Psalm 51: 1 – 4

Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithfulness; according to the greatness of Your compassion, wipe out my wrongdoings. Wash me thoroughly from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my wrongdoings, and my sin is constantly before me.

Please consider the following passage: “Behold, for my own welfare I had great bitterness; But You have kept my soul from the pit of nothingness, For You have hurled all my sins behind Your back” (Isaiah 38: 17). The reason I wanted you to consider these two passages together is so that we can get at the root of guilt and forgiveness. Notice from the Psalm that it was writer’s own guilt and remorse which plagued him. It was not God’s judgment which tormented him. His sin was constantly before his own eyes. He could not escape it. Contrast that with the passage from Isaiah. Here the speaker was well aware of God’s grace and lovingkindness. He recognized that we deserve the pit of nothingness, to be cast out into the darkness, but that God, despite our many faults and shortcomings has chosen to turn His back on our sins. He has forgiven us and not because we deserve it, for which I am grateful, but rather because of His magnanimity.

I am grateful it is unnecessary to earn the graciousness of God for surely, I would fail. Better that He is kind and generous with forgiveness. The struggle, then, is to let go of our own guilt. It is our guilt and sin consciousness which separates us from God. I chose this Old Testament example so as to frame the New Testament miracle of Christ and his sacrifice. I cannot find the right word to characterize what the Father and Jesus did for us at Calvary because it is so big and so wonderous. What is also worthy of comment, though, is that this great divine exchange of Jesus’ life for our sin began with a Father who, in the Old Testament, chose to cast our sins to His back. He chose not to put them before His eyes. Knowing how flawed we are, He chose, none the less, to put His only child on a crucificial cross.

God paid the ultimate price for us to have our conscience cleansed. He removed the guilt which separates us from Him by giving us a way to purge ourselves of the sin consciousness. This is the great miracle, that we can be guilty and yet clean; that we can boldly draw close to Him. Paul said it this way, “Therefore let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need,” (Hebrews 4: 16). We have the right to approach the throne of grace and we can do so confidently because the Father has forgiven our sin and washed us clean. There is nothing we can do to earn this favor. There is no 7-step forgiveness plan. It is done. Yahweh has already done what was needed. Now, we must accept His great sacrifice and receive the miracle of forgiveness, allowing our consciousness to be renewed in Christ.

Renewed Strength

Isaiah 57: 10

You were tired out by the length of your road, yet you did not say, ‘It is hopeless.’ You found renewed strength, therefore you did not faint.”

Tuesday I sent you Galatians 6: 9 which reads, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Today there is good news for your tired body and mind. God will provide the strength you need to carry on. There is a reward for you if you do not faint and there is a way to maintain your faith and your strength to continue. The joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8: 10). You do not have to be wearied with your many labors. You needn’t feel weighed down or trod upon God is your righteous right hand. He is your strength.

The thing we need to understand about this idea is that the found new strength, that which prevents us from fainting even under a heavy load, is not a passive joy. Notice above that it says, “You found renewed strength.” Why did the hearer find the new strength? Because she looked for it. She sought it. Now we understand that God is our strength so in these times of weariness, we must seek the Lord, our God. You see, just because you are a Christian does not mean you will experience this renewed strength. That strength is found in communion with the Lord. Again, this is not a passive trait. We must actively pursue God. However, don’t let this resound in your head like another to do when you are already tired. The best way to find the Lord is to relax. “Be still and know I am God,” (Psalm 46: 10). It is in the exhalation that you find God. You’ve been holding your breath. Now breathe. Exhale and let go. Breathe in God, exhale out stress and worry.

It is like going to the doctor when you are sick. There is something you have to do and that is to call upon the one who can make you better. That is your part. God, then, restores you to full strength, but don’t lay in bed doing nothing and think you are going to miraculously be restored. You must seek the help you need, then He will provide. Be still but be vigilant. Quietly but determinedly seek God. Call upon Him for help. He is standing by.

Enough is Enough

Titus 3: 4 – 5

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.

Brother this is the good news of the gospel. We were not saved on the basis of our deeds, our righteousness or our worthiness. God’s sweet mercy saved us. God sent His own Spirit to wash us clean. The Holy Spirit has regenerated and renewed you. What is so interesting about this is that he did this for you before you were ever born. That is why no amount of future sin can steal your salvation. Only you can give away your sanctification. Jesus has already paid for the sin that you commit tomorrow or next Tuesday. He has already paid for the sin of the person who is right now unborn, even unconceived. No one has to earn this salvation and no one could. We know that intellectually but we sometimes stumble over our day to day application of it.

