WHEN IS THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF GOD’S GOAL NOT GOOD?

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Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:15)


God the Father sent God the Son to be King of His people. The people knew from the Old Testament prophecies that this was God’s ultimate goal, to send a Messiah who would “defend the afflicted among the people and . . . crush the oppressor” (Psalm 72:4). So what could be wrong with the people wanting to assist the Almighty in the process by making Jesus king immediately? The problem lay in the way the people wanted to do it and the reasons they had for doing it. They wanted to make Jesus king by force for their temporal and earthly good, which stood in direct opposition to the plan and purpose of the Father.

Of course, behind the people stood Satan himself. When Satan failed in his wilderness temptations of Jesus, he was not finished with his bitter rebellion against the Son of God; Scripture tells us that Satan merely left Jesus “until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13). Surely this was one of those opportune times that Lucifer had been waiting for. The adversary stirred the hearts and minds of the people to rebel against God’s purpose and plan for the Messiah. Just as the serpent seduced Adam and Eve into believing that they could be like God, here he caused the crowd to clamor for the king they wanted—the king who would reestablish the throne of David in Jerusalem, crush the hated Roman oppressor, and restore Israel to her former glory.

The enemy undoubtedly hoped that Jesus would be tempted to be crowned king without having to endure the cruel cross. The people of Israel were ready to rise up against Rome and hand the King of kings the throne of David. Satan hoped that Jesus would see this as an opportunity for instant gratification and the accomplishment of God’s ultimate goal. Satan had slyly placed God’s goal for His beloved Son within tantalizing reach . . . but not according to God’s perfect plan to accomplish that goal.

Never forget that Jesus the Christ was fully God and fully man. And as a man, Jesus had an ego that could have fallen prey to the praise of men and the appeal of popularity, just like any of us. But our Lord always recognized the “snake in the grass,” who would do anything and everything to derail the divine destiny of the Chosen One. Jesus knew when the accomplishment of God’s goal would not be good.

Notice one final thing, and may this truth strengthen you to resist the devil whenever he comes calling to entice you to accomplish any good goal God would have for you in a way that is not in line with God’s plan and purpose for accomplishing it.


Jesus withdrew again to a mountain by Himself.


Jesus’ continual communion with His Father kept Him on track. By staying in perpetual prayer, Jesus was strengthened to stay the course and follow the will of His Father, even when that will would lead to the most dreadful death known to man at that time: a Roman cross. The prayer life of our Lord was the key that unlocked the door leading to a resolve that refused to accomplish any goal God had for Him in any way that detoured from His Father’s perfect plan.

How is it with you? Have you been prayerfully seeking to accomplish God’s goals for your life in His way? Recall our Lord’s prayer to His Father in the midst of His anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane:

Not as I will, but as You will. (Matt 26:39)

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

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INCREDIBLE INHERITANCE

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I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their inheritance. (Ezekiel 44:28)


God makes this divine declaration throughout the Law of Moses to His priests, the Levites, who were to be supported by the tithes given to God and by their portion of the offerings that were made to Him. God ordained that His priests would not receive a tribal territory, as the other tribes of Israel did, for He alone would be the Levites’ prized possession and their incredible inheritance, and He would provide for their every need as they served wholly unto the Lord.

There is great comfort in this word for us today because we, as the people of God, are a “royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9). The priesthood of all believers is a foundational concept of Christianity that was reclaimed during the Protestant Reformation. Having been chosen and set apart by God, just like the Old Testament priests, we are to offer “spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Our privileged status makes us heirs to the kingdom of God; in other words, God Himself is our inheritance.

Take careful note of this truth: unlike an earthly inheritance, which is passed down after a person dies, we have immediate access to our incredible inheritance—not only daily, but moment by moment. Regardless of what you have in the here and now, you will not take any of it with you when you go. But in God’s economy, your true inheritance—your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—is not only available to you, He is with you. And so we cry with the psalmist, “Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing” (Psalm 16:5).

So let me ask you this question: Have you been living in the light of this truth? The beating of your heart will give you the answer. What does your heart beat most strongly for in your life right now? Does your heart beat for the stuff of life . . . or for your Savior, who gave you life?

Ephesians 1:11 assures us that “In Christ we have obtained an inheritance.” Some Christians limit their understanding of this inheritance to eternal life in heaven with Jesus and all the saints of God, but as glorious as that assurance of eternal life is, there is much more to it than that. Your inheritance includes everyday life and every spiritual blessing imaginable: You are forgiven . . . you are redeemed . . . you are a new creation . . . you are adopted into God’s family of faith . . . you have been given a purpose to live for and the power to accomplish it.

In a word, your inheritance is incredible! Let this truth set you free to live the life God has called you to live today, right now, right where this finds you.

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

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YOU ARE SACRED

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You are a garden locked up, my sister, my bride; you are a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain. (Song of Songs 4:12)


Beloved, drink deeply of His Word this day and you will find everlasting comfort for all the days of your life! It is difficult to articulate the glorious truth of these few words, but if God will be gracious to me, I shall do just that.

