Is It Right To Remind Our Redeemer?

“You have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.'” (Genesis 32:12)

Is it right to remind our Redeemer of anything? Does He not know all things and remember all things too? He most certainly does, so the idea of “reminding God” may sound strange. Yet we are given permission to remind God of His promises — not to jog His memory, but to strengthen our own.

Jacob did that very thing when he was about to encounter his brother Esau, whom Jacob had deceived and wronged. The last time Jacob had seen Esau, Esau was planning to kill him, so Jacob feared for his life and the lives of his family. He confessed to the Lord, “I am afraid Esau will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children” (Genesis 32:11). And then Jacob, in all humility, reminded God of His promise of blessing. We are to do the same when we are confronted by some difficulty or trial. 

Reflect on any promise God has given you and lay hold of it with a humble heart. What is there to fear from any angry “Esaus” that may come against you, when your God is absolutely and completely for you and has promised to do you good?  Notice the word “surely” in today’s verse; I take it as a guarantee from our God. In other words, we can be absolutely certain that God will make good on His promises to us. Our good God has promised to do us good, regardless of what may come against us. 

No matter what you may be facing today, when you remind your Redeemer of the promises He has made to you, your faith is strengthened and your hope is renewed. Remember, God’s Word is not for the benefit of God; it was given for our benefit. The better we know it, the better we will be able to recall it and remind our Redeemer of His many and varied promises to bless us, protect us, and do us good.

God wants us to come to Him and present our requests and desires to Him. In addition, He has given us permission to open our prayers with “You have said . . .” — recognizing that this reminder is for us and not for God, so that we might be strengthened in knowing that He who has promised can be trusted to make good on every promise He has made.

The Amplified Bible says of Abraham, Jacob’s grandfather, that “No unbelief or distrust made him waver . . . concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised” (Romans 4:20-21).

Let me encourage you today to get in the habit of reminding your Redeemer when you are on your knees before the throne of grace. Is there anything in particular that you need to remind your Redeemer (yourself) of what He has promised? I promise you it will keep you from ever forgetting that your God is a covenant-keeping God who has promised ultimate good to you as you make your way into glory. 

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

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The Lord’s “Lettuce Patch” Kids

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Perhaps you recall the Cabbage Patch Kids, a line of cloth dolls that were all the craze in the early 1980s. Today I’d like to encourage you with a word about the Lord’s “Lettuce Patch” kids. Many Christians refer to the tenth chapter of the book of Hebrews as “the lettuce chapter.” The reason for that is the repeated use of the exhortation “let us” in verses 22-25. Now, all that “lettuce” creates a supernatural salad that is designed to both strengthen and stretch you, right where this message finds you today.

If you’re a regular reader here, you’ve seen my frequent reminders that inasmuch as we are saved individually, we are saved to community. The Bible knows nothing of the solitary saint. When God in Christ saved us, He placed a new obligation on us: the obligation we have to the family of faith. The word US makes it clear that there is a mutual responsibility in the body of Christ, each for the other.

Perhaps the best way to express that responsibility is through the numerous “one another” commands of Scripture. Here are just a few:

  • Care for one another (Galatians 6:2)
  • Accept one another (Romans 15:5)
  • Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
  • Confess to one another (James 5:15)
  • Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21)
  • Forgive one another (Colossians 3:13)
  • Comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
  • Carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • Love one another (John 13:35)

How well have you been feasting on the sweet-tasting supernatural salad Jesus has set before you? Remember that Jesus died to make us His family of faith. He wants us to live as a community of believers who put the Gospel on display in such a way that unbelievers begin to ask why we are so different from other people they meet. The answer to that question, of course, is that the grace of God that saved us is also in the process of sanctifying us. Without the grace of God, we would still be as sinful and self-centered as we were before we were saved. Even after salvation, we must still appropriate the grace of God in order to rightly live out the exhortations of “the lettuce chapter.”

Remember, Christians living in community is not only God’s desire for each one of us, it is the clear and present indicator that we are growing and maturing in our faith. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus vertically, we are to also be growing in our relationship with others horizontally. In the creation account, everything was good except one thing: It was not good for Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18). So God created Eve, and the first community in the world was formed. If you are a Christian believer, you are part of the most important community in the world: the church. But in order for the church to truly be the church, we must do our part and commit to community.

That reminds me of another “lettuce” verse from the letter to the Hebrews: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching”:” (Hebrews 10:25).

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

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A Rest Remains In Our God Who Never Rests

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

Here’s a great question: If God is omnipotent — possessing all the power in the universe — how are we to understand Genesis 2:2, which tells us that God rested on the seventh day of creation? Please read on and be greatly encouraged today!

