The Casters – Victory
The Casters – Victory
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1
Recently, we took our twenty-two-month-old granddaughter, Moriah, overnight for the first time without her older brothers. We lavished lots of loving, undivided attention on her, and had fun doing the things she likes to do. The next day after dropping her off, we said our goodbyes and headed out the door. As we did, without a word Moriah grabbed her overnight bag (still sitting by the door) and began following us.
The picture is etched in my memory: Moriah in her diaper and mismatched sandals ready to depart with Grandma and Grandpa again. Every time I think of it, I smile. She was eager to go with us, ready for more individualized time.
Although she is as yet unable to vocalize it, our granddaughter feels loved and valued. In a small way, our love for Moriah is a picture of the love God has for us, His children. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).
When we believe in Jesus as our Savior, we become His children and begin to understand the lavish love He bestowed on us by dying for us (v. 16). Our desire becomes to please Him in what we say and do (v. 6)—and to love Him, eager to spend time with Him.
Dear Lord, thank You for loving us so much that You died for us and rose again that we might have eternal life with You. Help us to be examples of Your love to all we meet.
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How deep is the Father’s love for us!
Another great statement on God’s love is found in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This dovetails with the key verse in today’s devotional because God’s love that declares us His beloved children is made available to us by Jesus’s sacrifice on our behalf. He has proven His love on the cross and lavishes that love in relationship—revealing a divine love that could not be satisfied any other way. John 3:16 says that God gave His Son for us. His unquenchable love for us could only be satisfied by doing everything it took to reconcile us to Himself.
Every night before falling asleep, I write down my goals for the following day. Upon waking, I read through the list in order to focus my energy on what is most important. If this were not part of my routine, the limited hours available would not be utilized effectively.
The Bible clearly teaches us to use our days wisely. Time is a gift. Almighty God has given each person a span of days to live on earth. But our life is fleeting and uncertain—James compares it to a vapor that “appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Time is also irrevocable—we cannot simply go back and start over.
Considering this, it is foolish to waste such a precious resource. Yet all too often we do. Let’s be alert so we can avoid the following hindrances to living fully and purposefully:
Misplaced priorities result in wasted opportunities. Our values will determine the emphasis we place on each activity and the amount of time we allot to it.
Procrastination and perfectionism soak up valuable time. Avoiding both will help us make the most of our contributions to the kingdom of God.
Lack of concentration drains time of its potential. For example, we have to train ourselves to focus on reading God’s Word and not to get sidetracked.
What values determine how you utilize your time? Is there something that keeps you from living each moment in a way that pleases the Lord? Since it’s not possible to redo days you wish had turned out differently, ask God’s guidance and live more intentionally.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
The marvelous “faith chapter,” Hebrews 11, is an amazing chapter. Here, faith is defined not as some intangible wishfulness but as “substance” and “evidence.” Let us look closely.
First of all, faith must have a legitimate object, nothing less than the mighty Creator by whom “the worlds were framed” (v. 3) out of nothing but His omnipotent Word.
Beyond this, faith is further defined not by what it is but by what it does! The man of faith comes to God by “a more excellent sacrifice,” like that of Abel (v. 4), typifying the sacrifice of Christ. Faith will, like Enoch, live to please God (v. 5), and will, like Noah, prepare an Ark (i.e., do whatever necessary out of obedience to God) “to the saving of his house” (v. 7).
True faith will, like Abraham, go out as God leads, “not knowing whither he went,” even “dwelling in tabernacles” (literally “tents”) (vv. 8-9) if need be, as he looks for that city with sure “foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (v. 10). Such faith will even, like Abraham, offer up to God the greatest love and joy of his life, knowing that God will keep His Word (vv. 17-19).
Like Moses, the man of genuine faith will choose rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (v. 25). Faith is even willing to be “stoned . . . sawn asunder . . . slain with the sword,” if need be, for the promises of God (vv. 37, 39).
We are saved by grace through faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9), but since we are “created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10), our faith should motivate us to action. “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). HMM
Asa died under a cloud, but the Lord had mercy upon his people and found them a worthy ruler in Jehoshaphat, the good son of a good father, of whose early days we read in—
2 Chronicles 17:1
For Ahab, who had been some years upon the throne of Israel, was an active and warlike prince, and could only be held in check by vigorous measures. Jehoshaphat did not, like his father, trust in Syria, but used lawful means for defence.
2 Chronicles 17:2-3
Observe the distinction between David’s first and last ways. What a pity that such a distinction had to be made. Alas, many good people have their first warm, zealous, consistent ways, but gradually decline from their first love and grow cold and worldly. In every man’s character we should imitate only that which is good, and we should not allow the faults of good men to influence us for evil. Jehoshaphat was clear of idolatry, and was not seduced to worship Baal by the example of his neighbours.
