Passion: For the Glory of God

Thought for the Day

Passion is initiated by hunger and fueled by a desire for its fulfillment. We are not to have a passion for anything but to see God glorified in us and among all the nations. Passion for God must be not only central and supreme but the singular driving force of all – all prayer, all action, all intention and motivation in everything. Nothing less will do. Our passion (as followers of Jesus) in relation to the world must be what I now see as my own passion: To bring glory to God by living a life of surrendered obedience and leading (by word and deed) others to do the same. Missions and evangelism is not about “saving people” but spreading God’s fame. It is not about making converts but disciples.

Beautiful

The Devotional Journal

“You are altogether beautiful, my love – there is no flaw in you… You have captivated My heart, My sister, My bride – you have captivated My heart with one glance of your eyes, with one sparkle of your necklace.” – Song of Songs 4:7&9

Lord, You say to me, “You are absolutely beautiful – head to toe, inside and out. You are completely perfect, without a single flaw.” Sometimes all I can see are my flaws and I know that You are more aware of them than I am, and You are working on them, but when it comes to our relationship and our times of intimate fellowship, You see me with the eyes of love – You see me as perfect. You are able to see in me now what is a daily growing reality – by Your Spirit in me. Though it may not be a good idea for me to think of myself as flawless, help me to remember how I’ve grown – and help me to see that I am beautiful in Your eyes, inside and out. God, I will hold that truth in my heart and never let it go no matter what anyone else might ever say. In the end, it’s Your opinion alone that matters. Lord, how amazing it is to know that I have captivated Your heart! Indeed, You freely gave it to me, along with Your life and everything else I could ever need. For though You set Your love on me long before I was ever born. Yet, the loving look of my eyes – the turning of my heart toward You – it captivates Your heart in some special way just as You have captivated mine. I am Yours because You desire me.

Love that Obeys – John 14:21 & 23

Mini Sermon

John 14:21&23 – “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and reveal myself to him… If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

Thesaurus Fun

Obey – follow, abide by, conform

Reveal – make known, disclose, uncover

Real Love Obeys God

Too many times we try to separate from each other various aspects of Christianity. We emphasize some and deemphasize others according to or reacting against the way we were raised. But doing that kind of thing only hurts us and skews our understanding of the faith. We must let Scripture emphasize what it will and live accordingly. In this passage, Jesus clearly emphasizes two things that should never be separated; love and obedience. God has ever demanded that we be love and obey Him. The first and greatest command is this, “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. (Mark 12:30)”. The kind of love that God wants is not merely some soft emotional thing, but a committed and sacrificial love not unlike the original idea of marriage. It is this kind of love that Jesus displayed on the cross. He showed not only His love for us, but He also demonstrated His love as the Son for the Father by being obedient even unto death (Philippians 2:8). Emotions ebb and flow from one moment to the next and cannot be the basis of our relationship with God. Real love is a decision and a commitment and you cannot commit to God without obeying Him. Anyone who says, “I love God,” and yet never obeys Him is a liar and is self-deceived. Real love will always manifest itself in obedience to God. For this saying is true, “Actions speak louder than words.”

Conversely, Scripture never advocates action and obedience without love. Indeed, Paul says, “…if I give myself over to the flames and have not love it profits me nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3)”. Jesus Himself said to the church of Ephesus, “…I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance… yet I hold this against you; you have forsaken your first love… repent and do the things you did at first… (Revelation 2:2&4-5)”. Love must be the motivation for everything we do – not necessarily always loving feelings, but a commitment to follow Christ no matter what. Anything else is legalism, and that is the last things that God wants. For God cries out about Israel, “these people honor Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me. (Isaiah 29:13)”. He wants our love in every sense; emotion, commitment, and obedience; “heart, soul, mind, and strength.”

Jesus promised to those who truly love Him, “I too will love (you) and reveal Myself to (you).” While it is true that God loves us all, there is a certain sense in which He loves those who wholeheartedly follow Him. Elsewhere, Scripture calls it delight, “the Lord’s delight is in those who fear Him and hope in His unfailing love. (Psalm 147:11)”. God has a special love for those who truly follow and obey Him and to them He has promised to reveal Himself – to make Himself known to them and to manifest His power, presence, love, and faithfulness in their lives.

Point to Ponder

Do you tend to think that you can love God without obeying Him? Can you see what a shallow idea of love that really is? Jesus is as clear as possible when He says, “the one who loves Me will obey…”. Or do you labor under the opposite error, that of legalism? Are you trying to obey God while keeping your heart from Him? Remember, we are commanded to love Him with our whole heart along with everything else.

