Friday, November 17, 2017

trust beyond measure

artwork by Julie Artz Hanson

Julie Artz Hanson’s beautiful work of art goes so well with the final verses in Romans Chapter Eight, which Pastor Harry Ironside is quoted as saying, “as Paul began this chapter with "no condemnation," he ended with "no separation." Blessed, wondrous consummation of the most marvelous theme ever given to man! May our souls enter more deeply into it, and find increasing joy and spiritual strength as we contemplate this blessed assurance.” Truly, trust beyond measure…

Romans 8:37-39

NASB: 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.

Amplified: Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

NLT: No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Phillips: No, in all these things we win an overwhelming victory through him who has proved his love for us. I have become absolutely convinced that neither death nor life, neither messenger of Heaven nor monarch of earth, neither what happens today nor what may happen tomorrow, neither a power from on high nor a power from below, nor anything else in God’s whole world has any power to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Wuest: But in these things, all of them, we are coming off constantly with more than the victory through the One who loved us. For I have come through a process of persuasion to the settled conclusion that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things about 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. 


Young’s Literal: But in all these we more than conquer, through him who loved us; for I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor messengers, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things about to be, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, that [is] in Christ Jesus our Lord.

A word study of the word, love, agape,
 reveals that it is an unconditional, sacrificial love and Biblically refers to a love that God is, that God shows, and that God enables in His children through the fruit of the Spirit. Biblical agape love is the love of choice, the love of serving with humility, the highest kind of love, the noblest kind of devotion, the love of the will (intentional, a conscious choice) and not motivated by superficial appearance, emotional attraction, or sentimental relationship. Agape is not based on pleasant emotions or good feelings that might result from a physical attraction or a familial bond. Agape chooses as an act of self-sacrifice to serve the recipient. From all of the descriptions of agape love, it is clear that true agape love is a sure mark of salvation. Agape love does not depend on the world’s criteria for love, such as attractiveness, emotions, or sentimentality. Agape in the Greek classics spoke of a love called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the object loved. This is the idea inherent in the Father's proclamation, "This is My Beloved Son." Agape is the love that was shown at Calvary. Thus agape is God’s love, and is the love that God is. It is not human affection but is a divine love, commanded by God, produced as fruit in the heart of a surrendered saint by the Holy Spirit, self-sacrificial in nature seeking the benefit of the one who is loved, a love which means death to self and defeat for sin since the essence of sin is self-will and self-gratification, a love activated by personal choice of our will, not based on our feelings toward the object of our love and manifested by specific actions not just to fellow believers but to all men everywhere.

Kenneth S. Wuest
 describes agape love as follows..."Agape is a love that impels one to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the object loved...(it) speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in the object loved, an apprehension of its preciousness. Agape is the love which the Holy Spirit sheds abroad in the heart of the yielded believer. The saint is to order his behavior or manner of life within the sphere of this divine, supernatural agape love produced in his heart by the Holy Spirit. Agape love speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. The quality of this love is determined by the character of the one who loves, and that of the object loved. God’s love for a sinful and lost race springs from His heart in response to the high value He places upon each human soul. Every sinner is exceedingly precious in His sight. The love in John 3:16 is a love whose essence is that of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved, this love based upon an evaluation of the preciousness of the one loved."

Pastor Charles R. Swindoll
 writes: "The power of Paul's words here in Romans 8 when we are experiencing fiery trials in the furnace of affliction...God’s Word is like a log sitting on top of the ice on a frozen lake. When the ice thaws and melts, the log penetrates into the water and becomes a part of the lake. The trials that come along in life are like that thawing process. They melt the heart and allow God’s Word to penetrate and become a part of us."

Corrie Ten Boom was at the Nazi death camp Ravensbruck where roll call came at 4:30 every morning. Most mornings were cold, and sometimes the women would be forced to stand without moving for hours in the bone-chilling pre-dawn darkness. Nearby were the punishment barracks where all day and far into the night would come the sounds of cruelty: blows landing in regular rhythm and screams keeping pace. But Corrie and her sister Betsie had a Bible, and at every opportunity they would gather the women together like orphans around a blazing fire, and read Romans 8Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. Corrie later said: I would look about us as Betsie read, watching the light leap from face to face. More than conquerors. It was not a wish. It was a fact. We knew it, we experienced it minute by minute in an ever widening circle of help and hope. Life at Ravensbruck took place on two separate levels. One, the observable, external life, grew every day more horrible. The other, the life we lived with God, grew daily better, truth upon truth, glory upon glory.

Pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse told a personal story that beautifully illustrates death’s powerlessness over Christians. When his wife died, his children were still quite young, and Dr. Barnhouse wondered how he could explain their mother’s death in a way their childish minds could understand. As they drove home from the funeral, a large truck passed them and briefly cast a dark shadow over the car. Immediately the father had the illustration he was looking for, and he asked the children, “Would you rather be run over by a truck or by the shadow of a truck?” “That’s easy, Daddy,” they replied. “We would rather get run over by the shadow, because that wouldn’t hurt.” Their father then said, “Well, children, your mother just went through the valley of the shadow of death, and there’s no pain there, either.”

Pastor George Matheson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1842. As a child he had only partial vision, and his sight became progressively worse, until it resulted in blindness by the time he was eighteen. Despite his handicap, he was a brilliant student and graduated from the University of Glasgow and later from seminary. He became pastor of several churches in Scotland, including a large church in Edinburgh, where he was greatly respected and loved. After he had been engaged to a young woman for a short while, she broke the engagement, having decided she could not be content married to a blind man. This pain led Matheson to write this beautiful hymnO Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee, I give Thee back the life I owe, That in Thine ocean depths its flow, May richer, fuller be. O Love, that will not let me go. O Joy, that seekest me through pain, I cannot close my heart to Thee, I trace the rainbow through the rain, And feel the promise is not vain, That morn shall tearless be. O Love, that will not let me go. O Cross, that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee. I lay in dust life's glory dead, and from the ground there blossoms red, Life that shall endless be. O Love, that will not let me go. O Love, that will not let me go.

Heavenly Father, thank you for Your agape love so great, so awesome, so amazing, that You sent Your One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to take all my sin, my sickness, my condemnation on that cruel cross. Because I have placed my trust in the finished work of Christ, it is by His stripes I am healed, and there is nothing that can separate me from Your love, O Love that will not let me go . . . truly, trust beyond measure, blessed assurance, I am loved by Your everlasting love and underneath are Your everlasting arms . . . all is grace—amazing grace—from the moment You knit me together in my mother’s womb until the moment I see You face-to-face, in Jesus' precious name I pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Romans 8:37-39 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Romans 8:37-39 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Romans 8:37-39
…pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.


Friday, November 10, 2017

moving forward

artwork by Cherry Ashen Fargo
This beautiful work of artMove Forward, by Cherry Ashen Fargo was so inspiring to me. As followers of Christ, we face obstacles in our lives, and walking in God's will doesn't guarantee that our way will be easy. It helps me to remember that no matter how difficult our trials and tribulations may be, we can trust God and move forward in faith.

I often think of this when leaving a gated community. There is an automatic gate designed to open when a car activates a hidden sensor near the entrance. When I drive toward the gate, it remains closed, blocking the entrance. But as I get closer, the gate opens, allowing me to proceed. If I stop my car a few feet from the entrance, the gate would stay closed. Only when I move forward does it open.

It's the first step into the unseen that proves we have faith. Abraham, for example, "went out, not knowing where he was going." He obeyed God and relied on Him to clear the path. When we walk in obedience to the Lord and come upon a closed gate, we can confidently take the next step of faith.

As we move forward, we will see God make a way where there seems to be no way. This led to do a word study of the word, written, from Romans 8:34-36

NASB: 
Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for 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.”

Amplified:  Who is there to condemn [us]? Will Christ Jesus (the Messiah), Who died, or rather Who was raised from the dead, Who is at the right hand of God actually pleading as He intercedes for us? Who shall ever separate us from Christ’s love? Shall suffering and affliction and tribulation? Or calamity and distress? Or persecution or hunger or destitution or peril or sword? Even as it is written, For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long; we are regarded and counted as sheep for the slaughter.

