“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” ESV “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There won’t be death anymore. There won’t be any grief, crying, or pain, because the first things have disappeared.” ISV My response to this verse is to echo the words of the beloved apostle John, “Come, Lord Jesus!” The joy and longing of the new heaven and new earth is such a precious thing to God’s children! It simply cannot happen too soon. But, did you catch the grand event that might well have precipitated some of those tears? Verse 3 says that something that has never happened before will become the “new” way things are from that time forward: God the Father will live with His children ON EARTH. Up until that time, God had never permanently lived on earth. Before sin entered the world, God came to walk with Adam and Eve in the cool of the night, He had conversations with Moses and a few others here and there, but up until this point, He could not even be SEEN by humans without them dying. Even Jesus only resided for a time on earth, but this is the beginning of a whole new age of glory! God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (Who will continue to reside in us), will be living on earth with us—and we will be ruling and reigning alongside Them. The fellowship that God planned between Himself and His creation can now begin as He intended all along. Sin is finally out of the picture. Doesn’t that make whatever troubles you are facing today seem smaller in comparison? Doesn’t knowing that tears, sickness, and death are temporary things help you cope with heartaches? Doesn’t knowing that the love and grace we see from God now will be so much more evident when we get to eternity just make you want to fall on your knees and commit your life to God once more? Revelation 22 records that Jesus said, “I am coming SOON! How blessed is the person who keeps the words of this prophecy of this book!” And later John is told, “Let the righteous person continue to do what is right. And let the holy person continue to be holy.” Then Jesus speaks again, “See! I am coming soon! My reward is with me to repay according to his action.” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
June 29, 2016
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ESV “Never worry about anything. Instead, in every situation let your petitions be made known to God through prayers and requests, with thanksgiving. Then God’s peace, which goes far beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your hearts and minds in union with the Messiah Jesus.” ISV
Here’s another one of those verses without any wiggle room! “Do not,” “never,” “in everything,” “in every situation.” These are the dos and don’ts. There is NEVER a reason to be anxious or worried. It is ALWAYS right to bring our requests and concerns to God in prayer—doing so WITH thanksgiving (the biblical remedy for worry).
Then God’s peace—which goes far beyond anything we can IMAGINE—will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (a military concept of a sentry standing guard to protect something precious). Want peace? It’s yours in exchange for trusting God with your burdens. Want to know what we SHOULD be thinking about instead of our problems? Verse 8 says that we should keep thinking about things that are true (“truth”), honorable (upright, respectable), fair (just, righteous), pure (holy!), acceptable (lovely, pleasing), commendable (worthy of praise), of excellence (virtue, moral goodness), and praiseworthy (a commendable thing).
Want to know what we should be doing with our time? Verse 9 says that we should keep practicing what we’ve seen, heard, and learned about from God honoring believers. When we do, the promise isn’t “just” the peace of God that will be with us, but THE God of peace!
We don’t need to be worried or anxious, but we DO have stuff to do! Let’s get on it!
June 28, 2016
“See what kind of love the Father has given us: We are called God’s children—and that is what we are! For this reason the world does not recognize us, because it did not recognize him, either. Dear friends, we are now God’s children, but what we will be like has not been revealed yet. We know that when the Messiah is revealed, we will be like him, because we will see him as he is.” ISV What an amazing thing to think about seeing Jesus for the first time! Perhaps even more amazing is to contemplate being like Him. That DEFINITELY needs faith on our part! Trying to imagine life without a sin nature is a pretty difficult thing to do, but how wonderful it will be! We don’t need to wait to be becoming like Christ. In fact, we are commanded to work on this every day. How does this get accomplished? Well, first of all we need to remember that it can’t happen in our own strength. This is something the Holy Spirit does on our behalf. He changes us, growing His “fruit” in our character, as we read God’s Word and apply it to our daily life. It happens as we claim the truth that we do not have to get angry when someone has irritated us, and can instead be kind, patient, and give calm responses. It happens when we believe God and don’t grumble about something that wasn’t to our liking, and instead give Him thanks for His good and perfect will. It is in allowing someone to share their burden with us, even when we wish we could have shared our burden with them. It is in rejoicing in the Lord during a trial or tribulation, knowing that true joy is ours already because our name is written in heaven and no one can ever remove it. It is in turning aside from something we wanted to do with our time, talent, or treasures and instead doing with it what we know God wants us to do. It is in every single decision of every single day. It is a lifetime of choosing God’s way over our own way. And little by little, year by year, we will grow less like the world who cannot recognize God, and more like the One Who set us free. See what kind of love the Father has given us!
June 27, 2016
“Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” ESV “Throw all your worry on him, because he cares for you.” ISV Here’s yet another reminder that in order to do great things for God, we must be humble. How do I know? I Peter 5:5-6 teaches that God opposes the arrogant, but gives grace to the humble, commanding us to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God so that He can choose when and where to exalt us. AND, it demonstrates pride when we think we can solve problems apart from God. When we trust God with all our worries and anxieties, we are demonstrating that we know that WE cannot fix them and that we need God’s help. Rather than stressing over some concern, enjoy the wonderful blessing of being a child of the King by bringing it to Him in prayer. It should be a tremendous relief to know that we don’t have to try figure it out! God’s got it covered. This does not mean, however, that we don’t have anything to do. The remainder of this section in I Peter lists some pretty important actions we must be engaged in every day: -Be clear-minded and alert. -Be aware that our opponent, the devil, is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. -Be ready to resist him BY standing firm in the faith (drawing near to God!). -Be in prayer for brothers and sisters in Christ who are also undergoing his challenges. -Be ever aware that our life in this sin-filled world is temporary. One day our Savior will return for us—and grand and glorious things will begin and never stop. -Stand firm! Hang in there! Keep fighting to the very end! FYI: Here’s some additional Bible verses that talk about God’s loving care: Psalm 121:3, Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:25-34, Matthew 10:26-31, Isaiah 49:15, Psalm 103:13-14.