Let us pray, “Lord Jesus, thank You for coming down to us to show and be for us the way, truth, and life (John 14:6). We know that every word You say is true, and so may we take Your words to heart right now. God, forgive us for the times when we thought that we could love You and not obey You – times when we have used Your grace as an excuse to sin. Help us to remember that we have died to sin (Romans 6:1-3). Father, forgive us also for the times that we have though that we could honor You through rituals and laws but still keep our hearts from You. Help us to love and obey You as we should, for You alone deserve it. In determining to love and obey You as we should, we claim Your promise that You will reveal Yourself to us and make Your home with us. Lord, manifest Your presence in our lives and to our hearts. Help us to know You that we may be like You. In the name of Jesus our Lord we pray. Amen.”

Come and Talk with Me – Psalm 27:8

Mini Sermon

Psalm 27:8 – “My heart has heard You say, “Come and talk with Me.” And my heart cries out, “Lord, I am coming!”

God calls out to us every day, “Come and meet with Me. Come and talk to Me. Come and rest in My presence.” In our hearts and in our souls we respond, “Lord, I am coming!” Deep within ourselves we understand that it is for this very reason – to meet with God, to be with Him – that we were saved and brought into relationship with Him. Our time alone with Him is like food and water to our souls (Ps 63:1) So why do we find it so hard to take the time to be alone with Him in the secret and the quiet? If this is what we were made for, then why does it get so little of our time? Many people would blame busyness. Whether it’s family or career, there are too many things that need doing and we “must” be about doing them. While the demands of this life can be many and pressing, they are nothing more than a convenient excuse. For although there is a new nature in us that hungers and thirst for God, there is still in us an old nature that does everything it can to avoid Him. It whispers to us in the back of our minds. It says things like, “He’ll make you change in ways that you don’t want to change. He’ll make you do things that you don’t want to do. He’ll turn you inside out and upside down. He’ll demand more than you want to give.” As far as they go, these things are true. God will change you, but by moving you to want to. God will ask you to do things you don’t want to so that you might grow in Him. God will turn you inside out and your life upside down, but with the best possible ends in sight. God will demand more of you than you are willing to give, but He helps you to give it and stretches your faith in Him.

Every time we have heeded the call to meet with Him and let Him change us, let Him turn us inside out and help us give and do what we never could have on our own – every time God has worked all of it for good (Romans 8:28). It is not that we don’t want to be changed, not that we don’t want to be stretched and to grow, we like the result when it’s done, but it’s the process, it’s being in the middle of it, that scares us. Stretching is painful and changing is difficult and as if that weren’t hard enough, there are people around us who don’t really want us to change because it affects them too. Everything around us calls us to stay as we are, but God calls us to Him and we know that we can’t do both. Therefore, we must be brave and ask God to draw us to Himself by whatever means necessary. We must ask Him for the courage to allow Him to change us and to desire relationship with Him above everything else.

If you are having trouble finding time to spend with God, begin by looking at the time that you already have (however brief) in which you are already alone – that is, taking a shower or going to the bathroom. Use that time to reorient yourself to God and to lay your life at His feet, then ask Him to show you more time that you can use to meet with Him. Just remember that you can do nothing without Him (John 15:1-5) and if you want to have a productive and (eternally) meaningful day, you cannot neglect time alone with God (which is why morning is best so that you can orient your day from the beginning). Meet with God at the start of your day (Psalm 5:3 & 90:14) and continually turn your heart and life toward Him during the course of the day. In this way, you will begin to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Remember, you don’t just meet with God because you’re supposed to or because you need to or even simply because you want to, but whether or not you want to or feel you need to, He calls to you – He wants to spend time with you – not just because He wants to change you or because He wants something out of you, but at the bottom of it all He calls to you because He loves you. He longs to put His arms around you and hold you close because He likes having you there. He saved you because, “this is what He wanted to do and it makes Him happy.” (Ephesians 1:5). If you cannot come for your own sake, come in response to His love. He will not disappoint you. Whether or not you immediately feel like anything changed at all, your time with God is never wasted.

May we pray, “Oh, God, we are so amazed that You call to us, that You want to be with us and spend time with us. Thank You for saving us. Thank You for calling and drawing us to Yourself. Lord, give us courage and faith that we would respond to You with all our hearts and follow wherever You would lead us. Help us to obey You, to do whatever You ask of us that we would see and know and remember that all Your plans for us are good (Jeremiah 29:11). Help us to turn our thoughts and hearts to You at every possible moment. Keep our lives focused on You. May everything we ever do be for Your glory alone. Amen.”