NLT: Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us. Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)

Phillips: Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us! Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, pain or persecution? Can lack of clothes and food, danger to life and limb, the threat of force of arms? Indeed some of us know the truth of the ancient text: ‘For your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’.

Wuest:  Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus, the One who died, yes, rather, who has been raised, who is on the right hand of God, who also is constantly interceding on our behalf?  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword?  Even as it stands written, For your sake we are being put to death all the day long. We were accounted as sheep destined for slaughter.

Young's Literal: Who [is] he that is condemning? Christ [is] He that died, yea, rather also, was raised up; who is also on the right hand of God -- who also doth intercede for us. Who shall separate us from the love of the Christ? tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (according as it hath been written -- `For Thy sake we are put to death all the day long, we were reckoned as sheep of slaughter,')

In Greek, the word, written, is grapho which means to engrave or inscribe with a pen or stylus characters or letters on a surface which can be wood, wax, metal, leather, stone, parchment, dirt, paper, etc. The verb grapho is in the perfect tense (gegraphtai) signifying that God's Word has been written down at a point of time in the past and remains on record as the eternal, unchanging Word of God. The perfect tense signifies the permanence of the written word of God. The phrase it is written (in perfect tense) always refers directly or indirectly to an Old Testament quotation and thus it carries great authority for the believer. The idea is that this divine revelation was written down at a specific time in the past and stands written and effective. As Jesus declared,  Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away. (Matt. 24:35)

Warren W. Wiersbe commenting on the significance of the phrase it is written reminds us that "Our Lord used the Word of God to defeat Satan, and so may we. But the Word of God is not only a sword for battle; it is also a light to guide us in this dark world, food that strengthens us, and water that washes us. The Word of God has a sanctifying ministry in the lives of dedicated believers. Those who delight in God’s Word, meditate on it, and seek to obey it will experience God’s direction and blessing in their lives. The Word reveals God’s mind, so we should learn it; God’s heart, so we should love it; God’s will, so we should live it. We do not study the Bible just to get to know the Bible. We study the Bible that we might get to know God better. Too many earnest Bible students are content with outlines and explanations, and do not really get to know God. It is good to know the Word of God, but this should help us better know the God of the Word."

Lord Jesus, without You, I can do nothing, I cannot move forward. May Your Holy Spirit take authority and so flood my soul--the seat of my emotions, and my body--my fleshly desires and appetites, that only You remain and I remain in You. As Your Word says in Philippians 3:10 amplified, my determined purpose is that I may know You, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with You, recognizing, perceiving, and understanding the wonders of Your Person more clearly and more strongly. I am resting in who You say I am in Christ... blessed, accepted, adopted, chosen, redeemed, forgiven and loved with an everlasting love and underneath are Your everlasting Arms. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on Romans 8:34-36 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Romans 8:34-36 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on Romans 8:34-36
…pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Weekly LinkUps


Friday, November 3, 2017

made new

artwork by Cherry Ashen Fargo

As I pondered this beautiful work of art by Cherry Ashen Fargo, I was reminded once again, that it is God Who makes all things new. This Truth was reinforced while I was singing my confession of faith along with Hillsong Worship's This I Believe (The Creed)..this drew my heart to a word study of the word, justifies, from Romans 8:31-33:

NASB: 
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who isagainst us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies.

Amplified: What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?] He who did not withhold or spare [even] His own Son but gave Him up for us all, will He not also with Him freely and graciously give us all [other] things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect [when it is] God Who justifies [that is, Who puts us in right relation to Himself? Who shall come forward and accuse or impeach those whom God has chosen? Will God, Who acquits us?]

NLT: What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself.


Phillips: In face of all this, what is there left to say? If God is for us, who can be against us? He that did not hesitate to spare his own Son but gave him up for us all—can we not trust such a God to give us, with him, everything else that we can need?
 Who would dare to accuse us, whom God has chosen? The judge himself has declared us free from sin. Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!

Wuest: What then shall we say to these things? In view of the fact that God is on our behalf, who could be against us?  Indeed, He who His own Son did not spare, but on behalf of us all delivered Him up, how is it possible that He shall not with Him in grace give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s chosen-out ones? God, the One who justifies?