Perhaps the simplest way of explaining this truth is to say that God stopped His doing, but He never stopped His displaying. God stopped creating, but He never stopped His sustaining. God was not tired, as if His strength and power had diminished in any way during the six days of creation. You and I may very well be tired after six days of work and need a rest, but that’s never the case with our God.

Isaiah said it this way, “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, neither faints nor is weary” (Isaiah 40:28). Jesus expressed the very same truth: “My father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working” (John 5:17).

So what does it mean that a rest remains in our God, the One who never rests?

Everyday Rest – The first “rest” we are to understand is the rest we receive when we initially become a Christian. When we, by grace through faith, are raised from death to life, we are immediately and forevermore given a rest from our self-salvation project, thanks to the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can stop trying to save ourselves, because God in Christ has saved us — freely, fully, and forever. We no longer have to try to work our way into God’s favor, because Jesus has earned God’s favor for us. We are free from the works of the Law, because Jesus fulfilled that Law on our behalf. Our doing is to be exchanged for our devotion as we work out our salvation in the strength of the grace that saved us.

But that’s not all . . .

Eternal Rest – The second and final “rest” we are to understand is the rest that “remains” to be received on the other side of the grave. This is the life that awaits us in glory when we stand in the presence of God. This is the life where all of our rebellion will be removed, our sin slain, and our disobedience turned into divine devotion. We will, for the very first time in our lives, be fully resting in the promises of God.

So regardless of where this finds you, whether you are just a bit tired or utterly exhausted, cheer up! Look to your Lord and enter into your everyday rest by resting in your redemption — that is, the finished work of Jesus Christ. When you find yourself up against it — tired, weary, and heavy laden — look beyond the horizon to the promised rest that awaits you in heaven. It won’t be long now . . . even if you live to be 100.

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

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The Battle Is The Lord’s

David said, “The battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47)

As the Israelite army cowered in their tents in fear of the giant Goliath, the shepherd boy David volunteered to take up the fight against the Philistine champion. (Under such an arrangement, one representative from each side would fight each other instead of entire armies doing battle. Whichever fighter lost, his people would become the slaves of the other side.) David would be doing battle with a heavily-armed, veteran soldier who towered over David by feet, not inches.

David, however, did not believe for a second that he would be fighting in his own strength. David knew the Scriptures that the Spirit of God had written through Moses and the promises that God had made to His people. David knew that God is the Source of all power who determines the outcomes of all battles. In the natural, David was no match for Goliath, the gigantic man of war. But in the strength of the Almighty, David knew that the battle was the Lord’s and victory was assured.

Here is something to remember about David. He was the youngest and the weakest of the brothers in the family of Jesse, yet God chose Him to go up against the Philistine champion. That way, when the victory was won, there would be no doubt as to Who was responsible for it. David had known this truth throughout his young life. When he was persuading King Saul to allow him to represent Israel in this one-on-one combat, David spoke of how he had victoriously fought against both the lion and the bear while protecting his sheep. But David never took the credit for the victory; he said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine” (1 Samuel 17:37).

What Goliaths are you facing today? What giant waves of challenge are rolling over you? Keep your eye on the Almighty and look to Him for your deliverance. He has delivered you in the past and He will deliver you once again. Remember, greater is the power that is in you than any power that will ever come against you. Give God the glory in advance, and you will see that the battle is the Lord’s . . . and the victory is already yours.  

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

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The Tracks of My Tears

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. (Psalm 56:8)

Life is full of painful providences; some of them come to us in the most unexpected ways. But no matter how sudden or surprising these unwelcome events are, none of them ever catch our God off guard or unaware. God is in control of all things everywhere in the universe at all times . . . and that includes everything in our lives. This truth is a comfort to us, because no matter what tracks our tears leave on us, God not only keeps track of all of them, He collects them in His bottle.

The profound meaning in this truth is clear: God will never forget our pain; God will never ignore our grief; God will never disregard our sorrow. David was the author of today’s words of cosmic comfort in Psalm 56. At the time he wrote this psalm, he was on the run from Saul and had been captured by the Philistines in Gath. This was not the language of a poet waxing eloquently; no, these were the words of a man who was in the depths of despair. Yet David was strengthened in the knowledge that God had not forgotten him or forsaken him. He knew that every tear that streamed down his face was but another reminder that God was with him and for him and would not let his enemies overtake him. And the same is true for you and me today.

