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CONTAINING CRACKS BEFORE THE COLLAPSE

cracks


A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. (Proverbs 25:28)


Today’s verse likens the Christian life to a city with walls. Scripture warns us that the Christian who lacks self-control is like a city whose protective walls have been broken down. In the ancient world, a city without walls had no way of protecting itself against its enemies. Here the Almighty has painted a stark picture that is designed to get our attention and urge us to take appropriate actions.

How is it with you? We all fail to exercise self-control at times, whether it is in the words we utter, the thoughts we indulge, or the deeds we do. When we don’t practice self-control, we display that there are cracks in our walls. I want to encourage you today to contain those cracks before collapse comes. Know this: If we are to contain those cracks that exist in our walls—and we all have them—we must be fully committed to living a disciplined life, one which has clear boundaries set, especially in those areas where we know that we struggle most.

Our Lord Jesus provided us with the perfect model of self-control. Having been “born under the Law” (Galatians 4:4), Jesus lived in such a way as to fulfill every aspect of the Law of God. Have you ever thought about how distressing it must have been for our sinless Savior to live amidst the constant reminders of mankind’s sinful condition—seeing and hearing and knowing the thoughts of all of us, who sin both by nature and by habit?

Yet He who knew no sin died in the place of sinners, that we might have eternal life. His self-control was rooted in His supernatural, sacrificial love for us. When we understand that, it seems to me that we know enough to desire living a self-controlled life for the glory of our Savior. He lived a life of love on our behalf; surely we can live lives that say “I love you, Lord” back to Him. When we do, we will contain the cracks that appear in the walls of our witness before the inevitable collapse comes.

Perhaps there is no better way to put the Gospel on display than through our exercise of self-control. Made in His image and redeemed by His blood, we have been given His Holy Spirit to indwell us and strengthen us in all matters of self-control. When we exercise this fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), we glorify the One who chose the path of self-control in order to redeem you and me.

In what areas of your life are you currently exercising self-control? Praise His mighty name for the supernatural strength He provides you to live well! But let me also ask you this: in what areas of your life are you failing to exercise self-control? Praise His mighty name, and confess your cracks to Jesus, trusting that His blood cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7), and pray for renewed strength to contain the cracks in the wall of your witness so that collapse will never occur.

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

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ETERNAL EMANCIPATOR

lionofjudah


The Lord sets prisoners free. (Psalm 146:7)


Set before us today is a promise that brings with it a peace that passes all understanding . . . but it is available only for prisoners. If you see yourself as high and mighty and in no need of the Lord’s mercy and grace, there is nothing for you in today’s verse; but if you see yourself as low and locked up and in desperate need of the Lord’s mercy and grace—not just for your eternal salvation, but moment by moment for daily living—then let today’s meditation set you free!

First, notice that the deliverance is the Lord’s work. We are not set free by our own might, skill, wisdom, or goodness. We are bound in chains that cannot be broken by our natural strength. It is only through our Eternal Emancipator, who snaps the chains of bondage with only a thought, that we are set free. Regardless of what it is that holds you captive –

  • Doubt or disappointment
  • Fear or faithlessness
  • Sorrow or sickness
  • Addiction or anxiety
  • Worry or weakness

Jesus came to set the prisoners free . . . and that includes you and me. And we must not think of freedom only in terms of our eternal salvation. To be sure, this is the initial freedom we experience when God raises us from death to life. We were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and could do nothing to save ourselves. Salvation is all of God. But that salvation does not end with the gift of eternal life. We have been also given the grace of God to set us free from all that would hold us captive in everyday life. The grace that saves us is the grace that sanctifies us; the grace that gave us faith also gives us freedom.

Christian: when Jesus sets you free, you are free indeed, and nothing has the power to lock you back up if you will resist it by the grace and Spirit of God. Satan cannot lock you up. Sin cannot lock you up. Howling storm winds cannot lock you up. No weapon forged against you will prevail (Isaiah 54:17) if you will simply resist in the strength of your Eternal Emancipator.

Keep the freeness of His mercy and the fullness of His power in view as you go about your day today. His mercy is poured out on you when waves of misery or distress wash over you, and His power is available to deliver you from whatever chains of bondage threaten your freedom.

The Lord sets prisoners free!

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

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NO SURPRISED SUFFERING

I am The Fourth Man in the Fire by Deborah Waldron Fry


Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered. (Hebrews 5:8)


Oh, beloved, as a pastor who deals with suffering on a regular basis, I will never, even for a moment, minimize its presence and its pain. But we who are sinful, both by nature and by habit, must be ready to receive what our sinless Savior received on our behalf—suffering—which is used by God to sanctify us and make us more like our Savior.

Far too many Christians are surprised by the waves of challenge that wash over them, leaving behind the sands of suffering upon which they now must walk. I can’t fully explain why they feel this way, for the Bible promises that we must pass through many trials on our way to glory. What crown of comfort and ease should we expect to receive on this side of the grave, when our sinless Savior received a crown of thorns pressed cruelly into His precious brow?