Young’s Literal: What, then, shall we say unto these things? if God [is] for us, who [is] against us? He who indeed His own Son did not spare, but for us all did deliver him up, how shall He not also with him the all things grant to us? Who shall lay a charge against the choice ones of God? God [is] He that is declaring righteous.


Justifies in Greek is dikaióō, which means to deem to be right, acquits, vindicates, frees. Note dikaióō, is in the present tense, indicating this is what God always does—He is the justifying God. His nature is to justify sinners, creating saints. Dikaióō describes the act by which a man is brought into a right state of relationship to God. Dikaióō is a legal term having to do with the law and the courtroom, where it represented the legally binding verdict of the judge. Dikaióō ends in "-oo" which, in Greek, brings out that which a person is. Therefore dikaióō brings out the fact that a person is righteous. It means to declare the rightness of something or someone.


Bible Scholar Leon L. Morris
 has said, “Dikaióō is a forensic or legal term with the meaning “acquit.” It is the normal word to use when the accused is declared, “Not guilty.” In salvation, dikaióō describes the legal act whereby God declares the believing sinner righteous on the basis of the blood of Christ. Stated another way, justification is not a process, but is an act that occurs once and need not be repeated. It is something God does, not man. Justification is not subject to recall so that you have to get it over and over again. Justification is not a change wrought by God in us, but a change of our relation to God. Justification describes a person’s status in the sight of the law, not the condition of his or her character."

Pastor Warren W. Wiersbe writes: “Do not confuse justification and sanctification. Sanctification is the process whereby God makes the believer more and more like Christ. Sanctification may change from day to day. Justification never changes. When the sinner trusts Christ, God declares him righteous, and that declaration will never be repealed. Being justified is once and for all time, and as such defines the believer’s permanent state. Just as you may not be tried for the same crime again after being acquitted, God's justification means you will never be tried or condemned by Him again for your sins—past, present, or future. This is good news indeed. To reiterate, justification is not an act of God that makes us righteous, but is an act of God that declares us righteous based on what Christ accomplished on Calvary."

Greek Scholar Kenneth S. Wuest states: “The words justify, justification, righteous, righteousness, just, right, meet, are all translations of the same Greek root. The verb justify is dikaióō, the noun righteousness, dikaiosune, the adjective righteous, dikaios. This means that all these words have a general meaning that is common to all of them, even though their individual meaning may differ slightly. This again means that there is a definite and vital connection between the act of justifying and the righteousness of the individual who has been justified. Justification, dikaióō, is the act of God removing from the believing sinner, his guilt and the penalty incurred by that guilt, and bestowing a positive righteousness, Christ Jesus Himself in Whom the believer stands, not only innocent and uncondemned, but actually righteous in point of law for time and for eternity. The words justify, justification, righteous, righteousness, as used of man in his relation to God, have a legal, judicial basis. God is the Judge, man the defendant. God is the standard of all righteousness. The white linen curtains of the court of the Tabernacle, symbolized the righteousness which God is, the righteousness which God demands of any human being who desires to fellowship with Him, and the righteousness which God provides on the basis of the acceptance on the sinner’s part, of the Lord Jesus who perfectly satisfied the just demands of God’s holy law which we broke. A just person therefore is one who has been thus declared righteous."

The verdict is final. The case is never going to be re-tried—irrevocable. On that we can rest—we are justified on the basis of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
 It is a blessing to know that I am, right now, under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Because I have placed my trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed by His precious blood. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. Knowing that God’s love for me and approval of me will never be determined by my performance is the most encouraging promise to which I cling. Truly, God makes all things new.

Lord Jesus, thank You for the free gift of salvation, that we are justified on the basis of Your finished work on the Cross. Thank You that, right now, we are under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Because we have placed our trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed by Your precious blood. The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed. Knowing that God’s love for us and approval of us will never be determined by our performance is the most encouraging promise to which we cling. We love You, Lord. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on Romans 8:31-33 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Romans 8:31-33 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
Romans 8:31-33 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Weekly LinkUps

Friday, October 27, 2017

trusting His heart

artwork by Kimberly Simmons

I was drawn to this beautiful work of art by Kimberly Simmons by all the small elements coming together to create the Cross and the word, TRUST. As I reflected on this artwork, and the scripture for this post, this beautiful hymn came to mind…Trust His HeartAll things work for our good, though sometimes we don't see how they could…God is too wise to be mistaken, God is too good to be unkind, so when you don't understand, when don't see His plan, when you can't trace His hand, Trust His Heart…this drew my heart to a word study of Romans 8:28...

