A LOVE THAT SURPASSES KNOWLEDGE

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I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17-19)


When was the last time you gave deep thought to just how loved you truly are by your Savior? Even if you were to spend every waking moment marinating in and meditating on this truth, you would not begin to plumb the depths of how much He loves you. That is why Paul prayed that God would give the Ephesians the power to “grasp” at how vast that love is. May this truth comfort you and inspire you to rise above the waves of challenge you may be facing today!

Charles Spurgeon pondered on this amazing love in his Morning and Evening devotional –


Where shall language be found which shall describe His matchless, His unparalleled love towards the children of men? It is so vast and boundless that, as the swallow but skimmeth the water, and diveth not into its depths, so all descriptive words but touch the surface, while depths immeasurable lie beneath.


The apostle Paul tells us in our verse today that the love of Christ for us surpasses knowledge. Our finite minds simply cannot understand infinite love; what we do understand of it would not fill a teaspoon to overflowing when compared to the vast ocean of love that God in Christ had for us before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5). When there was only the Triune God in existence, in the eternity that existed before God said, “Let there be light,” there was His love for us that surpasses knowledge. That love created us in His own image. The divine heart that beat with that unfathomable love never skipped a beat when we rebelled; rather, it pursued rebels on the run. Who can truly understand that kind of love?

The love that surpasses knowledge sought us, caught us, and bought us with the precious blood of Christ, shed on our behalf as He hung on Calvary’s cruel cross. What agony Jesus underwent to have us as His own! He was betrayed, denied, falsely accused, beaten, scourged, and felt a crown of thorns jammed into His brow and nine-inch spikes driven through His hands and feet. And as if that wasn’t enough pain to endure for His beloved, He knew the inconceivable anguish of supernatural separation from His Father, who would not even look upon His Son because He had become sin for us and endured the wrath of God . . . so that you and I will never have to.

If there should come a time when you just might begin to discern the depths of divine love that has been poured out upon us, notice the last portion of the verse: “That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” If it is impossible to fully fathom what it means to be the undeserving object of the love of God, how much more is it incomprehensible to know what it means to be filled with all the fullness of God?

Beloved, know this: when knowledge is surpassed, it is simply best to receive it, to rest in its truth, and let it fill your heart to overflowing.

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

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THE CHRISTIAN AND CIRCUMSTANCE

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Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me. (Psalm 23:4)


Far too many people today, even some in the church, wrongly believe that circumstance makes the person. They would tell you that you become what you are because of the circumstances you encounter throughout life. But James Allen, author of As a Man Thinketh, brilliantly corrected this misunderstanding: “Circumstance does not make the man . . . it reveals him.”

Make no mistake, our verse of encouragement today tells us how independent the Christian is from outward circumstances. This is because of one simple truth: Jesus is with us!

  • Jesus was with Moses walking through the Red Sea.
  • Jesus was with Elijah on Mount Carmel facing the prophets of Baal.
  • Jesus was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.
  • Jesus was with Daniel in the lions’ den.
  • Jesus was with Stephen being stoned.
  • Jesus was with Paul in prison.
  • Jesus was with John in exile on the island of Patmos.

And Jesus is with you – regardless of where this finds you today!

If the storm winds are blowing, we can be calm because the One who calmed the storm is with us. If the seas are stormy and it looks like our boat is about to capsize, we can be at peace because the One who said “Peace, be still” is with us. Darkness may be all around you, but fear not! The Light of the World has promised to guide you and protect you and to ultimately get you safely to the other side. If you find yourself lying on a bed of sickness, fear not. Your sickbed becomes a throne of grace because Jesus is with you in your sickness. If you are facing financial difficulties and poverty is banging at your door, fear not. Jesus has promised to give you more in your less than the rich will ever have in their abundance. Even death itself cannot disrupt the peace of the disciple because Jesus became the death of death, and to cross the Jordan with Him is to enter the place marked Glorious Gain!

Regardless of the circumstances you are facing today, fear not! The power of the Holy Spirit that dwells within has given you the power to make you independent of all of them. Darkness becomes light. Loss becomes gain. And death becomes life, because Jesus is with us and has promised never to leave us no matter what.

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

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COSMIC CALLING CARD

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You will be my witnesses. (Acts 1:8)


One of the many dictionary definitions of a “calling card” comes under the heading of a visiting card—a card that one uses as an introduction when visiting a home or a business. The primary difference between a common calling card and a “cosmic calling card” is this: where the common calling card introduces oneself, the cosmic calling card introduces one’s Savior. Every Christian is a cosmic calling card sent by God to introduce Christ. Everything about us—both our talk and our walk—should point to the One we serve. Let’s take a look.


Witness with Our Talk


Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians instructs as how to witness with our talk: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). When you read that verse in context, you’ll see that Paul was warning us that we can grieve the Holy Spirit by the way we communicate with others. If we are going to be a witness for Jesus as His cosmic calling cards, our language must represent and reflect the One we are speaking for. When we open our mouths to speak, we should be building others up, not tearing them down. In the process, we will be putting the Gospel on display, because what we say will be a benefit to those who we speak to.


Witness with Our Walk


“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). A walk without works shouts to the watching world that our faith is dead. The works in no way save us, but they are evidence that we are actually saved. As the Reformers often said, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is not alone.”

I’ve shared here before how Dr. D. James Kennedy would say, “When you are saved, God changes your wanter!” When we place our trust in Jesus Christ, we begin to desire more of the things of God and less of the stuff of this world. We live for the purpose of God by the power of God. Our desires—our “wanter”—have changed because our destiny has changed.

How well are you witnessing for your Lord with both your talk and your walk? What kind of cosmic-calling-card Christian are you? Are you living your life for the glory of God and the good of others? What changes do you need to make? If you don’t make those changes, what will it cost you? The next time you encounter someone, remember that you are a cosmic calling card for Christ; let your talk and your walk clearly communicate the kind and gracious God you serve.

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

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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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