David was not pointing us to a literal bottle that God is using to collect our tears. That metaphor is for our benefit, painting a picture that empowers us to be encouraged that God sees all our pain — and not only remembers it, but responds to it as well. When you think about it for a moment, who better to see the tracks of our tears? Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). He wept over this sin-stained world. But on that cross Jesus conquered death, our last enemy, and we have been given this astounding promise: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes” (Revelation 21:4).

The promise is clear; the day is coming when the tracks of our tears will be no more. There will only be joy, happiness, and love. May that truth set us all free the next time we are marked by the tracks of our tears.

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

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God’s Love: Powerful Past Event . . . Promised Present Experience

God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Take a moment to read through today’s Scripture. Notice that the word “demonstrates” is present tense, and “died” is past tense. Have you ever wondered why that is? It is because God’s love for us is both a powerful past event and a promised present experience. Now . . . if that doesn’t light the fire of your faith, your wood is wet!

Every Christian finds it easy to understand the importance of the past event: our Lord Jesus died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sin. He paid that penalty once for all (Hebrews 10:10); when He said, “It is finished,” He meant what He said! Atonement made, sin debt paid! In taking our sin upon Himself, He fully satisfied God’s justice and forever propitiated the wrath of God. There is no greater demonstration of God’s past love for His children than the love that was poured out on the Hill Golgotha.

So why does the apostle Paul put the word “demonstrates” in the present tense if it was a past event? It is because the past event of Christ dying for our sins has present, ongoing implications. It has been well said that Christians are “Once saved . . . always saved.” We are to experience the love of God in Christ Jesus — not just daily, but moment by moment. And the fact of the matter is that God, who formed us in the womb, knew that would not be an easy thing to do! Jesus promised that we will have trouble in this world, because the world is broken and so is every person in it. If you go back to the passage that our verse for today was taken from, you will see why Paul wanted us to know God’s love as both a powerful past event and a promised present experience.

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5)

God, in His infinite wisdom, inspired the apostle Paul to make it clear that no matter what we are experiencing in this life, we are also to be experiencing God’s love. As a pastor, I am convinced that we will not be able to have any hope at all if we do not experience the present reality of God’s love.

Haven’t there been times in your life when circumstances conspired to make it seem like God not only does not love you, but is actually against you? Make no mistake, that is exactly how Satan wants you to feel! So our loving heavenly Father has given us a written reminder that regardless of the circumstances we are experiencing, regardless of the storm winds that are howling, we are loved! And not only that, nothing can ever separate us from that eternal, ever-present love. May that truth set us all free!

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

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The Believer’s Two “Bears”

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Let me start by providing a definition for the two “bears” God has given to every believer throughout the ages:

  • Bear – To bear is to carry, support; to hold the weight up
  • Forbear – To patiently restrain an impulse to do something; to refrain or abstain from

What incredible blessings these two “bears” bring to every believer who has them in his possession! To bear another’s burdens is one of the great privileges God in Christ has given to us. To come alongside someone who is struggling under a load they are carrying and to lighten it with comfort and compassion is the call for every Christian. Of course, there is no greater example of bearing another’s burden then the one displayed by our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus came into this world to bear the burden of our sin through His sinless life, sacrificial death, and supernatural resurrection. 

Paul exhorted us, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). Remember, when we encounter the burdens of others, we are not to see them as obstacles in the pathway to where we are going. Rather, the burdens of others offer us opportunities to be the hands and feet of our loving Savior. 

Our second “bear” is to forbear, and the degree to which we are able to demonstrate this in our lives will always be rooted in our understanding of our own sins and shortcomings. When we see ourselves for who we truly are — sinners who are in need of a Savior moment by moment — we will find it far easier to forbear from the sin that so easily entangles us (Hebrews 12:1). We will also find it far easier to forbear from reacting with anger or disgust to the sins and shortcomings of others.

Once again, there is no greater example of forbearing than the one we find in our Lord Jesus Christ. Never once did Jesus respond in kind to those who hurt and persecuted Him. We read that “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). In fact, while hanging on the cross He asked His Father in heaven to forgive those who were carrying out His torturous execution. 

When Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy,” He set in motion a beautiful beatitude that encompasses both the “bears” that we are to possess and practice in the lives of others. When we do that, we are most like Jesus.    

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

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The Fruit Of Hope

Rejoice in hope . . . (Romans 12:12)

We can live for weeks without food, for days without water, a for few minutes without air. But we cannot live for a single moment without hope. Read on and be encouraged today!

Hope is the confident expectation of God’s promise of good things to come. Scripture exhorts us, “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized” (Hebrews 6:11). God’s promise of these good things to come is grounded in God’s grace and the Good News that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose from the grave to pay the penalty for our sins — all of our sins, past, present, and those still to come. And we are to rejoice in this hope, because joy is the promised fruit of our hope. The hope we have in Jesus will always bear the fruit of joy in our lives, no matter what we are facing, because in Jesus we have a Living Hope that nothing in this life can affect.