NASB: 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.

Amplified: We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

Phillips: Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.

Wuest:
 And we know with an absolute knowledge that for those who are loving God, all things are working together resulting in good, for those who are divinely-summoned ones according to His purpose.

Young’s Literal: And we have known that to those loving God all things do work together for good, to those who are called according to purpose.

Pastor Ray Pritchard states: “Read the first phrase of Romans 8:28 in these three different versions: KJV: All things work together for good to them that love God; NASB: God causes all things to work together for good; NIV:In all things God works for the good of those who love him. Did you catch the difference there? In the King James Version, God is way down at the end of the phrase. In the other two versions, God is at the beginning. It is partly a question of text and partly a question of grammar. There is nothing wrong with the traditional versions, but the modern translations bring out a proper emphasis. We will never properly understand this verse as long as we put God at the end and not at the beginning. But some people look at life that way. They believe that life is like a roll of the dice—sometimes it's seven-come-eleven and sometimes it's snake eyes. And they believe that after a tragedy, God shows up to make everything come out right. But that's not the Biblical view at all. In reality, God is there at the beginning and He is there at the end, and He is at every point in between.”

Romans 8:28 is the New Testament equivalent of Genesis 50:20 . . . Joseph's great affirmation of God's sovereignty, His overruling providence and His everlasting, immutable faithfulness, when he declared to his brothers (who had attempted to kill him)..."And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive." Joseph’s brothers meant harm toward him when they sold him. But God worked it for good. The concept of God working all things for good is the key to moving forward in forgiveness.

Elisabeth Elliot, whose first husband was murdered by the savage people he was trying to reach for Christ, and whose second husband died of cancer, wrote, “The experiences of my life are not such that I could infer from them that God is good, gracious and merciful necessarily. To have had one husband murdered and another one disintegrate, body, soul and spirit, through cancer, is not what you would call a proof of the love of God. In fact, there are many times when it looks like just the opposite. My belief in the love of God is not by inference or instinct. It is by faith.” This wide-angle God-lens view, led me to a word study of the word, purpose.

Purpose comes from the Greek word prothesis (from pró = before, forth +títhemi = place) which means to set before oneself to be looked at or exposed to view and then to purpose or plan. It is literally placing before or setting before and so means the setting forth of a thing or placing of it in view, a putting forward openly—a presentation, setting forth, plan, design, purpose, resolve, will. Prothesis means to plan in advance and comes to mean that which is planned or purposed in advance. Purpose means an intelligent decision which the will is bent to accomplish.

Pastor Albert Barnes explains: “The word here rendered purpose (prothesis) means, properly, a proposition, or a laying down anything in view of others. Hence it means, when applied to the mind, a plan or purpose of mind. It implies that God had a plan, or purpose, or intention, in regard to all who became Christians. They are not saved by chance or haphazard. God does not convert men without design; and His designs are not new, but are eternal. What He does, He always meant to do. What it is right for Him to do, it was right always to intend to do. What God always meant to do, is His purpose or plan.”

Pastor Randy Alcorn writes, “God causes all things to work together for good”… pointing out that it doesn't say each individual thing is good, but that God works them together for good. Recalling his boyhood days, Randy tells how he often watched his mother bake cakes. One day when she had all the ingredients set out—flour, sugar, baking powder, raw egg, vanilla—he sneaked a taste of each one. Except for the sugar, they all tasted horrible. Then his mother stirred them together and put the batter in the oven. “It didn't make sense to me,” he recalls, “that the combination of individually distasteful things produced such a tasty product.” Randy concludes that God likewise “takes all the undesirable stresses in our lives, mixes them together, puts them under the heat of crisis, and produces a perfect result.”

