In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7
The huge gaseous ball, the sun, converts around four million tons of hydrogen into energy every second. And it has been doing that every second for thousands of years and continues to do so. It is releasing energy right now. Whether you are asleep, awake, at work, or at play…the sun’s energy is pouring forth. Its energy is (for all practical purposes), never-ending.
Think of God’s grace and mercy the same way. Because God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), His grace and mercy are extended on a never-ending basis. Right now, you are receiving benefits “according to the riches of His grace.” You can’t receive God’s grace by your senses. But your mind can understand that His grace came to you, is coming to you, and will come to you for all your days.
The same grace that allowed you to be saved is also now building you up and keeping you from falling. Thank God for His never-ending grace and mercy.
Grace first inscribed my name in God’s eternal book; ‘twas grace that gave me to the Lamb, who all my sorrows took.Augustus Toplady
Martin Luther and the Forgiveness of Sins – Ephesians 1:7 8
Why can’t I stop thinking about it? My emotions were a tangled mess of sadness, guilt, anger, and confusion.
Years ago, I’d made the painful decision to cut ties with someone close to me, after attempts to address deeply hurtful behavior were merely met with dismissal and denial. Today, after hearing she was in town visiting, my thoughts had spiraled into hashing and rehashing the past.
As I struggled to calm my thoughts, I heard a song playing on the radio. The song expressed not just the anguish of betrayal, but also a profound longing for change and healing in the person who’d caused harm. Tears filled my eyes as I soaked in the haunting ballad giving voice to my own deepest longings.
“Love must be sincere,” the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:9, a reminder that not all that passes for love is genuine. Yet our heart’s deepest longing is to know real love—love that isn’t self-serving or manipulative, but compassionate and self-giving. Love that’s not a fear-driven need for control but a joyful commitment to each other’s well-being (vv. 10–13).
And that’s the good news, the gospel. Because of Jesus, we can finally know and share a love we can trust—a love that will never cause us harm (13:10). To live in His love is to be free.
We tend to separate our spiritual life from our physical life, but that’s not what God intended. He who carefully crafted each of us places high value on our physical being (Psalm 139:13). The human form is a masterpiece, which our Creator has entrusted to our care. And as with any other resource, He expects us to be wise stewards.
Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians addresses some of the unsavory issues their city was known for. People in the church had been engaging in offensive practices, including sexual misconduct and gluttony (1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:21). They incorrectly regarded this behavior as separate from their spiritual lives, as if they could do whatever they pleased with their bodies and still be considered “good Christians.”
But the body and the spirit are one. In 1 Corinthians 6:19, Paul declares, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you?” The apostle reminds us that God’s Holy Spirit has come to indwell every believer. If you have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then His Spirit lives in you, and your body has become a walking testimony. What does your physical being say about your walk with Christ?
“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” (Matthew 24:6)
Christians are often chided because they are looking for the return of Christ rather than improving this present world. The fact is, however, that Bible-believing Christians have been largely responsible for such improvements in this world as have actually been achieved (elimination of slavery, establishment of hospitals and educational institutions, founding and development of modern science, advances in political freedoms, etc.).
On the other hand, Christ predicted that wars would continue despite His own death and resurrection. In fact, the prophet Daniel had prophesied over five centuries earlier that “unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Daniel 9:26). For 2,500 years the prophecies have been fulfilled and will continue to be fulfilled until Christ returns. In that day, God promises: “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.” However, it is not the misguided efforts of secularists and worldly minded Christians that will bring about this state of eternal peace and righteousness. “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:7).
Our text is taken from Christ’s Olivet discourse, given in answer to His disciples’ questions about His Second Coming (Matthew 24-25). Climaxing His message, He said, “Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30). The wicked, warring nations of the earth all will mourn (not rejoice over!) His coming. In the meantime, He urges all true Christians to “be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44). HMM
And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man. —Revelation 1:13
Those celebrated European painters, whose works adorn the world’s great art galleries, undoubtedly did their best to depict our Lord. They were limited, however, by their finite concepts of the Subject. To be frank, I do not want to hold in my mind an unworthy concept of my divine Savior. We Christians should earnestly desire the Holy Spirit to sketch a true and transforming portrait of Jesus Christ across our innermost beings! Our delight should be in the assurance that Christ lives within us, moment by moment. And that assurance must come from God’s holy Word.
Do you personally desire with me that the Holy Spirit will dip His brush and begin to paint across the canvas of our souls a living portrayal of Jesus Christ, complete with blood and fire? JIV053-054
[U]ntil you receive Christ as God’s Messenger and Channel of all blessing, you have not met the God of redemption….The very first step in the Christian life is to come to Christ, to receive Christ, to become united to Christ, and to find Christ the Channel, Condition and Source of every blessing….The question for every man is the Christ question. CTBC, Vol. 5/420
I am ascending to My Father and your Father— to My God and your God.—John 20:17
The theme in this verse—My Father and your Father—is one that I view as among the greatest I have ever tackled, and I approach it with the earnest prayer that as the Father revealed Himself through the “Word made flesh” (God’s most perfect self-revelation), so He might reveal Himself also through the words that are being written about Him here.
It has been said that the Christian faith is essentially a Father movement. Yet theologian Tom Smail suggested that in today’s church the Father is forgotten in precisely the same way that the Spirit was forgotten before the growth of the Pentecostal and charismatic movements. Can this be true? Are we in danger of focusing so much on the work of the Holy Spirit that we forget the Father? I think that in some sections of the church there are evidences that this is the case. We hear much about the Son and much about the Spirit, but how much do we hear about the Father? When our Lord Jesus Christ lived on this earth, He fulfilled many roles—Savior, Shepherd, Deliverer, Healer, Prophet, Life-giver—but the overall purpose of His being here was to restore us to relationship with the Father. Some of the greatest words He ever uttered are the words of our text for today: “I am ascending to My Father and your Father.” Your Father.
Let those words sing their way into your consciousness. Through our Lord’s redemptive work on the cross, God is not just the Father of Jesus. He is our Father too.
O God my Father, over these coming weeks give me a new understanding of what it means to have You as my Father. I am standing on the shore of a great and wondrous truth. Help me launch out into the deep. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
And he killed James, John’s brother, with the sword.
When he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too, during the days of Unleavened Bread.—Acts 12:2–3a
Can you accept God’s will when His answer is no? If you are praying in God’s will, He will always answer you when you pray (Jer. 33:3). However, sometimes His answer will be no.
King Herod arrested Peter and prepared to have him executed. During the night, as his church prayed, Peter’s life was spared when an angel freed him. God miraculously answered the prayers of His people that night. Yet not long before, James, too, had been arrested by Herod. James, however, was executed. Surely the church had prayed for James as fervently as they did for Peter, yet that time God’s answer had been no.
Did God love Peter more than James? Of course not. James had been one of Jesus’ closest friends. Yet God allowed James to die while He continued to use Peter in His service. The church in Jerusalem did not become bitter toward God. They accepted His answer because they trusted His love and wisdom.
There are times when God wants us to persist in our praying until He has completed His work in us (Luke 11:5–8; 18:1–6). However, when God’s answer is no, it is futile to continue pleading for a yes. Some refuse to take no for an answer, insisting that if you pray long enough and hard enough, God will ultimately grant any request you make. It is an affront to your Lord to continue pleading with Him when He has clearly said no. The purpose of prayer is not to conform God to our will but to adjust our will to God. We must learn to trust God so that if He says no, we accept that His will is best.