...is more than believing in something we can't see. Faith in Jesus Christ is a belief that drives our actions. If we are not willing to act on what we say we believe, we probably don't really believe it.
How great is Yourgoodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men!
Spurgeon on Psalm 31:19
Oh how great is thy goodness. Is it not singular to find such a joyful sentence in connection with so much sorrow? Truly the life of faith is a miracle. When faith led David to his God, she set him singing at once. He does not tell us how great was God's goodness, for he could not; there are no measures which can set forth the immeasurable goodness of Jehovah, who is goodness itself. Holy amazement uses interjections where adjectives utterly fail. Notes of exclamation suit us when words of explanation are of no avail. If we cannot measure we can marvel; and though we may not calculate with accuracy, we can adore with fervency. Which thou hast laid up forthem that fear thee. The psalmist in contemplation divides goodness into two parts, that which is in store and that which is wrought out. The Lord has laid up in reserve for his people supplies beyond all count. In the treasury of the covenant, in the field of redemption, in the caskets of the promises, in the granaries of providence, the Lord has provided for all the needs which can possibly occur to his chosen. We ought often to consider the laid up goodness of God which has not yet been distributed to the chosen, but is already provided for them: if we are much in such contemplations, we shall be led to feel devout gratitude, such as glowed in the heart of David. Which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee beforethe sons of men. Heavenly mercy is not all hidden in the storehouse; in a thousand ways it has already revealed itself on behalf of those who are bold to avow their confidence in God; before their fellow men this goodness of the Lord has been displayed, that a faithless generation might stand rebuked. Overwhelming are the proofs of the Lord's favour to believers, history teems with amazing instances, and our own lives are full of prodigies of grace. We serve a good Master. Faith receives a large reward even now, but looks for her full inheritance in the future. Who would not desire to take his lot with the servants of a Master whose boundless love fills all holy minds with astonishment?
Thought you'd enjoy the latest picture of Charlie. He's still in Alaska. (It's the only picture I've received of Charlie since they arrived. Oh Ben...more pictures, please!) I guess this is what living in the land of the mid-night sun does to your eyes???
and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one" - 1 John 5:19.
But the whole world lies in the power of the evil one
only by permission and his power will be brought to an end
after it has served the purposes of God.
At the end of creation week, Jesus stood back and looked at everything He had made and said it was "very good." (Gen. 1:31) This included the creation of angels. Satan hadn't fallen yet. But then something happened. Satan rejected Jesus as his King and as his joy. He set out on a course of self-exaltation. One third of the angels rebelled with him. They wanted to have authority over themselves and exalt themselves above God. They no longer wanted to serve God.
Satan fell according to the counsel of God's will. Ephesians 1:11 says that God works all things after the counsel of His will. Satan fell, not because God was helpless to stop it, but because it was part of God's plan. God is never taken off guard and what He permits is for a reason, an infinitely wise reason.
Satan has power over the world because God gave it to him. The verse above states that the world lies in the power of Satan. Daniel 4:17 tells us that God is the Most High ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whom He wishes. Satan rules only by God's permission. He does not move without God's permission and every move is part of God's overall purpose and plan. This is true in such a way that God does not sin, ever. He is infinitely holy and infinitely mighty. Satan is evil, but He is under the all-governing wisdom of God. (The book of Job)
Satan ultimately glorifies Jesus. Colossians 1:16 tells us that all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created through Him and for Him. Satan and all the pain he causes, in the end serves to magnify Jesus. We would not know Jesus as fully as we know Him if He had not defeated Satan the way He did at the cross. Satan magnifies the power and the wisdom and the grace and the love and the mercy and the patience and the wrath of Jesus.
Satan's evil is bad now and it is going to get a lot worse before it is brought to an end. Horrible atrocities are occurring now. I saw a picture online the other day that caused me to cry. It was a picture of a mother who was forced to have an abortion in her seventh month of pregnancy. The murdered baby was laying on the bed beside her. I didn't click on the picture to enlarge it. What I saw was enough. I literally cried out, calling on God to bring an end to such evil. And God is going to someday. Satan is behind these things, but we have not reached the very last days of evil yet. The evil we are witnessing and experiencing now is being restrained. God in His plan is going to step back and allow Satan to unleash his anger on Israel and believers all over the world. (Revelation 12:7-17) I really don't think we have an idea of how bad it is going to get. Many are going to be put to death. It will be the worst holocaust to ever occur. I believe that we are going to be tempted to despair that what will be occurring at that time is out of God's control. We need to know the character and the plan of God before we enter into those days. Nothing in this universe happens out of God's control. Ephesians 1:11 is a good verse to put to memory. "...God works all things after the counsel of His will."