Greek scholar Kenneth S. Wuest states: “Salvation is dominated by God’s purpose (prothesis)… that of glorifying Himself in the bestowal of salvation and in the life of the person who is the recipient of that salvation. Salvation, therefore, can never be earned. If it could, the sinner would be glorified. Salvation must be a free gift with no strings tied to it. And that is grace, the act of God giving salvation as a free gift to one who does not only not deserve it, but who deserves punishment for his sins. This grace is given us in Christ Jesus in the sense that He made the gift of salvation possible through His death on the Cross by which He satisfied the just requirements of the law which sinners broke, thus making it possible for a righteous God to show mercy to a hell-deserving sinner on the basis of justice satisfied. God’s purpose (prothesis) is this grace that was given us before the world began.”

Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon writes: “Upon some points a believer is absolutely sure. He knows, for instance, that God sits in the stern-sheets of the vessel when it rocks most. He believes that an invisible hand is always on the world's tiller, and that wherever providence may drift, Jehovah steers it. That re-assuring knowledge prepares him for everything. He looks over the raging waters and sees the spirit of Jesus treading the billows, and he hears a voice saying, “It is I, be not afraid.” He knows too that God is always wise, and, knowing this, he is confident that there can be no accidents, no mistakes; that nothing can occur which ought not to arise. He can say, “If I should lose all I have, it is better that I should lose than have, if God so wills: the worst calamity is the wisest and the kindest thing that could befall to me if God ordains it. We know that all things work together for good to them that love God.” The Christian does not merely hold this as a theory, but he knows it as a matter of fact. Everything has worked for good as yet; the poisonous drugs mixed in fit proportions have worked the cure; the sharp cuts of the lancet have cleansed out the proud flesh and facilitated the healing. Every event as yet has worked out the most divinely blessed results; and so, believing that God rules all, that He governs wisely, that He brings good out of evil, the believer's heart is assured, and he is enabled calmly to meet each trial as it comes.”

In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom relates an incident that taught her to be thankful for things we normally would not be thankful for. She and her sister, Betsy, prisoners of the Nazis, had just been transferred to the worst prison camp they had seen yet, Ravensbruck. Upon entering the barracks, they found them extremely overcrowded and infested with fleas. Their Scripture reading from their smuggled Bible that morning in First Thessalonians had reminded them to rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances. Betsy told Corrie to stop and thank the Lord for every detail of their new living quarters. Corrie at first flatly refused to give thanks for the fleas, but Betsy persisted. Corrie finally agreed to somehow thank God for even the fleas. During the months spent at that camp, they were surprised to find how openly they could hold Bible study and prayer meetings in their barrack without guard interference. Several months later they learned that the guards would not enter the barracks because of the fleas.

Pastor John Stott describes the truth of this passage as “a pillow on which to rest our weary heads.” In every detail of our lives, God is at work. God will take even our errors and work them out for our good and His glory. He is sovereign. In everything, He works for the good of those who love Him. Supremely, the Cross demonstrates that just as God took the very worst event in history and turned it into the very best; He can take the worst things in our lives and use them for good.

As I wrote in How I Came To Be,
my daily relationship with our living Lord Jesus Christ reinforces my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.”  I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known. It is His plan that’s important, not my desire. I didn't bring myself into this world, and I can’t take myself into heaven. I really don’t know what is best for me or for those I love. I ask God to make me sensitive to the reality that He is in control, and that He is using this--even this--to conform me to the image of His Son. I want that most of all. I train my mind to acknowledge God’s hand in whatever it is I'm living with. I pray, Jesus, You know what You are doing, I will trust, I release it all, because God is sovereign. He is the beginning, He will be the ending, and in between, by His grace, He lets us be part of His perfect plan, for His glory and for our good . . .  I am trusting His heart.

Heavenly Father, I trust Your heart, You know what You are doing, I rest in the mystery of Who You are and Who I am in You because of Christ's perfect work on the Cross. I ask You to help me to do these things: to lean on You, to meditate on Your character and attributes, and to trust You with all my heart. Thank You for Your promise that Your perfect peace will guard my heart and mind. In Christ, we are relaxed and at peace in the midst of the mysteries, confusions, and perplexities of this life, because we trust in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.



