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Theology => General Theology => Topic started by: nChrist on September 26, 2003, 02:59:50 AM



Title: Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on September 26, 2003, 02:59:50 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to All,

I'd like to invite you to share a thought or a portion of scripture here. It would be nice if we could share without disagreement or debate. Let's at least try.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on September 26, 2003, 03:05:36 AM
A Rainbow - Contrasts & Comparisons

(Genesis 9:13)  I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
(Genesis 9:14)  And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
(Genesis 9:15)  And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

============

This is an interesting portion of Scripture, especially when you consider the contrasts and comparisons throughout the Bible. The bow spoken of here is a rainbow, a sign of great beauty and majesty. However, it is also a token of Almighty God's Covenant that He will never again destroy all flesh on the earth with flood.

One of the contrasts pertains to the bow as a weapon. This bow is seen in the clouds, and it is pointed toward heaven. Almighty God refers to the rainbow as "His bow". The next time you see a rainbow, stop and admire "God's bow". The overwhelming beauty is hard to describe, the colors, the radiance, the peace, and the sign. What could be said about the colors in the rainbow and the shape of the rainbow? We already know that the bow points toward heaven, and it doesn't contain an arrow. The ends of the bow are pointed toward the earth, and the colors of fire can be easily seen. Almighty God will never again destroy the earth with flood, but what about fire?

One of the comparisons regards the rainbow in describing great beauty, majesty, splendor, glory, and power. It is used in the Holy Bible in trying to describe the impossible to imagine. One should never separate beauty and power when the rainbow is used as a description in the Holy Bible. For the same reasons, one should never separate peace and destruction when the rainbow is used as a description.

(Ezekiel 1:28)  As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

(Revelation 4:3)  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

(Revelation 10:1)  And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: ebia on September 26, 2003, 03:22:10 AM
A Rainbow - Contrasts & Comparisons

(Genesis 9:13)  I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
(Genesis 9:14)  And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
(Genesis 9:15)  And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.

============

This is an interesting portion of Scripture, especially when you consider the contrasts and comparisons throughout the Bible. The bow spoken of here is a rainbow, a sign of great beauty and majesty. However, it is also a token of Almighty God's Covenant that He will never again destroy all flesh on the earth with flood.

One of the contrasts pertains to the bow as a weapon. This bow is seen in the clouds, and it is pointed toward heaven. Almighty God refers to the rainbow as "His bow". The next time you see a rainbow, stop and admire "God's bow". The overwhelming beauty is hard to describe, the colors, the radiance, the peace, and the sign. What could be said about the colors in the rainbow and the shape of the rainbow? We already know that the bow points toward heaven, and it doesn't contain an arrow. The ends of the bow are pointed toward the earth, and the colors of fire can be easily seen. Almighty God will never again destroy the earth with flood, but what about fire?

One of the comparisons regards the rainbow in describing great beauty, majesty, splendor, glory, and power. It is used in the Holy Bible in trying to describe the impossible to imagine. One should never separate beauty and power when the rainbow is used as a description in the Holy Bible. For the same reasons, one should never separate peace and destruction when the rainbow is used as a description.

(Ezekiel 1:28)  As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

(Revelation 4:3)  And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

(Revelation 10:1)  And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire:

In Christ,
Tom
See the rainbow and praise its Maker,
    so superbly beautiful in its splendour.
Across the sky it forms a glorious arc
    drawn by the hands of the Most High.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Allinall on September 26, 2003, 03:23:43 AM
I think as believers we tend to watch out for the "big" things in life.  That is, we tend to bother ourselves with the blatantly obvious sins that could beset us.  And this is good!  But I'm reminded of Song of Solomon 2:15...

Quote
Catch the foxes for us,
   the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
   for our vineyards are in blossom."

It's not always the "lion" that does the devouring.  Sometimes there are little foxes that whittle us away.  Just a thought...


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: sincereheart on September 26, 2003, 06:44:17 AM
It would be nice if we could share without disagreement or debate.

Now there's a nice thought!  ;)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Symphony on September 26, 2003, 09:05:06 AM

Yes, a rainbow is wonderful to see.


Scientifically, just a refraction of light through watery mist.

But it's interesting to see what scripture says about just "light"--which a rainbow is dependent on.

Maybe someone here could give us some examples from scripture as to what "light"(hehe) is...

For starters, just an observation, Everything that we "see", is really just the light rays that we see.

We don't actually "see" the object.  We see just the light rays reflected off that object.

     :-[



Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Heidi on September 26, 2003, 09:30:08 AM
My favorite passage in scripture is "The believer's Freedom" in Romans where Paul says "everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial." This describes what Christ has done for us on the cross in a nutshell. We, as believers, can do ANYTHING we want and we are forgiven. But is it beneficial? Is it helping or hurting us? This is complete and total freedom because since we are no longer bound by law to get into heaven, the law is only used for our benefit rather than a necessity. It thus makes us DESIRE to go God's way instead of being bound to the law. We are then free from baondage and can feel His presence even if we are in a wordly prison.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Corpus on September 26, 2003, 09:43:55 AM
Very nice thread BEP.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Left Coast on September 26, 2003, 11:12:40 AM
I remember the first time I decided to read the bible all the way through. One of my favorite moments happened when I ran into the Golden Oldies Channel.
I’m a retired hippy, anybody else remember the 60’s.

Ecclesiastes 3:1  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:2  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Ecclesiastes 3:3  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Ecclesiastes 3:4  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 3:5  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
Ecclesiastes 3:6  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
Ecclesiastes 3:7  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Ecclesiastes 3:8  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

It’s still hard not to add all the ‘turn, turn’s to it.
I have a lot of favorite verses, and this is still one.
I think I'll go stick a flower in my hair. :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on September 26, 2003, 12:16:30 PM
Oklahoma Howdy to All,

Thanks brothers and sisters. I received a blessing from your posts and plan to do further study on the portions of Scripture mentioned. It is interesting to hear how His Holy Word touches and inspires us. There is incredible beauty in His Word, more than sufficient for all of us to partake.

"Light" is a massive topic. Thanks Symphony. I would love to see some thoughts on light. Thanks Left Coast for sharing "A Time". Yes, I was there in the 50's and 60's. Heidi, thanks for your thoughts on freedom and bondage. This is a massive and fascinating topic in His Word. Allinall, thanks for your thoughts about "the little foxes" and what besets all of God's children in our walk with HIM.

I hope that others will join in and share.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Heidi on September 26, 2003, 12:33:28 PM
I think we should keep this thread so that whenever we are having a bad day, we can look at all the beautiful quotes and remember why we're here.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on September 26, 2003, 02:24:50 PM
Turning to God:

What can be said about a nation or an individual if God is with them? What can be said about us if we turn to the Lord of hosts only during times of tribulation and affliction? Should we expect the blessings of the Lord our God when we turn away from him, away from the light and into the paths of darkness? Could it be said that many nations and individuals find affliction and despair on the paths of darkness? Please see the following Scriptures that paint a picture about the weakness and despair of men and nations in contrast to the mercy, grace, and love of the Lord of hosts.

(Zechariah 1:3)  Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

(Joel 2:13)  And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

(James 4:8)  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

(Micah 7:19)  He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

(1 Peter 1:24)  For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
(1 Peter 1:25)  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

We are weak, but HE is strong. If God be for us, who can stand against us. The Lord our God is ever Faithful to his children. He reaches out His Hand, full of GRACE AND TRUTH. He gives us HIS WORD to guide us, strengthen us, and comfort us during our short journey on earth. HE promises HIS children eternity with HIM in glory. We have need of a Saviour, and HE LIVES. We have need for forgiveness. If we confess our sins, HE is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. As nations and as individuals, we should turn to the SAVIOUR, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: ollie on September 26, 2003, 03:29:49 PM
I remember the first time I decided to read the bible all the way through. One of my favorite moments happened when I ran into the Golden Oldies Channel.
I’m a retired hippy, anybody else remember the 60’s.

Ecclesiastes 3:1  To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
Ecclesiastes 3:2  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
Ecclesiastes 3:3  A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
Ecclesiastes 3:4  A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
Ecclesiastes 3:5  A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
Ecclesiastes 3:6  A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
Ecclesiastes 3:7  A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
Ecclesiastes 3:8  A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

It’s still hard not to add all the ‘turn, turn’s to it.
I have a lot of favorite verses, and this is still one.
I think I'll go stick a flower in my hair. :)
"I think I'll go stick a flower in my hair"
"Are you going to San Francisco?"
 ;)


A much more serious reflection:
Psalms 118

 1.  O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
 2.  Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
 3.  Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
 4.  Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
 5.  I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.
 6.  The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?
 7.  The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.
 8.  It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
 9.  It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.
 10.  All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.
 11.  They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
 12.  They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.
 13.  Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.
 14.  The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.
 15.  The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
 16.  The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.
 17.  I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
 18.  The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.
 19.  Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:
 20.  This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.
 21.  I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.
 22.  The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
 23.  This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
 24.  This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
 25.  Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.
 26.  Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.
 27.  God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.
 28.  Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.
 29.  O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Whitehorse on September 26, 2003, 04:20:55 PM
Left Coast, that's what my spouse and I selected for our scripture before we got married.

Thought for the day. Well, I had a very difficult situation a few years back. Impossible to resolve by any of man's standards. I was reading about what Jesus said, about prayer, about believing. I thought, have a mountain throw itself into the sea? That's some powerful language. And I think adults tend to forget the power of their faith. So I decided to just believe, and asked for the most ridiculous thing.

And received what I asked for, resolving the problem.

A year ago I was getting my hair cut, and my spouse wanted to stop into a second hand store, just to see what was in there. We found a T-shirt from a movie I've never seen, called Mission Impossible. That's what the shirt said on the sleeves.

The front of the shirt said, "Expect the Impossible." Underneath there was the symbol for Apple Computers. It was an apple, with a bite taken out of it, but in rainbow colors. I don't know what that means to Apple, but to me it means sin, and redemption. A bitten apple and a rainbow covering the apple. Is not forgiveness from God, by our own power, the truly impossible mission? But when we come to God for forgiveness, He does exactly that. The impossible. And it isn't just in redemption, but in every situation, that He is capable. And many times He is willing to do just that. I had proof of what I formerly had no proof of. I had to believe first. Then God showed me the truth of what I believed. One person even mocked me for the sheer impossibility of my prayer. But Jesus accomplished the Mission Impossible. And that's why He's just the one for every impossible thing we ask in accordance with the will of God.

Don't we always explore the possibilities? Maybe we should spend more time exploring the impossibilities.

I bought the shirt.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Willowbirch on September 26, 2003, 05:22:11 PM
I think we should keep this thread so that whenever we are having a bad day, we can look at all the beautiful quotes and remember why we're here.
That sounds beautiful!  :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: sincereheart on September 26, 2003, 06:42:45 PM
A refrigerator reminder for me:  :)

THANK God for what you have.....
TRUST God for what you need.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Willowbirch on September 26, 2003, 06:56:08 PM
 ;D And another nice thought: Do you remember the passage in scripture where God tells David that he's the apple of his eye?

A doctor/preacher shared some rainbow on the verse recently; he didn't say anything I didn't already know, but he said it in a way I hadn't thought of before.

The "apple" of our eye is our pupil; the Hebrew word was "Hepple" (I KNOW I didn't spell that right, lol. That's just the way it sounds).

The protective reflexes in our eyes are so strong that they are the very last things to go when we are dead. If the doctor brushes your pupil with a tissue and you don't blink...you're gone.

God cares for us so much, that he protects (keeps) us as the apple of His eye. No one could harm us or snatch us away. Only death could cause Him to leave us, and He has defeated death.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: sincereheart on September 27, 2003, 09:14:44 AM
When was the last time you laughed for the sheer joy of your salvation? People are not attracted to somber doctrines. There is no persuasive power in a gloomy and morbid religion. Let the world see your joy and you won't be able to keep them away. To be filled with God is to be filled with joy.
~Anonymous


Title: Grrrr....
Post by: Symphony on September 27, 2003, 09:22:05 AM

(http://www.addamsfamily.com/addams/lurchtvlg.jpg)


    :-X


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Willowbirch on September 27, 2003, 11:11:30 AM
Another well-timed sighting of Lurch.  ;D


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Mr. 5020 on September 27, 2003, 01:31:23 PM
I received a foward my my little sister a while back.  It's a nice perspective.

Quote
I AM THANKFUL

FOR THE WIFE
WHO SAYS IT'S HOT DOGS TONIGHT,
BECAUSE SHE IS HOME WITH ME,
AND NOT OUT WITH SOMEONE ELSE.

FOR THE HUSBAND
WHO IS ON THE SOFA
BEING A COUCH POTATO,
BECAUSE HE IS HOME WITH ME
AND NOT OUT AT THE BARS.

FOR THE TEENAGER
WHO IS COMPLAINING ABOUT DOING DISHES
BECAUSE THAT MEANS SHE IS AT HOME,
NOT ON THE STREETS.

FOR THE TAXES
THAT I PAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT
I AM EMPLOYED.

FOR THE MESS
TO CLEAN AFTER A PARTY
BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT I HAVE
BEEN SURROUNDED BY FRIENDS.

FOR THE CLOTHES
THAT FIT A LITTLE TOO SNUG
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I HAVE ENOUGH TO EAT.

FOR MY SHADOW
THAT WATCHES ME WORK
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I AM OUT IN THE SUNSHINE.

FOR A LAWN
THAT NEEDS MOWING,
WINDOWS THAT NEED CLEANING,
AND GUTTERS THAT NEED FIXING
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE A HOME.

FOR ALL THE COMPLAINING
I HEAR ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT
BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT
WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH.

FOR THE PARKING SPOT
I FIND AT THE FAR END OF THE PARKING LOT
BECAUSE IT MEANS I AM CAPABLE OF WALKING
AND THAT I HAVE BEEN
BLESSED WITH TRANSPORTATION.

FOR MY HUGE HEATING BILL
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I AM WARM.

FOR THE LADY
BEHIND ME IN CHURCH
THAT SINGS OFF KEY
BECAUSE IT MEANS
THAT I CAN HEAR.

FOR THE PILE
OF LAUNDRY AND IRONING
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I HAVE CLOTHES TO WEAR.

FOR WEARINESS
AND ACHING MUSCLES
AT THE END OF THE DAY
BECAUSE IT MEANS
I HAVE BEEN
CAPABLE OF WORKING HARD.

FOR THE ALARM
THAT GOES OFF
IN THE EARLY MORNING HOURS
BECAUSE IT MEANS THAT I AM ALIVE.

AND FINALLY...
FOR TOO MUCH E-MAIL
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE
FRIENDS WHO ARE THINKING OF ME.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Symphony on September 27, 2003, 08:58:07 PM

Mmm, some very good points there, 5020.  


'Cept maybe the last one:  AND FINALLY...
FOR TOO MUCH E-MAIL
BECAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE
FRIENDS WHO ARE THINKING OF ME.



Much of the email I'm getting(spam), I'm not sure I'd call them friends!

But good post.  Thanks.



Title: Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation & Humility
Post by: nChrist on October 03, 2003, 06:29:01 AM
Hoekstra Devotional - October 3

Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation and Humility:

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men" . . . everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  (Luk_18:11, Luk_18:14)

The importance of Jesus' teaching in our present verse can be seen in its being repeated on various occasions (Mat_23:12 and Luk_14:11). The instruction sets forth the universal inevitability of contrasting results for self-exaltation and humility. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

This particular proclamation of the message was given in a parable that warns against self-righteousness and encourages humility. "He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (Luk_18:9). The contrasting examples in the parable are the prayers of a self-assured religious leader and a repentant publican. "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector" (Luke 18:10). When the self-righteous Pharisee prayed, he was actually having a personal dialogue with himself, even though he vainly addressed his prayer to God?! "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself" (Luk_18:11). He then appears to begin his prayer in a biblical manner, with an expression of thanksgiving. "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Phi_4:6). However, his gratitude was based upon the ungodly assumption that he was innately better than others, particularly, this nearby publican. "God, I thank You that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector" (Luk_18:11). Then, he proceeded to elaborate upon his own virtues by reviewing his religious performance, which obviously seemed very impressive to him. "I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess" (Luk_18:12).

This self-righteous Pharisee was so assured of his good standing with God. Yet, he was measuring himself by his own eyes and in comparison to others. The scriptures that he would claim as his guide condemned such self-righteousness. "There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness" (Pro_30:12). Although man may have been impressed with his external behavior, God saw the abomination of his godless heart. "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luk_16:15).

Dear Lord, I am so grateful that the blood of Christ washes away the times when I have talked or thought — or, even prayed — like this self-righteousness Pharisee. Help me to humbly embrace Your perspective, not man's, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: More - Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation & Humility
Post by: nChrist on October 04, 2003, 09:49:31 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 4

More on Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation and Humility

And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!" . . . everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  (Luk_18:13-14)

Our present meditation continues Jesus' parable that warns against self-righteousness and encourages lowliness of mind. In this teaching, the Lord declares contrasting results for self-exaltation and humility. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." The contrasting examples in the parable are the prayers of a vainglorious religious leader and a contrite publican.

The Pharisee's prayer was addressed to himself and was filled with glorying about himself. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men . . . I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess' " (Luk_18:11-12). In stark contrast to this arrogant, feigned prayer, the tax collector would not so much as lift his countenance toward heaven. Instead, he pounded his guilt-ridden chest, humbly pleading for mercy. "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner'!" His attitude was like David, who knew he could not withstand the righteous judgment of God. "Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is righteous" (Psa_143:2).

These two men (who both appeared to be praying to God) faced drastically differing results. "I tell you, this man [the humble publican] went down to his house justified rather than the other [the self-righteous religious leader]" (Luk_18:14). The self-exalting Pharisee was abased. He was dishonored before God and confirmed in his guilty, unrepentant state. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased." The humble tax collector was exalted. Through humble dependence, he was raised up to the blessed realm of justification. "To him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Rom_4:5). He was declared not guilty, forgiven, righteous in God's sight. "He who humbles himself will be exalted."

Lord God, I deserve to be abased for the times I have exalted myself in Your sight. I want to take my stand with this repentant tax collector. I want to humble myself before You, pleading Your mercy. I hope in You to lift me up to new realms of obedience, godly growth, and service, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.


Title: The Light of Salvation
Post by: nChrist on October 04, 2003, 11:28:46 PM
Titus 2:11  For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
Titus 2:12  Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;
Titus 2:13  Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

This is a beautiful portion of Scripture. Many illustrations and comparisons could be made here, but I want to mention only one, "LIGHT".

The Grace of God that bringeth Salvation is a "LIGHT" to a dark and dying world. The children of darkness and despair are invited to the "LIGHT" and offered a new life and inheritance as an adopted child of God.

If we accept the "LIGHT", the "LIGHT" lives in us and should shine through us to a dark and dying world. The "LIGHT" is a testimony through us and we are charged to avoid the things of darkness so as to burn brightly as children of the "LIGHT". This is difficult and we can't do it alone, but there is help from the Holy Spirit, the armour of "LIGHT", and HIS HOLY WORD on this journey.

Our hope is "LIGHT" as glory is "LIGHT", and we look for the glorious appearing of the "LIGHT", the Great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Left Coast on October 05, 2003, 01:13:32 AM

If we accept the "LIGHT", the "LIGHT" lives in us and should shine through us to a dark and dying world.

I am sorry but it is impossible for a baby to "accept" the light.
Other than that I liked where you were going.

Psalms 119:105  NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

One of my favorite verses.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 05, 2003, 03:30:54 AM

If we accept the "LIGHT", the "LIGHT" lives in us and should shine through us to a dark and dying world.

I am sorry but it is impossible for a baby to "accept" the light.
Other than that I liked where you were going.

Psalms 119:105  NUN. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

One of my favorite verses.

Oklahoma Howdy to Left Coast,

Brother, I'm not sure that I understand what you mean. By the way, that is also one of my favorite Scriptures.

It's been a long time since I've studied specific issues about the Salvation of babies. Many things changed at the CROSS WITH THE BLOOD OF JESUS. It is true that a baby is born with a sin nature, but the baby has not committed sin nor could be accountable for sin. I've always been taught that if a baby dies, the baby belongs to Jesus and goes directly to Jesus. I know that I remember THE CROSS AND ACCOUNTABILITY being the two key issues with babies in death.

I'll be happy to get more specific information for you if you want me to. I'm going to be pretty busy with 2 grandsons, both babies, over the next day or two. The oldest one is just starting to talk. Unless there is something in the Bible I don't know about, both babies belong to Jesus if anything happens to them.

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Left Coast on October 05, 2003, 12:16:31 PM
BEP
When you watch those two grandbabies remember that being angry, self-centered, coveting, greedy, etc. are all sins.  See Psalms 58:3-4.
I remember when my children were babies and I would catch them doing something wrong, they would run with their hands on their diapers knowing they would get a swat. Babies know right from wrong.
Babies need the savior also. Fortunately because salvation is NOT based on anything we do and is 100% Gods action babies are saved.
One of my favorite stories in the scripture is Jesus and the little children.  

Matthew 19:13  Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them.
Matthew 19:14  But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.

Unfortunately so many churches today put the children in nurseries away from the saving word of God.
I want grandchildren too, but I can’t get my sons married. My daughters are too young. I am afraid it will take my sons as long as it took me, I’d be 60 before I have any grandchildren.
Have a good time; enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.



Title: Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Godly Exaltation
Post by: nChrist on October 06, 2003, 05:44:21 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 6

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Godly Exaltation

He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Phi_2:8-11)

There is an ungodly, self-sufficient exaltation that leads to defeat and dishonor. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased" (Luk_18:14). On the other hand, there is a godly, self-denying humility that leads to a proper exaltation. "He who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luk_18:14). We saw in our previous meditation that Jesus was the ultimate example of humility. Here, we see that He is also the ultimate example of godly exaltation.

Jesus humbly surrendered Himself to the will of the Father that our salvation might be secured through His atoning death. "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." The results were glorious.  God's great salvation was purchased for man, and God's Son was greatly exalted. "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name." First, Jesus was raised victoriously from the dead and seated at the Father's right hand, being granted the name above all names. "He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph_1:20). Some day He will return triumphantly. "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war" (Rev_19:11). Finally, He will rule forever sovereignly. " Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end . . . to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever" (Isa_9:7).

Those who must be forced to bow at the end will be separated from Him forever. Those who humbly bow and confess Him now will be exalted now (that is, "lifted up" now into heavenly realms of forgiveness, blessing, growth, and fruitfulness). Eventually, they will enter into His eternal exaltation (joint-heirs with Christ, serving Him forever)! The pathway is humility. He humbled Himself, yet, will rule eternally. We humble ourselves before Him now, yet we reign with Him forever!

Lord Jesus, what an amazing path You walked — from humble servanthood to a heavenly throne. What a grand exaltation will be Yours forever. What an astounding joy to know that I will join You in that exaltation, serving You eternally. Lord, I humble myself before You anew. Make me You faithful servant now while I await the glorious privilege that is coming, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Allinall on October 07, 2003, 06:50:55 AM
Amen Tom!  I've posted this before, but the depth of that humility is what amazes me.  We are told in scriptures that all things made where made by Jesus, and upheld by Him as well.  I floors me how He Who made all things humbled Himself to be made, and even set aside the glory that was His, submitting Himself to be upheld - submitting Himself to die.  And not just any death, but the death of a criminal - the death of the cross!  Supreme perfection, and innocence being treated as though He had guilt, and even becoming sin - for me.  Humility like that deserves the glory that God has heaped and will heap even more upon Him.  Nice thought Tom.  Thank you!


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: smartinez1984 on October 07, 2003, 09:09:16 AM
My father was a pastor of a church from before I was born until I was about 20 years old. He was an uneducated man and the church he pastored was a Spanish-speaking, 20-ish member congregation housed in a 100'ish year-old building. I went from sleeping under the pews to playing guitar to eventually rebelling and leaving the church altogether.

I learned to read, speak, and write fluent Spanish by default, all the services were in Spanish, and I learned many historical things from the bible through my years in church.

However, I never understood how precious that book really is, at least not until 37 years later, the year my father passed away. I had been away from the church for so long, filled with hatred because of what I believed was a hypocritical religion that had taken the sight of my mother and the health of my father. My mother lost her sight due to glaucoma simply because she believed in faith healing and never went to the doctors until it was too late.

I could never understand how my father had put his life into the church, never failing, never backing down even though he was eventually too ill to care for the flock. He passed away 2 1/2 years ago after suffering horrendously through 2 heart attacks, a stroke, and lung cancer.

That same year I cried and began to search for answers. I found the dusty, taped-up bible, that my father owned for many years, so many of the pages just sitting in the bible, no longer held together by the original glue. His handwriting, in Spanish, misspelled words all over the place, was found on almost every single page of the bible.

I began to read and this time I began to LISTEN to what I was reading. The whole time I was telling God in my heart "I need to know what this is all about, what YOU are all about, I want to know YOU, I want to find the TRUTH about YOU"... and I read on and on...

I was frustrated, hurt... and then I came across this scripture:

Proverbs 2:1-5

1 Ά My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
2  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
 3  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
 4  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
 5  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
 
And so I continue to seek today. I've asked questions on this website in hopes of garnering wisdom from those of you who have gained wisdom and understanding and I pray that someday I'll be able to match ya'lls depth of understanding. But, until then, and even if I never get there, I will continue to seek because, if not here, then THERE, I will eventually understand...

God Bless,

-Samson


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Whitehorse on October 07, 2003, 09:09:41 AM
Babies are born with a sin nature, which means they do sin. Because they are not old enough to manifest it in ways big enough that we really see the problem, we tend to think they don't sin. But even our thoughts and emotions can be sinful. If something goes well for a good friend, are we happy for them, or do we try to outdo them, or do we get angry? How we handle this example is a matter of sin and righteousness. Two babies in the same crib can step on each other or fight over the same toy. This is sin. But in His mercy, God does not let them grow faster than they can be trained out of this. (They can't be trained out of sin altogether, or out of their sin natures, obviously. But they can be taught to live according to the Holy Spirit. ) Can you imagine if children were born tall enough to reach the door handle, tall enough to see over the dashboard, with the physical coordination of an adult...and then turn two?

Anyway: thought for the day:

What you worship is what you will become. Bob Coy


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2003, 10:29:28 AM
Amen Tom!  I've posted this before, but the depth of that humility is what amazes me.  We are told in scriptures that all things made where made by Jesus, and upheld by Him as well.  I floors me how He Who made all things humbled Himself to be made, and even set aside the glory that was His, submitting Himself to be upheld - submitting Himself to die.  And not just any death, but the death of a criminal - the death of the cross!  Supreme perfection, and innocence being treated as though He had guilt, and even becoming sin - for me.  Humility like that deserves the glory that God has heaped and will heap even more upon Him.  Nice thought Tom.  Thank you!

Oklahoma Howdy to Allinall,

Brother, you are most welcome. It's hard for the unsaved to understand this precious truth. There are also some who make fun of this GIFT and ask why HE didn't use his mighty power to subdue HIS adversaries. The answer is in HIS MATCHLESS GRACE and a LOVE that is above all that mankind can imagine. Thanks be unto God for HIS unspeakable GIFT!

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2003, 10:51:14 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to Smartinez1984,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts - I enjoyed your post. There is more than enough in the Holy Bible for many lifetimes of study. All of the answers we really need for our lives are there. It is indeed the LIVING WORD, and it speaks to God's children through the Holy Spirit when we study the timeless TRUTH.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2003, 11:04:11 AM
Can you imagine if children were born tall enough to reach the door handle, tall enough to see over the dashboard, with the physical coordination of an adult...and then turn two?

Anyway: thought for the day:

What you worship is what you will become. Bob Coy

Oklahoma Howdy to Whitehorse,

Thanks for sharing this with us. I just spent some time with my grandsons, and the oldest will be 3 in December. I had a big chuckle with that last sentence in trying to imagine such a two year old toddler. To say that I had fun with them would be an understatement. I give thanks that they have parents who are bringing them up in the precious TRUTHS of JESUS.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Jabez on October 07, 2003, 11:10:01 AM
"Just a Thought"

I play semi-pro football,and this weekend sunday was the NFC championship game,as i sat there getting  dressed and ready i felt i didnt belong not because i wasnt able to play,but becaue of the language.Alot of curseing and such,i felt like a outsider.I geuss it was a moment it hit me hard.Before the game we all come togther and pray,and after the game both teams come togther and pray which is great!All for the glory of GOD.I just think to myself if we can come togther and pray why the curseing and rude language?Maybe its just me who feels this,i for one will not sircome to curseing and rude behaviors,my actions are to glorify the LORD.Iam not perfect.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2003, 11:39:35 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to Jabez,

Brother, maybe God has put you there for more than one purpose. Make it a matter of prayer and seek His guidance. Just a couple of thoughts: (1) maybe you tell them very nicely what their cursing means, (2) maybe you bring some Bible tracts to distribute on a regular basis.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 07, 2003, 11:57:48 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 7

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith:

And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant . . . (for I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength) . . . Thus says the LORD: "In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You."  (Isa_49:5 and Isa_49:8)

Numerous times throughout these hundreds of meditations, we have examined the relationship of "humility and faith" to "growing in grace." Such repeated opportunities assist us in apprehending the means of living day by day by grace. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble . . . we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Jam_4:6 and Rom_5:2). For a number of days, we have been considering humility and grace. In a recent meditation, we saw that Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. Now, we turn to give considerable attention to faith and grace.

Concerning faith, we begin where we left off with humility — with Jesus as our example. Again, we will see that Jesus is the ultimate example of faith.

Our present verses are a prophecy involving the Father and His Son, the Servant Messiah, who would go forth to provide God's gift of salvation. "And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant." An angel would eventually announce this prophecy as coming to fulfillment. "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Mat_1:20-21). The confession of the Messiah is also given here prophetically. "My God shall be My strength." When the Son would leave heaven for His incarnation, He would function by faith in the Father. The Father's reassuring words affirm this trust in Him. "Thus says the LORD: 'In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You'."

The fact that Jesus lived by faith in His Father was a part of His own teaching ministry. "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (Joh_5:19). Herein, Jesus (who had laid aside the independent exercise of His deity) was exemplifying how man should live in humble dependence upon the faithfulness of God.

Dear Savior, I humble myself before You, expressing my desire to grow in grace. I know that faith accesses grace. Lord, please teach me to place my faith in You, just as You fully relied upon the Father, Amen.


Title: Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith's Results
Post by: nChrist on October 08, 2003, 12:24:38 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 8

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith's Results:

The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary . . . The Lord God has opened My ear . . . I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed.  (Isa_50:4-7)

In our previous prophetic verses, we saw that the promised Servant of the Lord would undertake His Messianic mission through faith in His heavenly Father. " My God shall be My strength" (Isa_49:5). These verses depicted Jesus as the ultimate example of faith. Now, a corresponding prophetic passage reveals the blessed consequences of trusting in the Lord. Herein, we see Jesus as the ultimate example of faith's results.

Once again, the prophetic parties are the Messiah and His heavenly Father. The confessions of Jesus (trusting in the Father) comprise the prophetic statements. "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned." Jesus was "discipled" day by day by the Father (certainly using, in part, His godly parents). "The Lord God has opened My ear." This equipped Jesus to minister to burdened lives: "that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary." In fact, people were amazed in general at the manner in which He spoke. "So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth" (Luk_4:22).

As Jesus would trust in the Father, He would also be prepared for the mounting difficulties that He would face. "I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting."  In approaching the cross, these prophecies of Jesus (and the enablement He found through depending upon the Father) were fulfilled. "Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands" (Mat_26:67).

Though He knew all of this awaited Him before He came to Jerusalem that last time, He put His faith in the Father. "For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed." The Father helped Him. He marched on resolutely to keep His redemption appointment at the cross. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luk_9:51). These are the wonderful consequences of faith.

Father, Your Son, my Savior, was prepared, strengthened, sustained, and used through faith in You. I need to experience in my own life these same blessed results of faith. Please build my faith, more and more, for Your glory and service, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Left Coast on October 08, 2003, 01:44:19 PM

That same year I cried and began to search for answers. .....

I began to read and this time I began to LISTEN to what I was reading. The whole time I was telling God in my heart "I need to know what this is all about, what YOU are all about, I want to know YOU, I want to find the TRUTH about YOU"... and I read on and on...

I was frustrated, hurt... and then I came across this scripture:

Proverbs 2:1-5

1 Ά My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
2  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
 3  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
 4  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
 5  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
 
And so I continue to seek today. I've asked questions on this website in hopes of garnering wisdom from those of you who have gained wisdom and understanding and I pray that someday I'll be able to match ya'lls depth of understanding. But, until then, and even if I never get there, I will continue to seek because, if not here, then THERE, I will eventually understand...

God Bless,

-Samson
When God begins to draw us there is nothing we can do to stop it. Perhaps because of the intense prayer of your parents God has drawn you to Him.
I came about it in a different way but I also found myself having an intense desire to know the truth. I think you will find similar stories from many.
I was not raised in a church going family, but my Great-grandfather was a Methodist minister. While I don’t agree with the Methodist doctrine of freewill I do wonder if his prayers for his family found fruit with me. I am pretty much an island in this family of atheists and agnostics. There aren’t any “bad” people in my family but I know of none that truly seeks him.
When I decided to read the bible for truth Proverbs 2:1-5 was one of those passages that immediately engraved itself on my heart. It was nice to hear it has impacted your life also.
Considering how devoted your father was you might find this tidbit about John Newton interesting. I am working from memory, not too reliable, but I think I am fairly accurate.
Newton continued to preach in his 80’s, he was now blind. Someone would read from the bible and Newton would get angry when ever the reader would misread. I believe he preached until he died.
His story would make for an academy award winning movie, problem is it would be ’R’ rated. He acknowledged his mothers prayers for Gods action in his life.
He recognized it was all Gods work that he was saved, thus the song he wrote; Amazing Grace.  


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Whitehorse on October 08, 2003, 10:12:13 PM
BEP, that sounds so awesome. I'm glad God has blessed you with those sweet children. Life would certainly be different without my nephew. He is a true treasure from heaven.



Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Whitehorse on October 08, 2003, 10:12:52 PM
Today's thought:

I believe in the sun even when it is not shining.

I believe in love even when I feel it not.

I believe in God even when He is silent.


Written on a wall in a concentration camp


Title: Re:Grrrr....
Post by: ollie on October 08, 2003, 10:30:05 PM

(http://www.addamsfamily.com/addams/lurchtvlg.jpg)


    :-X
Is that Lurch coming through the door or seeing through the eye? Or both?  Hardy har-har! This is not a thought but just silliness.

 ;D


Title: Growing in Grace through Living by Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 09, 2003, 10:17:14 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 9

Growing in Grace through Living by Faith:

Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith . . . For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."  (Hab_2:4 and Rom_1:16-17)

In our four previous devotions on Jesus as our ultimate example, we concluded our series on "humility and grace" and began to consider "faith and grace." If we want to grow in the grace of God, we must live by faith, since faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_5:2).

Our present, initial verse also builds upon our earlier studies on humility, which was repeatedly contrasted with pride. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jam_4:6). Habakkuk was inspired of the Spirit to state the same truth in this form. "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him." James contrasted pride with humility. Here, the prophet concluded his statement by contrasting pride with faith. The proud person is depending upon himself. The humble person is willing  to depend upon the Lord. The humble person is the one who will be growing in the grace of God.  

This simple proclamation of living by faith is so profound that it is repeated in three strategic epistles in the New Testament. The first mention is in Romans in connection with the gospel of grace. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Paul was not embarrassed by the good news of the grace of God that was available in Jesus Christ. He knew that it was God's powerful truth that would save the soul of anyone (Jew or Gentile) who would believe in Christ. That message of grace offered God's righteousness to all who would believe. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." The same righteousness that the law demanded, the gospel of grace provided. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe" (Rom_3:21-22). The righteousness that people need (both for a standing in heaven and for a walk on earth) comes by grace through faith. Yes, initially and continually, "The just shall live by faith."

O righteous Lord, I praise You for the gift of Your righteousness, by grace through faith. My heart rejoices that I have a righteous standing before You in heaven above. My heart humbly cries out in faith for a daily impartation of that same righteousness in and through my life for a godly walk on earth below, through the grace of Christ, Amen.


Title: Living by Faith Contrasted with Living by Law
Post by: nChrist on October 10, 2003, 11:53:50 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 10

Living by Faith Contrasted with Living by Law:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "The just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "The man who does them shall live by them."  (Gal_3:10-12)

In our previous meditation, we considered God's call to live by faith, given through the prophet Habakkuk. "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith" (Hab_2:4). We also looked at the first of three appearances of this quote in the New Testament. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ . . . for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Rom_1:16-17).The second appearance is given in Galatians, where living by faith is contrasted with living by law.

This contrast between law and faith involves a curse that is related to the law. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." The curse is upon those who attempt to establish an acceptable relationship with God based on human works, as measured by God's holy law. The accompanying Old Testament quote explains the curse. "For it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." The curse is that those who choose to live by human performance under the law must always accomplish everything the law commands. Performance of some of the law's demands some of the time is unacceptable.

This comprehensive pressure requiring perfect performance may seem curse enough. Yet, the consequences of inevitable failure intensifies the curse. This dreadful consequence can be seen in the reminder of the blessed remedy that God's grace provides. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree')" (Gal_3:13-14). Those who violate any portion of the law's demands deserve the judgment that Jesus took on the cross.

This gracious provision of salvation through the substitutionary death of Christ reminds us that faith, not law, is our abundant hope. "But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for 'The just shall live by faith.'" Faith involves depending upon the work of another, even Christ. Living by law is not living by faith. It is living by human performance. "Yet the law is not of faith, but "The man who does them shall live by them."

Dear Lord, I praise You for taking upon Yourself the curse of the law that I deserved. My heart exults that the just shall live by faith, not by human performance. Please teach me to live by faith and not by law, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on October 10, 2003, 03:55:48 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 10

Living by Faith Contrasted with Living by Law

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMEN!!!!

Good Message Brother ;D


Title: Great Blessings through Living by Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 11, 2003, 05:20:48 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 11

Great Blessings through Living by Faith:

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.  (Heb_10:35-39)

Our present verses represent the third time that Habakkuk's pronouncement on living by faith is repeated in the New Testament. "The just shall live by his faith" (Hab_2:4). In Rom_1:17, it was connected with the gospel of Christ. In Gal_3:12, it was contrasted with living under the law. Here, it is seen as the pathway to great blessings like spiritual endurance, God-pleasing obedience, and pressing ahead in assurance.

The opening exhortation warns about forsaking bold dependence upon the Lord. "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward." The loss of great blessing is the reason given. The Lord wants us to trust in Him without wavering, from the beginning of faith unto the end of our earthly pilgrimage. This makes us consistent partakers of the blessings of grace that are ours in Christ. "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Heb_3:14).

These blessings include endurance. "For you have need of endurance." The Christian life requires spiritual stamina. The journey of growth, trials, service, and battle can become wearisome. We can be tempted to slack off, to quit pressing ahead. Such is always vain thinking for us, and it is displeasing to the Lord. " If anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him." It is by faith that we persevere in the Christian race. "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb_12:1-2).

Also, these blessings of faith include obedience and assurance. "You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." As we walk by faith, we are enabled to do God's will. Walking in obedience with Christ builds assurance that we will some day be in the presence of the Lord. "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry." Meanwhile, by faith, assurance grows that we are not among those whose profession proves to be vain. "Now the just shall live by faith . . . we are not of those who draw back to perdition but of those who believe to the saving of the soul."

Dear Father, I need more spiritual stamina. I desire to please You by obedience. I long to walk in more assurance. I praise You that all this is ours in Christ, by faith, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on October 11, 2003, 07:38:23 PM
Dear Father, I need more spiritual stamina. I desire to please You by obedience. I long to walk in more assurance. I praise You that all this is ours in Christ, by faith, Amen.
 Amen!


Title: Walking by Faith, Not by Sight
Post by: nChrist on October 12, 2003, 06:14:45 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 12

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight:

We walk by faith, not by sight . . . while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  (2Co_5:7 and 2Co_4:18)

The Christian life is a walk. It is comprised of day by day steps from where we are to where the Lord wants us to go (both spiritually and geographically). This walk is undertaken by faith, not by sight. "We walk by faith, not by sight."

Walking by sight is the natural manner by which human beings walk. This is true both for literal walking, as well as for taking the proverbial journey through life. When engaged in physical walking, people rely upon visual data (along with input from other human senses: like sound, smell, and touch). Likewise, as the unredeemed are engaged in their trek through life, they set their course and proceed by that which their natural abilities provide. We who know the Lord Jesus Christ cannot walk in this manner in His kingdom. We must walk by faith, by depending upon our Lord, His word, and the work of grace by His Holy Spirit. Spiritual progress is made "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."

So often, things are not as they appear to be in the natural. Consider Joseph being sold to slave traders by his jealous and deceitful brothers. It did not look like Joseph was being groomed to be Prime Minister in Egypt. Think of Pharoah and his army closing in on Israel, as they were trapped beside the Red Sea. It did not look like Israel would be delivered, while the Egyptian army would be destroyed. Remember young David standing before gigantic Goliath. It did not look like the giant would be defeated, while David would enjoy a thorough victory. Only eyes of faith could really appreciate what was actually happening.

The cross of our Lord Jesus is undoubtedly the greatest example of things not always being what they appear to be. As Jesus hung upon the cross, it appeared that godless men had defeated the most godly man that ever lived. "Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst . . . Him . . . you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Act_2:22-23). Yet, in fact, God was at work, preparing a resurrection victory over sin and death for all who would believe. "Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it" (Act_2:24).

Heavenly Father, I want to walk with You by faith. I desire to respond to the circumstances of life by what You have said in Your word and by what You are able to do. Too many times, I have set my course by sight, relying upon the appearance of things. Teach me to trust in You more and more, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: The Source of Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 13, 2003, 02:07:09 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 13

The Source of Faith:

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.  (Heb_12:2)

In order to grow in grace, we must live by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Rom_4:16). We cannot progress spiritually by the use of our natural, Adamic faculties. We must walk by faith in the Lord and His word. "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2Co_5:7). Yet, where do we get faith? What is the source of faith?

Jesus is the source of our faith: "Jesus, the author . . . of our faith." If we have saving faith in Christ, it was brought into being by Him. Our faith was authored by Jesus in a revelatory and relational manner. He revealed to us the truth we needed to know (through sermons, personal witnesses, tracts, audio tapes, books, Bible reading, or whatever). Then, He invited us into a relationship with Himself.

First, He told us the truth about our need. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . . For the wages of sin is death" (Rom_3:23 and Rom_6:23). Then, He told us the truth about His loving work on our behalf. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom_5:8). All the while, His Spirit was convicting us of the reality of these matters. "And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (Joh_16:8). Ultimately, Jesus invited us to trust in Him for the gift of salvation. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . . the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Mat_11:28 and Rom_6:23). Basically, Jesus revealed Himself to us as one who could be trusted to save our souls, so we placed our hope in Him. Thereby, He authored faith in us.

Now, where are we to go for more faith (for the developing of our faith)? Jesus is the source for this need as well: "Jesus . . . the . . . finisher of our faith." The one who brought faith into being in us now wants to perfect our faith (to bring it on into mature development) in the same manner that He began it. Initially, we had to have Jesus revealed to us to have faith authored in us. Now, we must have a continuing revelation of Him through His word, if our faith is to be increasingly built up.

Lord Jesus, I praise You for authoring faith in me. Thank You for convincing me of my need of forgiveness of sins. Thank You for revealing to me Your great work on the cross. Thank You for inviting me to enter into a relationship with You. Please continue to reveal Yourself to me that my faith might grow and mature, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on October 13, 2003, 04:14:53 AM
Walking by Faith, Not by Sight


The Source of Faith

Thanks Brother, they both get a AMEN!!!!

Brother Love :)




Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: geralduk on October 14, 2003, 06:49:28 AM
The right understanding of the past is the key to understanding the present.
 a right understanding the present is the key to understand that which is to come.


A prudent man seeing the evil to come hideth himself.


Title: More on the Source of Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 14, 2003, 09:06:33 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 14

More on the Source of Faith:

And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.  (Act_3:16)

The path of discipleship can only be traveled by faith (by trusting in our unseen Lord). Progress can never be made by sight (by relying upon that which our human senses can gather and process). "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2Co_5:7). Therefore, it is vital that we understand where we must go for the source of our faith: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb_12:2). Jesus is the source of faith. The scriptures often expound upon this fundamental truth.

When the lame man was healed at the temple gate, this truth was again declared. This miracle occurred when two of the Lord's disciples were going to the temple in Jerusalem to pray. "Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer" (Act_3:1). A man who was crippled all of his life requested a gift. "And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful . . . asked for alms" (Act_3:2-3). Peter and John had no money to give, but they offered far more than the man had sought. "Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk' " (Acts 3:6). They offered this man healing in the name of Jesus Christ. "And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God" (Act_3:7-8). The miracle was extensive. The lame man was not only strengthened to walk, he was also enabled to leap and stirred to give exuberant praise unto the Lord.

When the astonished crowd gathered, Peter explained how the miracle was related to the name of Jesus. "And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know." The name of Jesus referred to His person and His power (that is, all that Jesus was and all that He was able to do). This demonstration of Jesus' power was experienced through faith in His name (that is, reliance upon who He was and what He could do). Then, Peter explained the source of such faith. "Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." Jesus is the source of faith. Those who know Jesus to be a wonder-working Lord will trust Him to do extraordinary things.

O glorious Lord, I see many matters that only You can handle — problems in the world, needs in the churches, difficulties threatening loved ones, burdens in my life. I trust in Your name. Please show again who You are and what You alone can do, Amen.


Title: Even More on the Source of Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 15, 2003, 07:16:03 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 15

Even More on the Source of Faith:

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness . . . the Faithful and True Witness . . . And He . . . was called Faithful and True.  (Rev_1:5; Rev_3:14; and Rev_19:11)

Faith comes into our lives through the work of Jesus Christ: "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb_12:2). When the name of the Lord is revealed to us (that is, an understanding of who Jesus is and what He is able to do), faith develops in our hearts. "And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong . . . Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness" (Act_3:16). We grasp to some degree how great He is, so we trust Him to do great things. Thereby, faith comes into our spiritual experience through Him. Our present verses are related to this development of faith, for they depict Jesus as faithful and true.

He is the reliable witness, who tells us the truth: "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness . . . the Faithful and True Witness . . . And He . . . was called Faithful and True." A witness gives a first-hand report of what he has observed, heard, or experienced. Jesus is the reliable witness of things that He is truly informed about, things that we are fully in need of knowing. He tells us about the kingdom of heaven. "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Mat_18:3). He warns us about the judgment of hell. "So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth" (Mat_13:49-50).

He also tells us about the heavenly Father. "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Mat_7:11). He warns us about the "father of lies." "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44). He tells us what true living is all about. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Joh_17:3). We have faith in Him and all that He bears witness to, because He is "the Faithful and True Witness."

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You for being a fully reliable witness. I trust in You because You are faithful and true. Your trustworthy witness has rescued me from hell and headed me toward heaven, protected me from the father of lies and made me a child of the heavenly Father. Your witness has brought me to life everlasting. I praise You with unending gratitude!


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: ollie on October 16, 2003, 06:30:41 PM
While reading Genesis 18 about God's promise to Abraham and Sarah and the promise of a son in their old age. Sarah laughed and said, "After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?"
And the Lord said to Abraham, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?"
Then the Lord gave this wonderful surety of his omnipotent power by replying, "Is any thing too hard for the Lord?"

A wonderful reassurance that with God all things are possible and not to be doubted. No matter how impossible they might appear to our limited physical minds


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 16, 2003, 11:03:42 PM

A wonderful reassurance that with God all things are possible and not to be doubted. No matter how impossible they might appear to our limited physical minds

Oklahoma Howdy to Brother Ollie,

AMEN! Thanks Brother. God's Grace, Love, Majesty, and Power are beyond description.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Once More on the Source of Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 16, 2003, 11:08:56 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 16

Once More on the Source of Faith:

Then He who sat on the throne said . . . "Write, for these words are true and faithful" . . . Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true" . . . So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Rev_21:5; Rev_22:6 and Rom_10:17)

Jesus is the faithful and true witness, who gives us the reliable truth that we must have in order to find life and live life as God intended. "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness . . . the Faithful and True Witness . . . And He . . . was called Faithful and True" (Rev_1:5; Rev_3:14; and Rev_19:11). As we see His faithful and true character, faith toward Him develops in our lives. His word is a vital part of this process, since it has the same character that He has (faithful and true). "Write, for these words are true and faithful . . . These words are faithful and true."

