The Lord is clothed with strength #1183

1 The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; The Lord is clothed, He has girded Himself with strength. Surely the world is established, so that it cannot be moved. 2 Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting. (Psalm 93:1–2, NKJV)

Although evil man exerts evil power against innocent ones, Jehovah is clothed in the strength of His eternal nature, and is mightier than all. By His might, He created the world, and by His power He maintains it. His sovereign rule over the world will not be deterred by the forces of evil. As America remembers the thousands of lives lost on September 11, 2001, we also recall the power of good that arose from the rubble. The nation united to rebuild and to defend freedom. Christians do well to always remember that our God is clothed in strength, and is always present to defend and to sustain His righteous cause. His protective hand is with us, even when surrounded by evil. Put your trust in the Almighty, who reigns in power from all eternity. Walk by faith; victory over evil is certain in Jesus, the Son of God (1 John 5:4-5).

“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks” #1182

25 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, 26 whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” (Hebrews 12:25–26, NKJV)

There are terrible consequences for rejecting the word of God. The ground shook when God spoke the Ten Commandments to Israel from Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:18). Yet, Israel rejected God’s word, and made a golden calf to worship in direct violation of His commandments (Exodus 20:1-6; 32:1-7). About 3,000 men died that day as punishment for their sin (Exodus 32:28, 34-35). There is an unmistakable lesson for us from this event. We will not escape punishment if we reject God’s word that He has spoken to us from heaven “in His Son,” by the New Testament Scriptures (Hebrews 1:2; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Day of Judgment will remove heaven and earth. Only His kingdom will survive His awesome judgment (Hebrews 12:26-28). The words and wisdom of men will never prepare you to escape divine wrath against sin. But, the gospel of Jesus Christ will; it is God’s power to save you (Romans 1:16). Believe God’s word and obey the Lord Jesus, to “have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).

“Who will stand up for me?” #1181

16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? 17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. 18 If I say, “My foot slips,” Your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. 19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul. (Psalm 94:16–19, NKJV)

The Lord has not promised to remove Christians from the hour of trial and trouble. Indeed, He did not remove His own Son from trouble. Jesus said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour” (John 12:27). God’s purposes are served, even when you are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. God did not abandon His Son, and He will not abandon you. He is our refuge and strength when evildoers press upon us. He delivers us from the depths of despair. His presence, power and mercy delights the soul, especially in the face of unsettling troubles. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” … Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:35, 37).

“Peter followed at a distance” #1180

Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. (Luke 22:54, NKJV)

Earlier that evening, Peter had publicly stated he was ready to go to prison, and die, for Jesus (Lk. 22:33). He had even unsheathed his sword and cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant when Jesus was arrested in Gethsemane (Jno. 18:10). Now, Jesus is led bound to a series of trials, leading to crucifixion, Peter followed to see the end (Matt. 26:58). When tested, three times he denied knowing Jesus. Like Peter, we are not immune to thinking more highly of our faith and conviction than we should. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12; cf. Galatians 6:3). Instead of following Jesus “at a distance,” let us follow Him closely, determining to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

“I press on” #1179

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12–14, NKJV)

Paul had not yet won the prize to which he aspired. He was pressing toward it, chasing after it as one runs to the finish line to win the crown (1 Corinthians 9:24). The prize he sought was “the resurrection of the dead” unto eternal life (Philippians 3:11). Not many years later, he wrote, “I have finished the race…finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day…” (2 Timothy 4:7-8). Paul did not believe in the impossibility of apostasy; He believed in the possibility of faithfulness. He had been forgiven of his past sins – God remembered them no more (Hebrews 10:16-17). So, he would not be hindered by them in his quest. He was “reaching forward to those things which are ahead” – he did not yet hold the prize, he was not “already perfected.” But, he pressed forward, knowing that his crown of righteousness was certain in Christ, as he remained loyal to Him (Philippians 3:8-10). Are you faithfully running your race to attain eternal life? If you will do so, you will be victorious in Christ Jesus.