June 25, 2016
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” ESV “Come to me, all of you who are weary and loaded down with burdens, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble, and you will find rest for your souls, because my yoke is pleasant, and my burden is light.” ISV You may already know that each of the Gospels have a different focus and purpose, so while the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) share many of the same accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry, the focus of each author results in different emphases and applications. All that to say, the gospel of Matthew was written to a Jewish audience, and the call to the “weary and loaded down with burdens” was most likely referring to the difficulties of keeping the Law. Did you know that there were not only hundreds of Old Testament rules and regulations for the Jewish people to keep, but over the centuries, the religious leaders had added hundreds more dos and don’ts of their own stipulations to what God said? This was, in fact, one of the things Jesus often pointed out to the religious leaders as sin. He wanted them to “get” that what they were so “religiously” obeying was really man’s rules, NOT what God had told to Moses. The whole point of the Law was to demonstrate that not only was it impossible to fully obey it, but trying to do so actually led to people sinning more. This is because the sin nature easily comes up with endless ways to not obey God by outright disobedience or by altering what God said until it can be “obeyed” on our own terms (not something WE do today. . . is it???). The huge contrast that Jesus was offering them was that trusting in Him as Savior is easy—and the life that God gives to obedient believers is abundant and full of mercy, grace, peace, joy—and rest. What’s for us in this passage? The principles are just as true for church-age believers. Living life our way is burdensome and hard, living life God’s way isn’t always easy, but the calmness of heart, the joy of spirit, and the close fellowship with God as our Father, is too marvelous to define with mere words. Are you burdened today? Though we sometimes might THINK that it is because we are living obediently before God, this cannot be it. I John 5:3 says that God’s commands are NOT burdensome! When we are living as God said to live, we ARE still working hard, but we have the power of God in that other yoke. We have Jesus Christ at our side to draw wisdom from and to enjoy the calmness of a life that is right with God. Jesus said that in Him is peace. There is no need for us to struggle on our own. FYI: Just a few verses before verses 28-30, Jesus said that God is pleased to reveal deep truths about Himself to “infants.” By that He means “regular” folk—like you and me. God likes to use “little” people to do great things for Him! How encouraging to know that we don’t have to be a genius to understand and apply God’s Word! We simply need to humbly place ourselves at the feet of Jesus to listen, learn, and grow.
June 24, 2016
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ESV “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, the Messiah! He is our merciful Father and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our suffering, so that we may be able to comfort others in all their suffering, as we ourselves are being comforted by God.”ISV There are two pretty huge blessings in this verse! The first biggie is that GOD (the God of mercies and comfort!) comforts us in ALL our affliction. Can you grasp that? The Mighty One, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Creator, the Sustainer, the Everlasting One. . . comforts YOU. You are precious to Him. Of all the millions of people that have come and gone since Adam, God reaches down with love and tenderness to help YOU with your heartaches. Do you notice? Do you respond to His grace and bring your heartaches to Him? Do you thank Him? Do you praise His name? Do you tell others what great things the Father has done for you? The second huge blessing in these verses is that God allows us the joy of being able to comfort others when they are going through troubles of some kind. All the lessons and blessings He showed us about Himself we can now pass on to someone else, helping them fully appreciate His mercy, love, and grace. In other words, our afflictions can be a means of blessing to someone else!
Did you notice, too, that God said we are to comfort others AS WE have been comforted by God? Since God is not stingy with us and loves us in spite of our not-always-that-great response, do we need to re-think what TRUE comfort is? ARE you sharing what you’ve learned about your merciful Father with others? Are you keeping a watchful eye open for anyone and everyone who might need a hug, a prayer, and encouragement from God’s Word? Are you comforting them with the truth of our all-powerful God and what He can do (anything!)? That He is all-sufficient? That His love is unconditional? As Paul stated, “Blessed be God!” (If you want to read some of the things God comforted Paul in, keeping reading the rest of this chapter.) FYI: Did you know that God’s compassion for you is so great that He stores your tears in a bottle? He is especially tender for the sorrows that come as a result of our being mistreated in some way because of our love and service for Him. See Psalm 56:8.
June 23, 2016
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ESV “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone to heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us live our lives consistent with our confession of faith. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses. Instead, we have one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet he never sinned. So let us keep on coming boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” ISV
This is yet another verse that teaches us the do’s and don’ts and blessings of prayer: -Jesus is the One Who provides access to God the Father. That is why it is appropriate to end our prayers, “in Jesus’ name.” This access came at a high cost. It was Jesus’ loving, sacrificial, death on the cross that gave us salvation from the penalty of our sin, a new name, adoption into the family of God, the truth that God sees us as righteous and no longer guilty—and so much more. -Jesus in not only our Mediator and Access to God in prayer, He is our sympathetic High Priest. He understands COMPLETELY the challenges of living on earth in a human body. He understands, because He lived it too. But, more than that, He is our Example, because He handled the really hard things of life without sinning. Because He did it, we can too. Seem hard to believe? God says it is true, so we MUST accept it—and live our lives based on it. -God wants us to come boldly and with confidence to His throne. He WANTS to bless us. He WANTS to provide guidance and direction. He WANTS to see us succeed in living a victorious life. -God is the One Who can—and will—grant mercy and grace to help us in our time of need, often answering our prayers when we didn’t know there was a problem, and/or, giving us what we truly needed, even though we didn’t know what to ask for. He is GOD. He knows everything, past, present, and future, so He knows the situation far better than we ever could. He’ll always, always do the right thing. We can have great confidence and assurance in this. So, what is our take-home lesson? We MUST live our lives consistently with our new calling as children of a holy God. To do this, we need to continually come to God the Father in prayer to ask for the grace and mercy to help us (the Greek MEANS to keep coming to the throne of grace; to do so continually). Knowing that Jesus, our sympathetic Great High Priest, is interceding on our behalf and has paved the way with His own sinless life, is a huge comfort and encouragement to us. It can be done. God said so and Jesus proved Him right. We are never on our own as we strive to be like Christ and to please Him in all regards. Help from the very throne room of God is but a prayer away. FYI: In the Old Testament, God set up a high priest to serve as the one person who could mediate between God and the people. He could only enter God’s presence once a year, though, on the Day of Atonement. BUT, Jesus Christ, OUR High Priest, is in the presence of God continuously. We can come to God at any time and any place. Our access to God is 24/7, every single day of the year. Thank Him!