When people humbly receive the word of God, the scriptures change their lives. This is how we started out with God: "Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.' Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you" (1Pe_1:23-25). We were born again into the family of God when the incorruptible, living, eternal word of God was planted like a seed in our hearts. This occurred by our hearing of the gospel. We believed the good news of Jesus Christ, and this gospel seed germinated within us unto life eternal.

After being born again by grace through faith in Christ, God's plan was that we continue to respond to His word (like those in Thessalonica did). "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" (1Th_2:13). These saints welcomed the scriptures into their lives. They knew that it was not a mere human message. They knew it was from the Lord. They were eager to hear it and to rely upon its life-nurturing message. Therefore, it effectively worked in their hearts, as they believed in the truths they were hearing. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Initially and continually, faith comes by hearing the faithful and true words of God, and that faith accesses grace.

Dear Lord, even as You are faithful and true, so Your word is faithful and true. I began by a faith that was stirred through the gospel message of Your word. I know that I can only grow in faith as I humbly receive Your word into my life day by day. Lord, I long to live by faith that I might grow in Your grace, in Your holy name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Allinall on October 16, 2003, 11:23:04 PM
Quote
There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." And he said, "Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD." And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" He said, "I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." And the LORD said to him, "Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."

I love this passage for two reasons.  For one I've felt, as I believe most of us have at some point, that I am alone, and that everyone is out to get me!  Now granted, I'm no Elijah, and my struggles are not comparable to his, but we can feel overwhelmed from time to time in the fight.  God points out to Elijah firstly, that He is with him.  Morevover, He points out that he was not alone - there were 7,000 others, as well as a replacement prophet to continue the weary work Elijah had begun.

But I think the part that moves me most is how God shows Elijah, that regardless the size of the trial, that God is unmoved.  He is still the still small voice leading us.  He controls, even uses the massive issues that we encounter.  But we must "be still" and know that He is God.  When we focus on the problem, we miss the still small voice behind the problem.  But regardless, we do not "focus" alone.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Forrest on October 16, 2003, 11:44:49 PM
COL 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on October 17, 2003, 06:17:22 AM
Dear Lord, even as You are faithful and true, so Your word is faithful and true. I began by a faith that was stirred through the gospel message of Your word. I know that I can only grow in faith as I humbly receive Your word into my life day by day. Lord, I long to live by faith that I might grow in Your grace, in Your holy name, Amen.

 And AMEN!

Brother Love :)



Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 17, 2003, 08:12:35 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to Allinall, Forrest, & Brother Love,

AMEN! - Thanks!

I enjoyed your thoughts and hope that many others will also enjoy them.

I give thanks that we can uplift each other with beautiful portions and thoughts about HIS HOLY WORD. I also give thanks that we can pray for and encourage each other to walk closer to HIM in fuller joy and fellowship.

Thanks! This was a nice way to start the day.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Assurance of Salvation through Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 17, 2003, 08:15:33 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 17

Assurance of Salvation through Faith:

And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.  (1Jo_5:11-13)

If we are to grow in grace, we must live by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Rom_4:16). If our faith is to develop and mature, we must know where faith comes from. Jesus (and His word) is the source of our faith. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith . . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Heb_12:2 and Rom_10:17). As we get to know our Lord better and better, as we get into His word more and more, our faith grows. As our faith grows, we experience the grace of God in increasing ways. One of the wonderful workings of God's grace is to bring us assurance of salvation through faith.

Some people wonder if they are saved. Others hope that they are saved. Still others think that they might be saved. God wants people to know that they are saved. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life." Of course, salvation (the gift of eternal life) is given to those who "believe in the name of the Son of God." This means that they trust in the person and work of Christ. They believe He is God, the Son. They believe He died and rose victorious over sin and death. Many who have entered into salvation are, nonetheless, without assurance of this great gift.

Assurance is imparted through the consideration of the previous testimony of the faithful and true word of God. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." The gift of eternal life has truly been provided for by the Lord. However, the Father wants us to be reminded that this eternal life is "in His Son." Everlasting life is not some "packaged blessing" that comes to us separated from Jesus. The life God has for us is found through a dependent relationship with a person, Jesus. If we have Jesus in our lives, we have the life that is found in Him. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." If we have invited the Lord into our lives, He now dwells in us. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (Joh_1:12). Jesus gives us assurance of salvation through faith in Him.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for coming into my life when I received You by faith. Therefore, I know that I have eternal life, since that life is in You. Thank You for the grace that brings such assurance through simple faith in You, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 17, 2003, 08:30:48 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to All,

In reading the Hoekstra Devotion today, I couldn't help but think about a beautiful hymn, "Blessed Assurance". This thought gave me joy because I have that assurance. "Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine."

I know that the powers of darkness don't want any child of God to have assurance of salvation. Those dark powers want us to doubt, be confused, and be weak. God wants the opposite, and HE builds our faith and assurance as we study HIS WORD, pray for guidance, seek HIS will, and walk in the SPIRIT. Our joy and comfort in HIM grows with our faith and assurance. Peace and many other GIFTS increase as our faith increases.

Brothers and Sisters, I pray that you enjoy the fullness of joy, comfort and peace IN CHRIST. Smile and KEEP LOOKING UP!

Love in Christ,
Tom


Title: Security of Salvation through Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 18, 2003, 04:43:20 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 18

Security of Salvation through Faith:

An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.  (1Pe_1:4-5)

In our previous biblical meditation, we considered the delightful work of God's grace that brings to His children assurance of salvation through faith. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life" (Joh_5:13). Assurance of salvation pertains to the certainty that we actually are saved. Another related work of God's grace is security of salvation through faith. Security of salvation pertains to the certainty that we will remain saved.

The scriptures offer great confidence that our salvation is eternally secure. Jesus spoke of such security for His sheep. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (Joh_10:27-28). Paul was inspired of the Holy Spirit to write of this grand theme. "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom_8:38-39). What great security is available in Christ!

Yet, other scriptures stir apprehension for some concerning security. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit . . . if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance . . . For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Heb_6:4, Heb_6:6 and Heb_10:26). Such verses certainly provoke debate on whether or not one can lose his salvation (or whether a willfully fallen, professing Christian was ever saved or not).

In light of this, where do we turn to settle eternal security? We must turn to the Lord in faith. The children of God have a rich salvation inheritance waiting in glory: "An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." Day by day, we can enjoy the blessing of being guarded by God's power for this salvation, if we are depending upon the Lord: "who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Security of salvation is known through day by day faith in the Lord Jesus.

Lord God of my salvation, I praise You that eternal security is available in Christ through faith. At times, I have tried to find security of salvation through theological debates with others. Lord, I gladly trust you to keep me this day by Your power, Amen.


Title: Protection from the Devil through Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 19, 2003, 05:31:42 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 19

Protection from the Devil through Faith:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.  (1Pe_5:8-9)

As we walk by faith, God's grace is imparted into our lives, bringing us many blessings in our Lord. We have seen that among these heavenly delights are assurance of salvation and security of salvation. "These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life . . . who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1Jo_5:13 and 1Pe_1:5). Related to these is protection from the devil through faith.

Godly Christian living involves a spiritual gravity and a spiritual attentiveness. "Be sober, be vigilant." These necessary traits that the Lord wants to develop in us do not nullify the reality of joy and peace in the Lord. However, such earnestness is mandatory due to the enemy that we have. "Because your adversary the devil walks about." We do have a committed and intimidating spiritual opponent, and he has an organized army of fallen, rebellious, demonic cohorts. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph_6:12). The intention of our spiritual foe is deadly. He goes about "like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Our enemy is not merely desiring to frustrate us or make us miserable. He wants to devour us, to devastate our lives. Jesus stated the matter this way. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (Joh_10:10).

Although our adversary is relentless and imposing, God's gracious remedy is simple and effective. "Resist him" We are to oppose him. We are to stand against him. How are we to accomplish this? Are we to pit our own strength against his? Never! We effectively stand against him by being "steadfast in the faith." We simply continue trusting in the great truths of God's word, which declare Christ as victor over our foe. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil . . . Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross] " (1Jo_3:8 and Col_2:15). By faith, we renounce the enemy and submit to our Lord. Thereby, God promises us that the enemy will flee. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Jam_4:7).

Dear Lord, mighty conqueror, what a joy it is to know that You have defeated the enemy and his demonic conspirators. What grace You offer in providing protection from the devil as I simply resist him by trusting in You. Praise Your victorious name!


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on October 20, 2003, 05:00:11 AM
I simply resist him by trusting in You. Praise Your victorious name!

Amen

Brother Love :)


Title: Victory over the World through Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 20, 2003, 05:46:08 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 20

Victory over the World through Faith:

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?  (1Jo_5:4-5)

The enemy of our souls would love to devour our lives. "Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1Pe_5:8). We can enjoy protection from the devil through faith. "Resist him, steadfast in the faith" (1Pe_5:9). When the enemy cannot devastate us by direct attack, he still desires to pull us down into defeat, using the pitfalls and temptations that are available to him throughout the entire world system. "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). All of the unredeemed, as well as all of their cultural networks, are under the influence of the evil one. Nevertheless, we have available to us daily victory over the world through faith.

The only people who can ever walk in victory over the world are born again believers in Jesus Christ. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world." We urgently need the overcoming grace of God, because of the avenues of earthly enticements that the devil can use against us. "For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world" (1Jo_2:16). Through the world around us, our spiritual foe wants to draw us into ungodly areas that our flesh craves, our eyes covet, or our pride wants to feast upon. The path of victory is traveled by faith. "And this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith." We initially entered into the victory of Christ by placing our faith in Him. "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" We continue to experience all the manifold ramifications of that victory through day by day dependence upon the Lord.

Jesus taught these truths when He was here upon earth. "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (Joh_16:33). It is absolutely certain that the world will bring to us all many troubles and trials. Our fully sufficient hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. The world came against Jesus with all of its plots and ploys. Our Lord and Savior never succumbed at any point. He is the one we are to rely upon, in order to walk in victory ourselves. "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1Jo_4:4). Trusting in the victor allows us to walk in His victory.

Lord Jesus, the world has surely brought me many difficulties and temptations. Yet, You are the overcoming victor, so I look to You for personal victory day by day. How blessed I am to have living in me the one who is far greater than the enemy who roams about in the world, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: joyunending on October 20, 2003, 10:13:44 AM
What a great post!!  Some of these thoughts and scriptures are sooooo uplifting!!! Praise God!
  Some of my favorites,
  If we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us... 1 John 4:12

   Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by his good life.... James 3:13

    Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

    A new command I give you: As I have loved you, so you must love one another... John 13:34

     The Lord said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness... 2 Cor. 12:9

     Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, "The Lord reigns!" 1 Chron. 16:31

    What a wonderful book He left us to read and read and read and never get tired of it ... Always finding something 'new' that He has to reveal to us!!
        GOD IS GOOD,,,,,, Joy ;D ;D ;D


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 20, 2003, 09:47:36 PM

    What a wonderful book He left us to read and read and read and never get tired of it ... Always finding something 'new' that He has to reveal to us!!
        GOD IS GOOD,,,,,, Joy ;D ;D ;D

Oklahoma Howdy to JoyUnending,

AMEN! I really enjoyed your post. The RICHES of HIS WORD are truly unending and past finding out.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: The Extensive Consequences of Walking by Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 21, 2003, 06:16:42 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 21

The Extensive Consequences of Walking by Faith:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.  (Heb_11:1-3)

In order to live by grace, we must be willing to walk by faith. For those who actually depend upon the Lord day by day, (thereby accessing His grace), the scriptures regularly proclaim the extensive consequences of walking by faith.

First, let's consider the significant characteristics of faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for." Faith is the assuring confirmation of the wonderful things that we anticipate God will do. As faith grows in the promises and purposes of God, that faith becomes an increasing substantiation of the certainty of those heavenly plans of God. Also, faith is "the evidence of things not seen." Faith is the convicting verification of realities the human senses cannot observe. Faith convinces us of the absolute existence of God and His angels, Adam and Eve, the devil and demons, heaven and hell, and the prophets and apostles of old.

Next, let's consider some of the living results of faith. "For by it the elders obtained a good testimony." By faith men and women of generations past established a godly witness concerning their relationship with the Lord. "By faith Abel . . . By faith Enoch . . . By faith Noah . . . By faith Abraham . . . By faith Sarah . . . By faith Isaac . . . By faith Jacob . . . By faith Joseph . . . By faith Moses . . . By faith the harlot Rahab . . . [and others]" (Heb_11:4-5, Heb_11:7-8, Heb_11:11, Heb_11:20-23, Heb_11:31). Their testimonies were exceedingly diverse. Yet, the common elements were their trust in the Lord and the glory such faith brought to His name.

Last, let's consider some of the spiritual understanding of faith. "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." God has shaped the heart of all humanity so that the observation of creation guarantees a universal conviction of Himself as creator. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Rom_1:20). His holy scriptures then explain how He created all visible things. "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psa_33:6).

Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, creator of heaven and earth, I bow before You in faith. I rejoice in the assurances, convictions, and understandings of faith. I have a deep desire to obtain a good testimony through faith in You, for Your honor and glory, Amen.


Title: Enoch's Pleasing Walk with God, by Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 23, 2003, 06:39:45 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 23

Enoch's Pleasing Walk with God, by Faith:

By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death, "and was not found because God had translated him"; for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him.  (Heb_11:5-6)

It is the will of God that we learn to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord: "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him" (Col_1:10). Again, such godly living can only be developed by faith. Much helpful insight into such a life is provided in Enoch's pleasing walk with God, by faith.

Enoch was one of our earliest forefathers. "Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah" (Gen_5:21). After the birth of Methuselah (who became, at 969 years, the oldest man ever on earth), Enoch began a three hundred year long journey of close fellowship with God. "After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years" (Gen_5:22). After three centuries of spiritual intimacy, Enoch was taken into heaven without experiencing death. "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Gen_5:24). Enoch's intimacy with God and his unique home going were related to a life of reliance upon the Lord. "By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death . . . for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Of course, what was so pleasing to God about Enoch's walk was his trust in the Lord. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him."

Enoch is a wonderful reminder of what life is all about — walking with God by faith throughout our days on earth, then walking right on into the presence of God in heaven someday. Many will eventually do this, like Enoch, without facing death. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1Th_4:16-17). Others may face death, but the key ingredient of fellowship on earth right on into heaven is the same. "I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory" (Psa_73:23-24).

Dear God of heaven and earth, I desire to please You by a life of faith here on earth. Help me to walk closely with You day by day throughout my pilgrimage here below. I eagerly anticipate the day that I will forever be with You in the fullness of Your glorious presence in heaven above, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 24, 2003, 09:43:39 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to All,

There will be a delay until Sunday for my normal posts here. I am away from home. My daughter offered me a chance to take care of the grandsons for a couple of days. She had to twist my arm real hard, but I finally gave in.  ;D

Her computer is better than mine, but I don't have any of my software here. I'm trying to make do with stuff I've never used before, and that is hard for an old guy.   ;D

Keep looking up!

Love in Christ,
Tom


Title: Abel's Acceptable Worship Sacrifice, by Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 26, 2003, 01:31:53 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 22

Abel's Acceptable Worship Sacrifice, by Faith:

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.  (Heb_11:4)

The Lord desires that people become true spiritual worshipers of Him. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (Joh_4:23). This can only become a reality through faith in the Lord. One helpful example of this is Abel's acceptable worship sacrifice, by faith.

Cain and Abel were two sons of Adam and Eve. The time came when they both offered sacrifices unto the Lord. "And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat" (Gen_4:3-4). The sacrifice of Cain was rejected by God, whereas Abel's sacrifice was accepted. "And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering" (Gen_4:4-5). Our primary verse tells us why Abel's gift of worship was acceptable to the Lord. "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." Abel's sacrifice was given by faith. It came from a heart that believed in the Lord and trusted in His righteous ways. "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD . . . but He loves him who follows righteousness" (Pro_15:8-9). When the Lord accepted Abel's offering, He was declaring that Abel was righteous in His sight: "through which he obtained witness that he was righteous." Elsewhere, the word confirms that Cain was an unbeliever; whereas, Abel walked in righteousness. "Cain . . . was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous" (1Jo_3:12).

When we offer worship sacrifices to the Lord, He is looking on our hearts. Are we trusting in Him? Are we yielding to the righteous paths that His word has set forth? Whether we are offering praise, giving thanks, doing good deeds, or sharing our resources with others, we are to do it all by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased . . . you . . . are being built up a spiritual house . . . to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (Heb_13:15-16 and 1Pe_2:5).

Dear heavenly Father, I want to be a true spiritual worshiper of You. I repent of any sacrifices that I have offered from self-interest or self-righteousness. I want to offer my worship to You through faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.


Title: More on Enoch's Pleasing Walk with God, by Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 26, 2003, 01:47:32 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 24

More on Enoch's Pleasing Walk with God, by Faith:

By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death . . . for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  (Heb_11:5-6)

Before Enoch was taken to heaven, he walked with God in a manner that pleased the Lord. Enoch's faith in God is what was pleasing unto Him. "Before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him." Pleasing God, as Enoch did, should be our desire.

Many people waste their lives by aiming at pleasing themselves. Their lives are choked with self-indulgence. "And the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity" (Luke 8:14). They have ignored the fact that pleasing self cannot lead to spiritual growth and Christlikeness. "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves . . . For even Christ did not please Himself"  (Rom_15:1, Rom_15:3). Others live in carnal bondage to human opinions. Their consistent priority is to please people. This was part of King Saul's downfall. "Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice' " (1Sa_15:24). We cannot aim to please man and still serve God. "Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Gal_1:10).

Living to please God is what we were created for. This can never happen apart from faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." Coming to the Lord in true biblical faith begins with a conviction that God exists. "For he who comes to God must believe that He is." Additionally, God-pleasing faith eagerly anticipates the Lord's gracious response to all who truly seek Him. "He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Although there are many blessings that result from pursuing  the Lord, the ultimate reward is God Himself. God told this to Abraham. "After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward' " (Gen_15:1).

Lord God almighty, too often I have aimed at pleasing myself. At other times, My goal was to please people. Thank You for Your patience and forgiveness. Now, my heart desires to please You in all things. By faith, I know that You exist. By faith, I seek You, anticipating the grand reward of knowing You better and better, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Noah Building an Ark, by Faith
Post by: nChrist on October 26, 2003, 01:50:32 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 25

Noah Building an Ark, by Faith:

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.  (Heb_11:7)

At times, the Lord asks His people to engage in assignments that seem to make no sense at all. Perhaps, it is a task that we have never undertaken. Perhaps, it is preparation for a problem that we have never encountered previously. One of the most profound examples from such categories was Noah building an ark, by faith. His example is profound both in the circumstances that he faced, as well as the extent of the impact of his faithful response.

The extreme wickedness of humanity was the setting. "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen_6:5). A worldwide flood would be man's deserved judgment. "So the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth . . . I Myself am bringing the flood of waters on the earth' " (Gen_6:7, Gen_6:17). Noah was an upright man who lived in close fellowship with the Lord. He would be graciously delivered. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. . . . Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God" (Gen_6:8-9).

To build an ark for a monumental flood must have appeared absurd in a world that had never experienced such a phenomenon. Nonetheless, Noah fully accepted this divine admonishment, even though he had never witnessed what God was warning about. "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen . . . prepared an ark." His faithful obedience was motivated by holy respect for the Lord and for all of His pronouncements: "moved with godly fear."

The consequences of his labor of faith were far-reaching. His own family was saved: "prepared an ark for the saving of his household." By Noah's godly trust, the rest of the world was condemned for their ungodliness and unbelief: "by which he condemned the world." Noah himself became numbered among those who illustrate that the Lord's righteousness is received by trusting Him: "and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." Additionally, he became a reminder of being ready for the return of the Lord. "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Mat_24:37).

Dear Lord, please teach me to respond in faith, as Noah did, whenever You call me to a perplexing assignment. Also, as impending judgment awaits the growing worldwide ungodliness, help me to proclaim Christ as the present ark of rescue, while eagerly anticipating His return, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 26, 2003, 01:52:52 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 26

Abraham's Obedient, Earthly Sojourn, by Faith:

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  (Heb_11:8-10)

Abraham provides one of the most profound studies concerning the extensive consequences of walking by faith. One lesson he offers is that trusting God enables us to obediently leave familiar settings to follow the Lord into new, uncertain situations. Beyond this, Abraham's example sheds light on how to face our entire journey on earth. We see this in Abraham's obedient, earthly sojourn, by faith.

God called Abraham to leave his familiar homeland and to follow Him to a new land that the Lord would give him. "Now the LORD had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you' " (Gen_12:1). Abraham obeyed the Lord by stepping out into this monumental change. "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance." He trusted the Lord to lead him, even though he was given no indication of where this land would be. "And he went out, not knowing where he was going." When he arrived in the land, his faith again was exercised by having to sojourn there, as if he were an alien in a foreign land. "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country." Year after year, he moved about in tents with his son and grandson, who were also promised this same land: "dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise."

There certainly are times when the Lord calls us to follow Him into monumental rearrangements. Only trusting our Lord, as Abraham did, will sustain us. Still, whether circumstances are shifting or stable, we are to face all of life's journey as he did. This world is promised to God's children some day. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Mat_5:5). Until the Lord makes it so, we sojourn here as visitors (in the world, but not of it), walking with our God and being used by Him. Meanwhile, like Abraham, we are waiting by faith for an everlasting city that man cannot produce. "For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

Lord God of Abraham, for any changes that You want to lead me into, I want to trust You, as Abraham did. Lord, for all of my sojourn here on earth, I look to You to keep me and use me — as I await Your return, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 27, 2003, 03:11:19 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 27

Abraham's Patient, Heavenly Pilgrimage, by Faith:

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  (Heb_11:13-14)

We looked at Sarah's testimony here in Hebrews previously (in the meditations on God's promises). Consequently, we will press on to consider a strategic extension of Abraham's testimony concerning his obedient, earthly sojourn, by faith. Therein, we saw him traveling through life on earth as an alien, a stranger (in the world, but not of it). Now, we will see Abraham's patient, heavenly pilgrimage, by faith. His previous testimony concluded with this pilgrimage theme: "For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Heb_11:10). Early in the present continuing testimony, the two themes are coupled. "They were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." A stranger (sojourner) is one who does not belong to the given locale. The pilgrim is one who is marching toward a given spiritual destination.

Abraham and his family (Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob) were promised the land flowing with milk and honey. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises." They did not personally experience the possessing of the promised land. Yet, they lived with a sense of guaranty that God would fulfill His promises: "but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them." They fully accepted the certainty that the Lord would some day give that land to their seed. Meanwhile, they confessed that they were content to live as strangers concerning this world and as pilgrims anticipating the world to come: "and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

Now, the pilgrimage aspect of Abraham's testimony (and his family's) is emphasized. "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland." As the years passed and the promised land was not given to them, their hearts yearned for a true, lasting, eternal homeland. "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland." God wants to develop this perspective of heavenly pilgrimage in our hearts as well. "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1Pe_2:11). The Lord wants us to set our daily course toward heaven, rejecting earthly cravings that diminish spiritual vitality.

Father God, You have fulfilled so many promises for me here on this earth. I praise You and thank You for such loving grace. Still, my heart yearns for that which heaven alone can provide. Thus, I press on as a pilgrim, bound for my homeland above.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 28, 2003, 07:55:27 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 28

More on Abraham's Patient, Heavenly Pilgrimage, by Faith:

And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.  (Heb_11:15-16)

Abraham (and his family) lived as "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb_11:13). He lived as an obedient sojourner here on earth, trusting God to lead him about as one who was in the world, but not of the world. He also lived as a patient, heavenly pilgrim, trusting God to lead him eventually to the eternal homeland that awaits all who have saving faith in the Lord. We have a similar calling from the Lord. "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1Pe_2:11).

Abraham understood that spiritual sojourners and heaven-bound pilgrims must stay away from earth-bound cravings that undermine one's godly quest. "And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return." Abraham and his seed had many tests and trials in their pilgrimage with the Lord. If they had set their attention on the country they forsook, they would have been tempted to return there. The enemy of our souls wants to wage war against us by ensnaring us again in the world that we have forsaken: "in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air" (Eph_2:2). Everyone is vulnerable to such attack. Even one of Paul's early associates in ministry fell prey to this enticement. "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2Ti_4:10). Thus, the Lord warns us to stay away from any indulgent relationship with the world. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1Jo_2:15).

Instead, we are to desire the priorities of Abraham and his family. "But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country." Even though the land of promise was in their inheritance some day, they hungered for the ultimate realities of heaven above. Such heaven-focused faith is pleasing to our heavenly Father. "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." In this heavenly city ("the city of the living God — Heb_12:22), we will dwell forever with our glorious Lord!

Lord God, the only true and living God, I regret those times that the world has drawn my attention away from my heavenly homeland. I cry out to You — please anchor my heart in heaven above, that I might thereby please You in my pilgrimage here on earth below, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 29, 2003, 06:35:02 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 29

Isaac and Jacob Viewing the Future, by Faith:

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph.  (Heb_11:20-21)

Since we have previously considered Abraham's offering of Isaac (again, in the section on God's promises), let's move on to consider Isaac and Jacob. While pronouncing prophetic blessings upon their descendants, these two men became examples of viewing the future, by faith.

The first example given, Isaac, actually occurred in the midst of a deceitful plot by one of his own sons. Isaac wanted to pass on a blessing to his oldest son, Esau. "Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him . . . 'Make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die' " (Gen_27:1, Gen_27:4). Jacob (the supplanter or "schemer") disguised himself and lied to his father, attempting to steal the blessing. "And Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn . . . sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me' . . . And he did not recognize him . . . so he blessed him" (Gen_27:19, Gen_27:23). Although Esau later was given a blessing as well, the blessing for Jacob passed on the headship of the family to this younger son. "Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you" (Gen_27:29). When informed of the deceit, Isaac let the blessing stand. The Lord indicates this was an act of faith in the purposes of God.

The second example given, Jacob, also occurred in an unusual setting. Joseph was bringing his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to his father for a family blessing. "Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them" (Gen_48:10). Joseph brought Ephraim (the younger) toward Jacob's left hand and Manasseh (the firstborn) toward his right hand. However, Jacob crossed his hands, thereby switching the primary blessing. "And Joseph said to his father, 'Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.' But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he' " (Gen 48:18-19).

These actions may not seem significant to us. Yet, the Lord lists them as notable steps of faith in Him. These blessings reflected and instituted aspects of God's sovereign plans, in spite of inappropriate scheming and established traditions.

O sovereign Lord, I bow in faith to Your perfect plans and purposes. What a comfort to know that Your will cannot be thwarted by inappropriate schemes or established traditions. Teach me to view the future with faith in Your wisdom and Your sovereignty, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 30, 2003, 09:47:34 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 30

Joseph Also Viewing the Future, by Faith:

By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.  (Heb_11:22)

When Isaac and Jacob pronounced blessings upon their posterity, they exemplified viewing the future, by faith. When Joseph requested that his bones some day be buried in the land of promise, he was also viewing the future, by faith.

Joseph's journey to leadership in Egypt was marked with alternating battles and blessings. His brothers had betrayed him and sold him into slavery. "Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers . . . sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt" (Gen_37:28). Soon, Joseph found blessing under the care of Potiphar, an Egyptian captain who purchased him. "And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hand" (Gen_39:3-4).

Yet, another battle arose. Joseph was imprisoned by the lies of Potiphar's wife, who resented Joseph's refusal of her sensual advances. " 'He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice' . . . Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison" (Gen_39:14, Gen_39:20). More blessing came as the Lord granted Joseph favor with the prison keeper. "And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners . . . because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper" (Gen_39:22-23). Another battle ensued, as one of Pharoah's servants forgot Joseph's kindness to him in prison. "The chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream" (Genesis 40:23-41:1). Two years later, Joseph's interpretation of Pharoah's dream would bring Joseph to his position of authority in Egypt. "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you" (Gen_41:40).

Faith in the Lord certainly sustained Joseph and brought him to God's desired place of service and opportunity. Yet, our present verse reveals that Joseph's basic interest was not his own blessing and advancement. Joseph had a heart for the plans and purposes of God. As he viewed the future, he was convinced that the Lord would some day bring His people back to the land of promise. His request to have his bones buried in the land of promise was an expression of his faith in the promises of God. "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here" (Gen_50:25).

Lord God of eternity, as I alternate between the battles and blessings of life, help me to view the future by faith. Remind me that Your everlasting purposes can guide and shape my temporal circumstances, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on October 31, 2003, 07:38:44 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - October 31:

Moses' Parents Acting Courageously, by Faith:

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command.  (Heb_11:23)

Our present study reveals another strategic illustration of the extensive consequences of walking by faith. Fear is one of the major threats to living as God intends. Faith in God brings the courage that is needed to overcome fear. Moses' parents are outstanding examples of acting courageously, by faith.

Moses' parents ("Amram . . . Jochebed" — Exodus 6:20) faced a dreadful dilemma. Jochebed had just given birth to Moses. Pharoah, who was fearful of the rapidly growing slave population, had previously ordered the death of all male Jewish newborns. "The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives . . . and he said, 'When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live' " (Exo_1:15-16). However, the midwives had faith in the Lord and spared the male babies at birth. "The midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive" (Exo_1:17).

Moses' parents had a similar, courageous faith in God. "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents . . . and they were not afraid of the king's command." Nevertheless, their baby was still in danger, since Pharoah had also commanded all the Egyptians to destroy any male babies that they might discover. "Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, 'Every son who is born you shall cast into the river' " (Exo_1:22). When they could no longer effectively hide Moses, Jochebed put him in a simple ark in a place where he might be rescued. "When she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank" (Exo_2:3). God honored the faith of these courageous parents, allowing the Pharoah's daughter to discover Moses' floating basket and to respond with mercy. "And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him" (Exo_2:6).

Moses' parents courageously risked their lives in order to do that which would be pleasing to God. Their action was based upon their faith in God. Whenever necessary, we too can act courageously, if we rely upon our great God. "In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psa_56:11).

Dear faithful Lord, when I am intimidated by the threats or pronouncements of others, please remind me of Your faithfulness to the parents of Moses, that I too might have courage to do that which would please You, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Ralph on November 01, 2003, 06:10:29 PM
hanks, BEP, for opening this topic. One of my happy places in Scripture is Genesis chapters 13, 14 and 15. Notice the order in Scripture of three things in these three chapters and then contemplate the unfolding of God's eternal decree in that same order in time.
  Chapter 13--God's promise to Abraham concerning his fleshly seed.

  Chapter 14--Abraham's encounter with Melchizedec, a type of Christ

  Chapter 15--God's promise to Abraham concerning his heavenly (spiritual) seed.

  In that same order, God in time dealt first with Abraham's seed according to the flesh. Genesis 13

  Then, the glorious wonder of His appearing and work, Christ
Jesus, Lord of heaven and earth; Him of whom Melchizedec was a type Genesis 14

  Thirdly, in the same sequence, the gospel is sent to all Abraham's seed according to the faith of Abraham.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 01, 2003, 08:09:27 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 1

Moses Refusing Egypt, Choosing God's People, by Faith:

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.  (Heb_11:24-25)

The natural tendency of humanity is to desire privilege and pleasure. Moses certainly had these two abundantly available to him in Egypt. Yet, he demonstrated the impact that trusting in the Lord can have by refusing Egypt and choosing God's people.

When the daughter of Pharoah discovered baby Moses, she decided to raise him as her child. "Moses was born . . . and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. But when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son" (Act_7:20-21). As an offspring of the palace, Moses had access to the very best of human education, and he became proficient in all that was provided for him. "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds" (Act_7:22). In terms of conventional earthly perspectives, Moses was guaranteed a life of privilege and pleasure.

However, when he reached the age of relative maturity, his heart was drawn in a distinctively different direction. "But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel" (Act_7:23). The wording implies that he had been taught of his link with the Israelites as he was growing up in Pharoah's household. Eventually, his heart was stirred by this connection, and he made a life-shaping decision, by faith. "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter." He decided to renounce his place of privilege in Pharoah's family and to identify himself with God's people. He was aware that this choice was a renunciation of a pleasure-filled life and would inevitably lead to suffering: "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin."

To commit to the palace would have been pleasurable, but sinful. Furthermore, those sinful pleasures would have been temporary. On the other hand, the blessings of following the leading of the Lord would last forever. Moses' heavenly perspective was much like the Psalmist "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [that is, anyplace else]. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psa_84:10).

Heavenly Father, help me to discern whenever the offer of human privilege is competing with Your will for my life. Please give me a heart to identify with Your people, even though inconvenience or suffering might result. Strengthen my faith to choose eternal blessings over the passing pleasures of sin, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 02, 2003, 07:56:46 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 2

Moses Esteeming Christ's Riches above Egypt's, by Faith:

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.  (Heb_11:24-26)

By faith, Moses renounced his place of privilege in Pharoah's family, choosing to identify himself with God's people. He knew that loss and suffering awaited him. Yet, he was strengthened to make this life-shaping decision by esteeming Christ's riches above Egypt's, by faith.

When Moses identified with the Israelites, he was joining himself to the people of the Messiah, the Anointed One (the Christ). From the earliest days, the people of God had been promised an Anointed Deliverer. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He [the Savior] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel . . . I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you [by the coming of Messiah] all the families of the earth shall be blessed . . . The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Prince of Peace] comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people" (Gen_3:15; Gen_12:3; and Gen_49:10).

Yet, this heaven-sent King, as well as His people, would encounter reproach. "He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him . . . Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isa_53:3 and Isa_60:14). In spite of such reproach, Moses joined himself to the Messiah and His people. Moses understood that it was more enriching to stand with a divine, though despised, Messiah than to have all the material treasures of Egypt: "esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." He made this wise evaluation by considering the eternal consequences: "for he looked to the reward." He anticipated eternal realities that subsequent men of God would powerfully proclaim. "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever . . . . Whereas you have been forsaken and hated . . . I will make you an eternal excellence, a joy of many generations" (Psa_73:26 and Isa_60:15).

Dear Jesus, the Christ, my Messiah, I want to stand with You and Your people, even if it means sharing in Your reproach. I know that You will strengthen me now and be my portion forever. By Your eternal excellencies make me a joy to others now, as I await with eager anticipation Your everlasting kingdom, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 03, 2003, 06:46:36 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 3

Moses Leading Israel Out of Egypt, by Faith:

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.  (Heb_11:28)

Moses left Egypt on two occasions, involving two distinctly different sets of circumstances. On the first occasion, he left Israel behind in Egypt, going out in fear. On the second occasion, he is seen leading Israel out of Egypt, by faith.

Moses' first departure saw him fleeing for his life, fearing what the Pharoah might do to him. Moses' heart had been drawn to the people of God. He went out to consider their situation. "When Moses was grown . . . he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren" (Exo_2:11). Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. When his brethren became aware of this reckless deed, Moses was frightened. "So Moses feared and said, 'Surely this thing is known!' When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian" (Exo_2:14-15). So, Israel was left in Egypt in bondage, and Moses' desire to see God's people delivered was thwarted.

Moses' second departure found him leaving courageously, with no fear of what Pharoah might do. "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." Much had transpired between these two departures. For forty years, Moses had humbly tended sheep on the back side of the desert. "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God" (Exo_3:1). There, the Lord revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush, sending him back into Egypt to demand the release of God's people. "I am the God of your father — the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob . . . Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt" (Exo_3:6, Exo_3:10). So, Moses boldly confronted one of the most powerful leaders in the world. "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Let My people go' " (Exo_5:1). Then, the Lord performed awesome wonders until He caused the will of mighty Pharoah to be broken. "The LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . So Pharaoh rose in the night . . . Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Go, serve the LORD as you have said' " (Exo_12:29-31). The ultimate difference in this second departure was that Moses had seen the Lord and had learned to trust in Him. "For he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."

O Lord God, awesome deliverer, I know what it is to run away from situations in fear. I also know what it is to lead out in faith. The difference, Lord, is seeing who You are and what You alone can do. Please reveal Yourself to me that my faith might grow!


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 03, 2003, 06:48:51 AM



"Be gentle with yourself,
learn to love yourself,
to forgive yourself,
for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others."
                                              ~Wilfred A. Peterson~

Brother Love :)


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on November 03, 2003, 04:55:49 PM



"Be gentle with yourself,
learn to love yourself,
to forgive yourself,
for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others."
                                              ~Wilfred A. Peterson~

Brother Love :)

Thanks BEP for your daily messages and thank you Brother Love for the above quote.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Allinall on November 04, 2003, 03:40:58 AM
Here's a song that I've come across.  Many of you probably know it, but it has been such a blessing to me lately that I felt it would be good to share...

How deep the Father’s love for us,
   How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son,
   And make a wretch His treasure?

How great the pain of searing loss?
   The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
   Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon the cross
   My sin upon His shoulders!
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
   Call out among the scoffers!

It was my sin that held Him there
   Until it was accomplished!
His dying breath has brought me life
   I know that it is finished!

I will not boast in anything;
   No gifts, no power, no wisdom!
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
   His death and resurrection!

Why should I gain from His reward?
   I cannot give an answer!
But this I know with all my heart,
   His wounds have paid my ransom!


God bless!
   


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 04, 2003, 03:46:19 AM
Here's a song that I've come across.  Many of you probably know it, but it has been such a blessing to me lately that I felt it would be good to share...

How deep the Father’s love for us,
   How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son,
   And make a wretch His treasure?

How great the pain of searing loss?
   The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
   Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon the cross
   My sin upon His shoulders!
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
   Call out among the scoffers!

It was my sin that held Him there
   Until it was accomplished!
His dying breath has brought me life
   I know that it is finished!

I will not boast in anything;
   No gifts, no power, no wisdom!
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
   His death and resurrection!

Why should I gain from His reward?
   I cannot give an answer!
But this I know with all my heart,
   His wounds have paid my ransom!


God bless!
   


Amen Allinall, thanks for posting it.

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 04, 2003, 09:03:57 PM



"Be gentle with yourself,
learn to love yourself,
to forgive yourself,
for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others."
                                              ~Wilfred A. Peterson~

Brother Love :)

Oklahoma Howdy to Brother Love,

Thanks! My wife saw this and took it to school to share it with her fellow teachers. This poem speaks volumes. My thoughts were fairly simple on this. Jesus forgives us, so we can forgive ourselves and be more effective in HIS service. Thanks again.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 04, 2003, 09:16:48 PM
Oklahoma Howdy to Ambassador4Christ and Brother Love,

Brothers, I love you in Christ and sincerely appreciate the many beautiful Bible studies you have provided. I have made favorites of most of the web sites you like. Several lifetimes would be required to devote the proper attention to many of the beautiful TRUTHS of GOD in these studies.

I subscribed to considerable material pointed out by you. I have more than I can study, but I save them and study them as I get to them. To say that I enjoy the material is an understatement.

Thanks Brothers.

Love In Christ,
Tom
 


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 04, 2003, 09:25:01 PM
Oklahoma Howdy to Allinall,

THANKS BROTHER! I really enjoyed the words in that song. I don't recognize the song, but I can certainly see how the message of this song would be uplifting and become special.

Thanks again.

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 04, 2003, 09:27:45 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 4:

Moses Keeping the Passover, by Faith:

By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.  (Heb_11:28)

When Moses boldly led Israel out of Egypt, his fearlessness was based upon his faith in the true and living God. "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Heb_11:28). His confidence in the invisible Lord God had been confirmed by what he saw regarding the Lord's faithfulness when he kept the Passover, by faith.

The crushing blow of God's judgment upon Egypt was the death of the firstborn in every household. "The LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . So Pharaoh rose in the night . . . Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Go, serve the LORD as you have said' " (Exo_12:29-31). Israel was delivered from this judgment by trusting in the Lord's protection, which was provided through the shed blood of the Passover lamb. "Now the LORD spoke to Moses . . . every man shall take for himself a lamb . . . a lamb for a household . . . Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it . . . For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt . . . I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt" (Exo_12:1, Exo_12:3, Exo_12:6-7, Exo_12:12-13). Responding in faith, Moses and the Israelites were delivered. "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them."

We, too, are delivered from judgment by faith in the blood of the ultimate Passover lamb. "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1Co_5:7). We who trust in the shed blood of Christ are forgiven, delivered from the eternal wages of sin by God's abounding grace. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph_1:7 and Rom_6:23). This eternal life (of endless duration and abundant dimensions) is ours through the New Covenant of grace. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luk_22:20).

Lord Jesus, my Passover Lamb, I thank You for Your shed blood that rescued me from the eternal judgment that I deserved. I praise You for the abundance of life that Your New Covenant of grace brings to me, by faith!


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 05, 2003, 05:23:16 AM
I thank You for Your shed blood that rescued me from the eternal judgment that I deserved. I praise You for the abundance of life that Your New Covenant of grace brings to me, by faith!

Amen & Amen

Brother Love :)


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 05, 2003, 05:27:01 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to Ambassador4Christ and Brother Love,

Brothers, I love you in Christ and sincerely appreciate the many beautiful Bible studies you have provided. I have made favorites of most of the web sites you like. Several lifetimes would be required to devote the proper attention to many of the beautiful TRUTHS of GOD in these studies.

I subscribed to considerable material pointed out by you. I have more than I can study, but I save them and study them as I get to them. To say that I enjoy the material is an understatement.

Thanks Brothers.

Love In Christ,
Tom
 

Your more than welcome Brother, and I can say the same to you, thanks Bro for shareing the truth of Gods Grace. And one more thing I love your web-site.

Your Friend & Brother

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 05, 2003, 08:25:02 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to Brother Love,

Thanks for the compliments on my web site. I really enjoyed doing it and have some ideas for future additions. Many in my family are missionaries, and I'm trying to convince them to let me add pages about their ministries. Most of them have very little to do with computers, and I'm not sure what they think about the Internet. Some folks hear "Internet" and think only about the evil in the news.

I'll let you know if they decide to do it. I think that most folks would be interested in hearing about ministries in Columbia, Old Mexico, and Chile, just to name a few.

In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 05, 2003, 08:30:06 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 5:

The Israelites Passing through the Red Sea, by Faith:

By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.  (Heb_11:29)

By faith, Moses called God's people to apply the blood of the Passover lamb that they might be delivered from the judgment that was to befall Egypt. "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them" (Heb_11:28). Then, Moses led the people out of Egypt, eventually passing through the Red Sea, by faith.

Instead of sending Israel directly north toward the promised land, the Lord sent them eastward toward the Red Sea. "So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea" (Exo_13:18). From the outset of their journey, the Lord became their guide. "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light" (Exo_13:21).

Yet, Pharoah's heart hardened against Israel once again. "So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea" (Exo_14:9). Soon, the people were trapped between the formidable sea and a mighty army. They were overtaken with fear, so Moses pointed them to the Lord. "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today" (Exo_14:13). Then, as the Lord had instructed him, "Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left" (Exo_14:21-22). Into this intimidating setting, by faith in the Lord, the children of Israel advanced. " By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land."

Again, as the Lord commanded, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. "Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained" (Exo_14:28). The rebellious Egyptians could not follow where God's people had gone by faith. "Whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned."

Almighty God, when the way is blocked before me and an army of circumstances closes in behind me, help me to stand by faith, looking to You to open a way. Lord, I want to follow You, asking You to lead me where my enemies cannot go, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 06, 2003, 04:36:10 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 6

Israel Seeing Jericho's Walls Fall Down, by Faith:

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.  (Heb_11:30)

The children of Israel are now poised on the edge of the land that God had promised to give them. By faith, they had kept the Passover and were spared the judgment of the firstborn that befell the unbelieving Egyptians. By faith, they had been delivered from bondage in Egypt. By faith, they had passed through the Red Sea. Now, they would begin to possess the promised blessings of God, seeing Jericho's walls fall down, by faith.

The first great challenge that Israel faced in the land was the fortress city of Jericho. Previously, the doubting spies had discouraged the people by speaking of these impenetrable cities. "The cities are great and fortified up to heaven" (Deu_1:28). Now, the Lord gives words of encouragement. "And the LORD said to Joshua: 'See! I have given Jericho into your hand' " (Jos_6:2). Although these words must have stirred hope, the battle plan may have brought some perplexity. "You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days . . . But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets" (Jos_6:3-4). The natural question would have been, "How can a fortified city be taken by marching in circles and blowing trumpets?" Yet, these unusual battle instructions were accompanied by a divine promise. "When they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat" (Jos_6:5). If the people would trust in the Lord, march around the city as told, and add a victory shout at the end of the seventh day, then the walls would fall down. "And he said to the people, 'Proceed, and march around the city' " (Jos_6:7).

Day after day, they marched on silently. On the seventh day, they marched repeatedly. Many times they may have been tempted to forsake the process as foolish and futile. Yet, patiently and obediently, they pressed on, by faith. Finally, the seventh march was completed on the seventh day. "When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout . . . the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city . . . and they took the city" (Jos_6:20). How could this be? It was the result of faith in God. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down."

Lord God of the impossible, many times I have been as helpless as Israel was before the impregnable fortress of Jericho. When I tried to knock down the circumstances by my own power or thought, I was defeated. When I trusted in You prayerfully, I was victorious. Please help me to patiently and persistently face such battles in prayer, awaiting Your work, by Your mighty grace, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 06, 2003, 05:21:05 AM
Please help me to patiently and persistently face such battles in prayer, awaiting Your work, by Your mighty grace, Amen.


Amen!

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 07, 2003, 08:15:46 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 7

Rahab, the Harlot, Rescued, by Faith:

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.  (Heb_11:31)

God delivered the fortress of Jericho into the hands of His people, as the walls fell down, by faith. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days" (Heb_11:30). This evil city of abominations was then destroyed, as the holy Lord God had justly required. "You shall utterly destroy them . . . lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods" (Deu_20:17-18). Yet, the family of Rahab, the harlot, was rescued, by faith. "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe."

In preparation for entering the land, Joshua had sent out two spies, who were eventually received by Rahab. "Now Joshua. . . sent out two men . . . to spy secretly, saying, 'Go, view the land, especially Jericho.' So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there" (Jos_2:1). The king of Jericho searched for the men and could not find them, for Rahab had concealed them. "She had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax" (Jos_2:6). Why would this woman have risked her life to protect these two strangers? She and her family had heard of the reality of the God of Israel. "We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites . . . whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted . . . for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (Jos_2:10-11). This heathen family now wanted to turn from their idolatrous ways and identify by faith with the true and living Lord God and with His people. "Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall" (Jos_2:15).

By her confession of faith, confirmed by her actions of faith, Rahab and her family were rescued from the judgment that her unbelieving city experienced. "And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day" (Jos_6:25). She became a part of the nation Israel, even appearing in the line of Jesus, the Messiah! "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ . . . Abraham begot Isaac . . . Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab" (Mat_1:1-2, 5). What astounding blessings come to those who believe. By faith, Rahab went from judgment to deliverance, from idols to God, from shame to honor!

Lord God of all who believe, I am humbled and encouraged by Rahab's testimony. It is humbling to see how much more revelation I have — yet, at times, I wrestle with fears and doubts. However, it is encouraging to see the radical changes that You bring whenever we trust in You!


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Symphony on November 07, 2003, 10:29:29 AM

Thank you, bep.  A nice theme you're developing here.

You could start this as a "By Faith..." thread.


It is a wonderful theme, that we have, "by faith", in Jesus.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 07, 2003, 09:03:28 PM
Oklahoma Howdy to Symphony,

I love the subject of faith. It is the key to our acceptance of the Gospel of God's Grace and the beginning of a beautiful fellowship with Jesus. The most beautiful and uplifting TRUTHS in the Holy Bible all involve FAITH.

It is interesting how the Faith of HIS children becomes so much more than the flimsy dictionary definition. Faith does become a rock-solid, unmovable ROCK when we think about our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. I think that a thread dedicated to Faith is a great idea.

Thanks be unto God for HIS unspeakable GIFT!

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 08, 2003, 03:54:43 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 8

Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah — by Faith:

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah.  (Heb_11:32)

So much has been noted in these chronicles of faith concerning the extensive consequences that appear as faith accesses grace. As our present verse implies, days and pages seem too short to also relate the testimonies of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah — who many might view as "unlikely examples" of living by faith.

