VIDEO The Riches of the Destitute

…being justified freely by His grace… —Romans 3:24

The gospel of the grace of God awakens an intense longing in human souls and an equally intense resentment, because the truth that it reveals is not palatable or easy to swallow. There is a certain pride in people that causes them to give and give, but to come and accept a gift is another thing. I will give my life to martyrdom; I will dedicate my life to service— I will do anything. But do not humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me that all I have to do is accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.

We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution. As long as we are “rich,” particularly in the area of pride or independence, God can do nothing for us. It is only when we get hungry spiritually that we receive the Holy Spirit. The gift of the essential nature of God is placed and made effective in us by the Holy Spirit. He imparts to us the quickening life of Jesus, making us truly alive. He takes that which was “beyond” us and places it “within” us. And immediately, once “the beyond” has come “within,” it rises up to “the above,” and we are lifted into the kingdom where Jesus lives and reigns (see John 3:5).

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Jesus Christ is always unyielding to my claim to my right to myself. The one essential element in all our Lord’s teaching about discipleship is abandon, no calculation, no trace of self-interest.
Disciples Indeed


God’s Gift of Righteousness (Romans 3:21–25)

Insult to Injury

Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. Job 5:7

During the Golden Age of radio, Fred Allen (1894–1956) used comedic pessimism to bring smiles to a generation living in the shadows of economic depression and a world at war. His sense of humor was born out of personal pain. Having lost his mother before he was three, he was later estranged from his father who struggled with addictions. He once rescued a young boy from the traffic of a busy New York City street with a memorable, “What’s the matter with you, kid? Don’t you want to grow up and have troubles?”

The life of Job unfolds in such troubled realism. When his early expressions of faith eventually gave way to despair, his friends multiplied his pain by adding insult to injury. With good sounding arguments they insisted that if he could admit his wrongs (Job 4:7–8) and learn from God’s correction, he would find strength to laugh in the face of his problems (5:22).

Job’s “comforters” meant well while being so wrong (1:6–12). Never could they have imagined that they would one day be invoked as examples of “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” Never could they have imagined the relief of Job praying for them, or why they would need prayer at all (42:7–9). Never could they have imagined how they foreshadowed the accusers of the One who suffered so much misunderstanding to become the source of our greatest joys.

By:  Mart DeHaan

Reflect & Pray

How have others misjudged you, and how did you feel? When have you been critical of others whose pain you didn’t understand?

Father, like Job’s friends, I’m inclined to assume that the troubles of others are somehow deserved. Please help me live this day in the Spirit of Your Son rather than in the words and thoughts of the accuser.

Sunday Reflection: The Art of Confrontation

When difficult topics come up in a relationship, the best way to proceed is by listening to the Holy Spirit

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

Have you ever noticed how often Jesus said things people didn’t want to hear? He loved the rich young ruler but knew the prospect of giving up possessions would be distressing. Yet Jesus urged him anyway, because He wanted the young man to enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 19:16-22). Or consider the woman at the well—a conversation between a Jew and a Samaritan was taboo to begin with, but Jesus even brought up the disquieting topic of her relationships with multiple men. For Him, however, the discomfort was necessary to point her in the direction of eternal life (John 4:1-29).

It’s tempting to think that if we’re nice and pleasing, then we are handling our friendships in a Christlike way. But Scripture makes it clear that keeping the status quo isn’t a Christian value. Instead, our main priority is to follow God’s Spirit—even if He leads us into uncomfortable conversations with people we love. Though we should encourage friends more often than we confront them, ultimately we’re to rely on the Holy Spirit to know when—and how—to do both.

Think about it

  •  Are you inclined to avoid or engage in confrontation? How might that affect your response to the Spirit’s promptings?

The Intercessor

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

When we pray for others, we not only are helping to assure a good life for ourselves—as our text indicates—but, more importantly, we are thereby becoming more like Christ. On the cross itself, “he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12). Since His return to heaven, He has been continually occupied with His ministry of intercession. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Romans 8:34).

Not only is our resurrected, glorified Savior perpetually interceding for us in heaven, but also the indwelling Holy Spirit is praying for us here. “For we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit [Himself] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:26-27).

Now if both God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are always interceding for us before God the Father, we surely ought to be willing to spend time in prayer for others down here—not only for our loved ones, but even for those who have hurt us. Jesus said, “Pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44).

May God help us to be faithful in this vital ministry of intercession. HMM

First Movement: He Knows Everything (Omniscience)

Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away. You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, Lord. You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me. [This] extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to [reach] it (Psalm 139 vv. 1-6).

This magnificent psalm opens with a frightening assertion of God’s omniscience. Omniscience is a lofty theological term that means God knows everything—everything actual and everything possible. In fact, his knowledge covers both the realms of reality and the imagination.