2 Chronicles 17:4-6
The lifting up of Jehoshaphat’s heart is meant to set forth his zeal and delight in obedience to Jehovah. It is well when it is our joy to serve God, for then our service is real and from the heart. The Lord made the king popular with his people, so that they gave him many voluntary presents, but this did not make him proud; rather, by God’s grace, the more he was exalted the more he exulted in the Lord.
2 Chronicles 17:7
Princes and judges have great influence, and when they give their minds to the promotion of virtue they can accomplish great things. May God teach our princes and great men, and then they will become beneficial to the nation.
2 Chronicles 17:8, 9
The instruction given by the judge was backed up and sanctified by the sacred teaching of the priests and Levites. Education is of small value if separated from religion; there is more need that the people should know their Bibles than anything else. Ministers, when they teach, should carry their Bibles with them, to give weight to. their words, and force conviction upon all who hear them.
2 Chronicles 17:10
When we are right with God he will make things right all around. He stills the raging of the sea, and the tumult of the people; and when he gives peace none can disquiet us.
O greatly bless’d the people are
The joyful sound that know;
In brightness of thy face, O Lord,
They ever on shall go.
They in thy name shall all the day
And in thy righteousness shall they
Exalted be on high.
For God is our defence; and He
To us doth safety bring:
The Holy One of Israel
Is our Almighty King.
Romans 8:38, 39
When the apostle Paul wrote the above verses, he had been facing grueling times because he was a Christian. He had suffered rejection from friends, persecution from the government, and had spent many months of his life in an isolated prison cell. But regardless of what people or the circumstances of life did to him, Paul had discovered a vital truth: Nothing that occurs in this life has the power to separate a believer from the love of God.
That is why Paul said, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38, 39).
Notice that Paul said, “For I am persuaded…” The word “persuaded” is the Greek word peitho. It means to be persuaded, to be convinced, or to be swayed font one opinion to the opinion held by another. This word describes a person who has been coaxed from a particular conviction to embrace a different one. Furthermore, the Greek tense implies that this was a persuasion that had occurred to Paul in the past but is still so strong that it continues to be his conviction in the present. He was persuaded, and he continues to be persuaded. It could therefore be translated, “For I have been persuaded, and I remain convinced….”
The word “death” is the Greek word thanatos, the Greek word for physical death, but it can also be used to depict mortal danger or a dangerous circumstance. In this case, Paul’s primary meaning is that the love of God is so strong, even physical death cannot separate us from His divine love. Death may separate us from the earth and from people we love, but it is impossible for death to separate us from the love of God, for God’s love doesn’t stop with the cessation of life.
It is a fact that many believers feel overwhelmed by the situations they face in life. In fact, they often feel so confused and weighed down that they wonder if God is still near to them. This is precisely why Paul adds that even life cannot separate a believer from the love of Jesus Christ.
Just as the word thanatos describes physical death, this particular word for “life,” the Greek word zoe, refers to physical life. Paul uses this word to let us know that neither the cessation of one’s physical life nor the complex issues and events related to one’s life on this earth are strong enough to separate a believer from the love of God.
Next, Paul lets us know that no spiritual being, good or bad, has enough power to separate us from God’s love. The word “angels” is the Greek word angelos, which refers to brilliant, spiritual, angelic beings. Such angelic beings are extraordinarily strong, as is evidenced by hundreds of scriptures in both the Old and New Testament.
The word “principalities” is from the word archai. This is the same word that Paul uses in Ephesians 6:12, where he describes the rank and file of the devil’s kingdom. The word archai is the plural for archos, the Greek word for a ruler or one who has long held a lofty position of power. The plural version of this word depicts an entire group of high-ranking demon spirits that have held their positions of power since the most ancient times. Although angels and demonic powers are indeed strong, they are not strong enough to disconnect a believer from God’s love.
Paul also mentions “powers.” This is taken from the word dunamis, which is the Greek word that sometimes depicted the powerful governments of men. Certainly Paul had been arrested, bound, and restricted by evil governments on many occasions, but none of these actions were ever sufficiently powerful to separate him from the love of God. A jail cell may have separated Paul from other believers. However, even in the deepest, darkest, most gruesome prison cell, Paul tangibly felt and personally experienced the love of God.
In addition to these points Paul has already mentioned, he uses the phrase “things present” to let us know that nothing that currently exists is able to prevent a person from experiencing God’s love. The words “things present” are derived from the Greek word enistemi, a compound of the words en and histemi. The word en means in, and the word histemi means to stand. Thus, when these two words are joined to form the word enistemi, the new word describes something that is presently standing in its place. In this case, it means nothing presently existing or nothing that currently stands is sufficient to separate a believer from the all-powerful presence of God’s love.