If Jesus had to pass through the seas of suffering during His time on earth, then should we, His loyal subjects, expect that we will ride the crest of the waves throughout our lives, unaffected by the storm winds that blow? No, no, and a thousand times No! The Captain of our salvation learned obedience from what He suffered, and we too must learn obedience through suffering. Even if we could escape suffering, God forbid that we would ever spend our energy doing it! Suffering is the servant of our Savior, and it is sent our way to shape us into His likeness. Our Prince endured suffering and pain in order to accomplish God’s perfect purpose; you and I can be assured that there is purpose in every painful providence we experience.

Remember that we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with us, who never left the glory and comfort of heaven. No, our Lord stepped down from His throne and willingly placed Himself into the hands of sinful men to be nailed to a cross in order to pay the penalty of our sins. He who knew no sin because sin for us and suffered unimaginable agony during those dark hours on the cross, crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The answer to Christ’s anguished cry, of course, is because of infinite, eternal love that would not be denied the object of its affection—sinners like you and me who are all in desperate need of a Savior.

I don’t know what storms winds you are dealing with today, but let me encourage you that the apostles rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer for the sake of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Should this not be our testimony also? It can and it must be so, for we have a High Priest who not only sympathizes with us, but is right there with us in the middle of our suffering.

Never forget that three men were thrown into the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar, but four were seen in the flames; that fourth man was none other than the Son of God. He walked with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego millennia ago, and He is walking by your side today.

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

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SENT WITH THE SENDER

footsteps


God said, “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:12)


We have a tendency to think about our calling this way: we believe we have been given new life to live for the glory of God and the good of others, having been sent by the Sender into this world. All this is true, but it does not contain the whole truth. That is because we are not only sent by the Sender into this world as His witnesses, but we are sent with the Sender too! I hope to encourage you with that truth today.

Today’s verse is from the account of God sending Moses back to Egypt to command Pharaoh to let the Israelites go from their bondage. Moses needed to know that God would be with him because he was fearful. He was fearful of Pharaoh. He was fearful of his inadequacies. He was fearful to return to the place where he had murdered the Egyptian forty years earlier. Fear had Moses paralyzed, so God told Moses he was not only being sent, but the One who was sending Him was going with him too. And the same is true for each one of us today.

We can be assured that the Eternal One is with us during every eternal errand we go on. God would no more send you out into this world alone to do the work of expanding His kingdom than He would send Moses to go alone. God knew what Moses would have to deal with, and He knew Moses could not deal with it in his own strength. God sent Moses, and Moses knew he was going in the strength of the Almighty.

And yet God is not satisfied with that first level of knowing. He told Moses that He Himself would be with Moses on this mission of redemption. Think about it this way: we not only have His power when we are sent out in service to our Lord, we have His presence too. To be sent with the Sender is to be sent with the assurance that we simply cannot fail. No weapon formed by Pharaoh or his sorcerers or his army could stop Moses from completing his calling as the deliverer of Israel. And no weapon formed by the world, the flesh, or the devil can stop you from completing your calling either.

So what kind of people should we be, knowing that we will never be alone in our ministry of service to God? We should be fearless, regardless of what we are facing, because we are not only sent by the Sender, we are sent with the Sender too.

God made this promise to Moses, and the Lord Jesus Christ made the very same promise to you and me. After uttering the Great Commission, which sends us out into the world to make disciples of all the nations, He who is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, assured us:

“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

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

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HAPPY FEET

Happy Feet


He will guard the feet of his faithful servants. (1 Samuel 2:9)


You may remember the 2006 animated musical comedy film Happy Feet, which portrayed penguins being attracted to each other by a “heartsong.” When the male penguin’s heartsong matched the female’s, they would mate. One penguin, named Mumble, was unable to sing, but he could tap his feet in an attempt to find his heartsong—hence, the title of the move: Happy Feet.

In our verse for today we are told in no uncertain terms that we are all to have “happy feet,” because our Lord has promised to guard our feet every step of the way into glory. I see this verse as a great comfort to us as we make our way toward the Celestial City, and I also see three things that we can glean from it to strengthen our walk with Christ.

He will guard our feet from weakness

Our Lord will give us the strength we need to accomplish what He has called us to do. Weakness will not separate us from the work God has set before us. The Lord will sustain us every step of the way (Isaiah 41:10).

He will guard our feet from wounding

There is much to wound the feet of the faithful in this fallen and broken world. Yet our Lord will guard our feet from wounding. Our feet will not swell or blister as we walk in the ways of our Lord (Deuteronomy 8:4), regardless of how long, winding, and rough the road before us is.

