ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:26-30

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

God has a plan and purpose for each of His children. While on this earth, God will work in our lives to conform us more and more to the image of His Son — “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” (v. 29). God uses many means to mold us and shape us into Christlikeness. Some of the means may be painful for a season. But whatever comes our way, God is using it for our good, in order to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ.

God’s plan is to eventually lead us to glory — “And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified” (v. 30). God is preparing us for glory. We are destined to be glorified with Jesus. This is the end game, the ultimate goal — that we will be glorified!

During our years on earth, we will face great challenges and times of pain and suffering. We may not understand what is happening to us and why we are having to experience painful trials. But we must remember that God is at work behind the scenes. He is working all things out for our good. We may not like some things we have to experience; but we must remember that God is using these things to conform us into the image of His Son and to prepare us for glory.

God is sovereign. He is in control of all things. He works out His purpose for our lives — “In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ, might be to the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:11,12). We have an inheritance waiting for us. God is working all things out for our good, even the difficult things.

Sovereign Lord, You are in control of all things. I know that You cause all things to work together for my good and for Your glory. I know that You have a plan and purpose for my life. Thank You that I can trust You no matter what I must face. You want the best for me. You want me to be conformed to the image of Your beloved Son Jesus Christ. What peace it gives me to know that You are sovereign and that You love me.

Standard

HELP IN WEAKNESS

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:26-30

“Likewise the Spirit helps in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints, according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26,27)

These words are so comforting to me. When we are weak, we have the Helper who comes to our aid. The statement and simple — “Likewise the Spirit helps in our weakness.” The very same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus Christ from the dead lives in us. He strengthens us in our weakness. He comforts us in our sorrows. He delivers us from our fears. He gives us power to resist when we are being sorely tempted.

The Holy Spirit also helps us when we don’t know what to pray. He knows the perfect will of the Father. He takes our feeble efforts at prayer and turns them into powerful intercession before the throne of God. On many occasions in my life, I have not known what to pray. When I experience this, I call out to the Spirit for help, for I know that He intercedes for me with groanings too deep for words. When you don’t know what to pray, turn it over to the Holy Spirit. He will pray to the Father in your behalf.

The Holy Spirit intercedes for us according to the will of God. He prays for the Father’s will to be done in our lives. He is praying for us now. He knows our needs and our fears. He knows the desires of our hearts. He knows when we are weak. He lifts us up before God’s throne. His prayers are always in perfect alignment with the will of the Father. For this reason, we know that God works all things together for our good and for His glory.

When you are weak, call upon the Spirit and He will give you strength. When you are afraid, call upon the Spirit and He will give You assurance. When you are sad and anxious, call upon the Spirit and He will bring joy and peace to you. When you are being tempted, call upon the Spirit and He will give you power to resist. When you do not know what to pray, call upon the Spirit and He will intercede for you. He is praying for you right now. Take comfort and have hope, for the Spirit lives to make intercession for you.

Spirit of God, my Helper and Comforter, thank You for helping me in my weakness. Thank you for interceding for me before the throne of God. Thank You that I am never alone, for You are always with me. Enable me today to practice Your presence in my life. Come, O Spirit, and help me, for I am weak and needy.

Standard

THE HOPE OF GLORY

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:18-25

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

Moses longed to see God’s glory — “Please show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18). God knew Moses could not handle seeing His glory; so He said to him — “Behold, there is a place by Me where you shall stand on the rock, and while My glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen” (Exodus 33:21-23). It wasn’t until Moses arrived in heaven that he was able to look full on at the glory of God.

Paul is reminding us how incredibly spectacular God’s glory is — “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Whatever suffering we must endure on this earth pales to nothing when God’s glory is revealed to us. What Moses longed to see, we will see — face to face — “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (I Corinthians 13:12).

When Jesus prayed to His Father on the night in which He was betrayed, one of His requests was related to His glory — “Father, I desire that they also whom You have given Me, may be with Me where I am, TO SEE MY GLORY that you have given Me because You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). Jesus desires for us to be with Him and to see His glory, and one day we will be with Him and we will see His glory!