In Gideon, God was calling an unlikely leader as His instrument for delivering His people. His humble reply was, "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? . . . I am the least in my father's house" (Jdg_6:15). The Lord's promise was, "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites (Jdg_6:16). When 32,000 Israelites rallied for battle (see Jdg_7:3), God diminished Gideon's army to an unimpressive, outnumbered 300. "Then the LORD said to Gideon, 'By the three hundred men who lapped I will save you" (Jdg_7:7). Gideon went forth by faith, and the Lord was faithful to His word. "When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the LORD set every man's sword against his companion . . . and the army fled" (Jdg_7:22).

Again, in Barak, another unlikely leader was selected by the Lord. First, he would not go forth to battle unless the prophetess Deborah accompanied him "And Barak said to her, If you will go with me, then I will go; but if you will not go with me, I will not go' " (Jdg_4:8). Also, his godless opponent was actually defeated by another woman. "Sisera had fled away on foot to the tent of Jael, the wife of Heber . . . Then Jael . . . took a tent peg and took a hammer in her hand . . . and drove the peg into his temple . . . for he was fast asleep and weary. So he died" (Jdg_4:17, Jdg_4:21).

In Samson, we have another unexpected example of faith. Although he did many mighty exploits, he often proved to be a vain and foolish man (especially, concerning women). Yet, in his death, he won his greatest victory of all. "O Lord God, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God . . . So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life" (Jdg_16:28, Jdg_16:30).

In Jephthah, we have one more unlikely example of faith. He was the "son of a harlot" (Jdg_11:1). He made what appeared to be an unwise vow (Jdg_11:1). Still, on occasion, his trust in the Lord was evident. "Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jephthah . . . and the LORD delivered them into his hands" (Jdg_11:29, Jdg_11:32).

Lord God of the "unlikely servant," I thank You for these testimonies of those "likely to be overlooked by many." Yet, at various times and in many situations, their faith in You was demonstrated. Lord, I am encouraged that you are not looking for the spectacular performer or the capable achiever. You are looking for people who will trust in You, as You deal with their shortcomings. I praise You, Lord, for such lovingkindness!


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on November 08, 2003, 06:53:59 PM
You are looking for people who will trust in You

Amen

He is Faithful


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 09, 2003, 11:11:00 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 9

David and Samuel — by Faith:

Time would fail me to tell . . . also of David and Samuel.  (Heb_11:32):

Our divinely inspired author sensed that time was running out in his epistle to elaborate upon the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah. He was also impressed to record that time was not sufficient to include specific testimony about the faith of David and Samuel. This is surprising, since they would be viewed by many as likely candidates for extensive consideration.

David was such a notable man of faith. He faced the giant Goliath by faith. "Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts' " (1Sa_17:45). When Saul wanted to destroy him, David entrusted the King into the hands of the Lord. "Let the LORD judge between you and me, and let the LORD avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you" (1Sa_24:12). He confidently confessed the Lord as his strength, his joy, and his comprehensive salvation. "The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation" (Psa_118:14). He even turned to the Lord in humble dependence at the lowest spiritual point in his life (after he sinned tragically in adultery and murder). "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (Psa 51:1-2).

Samuel was another notable man of faith. He began to trust in the Lord as a young boy. "Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel answered, 'Speak, for Your servant hears' " (1Sa_3:10). Then, he grew spiritually and faithfully served the Lord throughout the nation of Israel. "So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD" (1Sa_3:19-20). Also, he courageously rebuked King Saul for not fully carrying out his instructions from God to destroy the Amalekites. "Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king" (1Sa_15:23).

David and Samuel were outstanding servants of the Lord. However, the noteworthy distinctive in their lives was the same spiritual factor that caused some men of lesser renown to be listed here as well — faith. "For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah" (Heb_11:32).

Lord God of the "likely servant," in many ways, I can identify with Barak and Jephthah more readily than with David and Samuel. Yet, I am encouraged to see that what pleases You in any person is always the same — faith. Teach me to trust You, Lord.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 10, 2003, 04:26:13 AM
I am encouraged to see that what pleases You in any person is always the same — faith. Teach me to trust You, Lord.


Amen

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 10, 2003, 09:57:40 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 10

More Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith:

Time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness.  (Heb_11:32-33)

With time and pages running out in his epistle, our divinely inspired writer summarizes the testimonies of specific servants of the Lord (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel), as well as one general category (the prophets). In his summary, we see more consequences of accessing grace through faith.

The first consequence of their faith given here is they "subdued kingdoms." As with Joshua, David was exceptionally effective in defeating enemy nations. "David attacked the Philistines, subdued them . . . Then he defeated Moab . . . And David defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah as far as Hamath, as he went to establish his power by the River Euphrates . . . Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus . . . He also put garrisons in Edom" (1Ch_18:1-3, 1Ch_18:6, 1Ch_18:13).

The next consequence of their faith is they "worked righteousness." These terms speak of walking in righteousness before the Lord and calling others to the righteous ways of the Lord. Samuel had a reputation of walking in righteousness before his God. "There is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man . . . Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate" (1Sa_9:6, 1Sa_9:18). The prophets persistently called the people to forsake their ungodly ways and to turn to the Lord's righteous ways. Isaiah preached powerful warnings concerning unrighteousness. "Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward" (Isa_1:4). He also held forth the Lord as man's only hope of righteousness. "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isa_55:6-7).

The kingdoms we are to subdue today are the kingdoms of self and flesh, as well as the kingdom of this world (with its millions of bound and lost, who are perishing in darkness). The righteousness we need and that we proclaim is the righteousness of Christ, who lives in us! The means is ever the same — by faith.

Lord God of power and righteousness, teach me to rely upon Your power, that the kingdoms of self and flesh might be subdued in my life day by day. Lord, I want to abide in You, so Your righteousness might shine through me in my daily situations. Enable me to cry out against the ungodliness of these days, while at the same time, pointing people to You for the forgiveness and righteousness they need to find, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 11, 2003, 07:36:35 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 11

Another Consequence of Accessing Grace through Faith:

Who through faith . . . obtained promises.  (Heb_11:33)

In our present section of scripture, we have begun to consider a summarized testimony of God's servants who experienced various consequences of accessing grace through faith. Two of these results were they "subdued kingdoms" and "worked righteousness." These are wonderful realities, but these accounts show that relying upon the Lord can produce more consequences than these.

Another rich blessing that came from trusting in God was they "obtained promises." Jeremiah, a mighty prophet of God, certainly experienced the benefit of fulfilled promises from the Lord. He was given a challenging calling to tear down entrenched ungodliness that a fresh work of God might begin. "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant" (Jer_1:9-10). The religious establishment would come strongly against him, but God promised to sustain and protect him. " 'They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to deliver you' " (Jer_1:19). The promised opposition surely came.

"Therefore the princes said to the king, 'Please, let this man be put to death' . . . So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon . . . which was in the court of the prison" (Jer_38:4, Jer_38:6). More importantly, the promised rescue came as well. "So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison . . . then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah . . . that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people" (Jer_38:13; Jer_39:14). Even more importantly, the Lord continued to speak to and through His servant in the midst of it all. "Now the word of the LORD had come to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the prison" (Jer_39:15).

We may not have a prophetic calling exactly like Jeremiah. However, we are all called "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jud_1:3). If we faithfully respond, many will oppose us as well. We, too, will need to "obtain promises." We will need to rely upon the fulfillment of God's promised protection. "He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you' . . . So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' " (Heb_13:5-6).

Lord God of promises, I need to obtain Your promises. I need to entrust myself to Your promised work in my life. So, I look to You again, not only to protect me as I serve You daily, but also to sustain the ministry You have given to me, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 11, 2003, 08:03:17 AM
'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?' " (Heb_13:5-6).

Amen

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 12, 2003, 10:05:18 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 12

Even More Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith:

Who through faith . . . stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire.  (Heb_11:33-34)

Through various testimonies of God's servants, we have considered some consequences of accessing grace through faith. By trusting in the Lord, they "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises" (Heb_11:33). Yet, through these lives we can see even more consequences.

Through faith in God, they "stopped the mouths of lions." This is clearly a reference to Daniel. His enemies conspired to trap him through a new law that would ban prayer to God. "Whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions" (Dan_6:7). Such a godless decree could never stop Daniel from his daily practice of prayer. "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days" (Dan_6:10). The reluctant king (who respected Daniel greatly) had to apply the irreversible law. "So the king gave the command, and they brought Daniel and cast him into the den of lions" (Dan_6:16). The next day, Daniel was found alive, rescued by the God in whom he had trusted. "So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he believed in his God" (Dan_6:23).

These testimonies also include that they "quenched the violence of fire." This would clearly refer to three contemporaries of Daniel: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. They were given courage through faith to refuse worship before the king's idol, even though a fiery furnace awaited them. After God preserved them intact, the king extolled the Lord with understanding. "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, who . . . delivered His servants who trusted in Him" (Dan_3:28).

By faith, we, too, can stop the mouth of the lion that threatens us. "Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith" (1Pe_5:8-9). Also, by faith in the promises of God, we can quench the violence of fiery trials that come against us. "When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God" (Isa_43:2-3).

Dear Lord, what a comfort to know that lions and fires are no threat to You. Lord, grant me the courage to do what is pleasing in Your sight, no matter who comes against me. When the roaring adversary attacks, may I trust in You. When fiery circumstances blaze, may I turn to You, for Your glory, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 13, 2003, 02:10:05 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 13

Still More Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith:

Who through faith . . . escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle.  (Heb_11:34)

We have seen that by trusting in the Lord, His people "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire" (Heb_11:33-34). Other testimonies indicate that there are still more consequences of accessing grace through faith.

By faith, some of God's servants "escaped the edge of the sword." The prophet Elisha experienced this. The king of Syria sent his army to encompass the city. "There was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, 'Alas, my master! What shall we do?' " (2Ki_6:15). Elisha saw the true situation by the eye of faith, so he prayed. " 'LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.' Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha" (2Ki_6:17). Then, the Lord struck the enemy forces with blindness and delivered His people.

Others of God's people "out of weakness were made strong." King Jehoshaphat showed what this meant. "The people of Moab with the people of Ammon, and others . . . came to battle against Jehoshaphat" (2Ch_20:1). In weakness, the king cried out to the Lord. "We have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us . . . but our eyes are upon You" (2Ch_20:12). The Lord assured them of His victory. "The battle is not yours, but God's . . . You will not need to fight in this battle . . . stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you" (2Ch_20:15, 2Ch_20:17). Strengthened by faith and filled with expectation, they marched out to watch the enemy armies destroy one another.

Others "became valiant in battle." Samson exemplified this. "The Philistines came shouting against him. Then the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him . . . and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey . . . and killed a thousand men with it" (Jdg_15:14-15).
We may face many imminent threats, but we can trust the Lord to provide His escape. "The Lord will deliver me from every evil work" (2Ti_4:18). The Lord can also provide His strength, even when we are weak. "For My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2Co_12:9). Our God can also make us valiant in battle. "Take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day" (Eph_6:13).

O Lord, You are my deliverer, my strength, and my source of courage. Teach me to look to You when I am in danger, when I am weak, and when the battles rage.  I long to walk by faith in the blessed consequences of Your abounding grace, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 13, 2003, 04:05:23 AM
Teach me to look to You when I am in danger, when I am weak, and when the battles rage.  I long to walk by faith in the blessed consequences of Your abounding grace, Amen.

and Amen

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 14, 2003, 05:12:20 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 14

One More Consequence of Accessing Grace through Faith:

Who through faith . . . turned to flight the armies of the aliens.  (Heb_11:34)

In this summarized series of testimonies, the Lord's servants "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle." (Heb_11:33-34).

Our next category shows one more consequence of accessing grace through faith.

By trusting in the Lord, some of His people "turned to flight the armies of the aliens." Jonathan (son of King Saul) provides an excellent picture of this. "Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, 'Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; it may be that the LORD will work for us. For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few' " (1Sa_14:6). Although these two men were greatly outnumbered by the enemy forces, Jonathan knew that God was not restricted by numbers in bringing victory to his people. God confirmed Jonathan's plan by the anticipated response of the enemy soldiers, so the two men launched an attack on the fortress. "And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armorbearer after him; and they fell before Jonathan. And as he came after him, his armorbearer killed them" (1Sa_14:13). The reaction of the alien army was as though a mighty horde had swept over them. "And there was trembling in the camp, in the field, and among all the people. The garrison and the raiders also trembled; and the earth quaked, so that it was a very great trembling. Now the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked, and there was the multitude, melting away; and they went here and there" (1Sa_14:15-16). Other Israelites, who had been fearful, were encouraged to join in the battle. "Likewise all the men of Israel who had hidden in the mountains of Ephraim, when they heard that the Philistines fled, they also followed hard after them in the battle" (1Sa_14:22). So, two men were sufficient to cause a mighty army to flee, even if God needed to add an earthquake to ensure effectiveness!

By trusting in the Lord, we can also cause the enemy and his demonic forces to flee. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might . . . For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places . . . Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Eph_6:10, Eph_6:12 and Jam_4:7).

Lord God almighty, where do you want me to go forth in faith, anticipating that You will cause the enemy to flee? Lord, guard me from presumption. I submit to You. Make me an encouragement to fearful saints who are in hiding and need to be serving, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 14, 2003, 05:27:27 AM
Make me an encouragement to fearful saints who are in hiding and need to be serving, Amen.

Right on

Amen

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 15, 2003, 10:23:19 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 15

Contrasting Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith:

Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection.  (Heb_11:35)

This verse serves as a transition from blessings that were enjoyed through trusting in the Lord to difficulties that were endured by depending upon the Lord. Herein, we see contrasting consequence of accessing grace through faith. The blessings we may somewhat expect. The difficulties may seem to us "unusual."

Even the blessing of resurrected loved ones is not surprising to be found in the history of God's people, since we serve a God of resurrection power. Elijah understood this. Consequently, he did not balk when he knew that the Lord wanted him to be an instrument of resurrection. This miracle of God's grace would occur in the home of a widow who was supplying food for the prophet. "The son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him" (1Ki_17:17). This faithful widow was distressed and perplexed. "So she said to Elijah, 'What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?' " (1Ki_17:18). In most situations, prayer would have been appropriately offered for the strength and comfort of the remaining family. However, Elijah was led to cry out to the Lord for the boy. "O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him" (1Ki_17:21). The Lord confirmed that this was His will by raising the deceased son. "Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived" (1Ki_17:22).

This miraculous blessing was brought forth by faith in God. Yet, faith in the Lord does not always result in such temporal blessings, as the contrasting conclusion to our verse documents. "And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection." Living by faith is the general context of this chapter ("By faith . . . By faith . . . By faith" — Heb_11:3-5). It is also the immediate context of our verse ("who through faith" — Heb_11:33). These "others [who] were tortured" were also living by faith. Their faith in God would work for them an eternal blessing, to be enjoyed at the final resurrection of the righteous.

We can embrace this same outlook. "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom_8:18). Meanwhile, we can be learning to live by resurrection power: "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection" (Phi_3:10).

Lord God of resurrection, I cry out to You for the reviving of the dead or dying areas of my own life or circumstances. I also look to You for the sustaining strength I need in times of suffering. Teach me to live daily by the power of Your resurrection, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 16, 2003, 05:05:36 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 16

"Unusual" Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith:

Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.  (Heb_11:36-37)

Very often, when people are trusting in the Lord to work by His grace, they are anticipating many of the delightful workings of God that are in the testimonies we have been considering. These saints "subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens" (Heb_11:33-34). Yet, others experienced what might be called "unusual" consequences of accessing grace through faith. They had to trust in the Lord when the aforementioned blessings did not occur. They had to trust God to sustain them in and through great difficulties of life.

Some had to endure by faith "trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment." Jeremiah exemplifies these. "O LORD . . . I am in derision daily; everyone mocks me . . . Therefore the princes were angry with Jeremiah, and they struck him and put him in prison" (Jer_20:7; Jer_37:15). Some "were stoned." Zechariah was killed in this fashion for giving warnings from the Lord. "So they conspired against him, and . . . stoned him with stones" (2Ch_24:21). Some "were sawn in two." Tradition tells us that Isaiah died in this vicious manner. Some "were tempted." In the midst of their sufferings, they were further pained by enticements to ungodly responses. Job endured this from the bad counsel of his own wife. "Do you still hold to your integrity? Curse God and die!" (Job 2:9). Some "were slain with the sword." King Saul had godly priests, who were loyal to David, executed this way. " 'Kill the priests!' So Doeg the Edomite . . . killed on that day eighty-five men' " (1Sa_22:18). Others "wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented." By faith, these saints had to endure homelessness, poverty, distress, and harassment.

These servants of the Lord (who are all examples of living by faith!) are a reminder to us that our trials, sufferings, and anguishing impossibilities do not necessarily mean we are failing to trust God. Often, these challenges mean that we are being given an opportunity to humbly, dependently, draw upon the grace of God in ways that we need to experience or others need to observe.

Lord God of the "unusual" blessing, please give me the wisdom to discern and the grace to endure when Your answer to my prayer is to be a mocking, a verbal stoning, an affliction, or a season of lack, in Jesus name , Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 17, 2003, 02:10:45 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 17

Reflecting on the Extensive Consequences of Walking by Faith:

By faith Noah . . . By faith Abraham . . . By faith Sarah . . . By faith Moses . . . By faith the harlot Rahab . . . David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith . . . And others . . . Still others . . . all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith.  (Heb_11:7-8, Heb_11:11, Heb_11:24, Heb_11:31-33, Heb_11:35-36, Heb_11:39)

God wants us to live by His grace. "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pe_3:18). Therefore, we must walk by faith, since faith accesses grace. "Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_5:2). In a series of meditations, we have been considering the extensive consequences of walking by faith (and thereby drawing upon the effective grace of God). A time of reflecting upon the broad and diverse dimensions of these consequences can bring much encouragement and edification.

"By faith Noah" undertook an amazing task (building an ark) to prepare for an event never before experienced (a worldwide flood). "By faith Abraham" obediently left his familiar homeland for an uncertain destination. He also counted on God to do all the great things He had promised (including, God blessing all nations through him). "By faith Sarah," in her old age, miraculously bore the necessary son for the fulfillment of God's plan. Later, by faith, Abraham laid the promised son upon the altar of God. All along the way, he lived as a pilgrim headed for an eternal, heavenly home.

"By faith Moses" forsook the privileges and pleasures of the world to be used of God to lead His people out of bondage. "By faith the harlot Rahab" helped the Israelites, identified with the true and living God, and was rescued from judgment. "David and Samuel and the prophets [and others like them] through faith" conquered nations, grew in godliness, experienced God's fulfilled promises, survived the den of lions, withstood the fiery furnace, were spared death by the sword, experienced God's strength in weakness, found courage on the battlefield, caused enemy armies to flee, and received resurrected loved ones.

"And others" (also by faith) endured tortures. "Still others" experienced mockings, beatings, bonds, prisons, stonings, severings, painful enticements, deprivations, impoverishments, general tribulations, and cruel torments. "All these . . . obtained a good testimony through faith."

Through these testimonies, God is showing us the limitless extent that His grace can work in our lives. Through these examples the Lord is encouraging us to trust Him to work comprehensively for us, as He has faithfully done for others.

Lord God of all grace, my heart is stirred as I consider the great extent to which Your grace can work in lives that humbly trust in You. Father, I ask You to make of my life a growing testimony of Your abounding grace, through Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 17, 2003, 05:37:12 AM
"Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_5:2).

Amen

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Symphony on November 17, 2003, 08:13:12 PM

Amen.   :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 18, 2003, 04:01:28 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 18

God Fulfilling the Work of Faith with Power:

Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power, that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.  (2Th_1:11-12)

These verses provide another opportunity to reflect upon the central point in our last sequence of devotions (from Hebrews). Therein, we examined the extensive consequences of walking by faith (and thereby drawing upon the effective grace of God). The good things that appeared in these lives was the result of God fulfilling the work of faith with power.

The opening words remind us of the appropriateness of intercessory prayer for one another. "Therefore we also pray always for you." The following terms remind us of what to pray about: "that our God would count you worthy of this calling." God counts us worthy to be His children and His servants on the basis of faith, not performance: "not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Phi_3:9). The following words from our present text also indicate that true faith in the Lord results in proper performance: "and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power." God wants to fully develop in our lives the good things that His own goodness causes Him to desire for us. Of course, He desires godliness for us. He accomplishes this by "the work of faith with power."

When we trust in the Lord, the glorious works of God are manifested in and through our lives "with power." The power involved in this process is His power. "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 . . . To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily" (Eph_3:20 and Col_1:29).

This is the process that is vividly portrayed in the lives we have looked at in Hebrews. They trusted in God: "By faith Noah . . . By faith Abraham . . . By faith Sarah" (Heb_11:7-8, Heb_11:11). The God upon whom they relied worked mightily in them, by means of His great grace: "according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." Our God wants to fulfill the work of faith with power in our lives — "according to the grace of our God." This is what brings glory to the Lord on earth, while reminding us that we will enter into His glory some day in heaven: "that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in Him."

Lord God of great power, please fulfill in me the work of faith with power. As I look to You for the grace that is needed for godly living, glorify Your name through my life. I eagerly await dwelling forever with You in the glories of heaven above, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 18, 2003, 05:09:12 AM
When we trust in the Lord, the glorious works of God are manifested in and through our lives "with power." The power involved in this process is His power. "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 . . . To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily" (Eph_3:20 and Col_1:29).

AMEN!

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 19, 2003, 03:21:35 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 19

The "Much More" Grace of God:

For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (Rom_5:17)

The grace of God is here connected with the phrase "much more." What a grand description of His grace — the "much more" grace of God! God's grace is "much more" than forgiveness. It is "much more" than new birth. It is "much more" than we have yet understood. It is "much more" than we have ever yet experienced. Here, we see it is "much more" than sufficient to deal with the devastating effects of sin in the lives of the children of Adam.

Due to sin, mankind begins their existence separated from the Lord. They are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph_2:1). Additionally, each person's individual experience can be decimated by the effects of sin. Selfishness, dishonesty, brutality, fear, disloyalty, deception, and the like can leave individuals in miserable bondage and paralyzing defeat. These devastations come from being under the rule of death: "For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one." When Adam fell into sin and rebellion, the enemy of men's souls gained access to Adam and his seed. This cruel dictator rules over everyone who is related to Adam through natural birth (and not yet related to Jesus by new birth). Elsewhere, Jesus described the sole intention of our enemy's interest in us. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (Joh_10:10).

The remedy of God for escaping the reign of death is two-fold: "those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." First, the "gift of righteousness" provides an acceptable standing in heaven before a holy, righteous God. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed . . . even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe" (Rom_3:21-22). Second, "abundance of grace" provides the ongoing spiritual resources that are necessary for the development of a godly, victorious walk for the glory of God in the midst of humanity here on earth. Both of these wondrous provisions ("abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness") are ours because of the relationship we have by faith with Jesus Christ: "through the One, Jesus Christ."

Heavenly Father, I realize that Your grace is much more than I have yet understood or experienced. I also see that it is much more than sufficient to reverse the effects of sin that may have impacted my life. So, I humbly reach out to You to receive from Your abundance of grace, that I might walk more victoriously, through Christ, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 19, 2003, 06:18:45 AM
For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (Rom_5:17)

Good message Bro, thanks for posting.

Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on November 19, 2003, 07:31:12 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to Brother Love,

Brother, you are most welcome.

It is interesting to note that the term, "much more" is often used in the Holy Bible when referring to God's GRACE AND LOVE. Our need is supplied in HIS ABUNDANCE. Our absence of self-righteousness is fulfilled in the overwhelming RIGHTEOUSNESS of our Lord and Saviour, JESUS CHRIST.

His matchless GRACE and LOVE are fulfilled and made manifest in the lives of HIS Children. Thanks be unto God for HIS Unspeakable GIFT!

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: Reigning in Life by the "Much More" Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on November 20, 2003, 03:41:09 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 20

Reigning in Life by the "Much More" Grace of God:

For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (Rom_5:17)

Man's problems are a result of his initial relationship with Adam. God's remedies are found in a new relationship with Jesus Christ. As we have seen, all of humanity begins life ruled by a tyrant dictator called death, due to their link with Adam. "By the one man's offense death reigned through the one." However, when people become related to Jesus Christ through faith, they can increasingly learn to reign in life by the "much more" grace of God.

Notice again that God's remedy for those under the reign of death is two-fold: "those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life." Every Christian has received, and has been standing in, the gift of righteousness since the day they were justified by faith in the Lord. This is the only way that anyone can be accepted by a holy, righteous God. Yet, having this wonderful gift of imputed righteousness credited to our account in heaven does not automatically bring daily spiritual victory into the life of God's justified saints. Many Christians, although possessing this gift of the righteousness, do not walk in daily victory. The reason for this lack of spiritual victory is related to the other aspect of God's two-fold provision, "abundance of grace."

Many Christians do not characteristically live by receiving God's grace. Many attempt to live victoriously by merely doing the best that they can by their own human resources. They hope to achieve victory step by step. This will always prove inadequate, because victory must be received from the Lord. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co_15:57). "Give and receive" is the language of grace (which depends upon the work of God). "Earn and achieve" is the language of law (which depends upon the work of man).

Jesus came to man's rescue filled to overflowing with God's grace. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth" (Joh_1:14). Now, for those forgiven by grace, there is a victorious life to be lived by humble dependence upon the "abundance of God's grace" available to us through our new relationship with the Lord. "Much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ."

Father God, I see that Your grace is the resource for living as a Christlike overcomer, reigning in life. Lord, I humble myself before You, admitting my need for Your grace. I reach out to You in faith, praising You that there is abundance of grace available for such victorious living!


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on November 21, 2003, 04:10:32 AM
Many Christians do not characteristically live by receiving God's grace. Many attempt to live victoriously by merely doing the best that they can by their own human resources. They hope to achieve victory step by step. This will always prove inadequate, because victory must be received from the Lord. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co_15:57). "Give and receive" is the language of grace (which depends upon the work of God). "Earn and achieve" is the language of law (which depends upon the work of man).


Right On!

AMEN!!!!

Brother Love :)


Title: Sin Abounding, Grace Abounding "Much More"
Post by: nChrist on November 21, 2003, 09:53:42 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 21

Sin Abounding, Grace Abounding "Much More":

Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Rom_5:20-21)

Sin can overflow lives until there seems to be no hope. Yet, the scriptures boldly declare that the grace of God is greater than the most terrible, aggravated sin of man. Yes, even when sin is abounding, grace can eventually abound "much more."

The Lord uses His law to teach us of sin and of our need for His grace. "Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound." The law provokes the rebellious hearts of man, revealing the desires of sin within them. "For when we were in the flesh, the passions of sins which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death . . . I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet' " (Rom_7:5, Rom_7:7). Also, the law of God convinces us of the awful nature of sin: "that sin through the commandment might become exceedingly sinful" (Rom_7:13). Part of the awful impact of sin is the death it produces in lives: "sin reigned in death." Sin brings spiritual death. "The wages of sin is death" (Rom_6:23). Where sin is left unattended it rules lives by bringing more and more evidences of this spiritual deadness: such as; hatred, selfishness, cruelty, emptiness, despair, and the like. It is as though great waves of sin roll over lives, inundating them in bondage and hopelessness.

Nevertheless, there is always hope in the grace of God. "But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more." No matter how high the waves of sin have flooded in, the waves of God's grace can roll in higher, if we humbly seek after Him.

The grace of God is not only able to forgive sin and cleanse it away, it can also set up a new rule of godliness in forgiven lives. "As sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness." Sin once ruled our lives, bringing spiritual deadness, which increased with each day. Now, if grace is allowed to work in our lives, practical righteousness grows day by day: such as; love, selflessness, kindness, fullness, hope, and the like. All of this is the qualitative aspect of the everlasting life that comes by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: "even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Dear Lord, what a great encouragement these words bring to my heart. The waves of past sin in my life, and the lives of others I minister to, can be dealt with by greater waves of Your life-giving grace. Lord, please flood my life with tidal waves of grace, producing righteousness in my life. Also, help me to point others in this direction of abundant hope, through Jesus Christ, Amen.


Title: Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation
Post by: nChrist on November 22, 2003, 11:36:45 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 22

Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation:

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry . . . And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant.  (1Ti_1:12, 1Ti_1:14)

The grace of God is "much more" than our sin and our failure. It is "much more" than our personal inadequacy. It is "much more" than our comprehension of it. God's grace is "much more" than necessary to radically change our lives. In the limitless resources of God, there is exceedingly abundant grace for transformation. The Apostle Paul is a distinctive example of this transforming grace of God. The Lord took him from religious vanity into spiritual service.

Paul was grateful for this work of grace. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry." God is the one who puts us into ministry. Consequently, for every arena of service we are given, it is appropriate to express thanksgiving to God. Paul knew his ministry was anchored in God's will, not man's. "Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father" (Gal_1:1). Certainly, man can recognize and confirm our callings from God. "When James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles" (Gal_2:9). Still, our appointment is from the Lord: "to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (2Ti_1:11).

Unlike many of us, Paul was told of his calling at the very beginning of his walk with the Lord. "Rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you" (Act_26:16). Such calling to service becomes a stewardship from, and unto, the Lord: "of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God . . . if indeed you have heard of the dispensation [same term, stewardship] of the grace of God which was given to me for you" (Col_1:25 and Eph_3:2).

To put Paul into effective ministry, God Himself had to do the necessary strengthening work, as well as making him a man of faith. "And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful." God's grace is the bountiful resource that brings about such transformation for ministry. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant."

Lord, I know Your word teaches that all of Your children are called to serve You. Work by Your grace in my heart, enabling me, building my faith, and confirming my calling. I want to be a faithful steward of Your exceedingly abundant grace, Amen.


Title: Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation Cont.
Post by: nChrist on November 23, 2003, 09:30:30 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 23

More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation:

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man . . . And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant.  (1Ti_1:12-14)

By His bountiful grace, Jesus Christ transformed Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul. The Lord did this by enabling Paul, making him a man of faith, and putting him into ministry. As we consider what Paul was before the Lord began to change his life, we will see even more on exceedingly abundant grace for transformation.

Before he became a follower of Jesus Christ, Paul engaged in blasphemous behavior. "I was formerly a blasphemer." Through uninformed religious zeal, he said and did much that insulted and opposed the Lord. "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Act_26:9). Part of his sin of blasphemy was incurred attempting to force Christians to speak evil of the Lord. "And I punished them often . . . and compelled them to blaspheme" (Act_26:11).

Related to this, Paul severely persecuted believers in Jesus Christ before he came to salvation. "I was formerly . . . a persecutor." He aggressively searched out anyone he could find who followed Jesus, hoping to imprison them. "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison" (Act_8:3). He was so enraged against the followers of Jesus that he even obtained authorization to pursue them into distant cities beyond Israel. "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Act_9:1-2).

In light of such brazen aggression, it is no surprise that Paul confesses to being an arrogant man before he was saved. "I was formerly . . . an insolent man." His religious success clearly led him to a prideful estimation of his own spirituality. "If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Phi_3:4-6).

Nevertheless, all of this godless religiosity could be transformed by God's bountiful grace. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant."

Lord Jesus, what marvelous grace this is! What encouraging words these are! Yes, I see that my own disqualifying failures can be turned around by Your exceedingly abundant grace! Transform me Lord, I humbly pray!


Title: Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation Cont.
Post by: nChrist on November 24, 2003, 07:53:44 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 24

Once More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation:

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.  (1Ti_1:12-14)

Before Paul believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, he spoke evil of Jesus, oppressed His followers, and exalted himself. "I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man." Yet, God called Paul from this ungodly religious life and made him a faithful, fruitful servant of the Lord. Once more we will see this can only happen by exceedingly abundant grace for transformation.

This magnificent transformation process began with mercy, the necessary companion of grace. God's mercy holds back the awful consequences that our ungodliness deserves. God's grace brings us the wonderful blessings of godliness that we could never deserve. God was merciful toward Paul's ignorant and unbelieving behavior. "But I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." The ministry of grace that God would eventually give to Paul (as well as any ministry God has for us) was established upon mercy. "Therefore, since we have this ministry [new covenant grace — 2Co_3:6], as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart" (2Co_4:1). God chose Paul to be a distinctive example of His rich mercy. "For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life" (1Ti_1:16).

This grand project of transformation then proceeded with grace. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." This bountiful grace brought two spiritual blessings (faith and love) that would be essential for Paul's ministry. Paul had been a man of religious works and self-righteousness. God turned him into a man of faith. "The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith' " (Rom_1:17). He had been a man of cruel hatred and religious prejudice. God turned him into a man of love. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love" (Gal_5:6).

O Lord of rich mercy and exceedingly abundant grace, I worship You. I thank You for mercifully holding back the judgment I deserved. I praise You for graciously bringing to me wonderful blessings that I could never deserve. Now, by Your bountiful grace, please work in my heart more faith and love, that I might serve and honor You more effectively. In Your mighty name I pray, Amen.


Title: Lives Drawn by the Exceeding Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on November 25, 2003, 08:36:41 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 25

Lives Drawn by the Exceeding Grace of God:

They glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.  (2Co_9:13-14)

The church at Corinth became a vivid illustration of what the grace of God can do in lives. God's grace was so mightily at work among them that believers in other parts of the church world were drawn by the exceeding grace of God: "who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you."
Paul's first letter to them certainly revealed that the saints in Corinth were experiencing many problems. Yet, his second letter showed that they were responding to the convicting and transforming work of the Spirit of God. As the church at Corinth was growing in godliness, they were becoming a generous body of believers. They were learning to share with liberality that which the Lord had given to them. This process was being exemplified to them by other churches in the region of Macedonia.

"Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality" (2Co_8:1-2). The churches in Macedonia were burdened for the churches in Judea that were undergoing great material need. The amazing fact is that the Macedonian churches were very needy themselves ("in a great trial of affliction . . . their deep poverty"). The explanation for this burden of compassion in Macedonia was the grace of God at work. "We make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia." God's grace was stirring in them a concern for others and a willingness to share their limited material resources.

A similar work of God was occurring in Corinth, and it was impacting the saints in regions beyond. As other Christians looked at God's grace operating in Corinth, they gave glory to God for their generosity. "They glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men." As they prayed for the saints at Corinth, their hearts were drawn after them in great yearning: "by their prayer for you, who long for you." When the grace of God is allowed to work deeply within followers of Jesus Christ, others develop a yearning to pray for them, to be with them, to communicate with them. They want to be impacted by the exceeding grace of God that has changed and enriched their lives.

Dear Lord of exceeding grace, I thank You for generously sharing the riches of Your grace with me. By Your grace, give me a generous heart towards others. Also, please flood my life with such fullness of grace that others will be drawn to learn more of Your exceeding grace, Amen.


Title: The God of All Grace Developing Our Lives
Post by: nChrist on November 26, 2003, 06:43:41 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 26

The God of All Grace Developing Our Lives:

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus . . . perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  (1Pe_5:10)

We have been considering God's grace as "much more" (Rom_5:17, Rom_5:20), as "exceeding" (2Co_9:14), and as "exceedingly abundant" (1Ti_1:14). These terms appropriately lead into our present meditation, which looks at "the God of all grace." The true and living God has all kinds and all measures of grace, and He wants to impart that grace to develop our lives. One purpose of God's grace is to allow us to dwell forever in His glorious abode: "who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus." This is ours through the atoning death of Jesus Christ, our mediator. "He is the Mediator of the new covenant (of grace), by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant (of law), that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Heb_9:15). Meanwhile, until He returns for us, He wants to develop our lives spiritually during our pilgrimage here on earth.

Part of His plan is to perfect our lives. "May the God of all grace . . . perfect . . . you." This speaks of God completing what is missing and equipping us for service. "Now may the God of peace . . .  make you complete in every good work to do His will . . . And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry" (Heb_13:20-21 and Eph_4:12). Part of His plan is to establish our lives. "May the God of all grace . . . establish . . . you." This has to do with the Lord stabilizing our Christian walk, keeping us steadfastly moving in His direction for our lives. This word was used to describe Jesus' unswerving commitment to head for the cross, resurrection, and ascension that awaited Him in Jerusalem. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luk_9:51). Part of His plan is to strengthen our lives.

"May the God of all grace . . . strengthen . . . you." Our calling to serve God requires strength that we do not have in and of ourselves. The Lord wants to teach us to draw upon His mighty power: "that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man" (Eph_3:16). Part of His plan is to settle our lives. "May the God of all grace . . . settle . . . you." This involves being increasingly grounded in God's ways: "that you, being rooted and grounded in love" (Eph_3:17).

Dear God of all grace, I am eager to be with You in glory above. Meanwhile, I humbly beseech You to develop my life spiritually. Please complete what is missing, stabilize my walk, empower me within, and ground me in Your love — all by Your grace, Amen.


Title: The Suffering that Prepares Us for Grace
Post by: nChrist on November 27, 2003, 06:36:05 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 27

The Suffering that Prepares Us for Grace:

But may the God of all grace . . . after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  (1Pe_5:10)

In our previous meditation, we saw that "the God of all grace" wants to develop our lives spiritually. He wants to use His exceedingly abundant grace to "perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle" us. Now, we will examine the useful (though often undesired) suffering that prepares us for this work of grace.

Yes, suffering is often the link between the work God wants to do in us and the abundant grace that He will use to effect the work: "after you have suffered a while." Even as the perfect, sinless man, the Son of God learned valuable lessons through suffering. "Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered" (Heb_5:8). He experienced the agonies that can be involved in obeying God while dwelling in a rebellious, sinful world. He is the full example of godliness, and we are called to follow Him. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1Pe_2:21). If we are willing to walk the path of godliness, we will suffer as well. "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2Ti_3:12). Such trials and sufferings are normal and purposeful. "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you" (1Pe_4:12). Painful trials seem strange, but they routinely come to test and exercise our faith.

God gives grace to the humble. Trials and suffering humble our hearts and stir us to cry out to the Lord for His necessary grace. This direct link between suffering and grace can be seen in Paul's most persistent trial of suffering. "Lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me . . . Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me" (2Co_12:7-8). Paul's difficulty moved him to earnestly plead with the Lord for His intervention. The Lord responded by His grace. "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me' " (2Co_12:9). Paul did not receive the healing grace that he sought. However, he experienced the sustaining grace that God often chooses to impart in times of suffering. Through His grace, God changed Paul's heart, not his circumstances.

O God of all grace, make me willing to endure the suffering that is necessary to prepare my heart for the transforming work of Your grace. Also, during sufferings and trials, please remind of the work You are doing, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Jesus' Example of Grace Developing Our Lives
Post by: nChrist on November 29, 2003, 06:43:10 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 28

Jesus' Example of Grace Developing Our Lives:

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him . . . And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.  (Luk_2:40, Luk_2:52)

In our previous devotional, we looked at the suffering that prepares us for God's grace to work in our lives, developing us spiritually. Jesus was given as the primary example of this truth. In our present verses, we see Jesus as the example of grace developing our lives comprehensively.

When the Son of God came into the world as a man, He laid aside the independent exercise of His deity: "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant" (Phi_2:6-7). He then developed as any man should (except, He was without sin). "And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom." Jesus grew in spiritual strength, as the Lord wants us to do: "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy" (Col_1:11). The wisdom of the Father began to permeate His life, as He also desires for us: "that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Col_1:9). When Jesus was twelve years old, His spiritual maturity and wisdom were evident, as He discussed the faith with the leaders of Israel. His parents "found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers" (Luk_2:46-47).

Jesus continued to develop in spiritual maturity, pleasing His heavenly Father and impacting the people. "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased . . . Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. And the Jews marveled, saying, 'How does this Man know letters, having never studied?' " (Mat_17:5 and Joh_7:14-15). The Lord wants our walk with Him and our testimony before others to grow, just as in Jesus' life. "Walk as children of light . . . proving what is acceptable to the Lord . . .  that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Eph_5:8, Eph_5:10 and Phi_2:15).

In Jesus' life, this godly progress was accomplished by the grace of God at work: "and the grace of God was upon Him." So it is to be in our lives.

O God of all grace, work in my life, as You did with Your Son, Jesus. Strengthen me spiritually and fill me with Your wisdom. Deepen my walk with You and increase the spiritual impact that I have on others, for Your pleasure and glory, Amen.


Title: Jesus' Example of Grace for Our Speech
Post by: nChrist on November 29, 2003, 06:45:11 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 29

Jesus' Example of Grace for Our Speech:

You are fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips . . . Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.  (Psa_45:2 and Col_4:6)

In our two previous meditations, we saw Jesus as our two-fold example. First, He exemplified the suffering that prepares us for more of God's grace to work in our lives. Second, He exemplified the related issue of God's grace developing our lives comprehensively. Now, we consider Jesus' example of grace for our speech.

Centuries before the Messiah (Jesus) came into this world, the Psalmist prophesied of the words of grace that would flow from His mouth. "You are fairer than the sons of men; grace is poured upon Your lips." The manner in which the grace of God guided and poured forth through the words of Jesus set His speech above that of every other person. Those who listened to Him during His earthly pilgrimage testified of this fact. "All bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth" (Luk_4:22). One of the distinctive aspects of Jesus' words was the unique authority that this outpoured grace imparted. "Then He went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at His teaching, for His word was with authority" (Luk_4:31-32). At one point in Jesus' ministry, the Jewish leaders wanted the temple officers to take Jesus into custody, but they returned empty-handed. "Then the officers came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, 'Why have you not brought Him?' The officers answered, "No man ever spoke like this Man!' " (Joh_7:45-46).

The Lord intends for this same grace to impact our speech. "Let your speech always be with grace." When we humbly allow the Lord to flood our speech with His grace, our words have a heavenly flavor to them: "seasoned with salt." His grace will also add heavenly wisdom to our words: "that you may know how you ought to answer each one." This causes our speech to be edifying to others, because our words are ministering God's grace into their lives. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Eph_4:29).

Lord Jesus, Your words are the kind of words I want to speak — words permeated with the grace of God. Please forgive me for the many words I have expressed that were corrupted by my own fleshly wisdom or selfish interests. I humbly ask You to season my speech with heavenly righteousness and godly insight. I long to impart edifying grace to all who hear me speak. In Your holy name, I pray, Amen.


Title: Observable Nature of the Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on November 30, 2003, 08:40:22 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - November 30

The Observable Nature of the Grace of God:

The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad.  (Act_11:21-23)

Fundamentally, the work of God's grace takes place within human hearts. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Heb_13:9). Yet, whenever grace is at work in lives, visible indicators inevitably appear: "When he came and had seen the grace of God." This statement raises for our consideration the observable nature of the grace of God.

After Stephen was stoned by the religious leaders, an expansive persecution arose. God used this widespread difficulty to extend the proclamation of the gospel. "Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only" (Act_11:19). Others began to reach out to those whose background was Grecian. "But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus" (Act_11:20). God used them to touch many lives. "The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord." Word of this spiritual harvest soon reached Jerusalem. "Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch." So, Barnabas traveled to Antioch, where the first great Gentile church was being birthed. When he arrived, the invisible was being made visible: "When he came and had seen the grace of God." It was obvious to Barnabas that God had been working by His grace.

What Barnabas saw was undoubtedly similar to the spiritual phenomenon that had occurred in the church at Colosse. When the gospel was embraced there, it clearly impacted lives: "the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Col_1:5-6). In Colosse, the outward effects of the inward work of the grace of God was spiritual fruit. When Barnabas saw this same process unfolding in Antioch, "he was glad."

Dear Lord, I praise you that your grace has given me a new spiritual heart. Now I ask You to impact my heart deeply by Your grace. I pray that the visible evidences of grace will be seen by all who observe my life. May it bring gladness to them and honor to You, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on December 01, 2003, 03:59:34 AM
AMEN!!!!

Dear Lord, I praise you that your grace has given me a new spiritual heart. Now I ask You to impact my heart deeply by Your grace. I pray that the visible evidences of grace will be seen by all who observe my life. May it bring gladness to them and honor to You, Amen.

And AMEN!!!!

Brother Love :)


Title: Continuing in the Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on December 01, 2003, 04:04:15 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 1

Continuing in the Grace of God:

When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord . . . Now when the congregation had broken up, many of the Jews and devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.  (Act_11:23; Act_13:43)

Whenever the grace of God is allowed to work in human hearts, visible spiritual evidences eventually appear. This can bring joy to those who are outwardly observing this inward work of grace. Still, it is appropriate to exhort those who have made progress in grace to continue in the grace of God.

When Barnabas arrived in Antioch to evaluate the reported spiritual revival, he was able to observe the outward confirmations of God's inward work of grace. These verifications of grace caused him to rejoice. "He was glad." However, he knew that words of exhortation were appropriate. Thus, he began to urge them to press on with Christ. He "encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord." It is important for those who have started out with the Lord (through faith in His name) to go on with the Lord. Life in Christ is basically about the most vital relationship of all. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Joh_17:3). The Christian life is not only about meeting the Lord and receiving eternal life. This life-giving relationship with the Lord is to be nurtured and developed day by day unto abundance of life.

Some time after Barnabas shared this exhortation with the saints in Antioch (north of Israel), he and Paul were visiting the believers in another Antioch (in Pisidia, in the region of modern day Turkey). Here, they gave a similar exhortation. However, on this occasion, their urging was related to God's grace: "persuaded them to continue in the grace of God."

Yes, grace is not only the way we begin with the Lord, but it is also the means by which we go on with Him. God's grace is something we are to be seeking after every day. It is a major error of the faith to relegate grace to days gone by. We can praise and thank the Lord for all of His grace experienced in previous years. Nevertheless, the grace of God is essential today — and in each new day. Also, it is so fitting that the saints in one town were exhorted concerning continuing in the Lord, whereas others later were urged regarding continuing in grace. Grace cannot be separated from the Lord Jesus. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Co_8:9).

Lord, I want to continue with You and Your grace. I do not want my experience of You and Your grace to consist only of days gone by. I long to know You better and to experience You grace more — each day!


Title: Continuing In The Word of HIS Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 02, 2003, 09:03:04 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 2

Continuing in the Word of His Grace:

And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith . . . And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace.  (Act_14:21-22; Act_20:32)

The Lord desires for us to continue in a growing relationship with Him, continuing to draw more and more upon His grace: "continue with the Lord . . . continue in the grace of God" (Act_11:23; Act_13:43). One vital aspect of this process is to be continuing in the word of His grace.

As Paul and his missionary team passed through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (in Pisidia), they urged the disciples there to "continue in the faith." "The faith" is often used in the scriptures to refer to the revealed truth of God (in which we are to place our faith). Jude wrote in this manner. "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" (Jud_1:3). Thus, the word of God is "the faith." Consequently, the call to "continue in the faith" was an exhortation to live by abiding in the word of God.

Later, when Paul was visiting the church leaders from Ephesus for the last time, he entrusted them unto the care of the Lord and His word. In doing this, he referred to the scriptures as "the word of His grace." Grace characterizes the word of God. Grace permeates the word of God. Grace flows from the word of God. It is in the scriptures that we learn of God's grace. There we learn of what it is (the Lord's undeserved riches, poured out freely for our justification, sanctification, and glorification). There we learn of our great need for grace (a desperate, comprehensive, continual need). Also, in the word we learn of how we can access it (through humble dependence upon the Lord).

If we are going to continue in grace as the Lord desires, we must continue in the word of His grace. We will want to read it prayerfully day by day. We will want to study it regularly for increased understanding. We will want to meditate upon it often for growing implications and applications. Above all, we will want to be in the word consistently that we might get to know the Christ of the word. In knowing Him more, His mighty grace will properly impact our lives.

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for the word of Your grace. Please forgive me for any times when I did not grant Your word the place that it deserves. I want to continue in it day by day. Please stir in my heart a growing hunger for Your word, in Your holy name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: 2nd Timothy on December 02, 2003, 07:38:12 PM
I can't tell you how much this series on Grace has been a blessing to me.   I have been like a beggar feasting on this thread.

Thank you!

Grace and Peace!


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on December 02, 2003, 08:42:13 PM
I can't tell you how much this series on Grace has been a blessing to me.   I have been like a beggar feasting on this thread.

Thank you!

Grace and Peace!

Oklahoma Howdy to 2nd Timothy,

You are most welcome Brother!

It is truly overwhelming to consider God's Grace and Love to us, especially the GIFT of HIS Son on the cross for our sins.

