VIDEO The Joy of Salvation

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit. Psalm 51:12

We all know this well-known proverb: “You never miss the water till the well runs dry”—and some of us have experienced it. We never realized what a great friend a person was until they moved away. We never realized the blessings of our church home until a relocation took us to a new city. And, it’s possible, we never realized the joy of our salvation until we found ourselves without that joy.

That’s what happened to David, the king of Israel. We know of his sins: adultery with Bathsheba and complicity in the murder of her husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11–12). It was not until Bathsheba bore David a son that he repented of his sins. For almost a year, he lived without the joy of his salvation—possibly described in Psalm 32. In Psalm 51, we have David’s heartfelt prayer of confession to God. And in verse 12 we have his request for what he had lost: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.”

It’s easy to take salvation for granted. But when sins, attitudes, and behaviors lead us into darkness, we suddenly realize what we have lost: joy. Fortunately, joy is only a prayer away.

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The Joy of Salvation, Psalm 51 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

The Language of the Cross

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Pastor Tim Keller said, “Nobody ever learns who they are by being told. They must be shown.” In a sense, it’s one application of the adage, “Actions speak louder than words.” Spouses show their mates that they’re appreciated by listening to them and loving them. Parents show their children they’re valued by lovingly caring for them. Coaches show athletes they have potential by investing in their development. And on it goes. By the same token, a different kind of action can show people painful things that communicate much darker messages.

Of all the action-based messages in the universe, there’s one that matters most. When we want to be shown who we are in God’s eyes, we need look no further than His actions on the cross. In Romans 5:8, Paul wrote, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” The cross shows us who we are: those whom God so loved that He gave His one and only Son for us (John 3:16).

Against the mixed messages and confusing actions of broken people in a broken culture, the message of God’s heart rings clear. Who are you? You’re the one so loved by God that He gave His Son for Your rescue. Consider the price He paid for you and the wonderful reality that, to Him, you were always worth it.

By:  Bill Crowder

Reflect & Pray

How have you been defining your worth? What false messages might you need to discard or reject in exchange for comprehending the value that God places on you?

Father, I can never understand why You would love me so much or give Your Son for my forgiveness. Your love is unsearchable and Your grace is amazing. Thank You for making me Your child!

See The 4-D Love of God at DiscoverTheWord.org/series/the-4-d-love-of-god.

The Best Gift

James 1:16-18

Our heavenly Father showers us with many good gifts, but the one that excels them all is His Son (John 3:16). The eternal Creator of all things wrapped Himself in human flesh to enter time and space as a baby. Although He appeared insignificant to the world, He was the best and most needed gift we have ever received.

Sin has ruined the human race, leaving us under God’s wrath and in a desperate condition. We need forgiveness of sins, deliverance from divine judgment, and the removal of our guilt. Jesus came to do all this for those of us who receive Him through faith.

But God’s gift of His Son doesn’t end there. When we trust in Christ for salvation, we become the Father’s beloved children, who will receive a glorious inheritance in heaven. And in the meantime He provides whatever we need for life and godliness.

Have you by faith received the gift of God’s Son, or have you kept Him as a baby in the manger, to be remembered only on Christmas? If you trust in Him today, you will enjoy the remarkable blessings that are found only in Christ.

Fringe Issues

“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient.” (2 Timothy 2:24)

One of the plagues of modern-day Christendom is that many take up side issues and deem them all-important—a point of separation between them and other Christians. Health foods, dress codes, and church constitutions are not unimportant, but Christians can hold different opinions and still be walking with God. Note the scriptural admonitions: “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace [i.e., primary issues]; not with meats [i.e., fringe issues], which have not profited them that have been occupied therein” (Hebrews 13:9); “foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes” (2 Timothy 2:23).

On the other hand, there are many scriptural commands to hold “fast the faithful word” (Titus 1:9); to “keep that which is committed to thy trust” (1 Timothy 6:20). Many of these points of “sound doctrine” (Titus 1:9) are absolutely essential, such as the deity of Christ, the authority of Scripture, salvation by grace, the resurrection of Christ, and many others clearly and specifically taught in Scripture. Perhaps the rule might be, if it’s an essential doctrine, teach and defend it at all costs; if it’s a secondary doctrine, teach it in “meekness” and love (2 Timothy 2:25). But if it’s a fringe issue, avoid strife over it, allowing brothers to exercise their freedom.

