Though I Walk in the Midst of Trouble #798

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands. (Psalm 138:7–8, NKJV)

When the psalmist cried out to the Lord in the past, his cry was answered according to God’s lovingkindness and truth (Psa. 138:3). Now, the psalmist summarizes his continued reliance upon God in the midst of trouble; God “will” act on his behalf! Like the psalmist, God’s power saves and enlivens us, even as He delivers His wrath upon the enemies of the righteous. All is not lost when you must travel the road of trouble; the Lord is not finished with you. God is able to perfect or complete you by means of your present trials (1 Pet. 1:6-9). His mercy is endless, therefore, He will not abandon you. Be strengthened in your faith, and never abandon Him.

He Regards the Lowly #797

All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord, when they hear the words of Your mouth. Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord. Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar. (Psalm 138:4–6, NKJV)

Great is the temptation for the rulers of men to unduly exalt themselves. The great Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar dramatically learned that “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Dan. 4:32, 28-35). Wise rulers bow before Almighty God with reverent acknowledgement and praise. They listen to His word, being guided by divine counsel. Thus, humble kings are regarded on high, but arrogant leaders are not given an audience before God. You and I are not kings, yet most of us have some sphere of responsibility toward others – perhaps as a parent or a business owner, a manager or a teacher, etc. Do not allow your position of authority over others lead you to act out of pride. Remember, you have a Master in heaven (Col. 4:1). Be humble in all your dealings with men, and so be humble before God. He will exalt you in due time (1 Pet. 5:6).

With My Whole Heart #796

I will praise You with my whole heart; Before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul. (Psalm 138:1–3, NKJV)

Jehovah God is worthy of wholehearted praise. Whether “the gods” before whom the psalmist sings praises to Jehovah are the rulers of nations, the judges among the people, or the false idols that are nothing, he attributes devoted worship and praise to God for His lovingkindness and truth. These continue to motivate our worship today. Additionally, the psalmist relied upon God, and God kept His word. The Lord answered his prayers, emboldening him and strengthening his faith. What wonderful incentives we have to worship God with our whole heart! He is a God of kindness and of truth. He answers our petitions and assures our faith. Give Him reverent worship with your whole heart.

Contend Earnestly for the Faith #795

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 3–4, NKJV)

Jude calls upon at least two incentives to urge Christians to agonize intensely (“contend earnestly”) for the faith (the gospel, Gal. 1:11, 23). First, it is because of the gospel that we share a common salvation (Rom. 1:16-17). And next, because God has delivered the faith to us with finality (“once for all”). Precisely because the gospel is powerful to save us, and because God has fully delivered this powerful gospel to us, we must fight for it against all who would attempt to dilute its power and impugn its adequacy to save us (see verse 4). To reject the gospel’s salvation and its fullness of grace brings one under the condemnation of the ungodly. Instead, let us give our full strength and energy to guarding and advancing the truth of the gospel.

Love’s Warning #794

as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. (Jude 7, NKJV)

If you saw a loved one running into a burning building, would you warn them and try to stop them? Of course you would. Why then, when we warn homosexuals of their sin and its punishment of eternal fire, are we charged with being hateful bigots? It is a false and scurrilous  charge. However, we know why some make it. Sinners hate the light of truth, and are willing to compromise with other sinners so their own sins will not be exposed (Jno. 3:19-21). Therefore, they let them run into the fire without warning – and call it love. What a selfish approach to take toward the reality and eternal destruction of sin – any sin – including the “sexual immorality” of homosexuality. We cannot stand by and watch souls run headlong into the punishment of eternal hell fire without sounding God’s warning. Love demands it. Jesus sounded warnings against sin (Mk. 9:42-48). Was Jesus a hateful bigot? No. We will follow His example, and in love we will warn sinners to repent, and thereby escape the punishment of eternal fire.

