When you woke up this morning, what gave you hope? Maybe a better way of asking the same question is: When you woke up this morning, where did you look for security?
For many well-intentioned followers of Jesus, we have mistakenly built our houses of hope on sinking sand. Without even knowing it, we load all our hope for life onto our spouse, children, career, house, retirement account, social status, or ministry calling.
Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with appreciating people, possessions, or positions. But these temporal things were never designed to be a source of hope. To hope in temporal things is to hope in what I cannot control and what is not guaranteed to me.
I think you can predict where I’m going with this: When we live in with eternity in view, we find an unshakeable hope for this sin-shattered world.
But wait: There's a life-changing difference between understanding this conceptually and embracing it practically. I have found that many of us have sectioned this truth in the "theologically interesting but basically irrelevant" area of our Christianity. Eternity sounds nice, but it doesn't make much of a difference in our everyday life.
So, once again, I would invite you to meditate on eternity. If you live with Tomorrow in view, it will change everything about the way you invest your life Today.
Listen to the saints who have passed over to the other side. They don't talk about the wonderful temporal pleasures they experienced on earth. As fitting as it is to be thankful for all these things, they now have a crystal-clear sense of what is most important.
They summarize it with one sentence: "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb." (Revelation 7:10b)
Now in eternity, they have their values right. And through the gift of Scripture, we are given a glimpse of what they consider central so we don't have to wait until we join them Tomorrow to get our values right Today.
But let's confess: Much of our existence is a frenetic attempt to build a paradise in a broken world. The house is never quite right. The kids never seem to measure up. Our spouse is never quite able to please us. Our friends are never quite loyal enough. The finances are never quite secure enough. We can't even meet our own expectations for ourselves!
No wonder we're frustrated, discouraged, and exhausted! We're trying find hope in a physical world that is terribly broken by sin.
Someday, you and I will be on the other side. In the meantime, will you ask people, circumstances, and things to do what they were never designed to do? Are there ways in which you look to this fallen world to become your personal paradise?
Or, will you find hope for Today because of Tomorrow? Are you eavesdropping on eternity and letting Forever shape your values on earth? Are you resting in the promise that Christ will put all his enemies under his feet?
If our faith makes no sense without eternity - "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men" (1 Corinthians 15:19) - then we ought to remind ourselves and others to live with it in view every day!
taken from https://mailchi.mp/paultripp/wednesdays-word-4-25-2018-hope-for-today-because-of-tomorrow?e=ecd06331e2
"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God" (Matt. 5:9).
Christ’s atonement made it possible for man to be at peace with God.
After World War II the United Nations was created to promote world peace. But since its inception in 1945 there has not been a single day of global peace. That's a sad commentary on man's inability to make peace. In fact, someone once quipped that Washington D.C. has so many peace monuments because they build one after every war!
It hasn't always been that way. Prior to the Fall of man peace reigned on the earth because all creation was in perfect harmony with its Creator. But sin interrupted peace by alienating man from God and bringing a curse upon the earth. Man couldn't know true peace because he had no peace in his heart. That's why Jesus came to die.
I once read a story about a couple at a divorce hearing whose conflict couldn't be resolved. They had a four-year-old boy who became distressed and teary-eyed over what was happening. While the couple was arguing, the boy reached for his father's hand and his mother's hand and pulled until he joined them.
In a sense that's what Christ did: He provided the righteousness that allows man and God to join hands. Romans 5:1 says that those who are justified by faith have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:20 says that God reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
Yet on the surface, the scene at the cross wasn't peaceful at all. Pain, sorrow, humiliation, hatred, mockery, darkness, and death were oppressively pervasive, but through it all Christ was doing what He alone could do: making peace between man and God. He paid the supreme price to give us that precious gift.
In the future, Jesus will return as Prince of Peace to establish a kingdom of peace that will usher us into an eternal age of peace. In the meantime He reigns over the hearts of all who love Him. Let His peace reign in your heart today!
Suggestions for Prayer
Thank God for the peace of heart that comes from knowing Christ.
For Further Study
Read Philippians 4:6-9. What must a person do to know God's peace?
Taken from https://www.gty.org/library/devotionals/drawing-near
Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! (Psalm 31:19)
Consider two important truths in Psalm 31:19.
1. The goodness of the Lord
There is a peculiar goodness of God. That is, there is not only God’s general goodness that he shows to all people, making his sun rise on the evil and the good (Matthew 5:45), but also a peculiar goodness, as the psalm says, for “those who fear” him.
This goodness is abundant beyond measure. It is boundless. It lasts forever. It is all-encompassing. There is only goodness for those who fear him. Everything works together for their good (Romans 8:28). Even their pains are filled with profit according to Romans 5:3–5.