Look Up—meditate on Romans 8:28 … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on Romans 8:28 … pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
Romans 8:28 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Weekly LinkUps


Saturday, October 21, 2017

He is praying for me!

artwork by Lori Bedo

Lori Bedo described this beautiful work of art on the Artful Story Journaling Facebook page, “I was going through some boxes in my art room and came across some pages from an old art journal. Though years have passed since these were made, I can still see that my eyes were on my Creator . . . the swirls of paint with a cross scraped in the midst . . . scrapes and smudges, smears and cuts, using a putty knife on globs of paint with a cross in the midst . . . loving Jesus . . . I have loved the Lord all these years and He has kept me close to His side through it all.”


I reflected on Lori’s inspired artwork as I listened to one of my favorite hymns from SelahBefore The Throne of God AboveBefore the throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect Plea; A great high priest whose name is Love, Who ever lives and pleads for me. My name is graven on His hands, My name is written on His heart. I know that while in Heaven He stands, No tongue can bid me thence depart. When Satan tempts me to despair, And tells me of the guilt within, Upwards I look and see Him there, Who made an end to all my sin. Because the sinless Savior died, My sinful soul is counted free, For God the Just is satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me. Behold Him there, the risen Lamb; My perfect spotless Righteousness, the great unchanging all I Am, The King of glory and of grace. One with Himself, I cannot die; my soul is purchased by His blood. My life is hid with Christ on high; with Christ, my Savior and my God…this inspired me to do a word study of the word “intercedes” from Romans 8:26-27:

NASB: In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according tothe will of God.


Amplified: So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance. And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedesand pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will.


NLT:
 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

Phillips: The Spirit of God not only maintains this hope within us, but helps us in our present limitations. For example, we do not know how to pray worthily as sons of God, but his Spirit within us is actually praying for us in those agonizing longings which never find words. And God who knows the heart’s secrets understands, of course, the Spirit’s intention as he prays for those who love God.

Wuest: And in like manner also the Spirit lends us a helping hand with reference to our weakness, for the particular. thing that we should pray for according to what is necessary in the nature of the case, we do not know with an absolute knowledge; but the Spirit himself comes to our rescue by interceding with unutterable groanings.  Moreover, He who is constantly searching our hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit because, according to God, He continually makes intercession on behalf of the saints.

Young's Literal: And, in like manner also, the Spirit doth help our weaknesses; for, what we may pray for, as it behoveth [us], we have not known, but the Spirit himself doth make intercession for us with groanings unutterable, and He who is searching the hearts hath known what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because according to God he doth intercede for saints.

Intercedes for us: the Greek words entugcháno (from en = in + tugcháno = get, obtain) means to meet up with or to encounter and then to approach someone with a petition, and hupérentugcháno (from hupér = for, on behalf of + entugcháno = entreat) means to make intercession, bring a petition to a king on behalf of someone, ask for something with urgency and intensity. It means to make an earnest request through contact with the one approached. To entreat (in favor or against), to bring a petition to a king on behalf of someone, to ask for something with urgency and intensity, to plead, beg, appeal to or to petition. It further means to intercede for or in the behalf of someone or to plead for someone. It is a picturesque word of rescue by one who ‘happens on’ one who is in trouble, and ‘in his behalf’ (hupér) pleads ‘with unuttered groanings’ or with ‘sighs that baffle words.'


Intercedes for us: the preposition for (hupér) is the Greek preposition which in this context expresses the idea of substitution. Instead of for, one can render it as, Christ intercedes—in place of, for the benefit of, on behalf of—us. This act of love can never be fully appreciated until we understand exactly who the objects of that love were—unlovable, unlovely, ungodly, helpless-to-help-themselves-sinners, constantly rebelling against God's will for their lives, God's mortal enemies! It is for such as these that our constantly Risen Lord constantly makes intercession. Our Great High Priest speaks to His Father on our behalf and He is engaged in this gracious work continually, in the present tense, He is continuously interceding on behalf of His children.