To Him be Glory in the Church #793

to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:21, NKJV)

A review of Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21 reveals the glory God is due. God is to be held in honor because He is our Progenitor and our source of spiritual strength (v. 15-16), because of His great love with which He fills us (v. 17-19), and because of His amazing power to exceed the expectations of our requests and thoughts (v. 20). In today’s verse, Paul calls attention to his summary point: God is glorified in the church by Christ throughout the ages (v. 21). Far too many who profess to be Christians do not value Christ’s church. Doctrines that make the church an afterthought in God’s mind have contributed to this devalued view of the church. Corrupt teaching, living, organization, worship and work all add to the wrong notion that says, “Christ is important, not the church.” We cannot separate Christ from His church without nullifying the glory it gives God. Jesus purchased the church with His blood (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25). The church was built by Christ (Matt. 16:18). The church is the result of God’s eternal, redemptive purpose in Christ (Eph. 3:10-11). These reasons, and more, compel the called out ones (the church) to give glory to God. We do so as we live by faith and Christ dwells in each heart (v. 17).

Prayers Powerfully Answered #792

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us (Ephesians 3:20, NKJV)

Although our petitions to God are often limited in scope and momentary in time, God is limitless in His ability to act on our behalf. God’s ability to answer our prayers is beyond measure, and is the very power that works in us (Eph. 3:17). Since Christ dwells in our hearts “through faith,” we can only conclude that God powerfully answers our prayers in harmony with His powerful word, which anchors our faith (Rom. 10:17). God’s word assures Christians that He works according to His will: “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us…we have the petitions that we have asked of Him” (1 Jno. 5:14-15). Remember to whom you pray: there is none like Him. “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours” (1 Chron. 29:11). God is able to powerfully answer our prayers far beyond our ability to ask or think. And so, like incense, our prayers confidently ascend before the throne of God (Rev. 8:3-4).

To Know the Love of Christ #791

17  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:17–19, NKJV)

Paul next prayed that the saints in Ephesus would be able to comprehend the greatness of the love of Christ. We grasp the meaning and scope of love by seeing it in practice; by experiencing it. We know love because “God is love,” and because “He loved us and sent His Son” to die for us (1 Jno. 4:8, 10). Experiencing fellowship with Christ and the love of God that stabilizes and secures us, enhances our ability to comprehend Christ’s love – a love that surpasses knowledge. A full complement of  God’s blessings are offered and attainable in Christ. What love we should have for God for the boundless love of Christ. We are drawn closer to God and enlivened in faith as we realize that we are the objects of God’s love in Christ. Yes, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jno. 3:16). That is the greatness of Christ’s love for you. Live by faith and experience the magnitude of God’s love, and be filled with God’s abundant blessings – the fullness of God (Eph. 1:3).

Rooted and Grounded in Love #790

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17, NKJV)

A spiritual benefit of Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith is to be established (rooted) and strengthened (grounded) in love. A heart void of love is a heart void of Christ. Conversely, with Christ in our hearts, love dictates our thoughts and our actions. Love becomes the driving force behind all we do. Christians are the recipients of the depth and scope of God’s love in Christ. Now, our fellowship with Christ and faith in Him propels us to do everything with love (1 Cor. 16:14). Love is not selfish and self-absorbed, but selfless. Love looks outward to serve God and others, not inward to satisfy self (Gal. 2:20). Take inventory of your heart, and allow the love of God to direct you each step of the way.

That Christ may dwell in your heart #789

that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17, NKJV)

As Paul prays for the saints in Ephesus, his petition turns to their fellowship with Christ. One of the great blessings we have in Christ is His unfailing promise to be with us. The gospel has called us “into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:9). Our relationship with Christ occurred “through faith.” Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, we conclude that without the word of Christ in our hearts He will not dwell there. Is not this why Paul told the Colossians to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16)? Christ will not dwell where His word is not loved and obeyed (see Jno. 14:23). Paul’s prayer, then, is that the Ephesians will have such faith that they will love Christ and keep His word. Through such faith, Christ would dwell in their hearts – and with such faith He will dwell in your heart, too.