But those who do not fear him receive a temporary goodness. Romans 2:4–5 describes it like this: “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Kindness. Forbearance. Patience. Goodness. But it does not meet with the fear of the Lord, but hardness.
That’s the first truth: the goodness of the Lord.
2. The fear of the Lord
The fear of the Lord is the fear of straying from him. Therefore, it expresses itself in taking refuge in God. That’s why two conditions are mentioned in Psalm 31:19 — fearing the Lord and taking refuge in him. “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have 1) stored up for those who fear you and 2) worked for those who take refuge in you!”
They seem to be opposites. Fear seems to drive away and taking refuge seems to draw in. But when we see that this fear is a fear of running away — a fear of straying from him — then they work together.
There is a real trembling in the heart of the saints. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). But it is the trembling one feels in the arms of a Father who has just plucked his child from the undertow of the ocean. It is the trembling at the terrible prospect of thinking we don’t need a Father.
So, cherish the goodness of the Lord. Fear straying from him. Flee from every sin and take refuge in him. “Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you!”
Taken from https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/afraid-to-stray
"Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.”
(1 Samuel 12:20–22)
When the Israelites have been brought to fear and they repent of their sin of demanding that Samuel give them a king to be like the other nations, then comes the good news: “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil.” Do you hear how backward that sounds — how wonderfully backward? You might expect him to say, “Fear, for you have done all this evil.” That’s a good reason to fear: you have done the great evil of demanding another king besides God! But that’s not what Samuel says. “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil.”
He goes on, “Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.”
This is the gospel: Even though you have sinned greatly, and terribly dishonored the Lord, even though you now have a king which it was a sin to demand, even though there is no undoing that sin or its painful consequences that are yet to come, nevertheless there is a future and a hope. There is mercy.
Fear not! Fear not!
Then comes the great ground — the basis and foundation — of the gospel in 1 Samuel 12:22. Why don’t you need to fear, even though you have done all this evil? “For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.”
The ground of the gospel is God’s commitment to his own name. Did you hear it? Don’t fear, though you have sinned, “The Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake.” This should have two effects on you: heart-breaking humility and toe-tapping happiness. Humility because your worth is not the foundation of your salvation. Happiness because your salvation is as sure as God’s allegiance to his own name. It can’t get more sure.
Taken from https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-future-for-failures
There are some blunt, tell-it-like-it-is passages in the Bible. One that comes to mind is 1 John 2:19 - "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us." (ESV) This is not merely a historical recounting by John, but a warning for us today: We must resist defining Christianity as anything other than a deep devotion to Christ, the fruit of which is a lifestyle of daily worship of him and active service in his kingdom.
We must always be evaluating the motivation of our hearts to be sure that the faith we live by is the true Christianity of the Bible, not an externalistic counterfeit that omits Jesus.
What are some of the characteristics of an externalistic, counterfeit, and Christ-less Christianity? I can think of three:
1. It Mistakes Commitment To Christianity For Commitment To Christ
The traditions of Christianity are engaging and exciting, and they should be. The danger is that they can function as a replacement for a relationship with Jesus. A cruel trick of the enemy is to make us feel most alive when we are participating in the culture of Christianity, rather than communing with Christ.
2. It Mistakes Biblical Knowledge For Biblical Wisdom
It's quite possible to grow in biblical literacy without growing in wisdom and holiness. I love studying the theology of the Word of God, but having worked for twenty years at one of the finest seminaries in the world, I have seen far too many rigorously trained students graduate as immature followers of Jesus.
3. It Mistakes Participation In Ministry Opportunities For A Christ-like Lifestyle
It's good and proper for the local church to organize various ministries for the body of Christ. However, disciples of Jesus are called to offer every aspect of their life to the Kingdom of God, not just those on the church calendar.
It's unbiblical for us to think of ministry as separate from life, as if we step out of one and into the other. Instead, we ought to live with a constant mentality that asks the question: "How can I, right here right now, be part of what God is doing on earth?"
True ChristianityIf our Christianity is something less than a surrender of the thoughts and motives of our heart to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and a daily hunger for and pursuit of his transforming grace, then our faith will tend to get reduced to a system of tradition, philosophy, and activity.
Until the day we die, we are called to resist this externalistic, counterfeit, and Christ-less Christianity. We have been given the grace to do so, and the grace to desire something so much better - a soul-satisfying relationship with Jesus himself!
Taken from https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/is-christ-in-your-christianity
There is a large sign posted next to the first tee of the local golf course. The sign declares the rules that govern play. The first rule is a preview of the specific rules that follow. It reads: “The first rule of golf is consideration of others.”
