In Him we have…the forgiveness of sins… —Ephesians 1:7
Beware of the pleasant view of the fatherhood of God: God is so kind and loving that of course He will forgive us. That thought, based solely on emotion, cannot be found anywhere in the New Testament. The only basis on which God can forgive us is the tremendous tragedy of the Cross of Christ. To base our forgiveness on any other ground is unconscious blasphemy. The only ground on which God can forgive our sin and reinstate us to His favor is through the Cross of Christ. There is no other way! Forgiveness, which is so easy for us to accept, cost the agony at Calvary. We should never take the forgiveness of sin, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and our sanctification in simple faith, and then forget the enormous cost to God that made all of this ours.
Forgiveness is the divine miracle of grace. The cost to God was the Cross of Christ. To forgive sin, while remaining a holy God, this price had to be paid. Never accept a view of the fatherhood of God if it blots out the atonement. The revealed truth of God is that without the atonement He cannot forgive— He would contradict His nature if He did. The only way we can be forgiven is by being brought back to God through the atonement of the Cross. God’s forgiveness is possible only in the supernatural realm.
Compared with the miracle of the forgiveness of sin, the experience of sanctification is small. Sanctification is simply the wonderful expression or evidence of the forgiveness of sins in a human life. But the thing that awakens the deepest fountain of gratitude in a human being is that God has forgiven his sin. Paul never got away from this. Once you realize all that it cost God to forgive you, you will be held as in a vise, constrained by the love of God.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
Christianity is not consistency to conscience or to convictions; Christianity is being true to Jesus Christ. Biblical Ethics, 111 L
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone . . . for the hope that you have.1 Peter 3:15
In 1941, the Socratic Club was established at England’s Oxford University. It was formed to encourage debate between believers in Jesus and atheists or agnostics.
Religious debate at a secular university isn’t unusual, but what is surprising is who chaired the Socratic Club for fifteen years—the great Christian scholar C. S. Lewis. Willing to have his thinking tested, Lewis believed that faith in Christ could stand up to great scrutiny. He knew there was credible, rational evidence for believing in Jesus.
In a sense, Lewis was practicing Peter’s advice to believers scattered by persecution when he reminded them, “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Peter makes two key points: we have good reasons for our hope in Christ and we’re to present our reasoning with “gentleness and respect.”
Trusting Christ isn’t religious escapism or wishful thinking. Our faith is grounded in the facts of history, including the resurrection of Jesus and the evidence of the creation bearing witness to its Creator. As we rest in God’s wisdom and the strength of the Spirit, may we be ready to share the reasons we have for trusting our great God.
Because God provides for our needs, we can give abundantly to others.
To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.
Hermit crabs are fascinating creatures. Their soft abdomens leave them vulnerable to predators, so for protection, they live in abandoned shells that they carry everywhere. When a threat comes, they simply tuck themselves tightly inside their borrowed homes until the danger passes.
It can be tempting to do that when something threatens us or our resources. Often, we hoard wealth, possessions, or even our time. But Scripture tells us to do the opposite. For instance, Proverbs 11:25-26 says, “A generous person will be prosperous, and one who gives others plenty of water will himself be given plenty. One who withholds grain, the people will curse him, but blessing will be on the head of him who sells it.”
Notice there are no caveats, no exceptions to this wisdom. We are meant to be givers out of a sense of gratitude toward the One who gives to us so lavishly (Matthew 7:7-12; 2 Corinthians 9:6). Because we serve a God of abundance, we too can give abundantly, knowing our Father will always provide for our needs.
Think about it
Take a look at the many things you’re blessed to own or experience. Offer a prayer of gratitude for them, and ask God to help you decide what should be shared with others.
“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:5)
There are times in the life of each believer when the trials become overwhelming and the whole world seems to be falling apart. Without the Lord, it would be impossible to escape, but with the Lord there can be safety and restoration, for He can be our precious hiding place until the storm is done.