So how should we relate to evil?
We should expect it - 1 Peter 4:12
We should endure it - 1 Cor. 13:7
We should give thanks for the refining effects of the evil that comes upon us - Eph. 5:20
We should hate it - Romans 12:9
We should pray to escape from it - Matthew 6:13
We should expose it - Eph. 5:11
We should overcome it with good - Romans 12:21
We should resist it - James 4:7
We should not fear it, because God is with us - Psalm 23:4
We should never give in to the sense that evil is absurd and meaningless.Romans 11:33 tells us that God's judgments are unsearchable and His ways are unfathomable. God used the greatest evil ever committed, the murder of Jesus, to provide for the greatest gift, our salvation. God permits evil to exist to serve His purposes.
We should never give in to the thought that God sins or is unjust or unrighteous in the way He rules or in what He allows to exist and happen. The Lord is righteous in all His ways - Psalm 145:17.
We should never doubt that God is totally for us, even when evil is happening to us. Romans 8:31, 35-39. If God is for us, who is against us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED. But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Satan's end. Revelation 20:10 - And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Keep buried in the Word, bathing in God's character. Hide those scriptures in your heart so when you feel the fiery darts of the enemy, you stand firm in the character of God.
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities,
all things have been created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
He is also head of the body,
the church; and He is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Christianity is not merely a set of ideas and practices and feelings designed for our psychological well-being—whether designed by God or man. That’s not what Christianity is. Christianity begins with the conviction that God is an objective reality outside ourselves. We do not make Him what He is by thinking a certain way about Him. As Francis Schaefer said, He is the God who is there. We don’t make Him. He makes us. We don’t decide what He is going to be like. He decides what we are going to be like. He created the universe, and it has the meaning He gives it, not the meaning we give it. If we give it a meaning different from His, we are fools. And our lives will be tragic in the end. Christianity is not a game; it’s not a therapy. All of its doctrines flow from what God is and what He has done in history. They correspond to hard facts. Christianity is more than facts. There is faith and hope and love. But these don’t float in the air. They grow like great cedar trees in the rock of God’s truth.
I am deeply convinced from the Bible that your eternal joy and strength and holiness depend on the solidity of this worldview putting strong fiber into the spine of your faith. Wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians. And wimpy Christians won’t survive the days ahead. Rootless emotionalism that treats Christianity like a therapeutic option will be swept away in the Last Days. Those who will be left standing will be those who have built their house on the rock of great, objective truth with Jesus Christ as the origin, center, and goal of it all.
Overcomers in the last days will be those who are grounded in Jesus, The Rock, and in the rock of God's truth, His Word.
One of the great joys for us as believers is hearing the testimonies of those in our church families being baptized, isn't it? Yesterday at the end of our service, we had three baptisms. Genise's testimony is still ringing in my ears. Genise, a fifteen year old girl, with a big smile on her face, told how the Bible had been foggy and flat. She was rebellious in her heart towards her parents and questioned even the existence of God. She sat in church, week after week, the good news meaning nothing to her. Then, on a Sunday morning a few months ago, she felt convicted by her sin and her heart was stirred toward Jesus as Pastor Kennedy was preaching. That is how God works in our lives when He shines the glory of Jesus into our hearts! Genise's convicted, stirred heart was the Holy Spirit removing Satan's blinders so she could see the glory of Christ and it was God placing His gift of faith there. Genise said that now, when she reads her Bible, its words are clear and Jesus leaps off the page. That is one of the ways we know we belong to Christ and He began His work of salvation in us. Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice." And this is where our work begins. Not to keep our salvation, Jesus does that, but to walk in a manner worthy of our Savior. Luke 15:10 says that each time a sinner repents, the angels rejoice. Each time we hear how God has worked in the lives of others is an opportunity for us to give praise to our Redeemer.
