Even the unknowing truth from a demonic soothsayer contained lasting truth. Christians should never hesitate to declare gospel truth, for God will not allow it to go unheeded (Isaiah 55:11). JDM

Behold the Marvels of God

Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. —Revelation 5:12

If a doctor saves a man who has only a runny nose, he wouldn’t write a book about it. He didn’t do much. The fellow would get well anyhow. But the doctor who takes a man with a brain tumor, puts him asleep and, with great care, prayer and skill, brings that man back to life—he has done something.

He “saved a wretch like me.” He “turned all our blame into endless worship.” I believe the Bible teaches—our Lord hinted at it and Paul developed it further—that the day will come when they will gather around us from everywhere, and say, “Behold the marvels of God.” You read in the book of Acts (_Acts_4:14) of seeing the man that was healed standing among them, and they could say nothing. And seeing that wicked sinner standing there, we can only say, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain” (Revelation 5:12). And worthy is the goodness of God that out of His infinite kindness, His unchanging, perfect lovingkindness, He made amends for us, “full, fair and many,” turning all our sin into endless worship.

Great God, You are indeed worthy to receive praise and honor and glory and blessing, because You brought about the marvelous work of redemption. I’ll worship You for all eternity, beginning even now. Amen.

Our Human Psychology

God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. (1 Corinthians 1:27)

To meet the kind of temptations and enemies confronting us in this world, it is not enough for us to stick out our chins, inflate our chests and mutter the old refrain, “Never Say Die!”

Since I have been a Christian, I have had a negative reaction to that kind of human psychology. I do not mind saying that my favorite hymns are not those that exhort me to flex my biceps and tell the world where to get off! That is not my philosophy because it would put my confidence in the wrong place. If my faith, my belief, my confidence are in myself, then they cannot at the same time be resting in God!

The Bible tells us to believe in God and put our trust in Him. It warns us against having any confidence in the flesh. So I do not want some voice exhorting me to “Rise up, O man of God; go forth to face the foe”—and all of that. I would rather go to a place of prayer, meet God there and then let Him face the world for me.

We rest our case completely on God—then our experiences proceed by faith, through faith and in faith! Our victory must be God’s victory first!

Our Lord Jesus, by his death

Our Lord Jesus, by his death, did not purchase a right to a part of us only, but to the entire man. He contemplated in his passion the sanctification of us wholly, spirit, soul, and body. It is the business of the new-born nature which God has given to the regenerate to assert the rights of the Lord Jesus Christ. My soul, so far as thou art a child of God, thou must conquer all the rest of thyself which yet remains unblest; thou must subdue all thy powers and passions to the silver scepter of Jesus’ gracious reign, and thou must never be satisfied till he who is king by purchase becomes also king by gracious coronation and reigns in thee supreme.