Working Out

www.bible.com/72/php.2.12.hcsb

As many of us have undertaken a Nee Year’s resolution or two to do some self-improvement, may I remind you not to neglect this one.

While we are saved through the blood of Jesus, and enjoy His grace and mercy through His love, there is also a need to work out our salvation, making the effects of our salvation sure, by practicing our faith, our love for one another, and participating in the body of believers.

Don’t neglect this part of your salvation, the part that reaches out to others. God bless you today!

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In a Nutshell

www.bible.com/72/gal.5.14.hcsb

The whole law, all 613 elements of it, can be fulfilled by obeying this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” So, yeah, I guess that’s it for today.

P. S. – a note about “as yourself”.

So this verse unwittingly has become the foundation of the self-love movement, as The Scripture says here to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Inherent in this understanding is the concept of self-love. But let me tell you the difference between what is call self-love and what is here in this verse.

Self-love is about satisfying the self, exalting the self, and giving place to self when other’s have needs too. I may be exaggerating a bit, but this is where the self-love movement eventually ends up.

By contrast, this verse is talking about selfishness. It’s the same as self-live because it is self-interest, which everyone has. It is a natural inclination to preserve ourselves, take care of ourselves and protect ourselves. We really don’t need any Scripture telling us to do this. Besides, Scripture is not saying we need to live ourselves here. We already do that very well. What is is saying is that we need to love others with that same level of self-interest. We don’t do that naturally and Scripture offers a boost here, a moral compulsion if you will. Our natural self-love needs to be turned outward, and as such, when we do this, we fulfill the law.

It isn’t natural. It’s supernatural. God bless!

Animated

www.bible.com/72/jas.1.17.hcsb

I’ve always been fascinated with the ability of artists and playwrights to take a story and bring it to life, whether on stage or screen. What begins as words on a page become full-fledged reality with the hiring of actors and interpretations of characters. Yet even here, the actors are not given free reign. The are told and instructed by the Director, who is informed by the larger story to help each actor act according to their character in the story so that the story makes sense.

In turn, we find in Scripture that there is a Director guiding us and leading us on the story He has written. Much as a Director guides the lighting and the staging for a play, so The Director of All is the Father of Lights and gives gifts to us to encourage us to follow His story. When we follow the Direction of God, the story makes more sense. When we take our characters and freely interpret them to our choosing, there is chaos. When we go “off-script” it may be fun for a while, but we find that getting back is much harder. When we write our own story, we find that it is meaningless. God has a much greater story for us to be a part of.

God bless you today, and may you find your role in God’s story.

Listen

www.bible.com/72/mat.11.15.hcsb

Do you have ears? Seems obvious doesn’t it? But it’s not. Having ears enables you to hear. But there is a vast gulf between hearing and listening. Sounds occur all around us, even if we are deaf. As humans, we have the ability to filter our soundscape to focus in on those things we want to focus on, whether it be someone’s voice, the sound of a door opening at night, a tv program, or the sound of breathing of a dying loved one.

Jesus’ call to ears (calling a part for the whole) is to those who have ears to hear, ears to discern the signal from the noise. His call is to minds that can filter out the junk and the useless and focus on what’s important. His call is for the gospel to find its way in you, the good news that we can stop laboring to earn our salvation, our need to “get right with God”, for God has already paid the price for sin. He both calls us and justifies us.

Bask this morning in the joy that our struggle is over. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, receive His free gift of salvation. But you need to hear it, for “faith comes by hearing”. Listen.

God bless.

Trust

bible.com/72/jer.17.7.hcsb

Seems to be a word that we throw around quite a bit. Trust your doctor. Trust your government. Don’t trust anyone. What does it mean? This verse says that trust and confidence are similar ideas. The one who trusts in the Lord has his confidence in the Lord. Hmmm.

First, are you totally dependent on the Lord? Maybe the Lord doesn’t fix you breakfast in the morning, or brush your teeth, but I have met people recently for whom even these simple tasks were impossible. They needed caregivers to do these things for them. Trust can involve total dependence.

Second, realizing that you can’t do it on your own. We think we can do many things without help, and the Lord made us to be able to. But there are some things, big and important things like paying for grace that we cannot do. Only the blood of Christ can do that. Trust includes this kind of understanding.

Third, understanding that you are not God. I know. While we want to be God’s counselors sometimes, giving Him our opinion about certain things, in the end we have to acknowledge that we don’t know everything. We don’t know why bad things happen. But they do, and whether God permits them or uses them to chasten is we may not know, but trust is letting God be God, and us keeping our place as limited human beings.

Fourth, submission. Like the serenity prayer, we accept the things we cannot change, and let God have the final say. Even when something looks really inviting, even tempting and God says NO, we must be willing to submit to His wisdom and trust His word. We acknowledge that God does know whats’s best for us, even when we are sure we know better. We trust His commands for our lives.

Lastly, trace through your life in all the lessons He has taught you, all the times you’ve trusted Him. Has God been faithful? Has He kept His promises to you? Have you been blessed and been better off obeying than ignoring? Remember His kindnesses to you, and His record of faithfulness. This will help you trust him for your future.

Trust is being totally dependent, realizing helplessness, understanding your limitations, submitting to His will, and tracing His track record in your life. Trust is all of these things, and probably more. But that’s enough for this morning. We’ve got a day to work out our salvation.

God bless you today.

Come Back

bible.com/72/isa.55.6-7.hcsb

This is the simple plea of God.

God loves you, no matter what you have done. I believe there is nothing you can do to invalidate that. The people of Israel had wandered off multiple times, and they had the promises, the miracles, the prophets all to remind them of the truth of God, His immediate presence and power. And yet they still rebelled, and required an Isaiah to call them back again. Still, God was merciful to them, still patiently called them to come back to him.

Now we, who have the resurrection of Christ as our proof, the providence of God as our constant witness, and the presence of the church as our reminder receive the same call as those ancient Israelites. Come back. We have wandered far from home. Come back. If if you have never known God, He knows you. Come back home.

God bless you today.