Spiritual Strength

that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, (Ephesians 3:16, NKJV)

God has a bountiful storehouse of blessings due to His glorious riches. God’s standard of giving is generous, plentiful to overflowing. Paul was confident that God could abundantly grant the Ephesians his request. He begins by asking the Lord to grant these Christians inward, spiritual strength. The Spirit of God is active in our hearts through the “hearing of faith” (the gospel) to  invigorate our spiritual growth. The Spirit of God have gives us “the pure milk of the word” by which we grow and become strong (1 Pet. 2:2). Physical strength eventually wanes, but our spiritual strength can grow “day by day” until the dawn of eternity (2 Cor. 4:16). Remember to pray for spiritual strength; Strength to reject temptation. Strength to walk as Jesus walked. Strength to examine yourself against God’s standard of truth. And, strength to use the Spirit’s word in your life to be nourished and be strengthened with power to be faithful and true to the Lord.

Heart Posture in Prayer #787

14  For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15  from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named… (Ephesians 3:14–15, NKJV)

In Ephesians 3:14-21, the apostle Paul petitioned God the Father concerning several things on behalf of the Ephesians. We begin to look at his prayer by noticing the posture of Paul’s heart. When he prayed it was with reverent humility. He regarded God as our Progenitor. We live because of Him, therefore, He deserves and commands our respect. When you pray, approach God fully aware that your very existence comes from and depends upon Him. Like parents who listen to a respectful child, our heavenly Father listens to His respectful children. He  has the knowledge, the power and the desire to hear and answer His children’s prayers. Show Him respect and remember your place before Him. Christians who humbly respect God have firm confidence that He hears and answer our prayers.

Parental Instruction #786

10  Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. 11  I have taught you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in right paths. 12  When you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and when you run, you will not stumble. 13  Take firm hold of instruction, do not let go; keep her, for she is your life. (Proverbs 4:10–13, NKJV)

Parental instruction, given in harmony with God’s word, will bless your child. The parenting model that says, “I let my child decide for themselves” will ultimate result in juvenile, even foolish and harmful decisions. (What if the child decides to play in the street?) Children need guidance, they are not “free range” animals, to come and go at will. Teach your child “in the way of wisdom” and lead him or her “in right paths” by your own example of righteousness. Do not hinder your child by given them unclear teaching and ungodly influences. Teach them in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6).

No Impartiality with God #785

For there is no partiality with God.” (Romans 2:11, NKJV)

Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome personified justice with the images of their goddesses holding a set of scales. During more recent centuries, Lady Justice is often sculpted wearing a blindfold, denoting objectivity. Her statue stands at numerous courthouses around the world. You see, everyone wants a fair and impartial judge and jury to sit in judgment of their case. The true and living God is the archetype of impartial judgment. With “righteous judgment” He will “render to each one according to his deeds” (Rom. 2:5-6). He is totally impartial. This certainly renders futile and false the doctrine that God, before times eternal, unconditionally elected some souls for eternal life and others for eternal damnation. This evil doctrine forfeits human freewill, relegates the sovereignty of God to capricious conduct, and assigned partiality in judgment to the Almighty. Rest assured, He will impartially judge us all. Are you ready for the judgment day?

Bread from Heaven #784

So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord. (Deuteronomy 8:3, NKJV)

God allowed Israel to be hungry in the wilderness, before feeding them with manna for forty years. God was teaching them a lesson, one that proved difficult for them to remember. The daily bread from heaven they received taught them dependence on God for their daily bread. But, it taught so much more. Israel’s existence in the promised land depended on them living by every word that came from God’s mouth (Deut. 8:1). Jesus used this verse to withstand the devil’s temptation (Matt. 4:4). Jesus is the “bread of God,” the “living bread” who came down from heaven to give us the food that enables us to live forever (Jno. 6:33-35, 48, 51, 57-58). Like Israel, we must know our hunger for eternal life before we are prepared to partake of the bread of God, Jesus Christ, and live forever. Our hunger for eternal life leads us to know that we only have life when we keep every word of God (Rom. 1:16-17).