Jesus Christ will be our LORD AND SAVIOUR if we accept HIM. This one GIFT is so great in magnitude that our problems in this short life are of little significance. "Much More" Grace and Love should cause all of us to "KEEP LOOKING UP!, realize that our citizenship is in Heaven, keep our hearts and minds focused on HIM, and contemplate ETERNITY WITH HIM IN GLORY.

We are rich beyond measure in HIS GRACE AND LOVE.

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 03, 2003, 05:39:22 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 3

More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace:

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance . . . receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.  (Act_20:32 and Jam_1:21)

Paul's exhortation to followers of Jesus Christ was to "continue in the faith" (Act_14:22). "The faith" (in which we are to continue) is the word of God.  Paul later called it "the word of His grace." Since God's word is permeated with His grace, it is able to do glorious things in our lives.

James wrote of "the implanted word, which is able to save your souls." God wants to plant His word into human hearts that the word might bear fruit therein. This is how the Lord began His work in us: "having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1Pe_1:23). By communicating His word to us (through preaching, teaching, witness, or evangelism), God sowed the incorruptible, eternal seed of "the word of His grace" in our lives. As we believed on Him, the seed of the word germinated in our hearts unto everlasting life. Now, the Lord wants to continue sowing His life-giving seed into our lives that we might grow, mature, and abound in Him.

Our role involves a humble receptivity of His word. "Receive with meekness the implanted word." We are to continually take in the scriptures with a sense of urgent, personal need. Such an attitude would indicate agreement with the words of Jesus. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mat_4:4). We cannot truly continue in grace without regularly partaking of "the word of His grace." If we humbly take in God's word consistently, the grace of God at work through the word will demonstrate the transforming power of the Bible: "which is able to save your souls." This delivering work of the scriptures is not limited to justification (that is, saving us from the guilt and condemnation of sin). It  also includes sanctification (that is, saving us from the tempting and controlling influence of sin in daily living). Jesus prayed for His followers concerning this sanctifying work of the word of God. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (Joh_17:17). God's word is able to make our lives all that He wants them to be: "the word of His grace, which is able."

Lord God, giver of life, I thank You for planting in my heart the life-giving seed of Your word. I praise You for the changes Your word has already brought into my life. Now, I long to continue partaking of the word of Your grace, which is able to deliver my soul from all that is diminishing and destructive to all that is edifying and sanctifying, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on December 03, 2003, 05:56:06 AM
Paul's exhortation to followers of Jesus Christ was to "continue in the faith" (Act_14:22). "The faith" (in which we are to continue) is the word of God.  Paul later called it "the word of His grace." Since God's word is permeated with His grace, it is able to do glorious things in our lives.


AMEN!!!!

Brother Love :)


Title: Continuing In The Word of His Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 05, 2003, 01:33:28 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 4

Even More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace:

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able . . . Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed" . . . For this reason I have sent Timothy to you . . . who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.  (Act_20:32; Joh_8:3; 1Co_4:17)

God's grace characterizes His word: "I commend you to God and to the word of His grace." This permeating presence of grace in the scriptures is what makes God's word so able to effect godly changes in our lives: "the word of His grace, which is able." This is why the Lord wants us to continue in His word: "continue in the faith" (Act_14:22). Also, continuing in the word allows the Lord to remind us of things pertaining to grace, things we need to hear over and over again.

Jesus called professing disciples to continue in His word. "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, 'If you abide [remain, continue] in My word, you are My disciples indeed'." It is impossible to truly live as a follower of Jesus without continuing in His word. The Christian life is lived by grace. The Bible is "the word of His grace." We cannot follow Jesus by grace apart from hearing regularly of His grace. The natural bent of our humanity (including, the flesh of true believers) is toward human works and law performance. This is one reason why the Lord wants us to hear of His effective grace day by day.

The ministry of reminding is part of this process. The Apostle Paul sent out his ministry partner, Timothy, to remind the saints of matters that he himself had previously expounded upon in all the churches. "For this reason I have sent Timothy to you . . . who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church." Later, after Timothy had become a pastor in Ephesus, Paul wrote urging him to remind the saints of some basic elements of grace (matters pertaining to the faithfulness of God). "This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. Remind them of these thinhgs" (2Ti_2:11-14). Such vital truths need to be considered repeatedly. The Apostle Peter knew that it would amount to spiritual irresponsibility to neglect the import of reminders. "Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you" (2Pe_1:12).

O Lord of persistence and patience, I confess the need to hear of Your grace day after day. I long to be a true disciple, living by grace. Please remind me of the necessity to be in the word of Your grace consistently, Amen.


Title: Continuing in the Word of His Grace - More
Post by: nChrist on December 05, 2003, 01:36:30 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 5

Still More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace:

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able . . . But as for you, continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  (Act_20:32 and 2Ti_3:14-15)

The present verses again point us to our current theme, continuing in the word of God's grace. Only the grace of God is able to provide what is needed for the life we are called to live. This necessary grace is held forth for our learning and appropriating in "the word of His grace." This life-giving grace is to be lived in day by day (ideally, from childhood through old age).

Paul urged Timothy to continue in the biblical truth that he had been taught, truth about which he had become convinced. "Continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of." God's word not only instructs us in His ways, it also convinces us of their validity. In this process, God uses human instruments: "knowing from whom you have learned them." In Timothy's spiritual training, the Lord used the prophets of old (who were inspired to write the scriptures), as well as Paul (who discipled Timothy). Timothy's mother and grandmother were also a vital part of this process. "I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice" (2Ti_1:5). Thus, his spiritual nurture began in his childhood years. "From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures." It is the will of God that children be raised upon the scriptures. "Do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph_6:4). If we were not raised upon the word, God wants to begin feeding it to us at new birth. "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1Pe_2:2). If we have never had a serious diet of the word, today is now the day to begin.

As we are learning the word of God, its ability is unleashed in our lives. Saving grace is the first great matter the Lord wants to bring to us through the scriptures: "which are able to make you wise for salvation." People can be exceedingly foolish concerning salvation, until they are enlightened through the word of God . Some think they do not need to be saved. Others think they can somehow save themselves. The Bible reveals the necessary path for all: "through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

Dear God of my salvation, I praise You for Your word, which brought me the wisdom to trust in the saving grace of Christ. I thank You for every person You have ever used to bring me any aspect of Your truth. Please teach me more and more — and please use me to get Your word to others, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on December 05, 2003, 04:18:00 AM
Still More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace:



AMEN!!!

As we are learning the word of God, its ability is unleashed in our lives. Saving grace is the first great matter the Lord wants to bring to us through the scriptures: "which are able to make you wise for salvation." People can be exceedingly foolish concerning salvation, until they are enlightened through the word of God . Some think they do not need to be saved. Others think they can somehow save themselves. The Bible reveals the necessary path for all: "through faith which is in Christ Jesus."

And AMEN!!!

Brother Love :)


Title: Continuing in the Word of His Grace - More!
Post by: nChrist on December 06, 2003, 11:48:26 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 6

Once More on Continuing in the Word of His Grace:

I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able . . . All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.  (Act_20:32 and 2Ti_3:16-17)

God's word (which is "the word of His grace") is characterized by heavenly capability: "which is able . . . and is profitable for." By God's grace at work, the scriptures can bring us increasingly into the wholeness that is ours in Christ, as well as fully equip us for service unto Christ.

All of the word of God's grace is divinely inspired. "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God." Although written through the instrumentality of men, its message is what God wanted to say. Therefore, the word is able to bring great spiritual profit into our lives: "and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." God's word "is profitable for doctrine." This involves the teaching ministry of the word, revealing to us the path of godliness. "Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path" (Psa_119:105). Also, God's word "is profitable for . . . reproof." This involves the admonishing ministry of the word, telling us when we are drifting from God's path. "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition" (1Co_10:11). Further, God's word "is profitable for . . . correction." This involves the restoring ministry of the word, calling us back to the straight and narrow path of godliness. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isa_55:7). Finally, God's word "is profitable for . . . instruction in righteousness." This involves the transforming ministry of the word, moving us on down the path of Christlikeness. "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror [the mirror of the word] the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory" (2Co_3:18).

As we allow God's word to carry on this profitable, four-fold process, His grace is bringing us into a greater experience of the wholeness that is available to us in Christ: " that the man of God may be complete." Additionally, this process is preparing us comprehensively to serve the Lord in any manner that He desires: "thoroughly equipped for every good work."

Dear Lord, I need the word of Your grace at work in my life daily. Please impact my life by the supernatural ability of Your word. Teach me, reprove me, correct me, and instruct me in righteousness that I might walk in Your wholeness and serve for Your glory, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on December 07, 2003, 06:04:13 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 7

Grace for Serving the Lord Acceptably:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  (Heb_12:28)

We who follow Jesus dwell in a unique kingdom, the kingdom of God. "For our citizenship is in heaven" (Phi_3:20). In order to serve the Lord acceptably, we must learn to serve in a unique, heavenly manner — by grace.

We all began in a different kingdom than the Lord's. We were under the powerful influence of spiritual darkness. We existed in a realm devoid of true love. Then, our great God rescued us, bringing us into a kingdom of light and love: "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Col_1:12-13). Furthermore, in that former kingdom, we were easily threatened by every manner of instability. Our lives were built upon the sand of philosophical speculations and human inadequacies. Now, we are in "a kingdom which cannot be shaken." We entered this kingdom by the rock solid provision of grace, and we stand in this same grace today: "justified freely by His grace . . . we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_3:24; Rom_5:2). When circumstances change, we need not be shaken. Our King and His grace are constantly available and always sufficient. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb_13:8).

When we received the King as our Lord and Savior (see Joh_1:12), the full resources of His kingdom became our portion forever. God "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph_1:3). Yet, in a profound sense, we are still receiving His kingdom. "We are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken." This process of receiving is comprised of practical appropriation of His kingdom provisions, by faith. The provision of grace is especially strategic, since this is how we serve God acceptably. "Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably." We are called to serve our King. We cannot serve Him by merely attempting to do the best we can. That would be law performance, energized by the flesh. We need to have grace as our empowering resource, just as the early church had. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Act_4:33). Desiring to minister by grace allows our service to flow forth acceptably as worship unto the Lord: "with reverence and godly fear."

Lord Jesus, my King, I praise You for bringing me into Your unshakable kingdom. I want to serve You acceptably — having my service arise to You from a worshiping heart. So, I humbly look to You to fill my life with Your grace, in Your name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on December 07, 2003, 09:19:50 AM
Teach me, reprove me, correct me, and instruct me in righteousness that I might walk in Your wholeness and serve for Your glory, Amen.


Amen


Title: The Boldness Of Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 08, 2003, 03:09:16 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 8

The Boldness of Grace:

Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word . . . and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness . . . And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.  (Act_4:29, Act_4:31, Act_4:33)

Those who serve God acceptably, must do so by grace. "Let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably" (Heb_12:28). Those who serve by grace find that the boldness of grace develops in their lives.

The early church gave testimony to this reality. Soon after Jesus' ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were boldly proclaiming Jesus throughout Jerusalem. This was extremely aggravating to the religious leaders: "being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Act_4:2). When they arrested the disciples, Peter boldly preached Jesus before the Jewish authorities. "This [Jesus] is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'  Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Act_4:11-12). This bold application of prophecy and proclamation of the gospel astonished the religious establishment. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John . . . they marveled" (Act_4:13). Yet, in their hardness of heart, they further threatened the disciples. Being released, they gathered the church to pray for continued boldness. "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word." The answer to this prayer was another filling with the Spirit, resulting in further boldness. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness." This filling of the Holy Spirit brought great measures of God's grace actively at work upon their lives, sustaining this powerful witness of the risen Christ. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all."

This is the boldness of the new covenant of grace. "Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech" (2Co_3:12). This hope is new covenant confidence, which is part of the abundant life that the God brings us by His Spirit of grace: "who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2Co_3:6).

Heavenly Father, I need this same boldness in my life. Too often, I am hesitant and apprehensive concerning my testimony of You and Your truths. Please fill me afresh with Your Spirit that I might minister in the boldness of Your grace, Amen.


Title: More On The Boldness of Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 09, 2003, 01:16:21 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 9

More on the Boldness of Grace:

I have written more boldly to you on some points . . . because of the grace given to me by God . . . Great is my boldness of speech toward you.  (Rom_15:15 and 2Co_7:4)

When the grace of God is at work in the lives of His people, spiritual boldness is a common result. This was clearly the testimony of the early church. "They spoke the word of God with boldness . . . And great grace was upon them all" (Act_4:31, Act_4:33).

The Apostle Paul experienced this same boldness, as he ministered by the grace of God. "I have written more boldly to you on some points . . . because of the grace given to me by God." Paul's letters often displayed the boldness of grace. Romans was no exception. As he applied the radical truths of the gospel of grace (given in the earlier chapters of Romans), he spoke with characteristic boldness. His exhortation to lay our lives on God's altar is a prime example. "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom_12:1-2). His call to be clothed in Christ, leaving no room for fleshly tendencies, is another notable instance. "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Rom_13:13-14). His pronouncement concerning the Lord's ownership of our lives is one more illustration. "For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's" (Rom_14:8).

When Paul wrote the saints at Corinth, the boldness of grace was again evident. "Great is my boldness of speech toward you." Just prior to this confession of boldness, he had given a radical request concerning godly separation from the defilements of the world. "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God" (2Co_6:14-16).

Dear Father, I praise You for the radical nature of You and Your truth. I thank You for the boldness that Your grace can bring into lives. By Your grace at work in me, cause me to think, pray, speak, and act in godly boldness. For Your glory, grant me, I pray, a boldness that is confident, but not arrogant; daring, but not reckless; uncompromising, but not harsh; unrelenting, but not insensitive; fearless, but not unloving.


Title: Give, the Language of Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 10, 2003, 07:16:22 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 10

Give, the Language of Grace:

I have written more boldly to you on some points . . . because of the grace given to me by God . . . I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus.  (Rom_15:15 and 1Co_1:4)

The grace of God (which produces boldness in those who live by it) is a gift from God. "I have written more boldly to you on some points . . . because of the grace given to me by God." In fact, "give" is basic to the language of grace.

When Paul began his first letter to the believers in Corinth, he emphasized this truth. "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus." This is the starting point for all of the work of God in human hearts. The initial work of salvation is by the gift of God's grace. None of it is produced by the work of man. "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph_2:8-9). This same pattern of the giving of grace is true concerning every good thing that God wants to accomplish in man. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights" (Jam_1:17).

Whatever God wants to do in the family of man is by His grace, which must be given to us by Him. This is true concerning eternal life. "And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (Joh_10:28). This also pertains to the Holy Spirit in our lives. "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever" (Joh_14:16). It is true concerning spiritual gifts. "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all . . . But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" (1Co_12:7 and Eph_4:7). This pattern applies to spiritual rest and peace as well. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest . . . Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (Joh_11:28; Joh_14:27). When it comes to the greatest matter of all (getting to know the Lord better), God must give to us what is required for such growth: "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph_1:17). All of these precious benefits from God are a result of His giving of His grace into our lives.

Will the giving heart of God ever cease toward us? We need never fear that God will be tire of giving us grace. "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luk_12:32).

Lord God, giver of every gift of grace, I thank You for the rich and extensive grace that You have given to me. Help me to understand that all of Your kingdom is brought into my experience by the giving of Your grace, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Given Ministry by the Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on December 11, 2003, 04:07:40 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 11

Given Ministry by the Grace of God:

Of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.  (Eph_3:7-8)

As we have seen, "give" is the language of grace. "I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus." Our heavenly Father wants to give us all the blessings of His kingdom as a gift of His grace. "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luk_12:32). No wonder then that we are given ministry by the grace of God.

The Apostle Paul had a special stewardship entrusted to Him by God's grace. "If indeed you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which was given to me for you" (Eph_3:2). This special calling given to him by God concerned the miracle of Jew and Gentile being made one in Christ (as the body of Christ): "that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel" (Eph_3:6). This wondrous "mystery of Christ" (Eph_3:4) was a distinctive emphasis of his ministry. "Of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power." Paul repeatedly stated that this ministry calling was given to him by grace. "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ."

On other occasions, Paul spoke of his ministry without referring to this special emphasis of Jews and Gentiles becoming one in Christ. Still, he described his ministry in the same terms of grace given to him. "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation" (1Co_3:10). Here, Paul views his service unto the Lord as a spiritual builder, who is being used to lay a spiritual foundation for the construction of godly lives. God's grace given to him equipped him for, and sustained him in, such service.

We are all called to serve our Master. In our hearts there is a desire to be used of our King. How comforting to know that our ministry will develop by God's grace given to us. Again, humble dependence is the path to such grace for ministry. "To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given."

Lord Jesus, I long to serve You in ministry. I rejoice that ministry depends upon Your grace, not my abilities. Lord, I humbly bow before You, seeking You for the necessary grace to serve You in any way that You desire, in Your gracious name, Amen.


Title: Courageous, Selfless Ministry by the Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on December 12, 2003, 04:46:05 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 12

Courageous, Selfless Ministry by the Grace of God:

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.  (Act_20:24)

Paul was given ministry by the grace of God. "I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me" (Eph_3:7). To put it another way, he received his ministry from the Lord: "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus." Paul's bountiful ministry was developed by the grace of God. "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1Co_15:10). Also, his ministry was to declare God's grace: "to testify to the gospel of the grace of God." Paul's life demonstrates that such "grace saturated" service leads to courageous, selfless ministry.

Paul's ministry was courageous. "But none of these things move me." The things that Paul faced were formidable. "The Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me" (Act_20:23). Down through the centuries, matters less substantial than these have moved many a professing Christian from completing his calling. Yet, by leaning upon the sustaining grace of God, Paul courageously endured great hardship and danger in the service of the gospel of grace. "But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings" (2Co_6:4-5).

Related to this courageous service was Paul's selflessness: "nor do I count my life dear to myself."  Soon, he would encounter another sober warning. It was given from a prophet of the Lord, who took Paul's belt and bound his own hands and feet. "So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles" (Act_21:11). Those standing by, who loved Paul deeply, urged him not to proceed. Nevertheless, Paul confessed his willingness to even lose his life for the gospel, if necessary. "Then Paul answered, 'What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus' " (Act_21:13). Such renouncing of self allowed Paul to "finish [his] race with joy." Thus his final testimony would become, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2Ti_4:7).

Jesus, my Lord and Master, You know the things that threaten to move me away from Your calling for me. You know the times I am tempted to hold my life dear, wanting to shrink back in a self-serving manner. Please saturate my life with Your grace that I might serve courageously and selflessly, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Brother Love on December 12, 2003, 05:15:36 AM
AMEN!!!!

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.  (Act_20:24)
 
This is my F-A-V-O-R-I-T-E verse, with Ephesians 3:9 "TO MAKE ALL MEN SEE"

Brother Love :)


Title: To Make All Men See
Post by: nChrist on December 12, 2003, 06:11:03 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to Brother Love,

Yes Brother, the struggle continues:

Unity in the fellowship of the mystery not known to men of other ages.

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: To Make All Men See
Post by: Brother Love on December 12, 2003, 06:33:26 AM
Oklahoma Howdy to Brother Love,

Yes Brother, the struggle continues:

Unity in the fellowship of the mystery not known to men of other ages.

Love In Christ,
Tom

Yes Brother Amen

Brother Tom, I can fly for FREE, and maybe someday I will hop on a plane and have some lunch and some good fellowship in Oklahoma.


Brother Love :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on December 12, 2003, 02:13:23 PM
Oklahoma Howdy to Brother Love,

Quote
Brother Tom, I can fly for FREE, and maybe someday I will hop on a plane and have some lunch and some good fellowship in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is addictive - you might not want to leave.   :D

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on December 12, 2003, 05:56:49 PM
Oklahoma Howdy to Brother Love,

Quote
Brother Tom, I can fly for FREE, and maybe someday I will hop on a plane and have some lunch and some good fellowship in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is addictive - you might not want to leave.   :D

Love In Christ,
Tom

 ;D


Title: The Comprehensive, Freely Giving Plan of God
Post by: nChrist on December 13, 2003, 04:17:02 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 13

The Comprehensive, Freely Giving Plan of God:

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  (Rom_8:32)

By the free gift of God's grace, ministry is given to us. "I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me" (Eph_3:7). By His grace at work in us, our ministry can be marked with courage and selflessness. "None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself" (Act_20:24). This pattern of grace fits the entire plan of God, because His plan is a comprehensive, freely giving plan.

As we have seen, give is the language of grace. Note the extent to which God desires to give to us. He wants to "freely give us all things." Everything that God considers as needful for fullness of life, He freely makes available by His grace. The scriptures repeatedly speak in such comprehensive terms. "His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2Pe_1:3). All that it takes to live as God intends and to grow in godliness as He desires has already been given to us in Christ. As we continue to get to know the Lord, all that He has given us in Christ is progressively brought into our experience: "through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue" (2Pe_1:3).

The death of Christ is our assurance of having the comprehensive dimensions of God's grace fully available to us: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." Jesus is the Father's deeply loved Son. Through a prophet of old, the Father proclaimed this divine love. "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!" (Isa_42:1). When the Son was on this earth, the Father directly declared His loving delight from heaven. "And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased' " (Mat_3:17). Jesus is persistently revealed as the object of the Father's love: "The Father loves the Son . . .  the Son of His love" (Joh_3:35 and Col_1:13). The magnitude of the Father's love for His Son is behind His love gift to us. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son" (John 3:16). Our loving and generous Father has not held back from us the sacrificial gift of His beloved Son, who died for our sins. Now, if He did not hold back His most prized treasure (His own beloved Son), there is no way that the Father will hold back any lesser gift from us. "How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? "

Loving Father, I praise You for Your great love, in giving Your beloved Son to die for my sins. I thank You for the assurance this brings that everything else that I need will be freely given with Him!


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on December 13, 2003, 01:19:57 PM
By the free gift of God's grace, ministry is given to us. "I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me" (Eph_3:7). By His grace at work in us, our ministry can be marked with courage and selflessness. "None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself" (Act_20:24). This pattern of grace fits the entire plan of God, because His plan is a comprehensive, freely giving plan.

Thank You Lord

Brace & Peace


Title: Jesus Given for Us to be Given to Us
Post by: nChrist on December 14, 2003, 08:51:37 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 14

Jesus Given for Us to be Given to Us:

For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.  (Rom_5:10)

As the ultimate free gift of God's grace, Jesus was given for us (dying for our sins): "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all" (Rom_8:32). Moreover, He was given for us to be given to us (that He might express His life in and through us).

We began as enemies of God. Certainly, we were lost and condemned. Yet, our situation was even worse than that. Our lives worked against the purposes and plans of God: "And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works" (Col_1:21). Our evil thoughts and activities set us against the Lord in both mind and deed. The only way that we could become the friends of God was for Jesus to be given as a sacrifice for us. "When we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son." The Lord had to deal with our dual problem of sin and unrighteousness. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co_5:21). The Father graciously placed our sins on His Son that He might give His righteousness to us. For all who would believe in Christ, this brought the precious gift of reconciliation (the turning of enemies into friends).

Even after this rich grace of reconciliation, the Lord had "much more" yet to give us. "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life." What remained after Jesus being given for us (for our reconciliation) was for Him to be given to us. This is related to Jesus coming to dwell within us that we could be "saved by His life." Why do the friends of Jesus still need to be saved? Well, His followers would be persistently threatened by the world, the flesh, and the devil. They would still be vulnerable to such matters as, temptation, doubt, fear, fruitlessness, distraction, inadequacy, and more. How then would they be saved? This ongoing rescuing work of the Lord would be "by His life" — by Jesus living in and through His people. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Gal_2:20). Jesus was not, and is not, susceptible to any of these threatening issues. When He is allowed to express His life in and through us, each of us finds all that we need all of the time.This astounding statement is true, because "Christ is all and in all" (Col_3:11).

Dear Father, my reconciler, I thank You for giving Your Son for me, that I might be changed from Your enemy to Your friend by His death. Yet, much more, I praise You for giving Your Son to me, that I might be saved from spiritual futility day by day by His life. Lord Jesus, live in and through me, I humbly pray, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: Sower on December 14, 2003, 10:01:47 PM
BRINGING OUR BURDENS TO CHRIST (Matt.11:28-30)

How do you deal with your burdens -- your troubles, and sorrows and cares? The Lord Jesus lays out for us THE BEST WAY in this Scripture:

1. Come unto ME -- Christ is all-sufficient for any problem since He is the Lord God Almighty.

2. ALL ye that labour... my burden is LIGHT -- Labouring in our own strength is futile. God's strength is sufficient.  The only "burden" Christ put upon is is to love Him and trust Him -- that is light indeed!.

3. And are HEAVY LADEN -- we are too weak to bear our own burdens, yet we often neglect to go to the One who is all-powerful, and try to carry them ourselves.  What foolishness!

4. And I WILL give you rest ... ye SHALL find rest unto your souls --- Christ has promised His own rest and peace to those who will simply come to Him

5. Take my yoke upon you ... For MY YOKE IS EASY. The yoke of Christ is being in Him and He in us. It is easy because it is a supernatural work of God. When we stop to remember that God lives within us, we stop carrying our own burdens.

6. Learn of me -- FOR I AM MEEK AND LOWLY IN HEART.  Throughout His earthly life, the Lord submitted willingly to the Father's will. If we do the same, He will lift us up in our darkest moments -- "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you... Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up" (James 4:8-10).

Sower


Title: Bring Our Burdens To Christ
Post by: nChrist on December 14, 2003, 10:45:56 PM
Amen Brother Sower,

There is indeed great comfort in bringing our burdens to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Thanks be unto God for HIS unspeakable GIFT!

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: God Freely Giving, Man Humbly Receiving
Post by: nChrist on December 15, 2003, 04:48:51 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 15

God Freely Giving, Man Humbly Receiving:

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? . . . What do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?  (Rom_8:32 and 1Co_4:7)

The Lord's plan for rescuing and transforming lives by His grace is established upon the Son of God being given for us as a sacrifice for our sins: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." This gift of God's Son assures us that God will also give us with Christ everything we need. "How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? " God's giving is to be coupled with man's receiving. As God is freely giving to man, He wants man to be humbly receiving from Him.

Every blessing that we have was received from God. "What do you have that you did not receive? " There is no other source from which we can receive true spiritual benefits than the Lord above. "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven" (Joh_3:27). The joy of having Jesus dwelling in our lives as the children of God became true by us receiving Him. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (Joh_1:12). The fact that we are now reconciled to God and are no longer His enemies is based upon us receiving the gift of reconciliation. "We also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation" (Rom_5:11). The privilege of serving the Lord in ministry is a gift of grace to be received: "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Act_20:24). The spiritual gifts that we need for enablement in our ministries is another blessing received from the Lord. "As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another" (1Pe_4:10).

From initial salvation to growth and service, all that is needed must be received from the Lord. This is an encouraging reality. Yet, it is also a humbling truth. It leaves no room for us to glory in ourselves. "Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you glory as if you had not received it?"

Dear Lord, I confess that every blessing I have ever received was given by You from above. I bow humbly before You, admitting that I do not deserve even one of Your innumerable benefits. Lord, I praise You for freely giving to me. I want to humbly receive from You day by day, in Your gracious name, Amen.


Title: Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 16, 2003, 08:36:46 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 16

Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace:

The God of all grace . . . to the praise of the glory of His grace . . . the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . the Spirit of grace.  (1Pe_5:10; Eph_1:6 and Heb_10:29)

Our Lord God is "the God of all grace." God's comprehensive and infinite grace is characteristic of all the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The Father will be honored forever for His grace, so we read: "to the praise of the glory of His grace." The Son makes that grace available to all who believe, so it is called "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Spirit applies that grace in the hearts of those who follow Jesus Christ, so He is called "the Spirit of grace." Grace is found in God alone. Therefore, one must relate rightly to the God of all grace in order to receive all that He desires to give us in fulfilling His purposes and glorifying His name.

The fundamental manner for relating to the God of grace is the developing of a personal relationship. Getting to know God is what life with the Lord is all about. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Joh_17:3). In fact, knowing the Lord is man's ultimate treasure in all of creation. Everything else that competes is to be considered as loss. "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ" (Phi_3:7-8). It is not surprising then that getting increasingly acquainted with the Lord is the way that His grace impacts our lives. "Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2Pe_1:2).

As we are getting to know the God of all grace more and more, He is developing in our lives two strategic relational realities: humility and faith. We have looked at these two spiritual qualities many times throughout our meditations. Repeated reflection on these two realities is appropriate, since they unfold the practical heart of living daily by God's grace. "Be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble' " (1Pe_5:5). God's grace is given to those who "walk humbly with [their] God" (Micah 6:8). Likewise, faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_5:2). Walking in humble dependence is the way to relate rightly to the God of all grace.

Dear God of all grace, I want to relate to You rightly that I might live daily by Your grace. Help me to know You more and more that humility and faith might develop in my life. I long to walk before You in humble dependence, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: More on Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 17, 2003, 02:15:20 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 17

More on Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace:

The God of all grace . . . it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing . . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.  (1Pe_5:10; Joh_6:63; and Phi_3:10)

In order to live day by day by grace, we must relate rightly to "the God of all grace" (1Pe_5:10). Essentially, this involves the developing of a personal relationship with the Lord. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Joh_17:3). A growing relationship with the true and living God produces the relational realities of humility and faith. Thereby, we are able to live by the grace of God: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble . . . We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (1Pe_5:5 and Rom_5:2).
As we are in the word of God, growing in the knowing of God, there are many ways to appropriately express humility and faith toward the Lord. We have emphasized a number of these in previous sections of these devotions. Living by the Spirit was one of these. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing."  The spiritual life that the Holy Spirit alone can provide is what the new covenant of grace offers to man. God "also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2Co_3:6). As we humbly depend upon the Spirit, God graciously fills our lives with His life.

We considered another way to walk relationally in humility and faith in living by the power of the resurrection: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection."  Yes, resurrection power is available for daily Christian living. "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph_1:18-20). Of course, experiencing this power hinges upon us humbly admitting that we have no power on our own, and then relying on His mighty power.

Living by the Spirit and living by resurrection power are two ways to relate rightly to the God of all grace. They both are experienced through humble dependence. They both result in the grace of God becoming our daily resource from the Lord.

Lord God of all grace, I need Your Holy Spirit to fill me with Your life. My flesh profits nothing. Lord, each day, I need the power of Your resurrection working in my life. I have no effective power that I can generate on my own. I praise You that these are available through humble dependence!


Title: Even More on Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 19, 2003, 01:21:03 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 18

Even More on Relating Rightly to the God of All Grace:

The God of all grace . . . Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God . . . He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.  (1Pe_5:10; 2Co_3:5; and Heb_8:6)

If we are going to live by grace as God intends, we must get to know "the God of all grace." As we get to know Him, humility and faith develop in our lives. They are relational realities. They become real in our lives as a result of getting to know the Lord better and better. As we walk with the Lord in humble dependence, we are living by the grace of God. The Lord gives grace to the humble (1Pe_5:5 and Jam_4:6), and faith accesses grace (Rom_5:2; Rom_4:16). The scriptures indicate that there are many ways to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith. In our previous meditation, we saw that living by the Spirit and living by resurrection power are two examples of this truth. Now, we will consider two more examples.

Living by the sufficiency of God is a profound opportunity to relate to the Lord in humility and faith. This heavenly perspective begins with a declaration of our own inadequacy. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves." It is true that we disciples of Jesus Christ are so inadequate that we are unable to produce any of the Christian life ourselves.

Jesus Himself taught this radical fact. "Without Me you can do nothing" (Joh_15:5). If we embrace this humbling truth, we are walking in humility before the Lord. The corresponding declaration points us to the source that we need. "But our sufficiency is from God." Only God's resources are sufficient to produce the kind of fruitful spiritual life that God calls us to live. Jesus taught this great truth as well. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit" (Joh_15:5). If we accept this encouraging truth, we are walking in faith toward the Lord.

Living by the promises of God offers another significant opportunity to relate to the Lord in humility and faith. "He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." The promises of the old covenant of law (which are basically, "Do these commands, and you shall live" — see Lev_18:5) depend on man's ability and faithfulness. The better promises of the new covenant of grace depend upon God's ability and faithfulness. Abraham was "fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform" (Rom_4:21). Sarah "judged Him faithful who had promised" (Heb_11:11). It is humbling to know that we can't perform well enough to enjoy the promises of the law. Contrariwise, it is faith building to know we can trust in the Lord to fulfill all His promises of grace.

Dear Lord of all grace, I humbly admit that I can only live by Your sufficiency and your promises. By faith, I look to You to do for me and in me what You alone can do, Amen.


Title: Following Jesus as a Disciple
Post by: nChrist on December 19, 2003, 06:40:45 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 19

Following Jesus as a Disciple:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations . . . Follow Me . . . If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  (Mat_28:19; Joh_1:43; and Luk_9:23)
Living daily by God's grace depends upon getting to know Him and then walking in the humility and grace that are consequences of growing in fellowship with Him. We have reflected upon four ways to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith: living by the Spirit, living by resurrection power, living by the sufficiency of God, and living by the promises of God. Another example is following Jesus as a disciple.

When our Lord was about to leave His disciples, He gave them the marching orders that were to guide the lives of His people until He would return. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations." Jesus had been calling out people to follow Him as disciples. Now, they were to continue doing the same. A disciple is a follower of a master, who guides and shapes the lives of his followers. Jesus is the ultimate Master, who gives us a new life in him — life eternal. Jesus' invitation to discipleship was "Follow Me." Along with this invitation, Jesus often explained the terms of discipleship: "If anyone desires to come after Me." This would inform the willing and interested about how to respond. These terms dramatically depict the necessity of relating to the Lord in humility and faith.

The first aspect of being a disciple of Jesus is renouncing the self-life. "Let him deny himself." This amounts to a refusal to attempt to develop a life that can be produced by natural human resources (which everyone inherits from Adam through physical birth). This is a repudiation of self-righteousness, self-sufficiency, self-help, self-exaltation, and the like. Our willingness to embrace this term of discipleship will be seen by a humble agreement with similar biblical pronouncements. "Make no provision for the flesh" (Rom_13:14). Those denying self are not wanting the flesh to have opportunities to indulge itself. "The flesh profits nothing" (Joh_6:63). Those who renounce self confess its total spiritual bankruptcy. We "have no confidence in the flesh" (Phi_3:3). Those who repudiate the self-life do not want to place any hope in the spiritual resources of the flesh. "That no flesh should glory in His presence" (1Co_1:29). Those denying the self-life agree that nothing of the flesh can ever boast in itself before the Lord God almighty.

Dear Lord Jesus, I want to relate rightly to You by following You as a disciple. I do not want my flesh to have any opportunity to indulge itself. I confess total spiritual bankruptcy in my flesh. I want to place no hope in my flesh. I agree that my flesh can never boast before You. I humbly renounce the self-life!


Title: More on Following Jesus as a Disciple
Post by: nChrist on December 20, 2003, 02:26:18 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 20

More on Following Jesus as a Disciple:

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me . . . But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.  (Luk_9:23 and Gal_6:14)

Following Jesus as a disciple is one way to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith. The first aspect of following Jesus involves renouncing the self-life. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself." It is certainly humbling to admit that any life we would develop by our own natural resources is unacceptable to the Lord and must be repudiated. The next aspect of being a disciple is also humbling.

This second issue in discipleship is the cross: "and take up his cross." When Jesus spoke of the cross, He was speaking of the ultimate instrument of execution in  His day. Consequently, after renunciation of self, we are to confess death for self. The means of this death is the cross of Christ. Those who want to follow Jesus as disciples are to take the cross of Christ as their own personal cross. In doing so, they are admitting to God that they deserved to die upon that cross. "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom_6:23). Furthermore, they are agreeing with the word of God that Jesus died upon that cross on their behalf. "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures . . .  who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree" (1Co_15:3 and 1Pe_2:24). This gospel (which brings forgiveness of sins to all who believe) includes the essential truth of the resurrection. "Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1Co_15:1, 1Co_15:3-4).

Another wondrous benefit of the cross is that we who believe in Jesus also died there with Him. "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him" (Rom_6:6). The old self-life that we were developing while "in Adam" (1Co_15:22) was executed on the cross with Christ. Yes, the cross is the way out of this world of dead sinners, and we can rightly boast in that truth. "But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." Meanwhile, the attitudes and resources of the old man persist in our flesh (our natural humanity). Thus, we are to renounce self and confess death to self day by day: "let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily."

Lord Jesus, I confess Your cross as my cross. I deserved to die there, but You died in my place. I boast in that cross, where I also died with You. Now, through the cross, I have escaped this dead, condemned world. I praise You that these truths both humble my heart and stir my faith!


Title: Once More on Following Jesus as a Disciple
Post by: nChrist on December 22, 2003, 04:52:42 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 21

Once More on Following Jesus as a Disciple:

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me . . . My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  (Luk_9:23 and Joh_10:27)
As we have been considering, following Jesus as a disciple is another way to relate rightly to the Lord in humility and faith. The terms of discipleship are renouncing the self-life and confessing death for the self-life. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily." Initially and continually, these humble and trusting responses to Jesus deal with self, which is the basic obstruction to following Him.

Three simple words express the very heart of discipleship: "and follow Me." All of the Christian life can be summed up and fulfilled in this profound relationship of pursuing a humble and trusting walk with the Lord. It is the will of God that we grow in His all-sufficient grace. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pe_3:18). Jesus came overflowing with that grace. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . full of grace and truth" (Joh_1:14). As we follow Him in humble dependence, He pours His grace into our lives.

Jesus has all that we need. In Him, the complete resources of the Godhead that we need for personal wholeness reside. "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him" (Col_2:9-10). In Him, all wisdom and knowledge are contained: "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col_2:3). Jesus is the very life that we are called to live: "Christ who is our life" (Col_3:4). He is our "all and in all" (Col_3:11).

We need the Lord Jesus like sheep need a shepherd. In fact, our discipleship walk with Christ is portrayed in scripture as sheep following a shepherd. Those who are in the world are like sheep without a shepherd. What a needy picture that is. "But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd" (Mat_9:36). Jesus, our shepherd, is the ultimate shepherd. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (Joh_10:11). Having died for us, our shepherd wants to lead us throughout our lives. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me" (Joh_10:27). In humble dependence, we can hear His voice through His word and be led by His Spirit. Thereby, we enter into the fullness of the grace that God has for us during our pilgrimage here on this earth.

Jesus, my good shepherd, I need You like a sheep needs a shepherd. I humbly trust You to lead me through life, pouring out upon me the fullness of Your grace, in Your wonderful name, Amen.


Title: Praying Without Ceasing to the God of All Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 22, 2003, 04:59:24 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 22

Praying Without Ceasing to the God of All Grace:

The God of all grace . . . pray without ceasing.  (1Pe_5:10 and 1Th_5:17)

These two biblical phrases are ideal correlations. The only way that we can live as God intends is by grace. Our God is the source of all grace. God's grace is to be drawn upon by humility and faith. Prayer is the most appropriate expression of humility and faith. We pray, because we need God's help (thereby, expressing humility). We pray, because we believe God will help us (thereby, exercising faith). Consequently, praying without ceasing is a simple, yet profound, way to relate rightly to the God of all grace.

"Pray without ceasing." This command is not requiring the incessant reciting of prayers. Rather, it is a call to a way of living: "continuing steadfastly in prayer" (Rom_12:12). Praying without ceasing is an attitude of the heart, as well as an addressing of prayers consistently to the Lord. To pray without ceasing is to have the inner man focused in humble dependence upon the Lord, while consistently addressing actual prayers to the Lord.

Paul was such a man of prayer. The Lord was definitely the object of his expectations: "the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope" (1Ti_1:1). In addition, he consistently offered prayers unto the Lord: "without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers . . . do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers . . .  without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day" (Rom_1:9; Eph_1:16; and 2Ti_1:3). Notice also, Paul's prayers included recurring prayer for others. Those who live by grace develop hearts of intercession, praying that others might enjoy the grace of God as well.

It is common among the spiritual examples of scripture to find lives of prayer. David was clearly one who prayed without ceasing. A great portion of his Psalms are directed to the Lord in prayer. Some testify of his habit of prayer. "Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice" (Psa_55:17). Jeremiah was a man of prayer. "O LORD, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction . . . Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved . . . Give heed to me, O LORD, and listen to the voice of those who contend with me!" (Jer_16:19; Jer_17:14; and Jer_18:19). Daniel was also a man of prayer. "He knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days" (Dan_6:10). Likewise, all who want to live by grace increasingly become people of prayer.

O God of all grace, I want to live in humble dependence upon Your abounding grace. Teach me to express humility and faith in a life of unceasing prayer. This I pray through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: 2nd Timothy on December 23, 2003, 06:32:16 AM
Quote
O God of all grace, I want to live in humble dependence upon Your abounding grace. Teach me to express humility and faith in a life of unceasing prayer. This I pray through Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

Amen!


Title: Jesus' Call to Pray without Ceasing
Post by: nChrist on December 23, 2003, 07:57:19 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 23

Jesus' Call to Pray without Ceasing:

Pray without ceasing . . . Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart . . . And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him?  (1Th_5:17 and Luk_18:1, Luk_18:7)

Praying without ceasing is the way to relate rightly to the God of all grace. Jesus called His followers to live in this prayerful manner, when He told a parable that contrasted a godless human judge with God, our righteous judge.

Jesus' primary message would be that men should persistently pray at all times. "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart." Jesus' illustration involved a wronged widow who was appealing for help from an unjust judge. At first, the judge had no interest in assisting her. However, when she persisted, he relented and gave her relief. "Though I do not fear God nor regard man, because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me" (Luk_18:4-5). The ungodly judge granted her relief, although he was not motivated by fear of God nor by compassion for man. His action was merely self-serving. Jesus then contrasts the holy motivations of our loving God, who will certainly respond to the needs of His chosen ones, as they call upon His name ceaselessly. "And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him?" (Luk_18:7). The Lord Jesus hereby encourages us to pray without ceasing.

Jesus' call to a life of persistent prayer was commended to us by His own example. "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed" (Mar_1:35). Early in the inspired recordings of the ministry of Jesus, His habit of prayer is noted. At times, Jesus was up before dawn for extended prayer with the Father. On another occasion, He prayed the entire night through. "Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God" (Luk_6:12). In addition to His rich private prayer life, Jesus prayed regularly in public as well. "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes . . . Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them . . . Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me" (Mat_11:25; Luk_9:16; and Joh_11:41-42). If Jesus, the Son of God prayed habitually, how clearly we are to do the same.

Jesus, my Lord, I want to heed Your radical call to a path of unceasing prayer. I want to follow Your wonderful example of a life of habitual prayer — in private and in public.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: The Crusader on December 24, 2003, 06:33:21 AM
I have a lot of reading to do, but what I have read I really have enjoyed, thanks for posting the Hoekstra Devotion.

The Crusader


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on December 24, 2003, 04:58:57 PM
I have a lot of reading to do, but what I have read I really have enjoyed, thanks for posting the Hoekstra Devotion.

The Crusader

Oklahoma Howdy to The Crusader,

Brother, you are most welcome. There are several devotions that I really enjoy every day to add to my Bible Study. I also enjoy Berean, Grace and Truth, Spurgeon, and Meyer. I think they are pretty sound, trusted, and true. It's a good way to shut out some of the noise of this world and concentrate on some uplifting Scripture from God's Word.

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: Another Call to Pray without Ceasing
Post by: nChrist on December 24, 2003, 05:05:04 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 24

Another Call to Pray without Ceasing:

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.  (Eph_6:18)

Through His word, God calls us to lives of continual prayerfulness. "Pray without ceasing" (1Th_5:17). Jesus also calls us to this life of prayer, both by His teaching and His example. "Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart . . . in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed" (Luk_18:1 and Mar_1:35). Our present verse is another call to praying without ceasing.

The context concerns appropriating by faith the powerful spiritual resources that are ours in the Lord. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil" (Eph_6:10-11). These heavenly provisions are put on by looking to the Lord unceasingly in prayer: "praying always." This constancy in prayer can be done with "all prayer and supplication." God has arranged many appropriate ways for us to pray to Him: such as, confession, repentence, request, thanksgiving, rejoicing, praise, adoration, and more. Note however, that every type of praying is to be done "in the Spirit." As in all areas of life, we must depend upon the Spirit. He will grant us guidance and wisdom for praying according to the will of God.

Godly praying also includes spiritual alertness: "being watchful to this end." When prayer is especially needed, we can be tempted to slumber. In Gethsemane, the disciples were not alert to the great need to pray. "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation" (Mar_14:38). Again, this highlights our need to be led of the Spirit. Further, a part of our need for the Spirit pertains to perseverance: "with all perseverance." Praying requires all kinds of spiritual persistence. Praying amounts to demanding spiritual labor. The Holy Spirit must sustain us in God's strength, if we are to engage in prayer to the extent that our Lord often desires. Some of this call to persevering prayer involves the battles and needs that others are facing: "with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints." It is not wrong for us to cry out to God concerning our own needs. Our Lord invites us to do such. "Let your requests be made known to God" (Phi_4:6). Still, the Lord wants to use us in the lives of people near and far through the wonderful avenue of intercession. The vision for prayer given here is quite expansive: "Praying always . . . all prayer . . . all perseverance . . . all the saints."

Dear Lord, this extensive call to prayer humbles my heart. I see much room to grow in my prayer life. Yet, it stirs my faith as well. By Your Spirit of grace at work in me, such praying is possible. O Lord, please make of me such a prayer warrior, Amen.


Title: A Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying
Post by: nChrist on December 25, 2003, 03:35:28 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 25

A Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying:

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him.  (Col_1:9-10)

As we have seen, the Lord calls us in various ways to pray without ceasing. Every day in every way, every issue of life is to be engaged through continual, Spirit-led prayerfulness: "Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit" (Eph_6:18). In addition to this extensive call to prayer, the word of God also gives us heavenly insight concerning the general content of our prayers. Our next two meditations reflect this by offering a biblical example of Spirit-led praying.

The Apostle Paul prayed consistently for the believers at Colosse: "do not cease to pray for you." God's will was the primary issue the Holy Spirit impressed Paul to pray about: "to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will." Such praying will ultimately lead people into the word of God, where the will of God is revealed. "This is the will of God, your sanctification . . . in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1Th_4:3; 1Th_5:18). Truly understanding God's will requires heavenly insight: "in all wisdom and spiritual understanding." Of course, this is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (Joh_16:13).

The Lord does not inform us of His will merely for our curiosity. Knowing God's will is to lead to living God's will: "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him." Our Lord desires that we walk in a manner that is appropriate for identifying with Him and His great gospel of grace. "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Phi_1:27). He wants us to be interested in what pleases Him, not what pleases self or the world: "proving what is acceptable [well-pleasing] to the Lord" (Eph_5:10). The Lord wants to work in us the heart seen in David's Messianic confession. "I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart" (Psa_40:8). Bringing the will of God into the heart of man is what the new covenant of grace accomplishes. "I will make a new covenant . . . I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts . . . who also made us sufficient as ministers [servants] of the new covenant" (Jer_31:31, Jer_31:33 and 2Co_3:6). Living in prayerful dependence upon the grace of God will make us true "servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart" (Eph_6:6).

Dear Lord, I want to be fully controlled by Your will, pleasing You in every way. From Your word, grant me Holy Spirit insight into Your will. Teach me to pray in this Spirit-led manner, that Your grace might lead me to do Your will from deep within my heart.


Title: More on a Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying
Post by: nChrist on December 26, 2003, 03:45:51 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 26

More on a Biblical Example of Spirit-led Praying:

We . . . do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will . . . being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.  (Col_1:9-12)
In our previous meditation, we began to examine a classic illustration of Spirit-led praying. The basic request of this majestic prayer concerned learning about, and walking in, the will of God. We "do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him." Now, we consider more on a biblical example of Spirit-led praying.

A significant aspect of the will of God involves fruitful laboring unto the Lord: "being fruitful in every good work." The abounding grace of God is able to produce abundant ministry in our lives. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, have an abundance for every good work" (2Co_9:8).

The very core of God's will is next: "increasing in the knowledge of God." Getting to know the Lord is the supreme issue of life. "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phi_3:8). The corollary prayer in Ephesians has this as its fundamental request: "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him" (Eph_1:17). A key verse for our grace devotionals suggests the connection between God's grace and knowing Him. "Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pe_3:18).