Presence

The Devotional Journal

“If Your presence does not go with us then do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that You are pleased with me and with Your people unless You go with us? What else will distinguish us from the rest of the world?” – Exodus 33:15-16

Lord, I know that You won’t send me anywhere unless You go with me. It is Your presence that makes Your people different from all the peoples of the earth. Without Your presence in our worship it’s just empty religion. Without Your presence in our lives how will anyone know that we are Yours? But You are with us and You will come to wherever You are desired. Lord, may Your presence rest on me! Thus may every moment of my life lift You up for Your glory, Jesus! Because You love me You are with me. Because You are with me I am favored beyond imagining. May the whole world see that You are pleased with me!

God’s Plans

The Devotional Journal

“For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God, You know that sometimes I worry about the future. Sometimes I wonder if my life will ever change – forgetting how much has changed already. But I know that You have plans for me and they are not only good, but also great. They are plans for me to grow in You and in my influence of others. You have put me in a category all my own that I may shine for Your glory. Lord, help me to keep these things in mind that every day I may have hope in the future. I am eager to see Your plans walked out in my life. I know that You will stretch me – it’s the only way to grow – but by Your grace I will follow You where ever You lead me. I only want to be near You and to please You. So take my hand and let’s run together! I love to be still in Your arms, but I also long to climb the heights with You by my side and to chase down storms – for though storms contain wind, lightening, and thunder; they also contain showers of blessings and how I love to get soaked. I hear the thunder, see the lightening, and feel the rushing wind, but they only remind me of how great You really are. May I live out Your perfect plan and will for my life! I live only for You. Amen.

Be My Passion

My Song Lyrics

Draw me ever closer to You
Closer than I’ve ever been before
With all my heart, Lord my God
I want to know You more and more
You call to me and I can’t resist
‘Cause I don’t want to merely exist
I want to live for You, Lord

Ignite a fire in me
Fill me with a passion for Your name
Lord, light a fire in me
And let my every breath proclaim
That You’re the only One
Who’s worth living for
May my life be Yours
And God, be my passion

Keep my love for You burning warm
Oh my God, never let me grow cold
Let everything else fade away
You are worth more than any gold
You call to me and I can’t resist
‘Cause I don’t want to merely exist
I want to live for You, Lord

Ignite a fire in me
Fill me with a passion for Your name
Lord, light a fire in me
And let my every breath proclaim
That You’re the only One
Who’s worth living for
May my life be Yours
And God, be my passion

Strengthen my will
Impassion my soul
Ignite my heart
Discipline my life
That I may pursue You
With everything I’ve got, Lord

Ignite a fire in me
Fill me with a passion for Your name
Lord, light a fire in me
And let my every breath proclaim
That You’re the only One
Who’s worth living for
May my life be Yours
And God, be my passion

Harm into Good – Genesis 50:20

Mini Sermon

Genesis 50:20 – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position to save the lives of many people.”

These are the words of Joseph to his brothers near the end of his story – after they had sold him into slavery, after he was wrongfully accused and thrown into prison, and after he interpreted pharaoh’s dreams and was put in charge of overseeing the seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Even in the midst of all the bad things that happened to him at the hands of others, Joseph knew that God had a plan in mind the entire time and that he was in God’s hands. God says to us, “I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Too often we take this to mean that no harm will some to us, but our experience contradicts that assumption. His promise to us has never been smooth sailing. Jesus said, “In the world you will have trouble, but be brave; I have defeated the world.” (John 16:33). No, we are not promised an easy journey, but we are promised a happy ending – if we are following Him. As Scripture says, “God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and have been called by Him.” (Romans 8:28).

There is nothing that we go through that is wasted, for God has all things in His hands. Not only will He bring us through all that ever happens to us, but He will bring us into a position to help others because of it. Just as God allowed people to do evil things to Joseph and used it all to put Joseph in a position to save thousands of lives from famine, and just as God allowed evil people to wrong and murder His Son, Jesus, and used it to save the eternal lives of all who would believe in Him, in the same way God allows trials and suffering in your life and He will use it to heal and save the lives of many. Whatever you have suffered, allow God to heal your heart and your soul and then allow Him to use you and your experiences to heal and to save countless others. The only thing that can stop God from turning our injury into good is bitterness and unforgiveness. Do not allow the seed of bitterness and resentment to grow in you, giving a foothold to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-28) The enemy knows that God can transform and use every circumstance that He allows if we will let Him. That is why the enemy does his best to plant those seed of bitterness, to keep you wounded and broken. But God will take everything, even our own mistakes and sins along with the evil done by others, and turn what could have been a stumbling block into a stepping stone. He will turn evil into good. He will give us joy for mourning, and praise for sadness (Isaiah 61:3). He will turn tears into healing rain.