This marriage language delivered by the Bridegroom to you, His bride, is magnificent. The idea of “a garden locked up” is a beautiful picture of the security we have in Christ. Locked up in the protection of the Lover of our souls, only He has the right to enter because He is our sole possessor. The idea of a spring enclosed is a reminder that we have been reborn for the King’s purpose and pleasure only. We are to be used at His discretion and for His complete devotion. The idea of a sealed fountain is a reminder to the world that our King has sealed us with His signet ring, making it clear that we are set apart for the use of our King and for His use alone. And that use is to be a fountain of the water of life—the living and active Word of God, which we are to declare with gentleness and joy to everyone we meet.

Because the Bridegroom has made you His bride, you are sacred; you are sanctified, set apart for His perfect purpose, His plan, and His pleasure. Your Lord has locked you up, eternally enclosed you, and supernaturally sealed you, separating you from the pollution and possession of the world. To be sure, you are still in this world, but you are not of this world. You should no longer feel at home in this world because you are a pilgrim who is passing through. You do not delight in the pleasures of this world, for you have been set apart for the pleasures of your Prince. You are to delight in Him; and as you do, you begin to realize that He has met the deepest desires of your heart.

The world has its gardens, springs, and fountains, but the world no longer has you. You have been bought with the precious blood of the Lamb, who pledged His life for your preservation. You have been shut up, sealed, and set apart to live the abundant life, a life marked by meaning, significance, and the purpose of living for the Lord God Omnipotent. That makes you sacred! You are no longer available for common use. The Temple had its sacred utensils to be used only for sacred purpose, and the church has you to be used for sacred purposes as well.

May this word encourage you today, regardless of where it finds you. From this moment forward, remember and repeat these words from the apostle Paul: “Let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17). This passage tells you that being sacred does not make you immune from suffering. Because you are sacred, you will indeed suffer because of the One who made you sacred. But whatever suffering you face, know that it cannot compare to the glory that awaits you on the other side of the grave!

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

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THE ADORATION OF ADOPTION

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Our Father . . . (Matthew 6:9)


When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He made it clear that the adoration of our adoption must be the fountainhead of all our advances toward the throne of grace. Charles Spurgeon, always a fountain of wisdom and eloquence, explained it this way in his Morning and Evening devotional:


This prayer begins where all true prayer must commence, with the spirit of adoption, “Our Father.” There is no acceptable prayer until we can say, “I will arise, and go unto my Father.” This childlike spirit soon perceives the grandeur of the Father “in heaven,” and ascends to devout adoration, “Hallowed be Thy name.”


To know that we have been adopted into the family of faith is to know enough to keep us adoring our Father throughout eternity. We know what we were before God came calling. We were at enmity with God. We had no interest in the things of God. We, the creature, were living for the gratification of the self rather than glory of our Creator. And yet, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and God the Father adopted us into His family of faith.

Only when that truth seizes us will we begin to live like the children of God. Why? Because we will recognize that we are no longer “foreigners and aliens” to the people of God, but we have been made “members of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:19). And the most striking part of that truth is the fact that there was absolutely nothing within us to cause God to want to adopt us in the first place. But God, in His amazing grace, chose us from before the foundation of the world to be His sons and daughters (Ephesians 1:4).

So before you head off to start yet another week, take a moment to consider the comfort in the words, “Our Father.” He had a choice in the matter of your adoption, and He chose you in Christ. He set His affection upon you and brought you into His family for the praise and glory of His name.

There is, however, a challenge that comes with this comfort. We have been adopted to bear the family likeness, which means that we are to put the Gospel on display before a watching world. We are to live, as God gives us strength, holy and blameless lives (Ephesians 1:4).

I am always deeply touched when someone tells me that one of my children reminds them of me (in a good way). But that sweet compliment is a reminder that, as adopted children of the Most High God, those who know us should be reminded of Our Father when they see the way we live. May the adoration of adoption be the confession of our lives!

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

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NO FENCE-SITTING SAINTS!

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Who do you belong to? (1 Samuel 30:13)


While in pursuit of the Amalekites, David and his six hundred men came upon an Egyptian and asked him, “Who do you belong to?” That question is applicable for all of us today because our God will tolerate no rival. There will be no neutralities when it comes to our holy religion, and so the question is put before us: “Who do you belong to?” The Bible knows nothing of the fence-sitting saint.

There are only two answers to this question. By natural birth, we belong to the god of this age, who has blinded the minds of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 4:4). As children of Adam, we are sons of Satan. Adam, who was the federal head of humanity, rebelled against God and brought the curse of judgment down on all of his offspring. We are all born “dead in our transgressions and sins,” following “the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2:1-2).

But those who have, by grace through faith, placed their trust in the atoning death of Jesus Christ belong to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by supernatural birth. As children of the Most High God, we have been made alive in Christ and we now belong to the family of faith.