It was God’s kindness and His love for humanity that saved us. Some people who have already been saved run around trying to be worthy of that great and awesome gift. Stop! There is nothing any of us can do to merit all that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have done for us. This is simply an expression of our guilty conscious. Why are we trying to earn what they have already given us for free? We should want to be a blessing to God’s kids because of the happiness which overflows as result of all God has done for us. None of that, however, will ever make us worthy of the great sacrifice God and Jesus made for us. So, we just need to get used to the idea that despite our unworthiness, our Father loves us and He sent His beloved to save us. That was enough for Him and should be enough for us.

Redeemed, Restored & Renewed

Galatians 3: 13 – 14

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” – in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.

This is a message of the cross that we do not hear often and yet it is so profound that we should be shouting it from the housetops. This is a huge statement. While we were yet under the curse, God provided a way, the way, to redeem us from that curse. Jesus Christ, our beloved, went to the cross not to bear the burden of the curse but rather he became a curse so that we could be freed from the curse, from sin and from death. Jesus went to the cross so that we could be redeemed from the curse of the law and thereby be reconciled to God and into the blessing of Abraham.  

This passage encourages further study for it demands an answer to the question, “What is the blessing of Abraham?” It also answers many questions and some very large ones at that. We know, beyond doubt, that we are to live lives of blessing being no longer under the curse. We are heirs of all of the promises God made to Abraham. We know what the Christian life is to look like and it is not one of sickness, disease and poverty. Those are in the curse. It is not a life on anguish and torture. We are delivered from the curse of the law, from the power of darkness, into the kingdom of his dear son.

Additional text: Deuteronomy 28: 1-14

Show Me the Way

Psalm 51: 10 – 12

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Thy presence, and do not take thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit.

Although David lived before the Messiah came and claimed victory, he is in so many ways a New Testament person. When you read his writings you see that he not only had a revelation of the Holy Spirit but that he also had a relationship with him. In today’s passage you see the essence of the New Testament regenerate child of God and the process of renewal.

God cleaned us by the sacrifice of Jesus. We were literally washed clean of all of our transgressions. He recreated us into the glorious version of ourselves that we were ordained into at the beginning of time. The footnote for “clean heart” says “upright heart”. Our hearts have been made upright before God. We are upright, or righteous, before God because of the cleansing of our hearts wrought by Jesus. But salvation did not end there as you can so plainly see from this text.

God, next, renewed our spirits. Imagine the joy our spirits experienced when the rejuvenating power of the Holy Spirit came into us and renewed our own spirits. Our spirits are cast in the same image of the Holy Spirit and we are truly part of him. David says renew my spirit in that image so that I am steadfast, unwavering and strong. We, like David, can stand surely and steadfastly in the grace and honor of our Lord knowing who we are because our spirits have been renewed in Christ Jesus. 

And then David makes this oh so interesting comment, “Do not take thy Holy Spirit from me.” David knew what it meant to live with the Holy Spirit of God. That was a very uncommon occurrence before Jesus came. David also knew that the Holy Spirit and his walk with him accounted for the great successes he enjoyed as well as the blessings. The Holy Spirit protected him under some very difficult circumstances and David had a revelation of how to walk daily with him. This statement reflects the next step of our regenerated life. We are renewed in Christ and move into close personal fellowship with all three persons of the trinity. Our cleaned hearts are now fit habitation for the Holy Spirit so we can invite him to come live within us and be our daily guide and teacher. It does require an invitation of course. The Holy Spirit is a good house guest. He will come if asked but would never invite himself.

One can almost hear the insistent, almost desperate tone, in David’s voice when he says, “Do not take thy Holy Spirit from me.” He knew that the Holy Spirit’s presence in his life was saving grace and he realized how much he needed that presence in order to live. David was immensely successful in many ways but he also lived in very dangerous times. One of his sons usurped the throne at one time and David’s life was again in peril as it so often was during his lifetime. So David understood that all of his riches and his throne were because of the power of the Holy Spirit but he also knew that his very life was sustained through the power of God’s Spirit. Without that grace guarding his life he would not have survived to old age. Therefore, when David recognizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life and prays to the Lord for that presence to remain ever with him we can understand that his prayer is one of deep sincerity, appreciation and understanding. In fact, David shows an understanding of life with the Holy Spirit that few New Testament believers demonstrate even though this indwelling of the Holy Spirit is part of our inheritance through Jesus and part of our salvation package, part of the regeneration and renewal of our lives.

