The Lord Our God Sustains Us Forever

For February 21, 2021
While on earth, our Lord submitted Himself to God and resisted the Devil successfully. As we emulate the Lord, James 4:7 teaches we too can “resist the Devil, and he will flee from us.”

Because Christ persevered and triumphed, we have the victory with the promise that no weapon formed against us will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). He dispatches His angels to keep us from danger, while His Holy Spirit dwells within to comfort us (John 14:16-18).

We are not invincible, for even the Lord’s Apostles were persecuted and martyred. Nevertheless, eternal blessing is certain because we belong to the Lord, whether we are living in this world or have gone to the next. He sustains us through our persecution and suffering while protecting us from Satan and the other forces at work against us (Romans 14:8, Revelation 14:13).

The apostle John was the last remaining disciple. While in exile on the Isle of Patmos, he had time to reflect on the three years he shared with our Lord, the other disciples (now gone), as well as Pentecost and the growth of the New Testament church. Despite the persecution from the tyrannical Roman emperors, John did not renounce his faith. Instead, he persevered, just as the Lord predicted,

Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.c I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold (John 17:11–12 NLT).

There may be times when persecution and adversity cause us to doubt the Lord when we find ourselves in a “fiery furnace,” as in the case of the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego presented in Daniel Chapter Three.

But we can be assured God has not abandoned us. He will give us the extraordinary resolve to count it all joy because our unspeakable treasure is not on the earth—it is in Heaven. Hardships do not negate God’s love, grace, and mercy, nor do they reveal His desertion because nothing can separate us from His love.

In the final analysis, all the things we experience will work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Our toils and disappointments serve as constant reminders of the presence of sin in our world, which contrasts His magnificent Kingdom. There, all our toil and suffering will be forgotten instantly the moment we see Jesus Christ in His full majestic splendor (Revelation 21:3-4).

The Bible assures us we can be steadfast and ever vigilant in pursuing our incorruptible inheritance because we are kept by God’s power “through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5).

What a Wonderful Savior!

Author And Finisher Of Our Faith

For February 14, 2021
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) contains the fundamental ideals that have informed and shaped our Christian faith for two thousand years. The passage reads as follows,

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

First, we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses,” which confirms  that physical death is not the end of our existence. God created us with a spiritual component that survives our death to thrive long after our bodies have decayed and passed away.

Thus, along with the “Roll Call of Faith” of Hebrews 11:4-40, all those who have died in Christ surround us like spectators whose existence confirms our successful completion of faith journey with God. Just think. We have our own cheering section to affirm us.

Our parents, loved ones, and friends became part of the “cloud of witnesses” when they became absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), awaiting His glorious return. Then, all those who have “died in the Lord,” will be reunited with us who are yet alive (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Bible also teaches that we have an appointment with death, and then comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). So to avert our eternal peril, God  has given us both the capability as well as the opportunity to choose where we will spend our eternity—weather in Heaven or Hell—while we are yet alive today.

In other words, we can either choose to accept His gift of righteousness secured by our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to satisfy God’s righteous requirements, or we can rely on our flawed self-righteousness to appease God’s wrath (due to the penalty of our sin).

It is comforting to know that we can trust in Christ, and we will be with Jesus along with all the saints, “coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26). A most welcome and most wonderful day that will be indeed. Amen!

Second, we Christians are responsible to make every effort to “lay aside” the continual practice of sin, particularly the ones we find extremely tantalizing and are within easy reach. Instead, we are to pursue earnestly and heartily His righteousness consistently, as Luke 11:35-36 (NKJV) tells us,

Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light.

“No part dark” means our lives are faith-driven, Spirit-powered, Christ-centered, and God-honoring quests for spiritual and moral purity publicly and privately, with no “secret” sins. We strive to be the same spiritual and moral person, whether we are alone or in the company of others.

In other words, what we do, and how we act on Sunday during church services should be the same way we act on Monday at home, work, or school. The “what I do in the privacy of my own home” should never be shameful or embarrassing if ever disclosed publically, since our lives are to reflect an integrated, consistent ethic that flows from our genuine conversion in Christ,

Sin is turning away from God. As someone has said, it is aversion from God and conversion to the world; and true repentance means conversion to God and aversion to the world. When there is true contrition, the heart is broken for sin; when there is true conversion, the heart is broken from sin. We leave the old life, we are translated out of the kingdom of darkness unto the kingdom of light.1

Finally, our “spiritual eyes” must remain focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the source and consummation of our faith in God, as His Spirit actively works within us. In Jesus’ Intercessory Prayer in John 17, He foretells how His followers live “in the world,” yet they will never become “of the world” (John 17:15-18). This remains true for us today.