Another vital part of God's will for us is spiritual empowering: "strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power." With the Lord of grace Himself as our strength, there is no limit to what we can do. "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phi_4:13). Yet, such divine power is often imparted for reasons other than we might imagine: "for all patience and longsuffering with joy."
The final aspect of God's will mentioned is gratitude: "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light." Since all of these riches are God's grace available through humble, trusting prayer, no wonder that the Lord concludes with a reminder about grateful hearts.

Heavenly Father, I have a deep desire to be fruitful in service unto You. I have a strong yearning to know You more and more. I have a desperate need to be strengthened by You. I am overflowing with gratitude toward You. In humble faith, I cry out to You!


Title: An Invitation to Pray at the Throne of Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 28, 2003, 03:03:08 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 27

An Invitation to Pray at the Throne of Grace:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Heb_4:16)

If we are going to live by grace, we must relate rightly to the God of all grace: namely, by walking in humble dependence. Continual, Spirit-led prayerfulness is the basic way to express humility and faith to the Lord. How fitting it is, then, to consider God's invitation to pray at the throne of grace.

The throne to which we are invited is the throne of God, revealed to the Apostle John. "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne" (Rev_4:2). This honored King of the universe is the Creator of everything, exercising His sovereign will by His infinite power. "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created" (Rev_4:11). This is a throne of everlasting holiness, as declared constantly by angelic creatures. "And they do not rest day or night, saying: 'Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!' " (Rev_4:8). For the godless, this will become a throne of judgment. "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God . . . And they were judged, each one according to his works . . .  And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev_20:11-13, Rev_20:15).

If this throne were only characterized by sovereign power, holiness, and judgment, we could never approach it with any expectation of blessing. Yet, for those who will humbly receive eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, this is a throne of grace. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace." We can approach this throne with spiritual confidence, because Jesus is seated there with the Father. "And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne . . . stood a Lamb as though it had been slain . . . Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Rev_5:6, Rev_5:12). The worthy one, who died for our sins, has opened the door to an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father. "For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father' " (Rom_8:15). Dread of God is replaced with boldness, by the grace of Jesus Christ: "in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him" (Eph_3:12). Now, this throne is to us an altar of prayer for mercy and grace!

Abba, Father, I bow before Your throne, acknowledging You as the sovereign Creator and the holy Judge. Yet, I boldly approach You as my dear, intimate Papa! Although I deserved judgment, now through Jesus, I humbly expect mercy and grace!


Title: More on an Invitation to Pray at the Throne of Grace
Post by: nChrist on December 28, 2003, 03:06:07 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 28

More on an Invitation to Pray at the Throne of Grace:

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.  (Heb_4:16)

Seated upon the throne which rules this universe is the sovereign, holy, Judge of all humanity. Yet, He is also the "God of all grace" (1Pe_5:10). All who relate rightly to Him (through humble faith in Jesus Christ) can come boldly to that throne, praying with assurance that mercy and grace will be His response.

Truly, the Lord Jesus is the reason that we can answer the invitation to "come boldly to the throne of grace." His death on the cross opened the way for us to come into God's presence, allowing us to talk to Him directly in prayer. It is as though the Holy of Holies is now our family den. God is our Father, who delights to commune with His children as we pray to Him: "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us" (Heb_10:19-20). This "new and living way" is the new covenant of grace. It is by the Lord's grace alone that we can come to His throne of grace, that we might live daily by His grace.

At this inviting throne of God, we "obtain mercy." Mercy is heaven's wondrous companion to grace. Mercy is God's provision for holding back from us the awful things that we actually deserve, due to our sin and rebellion. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isa_55:7). Now, each day, His children can benefit from the faithful mercies of God. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lam_3:22-23).

Also, at this inviting throne of God, we "find grace to help in time of need." Our initial need was for the Lord's saving grace, which brought forgiveness for our ungodliness and made heaven our eternal home "For by grace you have been saved through faith" (Eph_2:8). Our ongoing need would be for transforming grace for the developing of a godly life here on earth. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Tit_2:11-12). In prayer at the throne of grace, we find God's continuing supply of grace. That grace is irreplaceable and sufficient to sustain us through, and use us in, the needy situations we encounter daily at home, work, school, church, — wherever.

O Lord, supplier of all mercy and grace, I rejoice that Your mercies are new every day. Have mercy on me, dear Lord! I praise You that Your all-encompassing grace is available through humble, trusting prayer. Pour Your grace out on me, dear Lord!


Title: Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him
Post by: nChrist on December 30, 2003, 01:56:53 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 29

Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him:

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him . . . Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  (Col_2:6 and Gal_3:3)
In this vital matter of relating rightly to the Lord, one common mistake is attempting to develop our Christian walk in a different manner than we began it. Our present verse points us to the proper outlook. We are to build our life with the Lord upon the very same terms that we began that life. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." We are to walk with Jesus the way we received Him.

We received the Lord and His great salvation as gifts of grace. "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (2Co_9:15 and Eph_2:8). We must, therefore, walk in Him with a "grace-receiving" mentality. "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (Joh_1:16). We must never attempt to treat the Christian life as something we can manufacture or earn. Sinful, earthly fathers were created with a desire to give beneficial gifts to their children. Even more so, our holy, heavenly Father has a heart to give all that is needed to those who are willing to ask and receive. "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Mat_7:11).

Gal_3:3 reinforces the necessity of keeping our pattern for beginning a walk with God the same one we use for developing that walk: "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" These rhetorical questions warn of the deadly danger of having our approach to Christian growth differ from how we found spiritual birth. The Holy Spirit alone was able to bring us spiritual birth. The flesh of man could avail nothing. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" (Joh_3:6). The Holy Spirit must bring us spiritual progress. The flesh can contribute nothing. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing" (Joh_6:63). Any change in approach from birth to growth is foolishness. It is doomed to failure.
We began by grace, so we must continue by grace. We began by the Spirit, so we must continue by the Spirit. Yes, we are to walk with Jesus the way we received Him. Any changes in approach are unacceptable, ineffective, impossible.

Heavenly Father, You are such a generous giver. You gave me Your Son and His salvation as a gift of grace. You gave me new life by a work of Your Holy Spirit. Now, I want to walk in Christ these same ways, in His gracious name, Amen.


Title: More on Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him
Post by: nChrist on December 30, 2003, 02:00:17 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 30

More on Walking with Jesus the Way We Received Him:

As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.  (Col_2:6-7)
The manner in which we received the Lord is the very same manner in which we are to walk in Him. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." We received Him by grace, we must walk by grace. We were born again by the Spirit, we must walk by the Spirit. Furthermore, when we first received Christ, He was our only hope. Now, we are to walk with Him the same way.

It is good to recall how Jesus was the comprehensive focus of our beginning with Him. When we received Him and His forgiveness, we knew He had to provide all that was needed for our salvation. We agreed with the word of God that there was no other hope than Jesus. "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me' . . . Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Joh_14:6 and Act_4:12). We knew that we could supply nothing ourselves. We were spiritually dead, having no righteousness at all: "dead in trespasses and sins . . . all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Eph_2:1 and Isa_64:6). We had entered the blessed condition of being convicted of our own spiritual bankruptcy. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mat_5:3). Jesus was our comprehensive focus, our only hope.

This is how we are to walk in Him today. We need the Lord Jesus as much now for living the Christian life, as we needed Him at the beginning to be born again into it. For growth and victory and fruitfulness, He is the one we must focus upon. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." We need to be rooted in Him, having our faith reaching out to Him for nutrition and strength, even as the roots of a tree reach into the soil. We need to be built up in Him, having our lives developed by His work in us. We need to be established in the faith, allowing Him to stabilize us through the study of His word. This will lead to lives of overflowing appreciation, grateful that "Christ is all and in all" (Col_3:11). Truly, we need the Lord Jesus as much now for living the Christian life, as we needed Him at the beginning to be born again into it.

Lord Jesus, my all in all, You were my only hope for beginning a new life with You. Today, You are my only hope for growing in this life with You. Please remind me that my need for You never diminishes. It is constant and comprehensive. Thank You for always being available!


Title: The Manifold Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on December 31, 2003, 11:20:32 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - December 31

The Manifold Grace of God:

The manifold grace of God . . . but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ . . . Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.  (1Pe_4:10; 2Pe_3:18 and Gal_6:18)

The manifold grace of God is such an appropriate truth for our concluding meditation. It is both humbling and faith building to be reminded of the majestic diversity of God's grace.

God's grace is manifold. It is like a heavenly diamond with innumerable facets. Every vantage point reflects a new insight into the gracious resources of our Lord. From some biblical viewpoints, the justifying grace of God is seen: "justified freely by His grace" (Rom_3:24). Yet, our devotional studies have concentrated upon sanctifying grace, grace for growing. "But grow in . . . grace." Many scriptural vistas display this sanctifying grace in its manifold beauty. It can be seen stabilizing the inner man. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Heb_13:9). It can also be seen in its edifying ability. "I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up" (Act_20:32). From another angle, God's sanctifying grace can be seen for its strengthening capacity. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus" (2Ti_2:1). It can also be observed in its fruit producing role: "and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Col_1:6). It can also be seen in its ministry developing function. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1Co_15:10). From still another viewpoint, the sanctifying grace of God can be seen sustaining through the agonies of one's "thorny impossibilities." "My grace is sufficient for you" (2Co_12:9). What heavenly riches await us in a lifetime of observing, and appropriating, God's manifold grace.

What final words would be fitting for us now? The closing benediction in so many New Testament epistles would be perfectly suitable. "Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit" (Gal_6:18). Ultimately and essentially, grace is found in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and it is experienced through His work in our hearts, as we humbly seek to know Him more and more. "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Dear Lord of manifold grace, I earnestly yearn to grow in every aspect of Your grace. Lord Jesus, I humbly desire to find increasing intimacy with You. Please work Your grace deeply into my heart  and manifest it fully through my life, in Your matchless name, I pray, Amen.


Title: The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Post by: nChrist on January 01, 2004, 03:49:59 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 1

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.  (2Co_8:9)

God wants us to know His grace. He wants us to learn about it, and then to experience it at work in our lives. Grace has rightly been described as "unmerited favor." The acrostic, "God's Riches At Christ's Expense," catches more of its majesty. Grace is God freely providing for us (as we trust in the work of His Son) all that we will ever need, all that we will ever yearn for, all that He has commanded us to walk in and become, realities that we could never produce on our own, could never earn, and could never deserve. Grace offers what every human desperately needs, but what God alone can provide.

This grace is found only in a person, the Lord Jesus. It is the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Thus, it is accessible only through an ongoing personal relationship with Him.

Grace was made available to us by Jesus' willingness to take our spiritual bankruptcy upon Himself, that we might be able to partake of His spiritual richness. Before coming to earth below, Jesus enjoyed heavenly riches above ("that though He was rich"). He knew the infinitely rich fellowship of the Father and the Spirit. He received the rich worship of angelic beings. He enjoyed the limitless prerogatives of deity.

Then, for our benefit, Jesus voluntarily became poor ("for your sakes He became poor"). He humbled Himself to walk as a man among sinful humanity. He who was adored above became despised below. He who shined forth in glorious divinity in heaven was clothed in humble humanity on earth. He who created all things was slain by those He created. He who always existed in eternity past died in time. He who was holy took our sin upon Himself.

Through these workings of His grace, all who believed in Him would become spiritually rich ("that you through His poverty might become rich"). Now, we whose "righteousness were as filthy rags" (Isa_64:6) have become "the righteousness of God in Him" (2Co_5:21). We "who once were not a people . . . are now the people of God" (1Pe_2:10). Now, we have been "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Eph_1:3).

Dear Lord, I thank You and praise You for Your great grace toward me. May I increasingly know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, through a growing relationship with Him. May I become an instrument of Your grace in the lives of others, all for Your glory and honor, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Grace upon Grace in Our Lives
Post by: nChrist on January 02, 2004, 03:03:16 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 2

Grace upon Grace in Our Lives:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for (upon) grace.  (Joh_1:14, Joh_1:16)

One of the titles of God, the Son, is the Word. When He, Jesus, became a man, He was God's incarnate message, His Word to humanity. As the early disciples watched Jesus living His perfect life of godliness, they were looking at the glorious revelation of God's uniquely begotten (that is, virgin-born) Son. His life was an overflowing demonstration of divine grace and truth.

Jesus showed us the kind of life that God's grace could be developing in us — a life of truth, a life of godly reality. Jesus came as the One to offer that fullness of grace to all who would trust in Him.
Now, for those who are depending upon Him day by day, life is explained and developed "grace upon grace." God's grace received establishes first a layer of forgiveness and spiritual new birth. Then, layers of growth, transformation, fruitfulness, victory, maturing, service, etc., are added as His grace is appropriated by faith. Yes, the Christian life is to be "grace upon grace" — upon grace, upon grace, upon grace — until we stand face to face someday with our Lord of grace!

Wherever we are in our spiritual pilgrimage, our progress has come from receiving by faith from His fullness of grace. Whatever remains to be accomplished must transpire in the same manner, receiving more fully of His fullness. Oh, what fullness is yet available to us in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Lord Jesus, thank You for coming to dwell among humanity. We worship you for the fullness of grace available in You. We appreciate so much the layers of Your grace that You have built into our lives. We reach out to You with expectation for the grace that is yet needed for the days ahead. This we ask in Your holy name, Amen


Title: The Dimensions of His Grace
Post by: nChrist on January 04, 2004, 03:24:09 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 3

The Dimensions of His Grace:

In Him we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus . . . To me, who am less than the least of all saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable (unfathomable) riches of Christ.  (Eph_1:7; Eph_2:7; Eph_3:8)

What are the dimensions of the grace of God? How extensive are the resources of His grace? So often we drastically underestimate the measure of God's supply of grace for our lives.

God is rich in grace. When He forgave our sins, He did so "according to the riches of His grace."  Think of the bountiful measure of grace that was bestowed to remove our guilt and shame. God generously poured out His grace in order to wash away our iniquities. Yet, in doing this He did not deplete the treasures of His grace.

In Ephesians 2:7, God speaks of the "exceeding riches of His grace." The Lord's grace is far beyond any richness that we have ever yet comprehended or experienced. God's storehouse of grace is so abundantly full that He will be pouring it out upon us for the "ages to come." Yes, it will take eternity for the Lord to fully demonstrate His grace toward us. This everlasting demonstration of His grace will involve showing His kindness toward all of us who are in Christ Jesus. Think of it — the dimensions of God's grace are sufficient for Him to make us the objects of His kindness for ever and ever!
One could liken the riches of God's grace to an infinitely vast ocean. Think of the immensity of the oceans of the world. Although they are magnificent in scope, every ocean can be searched out or fathomed. Every ocean has a bottom that can be reached. Though vast, they are finite.

Paul testified that the Lord gave him grace to go forth and proclaim the "unsearchable (unfathomable) riches of Christ." There is more grace available in the heart of God for us than there is water in all of the oceans of the world! Truly, no matter how much grace we have already discovered in Christ, we have only begun to search out the riches of His grace toward us.

Heavenly Father, we are awe struck at the vast dimensions of Your grace. Forgive us for underestimating that grace so often. Enlighten the eyes of our hearts that we might know the richness of Your grace. May the immeasurable ocean of Your grace be our daily supply for life in Christ, in His name we pray, Amen.


Title: Under Grace, Not Law:
Post by: nChrist on January 04, 2004, 03:27:15 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 4

Under Grace, Not Law:

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law but under grace.  (Rom_6:14)
Sin dominates every one's life, unless they are learning of God's remedy. Grace is our only hope that sin will no longer dominate our lives. Furthermore, grace is a sufficient hope that sin need not exercise a dominating influence over us.

Before we came to faith in Jesus Christ, we were fully under the dominion of sin. We were condemned before God because of our sin. Others may not have been aware of our truly sinful condition. Still, we were so controlled by sin that God called us "slaves of sin" (Rom_6:6).

The law brought us no hope of escape. In fact, the law condemned us (Rom_3:19). We could never have found freedom from sin's condemnation by attempting to perform better under the law of God, for "by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified" (Gal_2:16).

On the other hand, the grace of God is our fully effective hope. There is forgiveness of sins by His grace (Eph_1:7). There is justification through faith by the grace of God (Gal_2:16). There is growth in spiritual life by the grace of God (2Pe_3:18). None of these heavenly blessings become ours from attempting by our ability to live up to the law standards of Almighty God.

Our relationship with the Lord is based upon grace, not upon law. We began a walk with the Lord by His grace at work for us. We continue to walk with Him by His grace at work in our lives.

O Lord, my God, I rejoice greatly that I am under Your grace and not under Your law. Your holy law rightly condemned me for my trespasses against You. I thank You for forgiving my sins by Your glorious grace. I praise You for justifying me, declaring me not guilty in Your sight, by Your rich grace. I extol You for continuing to touch and shape my life by Your inexhaustible grace, in the name of Christ Jesus, my Lord. Amen


Title: The Message of the Law: Be Holy:
Post by: nChrist on January 05, 2004, 07:59:56 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 5

The Message of the Law: Be Holy:

And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say to them: 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. Every one of you shall revere his mother and his father, and keep My Sabbaths: I am the LORD your God. Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molded gods: I am the LORD your God'."  (Lev_19:1-4)

When any aspects of God's law is being considered, what is its overall message? How could a person summarize the law of God? In this statement to Moses, the Lord mentions a few of the commandments from His holy law. He speaks of proper treatment of parents, observance of the Sabbath day, and refraining from idolatry. Then, He provides a two word summary of all His law: "be holy."

In this call to holiness, the Lord holds forth Himself as the reason for, and standard of, living holy lives. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy." God is holy, so He wants holiness to be a distinctive trait of His people.

What is the holiness of God? It has to do with His character. Holiness speaks of that which is innate with God, as well as contrasting that which is absolutely foreign to His being. In the Lord God there is perfect righteousness. On the other hand, in Him there dwells no unrighteousness of any type. In our God there abides complete moral purity. Contrariwise, in Him there is not even a trace of moral evil. In fact, everything about Him is spiritually pure and morally unpolluted.

This holy character of the Lord God is the standard of life that the law holds forth for humanity. God's chosen nation, Israel, was given this standard in writing. All others have this standard written on the conscience (Rom_2:15). Every one who is born into this world is measured by God's law, which demands that the holy character of God be seen in their life before God, including how they relate to God and to one another. The message of the law is: "be holy."

O Holy Father, I worship You for Your perfect holiness. None is holy, O Lord, besides You. You are pure and righteous in all of Your being and all of Your doing. Father, I am aware of, and convicted of, my lack of innate holiness. I confess that I could never produce a life that would measure up to Your holy standards. I thank You for the gracious forgiveness that is available in Your Son, Jesus Christ. I take comfort in, and find hope in, the righteousness that Your Son can bring into the lives of those who trust in Him day by day, in His name. Amen.


Title: The Message of the Law: Be Loving
Post by: nChrist on January 06, 2004, 06:57:14 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 6

The Message of the Law: Be Loving:

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."  (Mat_22:36-40)

In His response to the question, Jesus supplies another summary of the message of the law of God: be loving. "Love the Lord your God . . . love your neighbor." Jesus then revealed that "On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Every command in the law of God is related to one of these two commandments.

"Love the Lord your God." The primary demand of the law is an all-out love relationship with the Lord God Almighty. God is to be loved "all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind." From the depths of our being, love is to be flowing out toward the Lord. In every expression of our personality, love is to be poured out toward God. In every thought that occurs in our minds, love for God is to be the  motivation and the content. Any aspect of life that does not indicate a comprehensive, unrestricted love toward God is in violation of His law.

"Love your neighbor." The secondary demand of God's law is an unselfish love toward every other person. We are to love others as ourselves. Some have wrongly used this phrase to urge people to obey an imaginary third commandment: "We need to learn to love ourselves"?! No, Jesus said there are only two commandments here. This second one is a call to give others the consideration and care that we all have given to ourselves all of our lives. Jesus later intensified this second command by saying, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you" (Joh_13:34).

The message of God's law is: be loving. Love God fully. Love others sacrificially.

Dear Lord God, I bow before You as the God of infinite love. I have come to love You, because You first loved me. Yet, my love for You is so feeble in light of what You deserve and what You command. O Lord, my love for others is so often diminished by my own selfishness. I humbly ask that You would work in me a more profound love for You and a more selfless love for others, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: 2nd Timothy on January 06, 2004, 07:18:37 PM
Amen!


Title: The Message of the Law: Be Perfect:
Post by: nChrist on January 07, 2004, 04:19:23 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 7

The Message of the Law: Be Perfect:

Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.  (Mat_5:48)
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides a startling summary of the law of God: "be perfect." Our Lord had just been teaching about God's law. His instruction was offering a much deeper understanding of the law than the teachers of Jesus' day had grasped. He was showing how the law goes far beyond external behavior alone.

The format Jesus used was "You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you." In Mat_5:27-28, He addressed the commandment on adultery in this fashion: "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." When lustful imaginations are entertained in our thoughts, adultery has already been engaged in, as far as God is concerned.

In Mat_5:21-22 Jesus had used this same pattern of instruction to reveal God's perspective on murder:  "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not murder,' and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment." When vengeful anger floods our thoughts, that is harboring a murderous spirit within the heart. Actual murder and vindictive anger both deserve the same judgment. Clearly, the commandments of the law of God can be transgressed by the unseen attitudes of the heart, as well as by the visible actions of the body.

Again, Jesus summarized such teaching on the law be saying: "be perfect." In the law, God is requiring a perfection that measures up to the perfect character of the Father Himself. The law is saying that we are to hold within our hearts and manifest through our actions a character that matches God's. "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Dear Heavenly Father, these words are so humbling and convicting. You are so perfect in every way. I am so imperfect in every area. Lord, even the actions that I thought were acceptable in Your sight were polluted by unacceptable attitudes that fall so far short of the standard of Your perfections. Thus, I cast myself upon Your mercy and grace, looking to You for the only remedies that will ever suffice, even Your forgiveness and Your transforming power, through Christ my Lord and Savior, Amen.


Title: Hearing the Law:
Post by: nChrist on January 08, 2004, 05:00:27 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 8

Hearing the Law:

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law?  (Gal_4:21)
When people do not really hear what the law of God is saying, they may still desire to be under the law. Those who are lost and dying in the world often underestimate the message of the law. They may imagine that it is only calling them to attend religious services or to join a religious organization. Thus, in missing the message of the law, they choose to remain under it, trusting in their own best behavior to somehow enable them to pass any final judgment concerning heaven or hell. This is a matter of "not hearing the law."

Many who are redeemed, having found new life through faith in Christ, also want to remain under the law concerning spiritual growth and service. This is another case of "not hearing the law." Any believer who expects to make progress in a life pleasing to the Lord on the basis of one's own best efforts does not really hear what the law reveals as God's will for lives.

The law of God is not suggesting that we "be better;" it is demanding that we "be holy," as holy as God.  The law is not implying that we "be nicer;" it is requiring that we "be loving," as loving as Christ. The law is not proposing that we "try harder;" it is insisting that we "be perfect," as perfect as our Father in heaven.

The law of God is not asking us to improve ourselves or to be better than the next person. Many times this inaccurate statement is heard: "Just do the best that you can; what more could God require?" Well, God is demanding far beyond our human best. His law is demanding that lives "be holy," "be loving," and "be perfect." Moreover, He Himself is the standard of this holiness, love, and perfection.

Dear Lord God, You are holy and loving and perfect. In and of myself, I am none of these. I stand before You without any human assets that could measure up to these heavenly realities that You alone possess. I thank You for Your mercy. I praise You for Your grace. I humbly bow beforeYou, asking that You work more and more of Your holiness in and through my life.With no other hope than You, I ask that more and more of Your love might fill my life. Admitting my complete inadequacy, I look to You to be transforming me more and more into Your perfect image, through Christ I pray, Amen.


Title: The Inability of the Law:
Post by: nChrist on January 09, 2004, 04:01:44 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 9

The Inability of the Law:

For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.  (Heb_7:18-19)

God reveals through His word that His law has a strategic inability. There is an arena in which the the law has a "weakness and unprofitableness." The law demands perfection, but it offers no perfecting resources. This incapacity is not due to any oversight on God's part. Rather, this inadequacy is related to that which God never intended for His law to accomplish.

God's law was not given to man as a means of being perfected, that is, of being spiritually changed. The law tells us what God wants to see in lives, but the law provides no resource to effect the necessary changes. Thus, attempting to begin or to develop a relationship with God by dependence upon our best performance will always be a hopeless venture.

Anyone who desires to approach a holy and perfect God must have a more effective expectation than one's best personal performance, measured by God's holy law. Anyone who wants to get to know God, to walk with Him, to live with Him through time and eternity, must find a better hope than the law of God.

The law of God cannot give us an initial standing before God, that is, it cannot justify us. The law is also unable to develop an ongoing walk of godliness before the Lord, that is, it cannot sanctify us. For either of these precious blessings of God, a "better hope" is needed. God's grace is the "better hope" that allows us to "draw near to God," initially in new birth and continually in a maturing intimacy.

Holy Father, You are perfect in character. Your law is perfect in standard. Your law rightly demands perfection of me. Father, I ask that You remind me often that I cannot live up to that divine requirement on my own resources. Bring to my remembrance this inability of Your law. Stir my heart to trust in that better hope. Lord, I desire to walk clodely with You. Thus, I trust in Your grace as the only sufficient hope that will allow me to draw near to You, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.


Title: The Inability of the Law to Justify
Post by: nChrist on January 10, 2004, 07:41:08 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 10

The Inability of the Law to Justify:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ . . . But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "The just shall live by faith."  (Gal_2:16 and Gal_3:11)

Our great initial need before God is to be justified, to have God Himself declare us not guilty, to have the Lord pronounce us righteous in His sight. At first glance this appears to be an impossible situation for man. God, our Judge, is holy. Man is innately unholy. "But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags" (Isa_64:6).

The consequences of such ungodliness are inevitably universal and appropriately severe. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom_3:23). "For the wages of sin is death." (Rom_6:23). The just sentence for all of humanity, in light of their sins against a pure and holy God, is death, everlasting separation from God.

The law of God offers no help and provides no hope of remedying this dire situation. People are "not justified by the works of the law." Trying one's best to measure up to the law never produces a verdict of not guilty. In all the history of humanity, not one person could ever perform sufficiently before God's law to achieve a declaration of being righteous. "No one is justified by the law in the sight of God."

Vows and pledges of personal improvement offer no hope. Asking others how to strive more earnestly provides no assistance. Only faith supplies the necessary remedy. "A man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ." Trusting in our own best efforts leaves us guilty before God. Trusting in Christ's perfect work on the cross leaves us justified before God. "The just shall live by faith."

O Lord, my God, I praise You for Your glorious grace poured out upon me in justification. By Your grace alone You have declared me righteous in Your sight. I was totally guilty before Your holy law. I had no excuses and no hope of rescuing myself. Your law rightly condemned me, and I never could have reversed that verdict by my own performance. I trusted in Your Son, and You pronounced me just in Your sight. To You, my Lord, I give all honor, glory, adoration, and thanksgiving, through Christ Jesus, my Savior, Amen.


Title: The Inability of the Law to Sanctify:
Post by: nChrist on January 11, 2004, 05:23:33 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 11

The Inability of the Law to Sanctify:

This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  (Gal_3:2-3)

The first question here in Galatians 3 again brings to mind issues of justification. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" We received the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in our lives when we were born again, when we became children of God. This is also when the Lord declared us justified, righteous in His sight.

How did the Spirit come to indwell us? Was it by our performance, attempting to live up to the law of God? No, it was "by the hearing of faith." We heard the good news that Christ died for our sins. We heard the truth that Jesus could forgive us of our unrighteousness.

Faith was stirred in our hearts as we considered that grand message. In simple, humble faith, we asked the Lord Jesus to come into our lives, to be our personal Savior. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (Joh_1:12).

The next two questions apply this same biblical reasoning to sanctification. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" To think that we can advance the process of sanctification (that is, progressive transformation unto Christlikeness) by our own human resources (that is, by the flesh) is spiritual foolishness.

What a staggering thought! Just as we could never secure justification by our own best efforts, so it is true that we can never increase personal sanctification by our own best efforts. Yes, "The just shall live by faith," initially and continually!

Dear Lord, I praise Your holy name for justifying me by faith in Your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. I am so grateful that such a blessing did not depend upon my personal ability or merit. My heart is both convicted and encouraged that sanctification is by faith as well. I am convicted, because I have often thought and acted as though I could effect more practical righteousness by my own resources. I am encouraged that there is a way that actually works, and it depends upon trusting in You. O Lord, please remind me of this glorious, gracious provision day by day, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: sincereheart on January 11, 2004, 07:14:22 AM
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  (Gal_3:2-3)

Really caught me eye (and heart)!  :)


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on January 11, 2004, 01:56:02 PM
Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  (Gal_3:2-3)

Really caught me eye (and heart)!  :)

Oklahoma Howdy to SincereHeart,

This and many other beautiful portions of Scripture point to one thing:  God's Love, God's Grace, and God's GIFT of HIS Son to all who will call on the precious name of Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable GIFT!

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: The General Ability of the Law:
Post by: nChrist on January 12, 2004, 04:28:54 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 12

The General Ability of the Law:

Then the LORD delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words which the LORD had spoken . . . You have heard that it was said . . . But I say to you . . . .  (Deu_9:10 and Mat_5:27-28)

Although the law of God is unable to justify or sanctify, it does have some strategic ability in God's plan for man. These verses from the Torah and the Sermon on the Mount help us reflect upon this matter. These two profound sections of the Bible pertain to the law of God. Torah (Hebrew for law) refers to the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy. These books give an extensive explanation of the message of God's law. The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) includes Jesus' clarification of man's understanding of the law.

When these portions of the Bible are read, studied, or taught, the general ability of the law is at work. In these passages the very character and will of God are revealed. The message related to those "two tablets of stone" spoke of God's character, "I the Lord, your God, am holy." The summary of this message expressed God's will for man, "be holy." The details of the message indicated what holiness would be like in conduct toward God and in relationships with others. Jesus' words would eventually extend this message of holiness even into attitudes of the heart.

The law of God is His standard for spiritual measurement. By His law, God measures holiness in people's lives by revealing His will, which is based upon His holy character. This is why all of us "fall short of the glory of God" (Rom_3:23). We don't measure up to God's holy standard.

The measuring instruments of man are a helpful illustration of the law. When a tape measure is used to evaluate the height of people, it measures growth or reveals the absence of it. It does not produce human growth. So it is with the law of God. The law describes and measures what God wants lives to look like. It does not cause such spiritual growth to appear. Only God's grace at work in our lives is the sufficient dynamic that produces spiritual growth.

O Lord, my Hope, I give You praise for Your holy character, revealed in Your holy law. I agree with Your will, desiring holiness in my life. I also agree with You that I fell far short of Your glorious standard. Thank You for cleansing me of all unrighteousness. Thank You for clothing me in the righteousness of Your dear Son. Now I place my hope in You for any and all progress in the path of righteousness. O Lord, have Your way in my life, working Your will, by Your grace, through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen.


Title: The Law Producing Accountability for Sin:
Post by: nChrist on January 13, 2004, 07:34:38 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 13

The Law Producing Accountability for Sin:

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God . . . For by the law is the knowledge of sin.  (Rom_3:19-20)

God's law speaks to those who are under the law. This would certainly include the Jews, for the law of God was given to them in writing (first engraved on stones by God, then written on parchment in the Holy Scriptures). Yet, the law speaks to the Gentiles as well, since they have it inscribed upon their consciences. "[The Gentiles] show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness" (Rom_2:15). Thus, every Jew and every Gentile begins life under the law.

Remember, when the law speaks, it is saying, "be holy, be loving, be perfect." The result of all people having received this message (either externally in writing, or internally upon the conscience) is that "every mouth [is] stopped."

What would we say if we stood before God, and He evaluated our lives  by His law? How could we answer if God said, "Here is your life; here is My law; now, give an account of yourself." Our "mouths [would be] stopped." We could provide no excuse, explanation, or justification.

The law produces accountability to God. And this accountability is universal. "All the world [is] guilty before God." There are no exceptions. Everyone in all the world is included. The law of God reveals to all humanity what sin really is.

Sin is not a cultural phenomenon. It is a divine revelation of what is absolutely unacceptable before God in light of His holy character. "By the law is the knowledge of sin." Man would have no insight into this matter were it not for the law of God. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Rom_7:7). Murder, adultery, stealing, lying, and coveting are all revealed to mankind by God's law. "For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, 'You shall not covet'" (Rom_7:7). Through God's law we are all accountable to Him for our sins.

O Lord God of holiness and love and all that is perfect, Your holy law has stopped my mouth. I have no excuse for my spiritual failure before Your perfect standard. What I have read in Your word confirms the convictions of my heart. My life would stand forever guilty in Your sight, if it were not for Your forgiving, justifying grace. Thank You for providing forgiveness of my sins and justifying me, when I could offer no justifying words or deeds of my own. As I look at the world of humanity all around me, please remind me that they are guilty before You, until they come to Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This prayer I humbly offer in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: The Law Convicting the Rebellious:
Post by: nChrist on January 14, 2004, 07:30:00 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 14

The Law Convicting the Rebellious:

But we know that the law is good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners . . . But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.  (1Ti_1:8-9 and Gal_5:18)

Although the law has some God-given inabilities, it is nevertheless good. "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good" (Rom_7:12). It does have certain abilities, "if one uses it lawfully." One unlawful application of the law would be using it to obtain justification, a declaration of being righteous in God's sight. If anyone ever infers that attempted obedience to the law of God could potentially secure an overall verdict of "not guilty," that would be biblically forbidden.

Another unlawful application of God's law would be using it to obtain sanctification, progressive spiritual growth in the Lord. If a person imagines that they could grow in godliness by their best attempts at living up to the law, that too would be prohibited by God's word.

The law is "for the lawless and insubordinate." The law of God is for those who are rebellious at heart against the will and the ways of God. This truth, in its basic interpretation, is directed toward unbelievers, "for the ungodly and for sinners." Herein we see that the law of God is able to convict unbelieving rebels of their defiance against a holy God.

However, by implication, there is an insight for believers here as well. As far as God is concerned, we are "not under law but under grace" (Rom_6:14). Yet, only those who walk according to the Spirit fully enjoy the daily blessings of that reality. "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." When followers of the Lord Jesus walk according to the flesh, they practically place themselves under a performance code. They put themselves under the law for practical day by day living.
The message of the law, which is for the rebellious, also has the capacity to expose this unacceptable condition within the life of a self-sufficient believer.

Dear God of all Grace, I confess that I  formerly lived in lawless rebellion against You. Lord, Your Holy Spirit convicted me of my self-righteous defiance against Your holy law. By Your grace You justified me, as I cried out in faith toward Your Son. Lord, now I earnestly ask You to convict me of those times when I attempt to live by the self-righteous resources of my own flesh. Lord, I need to be sanctified daily by Your grace, even as You previously justified me by Your grace. I praise You that such a work is abundantly available through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.


Title: The Law Tutoring People to Christ:
Post by: nChrist on January 15, 2004, 09:50:53 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 15

The Law Tutoring People to Christ:

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.  (Gal_3:24-25)

The ultimate ability of the law of God is its capacity to tutor people to Christ. "The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ." It is the plan of God to use His law to inform us about our great need for Jesus Christ. Remember the summaries of the law of God: "be holy, be loving, be perfect."

The law demands that we be holy. We are convicted that we are not holy. Thereby, the law is saying to us: "You need Jesus Christ." The law requires that we be loving. We realize that we are not loving. Thereby, the law is declaring to us: "You need Jesus Christ." The law insists that we be perfect. We know that we are not perfect. Thereby, the law is announcing to us: "You need Jesus Christ." In this process the law functions as tutor (schoolmaster or child-trainer) instructing people of their need for that which only Christ can provide through His grace.

Now that we have responded to the law's tutoring work, we are no longer under the tutor. Now that we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, we are no longer under the law. "But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor."

Whereas we once were told by the law to be holy, now we look to Christ for all personal holiness. "But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us . . .  righteousness and sanctification" (1Co_1:30).
Whereas we once were told by the law to be loving, now we look to the Spirit of Christ for all the love that our lives are to show forth. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love" (Gal_5:22).

Whereas we once were told by the law to be perfect, now we look to the Lord for all of the perfecting process. "Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Phi_1:6).

O Lord, my Redeemer, thank You for using Your law as a tutor to lead me to Jesus Christ. Your law was so correct regarding my desperate need of a Savior. Now I rejoice that I am no longer under that tutor. What a delight to relate to You by faith and not by performance. What a precious blessing to humbly hope in the Lord Jesus for righteousness and love and growth. How wonderful to look to a gracious, loving Person, the Lord Jesus, instead of to a perfect unyielding standard, the law. Lord Jesus, please complete in me the good work of Your grace that began when I first believed in You. In Your name, and for Your glory, I pray, Amen.


Title: Jesus Fulfilling the Law:
Post by: nChrist on January 16, 2004, 11:34:31 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 16

Jesus Fulfilling the Law:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  (Mat_5:17)

The standard of the law of God is infinitely high and lofty: "be holy, be loving, be perfect." This is because the law reflects the very character of God. In light of this we may wonder if there is any way that the law can be fulfilled. How could the righteous demands of the law ever be met in our lives? The answer to this vital question is contained in the truth that Jesus came to "to fulfill" the law.

Consider how comprehensive was Jesus' fulfillment of the law. He fulfilled the law in His life, becoming our example. As Jesus lived, He showed us what life would look like if one could always, in every way, live up to the heavenly standards of God. Jesus' testimony was "I always do those things that please Him" (Joh_8:29).

Further, He fulfilled the law in His death, becoming our substitutionary sacrifice. The law included a penalty for violation, and that penalty was death. "The soul who sins shall die" (Eze_18:4). "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom_6:23). Jesus lovingly died in our place to pay that penalty which we owed. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom_5:8).

Additionally, He wants to fulfill the law now in our daily experience, by being our life. "Christ who is our life" (Col_3:4). The Lord Jesus wants to live in and through the lives of His disciples, as we daily put our faith in Him. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God" (Gal_2:20).

Yes, Jesus fulfills the law comprehensively!

Dear Father of Glory, what marvelous grace - - what marvelous grace! Such a thorough provision is supplied by Your grace. Through the work of Jesus, my Lord, the law is fulfilled. Its holy demands are met on my behalf. My failure before Your law is fully covered by Your grace. Lord Jesus, thank You for paying the penalty for my sins. My desire to grow in the righteous life that You lived, and that the law describes, is fully available by Your grace. O Lord, this is grace upon grace. For this I praise You, and I rejoice with expectation. Lord Jesus, by faith I now look to You to be my life this day. Lord, inhabit my heart and shape my attitudes, my words, my relationships, and my deeds, I pray in Your mighty name, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: JudgeNot on January 16, 2004, 11:56:39 PM
Quote
Jesus lovingly died in our place to pay that penalty which we owed.

Yes, sir, Mr Bep - why can't all of our brothers and sisters see that, and understand the simplicity -- and depth -- of His love?

It seems so, --- so EASY!  I pray for eyes and ears and minds and hearts to be opened.

Thank you again, Tom - you touch our hearts.
Jamie


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on January 17, 2004, 02:55:19 AM
Quote
Jesus lovingly died in our place to pay that penalty which we owed.

Yes, sir, Mr Bep - why can't all of our brothers and sisters see that, and understand the simplicity -- and depth -- of His love?

It seems so, --- so EASY!  I pray for eyes and ears and minds and hearts to be opened.

Thank you again, Tom - you touch our hearts.
Jamie

Oklahoma Howdy to JudgeNot,

Brother, you are most welcome. This subject compliments what I have been thinking about and praying about for weeks, Christian love. The results are just as simple. I did nothing to deserve Jesus loving me and dying for me, and I accepted that precious, eternal GIFT. My heart should be so overflowing with joy and appreciation that I share the Good News with others in CHRISTIAN LOVE and light a path that may lead others to Christ. I'm learning there is great joy and peace when I yield to HIS will and purpose and serve HIM.

I hope and pray that all Christians yield to HIS will and enjoy peace and joy this world will never be able to offer. I love one other comparison I must share. We are just passing through, and our citizenship is in Heaven.

Thanks be unto God for HIS unspeakable GIFT!

Love In Christ,
Tom
 


Title: Righteousness through Christ in Justification
Post by: nChrist on January 17, 2004, 02:32:11 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 17

Righteousness through Christ in Justification:

But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace  (Rom_3:21-24)

The basic manner in which Jesus fulfills the law of God for us is by justifying us "freely by His grace." He does this by offering us "the righteousness of God which is through faith."

In the gospel of Jesus Christ, "the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed." It is the same righteousness that is spoken of in the law, that is, "being witnessed by the Law." However, in the law righteousness is an impossible standard being imposed. In the gospel, it is a gracious gift being offered.

This gift of righteousness is available to all who believe, to all who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ to be their Savior and Lord. This gift is, of course, free to the recipients. Yet, it was made available at great cost to the giver. This gift cost the Father His only begotten Son. This gift cost the Son His own life, as He paid the price of redemption to buy us back from the slave market of sin and death.

Every person ever created needs this redemption price paid for them. "For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Now, for all who believe in the Lord Jesus, the righteousness of God is imputed to them, that is, credited as a gift to their heavenly account. Thereby, the Lord God justifies us "freely by His grace." The Lord declares us righteous is in sight by giving to us "the righteousness of God which is through faith."

Dear Lord, I am so grateful that Your message of righteousness did not come through the law alone. Otherwise, Lord, I would have stood condemned before You forever. Thank You for speaking to us of righteousness through Your glorious gospel of grace. I exult in You that I am now  righteous in Your sight, through faith in Your beloved Son. Lord, I am learning that the righteousness I need for daily sanctification must also come from Jesus, by that same grace, through that same kind of trust. What good, good news is Your grand gospel! I magnify and praise You through Christ, my Lord, Amen.


Title: Righteousness through Christ in Sanctification
Post by: nChrist on January 18, 2004, 06:45:56 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 18

Righteousness through Christ in Sanctification:

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  (Rom_8:3-4)

How wonderful it is to be "justified freely by His grace" (Rom_3:24). Yet, what disappointment and discouragement awaits us, if we do not learn that God desires to sanctify us freely by His grace as well. This plan of God, as we should expect, hinges upon the work of Jesus Christ.

In matters of justification, as well as sanctification, the law has a weakness. This weakness is that natural human resources, the flesh of man, cannot live up to the standards of God. Thus, to accomplish what the law could never accomplish the Father sent his Son. "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son."

Jesus came as a man and died on the cross to eradicate the consequences of sin. This death of Christ certainly provided justification for all who would believe in the Lord Jesus. Yet, the next verse reveals that through His sacrificial death on the cross progressive, practical sanctification is available day by day through faith in the Lord. "That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit."

The word "walk" makes Rom_8:4 a verse on sanctification, not justification. Justification takes place with the first moment of faith in Christ. Sanctification continues step by step, day by day, throughout the life of a believer.

Think of this grand truth. God's grace provides a way "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us." Remember, that heavenly demand is "be holy," be like Christ. This transformation of life takes place daily in the life of any believer who does "not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." If we renounce the natural resources of man and trust in the Lord Jesus step by step through life, His Holy Spirit accomplishes His sanctifying work in us by the grace of God.

O Lord of compassion and generosity, what bountiful grace You offer to us, grace that justifies and grace that sanctifies. How foolish and unnecessary have been my futile attempts to fulfill the lofty requirements of Your holy law by my own feeble efforts. Father, how thrilling and encouraging to see that You have provided a gracious and effective way for me to grow in Christlikeness. This day I place my hope for godly progress in the irreplaceable work of Your Holy Spirit in me, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Law and Grace, Old Covenant and New Covenant
Post by: nChrist on January 20, 2004, 11:59:17 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 19

Law and Grace, Old Covenant and New Covenant:

The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant . . . For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ . . . This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  (Deu_9:11; Joh_1:17; and Luk_22:20)

In our meditations upon law and grace, we have also been considering (though not yet mentioning) the principal characteristics of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. When the Lord wrote the message of His law upon stone tablets for Moses, He was prescribing the terms of the Old Covenant. "The LORD gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant." When Jesus came into the world to die on the cross, the Lord was establishing a New Covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood."

These two covenants of law and grace present one of the major contrasting themes in the word of God. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ..." Understanding the differences between these two covenants is of utmost importance for living the Christian life as God intends.

God's law tells us that He desires holiness to characterize the way we live. Only God's grace can provide such righteousness in our lives. God's law tells us that He wants Christlike love to permeate our attitudes and relationships. Only God's grace can develop such love in us. God's law tells us that He desires the perfections of the Father to be growing in us.  Only God's grace is sufficient to carry out such a process of transformation.

The law of God is the what; the grace of God is the how. The law of God reveals sin; the grace of God forgives sin. The law of God indicates man's problem; the grace of God provides God's remedy. The law of God demands performance by man; the grace of God offers provision from God.

The law of God is the standard; the grace of God is the means. The law of God is the spiritual measuring rod that evaluates lives; the grace of God is the nurturing resource that produces spiritual life. The law of God tells us of the character of God; the grace of God reproduces that character in us. The law of God is the effect God wants to see; the grace of God is the cause that brings forth that effect.

Lord God of Truth, help me to rightly divide Your truth. Enlighten my spiritual understanding that I might increasingly grasp the differences between law and grace. Show me the full implications of the old covenant and the new covenant.Your word impresses me with the enormous significance of these issues. Thank You for Your patience concerning my negligence or confusion on these matters. O Lord, I earnestly desire to live a righteous and holy life. Teach me the path of humble dependence upon Your glorious grace, through Jesus, my Lord and my life, Amen.


Title: The Promise of a New Covenant
Post by: nChrist on January 20, 2004, 12:01:35 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 20

The Promise of a New Covenant:

"Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel . . . I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people . . . they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them," says the LORD. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."  (Jer_31:31, Jer_31:33-34)

Long ago God promised a new covenant of grace for His people Israel. "I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel." Some day the Israelites will turn to Messiah as a group and enter into this promised covenant of grace. "And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins" (Rom_11:26-27). This will take place when the Lord Jesus returns to this earth. "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn" (Zec_12:10).

Meanwhile, the church of the Lord Jesus, comprised of all Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ, already has the new covenant instituted for her. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood" (Luk_22:20).

Note the astounding three-fold provisions this new covenant offers by faith to all believers today. First, there is the forgiveness of sins. "For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more." Second, there is the opportunity to have an intimate relationship with God. "They all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." Third, there is the internal working of the Lord God Almighty enabling and changing people's lives from the inner core of their being. "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts."

Almighty God, the provisions of Your new covenant of grace are staggering in their richness! Forgiveness of sins by You, intimacy with You, and inner transformation from You - - all of this is mine through faith in Your Son, my Savior. O Lord, what bountiful grace You make available to us in Christ! I fully and desperately need all three of these wondrous workings that You alone can provide. I praise You for the gift of forgiveness of sins. I seek You for increased intimacy with You. I look to You to be shaping my life according to Your will, from the inside out, all through the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.


Title: The New Covenant Inaugurated for the Church
Post by: nChrist on January 21, 2004, 11:05:09 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 21

The New Covenant Inaugurated for the Church:

But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises . . . And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us . . . This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts . . . Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us.  (Heb_8:6; Heb_10:15-16, Heb_10:19-20)

This new covenant of grace that is promised to Israel eventually has already been inaugurated for the church now. The book of Hebrews documents this fact repeatedly. "But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises." Here in chapter 8, verse 6, the new covenant is referred to as "a better covenant." Then, the instituting of this new covenant is described in the past tense, "was established." It is already put into operation for the church.

In Heb_10:16, the promise of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31 is quoted. "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts." In the previous verse, we are told that this quote from Jeremiah includes a message from the Holy Spirit to us, the church of Jesus Christ. "And the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us."

Furthermore, in Heb_10:19-20, the new covenant is applied to the access of the "brethren" (the church, God's children) to their holy God and Father. "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us." Through His death on the cross, Jesus consecrated (that is, inaugurated, instituted, established, put into operation) the new covenant for us today!

Of course, this all fits perfectly with the application of the new covenant to the church celebrating the Lord's Supper. "In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood' " (1Co_11:25).

Dear Lord of Glory, I rejoice with great gladness that Your new covenant of grace is the wondrous manner in which I am invited to relate to You. In this rich covenant I have found forgiveness of all my sins. Praise be to Your name! In this bountiful arrangement I can grow in intimacy with You. Blessed be Your name! In this generous provision I anticipate being changed and enabled by You from deep within my heart. Glory be to Your name forevermore! Amen.