John was given a glimpse of the glory of Christ when he was exiled on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:12-16). When he saw this vision, He was overtaken by it — “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet as though dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, for I am the first and the last, and the living One. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:17,18).

One day we too will fall at the feet of Christ when we behold His glory. But He will put His right hand on us and say, “Fear not!” I long for the day when I will be with Jesus and will behold His glory.

Lord Jesus, I cannot imagine how magnificent Your glory is. I long to see it. I long to see You face to face. I know that I will be in awe of You. Like Moses, I long to see Your glory. Whatever difficulties and suffering I endure on this earth mean nothing to what I will behold one day when I see You in all Your glory. Thank You for desiring me to be with You and to see Your glory. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Standard

THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:5-17

“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may be glorified with Him.” (Romans 8:16,17)

God wants us to have assurance of our salvation — “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (I John 5:13). John lays it out clearly and simply — “And this is the testimony that God gave us eternal life, and this life in in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (I John 5:11,12).

It is our responsibility to make our calling and election by God sure — “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for it you practice these qualities you will never fall” (II Peter 1:10). Read I Peter 1:3-9 which gives a list of qualities God desires for us to have — faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection and love. These qualities are evidence that we have been born again by God. This does not mean that we possess them all the time, because we are still prone to sin. However, we should see signs of a changed life. We begin to love and obey God.

Repentance of our sins is necessary along with faith in Jesus Christ. We must come to a point in our lives when we personally embrace Jesus as our Savior and Lord. Once we have done that, we should see a change in our lives as these and other spiritual qualities become evident to us. Remember once God saves us we cannot fall from salvation. We may doubt at times and we may even drift away for a while; but God will never lose us. Once we have been justified, the effects of our justification cannot be taken away from us, because God is the one who justifies. God’s love is one that will never let us go.

Repentance and faith are necessary for salvation. When we are saved, our lives will change. We will want to live for One greater than ourselves. The ultimate assurance comes from the inward testimony of the Spirit — “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” There is an inner-assurance by the Spirit that we can experience when we are in intimate fellowship with Jesus. It is ultimately the Spirit who enables us to know that our calling and election are sure. The Spirit testifies that we are children of God, that we belong to Him.

The Spirit testifies that we are children of God, AND heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. We have an inheritance awaiting us, one that is “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (I Peter 1:4,5). The ultimate promise and assurance of the Spirit is that one day we will be glorified with Jesus Christ and share in His inheritance!

O Spirit of God, thank You for Your presence in my life. Thank You for the gifts of repentance and faith. I know that I have the Son of God as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for the inward assurance that I am a child of God and an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ. Thank You that You are the downpayment that guarantees my inheritance.

Standard

CORRECTION

In yesterday’s post, I quoted Romans 8:3 — “By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.” The comment after the verse should have read — “Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh and yet He remained sinless.” The autocorrect changed “sinless” to “sinful.” When I proofed the post, I missed the error. So sorry.

Standard

NO CONDEMNATION

Scripture Reading: Romans 7:24-8:4

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

Whereas Isaiah 43 is my favorite chapter in the Old Testament, Romans 8 is my favorite chapter in the New Testament. This week and next week we will look at selected passages from this glorious chapter in God’s Word.

Paul had been wrestling with the internal battle between the flesh and the Spirit — “I do not understand my own actions, for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (7:15). Can you relate to Paul? I certainly can. He finally cried out — “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (7:24). Paul admitted his condition — “wretched man that I am!” But he knew the answer to his problem — “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (7:25).

Romans 8 begins with this almost beyond belief statement — “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Can you really grasp what is being said in this verse? We have been taken outside the realm of any conceivable state of condemnation. And, it is impossible for us to be put back in that state again. We have been set free from our guilt. We have been forgiven of all our sins — “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (8:2).