June 22, 2016
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” ESV “Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you. Come close to God, and he will come close to you.” ISV These verses are a good example of a verse that needs the context to be better understood (we can tell that because verse 7 begins with the word “therefore.”). James 4:1-10 “Where do those fights and quarrels among you come from? They come from your selfish desires that are at war in your bodies, don’t they? You want something but do not get it, so you commit murder. You covet something but cannot obtain it, so you quarrel and fight. You do not get things because you do not ask for them! You ask for something but do not get it because you ask for it for the wrong reason—for your own pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you know that friendship with the world means hostility with God? So whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God. Or do you think the Scripture means nothing when it says that the Spirit that God caused to live in us jealously yearns for us? But he gives all the more grace. And so he says, “God opposes the arrogant but gives grace to the humble.” Therefore, submit yourselves to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from you. 8 Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable, mourn, and cry. Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves in the Lord’s presence, and he will exalt you.” Pride, arrogance, selfishness. These are the things that top my common sin list. Horrible! How thankful I am that God forgives sin when we confess it to Him—and that He provides the biblical remedy so that we can learn what the right responses are in His eyes. Humility, submitting to God, resisting the Devil, drawing near to God, “cleaning” our hands, purifying our hearts, being focused on God alone—and more humility in the presence of God. These are the things God honors and rewards. These are the things that result in God answering our prayers—because we know the right things to ask for. These are the things that calm fights and quarrels among God’s people. It is a pretty sobering thing to read that every single time we choose to be “friends” with the world and appease our own sin natures, we are ALSO choosing to be God’s enemy. AND, it is a pretty incomprehensible thing that when we, sin-prone people, draw near to God, He draws near to us. Every time. Oh how these truths should impact our every thought, word, and deed! FYI: Verses 7-10 contain ten commands of God that in the original language call for immediate action; things that simply cannot be put off until another day.
BONUS: The biblical remedy for resisting the Devil is to draw near to God, AND by the grace of God, drawing near to God also results in Him drawing nearer to us!
June 21, 2016
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” ESV “If we make it our habit to confess our sins, in his faithful righteousness he forgives us for those sins and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.” ISV
What a shame it would be if we took this well-known verse for granted! God forgives our sins every single time we confess them!!! Not only that, but He takes it a huge step beyond that by also cleansing us from all unrighteousness. The “all unrighteousness” has to do with any other shortcoming or problem we have in our life —things that we did that didn’t please God, but that we didn’t know were displeasing to Him. In other words, every time we confess known sin to God, He makes us clean and white all over again. He restores the fellowship we have with Him as our Father. Wow. This is incredibly huge. We should be thanking God profusely for this grace every single day! FYI: In case you didn’t know, here’s some of the common terms associated with getting right with God and what they mean. They are all for believers only since someone who is unsaved cannot understand spiritual truth. -“Conviction” is to recognize that what we did was wrong in God’s sight and is, in fact, sin. -“Confess” means to “say the same thing as.” It is us acknowledging to God that what we did was sin—just as He said it was (not a “mistake,” “faulty judgment,” or other name that lessons its impact). “Repent” is a change in one’s thinking resulting in seeing the situation as God sees it. This will naturally lead to some changes in behavior, which is “Conversion” (“to return”). This is to rotate in the opposite direction of where we were headed to return to God’s way of doing/understanding something. Staying right with God is an essential thing for every single believer. It is something we probably need to do dozens of times a day—every single time we have disobeyed God in any way at all.
June 20, 2016
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” ESV “And this is the confidence that we have in him: if we ask for anything according to his will, he listens to us. And if we know that he listens to our requests, we can be sure that we have what we ask him for.” ISV
Here’s one of the verses that talk about asking God for things that we mentioned yesterday. Let’s break it down in parts to see how that helps us understand and apply it. -We can have confidence in God in “this:” -If we ask for anything, He listens to us. -When we know that He listens to us, we can also be sure that we have what we ask for. Did you notice that I missed a kind of important phrase? I think that too often we read a Bible verse really quickly and say, “Okay, I got it!” then dash off to obey it, but without an accurate understanding. Oh, to be sure, God is gracious and honors our love for Him and obedience to Him, but it also makes sense that He could be even more pleased with us if we took the time to think about what we have read. In this case, the essential missing phrase is, “according to His will.” God WILL give us what is according to His will, but not what He doesn’t want us to have (or when). But before you think this is a big trick and you shouldn’t even try to ask God for things, remember that we CAN know His will! We can spend time every single day reading our Bibles so that we know what pleases God and what displeases Him, then we can pray for the things we know God wants. With time, and some devoted, consistent Bible study, we can know better and better what God’s will is—and—as we spend time learning about God and drawing closer to Him, we will think more like Him. Then, as a natural consequence of knowing God’s character and what He desires for us, knowing how to pray effectively—within His will, will get easier and easier. We get to know anyone we spend a lot of time with better and better, eventually having a good sense of what they might like, what their opinion would probably be about something, and what they will likely say about some topic. God wants us to have an exceedingly close walk with Him so that we can enjoy precious fellowship and so that we can know how to think, act, and speak. THAT is the abundant life Jesus mentioned in John 10. FYI: There ARE Bible verses that say, “This is the will of God…”. We don’t need to wonder about those areas, we just need to obey them. I Thessalonians 5 tells us that it is God’s will to be thankful in every circumstance, as well as to rejoice always, and pray without ceasing. It would be a great Bible study to look for more verses that tell us specifically what God’s will is!