Title: The New and Living Way
Post by: nChrist on January 22, 2004, 09:55:20 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 22

The New and Living Way:

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us.  (Heb_10:19-20)

Here, life under the new covenant of grace is described as the "new and living way." This could be contrasted with the "old and dying way" of attempting to live under the old covenant of law. The "newness" of grace is not really a matter of time sequence, because the grace of God actually precedes the law in man's history with God. The "tree of life" in the garden of Eden was God's provision of grace for Adam and Eve. The promises of God to Abraham, given hundreds of years before the law, depended upon the faithful grace of God, not the legal performance of Abraham.

The "newness" of grace is its every day freshness and vitality. Day by day, by the grace of God, fresh measures of life are abundantly available to those who look to the Lord as their supply. This makes life with God fresh and new every day.

Under the old covenant, only one person, the High Priest, could enter into the intimate presence of God, the Holy of Holies. Furthermore, this was only allowed one day a year. Such limited access would certainly "get old" in the hearts of all who hungered after the living God.

Now, under the new covenant of grace, every believer in Jesus, our great High Priest, can confidently approach the Lord personally any moment of every day. "Having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus." Through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which forgives all of our sins, we can speak to the Lord and enjoy His presence in our lives continually.

Jeremiah gave some early insight into this kind of fresh and vital relationship with God. "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'Therefore I hope in Him! '" (Lam_3:22-24).

The Apostle Paul wrote profoundly concerning such "newness."  "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter" (Rom_7:6). This the "new and living way."  This will never "get old."

O Lord of Life, my heart yearns for this new and living way. O, how I long to dwell in Your presence day by day! Lord, I must confess that every attempt to base intimacy with You on my best performance has always become so old and dying, so stale and lifeless. My soul is stirred with hope in You that You have provided this better way. O Lord, teach me to walk by this new and living way, in the name of Jesus, my great High Priest, Amen.


Title: Living as Servants of the New Covenant
Post by: nChrist on January 24, 2004, 01:45:51 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 23

Living as Servants of the New Covenant:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.  (2Co_3:5-6)

We who follow the Lord Jesus Christ are "ministers of the new covenant." The term "minister" means servant. The phrase "new covenant" speaks of relating to God by grace. Thus, we are those who serve God by the resources of His grace. Our day by day lives, lived in service of the Lord God Almighty, are to be developed by the grace of God at work in us. What is involved in this biblical, heavenly approach to life here on earth?

The first issue pertains to our own inadequacy. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves."  So often we overlook our personal insufficiency or try to convince ourselves that we can become sufficient, with just a little more time, effort, or preparation. This approach is in direct disagreement with the Lord. God wants us to agree with Him.

Even when we begin to face our spiritual inability to produce the kind of life God is looking for, we easily underestimate the extent of our deficiency. We may think that we are just not able to produce as much as God desires to see in our lives. The Lord has a more radical viewpoint. He says that we are not able to supply "anything"  that He wants to see. Again, God wants us to agree with Him.

The second issue pertains to God's adequacy. "Our sufficiency is from God." The sufficient resources for living the Christian life are to be found in God alone. We are to be the recipients of God's grace, that is, His fully adequate supply. We are not to think we are the manufacturers of that grace. God is our source of all that is needed for godly living. Once more, God wants us to agree with Him.

The difference between living by God's supply or by our own resources is a "life and death" matter. "The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life." Living the Christian life by our own capabilities will spiritually kill us. It will eventually leave us exhausted, discouraged, condemned. Whereas, depending upon the Spirit of God to supply the abundant grace of God leaves us strengthened, encouraged, and comforted.

Lord God of all Grace, I humbly admit that I have often held a perspective so different from You on this subject of sufficiency. I have repeatedly behaved as though the Christian life depended upon what I thought I could do from my own resources, and, Lord, as You have declared, it has brought forth spiritual deadness. Please teach me to trust in Your Holy Spirit to bring forth into my experience the full sufficiency of Your immeasurable grace, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Other Descriptions of New Covenant Living
Post by: nChrist on January 24, 2004, 01:48:46 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 24

Other Descriptions of New Covenant Living:

If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me . . . be filled with the Spirit . . . I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  (Luk_9:23; Eph_5:18; and Joh_10:10)

Living as servants of the new covenant is not some exclusive, esoteric religious concept, available only to an initiated few. Rather, it is just another way to speak of the life that is to be, and can be, lived by all who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The difference is that the language used is unfamiliar to many Christians.

Some familiar terminology that speaks of the same biblical reality would be "Christian discipleship." A disciple is a follower of Jesus Christ. In Luke 9:23, Jesus explained what was involved in following Him as a disciple. "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'." In order to follow the Lord, a person must be willing to renounce the self-life, which is produced by one's own sufficiency. Then, that person must agree that such a self-produced life deserves to be judged and separated from God. Finally, everything that is needed for godly living must be found by pursuing a growing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some other terminology that describes the essence of new covenant living would be "the Spirit-filled life." "And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit." The Lord calls His people away from earthly influences that can dominate and diminish lives and urges us to live by the fullness of His Spirit. When Christians answer this call, they are willing to live by God's powerful, unlimited resources, instead of by man's feeble, finite means.

One other familiar phrase that depicts the same reality as life in the new covenant is "the abundant life." "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." When Jesus came into this world, His mission was not only to rescue us from the consequences of our sins but also to provide us with "abundant life,"  a spiritually enriched life that only He could produce in us.
New covenant living — it is the same reality as "Christian discipleship," "the Spirit-filled life," and "the abundant life."

Lord Jesus, I thank You so much for speaking of life in Christ in diverse terminologies. I want to be your true disciple. I want to be Spirit-filled. I want to live the abundant life. Each perspective offers beautiful insights and necessary confirmations. Lord, help me also to understand and embrace the refreshing language of the new covenant of grace. Dear Savior, I need all of the life-giving insights that Your rich vocabulary is designed to unfold, in Your name, Amen.


Title: New Covenant Provided by the Blood of Christ
Post by: nChrist on January 27, 2004, 06:19:06 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 25

New Covenant Provided by the Blood of Christ:

This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you . . . knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.  (Luk_22:20 and 1Pe_1:18-19)

The well-known Lord's Supper words from Luk_22:20 remind us that the glorious riches of grace found in the new covenant are all purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, as He died on the cross for us. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you." Customarily, believers in Christ think of forgiveness of sins when they hear these words. Forgiveness is certainly included in the blessings secured by the death of our Lord. Notice, however, that Jesus did not say "this cup is forgiveness in My blood." He said, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood."

The new covenant is far more than forgiveness of sins. As previously indicated, the scriptures reveal that the new covenant has three basic areas of blessings. First is the forgiveness of sins. "Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more" (Heb_8:12). Second is an intimate relationship with the Lord. "All shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them" (Heb_8:11). Third is an internal work of God producing an increasingly godly life in and through us.  "I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts" (Heb_8:10). The word of God further confirms that all of these grand blessings depend upon God's provision, not our performance. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2Co_3:5).

How can it be that such measureless spiritual abundance becomes ours through the new covenant of grace? Well, consider the amazing and effective redemption price paid to establish this new covenant. "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold . . . but with the precious blood of Christ." This new covenant was not purchased with limited earthly wealth, like silver and gold. Rather, it was paid for by infinite heavenly treasure, the blood of Christ. No wonder the new covenant provides such amazing and effective resources for all who depend upon the One who died for them.

One final reflection — realizing all that the cup of the new covenant represents can turn the Lord's Supper from a "religious snack" into a "spiritual feast"!

Dear Heavenly Father, You have surely provided for me grace upon grace - -  complete forgiveness, intimate relationship, divine enablement! Yet, how could any less be supplied by such a rich price! Lord Jesus, thank You for pouring out Your life's blood to make such irreplaceable necessities available to me. Father, please bring to my remembrance day by day the wondrous riches of the new covenant that You want me to draw upon by faith, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.


Title: The Initial Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on January 27, 2004, 06:21:24 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 26

The Initial Grace of God:

I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more . . . For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.  (Jer_31:34 and Eph_2:8-9)

Again, we have the opportunity to compare justifying grace and sanctifying grace, initial grace and ongoing grace. This is always an edifying and valuable exercise, since we tend to forget that we are sanctified through the same means that we are justified.

The initial grace that impacted our lives forever was the justifying, forgiving grace of God. The prophets of old proclaimed this hope. The apostles of the church age applied it to us today. "I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jer_31:34; also in Heb_8:12). When we repented of our sins and called upon the name of the Lord, we were forgiven and justified, declared not guilty and righteous in His sight.

This saving work of God on our behalf was all accomplished by the grace of God. "For by grace you have been saved." The saving grace of God is applied to lives as they trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. "By grace you have been saved through faith."

None of this process originates in man. All of it comes from God. "And that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God." No aspect of salvation derives from the efforts of man, so no one will ever be able to brag about their contribution in being saved. "Not of works, lest anyone should boast." All glory, now and forever, will go to the Lord Himself. "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord" (1Co_1:31).

Yes, even faith does not source in man. Jesus is "the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb_12:2). When we believed upon the Lord Jesus, it was in response to an authoring, revealing work that He was doing on our behalf. Jesus manifested Himself to us through the gospel as One who was able to save us sinners. The Holy Spirit was convicting us of our need. We trusted in His saving work for us. Thereby, He authored faith in us. "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing" (Rev_5:12).

As we have seen previously, and will have opportunity to examine again and again, the grace of God of which we partook for new birth and justification is the same grace that must continually be at work in us for growth and sanctification.

O Lord God of my salvation, I clearly see the full extent to which my being saved depended upon Your saving grace!  Thank You for this priceless gift of grace. How glorious it is to stand justified in Your sight. Now, that I might grow daily in a life of sanctification, I look to You and Your necessary grace, Amen.


Title: The Ongoing Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on January 27, 2004, 06:25:23 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 27

The Ongoing Grace of God:

I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts . . . it is good that the heart be established by grace.  (Jer_31:33 and Heb_13:9)

Our initial encounter with the grace of God involved forgiveness and justification. "In Him we have our redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph_1:7). Rich measures of God's grace washed away our sins and gave us new life in Christ. Of course, that initial justifying work of God could not exhaust His grace. Rather, it was "according to the riches of His grace." There are unlimited riches yet available for our daily sanctification, our ongoing growth in Christ.

Heb_13:9 is one of the many places in scripture that indicate progressive sanctification, that is, growth in godliness, is by grace. "It is good that the heart be established by grace." This truth clearly pertains to sanctification and growth, not justification and new birth. At regeneration, we are given a new heart. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh" (Eze_36:26). Then, after receiving a new, soft, responsive heart, the spiritual stabilization of that new heart must follow.

It is from within the heart that the development of practical righteousness must proceed. What is eventually seen and heard in our daily Christian lives sources from within the core of our inner being. "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life" (Pro_4:23). The Lord wants to work from deep within us. "I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts."

If an unstable, inconsistent life is being expressed outwardly, an unestablished heart within is the cause. Jesus taught that "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks" (Mat_12:34). Whatever is developing and filling up our inner man will eventually come out to be seen and heard.

In order to develop in us an increasingly mature, Christlike walk, our heart must be established. The law of God is not designed to change men's hearts. God's grace is the essential and sufficient cause to bring about this desired work of godliness. "It is good that the heart be established by grace."
Once more we have powerful biblical insight showing us that grace is not only God's provision to forgive and birth us into His family, but grace is also His resource for maturing us as His children.

O Lord, my strength, would You do a powerful work of Your grace deep within my heart. I do not want to displease You or dishonor You by an immature and unstable life. Lord, forgive my feeble and futile attempts to change my heart by striving before the law. Your gracious work in me is my only hope, through Christ I pray, Amen.


Title: Growing in the Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on January 28, 2004, 09:08:46 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 28

Growing in the Grace of God:

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  (2Pe_3:18)
Let's reflect upon some of the heavenly territory we have explored thus far. Grace is for spiritual growth and progress in the Lord. It is not intended only for birthing and starting out with the Lord. "But grow in the grace . . . of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Growth in Christ is to be produced by God's grace at work in us.

Often, God's people are apprehensive about an emphasis upon His grace. We become concerned that irresponsibility, ungodliness, laziness, or indulgence will result. We can rest assured on the promises and purposes of God that true grace does not produce such consequences. Such effects are produced by the flesh of man, either by licentiousness or by legalism.

Licentiousness hopes to turn grace into a means by which sinful indulgence is acceptable. "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 licentiousness" (Jud_1:4). Legalism aspires to add religious performance to grace, thereby appealing to the self-righteous hopes of man. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit,  are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Gal_3:2-3).

When a person truly lives by the grace of God, righteousness results, not ungodliness. When a person increasingly learns to draw upon the grace of God for daily living, Christlikeness develops, not worldliness. When grace becomes more and more the resource for life, sin diminishes; it does not increase. "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under law but under grace" (Rom_6:14).

The temptation is to rely upon the law of God in order to generate godliness. The demand of the law to be holy, loving, and perfect becomes a false security to our flesh. We think that by hearing, repeating, or depending upon this demand, we can thereby accomplish it. Let us not forget that "the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope" (Heb_7:18-19). God's grace is the "better hope" that does not fail to bring forth what God desires.

The Lord has ordained for us a life-long involvement with His grace. He wants to work "grace for [upon] grace" (Joh_1:16) for the rest of our days. This is the "new and living way" (Heb_10:20). Perhaps this could all be summarized in another acrostic on grace: Glorious Realities As Christ Empowers.

Gracious Father, how bountiful is Your provision for my spiritual growth. How foolish of me to think that I need more for developing in godliness than Your grace supplies. O Lord, I long to grow in the image of Christ. I beseech You, remind me and convince me that Your grace is the only sufficient hope. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: The Crusader on January 29, 2004, 03:55:34 AM
Amen

Growth in Christ is to be produced by God's grace at work in us.

And Amen

Your friend and brother

The Crusader

<:)))><


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on January 29, 2004, 08:55:36 AM
Amen

Growth in Christ is to be produced by God's grace at work in us.

And Amen

Your friend and brother

The Crusader

<:)))><

Oklahoma Howdy to The Crusader,

Brother, I've been thinking and studying about God's Grace and Love quit a bit lately. The GIFT of Jesus Christ is the ultimate LOVE GIFT through the matchless GRACE OF ALMIGHTY GOD. A little bit of thinking and studying reveals a huge TRUTH. Almighty God loves us and wants to shower us with LOVE GIFTS for all eternity. It is such a beautiful TRUTH when HIS children finally understand. HE wants us to rely on HIS GRACE, HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, HIS POWER, and HIS MIGHTY WORKS, not our own. The more we yield, the more grace, peace, and joy HE gives us, and the more HE works in us for HIS will and purpose. We simply need to yield and give all our praise and worship to HIM.

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: The New Covenant: Grace, Not Law:
Post by: nChrist on January 29, 2004, 08:58:18 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 29

The New Covenant: Grace, Not Law:

I will make a new covenant . . . not according to the covenant that I made . . . the gospel of the grace of God.  (Jer_31:31-32 and Act_20:24)

The old covenant of law was the covenant that God made with Israel "in the day that [He] took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt." The promise through Jeremiah was that the Lord would make a different type of covenant some day, "not according to [that] covenant." This new covenant would be a covenant of grace, provided by the Lord Jesus Christ. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (Joh_1:17).

The law of God was an impossible way to relate to the Lord. It required perfection, but it offered no perfecting assistance. It was able, however, to convince people of their need for the grace of Christ found in the new covenant. "The law was our tutor to bring us to Christ  " (Gal_3:24).

Now, we live and proclaim this new covenant of grace, the"new and living way which He consecrated for us" (Heb_10:20). This was the mission and message of which the Apostle Paul spoke. "The ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Act_20:24). The gospel is all about the grace of God, not about law. "The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you . . . the grace of God" (Col_1:5-6).

Gospel means "glad tidings," or "good news." The good news of the grace of God provided through Jesus Christ is the preeminent message in all of creation. In fact, the gospel of grace is such good news that some unbelievers initially reject it as "too good to be true." Indeed, it is an astounding reality to consider that forgiveness, justification, and new birth are all available "by grace . . . through faith . . . the gift of God, not of works" (Eph_2:8-9).

Perhaps we should not be surprised that some believers react in this same manner when they begin to consider the message of grace for growth and sanctification. To hear that the entire Christian life is to be "grace upon grace" (Joh_1:16) may at first seem "too good to be true."

At times, we may ask (or have others ask us), "Isn't there any human responsibility in God's plan of salvation?" The saved and unsaved alike must always be willing to respond to the offer of God's grace in Christ. We must all relate properly to the Lord Jesus for every work of grace, because it is "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Co_8:9). In all matters, we must seek Him and trust in Him.

Lord God of the New Covenant, how glorious is the good news of Your grace! I praise You for Your patience when I act as though transforming grace is too good to be true. I want to seek after the Lord Jesus and trust in Him this day, with all my heart, Amen.


Title: The Ability of God's Grace
Post by: nChrist on January 30, 2004, 05:12:00 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 30

The Ability of God's Grace:

And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance.  (Act_20:32)

God's grace has such marvelous ability. It is able to give the eternal inheritance of God to His children. It is also able to build up their lives here on earth for greater service and increased fruitfulness.

It is by the grace of the Lord that we can anticipate being recipients of a heavenly inheritance. "The word of His grace, which is able to . . .  give you an inheritance." An inheritance is obtained by being born into a family. We have been born again into the family of God. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name: who were born . . . of God" (Joh_1:12-13). We who believe in Jesus are God's children, "and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ" (Rom_8:17). We are blessed beyond measure to know that heavenly treasures of fellowship, worship, and service await God's children in glory above. All of these eternal riches are ours by the grace of God alone.

God's amazing grace also has the ability to build us up as we await our inheritance here on earth below. "The word of His grace, which is able to build you up." The Lord wants our spiritual roots of hunger and trust to be growing deep into Himself. He wants our lives to be undergoing continual construction in Christ. He wants our character to become increasingly stabilized in the faith, that is, in His word. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith" (Col_2:6-7).

It is the will of God that we be edified. "Let all things be done for edification" (1Co_14:26). All along the way from new birth into His family until our full heavenly inheritance as His family, God desires that His children be spiritually strengthened and increasingly developed in Christian maturity.

Our ministry to one another can be an effective part of this edification process. "Let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another . . . Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification" (Rom_14:19; Rom_15:2).

It is essential to remember, however, that God's grace is what accomplishes the building up process. "The word of His grace, which is able to build you up."

My God and Father, I rejoice exceedingly as I think of the inheritance that You are preparing for me by Your grace. O Lord, my Strength, I need Your mighty work of grace that I might be edified myself, and be edifying to Your children. Please purge my life of any matters that are not edifying, all by the grace of Jesus, my Lord, Amen.


Title: God's Grace Teaching Us
Post by: nChrist on January 31, 2004, 10:00:49 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - January 31

God's Grace Teaching Us:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  (Tit_2:11-13)

Time and again, we have considered the connection between grace and justification. "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus...In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Rom_3:24 andEph_1:7). Now, we have an opportunity to ponder once more the relationship between grace and sanctification. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men." It is God's grace that brings salvation to mankind. For nearly 2,000 years, that saving grace of the Lord has been offered to humanity through the preaching of the gospel. This particular verse now adds another function to the work of grace. "For the grace of God [is] teaching us."

The grace of God not only saves the souls of all who believe; it also works in believers' lives to teach and instruct them. God's grace, working through His word ("The word of His grace" — Act_20:32), instructs and shapes our thinking and living: "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age." It is the will of our Heavenly Father that His children turn away from that which is worldly and spiritually compromising. He wants us to walk in godliness, in Christlikeness. God works this into our hearts by His grace.

God's grace also develops expectant lives, eager to have the Lord Jesus return for His people: "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ."
The grace of God impacting our hearts through His word by His Spirit is His divine means to bring about such transformation in us. To view sanctification as something we can produce through our own performance (that is, by law) is akin to overlooking God's grace and underestimating the provisions of the cross of Christ. "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Gal_2:21).

Dear Jesus, my great God and Savior, I want to live in eager anticipation of Your return. Meanwhile, I desire to please You by growing in godliness and in applied righteousness. Thank You for Your longsuffering love, patiently teaching me by Your grace—the grace that I sometimes neglect, attempting to produce all of these realities by the striving of my flesh. From such vanity I turn to hope in You, Lord Jesus, Amen.


Title: Strengthened by Grace
Post by: nChrist on February 01, 2004, 09:46:46 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 1

Strengthened by Grace:

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  (2Ti_2:1)

Great strength is necessary for living as God intends. The grace of our Lord Jesus is where that strength is to be found. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus." Some of the specific reasons why we need strength are listed here in the immediate context of this verse.

Part of our calling as believers in Christ is passing on to others the biblical truths that God has taught us. "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" (2Ti_2:2). Discipling others in God's truth can be demanding and discouraging. Strength is needed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
Another aspect of our life as disciples of Jesus is functioning as spiritual soldiers. "You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (2Ti_2:3). We are the Lord's warriors in a worldwide, lifelong spiritual battle. The battle has been won by our Commander, Jesus. However, the enemy will not stop striking back until he is confined forever.  As Jesus' soldiers, we face many hardships. Again, strength is needed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

Another perspective on following Jesus is that of an athlete."And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules" (2Ti_2:5). As it is in athletics, the Christian life requires discipline, training, and the exertion of great measures of energy. Yet again, strength is needed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

One additional analogy of our life in Christ is that of a farmer. "The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops" (2Ti_2:6). As with farmers, we are to sow the seed of the word upon people's hearts. We are to water the seed through prayer. We are to reap a harvest of righteousness. Farming is strenuous work. Once more, strength is needed. "Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
How wonderful that God did not limit His grace to justification. We need it just as much for sanctification. We need His grace to strengthen us for the extraordinary spiritual roles that God has for us as disciplers, soldiers, athletes, and farmers. For all of this the only sufficient resource is to "be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."

O Lord of all might and power, I desire to be a faithful discipler, a sacrificial soldier, a disciplined runner, and a laboring farmer. Lord this sounds so right, so good. Yet,You know that I am intimidated by it all as well. I hear the call, and I want to respond; but my strength is so inadequate. So, I look to You and implore You to strengthen me by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, Amen.


Title: Grace Perfecting Strength in Weakness
Post by: nChrist on February 03, 2004, 04:52:10 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 2

Grace Perfecting Strength in Weakness:

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness . . . He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.  (2Co_12:9 and Isa_40:29-31)

When the subject of spiritual strength is raised, our thinking often turns in one of two directions. Either we consider how we can muster up our own strength, or we dwell on our own weakness, doubting that adequate strength can ever be found. Well, it is clear from the scriptures that God is not expecting that mere human strength will be sufficient for our spiritual callings. "Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall." Natural strength is never more abundant than in youthful lives. Yet, even that supply is not what people need for spiritual endurance.

God's word is also clear that an awareness of our weakness need never lead to despair over finding strength. Actually, the opposite is true. When we realize our drastic insufficiency, that is a reminder of our qualification to receive God's supply of strength. "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength." Those who admit that they are weak are the very ones to whom  God offers His strength. Those who confess that they have no might at all are the people in whom God increases His strength.

It is an amazing truth that God's strength is perfected (displayed the most fully) in the arena of our own weaknesses. "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Whenever we agree with God concerning our complete frailty in any given area of life, His grace is available to meet the need. Whenever we personally look to Him to pour out that strength, we will find that it is sufficient. "Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength."

Waiting upon the Lord involves hoping in Him, placing our expectations upon Him and not upon ourselves. For all who depend upon Him in view of their own weakness, "they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Thereby, our confession can be: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phi_4:13).

Lord, You are my only hope and my sufficient strength. On my own I am hopeless and powerless. Thank You for Your gracious patience, when I think my human strength is enough. Lord, I am weak; give me Your power. I have no might; increase Your strength in me. I wait upon You. I put my expectations in You. Unleash Your glorious grace in me, perfecting Your all-sufficient strength in my life, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Access to Grace
Post by: nChrist on February 03, 2004, 09:57:28 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 3

Access to Grace:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all . . . And God is able to make all grace abound toward you.  (2Co_8:9, 2Co_9:8, and Rev_22:21)
We have seen that abundant grace is available from the Lord, not only for justification, but also for sanctification. Yet, how does a person access the sanctifying grace of God? How does one actually live day by day by grace? Soon, we will consider the two relational realities that God wants to develop in our lives that we might live daily by His grace. First, a reminder of where that grace is, and the ability upon which it all depends.

The grace we need is always found in a person, not a procedure. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ." Consequently, in order to access this grace, we must be seeking after the person in whom the grace resides. No wonder that many of the letters of the New Testament end with "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (Rev_22:21).

Our God is not one who wastes words. He does not speak vainly. Nor does He stand on human formalities. These repetitious conclusions are an emphasis from the heart of God. When all is stated on any subject to any people, the ongoing need will ever be that they learn to live by the grace that is found in Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, upon whose ability does the grace of God depend?  We so easily become preoccupied with our own ability. "Will I be able to please and serve God?" "Will I be able to be an effective witness?" The focus of the word of God is on His ability, not ours. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace" (Dan_3:17).  "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him" (Heb_7:25). "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling" (Jud_1:24). "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph_3:20).

Concerning grace we may even be thinking, "Will I be able to live by God's grace?"Again, God's ability is the issue, not ours. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you."  If we are willing to rely upon the one who is able, God, we will experience His sanctifying grace abundantly in our lives.

Dear Lord, Teach me these great matters of access to Your grace. Remind me often that grace is found in Jesus. I confess my tendency to explain the Christian life by a formula, instead of by a person. Help me to remember that living by grace depends upon Your matchless ability. I admit my inclination to hope in my inept ability. So, Lord, I now look to You to abundantly pour out Your grace upon my life, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.


Title: Re:Access to Grace
Post by: The Crusader on February 04, 2004, 03:50:31 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 3

Access to Grace:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all . . . And God is able to make all grace abound toward you.  (2Co_8:9, 2Co_9:8, and Rev_22:21)
We have seen that abundant grace is available from the Lord, not only for justification, but also for sanctification. Yet, how does a person access the sanctifying grace of God? How does one actually live day by day by grace? Soon, we will consider the two relational realities that God wants to develop in our lives that we might live daily by His grace. First, a reminder of where that grace is, and the ability upon which it all depends.

The grace we need is always found in a person, not a procedure. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ ." Consequently, in order to access this grace, we must be seeking after the person in whom the grace resides. No wonder that many of the letters of the New Testament end with "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (Rev_22:21).

Our God is not one who wastes words. He does not speak vainly. Nor does He stand on human formalities. These repetitious conclusions are an emphasis from the heart of God. When all is stated on any subject to any people, the ongoing need will ever be that they learn to live by the grace that is found in Jesus Christ.

Furthermore, upon whose ability does the grace of God depend?  We so easily become preoccupied with our own ability. "Will I be able to please and serve God?" "Will I be able to be an effective witness?" The focus of the word of God is on His ability, not ours. "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace" (Dan_3:17).  "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him" (Heb_7:25). "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling" (Jud_1:24). "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Eph_3:20).

Concerning grace we may even be thinking, "Will I be able to live by God's grace?"Again, God's ability is the issue, not ours. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you."  If we are willing to rely upon the one who is able, God, we will experience His sanctifying grace abundantly in our lives.

Dear Lord, Teach me these great matters of access to Your grace. Remind me often that grace is found in Jesus. I confess my tendency to explain the Christian life by a formula, instead of by a person. Help me to remember that living by grace depends upon Your matchless ability. I admit my inclination to hope in my inept ability. So, Lord, I now look to You to abundantly pour out Your grace upon my life, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.


Thanks blackeyedpeas, this is a good one.

The Crusader

<:)))><


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on February 05, 2004, 12:51:34 AM
Quote
Thanks blackeyedpeas, this is a good one.

The Crusader

<:)))><

Oklahoma Howdy to The Crusader,

Brother, you are most welcome. So far, all of the Hoekstra Devotions are sound Bible teaching, and they make a nice extra for daily Bible study. I have several extras that I enjoy everyday.

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: Living by Grace: Humility and Faith
Post by: nChrist on February 05, 2004, 09:42:33 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 4

Living by Grace: Humility and Faith:

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble . . . through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand.  (Jam_4:6 and Rom_5:2)

How does a believer in Jesus Christ access the ongoing, sanctifying grace of God for daily godliness? It is accessed the same way that the initial, justifying grace of God was acquired - - by humility and faith. We were justified, declared righteous in God's sight, when we humbly trusted in the Lord Jesus. We humbly agreed with the Lord's account of our guilty condition. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . . For the wages of sin is death" (Rom_3:23; Rom_6:23). We also put our trust in Christ concerning His offer of life (based upon His death and resurrection on our behalf). "But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom_6:23). Thereby we partook of the justifying grace of God, through humility and faith.This is how the Lord wants us to continue to relate to Him for sanctifying grace.

Our God wants us to walk in humility, because grace is what we need for growth in godly living. Remember this great truth of grace: "But grow in the grace . . .  of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2Pe_3:18). If we are unwilling to walk in humility, we will not enjoy this wondrous sanctifying impact of grace, because "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." When we live by self-sufficiency, God's resists us. When we function in humility, God gives us grace for living.

Our God also wants us to walk in faith, because faith accesses grace. "Through whom [Christ] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand." We now stand in a kingdom that offers "grace upon grace" (Joh_1:16). Abundant grace is available for every step we are to take. This grace is partaken of by faith. Whenever we trust in the Lord Jesus concerning any issue of life, we are reaching by faith into God's unlimited resources of grace, by which we are enabled to live effectively.
Hereby we see that living by grace involves two relational realities: humility and faith. We do not produce either. Neither are a work. Humility admits we cannot do the work (of being holy, loving, perfect). Faith relies upon the work of another, the Lord Jesus Christ. They are both relational realities, since they become real in our lives through a growing relationship with the Lord. The more we get to know the Lord Jesus Christ, to that degree humility and faith will become realities in our lives.

O Lord, You are my salvation, from justification throughout a lifetime of sanctification. Forgive me for underestimating my need for You. Forgive me concerning the self-sufficient, self-confident ways by which I have often lived. I humble myself before You. I want to live by trust and confidence in You. I long to live by Your grace, not by my best efforts. Help me to know You, that humility and faith might develop in my life, Amen.


Title: Humility and Grace:
Post by: nChrist on February 05, 2004, 09:45:05 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 5

Humility and Grace:

Be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."  (1Pe_5:5)
We have considered that humility and faith must be developing within our lives, if we are going to grow in grace. Let's take a few days to reconsider each, looking first at humility. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

Pride leads the list of things that God despises. "These six things the LORD hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, a lying tongue . . . . " (Pro_6:16-17). God wants our lives to be edified; pride is destructive. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). The Lord desires that people be established in truth; pride is deceptive. "The pride of your heart has deceived you" (Oba_1:3). It is God's will that lives grow in things that are honorable; pride brings disgrace. "When pride comes, then comes shame" (Pro_11:2). Our Lord does not want His name dishonored or our lives destroyed by pride.

On the other hand, humility is a character trait that God loves to develop in us. This can be observed by the terms God uses in His word when addressing humility. "Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud" (Pro_16:19). The Lord reveals that we are better off being a humble person, who associates with modest people, than to partake of the wealth that the arrogant can often accumulate.

Also the Lord says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mat_5:3). Here we are told that humility is a blessing, because the spiritual realm of God's rule and God's provisions are given to the humble.

Elsewhere God revealed, "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa_57:15). Although our Lord is most fully revealed in His heavenly abode on high, He also dwells with humble and broken lives on earth below, in order to bring them spiritual revitalization.

Of course, we cannot manufacture humility. It is a relational reality. It results from getting to know the Lord. Isaiah discovered this. "I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up . . . Then I said: 'Woe is me, for I am undone'! " (Isa_6:1,5). When the Lord was revealed in all His glory, Isaiah responded in profound humility. This can be happening in our lives, as we get into the scriptures, seeking a deeper relationship with the Lord. As He is increasingly revealed to us, our response will be more humility.

O God Most High, I repent of those many times when pride was the despicable attitude that I displayed. Lord, teach me to despise pride as You do. Stir in my heart a growing appreciation of humility. I desire to be clothed with humility. I humbly seek You afresh that I might live by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.


Title: More on Humility and Grace
Post by: nChrist on February 07, 2004, 07:34:10 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 6

More on Humility and Grace:

Be clothed with humility, for "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" . . . And whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.  (1Pe_5:5 and Mat_23:12)
The Lord wants humility to be the spiritual attire that adorns our character. "Be clothed with humility." This is crucial, since "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." We cannot live by grace unless we are willing to walk in humility. Any other approach is some form of pride, which always meets God's resistance. These are absolutes that every person must face. "Whoever exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." The scriptures describe numerous individuals who demonstrate these truths.

Nebuchadnezzar, exalted himself. "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" (Dan_4:30). God opposed this self-exaltation by driving the king out into the fields to eat grass like an animal. Eventually, this banished king looked to heaven, and the Lord restored him to the throne. Then, magnifying the true King, he proclaimed the great lesson he had learned. "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar,  praise and extol and honor the King of heaven . . .  And those who walk in pride He is able to abase" (Dan_4:37).

Manasseh, while king in Jerusalem, also exalted himself. He did so in a most wicked manner, polluting God's temple with idolatry. "He built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the LORD . . . He even set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God" (2Ch_33:5, 2Ch_33:7). In doing so, he enticed the people of God into untold abominations. "So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel" (2Ch_33:9). As a consequence of this prideful rebellion, the Lord had Manasseh taken away captive into Babylon. Then, he humbled himself before God. In spite of the king's arrogant disobedience, the Lord heard his prayer and restored him to the throne. "Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom." (2Ch_33:12-13)

Truly, everyone who lifts himself up in pride will be brought low. Conversely, any person who walks in humility will be lifted up to liberation and blessing.

Dear King of heaven and earth, I am convicted of times when I behaved proudly, like these two kings. That has always led to my spiritual defeat and bondage. I thank You for drawing my heart toward humility. I humbly turn to You to pour out Your grace upon me, as You did upon them. Through Christ I pray, Amen


Title: Faith and Grace
Post by: nChrist on February 07, 2004, 07:36:39 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 7

Faith and Grace:

Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand . . . therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace . . . the just shall live by faith.  (Rom_5:2,  Rom_4:16, and Rom_1:17)

As noted previously, faith accesses the grace of God. "Through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand." When we trusted in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were born again and enjoyed our initial access to grace. God's intends for His children to continue accessing grace day by day throughout their years of growth and service here on earth. Every time that we face any matter in our lives with dependence upon the Lord Jesus, we are drawing from the bottomless ocean of God's grace. Thereby, His grace becomes our resource for living.

The resources of God's grace cannot be earned, deserved, or produced by man. They must be freely provided by the Lord. From beginning to end, the saving, rescuing, transforming work of God's grace is "the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast" (Eph_2:8-9). This truth highlights the strategic nature of faith. Only faith accords with grace. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace." Faith alone is compatible with grace. Any other approach will not fit with grace.

This marks another profound distinction between law and grace. "Yet the law is not of faith, but 'The man who does them shall live by them' " (Gal_3:12). The law is about performance. Those who live by the law are left to their own resources to work up a life that measures up to the perfect standards of God. Those who daily put their faith in the Lord Jesus for the issues of life access grace for godly living.

It is God's will that we live our entire lives by faith, which accesses grace. "The just shall live by faith." This truth is comprehensive. It applies to every aspect of our lives. When we arise in the morning, entrust the day into the Lord's care and guidance.

As we communicate with our families, depend upon Jesus for love and patience. In our drive to the office, pray in faith concerning the opportunities and challenges that may await us. If a crisis develops unexpectedly, immediately cry out to the Lord for peace and direction. When times of Bible study and worship approach, exercise faith toward God to make them spiritually genuine and personally effective. Whatever, whenever, whoever," The just shall live by faith."

Dear faithful Lord, I long to live by faith more and more as each day dawns. I see that this is the only way I can access Your glorious grace. Lord, I need Your grace constantly. No other resource will suffice. Too often I am striving by my best performance. What weariness and failure always results. Show me the areas of my life where I am not trusting in You, that I might look to You anew. In Your gracious name I pray, Amen.


Title: More on Faith and Grace
Post by: nChrist on February 09, 2004, 12:25:22 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 8

More on Faith and Grace:

The just shall live by faith . . . So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God . . . I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him.  (Rom_1:17, Rom_10:17, and 2Ti_1:12)

The entire Christian walk is designed to be lived by faith. "The just shall live by faith." Every step of every day, every issue that we face is to be addressed in reliance upon the Lord. This path of trust accesses the grace that God desires to shower upon us. Remember, faith is what corresponds with grace. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Rom_4:16). Trying our hardest does not ensure God's grace working in and though us. Attempting to be passive does not bring forth a display of His grace. However, humbly trusting in the Lord, whether taking action or patiently waiting, will always result in His grace undertaking for us.

Yet, how does one specifically learn to live by faith? Rom_10:17 is very helpful here. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." As we get into the scriptures, desiring to hear from the Lord, faith has opportunity to grow. Through the word, God speaks to us about Himself and His ways. He tells us His plans and purposes. He provides insights into reality. He drives away illusions and misconceptions. He offers promises and assurances. As we are thereby getting to know who the Lord is and what He wants to do, we are stirred to trust Him to work these matters into our lives. We face trials or opportunities, and we trust Him to be faithful. We learn of our own inadequacy and are driven to His sufficiency. We look to the Lord in daily personal issues, and He proves faithful. Through it all, our faith continues to grow in response to what the Lord is revealing to us and is doing for us. This is God's grace at work, because His word is"the word of His grace" (Act_20:32).

This process illustrates the relational reality of faith. Faith is not something we can produce. It results from getting to know the Lord more and more. Paul spoke of this pattern in part of his testimony. "I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him" (2Ti_1:12). As the years passed, Paul was getting acquainted with the Lord in whom he had first believed. Then, as this relationship with Christ developed, Paul was increasingly convinced of his master's ability to handle any matter that he would entrust into His hands. All the while, this faith that was developing in Paul was drawing upon the resources of God's grace.

O Lord, my God,I want to live daily by faith in You. Please work in my heart a growing appetite for Your word, that my faith may develop, as I am hearing from You. Forgive me for taking matters into my own hands and not looking to You. Show me situations that I need to entrust to You. This I humbly pray, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Reflecting on Grace: Humility and Faith
Post by: nChrist on February 09, 2004, 05:18:10 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 9

Reflecting on Grace: Humility and Faith:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich . . . Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God . . . If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.  (2Co_8:9, 2Co_3:5, Rom_10:17 and Luk_9:23)

Let's take a reflective look at humility and faith. We have repeatedly encountered these two relational realities. This is to be expected, since "God . . . gives grace to the humble" (Jam_4:6), and "we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_5:2).

In our first devotional study, humility and faith were evident. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich."  In order for Jesus to rescue us from our desperate situation, He had to become poor. When He hung on the cross for us, He took the spiritual poverty of our sin and guilt upon Himself. What a humbling picture of our innate spiritual condition. Basically, we had to agree with the Lord, humbling ourselves before Him, asking for His help. Additionally, faith was involved. We had to believe that through this death on our behalf, we could become spiritually rich, that is, forgiven of sin and righteous in His sight.

Humility and faith were later seen as vital for walking in this new life in Christ. "Not that we are sufficientof ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God."  The adequacy we need for Christian living does not originate in us. Actually, we must not think of "anything as being from ourselves." How humbling to learn, even as born again believers, that we need the Lord in everything. Then, how do we find the necessary adequacy? This is where faith pertains. "Our sufficiency is from God." This is truth that we are to believe.

When we examined Christian discipleship, humility and faith again appeared. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luk_9:23). Jesus' call to come and follow Him can only be received by those who will say, "No to self" and "Death to self." This is humiliating to the self-life, to think it is not good enough, to admit that it belongs on the cross. This is especially humbling when we see that these are to be our daily confessions. The rest of the issue is settled by faith, trusting in Jesus each step of every day.

Dear Heavenly Father, give me this perspective on the Christian life. Teach me, Lord, touch my heart, that I might be willing to walk humbly before You day by day. Build my faith, Lord, that I might turn to You in dependence step by step throughout each day. Father, I humbly trust in You to do this work in my life, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: The Crusader on February 09, 2004, 08:55:24 AM
Father, I humbly trust in You to do this work in my life, through Christ, my Lord, Amen

And Amen

Your friend and brother
The Crusader

<:)))><


Title: Grace and Spiritual Fruit
Post by: nChrist on February 11, 2004, 04:21:12 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 10

Grace and Spiritual Fruit:

The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.  (Col_1:5-6)

The Lord wants His children to have significant measures of spiritual fruit developing in their lives. "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit" (Joh_15:8). Fruit is described in the scriptures in various ways. It includes godly character qualities. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace . . . " (Gal_5:22). Also, it involves worship offered to God. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Heb_13:15).

Additionally, it encompasses lives being touched by our ministry to them. "I often planned to come to you . . . that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles" (Rom_1:13).

Such spiritual fruit is a consequence of God's grace at work in and through our lives. Col_1:5-6 addresses this fact. "The word of the truth of the gospel,which has come to you . . .  is bringing forth fruit." The good news of Jesus Christ not only brings forgiveness of sin and the gift of eternal life, it also produces fruit in those who believe. All of this is grace operating in trusting hearts. "Since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth."

Rom_7:4 describes this same glorious process, using different terms. "Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God." In order to bear fruit unto the Lord, we had to first be released from our dead relationship to the law. We could not perform effectively under that demanding standard. Thus, our lives were spiritually fruitless before God. Next, we needed to be joined in a new, living relationship with the risen Christ, that we might partake of His grace resources for living. We have experienced both through faith in the Lord Jesus. Now the risen Christ works by His grace in and through our lives, as we humbly depend upon Him.

Yes, the grace of God is His designated dynamic for producing spiritual fruit in our every day lives.

Lord God of my salvation, thank You for the glorious message of the gospel. What good news it is to have forgiveness, eternal life, and daily transformation through Your grace. I embrace Your will that I bear much fruit . Lord Jesus, I rejoice that You have taken me out from under the law. I now look to You, the risen Lord, to bring forth spiritual fruit in and through my life, in Your exalted name, Amen.


Title: More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit
Post by: nChrist on February 11, 2004, 04:23:19 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 11

More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit:

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.  (Joh_15:4-5)

Although these verses do not mention grace, they are a classic biblical explanation of grace bringing forth fruit in lives. The language depicts an actual vineyard, where fruit grows on branches that are properly related to a vine. Then, this physical reality is applied figuratively to spiritual fruit developing in our lives, if we are relating correctly to Jesus.

In this teaching, our Lord reminds us that literal branches are not able to produce fruit themselves. "The branch cannot bear fruit of itself." We are spiritual branches, so we will not be able to produce fruit either. "Neither can you, unless you abide in Me." In fact, our potential for manufacturing genuine spiritual fruit is zero. "Without Me you can do nothing." The best we could ever hope to produce would be religious, wax fruit. Such would come from our fleshly attempts to appear godly or effective. People may be fooled by this, but God never will be. Furthermore, people cannot be edified by partaking of such, and God cannot be glorified.

True fruit results from the ongoing development of life. Life is only innate to vines, not branches. For a grape to develop on any grape branch, the life of the vine must flow into, and work within, the branch. So it is with us. "I am the vine, you are the branches." This distinction is vital. We must never forget the difference, if we desire to bear fruit. The life we need for fruitfulness is in Him, not in us.

How do we avail ourselves of that life which is essential for fruit? "Abide in Me, and I in you." We are to look to Jesus for life, counting on Him to live in and through us. Then, His life, working in us, brings forth Christlike fruit. How do we know if we are abiding? If we are willing to depend upon Jesus for spiritual fruit as a grape branch relies upon its vine for grapes, then we are truly abiding in Christ. Such dependency brings valid expectation for great measures of Christlikeness to be developing in and through our lives. "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit."

This is clearly grace at work, as seen in the relational realities of humility and faith. Humility is operating as we acknowledge"without Me you can do nothing."  Faith is exercised as we believe" that He who abides in Me . . . bears much fruit."

Lord Jesus, my true vine, I humbly agree with You that I cannot produce spiritual fruit on my own. I admit that apart from You at work in me, I could never manifest any genuine godliness. So, with great expectation I look to You to provide the life I need for much fruitfulness, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: The Crusader on February 11, 2004, 05:09:08 AM
Just letting you know blackeyedpeas, I am reading along with you daily.

Your friend and brother

The Crusader
<:)))><


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on February 11, 2004, 03:23:03 PM
Just letting you know blackeyedpeas, I am reading along with you daily.

Your friend and brother

The Crusader
<:)))><

Same here Brother ;D


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: nChrist on February 11, 2004, 05:18:22 PM
Oklahoma Howdyt to Ambassador4Christ & The Crusader,

Thanks Brothers! I also enjoy your posts every day.

Each post adds to the list of things I want to do more Bible study on. The list is getting pretty large, but I'm having fun trying to keep up.

Love In Christ,
Tom


Title: Even More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit
Post by: nChrist on February 13, 2004, 02:09:57 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 12

Even More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit:

He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering . . . .  (Joh_15:5 and Gal_5:22)

As we abide in Christ, spiritual fruit develops in our lives. This occurs through the work of the Holy Spirit, applying the grace resources of God to our inner man. This spiritual produce then appears as godly character in us.

Love is the primary indication that we are trusting the Lord to bring forth fruit in us. "The fruit of the Spirit is love." In fact, some see love as the singular fruit, with joy, peace, etc. as aspects of that love. This is divine love ("agape" love), a love that flows from the heart of God. "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God" (1Jo_4:7). Such love is not stirred by the "loveability" of the object. It is a unique, heavenly love available only from the Lord.

"The fruit of the Spirit is  . . . joy." Joy is gladness of heart, an inner spiritual happiness that does not depend upon circumstances. It is a spiritual delight in the Lord that is always available, no matter what is happening around us. "Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!" (Phi_4:4).

"The fruit of the Spirit is  . . . peace." This peace is related to a cessation of hostility between parties. It affects our relationship with the Lord. "We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom_5:1). It also impacts our relationship with others. "For He Himself is our peace, who has made both   [i. e., Jew and Gentile] one, and has broken down the middle wall of division between us" (Eph_2:14). This peace also involves a spiritual calm and tranquility within our hearts. "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phi_4:6-7).

"The fruit of the Spirit is  . . . longsuffering." Longsuffering would include patience and forbearance. It would embrace a willingness to forgive and to not seek vengeance. "Put on . . . longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another" (Col_3:12-13).

Note carefully; we do not produce these qualities by our capabilities. This fruit is a work of God in us: "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering."

O Lord, my hope and my sufficiency, I readily confess that at times I am unloving, joyless, strife-torn, or impatient. Lord Jesus, I want to abide in You. Please work in me by Your Holy Spirit. Bring forth increasingly in my life this beautiful spiritual crop of Christlikeness. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


Title: Once More on Grace & Spiritual Fruit
Post by: nChrist on February 13, 2004, 02:16:01 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 13

Once More on Grace and Spiritual Fruit:

He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit . . . the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering . . . .  (Gal_5:22-23 and Phi_1:11)

As the Holy Spirit works the grace of God in our hearts, the various aspects of spiritual fruit are manifested through us. "The fruit of the Spirit is  . . . kindness." Kindness is moral goodness and integrity conveyed toward others. It includes showing concern and consideration to people, desiring not to offend them. "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another" (Eph_4:31-32).

"The fruit of the Spirit is  . . .  goodness." Goodness is quite similar to the preceding term, kindness. The additional perspectives contained in goodness would be acts of generosity and beneficence. This somewhat repetitious concept indicates the high priority that God places upon our treatment of others.

"The fruit of the Spirit is  . . . faithfulness." Faithfulness embodies responsibility and loyalty. It also comprises reliability and consistency. "Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful" (1Co_4:2).

"The fruit of the Spirit is  . . . gentleness." Gentleness is explained by such terms as meekness and lowliness. Such quality of character takes on special significance when we recall these words of Jesus. "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Mat_11:29).

"The fruit of the Spirit is  . . . self-control." Self-control is a fascinating subject, because it is not what it seems to be at first. Natural human thinking would assume it refers to self keeping self under control. Such a description would have to be listed under the previous verses pertaining to "the works of the flesh" (Gal_5:19). Here, it describes the Spirit of God maintaining control over our lives.