Consideration for others, in the context of the Christian’s liberty in Christ, is the theme of Paul’s teaching in Romans 14. With the advent of the new covenant, some rules that were important to the Old Testament were done away with. They were fulfilled by the ministry of Jesus and were no longer necessary.
When laws are revised, it is difficult for people to make adjustments. One difficult adjustment for early Jewish converts was to the new situation in which Jesus declared that certain foods that had been prohibited under Old Testament ceremonial law were now clean. Even the apostle Peter struggled with this new state of affairs (see Acts 10:9–16).
The issue the mature Christian faced was this: How should he relate to a weaker brother whose conscience was bound by rules with which God never intended to bind him? Should the mature Christian forfeit his liberty for the sake of the weaker brother? Should the stronger brother indulge his freedom regardless of the feelings of the weaker brother? Should the scruples of the weaker brother become the law of the church?
Paul’s answer to this situation is based on the principle of loving consideration by both parties.
Study Romans 14 for scriptural guidelines on relating to weaker members of the body of Christ.
Passages for Further Study
Taken from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/considering-others/
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy" (Matt. 5:7).
God commends merciful people but condemns the merciless.
Scripture shows that those whom God blessed most abundantly were abundantly merciful to others. Abraham, for example, helped rescue his nephew Lot even after Lot had wronged him. Joseph was merciful to his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Twice David spared Saul's life after Saul tried to kill him.
But just as sure as God's commendation is upon those who show mercy, His condemnation is upon those who are merciless. Psalm 109:14-16 says, "Let the iniquity of [the merciless person's] fathers be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out . . . because he did not remember to show [mercy]."
When judgment comes, the Lord will tell such people, "Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me" (Matt. 25:41-43). They will respond, "Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?" (v. 44). He will reply that when they withheld mercy from those who represented Him, they were withholding it from Him (v. 45).
Our society encourages us to grab everything we can for ourselves, but God wants us to reach out and give everything we can to others. If someone wrongs you, fails to repay a debt, or doesn't return something he has borrowed from you, be merciful to him. That doesn't mean you excuse sin, but you respond to people with a heart of compassion. That's what Christ did for you—can you do any less for others?
Suggestions for Prayer
If there is someone who has wronged you, pray for that person, asking God to give you a heart of compassion for him or her. Make every effort to reconcile as soon as possible.
For Further Study
Read Romans 1:29-31. How did Paul characterize the ungodly?
Taken from https://www.gty.org/library/devotionals/drawing-near
Over the past few years, I've been to the doctor's office more times than I would like to count. I don't like seeing the doctor, because it's a reminder that my health is out of my control. But there's another reason I don't like seeing the doctor - the dreaded waiting room.
I don't know about you, but I like to be very productive and efficient with my schedule. Few things in life annoy me more than wasted time. And in the doctor's dreaded waiting room, wasted time thrives! You know the drill - you'll have a 10:00am scheduled appointment, but you won't be seen until at least 10:45am.
At one of my recent appointments, as I flipped through a mind-numbing amount of magazine pages waiting for the minutes to pass slowly by, the Lord reminded me: waiting is a theme for his children.
Here are 5 things about waiting that we need to remember:
1. Waiting Is Inescapable: Abraham and Sarah waited decades for their promised son. Israel waited for centuries to be delivered from Egypt, then another 40 years for the Promised Land. The Old Testament prophets waited for the coming of the Messiah. We all wait in anticipation for the Second Coming of Christ. Don't be surprised when you have to wait; it's part of the history of God's people.
2. Waiting Is Refreshing: Waiting immediately announces that we're not in control. When God calls us to wait, He's lovingly refreshing us of the fact that Someone wiser and stronger is in charge of the narrative of our lives. God is God and we are not. Sometimes we need to be put in our place (see Job 38), and waiting is one of God's refreshing tools.
3. Waiting Is Revealing: Whenever I'm forced to wait, I find that I'm easier to agitate, prone to rude words and behaviors, and focused more on my pleasure than other's needs. Just like God uses waiting to announce his kingship, he also uses waiting to reveal the selfishness of my heart and make me seek restoring and redeeming grace.
4. Waiting Is Productive: Psalm 27:4 says, "Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage." This means that God never wastes our waiting, frivolously prolonging what we get at the end of the wait. Rather, waiting is fundamentally about who we become as we wait. Waiting should always build character.
5. Waiting Is Temporary: One day, the former things will pass away (Revelation 21:4), and that includes waiting. In the meantime, God intends that waiting would make us hungry for eternity. This life isn't our final destination; it's a preparation for a final destination, and waiting is meant to produce in you a God-honoring dissatisfaction with the status quo.
So the next time you're in the waiting room at the doctor's office, or the next time you're stuck in traffic, or the next time you find yourself waiting for a late spouse or child, don't just grumble and moan. Remind yourself that waiting is biblical, that waiting is beautiful, and that the God who calls you to wait is loving.