Greek Scholar Kenneth S. Wuest writes, “God the Father who searches the hearts of His saints, understands the intent or bent of our unutterable prayers, unutterable because we do not know the particular things we should pray for in connection with a certain circumstance, for He knows the mind of the Holy Spirit praying for us and in our stead in our prayers in the case of the above-mentioned items for prayer, the Holy Spirit praying according to the plan of God for our lives. The Messiah's current intercession includes every form of Messiah’s identifying Himself with humanity, and includes the idea of intercession. The Apostle Paul speaks here of the present intercession of Messiah on behalf of believers, which is based upon and follows His once-for-all offering of Himself as the sacrifice for sin.”



Pastor John F. Walvoord notes that “the verb hupérentugcháno is used twice to refer to Christ's intercession. For those prepared to enter into its wonderful truth, the fact that Christ intercedes for His own in heaven is another guarantee of the security of the believer. While the hope of the believer for eternal salvation rests essentially on his possession of eternal life and the finished character of the death of Christ, it is undoubtedly strengthened by the fact of the intercession of Christ. In His intercession in heaven, Christ sustains the believer and keeps him from many of the spiritual dangers of life. Such intercession pleads the fact that the believer is in Christ and a partaker of His righteousness. The doctrine of intercession emphasizes the great truth that Christ never ceases to intercede for His own. While human prayers on earth are limited in both extent and power, the intercession of Christ knows no limits within the will of God. As an infinite person, Christ is able to concentrate His intercession wholly on each individual believer without any diminution or detraction from the needs of any other. In effect, the believer is assured of the intercession of Christ in such a manner as would be true if Christ centered all His love and all His intercession on that one believer. Whatever may be the limitation of human prayers, the believer is assured that there is One who never ceases to pray to him and his needs and that this Intercessor has all power and favor with the Father and, accordingly, “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.”



Robert Murray McCheyne, the beloved Scottish minister of the 19th century, wrote, “It was dawn, and I was painfully aware of being only a few weeks into widowhood. After another restless night, I felt too weary to pray for myself. ‘Lord,’ I sighed, ‘I need someone to pray for me right now.’ Almost instantly God's Spirit comforted my distraught mind with the words of Romans 8:26-27, reminding me that Jesus was praying for me that very moment. With a wave of relief, I acknowledged Him as my lifelong intercessor. I will never forget how that bleak morning became gold-tinged with hope. Since then, I have drawn courage and strength countless times from my faithful High Priest. If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference. He is praying for me!" 


There are tears of joy flowing from my eyes even now as I recall the many times in 2004 that our then 13 year-old son, Jason, and I sang along with the album, Hiding Place, by Selah as we were driving in the car. The playlist includes the wonderful songs: You Raise Me Up, I Bless Your Name, There is Power in the Blood, You Are My Hiding Place, Through It All, By and By (We’ll Understand It Better), and the song I featured here, Before the Throne of God Above.


Lord Jesus, thank You for tears that remind me what a joy it is to know that I know that I know that I am, right now, under the completely sufficient imputed righteousness of Christ. Nothing I do will make You love me more, and nothing I do will make You love me less. Because I have placed my trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, I am redeemed by Your precious blood, I am a greatly blessed, highly favored, and deeply loved child of God. As You are, so am I in this world (I John 4:17). The threat of failure, judgment, and condemnation has been removed (Romans 8:1). Knowing that God’s love for me and approval of me will never be determined by my performance is the most encouraging promise to which I cling. Thank You for the tears of joy now falling from the eyes of my heart--they come from the assurance and joy of our salvation, that You could not love us more, and You could not love us less than You do right now—interceding for us--praying for us, Before the Throne of God Above. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.


Look Up—meditate on Romans 8:26-27… pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.

Look In
—as you meditate on 
Romans 8:26-27… pray to see how you might apply it to your life. Be propelled to ask galvanizing questions about your discoveries: "Because God is_________, I will_____________."

Look Out—as you meditate on 
Romans 8:26-27 …pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others. Let the nature of God impact on every relationship, for your good, and for His glory.

* If you liked this post, you’ll love this book – Name Above All Names Devotional: Focusing on 26 Alphabetical Names of Christ

Weekly LinkUps

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