There are many gracious promises to this effect in His Word, and we need only to claim them to experience them. The “pavilion” in our text is best understood as the tent of the commander-in-chief, well-protected and away from the battlefront. Surely, we are safe there. “Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues” (Psalm 31:20). There is a wonderful Messianic promise in Isaiah 32:2: “And a man [that man is Christ!] shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.”
There, sheltered from the storm, our gracious Lord gives comfort and sweet counsel until we are able to face the tempest victoriously. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).
One of the most beautiful of these promises introduces David’s great song of deliverance: “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; thou savest me from violence” (2 Samuel 22:2-3). HMM
The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love. —Zephaniah 3:17
This is but one verse among thousands which serve to form our rational picture of what God is like, and they tell us plainly that God feels something like our love, like our joy, and what He feels makes Him act very much as we would in a similar situation; He rejoices over His loved ones with joy and singing.
Here is emotion on as high a plane as it can ever be seen, emotion flowing out of the heart of God Himself. Feeling, then, is not the degenerate son of unbelief that is often painted by some of our Bible teachers. Our ability to feel is one of the marks of our divine origin. We need not be ashamed of either tears or laughter. The Christian stoic who has crushed his feelings is only two-thirds of a man; an important third part has been repudiated. POM110-111
The language of those who love God is that of rejoicing: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall be joyful in my God.” DTC080
Spirit-filled souls are ablaze for God. They love with a love that glows. They believe with a faith that binds. They serve with a devotion that consumes….They rejoice with a joy that radiates. PRL042
Hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.—James 2:1
Can you think of anything that could occupy our attention more profitably than considering how to become more like Jesus? The central condition of this is the “unveiled face.” As the Scripture says, “We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory” (2Co 3:18).
Notice, however, that we must lift the veils if we are to be transformed. When Jesus was crucified, the veil of the temple was rent in two, symbolizing the fact that the heart of the universe was laid bare as redemptive love. Since God has unveiled Himself in Jesus, so we in response ought to unveil our faces, drop our masks, gaze in wonder—and in the gazing, be made like Him. It may be that there will be many veils that you will have to lift—veils of dishonesty, hypocrisy, legalism, pride—but I assure you that when they go, He comes.
Just think—we who are born of the dust of the earth are being gradually transformed into the most beautiful image this planet has ever seen: the image of Christ. What a destiny! The wonder of that transformation can only be explained by one word—”glory.” The drabness, staleness, and dullness of life is replaced by living that has freshness in it. Can we live continuously like that? Yes—in His strength. “Grace” and “glory” are often connected in the New Testament. Take the grace, and you get the glory. What a way to live. Glory! Glory! Glory!
Father, help me to lift every veil in my life so that the light of Your countenance may shine through. You are Light and You want to make me light. Let Your radiance steal into every darkened corner of my being now and forever. Amen.
All these blessings will come and overtake you, because you obey the Lord your God: —Deuteronomy 28:2
When you walk in fellowship with God, you do not have to ask Him to bless you. He wants to bless you! Just as you enjoy surprising someone you love with unexpected gifts, God delights in giving you His gifts in times and ways that you might never expect. God’s blessings often come in the midst of your everyday life—an encouraging telephone call in the middle of a busy morning or a letter you receive at the end of a hard day. A friend may drop by to help when you are overwhelmed, or you may receive unexpected financial help at a time of need. Often, God’s blessings do not come in spectacular ways but in the ordinary busyness of your life. They come just when you most need an expression of God’s love.
Blessings come as a result of obedience. When you walk closely with the Lord, blessings will come, regardless of whether you seek them. Blessings from your obedience will also come to those around you—to your children and to your grandchildren. Solomon enjoyed vast wealth during his reign, but God’s blessing upon him came largely as a result of his father David’s obedience in the previous generation. God promised Abraham that his obedience would bring blessing to all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:2–3).
Do not take God’s gifts for granted. When you receive an unexpected blessing, thank God for His continuing love and be alert to recognize the next time His blessing overtakes you!