This joy we have in Jesus is not an act of willpower. Rather, it is a spontaneous, spiritual, and emotional response of the heart to the reality of our redemption in Jesus. It is the fruit of hope because it comes from the Holy Spirit; it is produced under the supernatural and special influences of the Spirit of God working both in and through us in every circumstance we face. The apostle Paul taught that one of the fruits of the Spirit of God is joy (Galatians 5:22), and this is why God commands us to rejoice, because God always gives us all we need in order to do what He commands us to do.

Remember, even when the circumstances in your life argue against all hope, hope is still there because of your relationship with Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2 ESV). Do you know what that joy was? It was you! Your name was written on His heart and breathed through His cracked lips. Let that truth strengthen you and encourage you to rejoice in hope, no matter the cost or the circumstance you encounter in this life, because greater is the power that is at work within you than any power that will ever come against you.  

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

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The Believer’s Boss

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men. (Ephesians 6:7)

There are many different callings for the people of God, but only one Boss – and His name is Jesus Christ. Regardless of where you work and serve, and regardless of who signs your paycheck, ultimately the One you work for is Jesus. Think about this truth for a moment: At this level of living for the Lord, your work becomes a witness. Whatever those in authority ask of you on the job should be viewed as coming from the Lord (as long, of course, as it does not violate the revealed truth of sacred Scripture).

Do you see how this understanding is a complete game-changer for the energy and attitude we bring to our work? First of all, it means there is no such thing as “menial labor” when that labor is being done for the glory of God. Second, it means your work has eternal value, because it is being done for the glory of the Eternal One.

At this point you may be thinking, “Pastor, you just don’t know the job I currently have, and you definitely don’t know the boss I work for!” That’s true. But God certainly does know, and He has not only called you to your current position, but He has given you everything you need to work with excellence.

Check out the very next verse Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:

The Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. (Ephesians 6:8)

Wow! If you work wholeheartedly and serve the Lord, regardless of where you are working, you can expect the Lord’s reward! Now, it’s not as though we can make God our debtor when we are serving Him. God, in His amazing grace, determined in eternity past to pour out His blessings on those who are working and living in the light of eternity. That means that nothing you do on your job is done in vain. Your boss may not acknowledge you. Your boss may not even remember your name! But your real Boss does — He knows your every thought, word, and deed — and He delights in blessing you.

As you consider the truth of today’s message, do you see the importance of the job you currently have? Remember, your work may not be deemed “important” in the eyes of man, but it is eternally important in God’s eyes. And if it is important to God, it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it. God has promised to reward you, not so much for your fruitfulness, but rather for your faithfulness. Press on, Christian, and remember that your real Boss is cheering you on!

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

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Supernatural Skills

The Lord has given them special skills . . . (Exodus 35:35)

The book of Exodus provides us with a detailed account of the construction of the Tabernacle, the place that God would occupy in the midst of His people as they made their way into the Promised Land. Of course, workers were needed to build the Tabernacle, and these workers were given specialized skills to get the job done.

Did you know that God has given all His children special supernatural skills to assist in the building project of expanding His kingdom in this world? It’s important to remember that God never calls the equipped for His work; rather, God equips all those He calls. Every child of God has been equipped for the work of ministry in the expansion of His kingdom. Among the artisans who built the Tabernacle, some where skilled as designers, weavers, jewelers, embroiderers, or wood carvers, all of them possessing the wisdom and intelligence needed to complete what God directed to be done.

Let me ask you a very important question: What supernatural skills has God given to you?

Whatever you are good at, whatever you enjoy doing, whatever you do that seems to fit you like a glove, these are areas in your life that God has equipped you to excel in the expansion of His kingdom. Your gifts, talents, and abilities are unique to you, which makes you invaluable to the place God has called you to expand His kingdom. Perhaps you are gifted in administration, hospitality, or teaching. Maybe you are gifted as an encourager or as a prayer warrior or at visiting the sick or shut-ins.

If you aren’t sure what your supernatural skill set might be, consider what those closest to you would say. These friends and/or family members will provide valuable insight into your supernatural wiring and point you toward where you may best be able to plug in.

Here is a truth that I hope will prove to be as encouraging as it is empowering: God does not need any of us to accomplish His purposes in this world, but He wants all of us, and He gives us exactly what we need in order to do what He is calling us to do.

Let’s close today’s message with these words from the apostle Paul:

We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

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

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