June 18, 2016
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” ESV “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without any doubts, for the one who has doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. Such a person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. He is a double-minded man, unstable in all he undertakes.”
Who doesn’t need wisdom??? I know that I sure do! Did you know there is a sure-fire way to get wisdom? James 1 tells us how! He says, “Ask God.” Pretty awesome, wouldn’t you say? There are even multiple Bible passages that instruct us to simply ask God when we have a need of any kind. There are a few things we need to keep in mind when asking God for wisdom, though. For one thing, most of us don’t like it when someone asks our advice about something, but then they go off and do the opposite. It’s annoying and kind of insulting. Well, God’s not that keen on it either. Only, of course, we cannot even BEGIN to compare our advice to what God has to say about something. His direction is the right one 100% of the time. He is, after all, GOD! His answers are not optional. It is our duty to obey them. Here’s what James is saying God doesn’t like: God doesn’t like us putting His Word on one side of a scale, and some other “good idea” on the other. If He has told us what to do, He expects us to obey it. There is NOTHING to decide other than to obey with an enthusiastic “Yes, Lord.” To be double-minded is to have two minds, one in favor of God’s Word, the other in favor of the world or our own ideas. How could ANY idea be good apart from God? It can’t. FYI: The biblical definition of wisdom is to apply God’s Word to the circumstances of our life. James reminds us that wisdom helps us consider various trials as pure joy! Now THAT’S something we sure can’t do apart from God’s help!
June 17, 2016
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” ESV “Stop being deceived; God is not to be ridiculed. A person harvests whatever he plants: The person who sows through human means will harvest decay from human means, but the person who sows in the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit. Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up.” ISV
Reaping eternal life in this passage is not talking about salvation from our sins. We know it cannot be, simply because the Bible is very clear that belief in Jesus Christ is the only requirement for salvation—and this passage is talking about something we are supposed to be doing. It’s important to know that not every single use of the word “saved” is talking about our salvation from the penalty of sin. The word means “rescue” and could be talking about a variety of things we can be rescued from (Peter asked Jesus to “save” him when he was about to drown). Similarly, “eternal life” sometimes has more to do with the quality of life versus the quantity. In John 10, Jesus said that He came in order to give us life that is abundant, meaning the quality of our life as His children. You see, the things that we spend our time on and the things we invest in, these are the things that will determine how much we are pleasing God and how much we are becoming like Christ. God cannot be fooled—and it would be exceedingly foolish to try. Either we are living for Him the way He commands us to, or we’re not. Those who don’t give up living obediently according to Scripture WILL reap a harvest—SO, don’t give up. Keep on keeping on. Hang in there. FYI: Galatians 6:10 is a wonderful life verse that is the natural progression of verses 7-9. SO THEN, whenever we have an opportunity, practice doing good to everyone, but especially to fellow believers. God is pleased when this is our habitual practice. In what ways can you do good for someone today?
June 16, 2016
“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” ESV “Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, unmovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that the work that you do for the Lord isn’t wasted.”
This is one verse that really needs a bit more of the context to fully appreciate the thrust of the final verse. Read I Corinthians 15:45- 58: “This, indeed, is what is written: “The first man, Adam, became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. The spiritual does not come first, but the physical does, and then comes the spiritual. The first man came from the dust of the earth; the second man came from heaven. Those who are made of the dust are like the man from the dust; those who are heavenly are like the man who is from heaven. Just as we have borne the likeness of the man who was made from dust, we will also bear the likeness of the man from heaven. Brothers, this is what I mean: Mortal bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God, and what decays cannot inherit what does not decay. Let me tell you a secret. Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed— in a moment, faster than an eye can blink, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed. For what is decaying must be clothed with what cannot decay, and what is dying must be clothed with what cannot die. Now, when what is decaying is clothed with what cannot decay, and what is dying is clothed with what cannot die, then the written word will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up by victory!” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Now death’s stinger is sin, and sin’s power is the Law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus the Messiah! Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, unmovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that the work that you do for the Lord isn’t wasted.” BECAUSE Jesus came to earth and took the form of a Man, BECAUSE He obeyed God’s plan for the redemption of mankind all the way to His death, BECAUSE God raised Him to life again, forever defeating sin and death, what was begun with Adam, the first man (physical and spiritual death and decay), was reversed with Jesus Christ (the second Man). SO, you and I have victory over death too! Death has no sting for the child of God! Sin has no power over us! THEREFORE, we can be steadfast (firm in place, unwavering), unmovable (firmly persistent), ALWAYS excelling (abounding) in the work of the LORD (not any personal agendas), BECAUSE we KNOW that the work that we do for the Lord is not wasted or of no value (empty, devoid of truth). What we do for God matters. It has always mattered and it will always matter. FYI: Ecclesiastes reminds us that what humans usually pursue apart from God IS empty, but I Corinthians 15, Hebrews 6, Galatians 6—and a host of other passages—remind us that labor we do for the Lord has eternal value.
