SEEN AND SECURE

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My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me. (Psalm 101:6)


The world may take no notice of you, but you can be certain that the everlasting eyes of the Almighty are fixed upon the faithful . . . and that includes you! Notice that the psalm does not say God’s eyes are on the perfect; if that were the case, His glance would never extend beyond Heaven’s gate, except for those few short years our Lord walked this earth. No, God has promised to keep vigil over His faithful, those whose hearts beat for Jesus, even though they beat imperfectly.

The key to receiving the power and promise of this verse is found in God’s faithfulness to us, not our faithfulness to God. It is God who is faithful to see us as faithful, because He has clothed us in the righteous robes of our Redeemer. The apostle Paul assured us that “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). You see that it is God’s covenant faithfulness to us that keeps us both seen and secure.

Let’s go back to today’s verse and notice the result of being seen: “That they may dwell with me.” When God fixes His gaze upon the faithful, they are forever fixed in His faithful presence. We are eternally forgiven. We are eternally loved. We are eternally redeemed. We are eternally in His eternal presence and nothing can change that—not our sin . . . not Satan . . . not even death. We are told that nothing in the entire universe will ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Does that not encourage you today to face whatever waves of challenge that may come up against you with strength, courage, and joy?

Regardless of where this message finds you today, remember that you are both seen and secure. And when you find yourself lacking in your faithfulness to Jesus, remember these words from our Lord: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

May that truth set us all free to desire nothing less than living lives of complete faithfulness to our Savior . . . even when we are not.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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BURDEN-BEARER

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Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. (Psalm 55:22)


The psalmist wasn’t making a suggestion; you have been commanded to cast your cares upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord does not expect you to bear the weight of your burdens, for they will bury you. But when you ask the Lord take your burdens from you, He will not only shoulder the burden, but He will sustain you along the way. And when your burdens are cast upon the shoulders of the Sovereign Lord, they become blessings multiplied. Remember, what would grind you into the ashes of defeat is absolutely nothing for your Lord to carry.

However, if you persist in holding on to your burdens, your Lord will not carry them for you. When we do not cast our cares upon our Lord, we are declaring that we do not take Him at His word. Clutching our cares communicates that we do not trust God to do what He said He would do for us.

The apostle Peter understood Psalm 55:22 quite well; he was moved by the Spirit to repeat virtually the same command: “Cast all your anxiety on [God] because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). Peter identified the burden of anxiety, but you can substitute any number of cares that may beset you, from doubt and distress to fear and faithlessness to worry and weakness. The list of our cares is virtually endless, but so is the strength of our Lord to shoulder every one of those apprehensions.

Is there anything keeping you from casting all of your cares upon your Lord today? Remember, when you are weak, He is strong. Your Lord Jesus Christ delights in doing for you what you cannot do for yourself, and He has promised to sustain you with blessings multiplied as He bears your burdens away from you and deposits them as far as the east is from the west.

Christian, it is not a sign of strength for you to try to go it alone. Your shoulders are not broad enough to carry the weight of your burdens! And do not be like so many, who set their burdens down for a time, only to take them back up again. Lay your burdens down, once and for all, because He cares for you, and He has promised to get you through any valley of shadow you are facing. “Then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday” (Isaiah 58:10). Now that’s a Burden-Bearer who brings blessings multiplied!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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THE POWER OF WHY GOD LOVES YOU

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The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)


Thomas Manton (1620-1677) preached a sermon on John 3:16, titled “God’s Unspeakable Love,” in which he provided this powerful insight regarding the “why” of God’s love.

We may give a reason of other things, but we cannot give a reason of His love, God showed His wisdom, power, justice, and holiness in our redemption by Christ. If you ask why he made so much ado about a worthless creature, raised out of the dust of the ground at first, had now disordered himself, and could be of no use to him, we have an answer at hand: because he loved us. If you continue to ask, “But why did he love us?” we have no other answer but, “Because he loved us”; for beyond the first rise of things, we cannot go.

You can see in today’s passage from Deuteronomy that Moses confirmed the powerful truth of why God loves us: simply because God loves us! When I am engaged in premarital coaching, I like to ask the couple why they love each other. I’m sure you can anticipate the answers I receive as you recall the reasons why you fell in love with someone during the course of your life. But know this: whatever reasons we attach to the why we love someone—looks, intelligence, stability, career possibilities, personality, etc.—that is the place where that person will locate their identity, because that is where we have rooted our love. And as long as we are satisfied with that why, love remains.