Salvation is a big thing. It is a process by which we are continually growing into the Father. Every day we can participate in this renewal by Christ and importantly we can celebrate these great gifts from the Father by acknowledging them through prayer and in thanksgiving. In Jesus we truly can experience the joy of salvation.

Reborn, Renewed, Alive in Christ

John 20: 30 -31

Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

John and the other writers of the gospels related some of the miracles of Jesus but John makes a point here to tell us that the miracles we read about in the gospels are by no means an exhaustive list of the many miracles Jesus performed. So, this question presents itself, “How many miracles does it take for one to believe?” We, who receive this daily devotional, are all believers in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God so somewhere along the line we must have seen enough evidence. Then John says that in our believing we should have life in the name of Jesus. What did he mean by that? He wasn’t talking to a bunch of physically dead people so he wasn’t talking about physical life. He was, however, speaking to spiritually dead people, people like us before we were saved. So this evidence of Jesus as the Messiah was supposed to infuse life into those who would believe, spiritual life.

When is salvation then? Will we be saved in the great by and by? We all talk about when we were saved (past tense) i.e. “I was saved in 1974,” “I was saved out at sea when a shipmate prayed for me,” etc. We have already been saved and given access to this life about which John writes. Salvation is not for tomorrow. We didn’t buy a ticket to salvation. We already have it today. You are living your eternal life in Christ right now. Your eternal life began the moment you received Jesus as Lord. So what is John really trying to get at in this passage? Do you think this is a simple message of salvation to the uninitiated or is there more here?  

One of the things that I think John is trying to get us to accept is that Jesus is a miracle worker. The believers of John’s time came to Jesus through his miracles. In other words, they saw and heard about the miracles that Jesus performed and through them they accepted that He is the King, Messiah and Lord. They first believed the miracles then they equated that miracle working power with his divine lordship. An interesting dynamic exists in our times. We believe that Jesus is Lord and through that confession of faith we try to believe that He is also a miracle worker. Many, however, are unconvinced of his power. They believe that He is the Christ but they do not believe in his ability to exercise miracle producing power today. Some do not even believe that the chronicles of Jesus’ miracles is a true account. They think the gospels are a fairy tale.

The third problem in our thought process is that some of us do not fully understand or appreciate that Jesus is alive. We have left him on the cross or in the grave but He is a resurrected Lord. He is alive and well. Without this revelation, by which I mean a clear and certain knowing in one’s heart as well as one’s mind, we cannot receive this life in Christ to which John is attempting to lead us. 

Jesus told us that he came in order to give us life, abundant life in fact (John 10: 10). This is what John is speaking about, the abundant life that is available in Christ Jesus to those who believe. But believe what? First that He is who He says He is, the resurrected Son of God, the promised Messiah, and second that He can do now what he did in the days before his crucifixion.

Miracles are still happening all over the world for those who believe. People are receiving sight from blind eyes just as they did when Jesus walked the earth. There are healings of every sort. Financial miracles abound, relationships are restored. All sorts of miracles are occurring, more than you can name. So I return to my first question, “How many miracles does it take for us to believe?” What is this life in Christ that John speaks of and how can we each live it. What did Jesus mean when he said, “abundant life?”

The life we live in the flesh is the low level of life but there is an abundant life overflowing with all of the blessings of God which is the free gift to whomever shall believe. This is the spiritual life, the renewed life. And with this new life in Christ Jesus every need is met, dreams and goals fulfilled, and a life of peace and joy. There is victory in Jesus, hence victorious living. All things become possible, life becomes easier and we can live a life where we feel fulfilled. Our lives are given purpose and we are satisfied even in the deep longing of our hearts. It is all available to he who believes. This life, this gift of a life in Christ, a life of abundance was the purpose of Jesus’ coming. If we are not living this life then why not? What does the body of Christ need in order to come into the life Jesus meant for us, died to give us?

The apostle John says that the secret is in our believing. We need to have our believers tweaked. Surely, the only way to do that is to renew ourselves in Jesus. We are going to have to seek him again as we did in the beginning. We need a renewal in our prayer life and in the Word. These are the two areas that we often let slide but which I am convinced are necessary for a life in Christ. It is only through communion with the Godhead that we are transformed in our hearts and in our thinking and can receive the revelations necessary for a rich, full existence in the person of Jesus. The hungry will seek and they will be fed. Jesus always fed the hungry. Do not settle for anything less than God’s best for you and He will fill you to overflowing as He has so often promised.