June 15, 2016
“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” ESV “For God is not so unjust as to forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have ministered to the saints and continue to minister to them. But we want each of you to continue to be diligent to the very end, in order to give full assurance to your hope. Then, instead of being lazy, you will imitate those who are inheriting the promises through faith and patience.” ISV
The promise here is very comforting: God will not forget what we’ve done for Him, including how we’ve demonstrated love to others of His children. Isn’t that awesome! Since we forget important things all the time, what a delight it is to know that God never forgets. My husband recently preached at a funeral where the believer who died had Alzheimer's. By the time the Lord took her home, she no longer remembered who she was, let alone her service for the Lord. BUT, all the people in attendance could confirm that she had indeed served God her entire life, laying up vast treasures in heaven. She might not have remembered any of that, BUT God sure did—and has, no doubt, restored her memory and shared His joy and pleasure at how she was faithful to Him in the months since her promotion. Did you notice some of the important reminders in today’s verses? The author encourages the believers (and us!) to CONTINUE to minister to other believers, in fact to be diligent TO THE VERY END! To NOT grow weary of doing good (because we will reap a harvest at the right time Gal. 6:9). He adjures us to not be lazy (sluggish, dull of hearing), but to follow the example of other believers who have lived an excellent example in this regard (Abraham is given as a example in the verses to follow). Have you ministered to other saints? Are you right now showing God’s love to them in word and deed? Keep doing it! Never give up. BE an example to others about how a faithful daughter of the King acts, having full assurance that God is watching and will reward. FYI: There IS something God forgets! Well, kinda-sorta. He CHOOSES to no longer remember our sins after we have confessed them to Him. (That’s way better than God “forgiving and forgetting.”) We have SO MUCH to be thankful for! Hebrews 8:12, “For I will be merciful regarding their wrong deeds, and I will never again remember their sins.”
June 14, 2016
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” ESV “And my God will fully supply your every need according to his glorious riches in the Messiah Jesus.” ISV
What do you “need” today? Is it a physical need? Money? Something for your health or well-being? Is your need for something more along the line of a job or a friend or a vacation? A new car? How about spiritual needs? Do you need a better relationship with God? A more meaningful prayer life? The get-up-and-go to dedicate more time to Bible study? A deeper understanding about what pleases God and what displeases Him? Good news! God will FULLY SUPPLY your EVERY NEED! AND, He does this according to His GLORIOUS RICHES in Christ Jesus! I don’t see how it could possible get any better than THAT! Dear one, who or what are you turning to, to fulfill your needs? Are your “needs” the things that God says you truly need, or could they, perhaps, be merely a personal preference, or even a misdirection of focus that originates from the world? These are important questions we need to prayerfully look into before we accuse God of not meeting our needs (and isn’t that what grumbling or complaining really is?). How much better to operate on the joyful assurance that God’s got our back and that if HE sees there is a need in some area, big or little, He WILL supply it—and supply it richly. How much better to go through life accepting that if we don’t have something, God has clearly shown that we don’t need it, or at least don’t need it at that time. This will free us up to give Him thanksgiving, glory, and praise; to do His will, and to seek to please Him in all we do, say, and think. FYI: Paul concluded his comments about God’s perfect supply of his needs by saying, “Glory belongs to our God and Father forever and ever! Amen. (v.20).” What a great way to begin and end our days too!
June 13, 2016
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” ESV “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor anything above, nor anything below, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is ours in union with the Messiah Jesus, our Lord.” ISV
In our fallen world, we lose a lot of things: our keys, our favorite shirt, our gloves from last winter, that box of macaroni we know is in the pantry SOMEWHERE. . . Sadly, sometimes we lose very much more valuable things, like friendships. Some misunderstanding occurs and a tie with someone special is broken. We lose jobs, our health, loved ones in death, and a never ending line of things. Sometimes what we lose is no big deal and we either do without or replace it, other times we are shaken to our core and need to lean on the Lord for help to deal with it and move on. Loss is part of the effect sin has in our world. HOWEVER, there is one thing a child of God cannot ever, ever lose. It is the love of God. His love is rock-solid. It is based on Who He is—and nothing can ever shake it or break it. If He loved us enough to not spare His Son, we can trust that He will also love us enough to provide all we need to live faithfully for Him. Romans 8 even gives us a list of pretty much any possible thing/being that might try to whisk God’s love away from us: things visible and things invisible, but NOTHING can stand up against God’s love for us, not even ourselves. There’s nothing that we can say, do, or not say or not do that leads to God not loving us with His whole being. His love is unconditional and eternal. What should be our response to this assurance? Undying gratitude for one, but verse 37 reminds us that we ARE “triumphantly victorious” because of what Jesus did on our behalf. We are on the winning side! Christ has defeated sin and death—and through Him, we have too! SO LIVE LIKE IT. Live righteously, secure in the knowledge that God loves you and will always love you. Live in gratitude to the One Who set you free from sin and death. Tell others about your amazing Father and Savior. FYI: Here’s another passage to prayerfully reflect on and thank God for; it talks about the love of God and how it affects His children: Ephesians 3:14-21 “ For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
June 11, 2016
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” ESV “But now this is what the Lord says, the one who created you, Jacob, the one who formed you, Israel: “Do not be afraid, because I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I’ll be with you; and through the rivers, they won’t sweep over you. When you walk through fire you won’t be scorched, and the flame won’t set you ablaze. “I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Redeemer.” ISV
Just as in Jeremiah 29, these verses are directed to Israel, but there are principles that apply to those of us living in the church age. A biggie is that God has called us by name, too. In John 10, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me (v.14).” GOD KNOWS YOU BY NAME. That should never get old! He knows us because He created us. He formed us. We belong to Him. Another biggie is found in Isaiah 43:2: “I will be with you.” We never go through even one single “river” or “flame” by ourselves. God is always with us every step of the way. Do you remember the Apostle Paul’s confident proclamation in recounting his long, lonely imprisonment? He said in II Timothy 4:17, “The Lord stood by me and gave me strength.” This same God is YOUR God. He has unlimited strength, are you availing yourself of it? Our response to these precious truths about our God? “Do not be afraid.” Again we find that the simple response is to trust God, to remember Who He is and how much He loves us, to claim His promises and respond in obedient, calm, trust.