Point to Ponder

Are you holding on to anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness? Who do you think it’s hurting? It’s not hurting them. By holding on to it, you are allowing the devil a foothold in your life (Ephesians 4:26-28), and he will not be content with that. Are you ready to be healed? Are you ready to move on with your life and see God do amazing things through you? Will you let it go, placing it all in God’s hands?

Let’s pray, “Almighty God, our Father, maker, sustainer, redeemer – we are so relieved to know that everything is in Your hands. Right now, Lord, we lift our hearts to You – we give You our pain and our sorrow, our unforgiveness and our resentment, and we ask You to heal us like only You can. Cleanse us and make us whole in You. Use us, Lord. According to Your Word and Your plan, use us to reach out to those around us. Use our experiences to the benefit of others and for the good of Your kingdom. Thank You for Your promise that anything we do for You and everything we ever go through is never in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58). Help us to live our lives completely for You, full of thanksgiving and love. May our every day bring You glory. Amen!

Living by the Spirit – Galatians 3:3 & John 15:4-5

Mini Sermon

Galatians 3:3 – “How ridiculous is this?! After starting your Christian lives in and by the Holy Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

John 15:4-5 – “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Live by the Spirit

“… are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” We all fall into this error at one time or another in some way or other. It may not be as obvious as those believers here addressed who were trying to add the works of the law to their salvation, but we still try to do some things on our own (without God). We start out following the leading of God’s Spirit be it in prayer, study, or any of the disciplines and also in witnessing and positions of leadership. God calls us to something and we begin, knowing that we must rely on Him to guide us and to strengthen us for we can do nothing without Him (John 15:5). But somewhere along the way, what was new and uncertain becomes routine and we begin to think that we can do it on our own. No longer do we rely on God or ask for His help, we begin to rely on human strength and human wisdom to accomplish what we have been called to. We forget that God “does not delight in the strength of the horse nor the legs of man; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 147:10-11)”. Why do we think that God will be impressed with our efforts? “He gives us life and breath and everything else (Acts 17:)” Yes, “what do you have that you did not receive (from God)? (1 Corinthians 4:7)” Or else, who are we trying to impress? Others? Ourselves? Sooner or later, our strength runs out and all the human wisdom of the world fails us and we are left; stranded, stressed-out, and disappointed. We find ourselves exerting all our effort and getting nowhere except backwards. So why do we start to rely on our own strength like this, knowing that it must be done in His? Perhaps it is that we know that God is unpredictable. He usually leads us out on a limb or tells us to simply wait, and in general we don’t like either option. So we make our own plans and ask God to bless them, no longer genuinely seeking direction from Him. Perhaps, deep down inside us, we want to feel like it is our accomplishment if we succeed (of course if we don’t, then it’s “God’s fault”). There is a certain level of pride living in all of us and once we have traveled a while down the path of God’s calling, we begin to think that we know what’s coming next and we let go of God’s hand saying in effect “I got this” so that we can be doing something “for” God instead of “with” God.

We can recognize this attitude by asking ourselves, “If this works out, who gets the glory? Me or God?” or we could ask, “Am I doing any of this by faith? Or is it by sight?” (2nd Cor. 5:7). If you are exhausting yourself, as you think, in “God’s service”, more than likely, you are trying to do it in your own strength which will never be enough. Think for a moment about what that little word “effort” really means – exertion, struggle, force, labor, sweat, – no wonder you wind up exhausted! It is this that the writer here calls “ridiculous” – absurd, silly, stupid! Why? Because all that effort – all that striving – is not only unnecessary but it is counterproductive! It won’t get you where you want to go and keeps you from what will. “How ridiculous is this?!” He says to you, “not by might nor by power but by My Spirit (Zechariah 4:6)”. In the same way “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves it is the gift of God – not by works so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)”. The whole point of all of this is that we would never boast in ourselves but, “let him who boasts boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31)”.

The first step in getting back on track is learning how to wait on God. Scripture says, “Be still in the presence of the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act… (Psalm 37:7)”. Waiting is difficult for most of us these days. There is very little patience in modern society, waiting always feels like a waste of time. But time is exactly the point; that is, it’s all about timing. There is a season for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1). When it comes to doing things God’s way, timing is everything. Of course, God is always busy in the meantime, shaping us and bring things into line. So wait on God, linger in His presence, and let His love fill you with peace and joy and strength.