When we reflect upon the fruit of the Spirit, the character of Christ typically comes to mind. This is appropriate, since godly fruit comes to us through the presence of Jesus in our lives. "Being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God." When we depend upon the Holy Spirit, He imparts the life of Jesus, our true vine, into and through our experience. The character of Christ is then seen in us. Consequently, all glory and praise goes to God!

Dear Lord Jesus, how I long to be more like You. I can easily be selfish, inconsistent, or out of control. I see that  only Your Holy Spirit working in me can bring the necessary fruit. Lord, I pray, work deeply in me by Your irreplaceable grace, for Your glory and praise, Amen.


Title: Grace and Good Works
Post by: nChrist on February 15, 2004, 11:11:06 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 14

Grace and Good Works:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.  (1Co_15:10)

The grace of God is not only His dynamic for producing spiritual fruit in our lives, but it is also His means of developing good works in us as well. The Apostle Paul had a powerful testimony to this truth. Paul became an early church leader who was engaged in more good works than any other believer. "I labored more abundantly than they all."

No one worked harder in ministry than Paul did. He traveled the known world preaching the gospel. He discipled those who put their trust in the Lord Jesus. He gathered those believers into churches, often functioning as their initial pastor. Then, he would appoint leaders and even visit them on occasion for further encouragement and training. Additionally, he wrote major portions of the New Testament, typically while locked up in prison.

Yes, Paul "labored . . . abundantly." In another letter he wrote: "To this end I also labor,  striving" (Col_1:29). Elsewhere he stated: "For you remember, brethren, our labor and toil; for laboring night and day . . . we preached to you the gospel of God" (1 Thessalonians 2:9). As he wrote the believers in Corinth he recalled: "Are they ministers of Christ . . . I am more: in labors more abundant . . . in journeys often . . . in weariness and toil" (2Co_11:23, 2Co_11:26-27).

How startling to learn that Paul was not the cause behind this wondrous effect. This seen in his confession: "yet not I." Paul exerted himself for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. How can a man labor strenuously and yet not be the cause of it all? The answer is in the remainder of his testimony: "yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." God's grace at work in Paul's life was the effective dynamic that brought forth such godly labor here on earth. "But by the grace of God I am what I am." If we put our hope in the Lord, His grace will prove effective in our lives as well, giving us a testimony similar to Paul's: "and His grace toward me was not in vain."

Access to this transforming grace is once more linked to the two relational realities of humility and faith. Paul humbly admitted this fact:" yet not I." He also exercised faith in this corollary truth: "but the grace of God which was with me."

O God of all grace, I cry out to You to work Your grace in my life, producing abundant good works in me, as You did in Paul. Lord, I desire to labor in Your service. I am encouraged to see that I do not need to measure up to Paul myself. I only need to trust in Your grace, the same grace that was not vain in Paul's life. So,humbly confessing my inadequacy, I exercise faith in Your effective grace, in Jesus holy name, Amen.


Title: More on Grace and Good Works
Post by: nChrist on February 15, 2004, 11:13:29 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 15

More on Grace and Good Works:

From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed. And when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.  (Act_14:26-27)

When the Apostle and his team left their home church of Antioch, they were commended to the grace of God." The believers at Antioch trusted in the Lord to impart sufficient grace for this demanding mission.

What an amazing journey it was. They encountered a false prophet early in the trip, as they attempted to reach a local official. Paul boldly confronted his opponent, by the power of the Spirit. "O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord? " (Act_13:10). When the Lord struck this sorcerer blind, the civic leader believed.

Then, in Perga, Paul effectively preached the risen Christ in the synagogue. "And the next Sabbath almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God" (Act_13:44). When Jewish opposition arose, the team offered the gospel to the Gentiles. "Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord . . . And the word of the Lord was being spread throughout all the region" (Act_13:48-49).

Next, in Iconium, much fruit ensued, in spite of substantial opposition. "A great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren. Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace" (Act_14:1-3).

Later, at Lystra, Paul was stoned by those who resisted the gospel. Yet, he would not be silent, continuing to Derbe and other towns. "And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned . . . strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith" (Act_14:21-22).

Now, the missionaries are back at their home church of Antioch. The work God intended was finished, because His grace brings His work to completion. "They had been commended to the grace of God for the work which they had completed." Then, when they brought their report, they spoke of what God did, not what they did. "They reported all that God had done with them."

Dear Father, please teach me to rely upon Your grace for the tasks to which You are calling me. Lord, I too easily trust in myself, and end up with an unfinished job. Also when the responsibilities are completed, may all glory go to You, and not to me, Amen.


Title: Even More on Grace and Good Works
Post by: nChrist on February 18, 2004, 01:14:15 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 16

Even More on Grace and Good Works:

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.  (2Co_9:8)

When considering the connection between grace and good works, God's ability is the priority issue. "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you." The Lord intends for us to be the objects of His ever flowing grace. Our God is fully capable of accomplishing such an outpouring of His grace.
The Lord desires to "make all grace abound toward you." He wants to impact our lives with every aspect of His grace ("all grace"). He has grace available in every category that we will ever need. He is ready to flood our lives with such grace ("abound toward you"). This term ("abound") could be illustrated by compelling waves consistently rolling up on the seashore, leaving their inevitable imprint.

God's grace impacts humble, trusting hearts in such a manner, imparting all that is needed for effective service. "That you, always having all sufficiency in all things." Whenever we place our dependence in the Lord, He supplies everything that is necessary ("all sufficiency") for everything He would have us to do ("in all things).

The immediate context relates this truth to financial provision; yet, the language goes far beyond any circumstantial limitation: "having all sufficiency in all things."  This speaks of any need in any situation. If we need grace for biblical family life, it is included here. If we need grace for running a godly business, it is offered here. If we need grace for witnessing, it is included here. If we need grace for church ministry, it is extended here. "That you, always having all sufficiency in all things."

Our God is a bountiful Master, who loves to lavish His resources upon His servants. "That you . . . may have an abundance." However, this bounty is not for personal whim or carnal indulgence. It is for "every good work." God's abundance is for the furthering of His will here on earth. So, we can be encouraged. If our desire is to serve our Lord, immeasurable spiritual treasures are available for our service.

This does not mean we are exempt from seasons of apparent lack. We have lessons to learn that must be taught during times of adversity as well as abundance.  "I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phi_4:12-13).

O Lord, giver of every good and perfect gift, remind me to look to You for abounding grace in every trial and in every opportunity. Lord, I know that I need You in the delightful times, just as much as in the agonizing times. Use me for implementing Your will in this rebellious world. I praise You that finding the grace I need for serving You depends on Your ability, not mine. Pour out Your grace, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Once More on Grace and Good Works
Post by: nChrist on February 18, 2004, 01:16:36 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 17

Once More on Grace and Good Works:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.  (Eph_2:10)

In examining grace and good works we are again seeing God's grace is not only His willingness to forgive us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, but it is also His resource for shaping and using our lives as believers.

God desires that we become amply engaged in good works, to glorify His name in the edifying of His people and the reaching of the lost. Although we are not saved by good works ("not of works, lest anyone should boast" — Eph_2:8-9), we are saved unto good works ("created in Christ Jesus for good works").

Our hope of abounding in good works rests upon the gracious working of God on our behalf. First, He remakes us through new birth in His Son: "created in Christ Jesus." Then, He continues to work on us. We do not shape ourselves into an instrument that the Lord can use. God willingly takes that responsibility upon Himself.  "For we are His workmanship." God wants to shape our lives like a work of art, thoroughly crafting us in relationship to His purposes for each of our lives.

God's gracious work extends beyond new birth and subsequent fashioning. He even prepares the good works in which He wants us to eventually be engaged. "Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand." Think of it. The Lord has already arranged the acts of service in which He intends for us to be occupied! Then, why are we not always involved in such good works? The answer is related to this phrase: "that we should walk in them." We do have a strategic responsibility in this process. We are to humbly and dependently walk with the Lord Jesus every day.
Jesus addressed this matter. "Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent'" (Joh_6:28-29). Exercising faith in the Lord is what brings us into the workings of God for our lives. This involves believing in His plan, as revealed in His word. This includes trusting that His will is best for us. This comprises walking in reliance upon Him, allowing Him to guide us each day into the appropriate good works. Such a response brings service empowered by grace, as seen in the early church. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Act_4:33).

Creator of heaven and earth, I thank You for creating me anew in Christ Jesus. I praise You for Your ongoing work in me. Please shape me into an instrument You can use. Lord, forgive me when I am irresponsible through self-will or self-sufficiency. Lord, I want to humbly and dependently follow You each day, in the light of Your word, Amen.


Title: A Reminder Concerning the Word of God's Grace
Post by: nChrist on February 18, 2004, 05:14:39 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 18

A Reminder Concerning the Word of God's Grace:

The word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance . . . The word of the truth of the gospel . . . is bringing forth fruit . . . faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  (Act_20:32, Col_1:5-6, and Rom_10:17)

These three scriptures, interspersed in our previous meditations, indicate how God wants to use His word to impact us with His grace. The first passage describes God's word as "the word of His grace." God explains His grace to us through His word. He offers his grace to us through His word. He works His grace within us as we are nurtured in His word, trusting in what the Lord has to say to us. As God's word is taken into our lives, its capabilities are unleashed, demonstrating that it is "able to build you up and give you an inheritance." Those who believed at Thessalonica had such an experience with the scriptures. "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" (1Th_2:13).

The second passage declares that the word can produce fruitfulness in God's people. "The word of the truth of the gospel . . . is bringing forth fruit." Such fruit is the consequence of spiritual life maturing within us. Jesus taught that this life is brought to us by His word. "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life" (Joh_6:63). The word of the Lord brings this life to us initially: "Having been born again . . . through the word of God which lives and abides forever" (1Pe_1:23).God's word then nurtures the life it originally brought to us: "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby" (1Pe_2:2).

The third passage gives insight on faith, which is a vital element of living by grace. As we have seen, faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand." (Rom_5:2). Here in the third scripture, we are told how faith develops in our lives. "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." As we humbly receive God's word into our lives, our faith in whatever He is proclaiming can be growing.

In light of these grand truths concerning the scriptures, we would be wise to cultivate the same perspective of essentiality that Job had toward God's word. "I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food" (Job 23:12).

O Lord of grace and truth, thank You for giving us Your word, which is grace and truth. Forgive me, Lord, for not cherishing Your word as highly as I should. Everything that Your word can do, I am unable to do on my own. I cry out earnestly to You. Please work in me a deepening hunger for Your living and eternal word, in the name of Jesus, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: The Crusader on February 18, 2004, 05:58:40 AM
A Reminder Concerning the Word of God's Grace:...

Amen

Your friend and brother

The Crusader
<:)))><


Title: A Warning Against Changing God's Grace
Post by: nChrist on February 21, 2004, 03:54:32 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 19

A Warning Against Changing God's Grace:

I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith . . . For certain men have crept in unnoticed . . . ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness.  (Jud_1:3-4)

From the early days of the Lord's church, a constant threat has been posed by those who want to change God's grace into something it is not. The attempted changes always relate to either licentiousness or legalism.

Jude addressed this problem in his powerful letter of warning. He called all followers of Christ to engage in a zealous battle for the integrity of the word of God. "I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith," Such contending is essential, because carnal religious people desire to alter grace, as they quietly operate within churches. "For certain men have crept in unnoticed . . . ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness." Their intended modifications involved turning grace into license. Grace is God's means of forgiving our sins, as well as transforming the sinner that he might sin less and less. Grace is not God's sanction by which we plan and excuse our personal indulgence.

This issue also appears in Romans, as some took God's grace in an unwarranted direction. They started with a glorious truth. "Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more" (Rom_5:20). What a grand actuality this is! No matter how atrocious the extent of our sins, the grace of God unto forgiveness and transformation is far greater. Yet, how heinous is the licentious thought that more indulgence in sin would be a good thing, since such would only present another opportunity for more abounding grace. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?" (Rom_6:1). The answer is a resounding negation. "Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? " (Rom_6:2). Anticipated grace is never an excuse for planning to sin.

In Galatians, the converse problem of legalism is confronted. "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ" (Gal_1:6-7). Here, some were trying to add law requirements to the good news of God's grace. This attempt to turn grace into a performance standard is described as a perversion, a grievous twisting, of grace. Whether license or legalism, both change and undermine the grace of God.

Dear gracious Master, I repent of those times when I have used grace as an excuse for carnal indulgence or have treated Your grace as a call to religious performance. Thank You for Your forgiving and transforming grace. Grant me discernment and courage to earnestly contend for true grace, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.


Title: The Grace of God and the Holy Spirit
Post by: nChrist on February 21, 2004, 03:56:56 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 20

The Grace of God and the Holy Spirit:

This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," says the LORD of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain! And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"  (Zec_4:6-7)

The scriptures reveal a profound connection between God's grace and His Holy Spirit. Living by the grace of God and walking according to the Spirit are two different perspectives on the same reality. As we consider what walking in the Spirit comprises, we are also gaining insight regarding living day by day by grace.

Our passage from Zechariah confirms this correlation between grace and the Spirit. Here, the Lord gives a message to Zerubbabel, telling him how service is rendered unto God. "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit," Human might and power will never be a sufficient resource for living life as God intended. Rather, the Holy Spirit must supply what we need for a life of service to the Lord.

In the next verse, this same truth is restated, using different terms. Now, the Lord is addressing the mountain of impossibility that stood before Zerubbabel. "Who are you, O great mountain? " This leader of Israel was given  the challenging mission of reestablishing the testimony of God in Jerusalem, as the people returned from captivity. The obstacles had the appearance of being a "great mountain."

Nevertheless, God declares that this mountain of obstructions would become a highway for advancement. "Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain!" Then, as God's man attended to God's assignment by the empowering of the Spirit, he would eventually place the final stone with an intriguing exclamation. "And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it! " This summary testimony would declare that God's gracewas the explanation for the completion of the task. The relationship between grace and the Spirit is clear: "by My Spirit . . . grace, grace to it!" When we depend upon the Spirit, He works God's grace within our lives.

The early church also illustrated this "grace-Spirit" association. "They were all filled with the Holy Spirti, and they spoke the word of God with boldness . . . And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Act_4:31, Act_4:33). The former statement indicates that their boldness came from the Holy Spirit. The latter statement, two verses later, reveals their boldness was a result of grace impacting them.

Almighty God, thank You for revealing this "grace-Spirit" association. In living by grace, I see that You must provide what I cannot produce or earn. In living by Your Spirit, I see that grace is not just a concept I apply, but rather it is a gift that must be imparted to me by the Spirit of God Himself. Lord, do Your work in me, I humbly pray, Amen.


Title: The New Covenant of Grace: A Holy Spirit Covenant
Post by: nChrist on February 21, 2004, 04:00:16 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 21

The New Covenant of Grace: A Holy Spirit Covenant:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.  (Eze_36:26-27)

As noted earlier, the new covenant is about grace, as contrasted with the old covenant, which is about law. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (Joh_1:17). The connection between grace and the Holy Spirit can be seen in various scripture passages on the new covenant, including this glorious prophecy. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." The first verse in this prophetic promise concerns regeneration, spiritual new birth. Through faith in the Lord, our original, hard, lifeless heart is removed, and a new, pliable, living spirit is given to us.

The second verse pertains to transformation, the ongoing development of this new life. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes." The developing of a life that increasingly complies with the will of God depends upon the work of the Holy Spirit within us. We know that unredeemed humanity has no hope of living a life that is pleasing to God. Yet, many Christians could be unaware that even the new creature in Christ cannot please God on his own resources. The Spirit of God must be the heavenly cause that produces a heavenly lifestyle in believers.

What is promised here is not an automatic experience. The life of many Christians does not consistently match what is described here in Eze_36:27. The reason is that they are not relating properly to the Lord in humble dependence. Yes, these two relational realities (humility and faith) also determine whether or not the Spirit of God is our resource, just as they were determinative concerning grace.

Two statements by Jesus expound upon this fact. "You have no life in you . . . It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing" (Joh_6:53, Joh_6:63). We do not innately possess life as God intends it to be lived. Natural human resources are of no benefit in developing a godly life. Such revelation is very humbling. If we embrace Jesus' evaluation of our personal inadequacy, then we are willing to relate to God in humility. Further, there is truth in which we are to place our trust. "It is the Spirit who gives life."  As we count on this truth, we are relating to the Lord in faith. The result of such humble reliance is God's Spirit becomes our vitality for living godly.

O Lord, the source of true life, thank You for establishing such a gracious arrangement as the new covenant. I praise You that Your Holy Spirit is my heavenly dynamic for godliness. I confess that my fleshly attempts to please You are so inadequate. I humbly ask You to cause me to walk in Your good will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


Title: The Holy Spirit Giving Life
Post by: nChrist on February 22, 2004, 11:09:31 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 22

The Holy Spirit Giving Life:

It is the Spirit who gives life . . . [God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."  (Joh_6:63 and 2Co_3:6)

The Lord's new covenant of grace is a covenant of the Spirit: " [God] also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant . . . of the Spirit." Any approach to God other than by the Spirit results in spiritual deadness.

People need life, initially and continually. We need it initially, because all of us began spiritually dead due to our sin and guilt. "And you . . . were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh . . . and were by nature children of wrath" (Eph_2:1-3). The only remedy for such spiritual death is spiritual life. "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)" (Eph_2:4-5).

People also need life continually, "for the letter kills." If we were left to our best efforts after we were given new life in Christ, we would be struggling under a human performance bondage of rules and regulations. That is spiritually deadening.
Jesus came to earth to offer people fullness of life. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (Joh_10:10). Jesus taught that if we looked to Him for our spiritual nutrition, we would find ongoing life. "And Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life'" (Joh_6:35). Jesus did not refer to Himself as a leader establishing a new religion. Rather, "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life' " (Joh_14:6). When the early disciples were freed from prison, they were not told to recruit members to a movement. Instead, they were instructed to "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life" (Act_5:20).

The life Jesus came to provide is His life expressed in and through us: "Christ who is our life" (Col_3:4). That life produces a lifestyle marked by His love, His joy, His peace, His wisdom, His courage - - and whatever else is of His holy character. The new covenant of His grace holds forth this life, and the Holy Spirit delivers that life into humble, trusting hearts. "It is the Spirit who gives life."

Lord Jesus,You are my life. I have no other hope or source for finding true life. I praise You for Your patience with me when I try to produce a Christlike life by rules and regulations. Lord, just as You gave me life initially, please flood me now with new measures of Your life, as I humbly rely upon Your Spirit, Amen.


Title: The Holy Spirit & Starting Out with God
Post by: nChrist on February 24, 2004, 04:51:56 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 23

The Holy Spirit and Starting Out with God:

Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit . . . You must be born again.  (Joh_3:5-7)

The new life that allows us to start out with God comes through a spiritual birth that is brought forth by the Holy Spirit. "Unless one is born of . . . the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." Just as man must be physically born into the human family, so man must be spiritually born into God's family. There is no other option. That is why Jesus said,"You must be born again."

The reason spiritual new birth is a necessity is because "that which is born of the flesh is flesh." Natural human birth brought about by natural human resources can only produce a life that is natural. Being a child of God involves a supernatural life that God alone can provide.

When Jesus came to secure our redemption, He was generally rejected. "He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." (Joh_1:11). Nevertheless, some realized that he was Messiah, the Anointed King and Savior sent from the Father. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (Joh_1:12).

Believing in Jesus name involves trusting in His person and His work. It encompasses relying upon who He is, what He says, and what He has done and can do. Such faith brings a unique new birth. "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh,  nor of the will of man, but of God" (Joh_1:13). This birth is from God. It cannot come by inheritance or genetics through our human bloodline. It is not available through an exercise of our human will. Neither can we have it pronounced upon us by some religious leader.

The Lord desires for us to walk in a heavenly, spiritual life, not a mere earthly, human existence. Only a birth from the Spirit of God could bring us this type of life.  "That which is born of the Spirit is spirit." All genuine spirituality must come from a work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf. This is true concerning our starting out with God in new birth and justification. "You . . . were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (1Co_6:11).  We will see in subsequent meditations that this is true concerning our going on with God in growth and sanctification.

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for making me Your child, through faith in Your Son, Jesus. I praise You  for the new life Your Holy Spirit has brought to me. Help me to understand from Your word that the entire Christian experience is to be as supernatural as being born again was. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


Title: The Holy Spirit and Going On with God
Post by: nChrist on February 26, 2004, 03:56:11 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 24

The Holy Spirit and Going On with God:

Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?  (Gal_3:2-3)

The work of the Holy Spirit is required for people to start out with God through new birth and justification. The Holy Spirit must also be at work in believers if they are to go on with God in growth and sanctification. These truths are declared in Gal_3:2-3 (which we viewed earlier regarding "The Inability of the Law to Sanctify").

The opening portion of our present scripture passage uses a question to address starting out with God. "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" The answer to this question is obvious. No one could ever have the Spirit of God come to indwell them on the basis of their performance before God's law. Only the "hearing of faith" could ever cause that. The Holy Spirit came to live in us when we heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and believed in Him. At that time, our sins were forgiven, we were justified (declared not guilty, righteous in God's sight), and we were born again by the Spirit. All of this marked our beginning with God. All of this involved the work of the Holy Spirit on our behalf.

The closing words of our passage use two additional questions to apply this issue of the Spirit's work to our going on with God. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" We who are the children of God began with Him "in the Spirit." Now, it would be spiritually senseless, to think that we could progress with God "by the flesh." Surely, we agree with the Lord that we could not produce our own spiritual birth into His family. We had to be "born of the Spirit" (Joh_3:6). Certainly, we want to agree with God that we cannot manufacture our own spiritual growth, that is, be "made perfect by the flesh."

The Lord desires that we mature and develop in this new life in Christ. Such growth in Christ is a spiritual matter. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." The resources that we have all received from our earthly parents are of the flesh. These natural capabilities cannot cause spiritual development to take place in our lives. The perfecting process, being made increasingly like the Lord Jesus Christ, necessitates the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in us. Remember, the means God uses to start us out with Him (to justify us) are the means He uses to grow us up in Him (to sanctify us).

O Holy Father, I humbly admit that I have frequently been so foolish as to think that I could produce more godliness in me through my own best efforts. Lord, I see that I need Your Spirit as much for spiritual growth as I did previously for spiritual birth. As I seek You through prayer and Your word, please take me on with You in growth and sanctification by the work of Your Holy Spirit, through Christ, I pray, Amen.


Title: Walking in the Spirit
Post by: nChrist on February 26, 2004, 03:57:58 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 25

Walking in the Spirit:

Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh . . . If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  (Gal_5:16, Gal_5:25)

The term "walk" is used dozens of times in the New Testament to describe the manner of life that a person is leading. Many of these occurrences depict the Christian life; for example, "walk in love . . .  walk as children of light . . .  walk circumspectly" (Eph_5:2, Eph_5:8, Eph_5:15). In our passages, we are told to "walk in the Spirit."

Walking is a very insightful description of spiritual life. A walk has a beginning and a destination. Our beginning was in new birth: "born of the Spirit." (Joh_3:6). Our destination is heaven forever with our Lord and Savior: "And thus we shall always be with the Lord." (1Th_4:17). A good walk is steady and progressive. We are called to be faithful: "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Mat_25:21). We are called to press ahead: "forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal" (Phi_3:13-14).

In addition, a walk has many potential adventures along the way. We are likely to encounter stretching challenges and paradoxical blessings: "in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness. . . as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2Co_6:5, 2Co_6:10).

Ultimately, a walk must have an available resource that provides sufficient vitality, strength, guidance, and assurance. Here, our passages offer special hope through the injunction to "walk in the Spirit." Day by day, each step of the way, we are to rely upon the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Every issue of life (whether at home, office, school, or church) is to be faced in this manner.

Otherwise, the influence of our flesh (our natural humanity) will prevail. "Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." We are not able ourselves to overcome the inadequacies and improper tendencies of the flesh. However, the Holy Spirit is more than able to become our sufficient provider of whatever we need for an effective and fruitful walk.

This perspective on Christian living makes complete biblical sense, when we connect our daily walk to how we found spiritual life in the first place. "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit," It was strictly by the work of the Spirit that we received life initially; therefore, let's take each step of life "[walking] in the Spirit."

Lord God Almighty, I am so weak and so easily enticed in my flesh. I cannot produce what is needed for the spiritual walk to which I am called. O Lord, I cry out to You for the indispensable work of Your Spirit within me. Lord, teach me to walk day by day by the grace that Your Spirit alone can provide, Amen.


Title: The Contrary Desires of the Flesh and the Spirit
Post by: nChrist on February 26, 2004, 04:01:09 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 26

The Contrary Desires of the Flesh and the Spirit:

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.  (Gal_5:17)
Every believer in Christ has had the frustrating experience of wanting to do what  pleases the Lord, but being unable to actually accomplish such. We are told here a spiritual struggle is behind that failure. "For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh." The Spirit of God dwells within our lives. He is the "Spirit of holiness" (Rom_1:4). He desires that we be "partakers of His holiness" (Heb_12:10) and thereby walk in godliness. However, the flesh (natural humanity) is also present in our lives. These natural desires of man are not toward holiness, but rather toward self-indulgence and self-sufficiency. Thus, what the Spirit desires and what our flesh craves are set against each other. "These are contrary to one another." The consequence of this internal conflict is "that you do not do the things that you wish." Even though godly desires develop in us as new creatures in Christ, we find ourselves unable to implement these new longings by our good intentions.

The Apostle Paul gave testimony to his own failure in this battle. "For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice" (Rom_7:19). The problem was that Paul's personal resources (the flesh) were not adequate to produce the desired results. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find" (Rom_7:18). Yes, Paul had some godly desires. "For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man" (Rom_7:22). Nevertheless, there was a problem that he could not resolve on his own. "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members" (Rom_7:23). A  tendency to sin that dwelt in Paul's human members (his body, his brain) pulled him down to defeat. He needed help.

Access to that necessary divine rescue was through a humble cry for a deliverer. "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Rom_7:24). This appropriate confession of the spiritual bankruptcy of his flesh led to another confession of certain victory. "I thank God [it is] through Jesus Christ our Lord! " (Rom_7:25). This humble turning from self to Christ allows one to walk in the Spirit (Romans 8), living by His victorious resources. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death" (Rom_8:2).

Dear Jesus, Mighty Deliverer, I humbly admit that I am not able to implement by my best efforts the godly desires that are developing in me. I need You, Lord. So many times I have had holy intentions that ended up in carnal defeat. So, Lord, I cry out to You to deliver me from my present struggles, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, Amen.


Title: Set Free by the Spirit
Post by: nChrist on February 28, 2004, 06:54:30 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 27

Set Free by the Spirit:

For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.  (Rom_8:2)

There is a destructive spiritual tendency that resides in every human being. It is "the law of sin and death." This indwelling principle is always pulling people downward into sin and spiritual deadness. It comes from being born physically into a fallen race of sinners who are like their earthly father, Adam. Being born anew spiritually does not remove this problem, since this principle still operates within our natural humanity (the flesh). Yet, becoming a child of God does make His remedy constantly available to us.

God's remedy for"the law of sin and death" is a higher, more powerful principle, "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus." This lofty principle involves the Holy Spirit making the life that is in Christ Jesus our resource for living. This principle is operating in the life of any new creature in Christ who is not walking  "according to the flesh but [is walking] according to the Spirit" (Rom_8:4). This approach to Christian living is the only one that can increasingly liberate us from the internal carnal tendencies that influence us all.

In fact (as we have noted previously), this is the only hope of growing in the godliness that the law demanded: "that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us" (Rom_8:4). Our lives can only measure up to the holy will of God when we are walking in the Spirit, because Christ is then being allowed to express His life through us. Jesus was, and is, the only one who could ever walk fully pleasing to the Father. Jesus said, "I always do those things that please Him" (Joh_8:29). For a victorious Christian experience, we need this same life of Jesus living in and through us now, by the working of the Holy Spirit. We need the higher law ("the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus") setting us free from the lower law ("the law of sin and death").

Again, what is our responsibility in this? We are to relate to the Lord in humility and faith. Humility can develop as we agree with our Lord that "the law of sin and death" characterizes our flesh (our best natural resources). Faith can be exercised as we look to our Lord to demonstrate that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death."

Dear Lord Jesus,You alone can supply the life I am called to live. I humbly agree with Your word that my resources are marred by a tendency to sin. I gladly trust in Your Holy Spirit to increasingly liberate me from my the defeat of living by my flesh. I thank You in advance for the faithful ways You will answer this prayer. Lord Jesus, live in and through me by the power of Your Spirit, Amen.


Title: The Crucial Choice: Flesh or Spirit
Post by: nChrist on February 28, 2004, 06:56:11 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 28

The Crucial Choice: Flesh or Spirit:

Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  (Rom_8:5-6)

The crucial choice that believers in Christ face day by day is between living by the flesh or living by the Spirit. The difference concerns facing life by our resources and perspectives or by God's. "Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." When a Christian deals with life by his flesh, he typically thinks about "what I want out of my life" or "what I can accomplish with my life." Conversely, when a Christian deals with life by the Spirit, he typically thinks about "what God wants for my life" or "what God can accomplish through my life."

The consequences related to this choice are monumental. "For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." When a believer allows his mind to be set in a carnal direction, he will be thinking about worldly self-indulgence ("what I can get out of this") or religious self-accomplishment ("what I can do for God"). The result of either carnal perspective is "death" (spiritual deadness). On the other hand, when a follower of Jesus sets his mind on heavenly matters, he will be considering issues of humility ("how much I need the Lord") or faith ("how great the Lord is"). The results of such spiritual thoughts are "life and peace" (spiritual vitality and spiritual tranquility).

Another analysis of these two options can be seen in the contrast between the "works of the flesh" and the "fruit of the Spirit." When we put our hope in our own capabilities, our flesh produces deeds such as "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like" (Gal_5:19-21). Contrariwise, when we place our expectations upon the Lord, His Spirit brings forth through us fruit like "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal_5:22-23).

Consider this fundamental truth. These "flesh-Spirit" choices are what all of us will face every day of our lives. The persistency of these issues is inherent in the fact that God only offers two options for every issue of life; namely, "live according to the flesh" or "live according to the Spirit."

O Sovereign Lord, I bow to Your wisdom and authority that offers these two choices alone. Lord, I renounce the natural path of my flesh which brings severe, but deserved, consequences. I gladly embrace the supernatural path of Your Spirit, which brings the undeserved results of Your grace at work in me, Amen.


Title: More on the Crucial Choise: Flesh or Spirit
Post by: nChrist on March 01, 2004, 12:58:25 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - February 29

More on the Crucial Choice: Flesh or Spirit:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.  (Gal_6:7-8)

One of the unchangeable aspects of being a Christian is that God offers only two choices for all of the issues that we will encounter day by day; namely, "live according to the flesh" or "live according to the Spirit." (Rom_8:5). Also, the consequences accompanying these options are inevitable, because of the certainties of sowing and reaping. "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." When an apple seed is planted, an apple tree is the only possible plant that can result. Whatever category of seed is put into the ground, that is the only type of crop that can ever be reaped.

Our present passage reveals that these agricultural absolutes apply just as certainly to the planting of spiritual seeds in our lives. We only have two types of seeds to plant ("flesh" or "Spirit"), leading to only two types of harvest ("corruption" or "everlasting life").

The first set of seeds and harvest offers an ominous warning. "He who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption." The seeds in view here are words, deeds, and attitudes that would range from self-service toself-sufficiency. The harvest predicted from these carnal seeds is described as"  corruption." This speaks of destruction and decay. For a person whose entire life is only characterized by sowing "to his flesh," this destruction would be eternal. This would depict one who never planted any seed of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a one would die in sin and guilt, separated from God for eternity. For a born again believer, who persistently or intermittently yields to carnal temptations, this would warn of subsequent loss of spiritual vitality and fruitfulness on earth now, plus loss of heavenly blessings later.

The second set of seeds and harvest extends an encouraging expectation. "But he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." The seeds referred to here are words, deeds, and attitudes that result from us humbly depending upon the Spirit of God to work in and through us. This brings an increasing spiritual crop described as "everlasting life." This would be similar to Jesus' statement: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (Joh_10:10). This promises fullness of life now, and great rewards in glory later.

O merciful Father, I humbly repent of the innumerable occasions when I sowed fleshly seeds in word and deed. The crop that resulted was always destructive. Thank You for cleansing me through the blood of Christ. Now, Lord, by faith I ask You to bring forth through my life a new harvest of spiritual abundance, by Your Holy Spirit, Amen.


Title: Jesus and the Holy Spirit
Post by: nChrist on March 01, 2004, 11:48:22 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 1

Jesus and the Holy Spirit:

That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit . . . and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him . . . Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  (Mat_1:20; Mat_3:16; Mat_4:1)

We gain great insight into the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives by considering the work of the Spirit in the life of Jesus. From the very beginning of Jesus' history upon earth as Emmanuel, God with us, the Holy Spirit was involved. When Joseph was troubled over Mary's pregnancy, an angel comforted him by announcing: "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." Jesus' conception was not of man, but of the Spirit.

When Jesus was identifying Himself with sinful humanity through His baptism by John, the Holy Spirit was again at work. "And He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him."  Here, as Jesus was presenting Himself for the commencing of His public ministry as Messiah, the Spirit of God came upon Him for authentication and empowering. The Son of God came to earth as a servant, laying aside the independent exercise of His ongoing deity. Jesus "made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant" (Phi_2:7). He would serve in dependence upon the Spirit. Jesus' ministry would not be of man (even the perfect Man), but of God.

When Jesus went forth from His baptism to fulfill His calling, the Spirit was still fully engaged in His life. "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." Although Jesus never ceased to be God, the Son, He would not lead Himself about through reliance upon His divine omniscience (His perfect and complete knowledge). His guidance would not be of man, but of God.

These three glimpses into the work of the Spirit in Jesus' life have implications for us. First, the Holy Spirit had to be working for Jesus to be birthed here on earth. The same Spirit of God had to work for us to be born into the family of God. "Unless one is born of . . . the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Joh_3:5). Second, the Holy Spirit was active in the ministry of Jesus as Messiah. The Spirit must be the one who brings us spiritual validation and power in our service of God: "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit" (Zec_4:6). Third, Jesus looked to the Spirit to lead and guide Him through life. We also need that same work of the Spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (Rom_8:14).

O Shepherd of my soul, please lead me in this Christlike path. Thank You for bringing me new birth by Your Spirit. O, Lord, would You now empower my life for service unto You. And would You lead me by Your Spirit day by day. I admit my total need for such works of the Holy Spirit in my life. Please work in fullness, in Your name, I pray, Amen.


Title: Re:Share A Thought
Post by: The Crusader on March 02, 2004, 05:17:11 AM
Jesus and the Holy Spirit:...

Good one


Title: More on Jesus and the Holy Spirit
Post by: nChrist on March 02, 2004, 04:49:34 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 2

More on Jesus and the Holy Spirit:

A Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.  (Isa_11:1-2)

In this prophecy of the Messiah, we are told how the Lord Jesus (walking upon earth as a man) would function in order to manifest godliness. He would live by this prophetic promise: "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him."

The Holy Spirit operating in Jesus would be to Him "the Spirit of wisdom and understanding." No one ever displayed wisdom like Christ. Whether dealing with the woman taken in adultery (Joh_8:2-11) or answering provoking questions about Caesar's image on a coin (Luk_20:20-26), He wisely circumvented every attempt to undermine His ministry. Jesus also demonstrated perfect understanding. When confronting the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees (Mat. 23:13-35), He applied perfect discernment, exposing the corruption of their hearts.

Operating in Jesus, the Holy Spirit would also be to Him "the Spirit of counsel and might." Jesus was truly the "Wonderful Counselor" (Isa_9:6). When counseling Nicodemus, the religious ruler (Joh. 3:1-21), and the Samaritan woman at the well (Joh. 4:7-42), He fully gave them what their hearts were seeking in the truths they needed to hear. Also, Jesus distinctively exhibited the might of God. Whether boldly speaking to calm the raging sea (Mar_4:35-41) or courageously remaining silent at His trial (Mat_27:11-14), the mighty power of God was on majestic display.

Ministering to Jesus, the Holy Spirit would also be to Him  "the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD." No one ever possessed knowledge like the Lord Jesus. "Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men" (Joh_2:24). "Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father" (Joh_13:1). Jesus not only had thorough knowledge, but that knowledge was always controlled by "the fear of the LORD." Everything that Jesus ever did was under the full influence of His godly fear (reverential trust and loving respect) toward the Father. "The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him" (Joh_2:17).

Remember, all of these wondrous expressions of Jesus' character were based upon the enabling work of the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him." This same Spirit of God can bring forth in our lives every appropriate application of these same realities manifested in the life of Jesus.

Who is like You, O Lord? Who could ever match Your majestic character — certainly not me. Yet, I need manifestations of such fruit in my life. Please work deeply in me by Your Holy Spirit, producing such Christlikeness, I pray, in Your holy name, Amen.


Title: Once More on Jesus and the Holy Spirit
Post by: nChrist on March 04, 2004, 11:41:35 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 3

Once More on Jesus and the Holy Spirit:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.  (Isa_61:1-2)

In this prophetic scripture, we see the ministry of Christ is attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit (as noted before in the manifestation of His godly character). "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me."

By the empowering of the Spirit, Jesus was sent forth to "preach good tidings to the poor." This refers to the gospel of salvation. "And Jesus went about all the cities and villages . . . preaching the gospel of the kingdom" (Mat_9:35). This good news of salvation would be received by those who admitted their spiritual bankruptcy. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Mat_5:3).

Also, Jesus was sent forth to "heal the brokenhearted." The heart of man can be broken by so many things: condemnation, grief, failure, betrayal, and more. Jesus comforts and restores those who trust in Him. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (Mat_5:4).

Additionally, Jesus was sent forth to "proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound." As with captive Israel of old, people today get into bondage to the world system. They become captivated by worldly thinking, bound by bad habits, and imprisoned by ungodly relationships. Jesus is the great liberator for all who cry out to Him and feed thereafter upon His inspired word. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free . . . Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (Joh_8:32, Joh_8:36).

Furthermore, Jesus was sent forth to "proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." Ultimately, this speaks of the entire age of grace, whereby lives are accepted by God through faith in His beloved Son and enriched by Christ with immeasurable spiritual riches. "God . . . has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ . . . to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved" (Eph_1:3, Eph_1:6).

We are also sent forth to minister. "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (Joh_20:21). As it was with Jesus, we can only fulfill our calling by the same Holy Spirit who empowered His ministry.

Dear Father, please apply all of these ministries of the grace of Jesus to my life in fullness. Then, Father, would You empower me by Your Holy Spirit to go forth in the name of Jesus, offering these same realities to others who need them as well. I place my hope for effectiveness in the enabling anointing of the Spirit, Amen.


Title: Holy Spirit Power to be Witnesses
Post by: nChrist on March 04, 2004, 11:44:51 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 4

Holy Spirit Power to be Witnesses:

You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.  (Act_1:8)

After the cross and the resurrection, the Lord Jesus taught His disciples for forty days before He ascended to the Father. One of His strategic messages of preparation concerned the Holy Spirit enablement they would need to fulfill their ministry. "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." After this vital promise was given, Jesus was taken up into heaven to the right hand of the Father. Ten days later, on the day of Pentecost, this promise was fulfilled by the outpouring of the Spirit. "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit" (Act_2:4). The grand result of this empowering would be the spread of the gospel, region by region, throughout the entire world. "You shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Act_1:8).

Their success is documented in the scriptures. The religious opposition admitted that Jerusalem was promptly reached. "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine" (Act_5:28). Soon thereafter, Judea was being touched. "At that time a great persecution arose . . . and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea . . . Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word" (Act_8:1, Act_8:4). Next, the message of Jesus entered Samaria. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip" (Act_8:5-6). Finally, the gospel of grace poured out around the world. "The word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world" (Col_1:5-6).

This worldwide outreach was an astounding development, considering the unimpressive human credentials that characterized Jesus' followers. "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus" (Act_4:13). The explanation for their effectiveness was contained in the last phrase. These men had spent time with Jesus, had been impacted by Him, and were now walking in the spiritual strength of His Spirit.

In order for any disciple (then or now) to be an effective demonstration of the reality of the risen Christ, they must live by the power of the Holy Spirit.

O Lord, my strength, make my life a daily witness, declaring in word, deed, and attitude that Jesus is alive. Lord, my own abilities will never be sufficient to accomplish this. So, I humbly pray, empower me by Your Holy Spirit, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Holy Spirit Empowering: Three Terms, One Reality:
Post by: nChrist on March 05, 2004, 11:46:50 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 5

Holy Spirit Empowering: Three Terms, One Reality:

You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now . . . you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.  (Act_1:5, Act_1:8; and Act_2:4)

When the book of Acts addresses Holy Spirit empowerment for ministry, three different terms are used to describe the same reality. When Jesus promised this power, He used the term "baptized with." "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." When He indicated that this power would result in a worldwide witness, the term "come upon you" was used." You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you." Then, when these promises of the Spirit were fulfilled, the term employed was "filled with." "And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit."

It is clear that these three sets of terms in Acts 1 and 2 are all referring to the same spiritual phenomenon, the Holy Spirit empowering Jesus' followers for witness. Each terminology may carry its own descriptive implications. To be "baptized with" the Spirit is like being inundated by Him. To have the Spirit "come upon you" is like being "impacted from above" by Him.  To be "filled with" the Spirit is like overflowing with Him. Nevertheless, although the words each bring their own picture, they all are describing the same reality. All three terms are biblically accurate, although "filled with the Holy Spirit" is used most frequently throughout Acts.

These promises of Holy Spirit's empowering cannot be monopolized by any denominational group or theological heritage. Nor can they be ignored by any individual or segment within the body of Christ. These truths are for all of God's children. Every disciple of the Lord Jesus must continue to learn and to grow in this essential spiritual empowerment.

Perhaps a word of clarification is in order. These promises are not about the Spirit indwelling the people of God. The Holy Spirit definitely lives within every born again believer in Jesus Christ. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1Co_3:16). The Spirit already lived within the apostles when they were given these promises. "And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit'" (Joh_20:22). These promises are about the indwelling Spirit flooding and overflowing our lives with the empowering reality of His presence.

Dear Lord Jesus, You came to give us life abundant. Please fill my life to overflowing with the empowering work of Your Spirit. Lord, I am not seeking personal benefits. I am asking to become a more effective witness. I need the Holy Spirit's power that I might reflect the reality of the risen Christ, in Your mighty name, Amen.


Title: Spirit Fullness: A Way of Life, Not Merely Events:
Post by: nChrist on March 08, 2004, 10:10:12 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 6

Spirit Fullness: A Way of Life, Not Merely Events:

Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . . Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them . . . the place . . . was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit . . . And do not be drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit.  (Act_2:3-4; Act_4:8, Act_4:31; and Eph_5:18)

When we are born again through faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our lives thereafter (1Co_3:16). At times after new birth, our lives may be repeatedly filled to overflowing by the empowering presence of the Spirit. The testimony of the early disciples illustrates this.

On the day of Pentecost, the 120 followers of Jesus were filled with the Spirit. "Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire . . . And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." Subsequently, the Apostle Peter, who was originally filled on Pentecost, was again filled as he stood before the religious hierarchy of Israel. "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them." After this encounter, Peter joined the other disciples for a prayer meeting. "And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit." In this event, those who had been filled with the Spirit at Pentecost were filled a second time. Peter, who had been so filled twice before, was filled a third time. Therefore, it is evident that the filling of the Spirit is not a once for all time matter.

Furthermore, being filled with the Spirit is not automatic or universal for Christians, as is the indwelling of the Spirit. This fact can be clearly seen in the instruction given in Eph_5:18. "And do not be drunk with wine . . . but be filled with the Spirit." Since this is a command and not a description, it only becomes a personal reality to those who respond properly.

Additionally, the form of this command contains tremendous insight concerning the fullness of the Spirit and God's desire for us. The injunction to "be filled with the Spirit" is in the present tense, indicating an ongoing condition. It could properly (though awkwardly) be translated "be (always) being filled." This imperative is a call to a way of living, not merely periodic events. It is the will of God that we actually live, day by day, more and more, by the fullness of the Spirit's empowering work. We should humbly pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit as we face each day, each challenge, each opportunity of life.

Lord God of all power and might, I rejoice that Your Holy Spirit dwells within my heart. I thank You for those times when Your Spirit has worked powerfully upon my life. Help me to see that the fullness of Your Spirit is not merely an event-to-event experience, but a lifestyle to be developed. Lord, with great expectation I humbly seek You now for a fresh, ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in me. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.


Title: Results of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit:
Post by: nChrist on March 08, 2004, 10:13:40 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 7

Results of Being Filled with the Holy Spirit:

Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.  (Eph_5:18-21)
When a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, what will the results be in his life? What evidences will develop to validate the work of the Spirit in fullness? In some church traditions, which give considerable attention to the fullness of the Spirit, limited evidences are stressed (such as those mentioned often in Acts: tongues, prophecy, or boldness). The full biblical picture is much larger than this viewpoint.

Eph_5:18-21 is a classic example of the scriptures broad perspective on this subject. In Eph_5:18, the command is given to "be filled with the Spirit." The subsequent verses (Eph_5:19-21) list the spiritual consequences that will follow in a life that is characteristically Spirit filled.

When a believer in Jesus Christ is living in the fullness of the Spirit, he will be led and empowered unto fellowship with, and ministry to, others: "speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." These words fit those times when believers gather together for spiritual celebration through music. Some of the music of the church is directed toward other believers in the form of exhortation and edification. A Spirit filled Christian will be involved in "one another life" in the body of Christ.

Closely related to this, however, is the essential presence of a worshiping heart: "singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Genuine fellowship and effective ministry flows forth from an inner life focused in adoration upon the Lord Himself. A Spirit filled Christian will be a worshiper of the true and living God.

Further, when a disciple of Jesus is filled with the Spirit, his life will typically overflow with thanksgiving: "giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." The world and the flesh produce complaints and dissatisfaction. The Spirit of the Lord stirs gratitude and appreciation.

Additionally, servanthood submission is a common attribute of one who is Spirit filled: "submitting to one another in the fear of God." Natural humanity wants to control people and exercise mastery over them. The Spirit of Christ, the servant of all (Mat_20:28), brings forth humble service from those who revere the Lord.

Father, I bow before Your command to be filled with the Spirit. This I need; this I desire. Lord, forgive me for times of isolation and selfishness. Flood me with Your Spirit unto fellowship and ministry. Forgive any lifeless religion in me and fill me unto true worship. Forgive my griping and complaining and inundate me unto thanksgiving. Forgive my desires to rule and fill me unto servanthood, through Christ, I pray, Amen.


Title: Praying for the Fullness of the Spirit:
Post by: nChrist on March 08, 2004, 10:16:22 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 8

Praying for the Fullness of the Spirit:

That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.  (Eph_3:16-19)

For those who are wondering how to be filled with the Spirit, the prayer in Ephesians 3 offers excellent insight. The precise relevance of this passage for our present subject is obvious, when the concluding purpose of the prayer is noted: "that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

The opening phrases use the language of grace: "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory." Grace is about God at work, giving us blessings we cannot deserve. These blessings are in proportion to His glorious spiritual riches. This perspective fits our studies on the Spirit perfectly, because when the Holy Spirit is at work, He pours out God's grace.

The initial request pertains to an inner working of the Spirit: "to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man." Note, this request is made on behalf of those who already have the Spirit residing in their hearts. The specific issue is about receiving new measures of spiritual power at the core of our being.

The desired result of this work of the Spirit is "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Jesus is present in the heart of every believer. Here, He is being asked to settle down fully and make Himself at home. Jesus is being given free rein to rearrange our innermost being to fit His good pleasure. Allowing Jesus to rule our hearts requires the empowering work of the Holy Spirit to break past spiritual obstacles such as apathy, fear, self-focus, and temptations. To allow Jesus to lead us in His way, we need the Holy Spirit enabling us to stay in God's word, to pray without ceasing, to worship daily, and to fellowship regularly.

Then, as Jesus rearranges our inner life, He wants to anchor every aspect of our lives in God's love: "that you, being rooted and grounded in love." With this, He wants to us to experience the dimensions of His love, which are beyond mere head knowledge: "to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge." This Holy Spirit process is always leading to more spiritual fullness: "that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

Dear Father in heaven, I humbly cry out to You every word of this majestic prayer. I earnestly desire the reality of its every implication, all by your Holy Spirit, Amen.