We all have regrets and failures. We have disobeyed God on many occasions — “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). There was a time when we faced condemnation because of our sins. But now we are free of all condemnation — “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Why is this the case? “By sending HIs own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (8:3b,4). Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh and yet remained sinless. He came in the flesh to condemn sin. Our sins were laid upon Him. The judgment of our sins was placed upon Jesus Christ.

When we grasp the meaning of what is being said here, there is no place for guilt. We have been forgiven of all our sins. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” None!

Isaac Watts summed up the meaning of this verse in his hymn, “And Can It Be?” with these words:

“No condemnation now I dread: Jesus, and all in Him is mine! Alive in Him, my living Head, and clothed in righteousness divine. Bold I approach the eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own. Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

Lord Jesus, it is hard to grasp that all my sins have been forgiven. You paid for everyone of them. I am no longer a condemned sinner. Because of Your atoning work, I am not only forgiven, but I am also righteous in the sight of God because Your righteousness has been imputed to me. I have no condemnation to dread because You bore it for me. “Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”

Standard

YOU ARE MY WITNESSES

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:1-13

“‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after Me. I, I am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior.'” (Isaiah 43:10,11)

God wants us to bear witness of Him to others. Jesus made a similar statement prior to His ascension into heaven — “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

What does it mean to be a witness? It means to testify to others what you have seen, heard, and experienced. There has to be personal interaction and firsthand knowledge. This is why God said — “that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.” We cannot bear witness without personal knowledge. Those who are true believers know God on an intimate level. We know who He is and what He is like. We have experienced a relationship with Him. None of these things is possible without reading and meditating upon the Scripture. God reveals Himself to us in the Bible, for it is the way He reveals Himself to us. Prayer is also necessary for us to know God. When we meditate upon the Word of God and pray, we get to know the heart of God. We will then experience His presence in our lives.

When we come to know God, we can believe Him. We believe Him because we know His character. We know that we can trust Him. When we understand who He is, we can put our total faith in Him — “I, I am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior.” There is no one else who can save us from our sins. Jesus alone can do this! “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus is the only way to the Father — “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

We are God’s witnesses and His servants. He chose us to be both. We are called to serve Him following the example of our Lord Jesus who took on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7). One practical way to serve Him is to be a witness for Him. Remember our calling — “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making HIs appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20)

Lord Jesus, I want to be Your faithful witness and servant. You have made it possible for me to know You and believe You. I desire to know You in a deeper way. Open my eyes to grasp the truths of the Bible, for I know that You have revealed Yourself in Your Word. Enable me to experience an intimate relationship with You as I pray and meditate upon You. I pray that I will be faithful to my calling to be Your witness and Your servant this day.

Standard

PRECIOUS, HONORED AND LOVED

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:1-13

“Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…Fear not, for I am with you.” (Isaiah 43:4a,5a)

It is hard for me to understand how God sees me as being precious in His eyes. I don’t think of myself as being precious. However, I have a small glimpse of understanding. My father called me “my precious boy.” My parents had a son who died shortly after birth. He would have been nine years older than me. My mother was told that she would not be able to bear other children. My dad desperately wanted a son. When I was born, he was elated and he loved me to a fault. That is why he called me his precious boy. I have a letter my dad wrote me a few months before he died. The letter began, “My precious boy,” and ended, “I love you, Dad.” Needless to say this is one of my treasured possessions.

I realize that there are many people who did not have this kind of relationship with their earthly fathers. But never forget that you have a heavenly Father who considers you precious in His eyes. The Bible tells us that we are “the apple of His eye” (Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8). We are precious in the eyes of God.

We are also honored, not because of anything in us. We are honored because God chose us to be His children. Of all the people on earth, He chose us and predestined us to be His beloved children (Ephesians 1:4,5). We are honored because God has lavished His grace upon us.