God commands us to be holy, just as He is holy (Leviticus 20:26). Jesus calls us to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Jesus is the Vine, and as His branches, we can yield His fruit consistently, just as He states in John 15:5. Although only Jesus was perfect, yet we can make every effort to refrain from habitual sin and let our lights shine before the world. Then we can glorify God and be a blessing to others just as the Lord teaches in Matthew 5:16.

Unfortunately, dishonesty, deceit, and debauchery have become commonplace for many professing Christians as three-quarters of Americans identify themselves as Christian, yet only 13 percent say they have no faith at all. Only one in every four is Bible-minded, although nearly two-thirds have an orthodox view of God.2

Oh, how I long for a time when noble character with principled behavior is deemed as innate Christian characteristics. To the modern-day society, inconsistent conduct has hampered our noble Christian witness,

Christianity is often not portrayed well in media. It is not “politically correct” to be a Christian anymore. Social pressure to “fit in” as a Christian is largely absent. In contrast, it is considered more socially acceptable to embrace non-Christian identities and lifestyles that stand in conflict with biblical values.3

God’s eternal purpose for His people—to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him each day—has not changed (Micah 6:8). Jesus declared that as the Light of the World, His followers will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life instead (John 8:12). In this way, He affirms His righteousness and ours.

Christian faith changes human lives as we enter into the presence of the Living God. Drastically changed human lives think, speak, and act in ways that improve the welfare of others without being motivated by race, gender, culture, social status, or political affiliation. Such is our destiny,

We don’t have to be victims of our glands. We are not automations or victims. We are free to make choices, whether noble or ignoble. To live for money, power, or pleasure is to die one day and leave it all behind. Indeed, to live for anything except Christ will mean reaching the end haunted by guilt and despair.4

Ultimately, Jesus paid the price for our sin when He died on Calvary so that we can share in the perfect joy that was set before Him. It is His joy that captivates our hearts and minds today and always as we receive His unfathomably precious gifts of forgiveness and freedom.

 What a Wonderful Savior!

 

Then Pie Is My Favorite Dessert!

For January 10, 2021
Over the past two months, much pie has been consumed during the truncated Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. For many of us, losing the weight we’ve gained from the various meals and celebrations—even though modified—is a perennial New Year’s resolution. Pie is a culprit! Although it is customary to have pie or any dessert following the meal, I tend to have it with the meal to be enjoyed simultaneously!

Speaking of pie, there are those who characterize the Christian faith as merely a “pie-in-the-sky” religion. To these people, all we Christians have is eternal bliss in Heaven. But we have nothing to look forward to receiving in this life. For them, God is dead and the Christian faith is irrelevant.

I beg to differ, because our Christian faith produces a life of abundance (John 10:10), which begins the moment we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord and it continues for all eternity. In fact, we who embrace the Christian faith have considerable treasures to gain in this life and the next,

The incentive to win is in the glorious perspective we have because we are “looking unto Jesus.” “Looking away from all else, looking at that which fills the heart.” We are going to run, not because of the prize at the end and not because so many illustrious saints have run the course in the past and have been gloriously crowned, but because the vision of Jesus thrills the soul.1

One of our most treasured possessions—given exclusively to Christians—is the gift of the Holy Spirit. He inhabits and keeps us through the good times of bliss as well as those unfortunate times of uncertainty. He never leaves or forsakes us; cheering our hearts with unspeakable love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control as Galatians 5:22—23 teaches.

Did someone say peace of mind? We Christians are blessed to have the Holy Spirit provide incredible peace of mind—even during uncertain moments—that provides us with comfort and fulfillment that never ends.

This alone, makes our Christian life more valuable than any commodity on the earth, and it certainly makes the Christian life worth living “in real-time” in 2021 as Jesus teaches,

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be (Matthew 6:19—21 NLT).

The joy He sustains within us is never whimsical. It is always at work within us to remind us of how the Lord supplies us with His incredible goodness and mercy every day.

As the Almighty God in Spirit, He is fully capable of purifying, revealing, strengthening, encouraging, and keeping us throughout our life’s journey. He is much more than just our Comforter who “seals” our redemption and secures our heavenly home. He gives us eternal life, direction, purpose, and meaning.

He secures our eternal life in Heaven where there is no more pain, sorrow, or disease and where all our wants, needs, and desires are satisfied in their fullest measure. There, we will thrive in the holy presence of our Lord, along with our departed loved ones, and those precious Saints who have gone before us in a blessed, sinless state of perfect innocence, peace, tranquility, and safety forever.

If all these are pie-in-the-sky, then pie is my favorite dessert. How about you?

What a Wonderful Savior!

 

Let The Redeemed Of The Lord Say So!