“According to your faith” #783

27 When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” 28 And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. (Matthew 9:27–30, NKJV)

We all need mercy, for we have all sinned against God (Rom. 3:23). Yet, it may be that we become too proud to admit we need mercy. Or, we may refuse to go to the right source (Jesus) to obtain mercy. Notably, we will obtain mercy from Jesus like these blind men did – “according to (y)our faith.” Our God is truly merciful, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). But, “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6). Only faith that takes Christ at His word and does whatever He says is the faith that obtains God’s merciful healing of our sins. Faith that obeys Jesus to receive His blessed mercy no more earns one right to be saved than the blind men’s faith earned their right to be healed. When Jesus said, “he who does the will of My Father” shall “enter the kingdom of heaven,” He commanded obedient faith, not a meritorious display of works (Matt. 7:21). May we humbly meet His condition of faith, and thereby access His boundless mercy. It will be done to us according to our faith.

“Let Him Deny Himself” #782

22  … “The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” 23  Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” (Luke 9:22–24, NKJV)

Being a Christian is not a pain-free zone. Jesus Christ, whose name we wear, suffered enormously to secure our redemption. He suffered injustice, ridicule, humiliation, mental anguish and physical torture unto death, despised as a criminal and rejected by men. Yet still, some Christians find it a burden to deny themselves the simplest comfort in order to serve Christ. Let us be clear: We cannot follow Jesus without taking up our cross daily. That means sacrifice. Self-denial. Total faith and complete obedience. To try to follow Jesus without complete self-denial will cause you to lose your life. Only when you lose yourself for His sake, will your life be saved.

Grace and Doctrine #781

Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. (Hebrews 13:9, NKJV)

There is an undeniable, irrefutable connection between being “established by grace” and the doctrine we believe and hold. We are clearly warned against “strange doctrines” precisely because they jeopardize grace rather than establish it. For example, binding food restrictions does not make one firm in grace – just the opposite. Paul commended the Ephesian church elders “to God and to the word of His grace” because it “is able to build you up and give you an inheritance” among the sanctified (Acts 20:32). Grace does not minimize or ignore doctrine. Any teaching that tries to convince you that God’s grace overlooks false doctrine is not “the word of His grace.” Grace and doctrine are not adversaries. Sound doctrine advocates for grace, and grace is sure as we stand “in truth” (Col. 1:6).

Be Strong in Grace #780

You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1–2, NKJV)

The grace of God in which we stand is also the grace in which we must “be strong” (Rom. 5:1-2). This necessarily implies it is possible not to be strong in grace – not because God’s grace is weakened, but by failing to live by faith according to the word of God. Indeed, we can even “fall from grace” by failing to follow God’s word (as some Christians of Galatia did, Gal. 5:4). In order to “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” we must faithfully hear, follow and teach “the word of His grace” which came to us from the apostles (Acts 20:32). Timothy had heard God’s word from Paul; now, he was to teach it to other faithful men (v. 2). We must continue this work of entrusting God’s word to others through by faithfully teaching it. To do so firmly establishes us in the grace of God. Without God’s word one cannot be strong in grace. Any claims to grace without truth is nothing more than an elusive illusion. But, when we abide in truth, His grace is deep and strong (Jno. 8:31-32).

Unworthy of Everlasting Life? #779

45  But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy; and contradicting and blaspheming, they opposed the things spoken by Paul. 46  Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:45–46, NKJV)

Will you judge yourself unworthy of everlasting life? According to the apostle Paul, that depends on your response to the gospel of Jesus Christ that he preached. In the absolute sense of sinless perfection, none of us are worthy (fit) of eternal life, since we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, 9-10). The wages of sin is death, but God’s gift is “eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). In today’s verse, Paul specifically says when people reject the gospel they judge themselves unfit for eternal life. While eternal life is God’s gift, it is not without conditions (Matt. 7:21). To oppose the gospel and to contradict its conditions of salvation is to render a damning judgment against oneself. (The gospel conditions of salvation are to believe, repent, confess faith and be baptized, Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38.) How do you judge yourself in this matter? That depends on whether you accept or reject the apostolic gospel.