Title: More on Praying for the Fullness of the Spirit
Post by: nChrist on March 11, 2004, 04:37:39 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 9

More on Praying for the Fullness of the Spirit:

And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened . . . your heavenly Father [will] give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!  (Luk_11:9-10, Luk_11:13)

Here again, the work of the Spirit in our lives is associated with prayer. Prayer is that wonderful God-ordained means of relating to the Lord in humility and faith (the two means by which we access grace). In praying, we are humbly admitting that we need God. In praying, we are exercising faith toward God that He will act on our behalf. We pray; God moves by His Spirit, pouring out whatever grace is necessary for any given situation.

We saw this in our previous meditation. "That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith . . . that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph_3:16-19). Here, prayer was the avenue to being filled with the bountiful work of the Spirit in our lives. We humbly ask; the Lord faithfully works. This is precisely the teaching of Jesus in our present passage.

The end of Jesus' message involves the Spirit being given to those who ask. "How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" This is also where our scripture began. "And I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." These are three parallel commands, followed by three parallel promises. Who receives Holy Spirit fullness? Those who ask God for such. Who experiences the life-empowering work of the Spirit, that every child of God must find? Those who seek God to impart such. Who is flooded with the outpouring of God's Spirit? Those who knock prayerfully on heaven's doors.

Then, making these three "command-promise" couplets even more sure, Jesus adds three more statements of certainty. "For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." These are absolutes. There are no exceptions. Those who genuinely ask, seek, or knock can go on their way by faith, knowing that the Lord will be doing a thorough work of His Spirit in them.

As with the earlier command to be filled with the Spirit (Eph_5:18), these imperatives are also in the present tense. They could be rendered: keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Again, this is a way to live; not a singular event.

Giver of every good and perfect gift, I humbly ask You for a fresh new work of Your Spirit. Lord, I rest on Your promise that everyone who asks receives. Manifest Your fullness in me in any way that You desire, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Another Picture of the Fullness of the Spirit
Post by: nChrist on March 11, 2004, 04:39:55 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 10

Another Picture of the Fullness of the Spirit:

If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit.  (Joh_7:37-39)

These words from Jesus provide another picture of what the fullness of the Spirit is all about, as well as how to walk in that spiritual abundance. His remarks are addressed to those who are thirsty: "If anyone thirsts." In this spiritual context, thirst can speak of the painful dryness that often accompanies need or lack. Pressures, responsibilities, busyness, disappointments, and preoccupation with earthly matters can dry out the soul of man. Corresponding to this need, thirst can refer to the eager yearning after those heavenly blessings that refresh and restore our inner life. Such thirsty conditions apply to all of us at various times.

Jesus tells us exactly how to remedy such thirst. "Come to Me and drink." We are to bring these needs to the Lord Jesus Christ and drink of Him. So often, we attempt to satisfy such thirsts by drinking at other wells. Thirsty people around the world attempt to find relief through education, work, religion, politics, entertainment, money, drugs, and more. They all encounter the truth that our Lord revealed to the Samaritan woman at the well. "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again" (Joh_4:13). We must take our spiritual thirsts to a person, to "the Person," the Lord Jesus.

Yet, how do we drink of the thirst-quenching resources of Jesus? He indicated the means in the next phrase: "He who believes in Me." When we bring our dry, thirsty needs to Jesus and believe that He can meet those needs, we are drinking from what the Lord alone can offer. We drink of Christ's resources by faith. Jesus included this insight earlier in His discourse on the bread of life. "He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (Joh_6:35).

Unquestionably, Jesus will always satisfy legitimate thirsts that are brought to Him. Yet, there is more available here. The spiritual water that Christ provides also works within the thirsty soul. "The water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (Joh_4:14). This Holy Spirit supply develops abundant life within the trusting heart. Ultimately, this fountain that grows within flows outward to others. "Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water." Dry, thirsty hearts that come to Jesus in faith, not only find satisfaction for the thirst, but eventually pour out life in the Spirit to others.

Lord Jesus, You know the thirsty places within my life. I bring them to You now. I believe that You can meet these needs. I open up to the work of Your Spirit to quench the thirsts deep within my heart. Lord, I praise You for the expectation I have that You can turn my dryness into torrents of living waters to bless others, in Your name, Amen.


Title: Share A Thought
Post by: Ambassador4Christ on March 11, 2004, 04:41:28 PM
Giver of every good and perfect gift, I humbly ask You for a fresh new work of Your Spirit. Lord, I rest on Your promise that everyone who asks receives. Manifest Your fullness in me in any way that You desire, in Jesus name, Amen.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAMEN


Title: Three Wrong Responses to the Holy Spirit
Post by: nChrist on March 11, 2004, 04:42:13 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 11

Three Wrong Responses to the Holy Spirit:

You always resist the Holy Spirit . . . Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God . . . Do not quench the Spirit.  (Act_7:51; Eph_4:30; and 1Th_5:19)

It is the will of God that we walk in daily independence upon the Holy Spirit. It is God's desire that we seek Him for the fullness of the Spirit's work in and through our lives. Three wrong responses that undermine the will of God are resisting, grieving, and quenching the Spirit of the Lord.

When Stephen was on trial before the religious leaders of Israel, he preached a powerful sermon declaring the faithfulness of God toward His consistently unfaithful nation. He concluded his message with a pointed, radical, accurate evaluation. "You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you" (Act_7:51). Here we are given the kind of attitudes that oppose the work of the Spirit. These people were "stiffnecked." They were stubborn and self-willed. They wanted their will, not the will of God. They also were "uncircumcised in heart and ears." They did not allow God to cut away the carnality of their inner being. They would not allow God to speak to them through His messengers. They were self-righteous and self-sufficient. When we conduct ourselves in this same manner, we also are "resist[ing] the Holy Spirit."

When Paul was writing to the church at Ephesus, he commanded them: "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit" In the next verse he indicated the dispositions that bring grief to the Spirit of God. "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice" (Eph_4:31). Yes, the Holy Spirit is a person, not a mere power or influence. He can be saddened by our behavior. When we, God's people, harbor bitterness in our hearts and malicious words in our mouths, then we are "griev[ing] the Holy Spirit of God."

When Paul wrote to the saints at Thessalonica, he instructed them: "Do not quench the Spirit." Just as a fire can be quenched, the promptings of the Holy Spirit can be stifled. As we read the word of God, the Spirit can be stirring a spiritual fire of conviction within us. Will we respond to that heavenly influence, or will we suppress it? When the Lord is igniting a vision of service unto Him, will we yield or will we extinguish it? When the Lord is calling us to intercessory prayer, will we cry out to Him or will we suppress that desire He is kindling? Will we allow the Spirit to blaze within our hearts; or will we "quench the Spirit"?

O Father, I am convicted by Your Spirit of times that I have behaved in these same ways. I have resisted and grieved and quenched the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. Lord, I repent, and I ask You to show me any area of my life that is not yielded to the full work of Your Spirit. This I pray through Christ, my Lord, Amen.


Title: Reflecting on the Holy Spirit and Grace
Post by: nChrist on March 11, 2004, 04:44:55 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 12

Reflecting on the Holy Spirit and Grace:

And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.  (Zec_12:10)

Let's take a reflective look at our meditations on the Holy Spirit as a reminder that we are still studying about the grace of God. In considering how to live by the fullness of the Spirit, we have examined how to live more fully by the grace of God.

In Zec_4:6, we observed the connection between living by the Spirit and living by the grace of God. "Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit." Serving the Lord is accomplished by the work of the Spirit in and through our lives, not by natural capabilities. The next verse restates this truth in terms of God's grace. "And he shall bring forth the capstone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!'" Every completed task in the service of God is accomplished by His grace (God's undeserved resources), not by our ingenuity or merit.

We also saw how the early church experienced this relationship between the Spirit and grace. "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness . . . And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Act_4:31, Act_4:33). The boldness they experienced through the Holy Spirit is described as a result of great grace at work upon them.

Jesus came to establish a new covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood" (Luk_22:20). This covenant was characterized by grace, in contrast to the old covenant that Moses set in place. "For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (Joh_1:17). This new covenant of grace is also a covenant of the Spirit. "Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2Co_3:5-6)

When the Lord Jesus returns and Israel humbly bows to Him as their Messiah, this wondrous response will be the result of "the Spirit of grace" (Zec_12:10) being poured out upon them. This glorious title, identifying grace with the Holy Spirit, beautifully sums up the grand truth that living by grace and walking in the Spirit are two perspectives on the same precious reality.

O God of all Grace, I long to live by Your grace day by day. Lord, I thank You that grace is not merely some principle that I must apply, but rather a resource You must impart.Would You therefore pour out upon me in fullness the Spirit of grace? Amen.


Title: The New Covenant of Grace: A Resurrection Covenant
Post by: nChrist on March 15, 2004, 08:48:31 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 13

The New Covenant of Grace: A Resurrection Covenant:

I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes . . . This cup is the new covenant in My blood.  (Luk_22:18, Luk_22:20)

Just as the new covenant of grace is a covenant of the Spirit; it is also a covenant of resurrection. When the grace of God is allowed to work in us, God applies the resurrection of Christ to our lives. This gracious work gives us access to the eternal life of our risen, triumphant, living Lord Jesus.
The scriptures indicate in many ways that the resurrection is woven deeply into the fabric of living by grace. When Jesus was instituting the Lord's Supper (at His last Passover), He was but hours away from His impending death upon the cross. Yet, He indicated that He would again celebrate with them this memorial meal of salvation. "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." This would only be possible by a subsequent resurrection. This reference to His resurrection was made in conjunction with remarks about the new covenant. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood." The resurrection is here linked with the new covenant of grace.

Soon after this statement regarding His resurrection, Jesus would be crucified. Three days later, the resurrection would be a reality. When some of the women came to the tomb with spices and oils, angelic beings announced the victorious truth. "He is not here, but is risen!" (Luk_24:6). The resurrection was forever an accomplished fact of history. The resurrection powerfully proved that Jesus was the Son of God: "Declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection from the dead." Jesus' sacrifice for sin was accepted by the Father. "And He Himself is the propitiation [i.e., satisfactory payment] for our sins" (1Jo_2:2). Now, God's grace could be poured out on all who would believe in the Lord Jesus.

Fifty days after the crucifixion (on the day of Pentecost), the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the followers of Christ. Empowered by His Spirit, the early church began to live in the power of the resurrection, proclaiming boldly the eternally ordained resurrection victory of their Lord. "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it" (Act_2:23-24).

Lord God of resurrection, I praise You for the resurrection of Your Son, Jesus, my Savior. Lord Jesus, I greatly anticipate celebrating the Lord's Supper with You some day in the full reality of Your kingdom. Meanwhile, please work in my life the richness of Your grace, secured by Your sacrificial death and resurrection victory. In Your mighty name, I pray, Amen.


Title: Grace Empowered Proclamation of the Risen Christ
Post by: nChrist on March 15, 2004, 08:50:42 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 14

Grace Empowered Proclamation of the Risen Christ:

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses . . . the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses . . . Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead . . . And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.  (Act_2:32; Act_3:15; Act_4:10, Act_4:33)

At the Lord's Supper, the resurrection was implied. "I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (Luk_22:18). At the tomb, the resurrection was documented. "He is not here, but is risen!" (Luk_24:6). With the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, the resurrection was proclaimed. "Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, and put to death; whom God raised up" (Act_2:23-24).

The risen Christ was the constant message of the early church. In Peter's Spirit empowered message at Pentecost, he repeatedly proclaimed the resurrected Lord Jesus. "Him . . . you have crucified , and put to death; whom God raised up . . .You will not leave my soul in Hades, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption . . . he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ . . . this Jesus God raised up, of which we are all witnesses" (Act_2:23-24, Act_2:27, Act_2:31-32).

Not long after this glorious beginning, another proclamation of the risen Christ occurred as the lame man was healed at the Beautiful Gate. When the crowds gathered to see what had happened, Peter's message was again centered around the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "You denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses" (Act_3:14-15).

Soon after this, the religious leaders arrested the apostles, "being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead" (Act_4:2). Here, Peter again proclaimed the resurrection. "By the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole" (Act_4:10).

It was the grace of God that empowered the church to witness boldly about the risen Christ. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Act_4:33).

Dear Lord Jesus, I worship You as the risen One. I desire to proclaim Your resurrection to all who need to trust in You. Lord, in a world of doubt and skepticism, strengthen my faith in Your mighty resurrection. Empower me, I pray, by pouring out upon my life great measures of Your grace, in Your name, Amen.


Title: The Resurrection Essential to the Gospel of Grace
Post by: nChrist on March 15, 2004, 08:53:33 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 15

The Resurrection Essential to the Gospel of Grace:

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain . . . And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins . . . But now Christ is risen from the dead.  (1Co_15:14, 1Co_15:17, and 1Co_15:20)

The early church persistently proclaimed the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This was not an option for them; neither is it an option for us. The grace of God that is available in the gospel for both justification and sanctification requires a risen Lord. The resurrection is essential to the gospel, which is the new covenant of grace.

The Spirit of God emphasized this strongly, as He inspired Paul to write: "And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain." If Jesus had not been raised from the dead, our preaching would be empty. If Christ were still in a tomb, His salvation mission ended in failure, not victory. Jesus is the object of our faith. If He is not alive, our trusting in Him would be fruitless. Jesus frequently taught of His death and resurrection. "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" (Luk_9:22).

Furthermore, Paul wrote: "And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins." The gospel of forgiveness of sins includes the resurrection. "I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1Co_15:1, 1Co_15:3-4). Faith is only as effective as its object. If our Lord is not resurrected, it is useless to place our confidence in Him. If we are trusting in a dead Savior to forgive us and set us free, we are still guilty and bound.

However, our Lord is not in an ancient tomb. "But now Christ is risen from the dead." He rose victorious over sin and death, bringing everlasting righteousness to all who believe. "[faith] was accounted to [Abraham] for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us [i.e., credited to our account] who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification" (Rom_4:22-25). Thus, all of the grace blessings of the resurrection are ours by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Rom_4:16).

Dear Father, I rejoice in the resurrection victory of Jesus, my Lord! I praise You, Jesus,  as my risen, living Savior. What a mighty salvation You have secured through Your victory over sin and death. Glory be to Your name for providing it all by grace through faith.  Teach me to trust in You more and more, in Your holy name, Amen.


Title: Resurrection Victory by the Grace of God
Post by: nChrist on March 15, 2004, 08:56:00 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 16

Resurrection Victory by the Grace of God:

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1Co_15:56-57)

1 Corinthians 15 is the great resurrection chapter of the scriptures. In verse 56, we see two of the enormous problems that the resurrection of Jesus Christ overcomes. "The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law." The sting that brings physical and spiritual death to the family of man is sin. "For the wages of sin is death" (Rom_6:23). Adam sinned and immediately died spiritually.

Eventually, he died physically. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Rom_5:12). We sinned in Adam, our leader. Also, we personally walked in sin and spiritual death until we came to Christ.

The strength that sin exerts over lives is the law. "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Rom_3:19). There is no way that man by his own strength can remove the guilt of sin which God's law holds powerfully over him. The righteous power of the law holds sinful humanity fully accountable before the Lord.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ validates His sacrifice for sin, removing sin's sting. "O Death, where is your sting?" (1Co_15:55).  Eternal life replaces sin's sting for all who believe in the Lord Jesus. "The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom_6:23). Such victorious grace stirs gratitude in the hearts of the redeemed. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Notice the language of grace used to describe that which is provided through the resurrection. "The gift of God is eternal life . . . thanks be to God, who gives us the victory." These two terms ("gift" and "gives") are the language of grace. Eternal life comes to us as a gift, an undeserved generosity from God. The victory that we receive through the resurrection is established through Jesus Christ. Then, this victory is given to us, not earned or achieved by us. Thereafter, our Lord desires to guide us daily in His resurrection victory of grace. "Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ" (2Co_2:14).

O Righteous Father, I confess that I sinned against You, just as Adam did. Lord, I struggled under the spiritual deadness that sin brought. Your holy law, O God, rightly locked me under guilt and condemnation. I could do nothing myself to bring relief. Then, You gave me eternal life, as I trusted in Your Son. By Your grace, You gave me victory. Thank You, Thank You! Now, Lord, please lead me in that victory, Amen.


Title: Resurrection Victory for Effective Christian Living
Post by: nChrist on March 18, 2004, 05:38:14 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 17

Resurrection Victory for Effective Christian Living:

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.  (1Co_15:57-58)

The resurrection of Jesus Christ brings spiritual victory over sin and death to all who believe in Him. "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." As we allow the Lord to be our guide through each day, He "leads us in triumph in Christ" (2Co_2:14). When this process is unfolding, an effective Christian life is developing, by the grace of God at work in us.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast." It is the will of God that our lives be marked by steadfastness (constancy and stability). Paul rejoiced concerning fellow believers who manifested such attributes: "rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ" (Col_2:5). He later added that they were to be "rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith" (Col_2:7).

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be . . . immovable." Our heavenly Father also wants us to be "immovable" (firmly persistent, unable to be swayed). Paul was a good example of this. Although he faced many threatening difficulties, he professed "But none of these things move me" (Act_20:24). When Paul wrote to the saints at Ephesus, he warned of another threat to spiritual persistency: "that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine" (Eph_4:14).

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be . . . always abounding in the work of the Lord." Our Lord wants us to be abundantly laboring with Him. This is one of the purposes of Jesus' redemptive work for us: "Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works" (Tit_2:14). Yes, living by grace will produce abounding good works. The glorious fact is that such labors are actually the Lord at work in and through us: "always abounding in the work of the Lord." As the Lord sustains His work with us, we can grow in a certainty that this kind of laboring will be effective: "knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

Note the key word that indicates the basis for all of these desirable traits: "Therefore." This refers back to the resurrection victory provided by the Lord Jesus. In light of this victorious work of Christ on our behalf, anyone trusting in this reality will find these spiritual virtues developing in their lives, by the grace of God at work.

Dear Lord, I long to walk in spiritual stability. I yearn for a life that cannot be swayed. I want to abundantly labor with You. Therefore, Lord, I  place my confidence in the reality of Your resurrection victory. Work in me by Your grace, I pray, Amen.


Title: The Resurrection Related to Justification and Sanctification
Post by: nChrist on March 18, 2004, 05:42:10 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 18

The Resurrection Related to Justification and Sanctification:

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  (Joh_11:25-26)

It would be appropriate to again follow a pattern we have used previously, applying our present subject (the resurrection) both to our starting out with God (justification) and our going on with God (sanctification). The great value in doing such is to be repeatedly reminded that the grace of God that starts us out in this new life in Christ is the same grace that develops this life in Christ.

When Jesus proclaimed the words of our present verses, He was standing at the tomb of Lazarus. Martha, one of the sisters, was interacting with Him. She had hoped that Jesus would have arrived earlier, knowing He could have prevented this death. "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (Joh_11:21). Even now, with her brother in the tomb, she realizes He could possibly yet intervene. "But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You" (Joh_11:22). Jesus comforts her by assuring that Lazarus will be resurrected. "Your brother will rise again" (Joh_11:23). Martha assumes that Jesus is referring to the final resurrection of the saints. "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day" (Joh_11:24).

At this point, Jesus offers one of those glorious "I am" revelations. "I am the resurrection and the life." Then, He added two wonderful applications. First, faith in Him can even bring the dead to life, like Lazarus. "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." Second, faith in him can ensure eternal life to those who are yet alive. "And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die."

Think again of the implications connected with Jesus' basic statement. "I am the resurrection and the life." Martha desired an immediate resurrection for her brother. She wanted him to live once again. Jesus revealed that He Himself was what Martha desired for her brother. He was "the resurrection and the life." Jesus provides resurrection and life, because in His very person He is resurrection life. He is the resurrection that we all need from our deadness, whether physical or spiritual. "I am the resurrection."  He is the life that we need, if we are to live as God intended. "I am . . . the life." Knowing Christ by faith makes us partakers of what He Himself is: "the resurrection and the life." This is vital to see, because the Christian life is a resurrection life. Such a life can only be found in a resurrected Lord, and it can only be developed following a resurrected Lord.

Jesus, I bow down before You as my resurrected Lord. Apart from You, I would only know spiritual deadness as a fallen son of Adam. In You I have a spiritual resurrection to new life. Now, I want to pursue You daily to see that new, resurrected life more fully developed in me. Lord Jesus, lead me, I pray, into more life, Amen.


Title: The Resurrection and Justification
Post by: nChrist on March 21, 2004, 02:23:22 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 19

The Resurrection and Justification:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  (1Pe_1:3)
We have a myriad of reasons to bless our great God, to speak of Him with grateful praises. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Our heavenly Father has mercifully showered us with so many blessings that we rightly desire Him to honored and blessed. "For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You" (Psa_86:5). Based on His great love, He sent His Son to pay for our debt of sin. Through faith in His name, we have received forgiveness and new life. Day by day He is present with us and is working in and through our lives. How blessed we are!

In the scripture before us, God's merciful heart toward us is focused on a magnificent matter: "who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope." The Lord's mercy has provided a plan whereby He can righteously hold back the awful judgment that we rightly deserve. This plan of salvation offers new birth. God has "begotten us again." This could be rendered, "caused us to be born again." We all were begotten of our earthly parents, a birth that brings temporal human life. For all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus as our personal Savior, we have been given a new birth from God into everlasting spiritual life in Christ. This is one of the heavenly realities that relate to justification (being declared righteous in God's sight, and thereby able to begin a walk with God).
This new birth is also "to a living hope." When we were born into the Lord's family, real "hope" became available to us everafter. Biblical hope is about absolute certainties concerning the future. It is about guaranteed expectations for time and eternity. These are vital needs for every person. Otherwise, people flounder in hopelessness and despair, or they march along in vain fantasies and imaginations.

The unique hope the Lord provides for us is a "living hope." It is a hope that pulsates with resurrection life. "[God] has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." This hope is permeated with the Lord's resurrection. This resurrection hope is sufficient to raise us from any agonizing deadness, whether in our aching hearts or in our threatening circumstances.

Lord God of mercy, I praise You for Your abundant mercy toward me. I thank You for new birth. I am especially grateful for living hope. I now ask You to work in the dead aspects of my life. Lord, You know what areas of my heart are lifeless. You see the circumstances that are killing me. Raise my heart to new vitality. Lift me above circumstantial living, through the reality of the resurrection of Your Son, Amen.


Title: More on the Resurrection & Justification
Post by: nChrist on March 21, 2004, 02:25:21 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 20

More on the Resurrection and Justification:

 [You were] buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses . . . He has made alive together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.  (Col_2:12-13)

These truth-packed verses unfold the role of the resurrection as we started out with God through justification, when He declared us righteous in Christ. In this initial work of the Lord on our behalf, we were "buried with Him in baptism." Here, baptism is referring to our identification with Christ, not water baptism. When we first believed on the Lord Jesus, we were joined to Him, made one with Him, identified with Him. "We have been united together in the likeness of His death" (Rom_6:5). From God's perspective, we who trusted in Jesus Christ died on the cross with Him and were buried in the tomb with Him. Water baptism bears testimony to this truth, but it does not produce this reality.
Identification with Christ makes this our spiritual history before God. In God's sight, our old life was crucified and buried.

Through faith in Christ and our identification with Him, we were also raised from the tomb with Jesus. "In which [that is, by identification] you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead." Just as His death became our death through identification, so also His resurrection became our resurrection. "For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection" (Rom_6:5). In God's sight, we were raised to a new life in Christ. "Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism [that is, by identification] into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom_6:4).

The next verse in Colossians offers another aspect of our need for a personal spiritual resurrection. "And you, being dead in your trespasses . . . He has made alive together with Him." Before we were justified through faith in Christ, we were not only guilty and condemned, we were spiritually dead. We had no true life in us. We could not relate to God or interact with Him. For us to start out with God in justification, the Lord had to raise us with Christ from our spiritual deadness.

O Glorious Lord, what a good reminder this is of the desperate condition I was in when You justified me. I was not merely needy; I was spiritually dead. I thank You for burying that old life with Jesus in His tomb. I praise You for raising me with Christ to a new life. I rejoice in the radical nature of Your saving grace. Lord, by the power of the resurrection, lead me in the reality of newness of life, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: The Resurrection & Sanctification
Post by: nChrist on March 21, 2004, 02:27:43 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 21

The Resurrection and Sanctification:

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places.  (Eph_1:18-20)

Just as the resurrection had an essential role in our starting out with God (in justification), it also plays an irreplaceable part in our going on with God (in sanctification). In the new covenant of grace, the resurrection is involved from start to finish in the Christian life.

Our scripture meditation is from one of the great prayers in all of the Bible. This portion begins by asking God to give us spiritual insight: "The eyes of your understanding being enlightened." What the Lord addresses in this prayer determines whether a believer will live by godly power or by human weakness. God desires to give us heavenly insight on this vital matter. Then, He intends for this spiritual enlightenment to lead us into a personal walk concerning this reality: "that you may know." The issue of this prayer is to become a part of our daily experience.

God wants us to experience the proper power source for living the Christian life: "that you may know . . . what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe." We who have been justified (declared righteous) through faith in Christ are not supposed to face each day by our meager, inadequate resources. We who have been born again by the Spirit of God are to live this new life by the power of God!

The aspect of God's power in view here is resurrection power: "according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead." Think of the mighty power of God that was at work to bring Jesus from a crucified Savior to a victorious risen Lord. This is the power that our God wants to unleash upon us day by day.

As great as this display of power was, even more is available to us: "and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places." This mighty divine power that brought forth Jesus from the dead, also raised Him to the right hand of the Father in the heaven realm. Surely, this power is sufficient to lift us out of any deadening situation of our minds or our surroundings.

Dear God of resurrection power, too many days and years have passed without me turning to You for this mighty power. Too often I have lived by a power that came from me — will power, emotional power, mental power. I repent for relying upon such feeble resources. Lord, by Your grace I see that heavenly resurrection power is to be my supply, so I look to You now for this work in me, in Your mighty name, Amen.


Title: More on the Resurrection and Sanctification
Post by: nChrist on March 23, 2004, 03:48:29 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 22

More on the Resurrection and Sanctification:

I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord . . . That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.  (Phi_3:8, Phi_3:10)

Sanctification is that process whereby the redeemed are increasingly set apart for the purposes, use, and glory of God. The resurrection of Christ and the power of that resurrection are interwoven into that entire process. Our present passage offers additional insight into this sublime truth.

The power of the resurrection is again in view. However, the context involves more than heavenly empowerment: "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." The primary context is getting to know the Lord. "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Paul's passion was to know His Lord, to become more intimately acquainted with Him. He refers to this blessed goal as the greatest value available in all of creation: "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ," Paul was ready to lose anything in order gain more intimacy with the Lord. To him, such a knowing of Christ was "the excellence" This could be translated, "the excelling value."

Our relationship with the Lord began in "the power of His resurrection." We were dead in our sins, and the Lord raised us to new life, as we believed upon Him. What a wonderful way to start out our acquaintanceship with God. A glorious season of joy and gratitude accompanied this personal resurrection. His resurrection power gave us such a great appreciation of who our Lord actually was, a God of might and power.

As time marched along, we discovered that there are other ways to get to know our Lord more fully: namely, "the fellowship of His sufferings." Many of us who follow Christ were startled when, after believing in Jesus, we encountered some personal suffering. In our early joyous days with Jesus, we maybe assumed that trials would never come our way. Eventually, we began to suffer as Jesus did (for doing the right things, for righteousness sake). "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1Pe_2:21). How much deeper did our relationship with Him grow in those trials. We learned more of the difficult path He walked here on earth. We found out how faithful and compassionate He was when we called upon Him in our need. Once more, our love for Him grew.

Dear Lord of power and compassion, I magnify You for Your resurrection power. I extol You for Your matchless compassion. You have allowed me to experience these that I might grow in knowing You. Unleash Your power in my weakness. Pour out Your compassion in my sufferings. Let me know You more, through Christ I pray, Amen.


Title: Even More on the Resurrection and Sanctification
Post by: nChrist on March 23, 2004, 03:50:49 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 23

Even More on the Resurrection and Sanctification:

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.  (Phi_3:10)

Paul's all-consuming passion was "That I may know Him." This verse does not list four matters for which Paul sought an acquaintanceship (a knowledge of God, resurrection power, a fellowship in Christ's sufferings, and conformity to His death). Rather, it points out one great quest (a knowledge of God) and three different arenas in which that knowledge could grow (resurrection power, a fellowship in Christ's sufferings, and conformity to His death). We saw in our last meditation how resurrection power and suffering can increase our knowing of the Lord. Now, we add another amazing aspect to a growing acquaintanceship with Jesus: "being conformed to His death."

There were some unique aspects to the death of Christ upon the cross (for example, His atonement for sins). However, there were other aspects of His death that God wants to repeat in our lives. As Jesus was placed upon the cross, it looked like defeat. It seemed to be the greatest wrong that man could ever do. Yet, God was working out His sovereign purposes. "Him, being delivered by the determined counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Act_2:23). At times, we are placed in situations that seem certain to lead to a deadly defeat. Yet, the Lord is unfolding His sovereign plan for us. In taking us through such impossibilities (and turning apparent defeat into victory), the Lord is allowing us to become more acquainted with Him and His ways.

When Jesus was dying, He hung helpless upon the tree. He entrusted Himself into the hands of His Father. "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit" (Luk_23:46). The Father would have to prove faithful, if Jesus were to come forth from the grave. "Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father" (Rom_6:4). At times, we are in circumstances that are personally crucifying. We are in situations where everything so obviously requires a mighty work of God. If He does not prove faithful on our behalf, there will be no way out of the agonizing dilemma. When our Lord is so clearly our only hope (and then He comes through faithfully), we again grow in a deeper knowledge of Him and His ways.

Dear Father of glory, help me to not shrink back in fear and doubt when You are conforming me to the death of Your Son. When everything looks like defeat and disaster, remind me to look to You to work out Your will, in spite of the evil intentions of foolish or godless people. When I am hanging helpless in the midst of crucifying circumstances, remind me to commit myself to You and Your great faithfulness. Lord, I want to You more through any means You choose, Amen.


Title: Still More on the Resurrection and Sanctification
Post by: nChrist on March 25, 2004, 01:26:29 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 24

Still More on the Resurrection and Sanctification:

That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  (Phi_3:10-11)
As we are getting to know our God of resurrection (by learning about and then partaking of His resurrection power, Christ's sufferings, and conformity to His death), our lives are being changed. We are attaining to "the resurrection from the dead."

This phrase brings to mind the final resurrection of the redeemed in the last day. "When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just" (Luk_14:13-14). Yet, the final resurrection cannot be in view in our meditation verses. The overall teaching of the scriptures would lead to this conclusion. One's place in the final resurrection is determined by one's relationship to God. That issue is settled through exercising saving faith in Jesus Christ. Those who trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior have a part in the last resurrection, unto eternal life.

Furthermore, the immediate context of Paul's statement indicates that attaining to "the resurrection from the dead" was something he was reaching out for now, hoping to grow into it increasingly during this life. "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" (Phi_3:12). Paul confesses that he had not fully gained the type of resurrection about which he is writing. Yet, the final resurrection was already his expectation, through justifying faith in Jesus. So, Paul is pressing on for something else.
Earlier, the Apostle had revealed what He was seeking after. "I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ" (Phi_3:8, Phi_3:10). This is why Paul wrote, "that I may know Him." This was the one passion of his life. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do" (Phi_3:13). The one thing that Paul was aiming at was a growing acquaintanceship with his resurrected Lord. He desired to know His risen Lord so well that he might attain to "the resurrection from the dead." He wanted his developing relationship with the risen Christ to produce a resurrected lifestyle in him. He wanted to face each situation of life with a heavenly, resurrected perspective and attitude, a way of life completely different from the dead and dying world all around him.

Dear Jesus, my resurrected Lord, I praise You for providing for me a place in the final resurrection. Now, I pray, help me to get to know You better, that I might live a resurrected life day by day, in Your mighty name, Amen.


Title: Once More on the Resurrection and Sanctification
Post by: nChrist on March 25, 2004, 01:28:36 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 25

Once More on the Resurrection and Sanctification:

For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us.  (2Co_1:8-10)

Our passage speaks again of the Lord's resurrection power operating in our daily Christian lives, in the process of sanctification and spiritual growth. The setting in which the Lord did this resurrecting work was in the midst of trials while serving God.

Paul did not want other believers to be unaware of his difficulties. "For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia." Too often, we are tempted to keep our struggles totally private. Thereby, we rob glory from God, when He delivers us. Also, we keep others from learning important lessons that come from watching God fulfill the faithful promises of His word.

Paul's battles were severe on this occasion. "We were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves." Spiritually speaking, these trials were killing Paul and his missionary team. They were pressed down, overwhelmed, helpless, and hopeless. When we are in hopeless despair, our sufferings seem to be pointless. Yet, our difficulties (like Paul's) have this invaluable purpose built into them: "that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead." We have frequently noted that living by grace requires humility and faith. God gives grace to the humble, and faith accesses grace. Well, in the trials of life, God is working on developing these relational realities (spiritual realities that become real through a growing relationship with Jesus).

Trials and difficulties become occasions to be humbled before God. We are provoked to cry out to God in helplessness. Also, trials present new opportunities to trust in the Lord. When the trials are intense, God is purging us of the primary obstacle to trusting in God, and that is self-trust. "Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead." Thus, convinced that we cannot handle it, we call upon God, who faithfully resurrects us from our circumstantial death. "Who delivered us from so great a death." Thereby, faith grows that He will continue to rescue us: "and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us."

O Lord, my Deliverer, come to my aid in the trials that bury me in despair. Show me where I am trusting in myself. Purge me of self-trust. I want to embrace humility and put my trust in You. Resurrect me, Lord, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: The Resurrection: Reality, Not Dead Religion
Post by: nChrist on March 28, 2004, 03:49:11 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 26

The Resurrection: Reality, Not Dead Religion:

Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.  (Act_4:1-2)

The resurrection of Christ is the difference between a dead religion and a personal relationship. Living by resurrection power is the difference between earthly striving and heavenly reality. These differences can be seen in the contrast between the religious authorities of Israel and the disciples of Jesus.

The disciples were proclaiming to the people the wondrous message of the risen Lord Jesus. "They taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead." Such a message infuriated the religious leaders. "The priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed." Today, many religious leaders reflect a similar response. In the popular religious world, universalism and skepticism prevail. Each religion is viewed as one more road leading to God. Anything miraculous is unacceptable, as human reasoning reigns supreme. In many religious circles, the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either an object of scoffing or an area of hypocritical compromise.

The Sadducees of old were like this. They would talk about the resurrection, even asking Jesus questions that seemed to affirm that God could raise people from the dead. "Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her" (Mat_22:28). This question followed their scenario in which seven brothers would become the husband of the same woman, through seven death and marriage sequences. What a mockery this question represented. First, it was given in hypocrisy. "The Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Him and asked Him" (Mat_22:23). Second, they were unaware of what the scriptures said about such a heavenly matter. "For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage" (Mat_22:30). Jesus explained that these religious rationalists made two great errors in their approach. "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God" (Mat_22:29).

We who have been born again by faith in the risen Lord Jesus can err in a similar fashion in our day by day living. We can talk about the resurrection of Jesus, but behave as though it were not an actual reality for Christian living. We can be mistaken, "not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God."

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for Your patience when I profess belief in the resurrection, but live by my inadequate human resources. Help me to understand what the scriptures say about living daily in the power of the resurrection of Christ, Amen.


Title: The New Covenant of Grace: A Covenant of Relationship
Post by: nChrist on March 28, 2004, 03:51:17 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 27

The New Covenant of Grace: A Covenant of Relationship:

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . . But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  (Eph_1:7; Eph_2:13)

The ultimate blessing of the new covenant of grace is that it allows people to develop an intimate relationship with the true and living God. We began our personal history greatly separated from God: "you who once were far off." How could we ever comprehend the "vast relational distance" that our sins brought between us and the Lord? We could not relate to God. We could not talk to Him or enjoy His presence. We were "without Christ . . having no hope and without God in the world" (Eph_2:12). Therefore, we were "alienated from the life of God" (Eph_4:18). Then, "according to the riches of His grace," we found "forgiveness of sins," as Jesus shed His blood unto death to pay the redemption price. "In Him we have redemption through His blood."

Now, the entire picture is drastically changed. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." We are no longer alienated from God. "Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God" (Eph_2:19). We are now members of God's family. We are His beloved children. "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'" (Gal_4:6). By the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, we cry out intimately to the Lord God as our "Heavenly Papa!" "You received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God" (Rom_8:15-16). As we cry out "Abba," the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us, gives us a deep internal, spiritual confirmation that we truly are God's children.

Our heavenly Father wants to build a close relationship with us, His children. He wants us to know His love. "The love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us" (Rom_5:5). Also, God wants us to respond in love to Him. "

We love Him because He first loved us" (1Jo_4:19). He wants us to call upon Him, that He might respond to us. "Call to Me, and I will answer you" (Jeremiah 33:3). He wants us to empty our heart unto Him. "Pour out your heart before Him" (Psa_62:8). By God's grace, the way for intimacy is now open to us.

Dear Abba, Father, I thank You for washing away my sins. I praise You for bringing me close to You. I desire to grow in intimacy with You. Help me to see Your love  more clearly, that I might respond in stronger love to You. Remind me to cry out to You consistently and to pour out my heart honestly, all by the blood of Christ, Amen.


Title: Intimacy of Relationship in Christ
Post by: nChrist on March 28, 2004, 03:53:08 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 28

Intimacy of Relationship in Christ:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  (Eph_2:13)

We have begun to see that the new covenant of grace is a covenant of relationship. The simple phrase "in Christ" indicates the extent of the intimacy that is available by grace. "In Christ" is where we live spiritually. It is also how we live. As sure as a fish is in the ocean and lives on the resources of the ocean, we are "in Christ" and live on the resources of Christ. As sure as a unborn child is in the mother and lives on the life of the mother, we are "in Christ" and live on the life of Christ.

We who believe in Jesus are not only "brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph_2:13), we are joined to Him in a "united closeness," like a body is to its head. "He is the head of the body, the church" (Col_1:18). We can relate to the Lord Jesus more closely than the members of our physical body relate to our physical head. We can look to Jesus for direction and coordination. We can depend upon Him for planning, guiding, and timing in our entire lives. We can anticipate that He will monitor, maintain, and adjust our situations.

This union of intimacy is also like a vine and its branches. "I am the vine, you are the branches" (Joh_15:5). We can look to Christ for our very life source. We don't have to produce a life on our own. We can concentrate on abiding (depending) on Him. He makes our lives fruitful and effective.

The intimate relationship the Lord wants to develop with us is also likened to the joining of a husband and a wife. "You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead" (Rom_7:4). We can count upon Jesus to love us faithfully and sacrificially. We can rest in His constant companionship, never leaving us for any reason throughout our pilgrimage here on earth.

What blessings are ours for time and eternity "in Christ."   Joined intimately to Christ, nothing can separate us from the love and kindness that He has for us: "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. . . that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus" (Rom_8:38-39 and Eph_2:7).

Lord Jesus, I am overwhelmed by the intimacy that is available to me, now that I am united to You. Lord, I want to depend upon You as my Vine, follow You as my head, and love You as my bridegroom. Lord, please continue to reveal to me the implications of being joined to You for all time and eternity, in Your holy name I pray, Amen.


Title: Death In Adam or Life In Christ
Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2004, 05:54:59 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 29

Death In Adam or Life In Christ:

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.  (1Co_15:21-22)

The new covenant of grace is a covenant of relationship. Spiritual death through Adam made this covenant of grace necessary. Spiritual life through Christ makes intimacy with God possible. Every human who has ever existed inherited a sinful, fallen, earthly life from Adam: "by man came death." Every person who has ever put their faith in Christ has received from Him a righteous, risen, heavenly life: "by Man [i.e., Jesus] also came the resurrection of the dead."

Adam began with a measure of intimacy with His Creator. "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being . . . Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it" (Gen_2:7, Gen_2:15). In the garden, Adam served the Lord and had fellowship with Him, when He would walk "in the garden in the cool of the day" (Gen_3:8).

Adam could partake freely of all that was in the garden, except for one tree. "Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die" (Gen_2:17). For Adam, as for all of his race, "the wages of sin is death" (Rom_6:23). The day that Adam and Eve disobeyed and ate of the forbidden fruit, they died spiritually. "And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden" (Gen_3:8). Whereas they had enjoyed a degree intimacy with Lord, they now fled from His presence. Ever after, the natural children of Adam would begin there existence "dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph_2:1).

The only remedy for the spiritually dead human family would be through a relationship to a new "family head." "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many" (Rom_5:12, Rom_5:15). There are only two families to which humanity can belong: Adam's or Christ's. There are only two family head's to which anyone can be related: Adam or Christ. Adam passed along spiritual death to his offspring. Christ gives to his own life eternal, life abundant — all by His glorious grace.

Creator God, my Father, I confess that I was born in Adam's sinful line. I have demonstrated my sinfulness on a multitude of occasions. I praise You for sending Your Son to rescue me from Adam's race and to place me in Christ, my new Head, Amen.


Title: Reigning in Life Through Christ
Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2004, 05:57:56 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 30

Reigning in Life through Christ:

For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.  (Rom_5:17)

The Lord wants us to grow in the magnificent blessing of living victoriously through Him. Having a triumphant Christian walk can only be realized from a developing acquaintanceship with the Lord, because we are only able to "reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Significant spiritual issues are set against a victorious life: "By the one man's offense death reigned through the one." Because of Adam's sin, spiritual deadness ruled over the family of man. The enemy of men's souls uses this deadness to dominate and destroy lives. Elsewhere, Jesus likened him to a thief. "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (Joh_10:10). This is why lives, households, and nations experience such deadly defeats and crushing failure. A tyrant dictator, "death," dominates all lives that are only born once in Adam. They can only draw upon Adam's fallen, sinful, inadequate life source.

A new and greater resource is needed and is found in Christ. "Much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ." These heavenly provisions are "much more" than is needed to replace the defeats of Adam with the victories of Christ. The resources are two-fold: "abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness."
One of these two is possessed by every believer in Christ: "the gift of righteousness." This is the righteousness of the Lord Jesus, given to us by faith. That allows us to stand accepted before a holy God: "found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" (Phi_3:9). Every believer has this gift, but not every believer is victorious.

Thus, the key variable is to be receiving "abundance of grace." Every Christian has been the recipient of grace. Yet, many of God's people do not live day by day by grace. They walk according to the flesh, thereby drawing upon Adam's natural bankrupt resources. Remember, living by grace involves humility and faith. God "gives grace to the humble" (Jam_4:6). Likewise, through Jesus," we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Rom_5:2).

Lord God of grace, the reign of death has certainly assailed my life, bringing defeat and failure. Teach me to draw upon the abundant measures of Your grace, that I might reign in life, living victoriously, through Your Son, Christ Jesus, Amen.


Title: In Christ, a New Creation
Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2004, 05:59:44 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - March 31

In Christ, a New Creation:

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation.  (Gal_6:15)

In the relationship we have with the Lord through the new covenant of grace, there is intimacy, fullness of life, spiritual victory, and so much more. These blessings (that are not available to those who are related to Adam) are aspects of the new life that comes to new creatures "in Christ."

"In Christ," everything is so different from how it was "in Adam." The family of man, having only natural life from Adam, puts great significance in human heritage or personal inclinations. Whether a person is a Jew or a Gentile can be of enormous consequence to many among the unredeemed community. Whether a person is religiously inclined or secularly motivated avails much with many unsaved people. On the other hand, those who have been brought into union with Christ can learn that God's perspective on such matters is vastly different. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything."

In the kingdom of heaven, these distinctives among the sons of Adam mean nothing. Human differences do not cause the work of God or the will of God to be advanced or prevented. They avail nothing. What matters for all who are "in Christ Jesus" is not a "human category," "but a new creation."

When we come to know Christ by grace through faith, He gives us new birth. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again" (1Pe_1:3). We are created anew. We become a new spiritual being before the Lord. We have "put on the new man" (Col_3:10). In this heavenly kingdom of new men and women, "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all" (Col_3:11). All that ultimately matters is that the Lord Jesus Christ dwells in all of His people, and He is wants to be all that they will ever need. All that matters is the Spirit of Christ is the living water that we have begun to partake of and that He makes us one. "For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1Co_12:13). Any person in any human category who will cry out to the Lord in faith can experience this richness. "For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him" (Rom_10:12).

Dear Lord, giver of new life, my heart celebrates the wondrous fact that I am a new creation in Christ. I am delighted that my old human categories could not prevent Your work of grace from being offered to me. I praise You for Your glorious grace, Amen.


Title: New Creatures in Christ
Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2004, 06:01:29 AM
Hoekstra Devotion - April 1

New Creatures in Christ:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.  (2Co_5:17)

Everyone who is "in Christ," through faith in His name, is a "new creation." We are new people. We are no longer who we were before we put our trust in the Lord Jesus. We are not the old person reformed or improved; we are a "new creation." Yes, we have the same body, but that is a mere tent in which we dwell. "For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2Co_5:1). Some day in glory, we will trade this temporal, earthly tent for an eternal heavenly one. Meanwhile, though we live in the same old tent we had in Adam, we are new tenants, a "new creation." We may have the same old physical brain, but we are learning to think an entirely new way. "We have the mind of Christ... be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Rom_12:2 and 1Co_2:16). Christ lives in us, and His Spirit also dwells in us. His Spirit takes the word of God and unfolds the thinking of our Lord for us. As we embrace God's way of thinking more and more, we are transformed to walk in the newness that is ours in "in Christ."

In all the ways that matter before God, "old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new." The old guilt is replaced by new forgiveness. "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus... in whom we have... the forgiveness of sins" (Rom_8:1 and Col_1:14).
The old foolishness is replaced by new wisdom. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God... But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God" (1Co_3:19 and 1Co_1:30). The old unrighteousness is replaced with new righteousness. "All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags... For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (Isa_64:6 and 2Co_5:21). The old hope of changing (self-help) is replaced by new hope of changing (sanctification, God changing us). "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength... You are in Christ Jesus, who became for us... sanctification" (Jer_17:5 and 1Co_1:30). This is grace upon grace.

O Lord, my hope, I thank You for making me a new person in Christ. Please strengthen my heart to spend time in Your word that I might hear more of these grand truths. Lord, I yearn to walk in more of this rich newness of life, in Jesus name, Amen.


Title: Every Spiritual Blessing Ours in Christ
Post by: nChrist on April 02, 2004, 08:11:24 PM
Hoekstra Devotion - April 2

Every Spiritual Blessing Ours in Christ:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.  (Eph_1:3)

Living day by day by grace is essentially about developing an intimate relationship with the Lord. "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ." We have considered some of the radical extent of that intimacy through the intriguing phrase "in Christ." "You also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead" (Rom_7:4). Through this profound uniting with Christ, astounding spiritual riches are now ours.

This is why Paul offered grateful praise to the Lord: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Paul's thanksgiving was for what the Father has given to us: "who has blessed us." Notice, the verb is in the past tense — this has already happened. What is it that has already been given to us? It is "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places." Think of it. This truth is staggering in its implications. Every grace resource that heaven has to offer is already ours here on earth. This does not mean that we are fully aware of all that has been given to us. Certainly, it does not mean that we are experiencing all of these blessings. Yet, it does mean that they are all ours to draw upon for fullness of life here on earth!

The reason these rich blessings are ours is that they all reside in Christ. In Christ is forgiveness, righteousness, and wisdom. Also, love, joy, and peace are found in Him. In Christ dwell victory, discernment, and courage. Moreover, compassion, strength, and perseverance are part of who He is. All this and far more is found in Christ. "For it pleased the Father that in Him [in Christ] all the fullness should dwell" (Col_1:19). Now, we dwell in the place ("in Christ") where all of this richness resides: "who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." All these spiritual resources of the kingdom of heaven are now ours "in Christ." "And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (Joh_1:16).

Dear Father, I too want to bless You for bestowing all of this richness upon me. Lord, forgive me for the spiritual poverty that I too often experience. Teach me to draw upon these limitless treasures of Your grace. I want to honor You with an abundant walk in Christ's fullness, Amen.