But Paul doesn’t stop with the things that presently exist. He goes on to say that “things to come” are also not able to separate a believer from the love of God. The Greek word used here is from the word mello, and it describes events that will occur in the future. These are things that haven’t happened yet, but will take place in the days and years to come. Paul has already said that nothing currently existing is strong enough to separate a believer from the love of God. Now he boldly declares that nothing will ever happen in the future that will contain enough power to hinder a believer from knowing and experiencing God’s love.
As he continues, Paul also declares that neither “height, nor depth” shall be able to separate us from the love of God. The word “height” is the Greek word hupsuma, which expresses the notion of something that is overhead. It would include anything that is lofty, such as the sky and the heavens above. The word “depth” is the word bathos, the Greek word that expresses the notion of something that is exceedingly deep, like the deepest, darkest parts of the sea. Now Paul uses these illustrations to say that nothing in the sky or in the deepest parts of the earth has the power to keep one of God’s children from knowing and experiencing His love.
To make sure absolutely everything is included in this comprehensive list, Paul adds “any other creature” to the list. The word “creature” is the Greek word ktisis, and it categorically refers to all created things in both the physical and spiritual worlds. Absolutely nothing in either of these spheres “… shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The words “shall be able” is from the word dunamai, which describes strength, capacity, or ability. The word “separate” is the Greek word choridzo, meaning to sunder, to sever, to disunite, to tear apart, to disconnect, to cut off, to disengage, or to withdraw. Notice that Paul says that nothing is capable of tearing a believer “from” the love of God. The word “from” is the Greek word apo, which means away and implies distance. This clearly means that there is nothing that can put distance between a believer and his Heavenly Father.
In light of the meanings of these Greek words in Romans 8:38 and 39, an interpretive translation of this verse could read:
“I have been persuaded, and I remain convinced, that neither death, nor the complications that often arise in life, nor powerful angelic beings, nor even an entire group of high-ranking demonic spirits, nor anything that currently exists, nor anything that could potentially happen in the future, nor any political power, nor anything in the highest heavens, nor anything that resides in the deepest depths, nor anything that has ever been created is capable of disconnecting us from the love of God or of putting any distance between us and the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Never forget this message Paul proclaimed. Nothing in this world has enough power to disconnect you from the love of God. No angel, no demon, no government, no creature—and no mistake of your own making—will ever be capable of cutting you off from the love of God. God’s love is greater than man will ever be able to comprehend. It reaches to the highest mountain, and it penetrates to the lowest parts of the earth. Regardless of what you are facing in your life today, God’s love is with you—and nothing will ever be able to disconnect you from this awesome, powerful, all-consuming love!
Lord, I am so thankful for Your love that never fails me and never deserts me. I am filled with gratitude that nothing in this world has the power to disconnect me from Your awesome, powerful, life-changing love. In moments when I feel overwhelmed by circumstances or problems, I ask that You give me a special awareness of Your unfailing love in my life.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that God’s love is with me and never leaves me. There is nothing that can happen in this world or in my life to disconnect me from His awesome, powerful, wonderworking, life-transforming love. I walk through each day in peace because I know that the Lord loves me. I have been persuaded, and I remained absolutely convinced, that nothing can separate me from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ my Lord!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Chaos and societal disintegration seem to reign.
Good people are squashed as scoundrels cruise past us unscathed.
Natural disasters and wars crush innumerable innocents, while the exploitive, wily, and manipulative rule, imbibing on life’s delectables.
A rational observer would conclude that the forces of Light are losing to the forces of the Darkness.
Prior to the cross, Jesus willingly surrendered to a lynch mob, to be strung up, mocked and murdered. As the inquisition began, He commented, “This is your hour when darkness reigns.” (Luke 22:53)
How often have you personally felt that this was your hour when Darkness reigns, as you struggled with:
If we are to win in our epic battle between good and evil, we need to view it through Jesus’ eyes, because He is the One who understands that the Enemy has already been defeated and the victory has been secured. As the preacher said, “Today is Friday, (crucifixion day) but Sunday is coming!” (Resurrection Day).
The truth is that Sunday has already come and the victory has already been secured:
Paul was sent to the lost “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:18) (See Luke 4:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6; Ephesians 1:18; 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:4-8)
“[Christ] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves.” (Colossians 1:13) (See John 8:31, 32; Romans 6:17-22; Hebrews 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 2:8)
“Satan, who leads the whole world astray… was hurled to the earth… ” (Revelation 12:9b) (See Isaiah 14:12)
Be reassured by Christ’s encouragement that “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world… because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (John 16:33b; 1 John 4:4b) (See Romans 8:35-37; Galatians 1:4; 1 John 5:4; Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 22; 12:11)
So today, will you choose to rest in the fact that because Sunday has already come, the victory has been won for you? Will you this very moment choose to appropriate and enjoy His triumph?