FYI: Did you notice that God identified Himself as the “Holy One of Israel”? A great reminder that to be like Christ, we must be pursuing holiness!
June 10, 2016
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” ESV “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity, in order to give you a future and a hope.” ISV
One of the things I enjoy doing on Pinterest is to surf for beautifully done Scripture art. I enjoy seeing what meaningful ways people have highlighted a verse that is special to them. One of the most frequently found Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11. As I’ve mentioned before, the extreme popularity of a verse makes me a bit suspicious of it. Well, not really of the verse, but of why so many people love it. I wonder if they really and truly understand what the verse is about and are accurately applying it to their lives and situations. So, here’s what I found out about Jeremiah 29:11: This verse (and the whole chapter) is written to the Jews living in exile in Babylon. They (not surprisingly) did not want to be in a foreign country, so they began talking about revolting against the government and causing trouble, but God told them that He wanted them to accept that this is where they now lived and to establish homes and families. They were to worship Him there. He also commanded them to pray for the nation! He said that He intended to bless the nation of Babylon—because His people were there. He also promised that they would one day be returned to Israel, and there is even a hint at of the more complete return to the promised land that all Jews will experience in the Millennium. Is there anything there for us? Well, it would be more of a principle, since this is clearly directed very specifically to the Jews in exile. The blessed truth that God loves His chosen ones, and will always love them and take care of them, has always been true and will always be true. And since God has chosen us to be His daughters, we can rest assured that He will never leave us or forsake us either. Furthermore, we know that one day, when the heavens and earth have been remade, God will reside here on earth with us. What a glorious day that will be! In the meantime, go ahead and be comforted in the truth that God knows exactly what He’s doing. Even though we may be going through some difficulty (the Israelites had to accept that they would be exiled from their beloved homeland for seventy years!), God’s plan is right, good, and perfect. FYI: In this chapter God warned the people that men were speaking in His name, but that He did not send them. He wanted the Hebrews to be very careful about people who may be deceiving them. With the prevalence of “Christian” teachers on the radio and internet, we need to also be mighty careful we’re not listening to those who are teaching something that is not God’s Word.
June 9, 2016
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ESV “But those who keep waiting for the Lord will renew their strength. Then they’ll soar on wings like eagles; they’ll run and not grow weary; they’ll walk and not grow tired.” ISV
Here’s another beloved Bible verse—and for good reason. The promise of not only not getting tired, but also being able to “soar” is a pretty exciting thought as we trudge through our days physically and spiritually TIRED. What do we have to DO to get this much-desired strength? Trust. We simply need to trust God and His perfect timing and plan. That simple, that profound. And if God gives us a tomorrow, we need to trust Him then, too. Did you notice the ISV said, “keep waiting”? We may have to remind ourselves a hundred times a day to trust God with our burdens, but it is still always the right thing to do, and when we do, we can live for Him with new strength! On the off chance that you haven’t take the time to soak in Isaiah 40:21-31 in awhile, I pray that you will slowly read it now, taking the time to stand in awe over the incomparable God we call our Father. When you’re done, be sure and pause to pray and thank Him for all He is, all He does, and all He will yet do—because He loves you. “You know, don’t you? You have heard, haven’t you? Hasn’t it been told you from the beginning? Haven’t you understood from the foundations of the earth? He’s the one who sits above the disk of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He’s the one who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to live in, who brings princes to nothing, and makes void the rulers of the earth. No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown, no sooner have their stems taken root in the earth, than he blows on them, and they wither, and the tempest sweeps them away like stubble. “To whom, then, will you compare me, and to whom should I be equal?” asks the Holy One. “Lift your eyes up to heaven and see who created all these—the one who leads out their vast array of stars by number, calling them all by name—because of his great might and his powerful strength—and not one is missing.” “Jacob, why do you say— and Israel, why do you complain—‘My predicament is hidden from the Lord, and my cause is ignored by my God.’? Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the eternal God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not grow tired or weary; and his understanding cannot be fathomed. He’s the one who gives might to the faint, renewing strength for the powerless. Even boys grow tired and weary, and young men collapse and fall, but those who keep waiting for the Lord will renew their strength. Then they’ll soar on wings like eagles; they’ll run and not grow weary; they’ll walk and not grow tired.”
June 8, 2016
“The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” ESV “The Lord is good— a refuge in troubled times. He knows those who are confiding in him.” ISV
Here’s another passage that reminds us what an incredible Father we have! First of all, He is good. He isn’t “just” good in what He does and thinks, He is what DEFINES good. If we want a truthful, complete, final definition of what good really and truly is, we only need to observe our God to find our answers. This is true, of course, in every single area of life (what is right, love, truth, mercy, grace, holiness—everything). Not sure how to go about it? Well one huge way that Jesus Himself told us about is to observe HIM. He said that He is the exact representation of God the Father and that if we wanted to know what God is like, look to Him. Isn’t this exciting? We have the entire Bible that teaches us about Jesus Christ, about God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit! It tells us what is important to focus on in life, what our goals must be, what we are to avoid, what happened before our time, and what will happen in the eons to come! Why WOULDN’T we be digging into our Bibles every single day! Nahum reminds us again that God is our Refuge and Stronghold, a most worthy Champion and Comforter. And don’t you just LOVE that last part? God KNOWS those who come to Him for help, comfort, and direction. He knows about YOUR trials and struggles! He is YOUR refuge and Stronghold! FYI: This isn’t the only other verse that comforts and encourages us concerning our God’s trustworthiness and care, Psalm 27:1 and Psalm 37:39 are two more great ones to look up and claim as your own.