We are precious in the eyes of God and we are honored because He has made us the objects of His electing love. We are deeply loved by our heavenly Father. Listen to His voice as He says to you, “I love you!” We all want to know that we are loved. The truth is that we are loved by our Father in heaven. God goes on to say, “Fear not, for I am with you.” Can you hear His voice? “I love you and I am with you.” What more could we ask for? God loves us and He is with us. We have nothing to fear.

When you get down and discouraged, remember how God views you — “You are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…Fear not, for I am with you.”

Heavenly Father, it is difficult for me to believe that I am precious in Your eyes. But I know it is true because You have said so. Thank You for honoring me with Your mercy and grace. Thank You for choosing me to be Your precious child. And thank You for loving me. I know that You love me and that You are with me. I have nothing to fear.

Standard

WHEN YOU PASS THROUGH THE WATERS

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:1-13

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overcome you; when you walk through the 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.” (Isaiah 43:2,3a)

All of us will face times of trial, pain, disappointment, and difficulties during the course of our lives here on earth. Notice the first word in this verse — “When.” It doesn’t say, “If;” it says, “When.” We should expect trials to come our way. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b).

Christians are not exempt from the consequences of living in a fallen world. We will face tragedies, disease, suffering, pain and death. However, we have the Lord with us — “When you pass through the waters, I WILL BE WITH YOU.” Jesus is with us in our sufferings. He enters into them with us — “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4a).

There will be times when we feel as if we are drowning, but we will not — “they shall not overcome you.” We may face fiery trials that feel like they are destroying us, but they will not — “The flame shall not consume you.” Remember Jesus’ words — “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” In the midst of our times of turbulent waters and fiery trials, the Lord comes to our rescue. He will uphold us and protect us. He enables us to overcome them.

The trials will not defeat us because of the One who is with us — “the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” The supreme Lord of all creation is with us. The all powerful God of the universe will protect us. The Holy One of Israel will comfort and support us. Our Savior will come to our rescue!

I have been through many deep waters and fiery trials in my life. There have been times when I felt as if I were drowning. Yet, through them all the Lord was faithful. He has always come to me in my troubles. He has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows. He kept me from despair and defeat. He rescued me from the deep waters and fiery trials. I was never alone, though I felt as if I were at the time. The reality is that we are never alone. The Lord our God, the Holy One of Israel, our Savior is always with us.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10).

Lord Jesus, I know that You are with me always. There have been times when I have not felt Your presence. Forgive me for doubting You. As I look back over the valley experiences of my life, I see how You were with me and how You upheld me through those difficult times. You are always faithful. You keep me from drowning in my troubles and You protect me from being consumed in the fiery trials that come my way. You will always strengthen me, help me and uphold me with Your righteous right hand. I have nothing to fear, for You are with me.

Standard

GOD’S OWN POSSESSION

Scripture Reading: Isaiah 43:1-13

“I have called you by name, you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1c)

Think of it! The Lord of this universe created us for Himself. He redeemed us from our sins by the precious blood of His Son. He made us and He bought us with a huge price, the blood of His Son Jesus Christ. Therefore He has a double claim on our lives.

God called us to be His children. Before the foundation of the world, He chose us in Christ (Ephesians 1:4). “In love He predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of HIs will, to the praise of HIs glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:5,6). We are the adopted sons and daughters of God! God chose us to be His children.

God called us to be His beloved children and He has given us great dignity — “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (I Peter 2:9). God has made us who we are — His own possession. He called us out of the darkness of our sins and placed us in the marvelous light of the grace and love of His Son.

Yes, we are the people of God — “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (I Peter 2:10). God has made us His people and He has poured out His mercy upon us. Never forget who you are — “I have called you by name, you are Mine.” Never forget how much you are loved — “See what kind of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (I John 3:1). We

Lord, I do not know why You chose me to be Your child. I know how unworthy I am to be a part of Your family. I thank You that You have made me one of Your own and poured our Your mercy upon me. I know that I am deeply loved by You. Thank You for calling me by name and making me Your own possession.

Standard