He will guard our feet from wandering

And as if it was not comfort enough to know that our God will guard our feet from weakness and wounding, He has also promised to guard our feet from wandering. Now, this does not mean that we will walk the path before us perfectly. Far from it! But in those times when our feet do indeed wander, as the feet of all sheep have a tendency to do, our Good Shepherd will gently but firmly guide us back onto the path He has called us to travel (Ezekiel 37:23). We will all wander, but we shall never wander away.

Do you have happy feet today? If you understand God’s promise, you certainly will! Knowing that God guards our feet allows us to run with confidence into the call we have been given, free from doubt or fear. He who began a good work in us has promised to carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6), and He will do exactly that until we walk through the gates of heaven and onto the streets of gold.


How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation . . . (Isaiah 52:7)


Oh, the joy of having the “happy feet” that our Lord is using to proclaim good tidings of peace and salvation!

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

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SIZE MATTERS NOT

size


He will bless those who fear the Lord, small and great alike. (Psalm 115:13)


Regardless of whether you see yourself today as great or small, God has a blessing for all those who fear Him . . . who revere Him . . . who love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In the eyes of the Lord, size matters not, for His blessings are poured out upon all, small and great alike!

What a word of encouragement this is for many of us! We, who are the small in the kingdom—small in talent . . . small in gifting . . . small in influence . . . small in possessions . . . small even in faith—are treated just as the great are, for our God will bless all those who fear Him. Our size matters not.

The woman who had hemorrhaged for twelve years had small faith—only enough to reach and touch the hem of Christ’s garment—and she was completely healed in an instant (Luke 8:44). The little boy with five loaves and two fish had a small lunch indeed. But in the hands of Jesus, it was blessed and fed over 5,000 (John 6:8-11). Zacchaeus was so small in stature that he had to climb a tree just to see the Lord, who was pressed in on all sides by the crowd. Yet Jesus called Zacchaeus down out of the tree and into ministry for the kingdom (Luke 19:5).

Where does this message find you today? Perhaps you are small in faith, small in possessions, or even small in stature? Oh, beloved, you may feel like you are among the least of the people of God, but let me encourage you to set your heart upon serving Him, for our God will bless all those who fear Him, regardless of their stature!

Today’s verse confirms that there are, indeed, both small and great among the Lord. Some are mature and others are babes. Some are abounding with talent and others have no obvious gift. But all are blessed, simply because they are His, and all have been given gifts to use for the benefit of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:7-11). The same Lord went to the cross for both the small and the great alike. The same precious blood has washed them both clean. Even now, His intercession is made equally for both small and great.

I’d like to make one final point about our verse today, and if you will but meditate upon what I am about to say, I promise that you will receive a double portion of the Lord’s blessings. We know that the Scriptures tell us that God is no respecter of persons and shows no partiality to anyone. But in my simplistic way of looking at things, if there would be any preference in the mind of our Great High Priest, notice that He does not set the order in the verse as “great and small,” but rather “small and great.” Let that truth set you free today!

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

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THE FORGETFULNESS OF THE ALL-KNOWING

cross-praying


The Lord says, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”

(Hebrews 10:17)


That’s a strange title isn’t it? How can the all-knowing God, the omniscient One who knows the beginning from the end and everything in between, forget anything? Well, He chooses to remember our sin no more! Read on and be encouraged today!

God has made countless promises to His people, but this one in particular should be a source of unimaginable comfort for us, especially when we know just how sinful we truly are. The Eternal One has promised to erase from His memory every one of our transgressions . . . and to look on us and treat us as if we had never sinned. Think about that for just a moment; our God does what would seem impossible for Him to do. Omniscience has omitted from memory every sinful mess that you and I have ever created. Oh, what amazing grace!

When we, by grace through faith, are clothed in the robes of righteousness that the Lord Jesus Christ purchased for us on the cross, God sees us as He sees His beloved Son, in whom He is well pleased. He loves us with an everlasting love because He has forgiven us with an eternal forgiveness. Because God the Father judged God the Son on our behalf, He is no longer a judge to us. All those whom the Son sets free are free indeed because of the forgetfulness of the All-knowing.

Here is the key to unlocking the power of this promise. When you sin and have repented of that sin with a godly sorrow, yet you still find yourself dealing with gnawing guilt, know this: it is not God who is reminding you of your sin, it is the devil. The accusations of the devil are designed to keep us buried under the weight of our sin and shame. The devil knows that the more we think about our sinful past, the less we think about our Savior in the present.

But this is not for you! In truth, God knows everything all the time, so He can’t really “forget” anything. But what He has promised to do is to never recall our past sins. God refuses to say, “Do you remember when you said this or did that or neglected to say or do something?!”

So . . . have you been dealing with any gnawing guilt lately? Have you been living in the past, rather than learning from the past? Look to the cross and see the One who took your place and paid the penalty for your sin. When He said, “It is finished,” He meant what He said! Sin debt paid in full . . . death conquered . . . devil soon to be cast into outer darkness where there is a weeping and a gnashing of teeth.

The forgetfulness of the All-Knowing is a promise to remember!

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

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