Verse for Today – 2 Corinthians 12:9-12 (Click for mini-Blog)

29 Sep

Weakness Is Advantageous to Faith and Faithfulness

I’ve been thinking about a quotation I heard from Allistar Begg in a recent message I was listening to a while back:

 

If dependence on God is the objective, then weakness is advantage.

 

I think this is quite profound. It certainly seems to be corollary to the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-12

 

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

How often don’t we resist or even resent weaknesses, trials and troubles? Yet, these are the very means by which the Lord draws us closer to Him. Any trial or adversity that draws us nearer to the Lord or causes us to depend more upon Him, is in the bigger picture, a blessing.

 

Ironically, in recent months, one of my recurring prayers has been that the Lord would mold me into a more effective and faithful minister of the Gospel. My hope is that the Lord would use me to strengthen the church I pastor and advance the broader work of the Kingdom. In recent weeks I’ve faced a few trials and discouragements, and have concluded that these were in affect the Lord’s answer to my prayers.

 

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

When we recognize our own inadequacies or weaknesses, we learn afresh our need of God and His grace.  When we recognize them, we will the more earnestly seek His aid and depend upon Him.

 

Truth be told we all need to believe and endure like Job. He endured loss of loved ones, financial ruin, and even his health, and responds to his exasperated wife, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” The Lord works in mysterious ways. He is pleased when we persevere through trials, when we trust His Word and hold fast to our integrity for His sake. As Peter says, “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.”

 

Seems the point is that we should trust in God all the time, especially when going through trials.

 

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Verse for Today – 2 Corinthians 13:14 (Click for mini-Blog)

21 Sep

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen. “

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Read all of  2 Corinthians 13

This is perhaps the most common New Testament benediction.  And what, you might ask is a benediction?  Well, it literally means “to speak well of.”  It is a pronouncement of blessing or favor toward another.   It is sometimes (and I might add should be) spoken by parents to their children and by grandparents to their children and grandchildren, but perhaps most commonly pronounced at the end of a church worship service.  We should never underestimate the affect of our words on those who hear them.  
 
In Today’s Verse, the words are spoken by the Apostle Paul to the believers in ancient Corinth and with official authority.   That is to say, while the Apostle Paul is speaking, he is really speaking with “Apostolic” authority.   He is declaring that those who come to God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are really and truly the recipients of this “grace,” “love” and “communion” with the Triune God. 
 
While we might might hear such a blessing, and even take it for granted, it is really a remarkable thing.   The God of all grace, who from all eternity determined to save a people for himself through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, has in the present time extended His grace and mercy to us.
 
The Grace of Christ is the extension of God’s undeserved favor in Christ to guilty sinners.  The Love of God is the embrace and acceptance of those purchased by Him.  The Communion of the Holy Spirit is incorporation of those who were lost into the fellowship of His own special people– His Church.  Pretty remarkable.  Amen?  Amen!

Verse for Today – Ephesians 2:19,20 (Click for mini-Blog)

31 Aug

“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone,

 

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Read all of Ephesians 2

These two verse from Ephesians 2 are important.  They anchor a number of essential truths that affect how we’re supposed to think about ourselves, the Church, and the Scriptures.
 
1. Ourselves.  The Book of Ephesians is written to essentially a “Gentile” church.  Most of the members were not of Hebrew or Jewish descent.  They are no longer “strangers and foreigners” but “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”   In other words, they are not second class citizens, but are fully on par with other members.  While this might not sound like that big a deal, it really is.  It identifies believers (regardless of race) as belonging to God… as those who have been bought and paid for by the Lord Jesus Christ.
 
2. The Church.  The Church is composed of individual believers who become inter-related with each other…”fellow citizens and members of God’s household” or family.  Pretty remarkable.  These words describe the core of our identity.  We really, truly, and genuinely become co-heirs with each other through the Gospel of grace in Christ.
 
3. The Scriptures.  Here’s the zinger.  1 and 2 are amazing, but don’t yet distinguish those who assume they are the Church from those who actually are.  3. The Scriptures are the only foundation on which the Church is built.  “The Foundation of the apostles and prophets” is the objective standard of the Word of God, such that our relationship to them determines our relationship to God.
 
Not everything that calls itself the Church is.  Only those who hold to the Scriptures and its message are true.  Paul affirms this in Ephesians 4:4f “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling;  one Lord, one faith, one baptism….” And with earnestness in Galatians 1:8 when he says, “But even  if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
So be like the Bereans in Acts 17 and search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are so.  🙂

Verse for Today – Psalm 66:1-4 (Click for mini-Blog)

23 Aug

“Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!  Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious. 

Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power your enemies shall submit themselves to You.  All the earth shall worship You and sing praises to You; they shall sing praises to Your name.’”

Read at Bible Gateway

Read all of Psalm 66

In many places throughout the Psalms we’re told to sing, praise, bow down and worship the LORD, and even to shout, glory and tremble before Him.  We were created for no less, and such we should do.
 
In distinction from these general or broader exhortations, These first verses of Psalm 66 are quite particular.  They not only provide an exhortation to us as God’s people to shout and sing to the Lord, and to make His praise glorious, they also provide some of the content of what we should say.  I don’t know that this is a really big deal, but it seems to me that if we’re told to do or say something like this, we should probably do it.  I think it’s sort of like the Lord’s Prayer.  It’s not the only prayer we should pray, but certainly it is a prayer that we should pray fairly frequently (daily?). 
 
There are only a few other places where we are told explicitly what to say.    If my count is right, I think it’s only four times in the Book of Psalms (Psalm 40:16herePsalm 70:4, and Psalm 96:10).   Each of these urge us to recognize God’s great power and glory and to vocalize our recognition it.
 
I suppose this raises a pretty valid question, when was the last time you’ve said these (or similar) things to God?  By yourself in prayer?  In the assembly of public worship with your brethren?   And if you’ve not, it’s time you should.
 
As I think about this… maybe the Conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer insures that we think and address these things properly:
 
“For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power and the Glory Forever.  AMEN.” 

Verse for Today – Luke 12:6-7 (Click for mini-Blog)

10 Aug

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

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Read all of Luke 12

This is one of those verses that no matter how many times you read it, it’s almost too amazing to grasp.  

 
Note, first:  God is omnipotent (all powerful) and omniscient (all knowing).  This is pretty amazing too.  How can God know everything about everything?  Not sure, but these are some of the words Jesus spoke, so they must be true.  (How could Jesus have been a good teacher or a great man and not be telling the truth?)  This is part of why we as humans have a hard time comprehending the greatness of God.  It is completely beyond us, or as Job 36 says: How great is God—beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.”
OK, so how much does God know?  Two particulars are noted:  1. He knows all the insignificant sparrows (little birds) on the planet.  2. He knows the number of hairs on your head.  In other words, God has exhaustive knowledge.
What’s the point?  Well, it’s a logical relationship of the lesser to the greater.  If God knows those little details, don’t you suppose he also knows and understands everything bigger?  The doubts, struggles, fears and questions that you have?  Of course he does.  AND (here’s the kicker) He cares for you.
Seems to me that if you have struggles, He’s the One to whom you should go.   🙂

Verse for Today – Isaiah 41:10 (Click for mini-Blog)

19 Jul

“Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Read at Bible Gateway

Read all of Isaiah 41

This verse in Isaiah 41 has been immortalized in the gospel hymn How Firm a Foundation.  As you may know the first verse of this hymn asks an extended question. 
 
“How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, 
is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
to you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?”
What is this firm foundation the hymn writer identifies?  Well, it’s the fact that God has revealed himself favorable toward His people.  In spite of their sin and the terrible judgment that He would inflict  upon them, God promises to take care of His own.
That was true then, and this remains true today.  These words were intended for God’s Old Testament saints.  In verse 8 He describes them as “the descendants of Abraham His friend.”   In spite of the judgment of the Exile, He would not forget His promises.  The same is true today.The hymn writer captures the essence of today’s verse in the second stanza:

“Fear not, I am with you, O be not dismayed;
for I am your God, and will still give you aid;
I’ll strengthen you, help you, and cause you to stand,
upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”
Pretty encouraging.   The remaining stanzas then apply this comfort to believers in all of life’s trials.
 
P.S. You can hear these words sung at the by clicking on the song title above.

Verse for Today – Isaiah 12:4 (Click for mini-Blog)

5 Jul

“In that day you will say: “Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.”

 Read at Bible Gateway

Read all of Isaiah 12

This verse from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah looks forward to the time after the First Coming of Christ (His Incarnation, suffering, death and resurrection) and especially after His Second Coming.  In the previous Chapter (11), the anticipation of the great Son of David, “the Branch of Jesse”, is announced.  


His coming will usher in a day when all that is broken will be fixed, all that is sick shall be healed.  We’re told in Romans 8 that the whole Creation groans in travail awaiting for the fulfilment of redemption.  Well, after the final coming of Christ, all struggle, hardship and pain will be over.  Listen to the words used to describe this remarkable time (Isaiah 11:6-9):


“The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.
The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.
The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

Already now, we have the privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the rightful worship and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of all the Earth!