June, 2010

"Work Out" What God "Works In" You

. . . work out your own salvation . . . for it is God who works in you . . . —Philippians 2:12-13

There is probably as much controversy over this verse as any in scripture. What does it mean to “work out your own salvation?” 

We start with the understanding that there is nothing we can do on our own to earn salvation. No go “work” is good enough to earn us a ticket to paradise. Our salvation is based entirely upon the completed work of Jesus Christ. We access that salvation through faith in Him. So what’s this “work out” all about?

A saved soul is no good to anyone else. When a saved soul begins to live in a new way, consistent with the will of God, others are attracted to God within and want the same for themselves.

God created man with free will. Our best life is to align our will with that of the Creator. “. . . for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” With focused attention and great care, you have to “work out” what God “works in” you— not work to accomplish or earn “your own salvation,” but work it out so you will exhibit the evidence of a life based with determined, unshakable faith on the complete and perfect redemption of the Lord.

Do I believe that Almighty God is the Source of my will? God not only expects me to do His will, but He is in me to do it. A life consistent with the will of God is only possible for the saved person. For only such a person has the Holy Spirit within, and thus the power to be all that God created us to be.

Be blessed.


God’s Assurance

He Himself has said . . . . So we may boldly say . . . —Hebrews 13:5-6

Rosemary and I stepped out boldly last night. We went to the movies, a 9:40 feature. We are normally snug in our beds by that time. It’s a different crowd that goes to the late feature, younger, more energetic. The movie was about a spy who seeks the normal life and appears to have achieved it when, suddenly, there is a  20 million dollar bounty on his head and all of his “friends and neighbors” are trying to kill him and collect.. On our way home after the movie, at nearly midnight, we felt every slow moving vehicle contained potential assassins. Maybe we bit off more than we could chew with our late night adventure.
Our six week session of Fearless comes back to mind in this series from OC. My assurance is to be built upon God’s assurance to me. God says, “I will never leave you,” so that then I “may boldly say, ’The Lord is my helper; I will not fear’ ” ( Hebrews 13:5-6  ). In other words, I will not be obsessed with apprehension. This does not mean that I will not be tempted to fear, but I will rember God’s words of assurance. I will be full of courage, like a child who strives to reach the standard his father has set for him. 
What are you fearing? Whatever it may be, you are not a coward about it— you are determined to face it, yet you still have a feeling of fear. When it seems that there is nothing and no one to help you, say to yourself, “But ’The Lord is my helper’ this very moment, even in my present circumstance.” 
I will not be afraid when I step out until nearly midnight. Maybe I just won’t do it so often.
Be blessed.

The Never-forsaking God

He Himself has said, ’I will never leave you nor forsake you’ —Hebrews 13:5
I don’t think I completely realize the significance of this verse: the promise of God that He will never leave or forsake me. Wow. There are times I would leave or forsake myself. He promises not to leave me for any reason; not my sin, selfishness, stubbornness, nor waywardness.
So those times when I feel alone, when I feel forsaken, I need to realize that I can’t rely on my feelings. I have to trust His promise. He’s there; even if I can’t feel his presence.
Those time of great testing or trial; He’s there. Actually, I can usually feel His presence in the really tough times. I can usually recognize that what is happening is a test and He’s there to pull me through. It’s the hum drum times of life that I need help recognizing He’s around. When I have to do things that aren’t particularly tough, but are also not particularly exciting. When the ordinary seems to scream boredom at me, then I need help recognizing His presence.
Finally, if I recognize and believe He will never forsake me; it forces me to recognize that I need to pay more attention to Him. I need to recognize His presence. That leads me through the process of thanksgiving, praise and worship. It’s a process I need to be cycling through continuously, just as His presence and concern is unending; so should be my response.
And perhaps most of all, I should be perpetually content. If I have a never-forsaking God, what more do I need? Of what should I be afraid?
Lord, thank your for never forsaking me, even when I would foresake myself if I could. For that I am thankful. I praise you and I worship you Oh Lord.
I am content, fearless and blessed.

The Secret of the Lord

The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him . . . —Psalm 25:14

Many of us learned in the past 6 weeks, the power of the small group. We need an outlet to share our secret sorrows and joys. It is extremely beneficial to talk to and listen to other Christians. We learn that we are not alone with our struggles or our joys. We may have someone whose shoulder we can cry on; but the sign of a real friend is someone with who we can share our secret joys. 
Have we ever let God tell us any of His joys? Or are we continually telling God our secrets, leaving Him no time to talk to us? What makes God so dear to us is not so much His big blessings to us, but the tiny things, because they show His amazing intimacy with us— He knows every detail of each of our individual lives.
A great prayer and share group is a mirror of what our relationship with Our Lord should be growing to: knowledge and care of another in the big and small parts of our lives. If you haven’t known the benefits of such a group, I pray that you will be blessed with the experience very soon.
Be blessed.

Are You Obsessed by Something?

Who is the man that fears the Lord? —Psalm 25:12

Are we obsessed by God? If not, why not? If we are not obsessed by God we probably have a limited view of Him. Jesus realized this was a problem as He came close to the end of His ministry.  His disciples did not have a complete view of Him. So He took His closest disciples to the top of a mountain and there was transfigured before them. They caught just a glimpse of His glory. It was a glimpse that would get them through many tough times ahead, including, for most, martyrdom. 
If we are obsessed by God, nothing else can get into our lives— not concerns, nor tribulation, nor worries. And now we understand why our Lord so emphasized the sin of worrying. How can we dare to be so absolutely unbelieving when God totally surrounds us? To be obsessed by God is to have an effective barricade against all the assaults of the enemy. Fear of the Lord, wipes out all other fear and worry and concern. It is the one great fear.
Heavenly Father, grant us enough of a view of your Glory that we can become obsessed by You, Our God, and being so obsessed and focused no trash will get into our lives. May our fear of you drive out all other fear and distraction.
In Jesus Name we pray.
Be blessed.

The Staggering Question

He said to me, ’Son of man, can these bones live?’ —Ezekiel 37:3

It’s truly amazing what the intervention of God can accomplish in a human life. The most twisted life can  become straight; the driest bones can come to life. Never forge ahead with your religious common sense and say, “Oh, yes, with just a little more Bible reading, devotional time, and prayer, I see how it can be done.”
It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. 
Is your life dry? Just a little? Twisted? Just a little? You can’t fix it; but He can.  Can these bones live? With God’s help, you bet they can.
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