Friday, October 28, 2016, 8:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Gift of God.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 85 (ESV).
You Forgave Us (vv. 1-3)
Lord, you were favorable to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people;
you covered all their sin. Selah
You withdrew all your wrath;
you turned from your hot anger.
God showed his favor (grace) to us by sending his Only Begotten Son to die on a cross for our sins. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Co. 5:21). So, when Jesus Christ was crucified on a cross, our sins also died with him, and were buried with him. Then, God the Father resurrected him from the dead. When Jesus rose from the dead, he rose victorious over sin, hell, Satan and death. Thus, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our sins, be set free from slavery to sin, be given new lives in Christ Jesus, and have the hope of heaven with God when we die.
So, how do we receive such a great salvation? We receive God’s gift of grace to us through faith in Jesus Christ. So, what does it mean to have faith in Jesus Christ? It means we accept, by faith, the fact that Jesus Christ, God incarnate, was put to death for our sins, that he rose from the dead victorious over our sins, and that, after having been seen by maybe as many as 500 people, he ascended back to the Father. Then, he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell his followers, and one day he is coming back to take us to be with him forever. Then, we confess (repent of) our sins to God, pray for his forgiveness, and we submit our hearts and lives over to him, to live our lives for him, in obedience to him, from that moment on.
When we put our trust in Jesus Christ to be Lord (owner-master) and Savior of our lives, we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ in newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). We put off our old lives of living for sin and self, and we put on our new lives in Christ Jesus. We no longer walk according to our sinful flesh, but we now conduct our lives according to his Spirit. For, Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us (See: Ro. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Co. 5:15).
Revive us Again (vv. 4-7)
Restore us again, O God of our salvation,
and put away your indignation toward us!
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger to all generations?
Will you not revive us again,
that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your steadfast love, O Lord,
and grant us your salvation.
Nonetheless, it is possible for those who had once turned from sin to walk in obedience to Christ, to be caught up in sin once more. The world and its influences have gradually and subtly seeped their way into the church and back into the lives of Christ’s followers, so that many have strayed from their pure devotion to Jesus Christ to follow after the “gods” of this world. And, so, God is calling out to his wayward people, and he is confronting them with their sins of idolatry and spiritual adultery, and he is calling them to repent of their sins and to turn back to him in pure devotion. Yet, many of them are not paying attention, because so much of the church has gone the way of the world, and it is now commonplace for those who call themselves Christians to live not much different from those in the world.
Because God has been calling out to his adulterous church for some time, and largely she has not listened, and has not repented and returned to her first love, God is sending some divine discipline on his church to get her to repent, I believe. God disciplines all those he loves, so not all discipline is because we are consciously and willfully sinning against God. Some discipline (trials and tribulations) is for the purpose to mature us in Christ and to make us more like Jesus, i.e. it is to prune us and to purify us. Yet, God will send judgment on his wayward church in order to revive her and to restore her to himself, and to return her to pure fellowship with him.
Yet, I believe the church has been under judgment for some time now, and part of that judgment has been to hand her over to those who would deceive and manipulate her, but that God intends to rescue her. Next, the church in America is going to face some severe persecution, unlike what most of us have ever known before in our lives. But, through this, I believe, many eyes will be opened, and that God’s people will be delivered from slavery to those who have deceived them into following after their lies. God will rescue his people, and he will revive his church, and he will restore her to fellowship with him. I believe this is what scripture teaches (Old and New Testament) concerning these last days before Jesus Christ returns for his bride.
Not Turn Back (vv. 8-9)
Let me hear what God the Lord will speak,
for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints;
but let them not turn back to folly.
Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him,
that glory may dwell in our land.
It is so important that we continually stay connected with our head, Jesus Christ, so that we don’t stray from him, and so we don’t turn back to folly. If we are giving God/Jesus 5 minutes a day for devotions but we are giving ourselves hours upon hours of time spent in entertaining ourselves with the world’s values, morals, philosophies, attitudes and behaviors, how can we expect to stay connected to our head? We can’t. The one will override the other. So, we have to make Jesus truly Lord (master-owner) of our lives, and consider that we are his servants (slaves) to do what he wants, not what we want. We have to believe that our lives are not our own, to be lived how we want, but that we were bought back for God with the blood of Christ. So, we are to honor God with our lives in all that we do and are.
Steadfast Love (vv. 10-13)
Steadfast love and faithfulness meet;
righteousness and peace kiss each other.
Faithfulness springs up from the ground,
and righteousness looks down from the sky.
Yes, the Lord will give what is good,
and our land will yield its increase.
Righteousness will go before him
and make his footsteps a way.
Our God is totally righteous, good, faithful, merciful and just in all that he does. He does not have aspects of his divine character which are in conflict with each other. He can be loving and yet discipline us at the same time, because that is what loving parents do. They teach and train their children in the way they should go. They set boundaries and rules for them to follow. And, they correct them when they go astray. And, yet they hug their children and spend time with them, and care about their needs. These are not in conflict. They complement each other. And, this is how God treats us. Though he may have to discipline (chastise or rebuke) us, it just means he loves us enough to tell us the truth, and to help us to get back on track.
Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is what salvation is all about. So, if you are going astray right now, I pray you will repent of your sins, turn back to God, and walk in his righteous ways.
Gift of God / An Original Work / October 25, 2016
Based off Various Scriptures
Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Died for us on a cross;
Conquered death, sin, and hell,
So, with Him, we would dwell.
For, by His grace, we are saved.
He set us free from all sin.
Thanks be to God for His Gift.
Through faith in Him, we’re forgiven.
Holy Spirit of God,
Given to us who believe,
Gives us new life in Christ;
Made to be just like Him.
We died with Christ to our sin.
New lives in Him we begin,
Walking with Christ day by day.
We read His Word, and we pray.
Jesus, He is our Lord.
Follow Him where He leads.
Tell the world of His grace.
We’ll see Christ face to face.
Soon He is coming again.
We’ll be forever with Him.
He’ll wipe our tears all away.
Oh, what a wonderful day!