Is creationism a fringe issue? No! Few doctrines are so clearly taught in Scripture. Is it crucial to salvation? No! But it is essential to adequately understand the great primary doctrines for it is foundational to them all. Furthermore, it is the subject of origins, which the enemy has identified as a major battleground, vowing to destroy Christianity over this issue. Here we must stand if we are to guard our faith. JDM

We May Expect Troubles

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. —John 16:33

We are all idealists. We picture to ourselves a life on earth completely free from every hindrance, a kind of spiritual Utopia where we can always control events, where we can move about as favorites of heaven, adjusting circumstances to suit ourselves. This we feel would be quite compatible with the life of faith and in keeping with the privileged place we hold as children of God.

In thinking thus we simply misplace ourselves; we mistake earth for heaven and expect conditions here below which can never be realized till we reach the better world above. While we live we may expect troubles, and plenty of them. We are never promised a life without problems as long as we remain among fallen men….

What then are we to do about our problems? We must learn to live with them until such time as God delivers us from them. If we cannot remove them, then we must pray for grace to endure them without murmuring. Problems patiently endured will work for our spiritual perfecting. They harm us only when we resist them or endure them unwillingly.   OGM121-122

Lord, I’m so homesick for heaven. But until You allow me to come home, I do indeed “pray for grace to endure [problems] without murmuring.” Amen.

Jesus Must Be Glorified

That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 15:6

The second point is: Be engrossed with Jesus Christ. Honor Him. John said: “But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39).

I ask you to note that the Spirit was given when Jesus was glorified. Now that is a principle. Remember…He came and spread Himself out as a flood upon the people because Jesus was glorified. He established a principle, and He will never, never flood the life of any man except the man in whom Jesus is glorified.

Therefore, if you dedicate yourself to the glory of Jesus, the Holy Ghost will become the aggressor and will seek to know you and raise you and illumine you and fill you and bless you….

To glorify Jesus is the business of the Church, and to glorify Jesus is the work of the Holy Ghost. HTB053-054

It is no task to the Christian to obey the commandments of God….The glory of God is the great end of his being. DTC200

What If?

1 John 4:9

Who has not played the mental game of “What if?” What if you had been born at a different time, in a different place? What if you were of the opposite sex? What if you were of a different race? What if you had been raised in a different country, by a different family?

Let’s play our little mental pastime with the historical occurrence of Christmas. What if God, through the Holy Spirit, had not placed His sacred seed within the womb of His chosen handmaiden, Mary? No reference ever again would have been made of an innkeeper, still unknown by name. Shepherds in Bethlehem fields would have slept through another cool night, with no angelic chorus to startle the world with a “Gloria in Excelsis” to resound with grandeur through years yet unborn.

What if God had not sent a great shining star coursing through the sky? What if no “little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay,” or holy child “born to be King?”

In my own heart, I know it’s much too good not to be true. But what if Christmas had never happened, if Jesus had never come?

Peter would never have been heard of. Paul’s Damascus Road experience would be unknown. No, it is really too good not to be true.

No cross would have found its sacred place in history, cherished, to be sung about and to be knelt before in worship of the figure hanging upon it. No “It is finished” (John 19:20) would have been spoken to make it possible for mankind to be freed from death and to enter into life forever with God himself. No empty tomb would announce victory over man’s last enemy.

This season of the year would not be happening. No Handel’s Messiah, no Bach’s Magnificat, no singing of “Silent Night.” No Christmas tree in the parlor, no children opening their gifts, no bells ringing their joyous carillon, no glowing candles splitting the darkness, no greeting cards from a myriad of friends, no sharing the thrilling announcement, “Unto you is born… a Savior which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11 KJV).

What if? Then, where would I go? To whom would I pray? How could I know that I am forever cleansed, redeemed, made holy and loved of God? Really and truly, it’s all just too good not to be true!

But what if, in sad absence of personal faith, you choose not to believe it? Yes, what if?

Stanley E. Ditmer, The War Cry