The second step is to remind yourself that God knows what He’s doing and the best way to do it and has the best ends in mind (Jeremiah 29:11) even if nothing makes sense at the time. Therefore, remembering this, genuinely and consistently seek God’s will in everything you do and then do it, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path (Proverbs 3:5-6)”. Do what He says, even if it flies in the face of all supposed “human wisdom”. For, “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:25)”.

The most important step is this: ask for God’s help and trust Him for the evidence of it in your life. Ask Him to help you learn how to wait on Him and to truly want His will in your life. Ask Him to help you follow Him with all your heart. Ask Him for patience and courage and strength, for His wisdom and discernment, for eyes to see when you begin to rely on your own strength again. You can be sure that God will gladly answer all such prayers. As Scripture says, “You don’t have because you don’t ask (James 4:2)” however, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to everyone without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:5)” and, “if we ask anything according to His will He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him (1 John 5:14-15)”.

Abide in Him

When we put our faith in Jesus and accept Him as our Savior and Lord, then we are spiritually united with Him in His death and resurrection (Romans 6:5). This union is symbolized and acknowledged by baptism (Col. 2:12, Rom. 6:4). We are able to remain united to Him and He to us through our intentional interaction with Him – by reading and meditating on His word, by prayer, and by allowing/wanting Him to live through us and work through us every day – thus growing spiritually. The more we are connected to Him and experience His life, love, and power flowing through us; the more spiritual fruit we will be able to bear. It will be natural and not difficult or forced. A branch bears fruit as a natural connection to the vine and through any virtue of its own. It is the vine that supplies the life giving nutrients that a branch needs to be able to bear fruit. If that connection to the vine is hindered, there will be less fruit; if the connection is severed, there will be no fruit at all and the branch will eventually die (John 15:6). So it is also with us. Too often we try to do our “religious stuff” in our own strength. We do all the things we think we’re supposed to do to be “good Christians” and wonder why we only seem to exhaust ourselves while getting nowhere. Possibly the most important part of this passage is this; “…you can do nothing without Me. (John 15:5)”.

Notice the word “nothing”. This does not merely apply to whatever we categorize as our “Christian life” but to absolutely every part of our lives. The fruit we are to bear should be evidenced in every area of our lives – church, work, friends, family, and even as a customer at the store; as Scripture says, “whether eating or drinking, do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31)” – and it should be something that is evidenced from within us and not simply an act that we put on. More than trying harder, it’s about learning to rest in God and to cry out to Him to change us. We all need to be desperate for God to be at work in us. As Scripture says, “for it is God who is at work in you, giving you the desire to obey Him and the power to do what pleases Him.” (Philippians 2:13). The most important part of your day is the time that you spend strengthening your connection to God. It is not so much the amount of time that you spend, but the position of your heart that matters. It is the heart’s cry that changes everything. Rest in His love and His promise, for He says to you, “Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10). I am the One who calls you and I will do it (1 Thess. 5:24).”

Point to Ponder:

Can you see any area of your life where you have been doing God’s work in your own strength? How is that working for you? Do you live in vital connection to God? If not, how much fruit are you really bearing? Do you find your efforts exhausting? God never intended for you to live that way.

And so we pray, “Sovereign God; our fortress, our rock, and our strength – thank You that we can come to You for all our needs. Thank You for drawing us to You and for putting a call on our life to use us in this world. Lord, You know the society we live in where independence and competence are exalted virtues and pride in one’s own accomplishments is encouraged. But God, we know that our ways are not Your ways nor are our thoughts Your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). Therefore, search us and know us, O God, reveal to us the wrong way in which we live and lead us in the right way (Psalm 139:23-24). Lord, we confess to You right now that we have tried to do things on our own – whether completely independent of Your will or in trying to follow Your will and call in our life. Help us to set aside human effort and human wisdom, and help us to seek to know and to follow Your will and direction only. Thank You for uniting us to You in Christ. Help us to remain united to You, keep us in Your hands that never let go. Pour Your life and Your spirit into us that we might bear much fruit to Your glory (John 15:8). May these things be evidenced in our lives; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Grow us in You and in Your word. Prune from our lives anything that hinders (Hebrews 12:1) or distracts us from bearing fruit for You – even things that might seem good in themselves. We come humbly before You, acknowledging that there is nothing good that we can do without You. So be at work in us, moving our hearts toward obedience, strengthening and enabling us to do Your will. Help us to be united and intimately connected to You. May we desire to follow You every day of our lives and to draw nearer to You with every moment. We are Yours. Lord, give us patience to wait on You, courage to obey You, and wisdom to know the difference between Your directions and our own ideas. Help us throughout the rest of our lives to recognize when we have begun to rely on our own strength and help us to turn to You again. May we remember that everything is for Your glory and so may we live with that end in sight. We thank You that You hear us and answer us. To You, oh God, be the glory and honor, dominion and power, for now and forever (Jude 1:25).Lord Jesus, may Your name be praised in all the earth! Amen.”

