Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Selah (Pause, & Consider)

Praise to Your Name, Father, for another day in which to live, and move, and have my being... You have established Your throne in the heavens, and Your sovereignty rules over all, and throughout this day I plea You'll draw my thoughts to Yourself and Your sovereign supervision, continually.

Thank You for Your promised presence.... Your changeless Word... Your absolute faithfulness and constancy... Your trustworthy promises...

I would plea Your Spirit's filling work, now... and the cleansing that only Your Son's blood can accomplish, so that my thoughts this day would be taken captive to Your obedience, lifted continuously in praise to my only Hope and Redeemer.

Grant grace, Father, to guard my thoughts from despair, knowing that despair in all its forms is from the pit. Remind me, blessed Holy Spirit: it is ALWAYS too soon to despair. And that to fear is to slander every promise in Your Word...
In the Lord Jesus' Name,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ephesians: All of Grace (1:11-14)

"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-- having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory," (Ephesians 1:11---14).
*By His sovereign initiative, and according to His preordained plan, the omnipotent God of all that is willed that His elect ones would inherit eternal life through salvation in His Son.
Such inheritance is to the praise of His glory, being granted totally from all eternity by His uncoercible love.
Is this promised inheritance secure? Considering that a promise is only as valid as the one making it, yes! For it is the Creator of the universe, the One whose mere word spoke everything into existence, who so promises our prepared place with Him throughout the eons.
Who's pledge would be more dependable?
And should we doubt the bare giving of His word, He deigns to take up personal residence within His own in the Person of the blessed Holy Spirit!
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him," (Romans 8:15, 16).
So the presence, ministry, urging, gifting, comforting, convicting ministries of the Holy Spirit within us confirm the truth that He resides therein... and particularly in His taking the Word and applying it as we need it the most.
And He is given as a down payment, a guarantee of things to come. As the Lord Jesus put it so beautifully, "If it were not so, I would have told you."
How utterly gracious of our Lord to give such reassurance to His men, and by extension to us!
As life's ebbing becomes more and more keenly felt, and the energies of younger years increasingly wane, these assurances of Scripture become all the more cherished, as does the One who promised them.

Ephesians: All of Grace (1:8b-9a)

"...In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will.."

*In matters eternal,if it isn't revealed it's concealed. It's either revelation or speculation. Had God determined to withhold inspiration of His Word, we would not know His heart, His provisions or His prohibitions. We would be left to guess what happened before we were born, and what will transpire after we are gone.

Such speculation is exactly what the non-Christian engages in, since he "does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised," (I Corinthians 2:14). Notice the distinction between "does not accept" (refusal), and "cannot understand" (inability). Apart from the regenerating and revealing work of the Holy Spirit, there is no spiritual discernment, no comprehending God's workings, wills, and ways.

*For the redeemed one, however, God graciously makes known His perspective (wisdom), and understanding (insight). By the faithful ministry of the resident Holy Spirit, the Christian is able to appraise the spiritual dimensions of life, thereby experiencing a God-awareness unknown to lost humanity.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ephesians: All of Grace (1:7c, 8a)

"... according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us."

*God is totally other-oriented, generous beyond measure. The lavishing of His favor is according to the riches of His grace. What an amazing difference between out of and according to! Were Bill Gates, the Microsoft billionaire, to give me a sum out of his wealth, it could range from a penny to almost all he has. But if he were to give according to his financial capabilities, I'd be an instant millionaire, at least. He would be parting with a sum in proportion to his store.
The spiritual application is mind-boggling. The infinitely-great Creator of all that is, the One Who spoke everything into existence, and sustains it all by His omnipotence, has seen fit in the giving of His Son to show His elect favor in salvation according to the riches of His grace! Who can fathom a proportion of infinite riches? Who can truly grasp such giving? And to then consider the recipients of such lavishing...!
Reminds me of II Samuel 9:7,8, where the crippled son of Jonathan, Mephibosheth, is shown favor by King David. "Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father, Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly," said the king. Mephibosheth, lame in both feet, with no claim on the king's favor, prostrates himself, and says, "What is your servant, that you should regard a dead dog like me?"
So says the Christian to the God of the universe... once spiritually dead, totally incapable of anything spiritually pleasing to Him, and yet is lavished with forgiveness according to the riches of His grace in Christ Jesus!
No wonder it's called amazing grace.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Ephesians: All of Grace (1:7b)

"...the forgiveness of our trespasses..."

*I recall a story I came across years ago, where a group of Christian men went camping. As they sat around the fire that night, the conversation turned to spiritual things. One posed, "What is the most beautiful word in the Bible?" One said, "grace", another, "love"... and another, "hope." There was some reflective silence, until one of the group whose past was filled with much rebellion and sin said with tear-filled eyes, "For me, the most precious word in all the Bible is 'forgiven.'
Though painful, it is a wondrous work that the Holy Spirit of God does when He reveals to someone his sin. Since our hearts are more deceitful than all else (Jeremiah17:9), and desperately sick, how else could we understand that we have transgressed God's standard of holiness, unless the Spirit reveals the truth?
When He does confront one with the enormity of his sin and the deserved consequences that will ensue, there is great grief and inner turmoil. It is the cry of Isaiah catching a glimpse of God's absolute holiness: "Woe is me, for I am ruined!" (Isaiah 6:5).
The more intense this awareness of sin, the deeper the relief and gratitude for the forgiveness given by the Lord Jesus. The greater the agreement with the Spirit that we have sinned, and sinned mightily, the more precious are verses such as: "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, " (Romans 8:1), and "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," (I John 1:9).
And the word "forgiven" is so cherished by the believer because of what it cost the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary.