VIDEO Loyal Love

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Psalm 51:1

Two words summarize the love of God in the Old and New Testaments. The New Testament word is agape—the unconditional, unmerited love of God. The Old Testament word is hesed—usually translated “lovingkindness” or “mercy,” but more literally thought of as “loyal love.” Agape and hesed are like two sides of the same love-coin. If love is loyal, it cannot be cancelled which means it is unconditional. God’s love cannot be earned or negated; it is merciful and loyal.

The greatest story of God’s unconditional and loyal love in the Old Testament is the story of Hosea, in which hesed occurs 6 times. (It occurs nearly 250 times in the entire Old Testament, primarily referring to God’s loyal love for Israel.) Hosea’s unconditional love for his wayward wife, Gomer, was a picture for Israel of God’s forever love for His chosen people: “I will betroth you to Me forever…in lovingkindness [hesed] and mercy” (Hosea 2:19).

God loves you today unconditionally and loyally. Even if you are unfaithful, “He remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). If you have fallen or been unfaithful, take heart: God is faithful to love and forgive.

God’s faithfulness means that God will always do what He has said and fulfill what He has promised. Wayne Grudem


A Psalm of Repentance: Psalm 51 with R.C. Sproul

The God Who Redeems

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. Isaiah 43:1

As part of a sermon illustration, I walked toward the beautiful painting an artist had been creating on the platform and made a dark streak across the middle of it. The congregation gasped in horror. The artist simply stood by and watched as I defaced what she’d created. Then, selecting a new brush, she lovingly transformed the ruined painting into an exquisite work of art.

Her restorative work reminds me of the work God can perform in our lives when we’ve made a mess of them. The prophet Isaiah rebuked the people of Israel for their spiritual blindness and deafness (Isaiah 42:18–19), but then he proclaimed the hope of God’s deliverance and redemption: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you” (43:1). He can do the same for us. Even after we’ve sinned, if we confess our sins and turn to God, He forgives and restores us (vv. 5–7; see 1 John 1:9). We can’t bring beauty out of the mess, but Jesus can. The good news of the gospel is that He has redeemed us by His blood. The book of Revelation assures us that in the end, Christ will dry our tears, redeem our past, and make all things new (Revelation 21:4–5).

We have a limited vision of our story. But God who knows us “by name” (Isaiah 43:1) will make our lives more beautiful than we could ever imagine. If you’ve been redeemed by faith in Jesus, your story, like the painting, has a glorious ending.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

How have you messed up? What has God provided for your restoration and redemption?

Dear Jesus, thank You for never giving up on me. I surrender to You and ask that You please redeem what I’ve ruined.

Persistence in Prayer

God is delighted to answer the prayers of believers who earnestly seek His will.

Matthew 7:7-11

The privilege of prayer rests on our relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ. Only those who have been born again are members of God’s family (John 3:3-6)—they can claim Him as their Father and know He will respond to their supplications. He makes no such commitment to unbelievers. The one exception is the sinner who comes in repentance and faith to ask for forgiveness and receive Christ as Savior and Lord. 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses three verbs to describe prayer: askseek, and knock. Notice the progression in intensity from a simple request to an intensive search and then to deliberate action. Prayer is more than merely making requests of God. It involves seeking His will to guide our entreaties. And it also includes the more physical action of exploring options to help determine the Lord’s mind. When we make efforts to pray this way, God will give an answer, show us His will, and open the door that leads to His good, acceptable, and perfect will (Romans 12:2). 

Instead of trying various methods of prayer prescribed in books or the media, ask the Lord to teach you to pray the way Jesus modeled. Then put into practice what you learn, and wait in assurance for His answer. 

Justification

“And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” (Genesis 7:1)

This is the first mention of the great doctrine of justification in the Bible—that is, being seen as “righteous” by God. The same Hebrew word is translated “just” in Genesis 6:9: “Noah was a just man.” The reason why Noah was seen as righteous and therefore as just, or justified before God, was that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8). This is the first mention of “grace” in the Bible. The first mention of “faith” or “belief” is also associated with justification. “[Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Thus, justification is by grace through faith in the Old Testament and certainly in the New. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” and also “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:24; 5:1).

Justification—that is, being seen and proclaimed as perfectly righteous, even in spite of past sins—must of course be authorized by God the Creator. “It is God that justifieth” (Romans 8:33). That God can indeed be both “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26) is based entirely on the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ, who conquered death. “Being now justified by his blood,” the Lord Jesus Christ “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 5:9; 4:25).

Now, although we are freely justified by grace through faith, such justification inevitably generates good works also, for “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). HMM

How Are You Building?

Matthew 7:24-27

OUR Lord pointed out in Matthew 7:24-27 the contrast between persons building on the sand and on the rock. The same storm came to both because in the world the believer is promised tribulation (John 16:33), but he who heard his Lord’s words and practiced them stood the test.