True Grace, or False Grace? #1178

By Silvanus, our faithful brother as I consider him, I have written to you briefly, exhorting and testifying that this is the true grace of God in which you stand. (1 Peter 5:12, NKJV)

Peter’s first epistle identifies and testifies of the true grace of God in which Christians stand. We take it as axiomatic, that since there is “the true grace of God,” there is also false grace that is not of God. False teachers, by their false gospels, turn people away from the true grace of Christ (Galatians 1:6-9). For instance, the doctrine of irresistible grace offers false grace, since it is evident the grace of God can indeed be resisted through unbelief (Acts 7:51). The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (the impossibility of apostasy) offers false grace, since Scripture says Christians can fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). The doctrine of unity in moral and doctrinal diversity (ecumenism) offers false grace, by allowing one to continue in his sin, while assuring him of grace despite his sins (Romans 6:1-2; 2 John 9-11). On the other hand, the true grace of God provides salvation to all people through the gospel (Titus 2:11-12). It teaches us that, “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.” The “word of His grace” has power to save (Acts 20:32). But, only when we access God’s grace through an obedient faith in Christ (read Romans 5:1-2; 6:17-18).

Apostolic teaching is the word of God #1177

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13, NKJV)

Far too many who declare the Bible to be the word of God, say the apostolic letters are just their opinions. This was not at all the attitude and reaction given the words of the apostle Paul when he preached in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4). The apostle Paul was thankful the Thessalonians had received his preaching as the true word of God. The word preached by the apostles are in fact, “the word of God,” the truth of the Almighty. It is that very word that works powerfully in believers to save and to transform lives (Romans 12:1-2). The New Testament is not a record of human opinions, it is the very word of God. We must believe, respect and obey the teachings of Christ’s apostles, or God’s word will not work in our lives. To minimize the apostolic writings as merely their opinions belies a failure to distinguish between the uninspired words of men, and the inspired, authoritative, powerful word of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Words of a Talebearer #1176

20 Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases. 21 As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife. 22 The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, and they go down into the inmost body. (Proverbs 26:20–22, NKJV)

An entire industry exists to peddle gossip. From People magazine, to TMZ website, to E! News (whose byline is, “Your source for entertainment news, celebrities, celeb news, and celebrity gossip”) – millions and millions of dollars are spent on “tasty trifles” about the “rich and famous” (or, infamous). Gossip is a sin that causes division and strife (1 Peter 4:15). It spreads rumors that harm reputations and destroys relationships. It expresses a cowardly heart, backbiting, but rarely actually facing the person being smeared. The way to stop gossip is not to give it fuel; do not listen to the gossiper. Remember, the person who gossips to you about someone, is also more than likely gossiping about you to someone else. Gossip is an evil that will only stop when the heart is purified of its malice, and kindness is put in its place (Ephesians 4:31-32). That requires godly sorrow, producing repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Blessed Mercy #1175

1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1–2, NKJV)

Sin is real. So is God’s forgiveness. Sadly, many refuse God’s forgiveness because they refuse to acknowledge their sin and its spiritual impact on them. And so, they continue in sin’s sorrow. It need not be so. In today’s passage, the Spirit of God gave David three Hebrew words to use in contemplation of the blessedness of divine mercy: transgression, sin and iniquity. “Transgression” is a revolt or rebellion against God and His will. “Sin,” as used here, is an offense against God. “Iniquity” is perversity, moral evil, lawlessness. There is no blessing when we live in rebellion against God, offending His will with our evil attitude and actions. Sin causes eternal death, but God’s gift is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). “By grace, through faith,” God will forgive your sins in the Son (Ephesians 2:8). Jesus “gave Himself for our sins,” “the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 3:18). Admit your sins. Come to Jesus Christ in faith, do His will, and you will have the blessedness of God’s forgiveness (read Acts 2:37-41).

“We do not lose heart” #1174

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. (2 Corinthians 4:1, NKJV)

The apostles of Jesus Christ were commissioned by Him to preach the gospel to the world (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15). As they did their work, they were “ministers of the new covenant” (2 Corinthians 3:6). Their service to Christ and to the world was certainly motivated by the merciful forgiveness they had received under the new covenant. But also, God’s mercy continued to be with them as they served His will. And so, Paul could boldly say, “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Christian, do not lose heart and faint as you fulfill the service the Lord has given you. You live in the mercy of God (Galatians 6:16)! Be patient and endure the trials that test and purify your faith. As the Master came to serve, even so He calls on you to persevere and have patience, and do not become weary as you labor for His name’s sake (Revelation 2:3).