For January 3, 2021
2020 was a remarkable and most regrettable year with a global pandemic (hysteria vs fact), unlawful church shutdowns, business shutdowns and other intrusions on our personal freedoms; the politicization of medical treatment and vaccines, social, political, and racial unrest, the quest for political power and social activism by “any means necessary,” selective censorship by the media, escalation of senseless and brutal violence, and excessive government restrictions. When will it end?

Modernist who declare there is no God, insist that humanity is evolving for the better. Soon all people on earth will share in a perfect utopia where love, peace, and harmony will reign supreme.

Unfortunately, as 2020 proved most emphatically, we humans are not evolving for the better. Instead, we have an inherent “sin problem” that causes us to think, speak, and act in ways that are detrimental to others, for which there is no human remedy!

Human beings are morally and spiritually bankrupt. Thus, we will not become “good” people over time. Although sin is making us progressively worse and disqualifies us from eternal fellowship with our holy God, we can find comfort in the telling and encouraging words that have been spoken and sung for more than two-thousand years,

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy,  And gathered out of the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; They found no city to dwell in.  Hungry and thirsty, Their soul fainted in them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, And He delivered them out of their distresses.  And He led them forth by the right way, That they might go to a city for a dwelling place. Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness (Psalm 107:1—9 NKJV).

The Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. There is a blessed hope and bright future for those of us who understand and acknowledge our sin problem by recognizing that we “wander in the wilderness in a desolate way.”

In addition, our souls fainted in us because we were spiritually separated from God forever. We lived desperate lives on earth now, and we were subject to eternal torment in a fiery Hell later. Then, in desperation, we cried out to the Lord and He delivered us.

We who turn to Jesus Christ for mercy can experience His spiritual transformation as His Holy Spirit removes our sin problem forever while imparting within us the ability to think, speak, and act in ways that honor the Lord instead of the Enemy (Satan) to the benefit of others and ourselves.

Jesus Christ also supplies us with a new righteous standing before God which allows us eternal access to all that God has to offer to secure our well-being forever. He also gives us a new lifestyle that seeks His Kingdom and righteousness first and foremost. Then having been sealed by His Spirit, we have access to Heaven upon our death or at His triumphant and glorious return.

In spite of the sinful tendencies of this world and those who know not Christ, we who know the Lord have a blessed hope, an all-encompassing joy, a deep sustaining peace, and a bright eternal future that cannot be taken from us,

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:28,31,35—39).

We are the living testimonies of God’s goodness, grace, and mercy. He is faithful and will never break His promises or providence towards us. We can give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, and His mercy endures forever; let the redeemed of the Lord say so.

What a Wonderful Savior!

Happy New Year!

For January 1, 2021
Today, people around the world will welcome a new year. With each successive year of the Gregorian Calendar, proposed in 1582 to compensate for the solar year drift of the Julian Calendar, which was instituted around 45   before the birth of Christ (B.C.), we note the time that has passed since the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The term B.C. is used to designate the time before the birth of Christ from the time after His birth, referred to as Anno Domini (A.D.), which is Latin for, “In the year of our Lord.” The time since Jesus’ birth is also referred to as the Common, Current, or Christian Era (C.E.).

Numbering these calendar years is appropriate for paying our respects to the most influential person in human history. In other words, this year, we acknowledge that two-thousand and twenty-one years have passed since the birth of Jesus Christ (although many scholars place His birth somewhere around 4 BC).

We make this distinction because only through Jesus Christ can we, as sin-scarred humans, be reconciled to our holy God. We benefit from Jesus’ atoning work, not by trying to perform good deeds, but by placing our faith in the redeeming works He still performs to God on our behalf.

      • His perfect life satisfies all God’s requirements for conformity to God’s holy Law.
      • His sacrificial death at Calvary remains our perfect sacrifice to absolve us from our sin.
      • Jesus’ resurrection secures God’s acceptance of His redeeming work; now we can have full confidence that He is our accepted way to God, and
      • His ascension, His Spirit, His intercession, and His glorious return provide all the spiritual graces we will ever need to fully experience His abundant life—now and forever.

The Lord promises to embrace us with His eternal power and providence when we surrender to Him. Then we can find the rest that completely satisfies and refreshes our eternal souls,

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28 NIV).

2020 was a difficult year for many. If you are looking for consolation, hope and a new beginning, let me suggest,

      • Others have failed you, so give your heart to Jesus Christ. He never fails!
      • Stop trusting in your human abilities alone. They are finite while God is infinite. Instead, turn to the Lord, and trust in Him completely.
      • Surrender to Jesus Christ so that you can experience and enjoy the fulfilling life of purpose, freedom, and victory He freely gives to all those who trust Him.

When our New Year’s resolutions are Christ centered and God honoring, He performs His perfect work in our hearts, minds, souls. Only then can we truly have a Happy New Year!

What a Wonderful Savior!