Waiting is changing you, and it's also helping you to be a tool of change in others who are waiting. Find joy in that wait!
The righteous shall live by faith - Romans 1:16-17
Authentic faith in our Creator is not a blind leap into the dark, but it is a committed trust in God based on His revelation of Himself in nature and in Scripture. It is not an act of irrationality but a conviction grounded in the surety of the resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15). Knowing that the Lord is trustworthy, faith holds firm to God even in the most difficult of circumstances, confident that He will never fail to keep His promises (Gen. 22:1–14).
Faith is eminently rational because it is faith in the supreme revelation of God—Jesus Christ. And as we see in the Gospels, those who trust in Jesus are never the same. Faith results in a life of ever-increasing obedience to our Maker, in our being willing to die unto ourselves more and more and to take up our cross in following Jesus (Mark 8:34).
In sum, righteous people live by faith; their continuing trust in God demonstrates that our Lord sees them as righteous, and they bear fruit in acts of righteousness. This is part of what Paul is getting at in to-day’s passage. Of course, our acts of obedience are not the ground on which we are declared righteous in God’s sight, for only the perfect righteousness of Christ is the basis for our acceptance by God (Rom. 5:12–21; 2 Cor. 5:21). This righteousness is received only by faith. Nevertheless, those whom God declares righteous He is also conforming to the image of His Son. Faith continues after our conversion, our trust in God proving that we have been reconciled to Him in Christ and moving us to greater and greater obedience.
A few days ago, we saw that one essential component of saving faith is fiducia, which is the personal trust that we place in Christ to save us. But fiducia means not only that we entrust ourselves to Christ once but that we do so over the course of our lives. We give our lives continually to Jesus, pledging and living out our loyalty to Him. Inspired by our personal trust in the promises of God, we are loyal to Him, and we strive never to compromise our loyalty to Him and His way.
Loyalty to God bears fruit in our continuing commitment to Him but also in our loyalty to others. Those whom God has declared righteous live lives of integrity because they live by faith, by abiding trust and commitment to God. Living by faith means we keep our promises to God and to other people. It means we can be trusted when we make commitments. By faith, we are being conformed to Christ, the eminently trustworthy One, and so we imitate Him in becoming more trustworthy ourselves.
Are you a trustworthy person? As believers have been predestined to be conformed to Christ’s image (Rom. 8:29) and Christ is supremely trustworthy, then evidence of Christian growth comes as we become more trustworthy. As we live by faith, let us seek to become more trustworthy friends, relatives, workers, and citizens
Passages for Further Study
Taken from https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/fruit-faith/
If you spend any time watching television, you’re bound to have seen commercials from the major phone networks offering unlimited plans
What an attractive offer. No restrictions, no limits, nothing to get in between you and the way you want to use your device.
Maybe that works for a smartphone. But if you want to live realistically and productively as a sinful human being in a fallen world, it’s absolutely critical that you humbly admit your limits.
Every person is subject to three foundational limits: wisdom, power, and righteousness.
1. Limited WisdomThe Apostle Paul speaks to our limited wisdom when he says, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
The Bible is reminding us that if God were capable of being foolish, his most foolish moment would be infinitely wiser than our moment of greatest, deepest, fullest insight.
Think of everything that you do not know. Consider all that you have not figured out and do not yet understand. Look back on all those moments when you thought you understood, only to be corrected.
Your wisdom and understanding is frustratingly finite.
2. Limited PowerJames calls us to accept the limits of our power with these direct and pastoral words:
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (see James 4:13-17).
Think of everything that you couldn’t control thus far in 2018. How much were you actually in control of last week’s events? Has today already slipped beyond your controlling grasp?
We all like to be in control, but accepting that there is actually very little in life that we do control is a very important spiritual step.
3. Limited RighteousnessNot only is our intellectual capacity limited, but so is our moral capacity. No matter how hard we try, no matter how mature we have become, sin still reduces us all to fools.
Isaiah 64:6 quickly humbles us: “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.”
Yes, the power of sin has been broken, and by the grace of God, we are becoming more like Christ every day.
But you must remember: you and I have no independent righteousness at all. All our righteousness has been given to us by Christ. He is our righteousness.
Don’t Be Discouraged!I’ll be the first to admit - I want to place my identity, security, and pride in my wisdom, power, and righteousness. But that’s a dangerous delusion!
As sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, why don’t we joyfully and humbly accept the limits of our wisdom, power, and righteousness?
He is unlimited, we are not, and that's exactly as it should be.
Paul David Tripp
Taken from https://www.paultripp.com/wednesdays-word/posts/the-unlimited-plan