Thursday, December 22, 2011


“May the Lord be praised!  Day after day He bears our burdens; God is our salvation.  Our God is a God of salvation, and escape from death belongs to the Lord God.” (Psalm 68:19-20)

“On that day you will say: ‘I will praise You, Lord, although You were angry with me.  Your anger has turned away, and You have had compassion for me.  Indeed, God is my salvation: I will trust Him and not be afraid, for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and my song.  He has become my salvation’” (Isaiah 12:1-2)

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’  Then bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30)

            “So, what does sal-va-tion mean?”  A child might ask that question, and come to think of it, a lot of adults might want to listen in on the answer.
            People hear the word “salvation,” and various images come to mind.  Some envision a Billy Graham crusade with thousands streaming down the aisles.  Some may see a tent meeting with energetic preaching and folks being “saved.”  Some may see a businessman in a hotel room reading a Gideon Bible and then praying to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
            The whole concept of salvation is fascinating.
            In the Old Testament, the word salvation was often the same as “rescue.”  Most of the time, when people were praying for salvation or thinking about it, they were looking for a rescue, a deliverance from dire circumstances that threatened them or their family.  They were looking for some concrete action from God that would save them.
            In the New Testament, the cross of Jesus was that concrete action.  The dire circumstances people faced was their sin and its consequences – hell.  The concept in the New Testament was more of a spiritual deliverance, and the nature of that salvation was a personal relationship with God, established by a personal faith decision in Jesus Christ.  We should understand, though, that this was still a “rescue.”
            So, what does salvation mean to you, and what does God want you to do to express the results of your salvation?

Lord, We give thanks that You have delivered us from the power and penalty of sin, so that we might live eternally with You.  Amen.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Firm Faith

“If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” (Isaiah 7:9b)

            Ahaz, king of Judah – not exactly a bastion of faith.  He had some basic aspects of faith.  It seems that he believed in the Lord, at least to some degree.  He had a level of respect for the Lord.  But, trust the Lord with your life when it’s on the line?  No, he wasn’t there.  Circumstances were about to shake him up.
            The testing of Ahaz arrived unceremoniously with an invasion from the north.  The Israelites from the northern kingdom teamed up with the Arameans (Syrians) to attack Judah and Jerusalem.  They had a stranglehold on Jerusalem.  So, God sent Isaiah with a message that the attacks would not achieve the goal, but the real test that faced Ahaz was whether, in the face of these ferocious threats, he would trust God.  The test was whether or not he would stand firm in faith.
            For us the challenge is the same.  We may not be a king whose capitol is surrounded by an invading army, but we do sometimes face personal or family challenges when the real and fundamental challenge is whether or not we will stand firm in our faith.  The writer of Hebrews says, “Without faith, it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)  And note again the verse above, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.” 
            We need to be perceptive enough to realize what the real challenge is.  Then, we need to rise to the occasion and stand firm in our faith.  God will enable us to do this when we decide that we are going to trust Him no matter what happens.

Lord, As we move through this day, may we face each challenge by standing firm in our faith, but trusting You.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Real Love

“Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalm 55:22)

            The burdens people bear emerge from a variety of sources, some of them surprising.  For the psalmist it came from the betrayal of a friend.  They had gone to the house of the Lord together.  They had worshiped together.  They had enjoyed close fellowship together.  What happened, we do not know, but whatever it was, it was deeply significant.  In context, it involved “evil and horror,” and it resulted in a relational rift.
            There is probably no greater joy on this earth than the joy of genuine friendship.  The bond of trust creates peace and security.  Since that is true, there is also no greater burden than the betrayal of a friend who was once trusted.  Such burdens can weigh heavily on the heart and hurt deeply.
            We experience burdens from other sources as well, but the truth the Lord wants us to see today is that whatever the source and whatever the burden, we can cast our burdens on Him, and He will sustain us.  Peter reminded his readers to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God so that He might exalt them in due time, “casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)
            So, what burden are you carrying today?  Know that you do not have to bear it alone.  You can cast it on the Lord, so He can sustain you.  That’s real love.

Lord, We thank You for your faithful love toward us and Your power to sustain us in the midst of burdens we face.  Your grace is sufficient, and Your strength is enough.  Amen.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Forever Praise

“I will praise You forever for what You have done.” (Psalm 52:9)

            God is worthy of our praise because of who He is.  We praise Him because His presence inspires awe in us.  His majesty, His holiness, His sovereignty, righteousness, grace, mercy, love, power and glory overwhelm us and bring for instantaneous and spontaneous praise, much like light produces instantaneous sight.
            We also praise God for what He has done.  In Psalm 52 the writer celebrates God’s judgment on the arrogant who love evil instead of good and even boast of their evil.  He also rejoices in the fact of God’s blessings on those who plant their lives in His presence.  Thus he says, “I will praise You forever for what You have done.”
            This takes us to a gripping truth:  Who God is produces what God does.  His actions are the expression of His “Personhood,” for lack of a better term. What He has done thus takes us to who He is and brings forth praise.
            Let these thoughts take you now to the cross of Jesus.  There we see what God has done.  As horrible and heart-rending as that image in our minds may be, we also look beyond to His majesty, holiness, sovereignty, righteousness, grace, mercy, love, power and glory.  We think of the cross, and we then bow in praise.  And we give thanks.

Father, In Jesus and in the cross we see You and who You are.  We will praise You forever for what You have done.  Amen.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cause for Boasting

“But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became God-given wisdom for us – our righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)

            The Corinthian church prided themselves on their pride.  Or so it seems.  They were plagued with pride at the time Paul dictated this letter.  They were actually dealing with multiple problems, but most of them were simply manifestations of pride.  So Paul began this paragraph by challenging them to consider their “calling.”  He reminded them of how far they had come from where they once were in life.  Not many of them had been noble, or wise, or strong.  In fact, they came from backgrounds of weakness.  “God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong,” said Paul in verse 27. 
            Paul reminded the Corinthians that it is because God had called them into Christ that they had any wisdom, because Christ Himself is their wisdom.  It is all from Him, and none of it from them.  Therefore, they have no cause for boasting in themselves.  Their only cause for boasting is what Christ was doing in them.
            Any wisdom that is in us is from Him.  Any righteousness that is in us is from Him.  Any sanctification (holiness) in us is from Him.  Any redemption we have is from Him.  It is all about Him, and not about us.
            We all need such reminders from time to time.  Christ in us is the only true hope of glory there is.

Lord, We turn from pride and humble ourselves before You, in the confidence that all that is good in us is from You.  May that truth in us bring glory to You today.  Amen.