The battle for affections. You have many suitors – and each is vying for your affections.
The prophets of old warned about the pitfalls of idolatry. But…over and over the Israelites followed the practices of their neighbors and bowed down to the stars…objects of gold…silver…wood and stone. The end was always captivity and death.
Moderns are equally susceptible – only the identity of the idols has changed.
Some of the idols battling for your affections could be the good life…pleasure…possessions…relationships. The possibilities are almost without number.
Remember…an idol is anything that successfully competes for your affections.
So…be grateful for the blessings of life – but keep your affections focused only on God.
The throne of grace. But…where is it? Is it far away…and inaccessible?
Not at all. God is omnipresent – that is…everywhere present. God is both anywhere and everywhere – and in His totality.
Omnipresence does not mean that He divides Himself…in order to cover all the required manifestations of His presence. He is totally present – everywhere and always.
The writer to the Hebrews makes it clear. “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need.”
So…where is God’s throne of grace? You will find it in the life of trust.
His throne room of grace is accessible – fully…always…and right now.
Now you know where to turn in time of need.
Jesus’ death and Jesus’ resurrection. They are both essential for our salvation.
Paul says: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
So…Jesus’ death atoned for our sins. On the cross man’s pardon was secured – the debt paid.
But…that was not enough. Had Jesus remained in the grave…there would have been no appropriation for His redemptive work. It takes a living Savior to secure salvation.
This is an essential truth. If you disbelieve the resurrection…you forfeit Jesus’ work at Calvary. You cannot have one without the other.
Some are receptive to the message of Jesus’ redemptive work at Calvary…but they stumble over the fact of the resurrection.
Embrace them both – Jesus’ death and His resurrection.
What was – what is – what is to come. This is the cycle of human existence.
And…your understanding of each part of the cycle will determine your quality of life.
What was. The failure to properly relate to the past will be like a noose around your neck. Regrets – guilt – and shame will blight your present and destroy your hope for the future.
What is. If you refuse to embrace the opportunities of the present – you will miss what God has for you.
What is to come. This is where hope takes over. It has to do with the promise of eternal life.
So…let the grace of God cover the past. Let God’s bountiful blessings enrich your present. And let the anticipation of heaven fill your heart with hope and peace.
Can you trust your conscience? Yes and no.
Yes…if your conscience is well-trained in the truths of God’s Word.
No…if you have subjected your conscience to personal desires…self-centered ideals…and justifying rationalities.
Then the conscience becomes calloused and resistant to righteous conviction.
So…what is required to develop a reliable and trustworthy conscience?
The only answer is to train your conscience in the truths of Scripture. This must follow a submission to that conscience.
So…devote yourself to the careful training of your conscience. Then…you will have a reliable guide for life.
Those are the two sides – cultivate and submit.
The power of the gospel. It can transform a life…from the inside out.
The Apostle Paul said: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation…”
The programs of men promote reformation. The gospel promises transformation.
It begins with a new heart – then it results in a new life. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: all things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
It’s not a recyle…or a partial alteration — it’s a brand-new life.
The gospel always starts from the inside…and then works outwardly.
So…experience this power…and then share it with others.
This is how you change the world.
Choice — or no choice. Sometimes…the choice is yours. At other times…you have no choice.
Jesus speaks of the wise and the foolish builders. The wise builder built upon the rock – where his house stood fast when the storms came.
He chose where to build.
The other builder built upon the sand. And when the storm came…his building was destroyed.
He also chose where to build.
But…neither had a choice about the storm. Where you build is a choice…but the storm is inevitable.
The principle is far-reaching. The storms of life will come – there is no way to avoid them.
But…where you build is yours to choose. Either it’s sand or it’s rock.
Build your life on the rock. And…that Rock is Christ.
The choice is yours.
Wagging tongues. Those words describe the speech of false prophets.
The Lord says: “I am against the prophets who wag their own tongues…and lead my people astray with their reckless lies…I did not send or appoint them.”
And…the implications are profound. Every person who poses as a spiritual leader…and handles the Word of God…is under a strong mandate to speak with integrity and authenticity.
Here’s the question. Where does spiritual declension have its beginning? When there is rampant backsliding…where did it start?
Likely…the decline was first in the pulpit – and then spread to the pew.
This is why the Prophet Jeremiah warned against false prophets.
May every spiritual leader seek to speak under the anointing and direction of the Holy Spirit.
No wagging tongues.
The Potter’s hand. That is what is shaping your life from day to day.
Jeremiah said: “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel.”
This image is most enlightening. You are on the Potter’s wheel…and the hand of the Potter is shaping your life.
And…it’s a skilled hand. It does its work under the watchful eye of the Creator of the universe.
But…here’s the challenge – to submit willingly to the work of the Potter. To do so is to trust – knowing that His hand is reliable.
It is challenging when life becomes unpredictable and painful. But…you trust the hand of the Potter.
This is the way to a life of rest and peace — safe in the hand of the Potter.
Prove it. That’s always the call.
And…so it was with the Pharisees. They wanted a sign from Jesus – proof.
Of what? His power…His authority…and the authenticity of His claim to be the Son of God.
Interestingly…He sidestepped their request for a sign…and instead pointed to His resurrection.
That settled every issue. Jesus would rise from the dead. He knew that was the single…incontrovertible…absolute proof of every claim He made.
And…in our day there is the same cry for proof. To see is to believe. It’s the same – show us a sign.
The resurrection of Jesus is the grand-slam sign of all signs. It quiets every critic…settles every argument…and seals every verdict.