So . . . what is your response to this all-important question? Who do you belong to? Consider the following:

What does your heart beat for?

I know the heart beats for a thousand different things, but what does your heart primarily beat for? Does it beat for the self or for your Savior? Does it beat for the expansion of your kingdom or for the kingdom of God? Does it beat for success at the expense of others or for their service? Jesus said, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart” (Luke 6:45). What good things are you storing up in your heart?

What company do you keep?

We live in this world, and we keep company with many who belong to this world. But the deepest understanding of this question is this: Whom do we associate with or take delight in the company of? Is it those who are living for the Word or those who live for the world? Paul reminded us, “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Corinthians 15:33). Who in your life is shaping your character?

How do you spend your discretionary time and money?

It might surprise you, but what we do with our discretionary time and money goes a long way toward demonstrating whom we belong to. When we see all that we have as a gift from God, we will begin to invest more and more of it in ways that glorify our God. How we spend our time and money expresses our gratitude (or lack of gratitude) to God for our past, our priorities in the present, and our faith in God for our promised future.

Who do you belong to? Have you been straddling the fence lately? What would those closest to you say? Remember, your life is the only Bible many people around you will ever read. As they read your life, who would they say you belong to?

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

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FOR THE SAKE OF THE SAINTS

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All things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)


Let me encourage you to read these words from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul again; I am sure you will be eternally comforted, regardless of where this message finds you.

Let us first take notice what Paul did not say. Paul did not say, “Some things are for your sakes.” Paul did not say, “Many things are for your sakes.” He did not even say, “Most things are for your sakes.” Paul, writing under divine inspiration, said that “ALL things are for your sakes.”

Take a moment to meditate on and marinate in this verse and see if you don’t hear an echo of another of Paul’s most comforting messages —


We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)


Here again, notice what Paul did not say. Paul did not say, “In some things God works for the good of those who love him” or “In many things God works for the good of those who love him.” He did not even say, “In most things God works for the good of those who love him.” Rather, Paul’s message, which was divinely inspired by God the Holy Spirit, is that “In ALL things God works for the good of those who love him.”

Here is the way I like to put it, and it might serve you well to write this down and hang it up somewhere in your home or office where you can see it each day –


ALL THINGS are for your sake and ALL THINGS work for your good!


The comfort in this truth is as supernatural as it is satisfying. When God says something, it is absolutely settled because God is sovereign and in control of all things at all times and in all places. Nothing happens by chance. Life is not a random roll of the dice, as the world would have us believe. Nothing happens to you that doesn’t first pass through His nail-scarred hands, all of it having been sent for your good and for His glory.

Now, there is no place in Scripture where you’ll read that all things are good and pleasant and pleasing to the self. Sickness is not good. Storm winds are not pleasant. Suffering is not pleasing. But all things are for your sake and all things work for your good.

To know this truth is to know the secret to living a life marked by the joy of the Lord. To be sure, facing the waves of challenge in this life can be very hard. But a day is coming when we shall cross the Jordan and find ourselves with Jesus, and in that moment we will know the truth of another inspired passage from Paul: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).

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

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FROM VOW TO HOW

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I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the Lord. I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. (Psalm 116:17-18)


The psalmist has given a word of both instruction and inspiration for those who have ears to hear, minds to understand, and hearts that beat for nothing smaller than Jesus.

In God’s economy, vows are serious things. Better to not vow at all than to make a vow and break it. The psalmist gives us insight as to how he will fulfill his vows to the Lord out of a heart of thanksgiving. The psalmist is thankful—not only for what God has given to him, but for God’s claim on his life.

That is what is meant by calling on the name of the Lord: To call on the name of the Lord is to give yourself completely to Him. To call on the name of the Lord is to hold absolutely nothing back from Him. To call on the name of the Lord is to surrender control of every aspect of your existence to Him. And make no mistake, to call on the name of the Lord is to respond to His claim instantly, not after repeated requests.

  • How many times has your Lord requested your time?
  • How many times has your Lord requested your talent?
  • How many times has your Lord requested your treasure?

Instantly yielding to His claim on any aspect of our lives is the way of the true disciple of Christ. We should neither question Him nor hesitate in our response. Does not the One who laid down His life for us have the right to make a claim on our time . . . our talent . . . our treasure? And how should we pay our vows to our God? With a heart overflowing with thanksgiving. God loves cheerful givers who give freely, unhesitatingly, and gratefully of their time, talent, and treasure.

Where does this message find you today? Are you one who calls on the name of the Lord? Have you surrendered control of your life to Christ . . . or just a portion of it? Or perhaps you have surrendered control of your life to your Lord out of a sense of duty rather than devotion? To be sure, we have a duty to give everything we are and everything we have in service to our Lord. But it is far better to give out of a sense of devotion; when we do, we can be sure we are giving with a heart of thanksgiving.

Remember, it really is no sacrifice to give what we have in return for what we have been given. We give our Lord the stuff of this life while He has given us the stuff of the next. God forbid that we might ever compare or confuse the two!

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

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