In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 we have set before us the solemn responsibility of the believer to be careful about his building. Christ is the only sure foundation, for He is the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), the tried stone, the sure foundation (Isa. 28:16). But the building must not only be on the Lord but must be built by Him, for except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it (Ps. 127:1).

God works, however, through consecrated apprentices, and here Paul tells us that a man may build upon the true foundation with gold, silver and precious stones or with wood, hay or stubble. The fire of judgment will test the life; and, although the believer himself shall be saved, if he has built of wood, hay or stubble his lifework shall be destroyed.

Here, then, is indeed a most serious matter, and surely every Christian should take heed how he builds thereon. Consider in our sermon preparation how many times we preachers fill our discourses with wood, hay and stubble when with more prayer and study we might have built a message of gold! Every sermon ought to be our very best under God’s direction. And how often have you, Sunday school teacher, hurriedly woven in some stubble of your own interpretation, a block of wood where there might have been silver?

In conversation with the ungodly, how often have we talked weather and politics and laughed over trivialities and missed a chance to redeem the time with a word fitly spoken, which is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Prov. 25:11). One day judgment-fire will burn through our conversations, and so much will go up in smoke!

Think of how we waste spare time, filling it with unenduring materials when we could make it a permanent blessing. We build unworthily, cheaply, because we will not pay the price for the best materials. God offers us gold already tried in fire (Rev. 3:18), but there are no bargain rates and reduced prices. It takes hours of prayer and Bible study and obedience and self-denial. If our lifework is to be fireproof, it will not be so built by sentence prayers and one-minute Bible readings before breakfast. But it costs, so we slip in a block of wood here and fill in with hay there and get by with stubble yonder.

One day we shall thank God we built with enduring material. That time you waited in intercessory prayer when the devil said, “Go to bed”; that time you called on a certain person to lead him to Christ though you were ever so nervous; that time you were reconciled to an offended brother; that time you gave ten dollars when Satan suggested fifty cents; that time you gave up that job because it was doubtful in a spiritual way—at such times we build for eternity and the day shall declare it. It is so easy to let up here and there and work in a little wood or stubble, but blessed is the man who will not substitute even the good for the best.

How are you building? With gold, silver and precious stones or with wood, hay and stubble?


January 10

“Love is of God.”

Genesis 4:1-15

She probably hoped that this was the Messiah. Alas! how often are parents hopes deceived. It was not “a man—the Lord” who had come to Eves bosom, but a man of sin, a child of the wicked one.

Genesis 4:2

Her second child she called “Vanity” and yet he was precious in the sight of the Lord. What mistakes we make about our children.

Genesis 4:5

Cain had no faith, and he had no eye to the blood of atonement: Abel had both. These should be main points in all our religious duties.) (Wroth not with himself as he ought to have been, but with his brother and with God.

Genesis 4:7

It is sin which blocks the way.

Genesis 4:8, 9

We shall either be our brother’s keeper or our brother’s murderer. If we do not labour to save others, we shall be guilty of their blood.

Genesis 4:13

He makes no confession of his sin, but only murmurs at his punishment. We know many whose minds are in a similar state. They cavil at hell, but they persevere in sin.

1 John 3:10-15

This ancient record of the first murder is used by John as a picture of the action of the unregenerate in all time. Love marks the children of God, and hate is the sure ensign of the heirs of wrath. Thus writes the beloved apostle:—

John 3:10-15

O for grace to purge our hearts of all anger, envy, malice, and bitterness of every kind, that like Jesus we may be full of love and gentleness.

Lord, from anger purge my heart,

Bid all enmity depart;

New-created from above,

Let my very life be love.

Quench in me each evil fire,

Envious thought or fierce desire.

Flame from heaven upon me fall!

Love of God be all in all.

Every One Must Pray As if He Alone Could Pray

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint. Luke 18:1

Thomas á Kempis wrote that the man of God ought to be more at home in his prayer chamber than before the public. It is not too much to say that the preacher who loves to be before the public is hardly prepared spiritually to be before them. Right praying may easily make a man hesitant to appear before an audience.

The man who is really at home in the presence of God will find himself caught in a kind of inward contradiction. He is likely to feel his responsibility so keenly that he would rather do almost anything than face an audience; and yet the pressure upon his spirit may be so great that wild horses could not drag him away from his pulpit.

No man should stand before an audience who has not first stood before God. Many hours of communion should precede one hour in the pulpit. The prayer chamber should be more familiar than the public platform.

Schools teach everything about preaching except the important part, praying. The best any school can do is to recommend prayer and exhort to its practice. Praying itself must be the work of the individual. That it is the one religious work which gets done with the least enthusiasm cannot but be one of the tragedies of our times!

In true prayer, every man must be an original, for true prayer cannot be imitated nor can it be learned from someone else. Everyone must pray as if he alone could pray!