June 7, 2016
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” ESV “The one who lives in the shelter of the Most High, who rests in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, “You are my refuge, my fortress, and my God in whom I trust!” ISV
These verses are a nice follow up to yesterday’s reminder that God is at work in the life of the believer who loves Him and obeys Him. He works out all things to bring about conformation to the image of Christ in us. That is such a wonderful truth to be reminded about! There IS a purpose in hard things and joyful things! But it cannot be denied that there are hard things in our lives. Knowing that the goal in them is to grow more Christlike is extremely helpful as both a comfort and also a direction for what we do and how. Psalm 91, though, gives us another reminder that makes all the difference in the world: those who go TO God in their distress will find shelter. They will enjoy God as their Refuge and Fortress. They will KNOW He is worthy of complete trust. How awesome is that! I love, too, the ending of this Psalm where God replies to the one who trusts in His tender, watchful care. This is what He says, “Because he has focused his love on me, I will deliver him. I will protect him because he knows my name. When he calls out to me, I will answer him. I will be with him in his distress. I will deliver him, and I will honor him. I will satisfy him with long life; I will show him my deliverance.” FYI: There are a few different titles for God in this Psalm. We do find His name, Yahweh (LORD), but also the titles “Most High” (Elyon, High Above Every Other Power), “Almighty” (El Shaddai, Most Powerful, God, the Mountain One). We also see God described as a Shelter, Refuge, and Fortress.
June 6, 2016
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” ESV “And we know that for those who love God, that is, for those who are called according to his purpose, all things are working together for good. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that the Son might be the firstborn among many brothers.” ISV
Over the years, God has brought several truths to my mind that might not seem “new” to simply read them or state them, but a deeper understanding of His Word naturally led to a deeper understanding of those principles. One of these truths is that we, as believers, often take for granted that we understand what a word or concept from Scripture means—until we study God’s Word more fully—and discover that the way we were defining something was in actuality a definition that someone somewhere came up with. It might kind of “be the same thing,” but maybe not fully enough to completely convey what GOD wants us to understand. I say all that babbling to mention that the word “good” is definitely one of those often misunderstood words. What we say is good versus what God says is good is often something very different. Romans 8:28 is a great example of a much-loved verse that is often misunderstood or not understood completely. WE say that “good” is God turning an unpleasant situation into one we like and that makes us happy. God says that He will use the situations and circumstances of our days to bring about good. And what is that good? That we be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (v.29). In other words, even the tough things of life have a “good” end goal: they are to be a teaching tool as we seek to better and better imitate Christ in our words, actions, and attitudes. Did you notice that not everyone will reach this goal; that not everyone has God working for their good? God reserves this special blessing for those who are 1) His children, and 2) His children who LOVE HIM. How does GOD define a child who loves Him? It is those who obey His Word, not merely those who SAY they love Him. Children of God who love Him and obey Him should have a completely different viewpoint about struggles, trials, hiccups in the road, sudden illnesses, and other hard things. They should also have a right viewpoint of what they might think of as “happy” things. It is the realization that God is using ALL THINGS for our good—to help us grow into the image of His beloved Son. A Challenge: Keep your eyes open for words and concepts that are defined one way by the world and another in the Bible. Once you identify a few of these, take it a step further and prayerfully evaluate whether your understanding is what most Christians commonly think, but which might not be exactly what GOD said. The key to this kind of study is to rely heavily on the Holy Spirit in prayer and to base all doctrine solely on God’s Word alone. In other words, just find out what the Bible says in its own words. It’s a fun and exciting thing to do!
June 4, 2016
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” ESV “I am convinced of this, that the one who began a good action among you will bring it to completion by the Day of the Messiah Jesus.” ISV
If it’s one thing humans understand, it is that we cannot always complete what we set out to do, nor can we make things perfect, however hard we try. This is borne out in multiple ways at every hand. BUT, and here’s the thing that should cause us tremendous joy and peace, OUR GOD CAN FULFILL HIS PROMISES—AND HE DOES. Oh, how we need to remind ourselves of this over and over! We too often attribute to God the failures and flaws of human kind, not remembering or not understanding that He is GOD. He is perfect. What He does is perfect. He cannot fall, He cannot fail. AND this perfect God is OUR Father! So we, along with Paul, can have perfect confidence that the God Who chose us to be numbered among His children, WILL continue to mature us and “finish” us—right up until the day Jesus Christ returns for us. Bliss! We will one day BE mature and “complete.” It’s just a matter of time. So… what about today? Is merely waiting for God to finish His work in us enough? Can we sit back and hope to become more like Christ in a passive way? Nope. Sorry. That just is not how God operates. He gives us the strength and direction to live victoriously for Him, but He also expects us to trust Him by obeying His Word. He expects us to confess every single sin to Him—and to keep laboring to remember that we never HAVE to sin, resulting in our choosing to not sin in the first place. God, our Father, expects us to be studying His Word and applying it to our lives, and He expects that we will stay in exceedingly close communication with Him via prayer. The same God Who saved you from eternity in Hell will also help you grow in your Christian walk. He will bring you to completion. He will do all He promised. The big question, I suppose, is, are YOU are being faithful to Him? FYI: There are many other verses that talk about this. Look up Romans 8:29 and Ephesians 4:13, 15 for a start.