But God’s why is completely different. There is absolutely nothing in us that causes God to love us. He loves us simply because He loves us! Do you realize how secure that makes your identity? It is not rooted in anything you are, anything you have done, or anything you ever will do for God. Your identity is fixed in the unwavering, unchanging, unconditional, love of God, who sent His Son to pay the penalty for your sin to have you as His bride for all eternity.

Later in his sermon, Thomas Manton said, “From first to last, love is so conspicuous that we cannot overlook it. Light is not more conspicuous in the sun than the love of God in our redemption by Christ.” Is this not a word of cosmic comfort to you today? You are loved with an everlasting love just because God chose to love you. Perhaps you, like the apostle Paul, will be moved by the Spirit to exult, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

One final point. If we love others because God first loved us—and we do—perhaps we ought to love others the same way God loves us . . . JUST BECAUSE!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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THE CALL TO REBUILD THE WALL

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“You know full well the tragedy of our city. It lies in ruins, and its gates are burned. Let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem and rid ourselves of this disgrace!” (Nehemiah 2:17)


After the Babylonian captivity, the people of God returned to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding their lives and the holy city. But even after the Temple had been rebuilt and worship was taking place, the city walls still lay in ruins. When this was reported to Nehemiah, he heard God’s call to lead the project to rebuild the wall; and, after fifty-two days of building, the walls were completed.

This protective stone wall around the holy city is a picture of the protective spiritual wall that should encircle the people of God. However, unlike the stone wall around Jerusalem that took only fifty-two days to rebuild, the spiritual wall around the saints of God must be worked on every day of our lives.

Just like the enemies of God’s people in the time of Nehemiah, who delighted in destroying the stone walls of Jerusalem, the enemies of God’s people today delight in destroying the spiritual protection of the God’s children. The world makes every attempt to distract us from prayer, disconnect us from corporate worship, and distance us from the study of God’s Word. But, like Nehemiah, we must be diligent and determined not to let anything get in the way of our building project. Every prayer, every worship service, and every daily reading of the Bible is another protective stone added to the spiritual wall of protection around us.

Let me ask you a few questions: How is your prayer life currently? How regularly do attend worship at your church? How much time do you spend reading the Bible each day? Prayer, corporate worship, and Bible intake come under the heading of “The means of grace.” These are just some of the means God has ordained for us to receive His grace, which empowers us to live the Christian life. These means of grace (and many others) are God’s supernatural stones of protection that reinforce our resolve, fortify our faith, and raise our resistance to the temptations of the devil.

Regardless of where this finds you today, be encouraged! As I often say here, God is not in the habit of calling the equipped; rather, He equips the called. God will give you everything you need to do all He is calling you to do. You simply need to appropriate the grace He has given you for the lifelong process of building and fortifying your own spiritual wall.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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THE SECURITY OF OUR SAVIOR’S SHOULDER

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To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. (Isaiah 9:6)


By nature, we all want to be in control of our lives. It started back in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to seize control after listening to the devil’s deceitful promise of a better life. They grabbed hold of the reigns of their lives and ran right into a ditch of death.

This natural, sinful tendency is something we must battle against all the days of our lives, and the way we achieve victory is to remember the security of our Savior’s shoulder. Not only is the government upon the shoulders of our Most High King, but so too are you and I.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” (Luke 15:4-6)

The shoulders of our King are a place of profound security. The King is ultimately responsible for the well-being of His subjects, and that includes you and me. We need not worry. We need not fret. We need not attempt to take control of the reigns of our lives, because when we are upon His shoulders we are in the place of supernatural security.

We must keep in view that our God will tolerate no rival. Either He is in control of our lives or we are in control. He will not force us to follow His plan and purpose for our lives. We must choose each day whom we will serve . . . either the self or our Savior. And make no mistake, only when we are perched upon His shoulders will we arrive at that place where we will be met in our deepest place of need.

If the government is upon His shoulders (and it is), and we too are upon His shoulders (and we are), whether we understand what He is up to or not, we simply must remain where He has placed us. We need not wonder or worry about His will in our lives. We simply bear witness to the truth that we have been lifted to a place of supernatural security and cosmic comfort.