Someday, every Jesus-transformed-life is going to be standing before the throne, and in one, loud, great multitudinous voice we are going praise our Savior with these words, "Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Rev. 7:10)
Perhaps from a family member, a friend, a coworker,
at church, in some literature.
God is holy.
We are sinful.
We are hostile to Him.
We don't want nor desire Him.
For our sin and rebellion we deserve His wrath.
God in the flesh,
and took the wrath of God in our place.
He was buried.
He rose, conquering sin and death.
If this news is dull to us,
if we are indifferent to it,
if we try to add our own goodness to it,
or another god,
if we think,
oh, that's nice but it's not good for me,
we are under Satan's blindness.
We are lost.
Lostness is blindness to the good news and glory of Jesus.
But one day we hear it.
Our heart is pierced.
This news all of a sudden, is wonderful.
We are drawn to it.
We reach out to it.
Yes, I am a sinner.
I want to be washed clean!
I want Jesus!
The Father has lifted our dead-in-sin arms up to Jesus,
Jesus lovingly embraces us
and the Holy Spirit breathes life into us.
God has removed the blindness
and shone in our hearts
the light of the glory, the beauty,
We've entered into eternal life.
Our souls thirst for more of Jesus.
We want to know Him,
everything about Him.
If Jesus makes your heart sing,
and you have believed this good news with all your heart,
turning from your sin and to Him alone,
and you continue in this good news,
then you belong to Him.
If you are not sure,
draw near to Him,
ask Him to reveal His glory to you.
He promises that to those who humbly draw near to Him,
God is on the throne even when it looks like evil is winning!
Our struggle with the flesh is going to end!
God is causing all things to work together for our good!
Someday all will bow the knee to Jesus!
God's lovingkindness surrounds us and is abundant and everlasting!
We are forgiven!
We will not face God's wrath, because of Jesus!
Unity in the body will someday be permanent!
Faith someday will be sight!
We have peace with God!
The gospel is constantly bearing fruit and increasing!
Creation (and our bodies) will be set free from its slavery to corruption!
All pain and death and sorrow will be gone, forever!
God sees us as glorified, now!
We labor not to gain or keep our salvation, but because we love Jesus for gaining and keeping it for us!
We are immersed in Jesus through our baptism at our new birth!
Jesus is returning to pick up His bride!
Jesus is going to rule on the earth someday!
The list can be as long as God is infinite!
Because of the presence and consequences of sin, there are times when we sorrow and weep and mourn, but we can turn our hearts to rejoicing, because of who Jesus is and what He has done, is doing, and what He will do...
I think listening to this John Piper sermon on Romans 8:28-30 will be some of the best forty minutes you can spend, this year. I'm thinking it will be in the top ten forty minutes of my life. I would encourage you to set aside some time soon to listen. I really think you will be glad you did.
It really is, all about Jesus...
Romans 8:28-30 -
"And we know that God causes all things
to work together for good
to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose.
For those whom He foreknew,
He also predestined to become conformed
to the image of His Son,
so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;
and these whom He predestined,
He also called;
and these whom He called,
He also justified;
and these who He justified,
He also glorified."
2 Corinthians 4:6 -
"For God, who said,
"Light shall shine out of darkness,"
is the One who has shone in our hearts
to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
To grasp even a hint of the wickedness and deceitfulness of our sin is to experience the grace of God...
"And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked..." Ephesians 2:1,2a
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Ephesians 2:4-6
The weight of sin is crushing, and to feel it is to experience the grace of God in our lives and the working of the Holy Spirit. Thanks be to God for the mercy and grace we find at the cross, every day, and the peace and joy of heart that returns when we confess our sins and present to Him a broken and contrite heart. This is a heart He loves, and will not despise.
but I practice the very evil that I do not want...
Therefore there is now
for those who are in Christ Jesus."
Remember, friends, that in our struggle to give Jesus first place, to make Him big, to always esteem Him above all things and have Him as the greatest treasure in our lives, we are not condemned when we fail. The sin of putting ourselves first is not held against us because the penalty for doing so was paid by Jesus. He became our self glory and bore God's wrath for it. His grace continually washes over us. We died with Him, to sin, we were raised with Him, to begin that transformation into His complete likeness. Press on for the prize of being revealed with Him in glory - perfected, holy, blameless. Because of Jesus, the Father already sees us that way now.