June 3, 2016
“I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” ESV “I know the one in whom I have put my trust, and I’m convinced that he is able to protect what he has entrusted to me until the day that he comes.” ISV
Did you know that you have a treasure chest in heaven? That God is keeping a record of every single labor you did for Him? Every decision to obey Him? Every time you set aside your will for His?
Did you know that nothing you do for Him is lost or valueless? God cherishes each and every act of love and trust, and He keeps them for us. Why? Because He has big plans to reward you for them! Oh, it’s true that there are multiple ways God blesses our obedient actions and lives right now—each day is FILLED with His generous, gracious, merciful love and goodness—but He also has very specific ways He intends to reward His faithful children in the Millennium and beyond. These are things that have been entrusted to Him (literally, “deposited”), and these are the things that are 100% safe in His care. So… just as Paul refused to be ashamed of His Savior and labored to tell others about what wonderful things He had done for them, so we too should never be ashamed, or shy, or hesitant to speak long and loud about our amazing God. Never be ashamed of the holy calling with which we are called. With great joy and focus, we can determine to live a holy life, looking to follow the perfect example of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. I know the end of the story. It is God receiving all honor and glory. It is the Son being crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is the faithful children of God ruling and reigning alongside King Jesus. It’s a done deal. A certainty. God said so!
FYI: Did you know that references to “the day” or “that day” in the New Testament are reference to the Bema Seat Judgment? This is where what Christians have done for Christ in their lifetime will be evaluated. The things done in the right way are the ones that will be rewarded. Sadly, there will also be a loss of reward for the things we should have done and chose not to, as well as those done with poor motives. BUT, today is a new day in which we can choose to live God’s way and begin to fill that treasure chest more!
June 2, 2016
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.” ESV “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the full knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and excellence. Through these he has given us his precious and wonderful promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, seeing that you have escaped the corruption that is in the world caused by evil desires.” ISV
Ephesians 5:1 commands us as God's beloved children to imitate Him; Ephesians 4:24 tells us that God’s children have a “new self’ created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Leviticus 11:44 and I Peter 1:15-16 command us to be holy as God is holy. Kind of a big order, wouldn’t you say? BUT, look again at II Peter 1:3. God has given us the power we need to live a life of godliness. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the living Word of God, God’s children CAN and MUST be becoming more like Christ in thought, word, attitude, and action. What our responsibilities are as a daughter of the King in relation to God enabling us to carry them out is an interesting thing to study. Basically it is this: God commands us to do something WHILE giving us the ability to do it (because of the work of His Son on the cross and through the power and direction of the Holy Spirit). He is the One Who gives us a job, gives us the ability and knowledge to do it, BUT He expect us to work at it. We cannot grow more holy in a vacuum. We need to study our Bibles to know not only what God expects of His children, but to gain more and more knowledge about Him so that we will know what imitating God looks like. We need, as well, to study Jesus Christ, so that we can follow in His steps and imitate what He did, why, and how (realizing, of course, that we cannot ever perform miracles, but we CAN choose to obey God’s will first and foremost). In fact, if we read the rest of II Peter 1, we find all sorts of examples of what a God-honoring believer looks like. Working on this results in great rewards in the Kingdom yet to come, and ultimately brings glory and honor to God.
Even though we may THINK we cannot live a life of godliness, God says we CAN because He has given to us everything we need to accomplish it. FYI: The word “excellence” was used by Greek writers to describe the sum of all desirable character qualities - Jesus Christ being the most perfect example of.
June 1, 2016
“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” ESV “Now to the one who is able to keep you from falling and to make you stand joyful and faultless in his glorious presence, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus the Messiah, our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time and for all eternity! Amen.” ISV
These outstanding verses seemed great ones to look at to begin a month-long look at the faithful God we serve. As we get up each morning seeking to “be holy as He is holy,” it can be encouraging and helpful to be reminded that it is, indeed, worth it. Each tiny sacrifice we make, each way we labor hard for Him, every time focus on His will instead of our own, brings glory to God and is rewarded richly by God to some degree now, and hugely in glory. We find in Jude 24 and 25 that our God is worthy of glory (great honor), majesty (acknowledgement that He is the greatest of all), power/dominion (His sovereign reign knows no boundaries), and authority (He is THE Ruler over all creation). This has always been how God should be honored—and it will always be how He should be honored. He is WORTHY. What does this perfect, mighty, sovereign God do for His children? He keeps us from stumbling and falling as we make our way through our challenging days in this sin-filled world! He gives us the ability and power to say “no!” to sin, and “yes!” to righteous living. But that’s not all! Because of the work Jesus Christ, our Savior, did for us on Calvary, our Mighty Father WILL bring us before His presence FAULTLESS and with GREAT JOY! Dear one, God NEVER takes His eyes off of you. He never stops watching over you and helping you as you labor to become more like His beloved Son. He never stops blessing obedience—and like all good Fathers do, He never stops correcting us when we have disobeyed and strayed from the path of righteousness so that we will return to Him and return to the place of blessing. I think this is ample reason to give God all glory and praise, don’t you? But there’s another application as well. Jude was writing to people who were being challenged by teachers of heresy—which is ANY teaching that is contrary to God’s Word in even the smallest of ways. Jude was encouraging them to avoid false teaching with every fiber of their being, and instead to trust God, Who is able to keep them from stumbling. Sounds pretty pertinent to twenty-first century believers, too! FYI: Did you know that “Amen” means “so be it” or “it is so”?