One final point to remember: Those same shoulders that lifted you up out of the grave and gave you new life are the same shoulders that were beaten, whipped, and pressed against the raw bark of the cross. Those same shoulders that were able to bear the eternal judgment and wrath of God are the same shoulders that bear you up under every challenge this life throws your way. You are safe and you are secure because you have been placed upon His shoulders.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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THE BLESSING OF BURDEN

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Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12)


Mark well, beloved, these words from James: There is a special blessing from God that can only be found on the other side of burden. God will meet us in our place of deepest need, whether we find ourselves in sunshine or storm.

The trial of burden that God sends our way is not designed to bury us under its weight. Rather, the fires of affliction purge from us all that is counterfeit to our Christian faith. And what is not consumed in God’s heavenly fire emerges both blessed and built up as a testimony to having stood the test.

God is faithful to those who are His. He will not allow any of His children to sink when the waves of challenge come crashing down; He will provide all that is necessary to rise above the storm and emerge on the other side standing on the Rock of Ages, fully blessed with divine approval: the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.

Notice that James tells us that only those who love God will receive the crown of life. Is this the condition and cry of your heart? Does your heart beat with love for your Lord . . . truly, deeply, passionately, wholly? Then fear not, regardless of the burdens you are facing . . . regardless of the obstacles that currently stand in your way . . . regardless of the problems that are present in your life right now . . . you are His and His crown of life is yours. No weapon formed against you can prevail because God has promised to preserve you.

Just a cursory glance through sacred Scripture makes it clear that all the saints of God are tried in the fire of affliction. From Joseph in Egypt to David in the desert to John the Baptist in the Herod’s court to Paul in Rome, God’s people stand the test and receive the crown of life. Remember, God is working all things together for your good and His glory. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and a love that is not tested and tried is no love at all. The love of God in Christ Jesus was tried in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the hill Golgotha, and it proved to be genuine. Jesus refused to shrink back from the unimaginable burden of His crucifixion; He not only stood the test, but He strode out of the grave that first Easter morning with the crown of life.

Like Savior, like saint. He stood the test and so shall you, because greater is the power in you than any power that comes against you. True love must be tried and it must be tested, and it must persevere, because it is His love that strengthens our love all the way into glory.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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FROM NOT TO BOUGHT

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“The Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’” (Hosea 1:10)


The reach of God’s amazing grace knows no bounds. God’s arm is not short . . . He can reach all the way to anyone and He can reach anybody. May that truth be a source of eternal encouragement to you today!

Notice the power of God’s amazing grace that is declared in today’s verse. It makes strangers into sons and the rebellious into the righteous. This is the truth about my standing with the Lord God Omnipotent, and I pray that it is your truth as well.

For most of us, there was a time when we felt as far off from God as we do from the stars. We had nothing to do with God or His people. We were distant, disconnected, and desperate. But God, in His sovereign mercy and amazing grace, opened the eyes of our hearts and gave us ears of faith so we could hear Him whisper from on high, “You are now a child of the living God.”

Our God is a saving God, full of mercy and grace. Adam and Eve knew this truth by way of personal experience. When they chose to rebel against God, they ran and hid from Him. And what did God do? He pursued those rebels on the run. This is the pattern of God that is presented throughout the entire Bible. It’s rare to find a story in the Scriptures where a great saint of God did not rebel in some way. And yet, with every right to leave His children wallowing in their wickedness, we see how God ran after them, picked them up and dusted them off, and set them back on their feet so that His robe of righteousness would shine forth once again.

It is beyond human comprehension that the Creator of the universe would desire a personal relationship with selfish, sinful creatures such as you and me. Yet God the Father sent God the Son to die on a cross for our sins so that we would be transformed from NOT His people to BOUGHT people. The deep truth of Scripture, of course, is that we were always His, having been chosen before the foundation of the world . . . but we didn’t know it. As Steve Brown says, “God knew you and took care of you before you knew Him.”

So . . . knowing that you were once far off from God but now have been brought near by the blood of the Lamb who took you from NOT to BOUGHT . . . are you encouraged? Living in the light of this truth—not just daily, but moment by moment—will keep you strengthened, even in those moments when you have done something that makes you feel like you are NOT. You are His, Christian, BOUGHT by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and there is no power in heaven or on earth that can change that. Rejoice in His unfailing, unchanging, amazing love!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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