God knew David inside out (v. 1). He knew what time he got up in the morning and what time he went to bed at night (vv. 2-3). He even knew David’s thoughts before he framed them into words (v. 4).

The New Testament confirms this attribute of God. “He [Jesus] did not need anyone to testify about man; for He Himself knew what was in man” (John 2:25). This is terrifying news to the one whose mind is riddled with sinful thoughts and who acts on those impulses.

But to the person who understands God’s unconditional love and acceptance, his omniscience is good news! Gloria Gaither’s profound phrase sums it up so well; “For the one who knows me best, loves me most,” This maximum exposure of my personality, combined with my Lord’s total acceptance of me, boggles my mind. It is also what makes the gospel so unbelievably thrilling!

Personal Prayer

Lord, you know everything about me, yet you love me anyway!

The Language of Music

Symphony

A Greek term for ‘sounding together.”

For all intents and purposes it is a sonata for orchestra. The most important form of orchestral music, it developed in the mid 18th century in a rather pure form and reached it’s highest development in Beethoven (who pulled, stretched, and expanded the form). Prime examples would be Beethovens nine symphonies or Brahm’s four symphonies.

Danger—the Devil at Work

Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.—1 Peter 5:8

A woman said to me once: “I think you are giving too much credit to the Devil. He is such an insignificant person compared to God that we ought not even mention his name.” In one way I can sympathize with this view, for when you listen to some Christians talk, you get the impression that they have a small God and a big devil.

It would be unrealistic to think, however, that we can go through life without coming into direct contact with Satan and his forces. What is even more unrealistic is to think that many (though certainly not all) of the problems which confront us day by day have no devilish strategy behind them.

Satan is responsible for more of our individual woes and international wars, our crime and violence, our human sorrow, sickness, and death than we may believe. The late Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said: “I am certain that one of the main causes of the ill state of the church today is the fact that the Devil is being forgotten…. We are ignorant of this great objective fact—the being, the existence of the Devil, the adversary, the accuser, and his fiery darts.”

Does the thought of doing battle with the Devil frighten you? Then heed the words of Corrie ten Boom, who said: “The fear of the Devil is most likely from the Devil himself.” God has given us all the protection we need to defend ourselves against the attacks of Satan, and when we know how to avail ourselves of this protection, we will no longer be afraid of the Devil. Rather, he will be afraid of us.

Prayer

O God, as I go deeper into this subject, I am becoming increasingly aware of the intensity of the spiritual battle in which I am engaged. Dispel every fear that may arise in me, and show me the way to power and victory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

2Co 2:1-11; 11:3; 2Th 2:9

What did Paul say about his knowledge of the Devil?

What was his reason?

The Mercy Seat

Romans 3:25

Over the years the penitent form has become an integral part of Salvationist identity. Countless seekers have found salvation at the mercy seat, and many more have found divine help and nurture. The mercy seat is situated between the platform and the main area of Army halls as a focal point to remind all of God’s reconciling and redeeming presence.

“We expect people to get saved and sanctified in Army meetings,” said General Paul A. Rader. He added: “Confidence in the power of the gospel and the saving and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit is central to our faith and worship.” Phil Needham states that it has value in a wider spiritual context: “The mercy seat should be utilized for any purpose involving prayer, including decision, confession, seeking guidance, rededication, thanksgiving, communion with God.”

Shortly before His death, Jesus assured His disciples that it was to their advantage to leave them (John 16:7). Describing Jesus as God’s provision for salvation, the Apostle Paul writes: “God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood” (Romans 3:25). Paul uses the Greek word hilasterion. The only other occurrence of the word in the New Testament is in Hebrews 9:5 (RSV) where it is translated “mercy seat.” In effect, Paul is saying, “God gave Jesus as a mercy seat.”

Through His life Jesus became the sign of God’s appearance; through His death and resurrection Jesus became the means of God’s atonement; through His ascension Jesus became the dispenser of God’s grace. Our kneeling at a symbolic mercy seat energizes this three-fold truth into reality.

At the mercy seat we meet Jesus—the full expression of God, the Word become flesh, God in understandable terms. Here is where Jesus speaks to us. Here is where we can receive His Spirit in greater measure. Here is where we can become more like Jesus, better enabled to present Him to the world. With the poet, Doris Rendell, we would pray:

We seek the healing of Thy cross,

The mercy of Thy grace.

Here at this sacred mercy seat

May we behold Thy face.

Here may we glimpse Thy holiness,

Here on our souls descend,

Here may we meet, and talk with Thee,

Our Master and our friend.

Nigel Bovey, The War Cry