Not Ashamed of the Gospel – Romans 1:16&17

Mini Sermon

Romans 1:16&17 – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes… for in the gospel the righteousness from God is revealed. A righteousness that is by faith from first to last…”

Thesaurus Fun:

Salvation – deliverance, rescue, recovery, escape, liberation, freedom

Believe – accept as true, trust in, rely on, count on, commit to, be sure about, confidence, expectation

The Power of God

The word “gospel” simply means “good news”. That good news is this; we are all fallen – all have sinned (Romans 3:23) – and cannot be righteous on our own, but God – in the person of Jesus Christ – stepped down into this world and died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin and rose again “that we too may live a new life (Romans 6:4)”. Through Him we are reconciled to God by faith. The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18). God has decided to save us and change us through faith in His Son. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword… it discerns the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

The “good news” is that we can be saved. Someone may ask, “What am I saved from? Hell?” Not only are we saved from hell, but we are saved from the wrath of God upon sin, from guilt, from the second death (which is eternal separation from God), and from the power and trap of sin – we are set free from the law of sin and death so that we are no longer slaves to sin (Romans 6:6) and to our fleshly desires which only do us harm in the end. For in our natural (that is; fallen) selves we can say with Paul – “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I don’t do, but what I hate I keep doing (Romans 7:15)”. And later; “What a wretched man I am! Who will save me from this body of death? But thanks be to God who rescues me through Jesus Christ our Lord! (Romans 7:24-25)”. This is how we are saved; “because you belong to Him (Jesus Christ), the power of His life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. (Romans 8:2).” The righteousness from God is right standing with Him (forgiveness) and a new nature which enables us to live a new life (Romans 6:4). This is all done by faith in God through the power of His Holy Spirit who is at work in us (Philippians 2:13), and not through our own human effort (Galatians 3:3), but it is “by faith from first to last (Romans 1:17)”. But this is no mere intellectual assent. For of this Scripture says, “even the demons believe and tremble (James 2:19)”. What Scripture always means by believing, faith, and trust are essentially the same thing. It is something you act on and count on and depend on. It is something that changes all of your life for the rest of your life. This is, “saving faith” any other kind of “faith” is dead (James 2:17&26).

Therefore, no matter that the world may persecute and ridicule us for it. The gospel is the means by which God has decided to display the power of salvation through the inward work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot be ashamed of it for it is through this same gospel that we have been saved, set free from sin and judgment and made children of God. God has commanded that this gospel be preached in all the world (Matthew 28:19). Even if we are not those who go to foreign places to spread the gospel, we are still to let our light shine before men (Matthew 5:16). We are called to be salt and light and to always be ready to give account of the hope that we have (1 Peter 3:15). Therefore; know it, rely on it, live it out, and talk about it.

Point to Ponder:

How well do you think you understand the gospel? Could you accurately share it with someone? Do you know exactly what it is that you believe? Has your belief/faith changed your life? Are you ready and willing to share God’s “good news” with others? Are you prepared for the persecution that might come your way when you do?

Let’s pray, “Our God in heaven, may Your Name be exalted in all the earth! We thank You for the good news of Your Son, Jesus, who died for us so that our sins could be forgiven and so that through Him we may come to You to find mercy and receive eternal life. We thank You also for Your word, which is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path, which shows to us Your salvation and Your will so that we may believe. Thank You for loving us and saving us from slavery to sin. Help us, O God, to clearly understand the gospel and to be able to share this good news with others. May we never be ashamed of Your gospel or Your word. May we never be ashamed or afraid to stand in You and to stand for truth! You are the solid rock, therefore, plant our feet firmly on You that we might not be shaken. May the power of Your word and of Your Holy Spirit penetrate our hearts and transform our lives. When persecution comes, give us strength and help us to be faithful. We thank You that You hear and answer us. Amen.”