Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Promise of Sealing

Like many of you, I've spent time in scripture memorization plans, and I felt a lot safer when I committed Ephesians 1:13-14 to memory.

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard 
the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.
Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, 
the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance 
until the redemption of those who are God's possession--
to the praise of his glory."

Yet, practically speaking, what does that mean? Here are a couple of illustrations:

In days of yore, when the king wanted to send an important message meant "For your eyes only," he would fold it and pour sealing wax over the fold. While the wax was still hot, he would stamp it with his seal (usually his signet ring). Anyone tampering with the seal before it reached the intended recipient would suffer the deadly consequences! The contents of that message were safe!

Even before God sent His indwelling Holy Spirit to seal believers, He is known to have put hedges of protection around them so evil couldn't get at them. Consider His servant Job. When God praised Job's uprightness, Satan countered that Job only "shunned evil" because God had put a hedge (or seal) around him and his household and all that was his. As a test, God allowed Satan access to Job. You know the rest of the story.

Today, we have the abiding presence of God's Holy Spirit and He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. We are sealed until the day of redemption, or, in other words, until He takes us Home. No one can get at us without His permission and, even if He should allow it, He is there to protect us from all evil.

I like knowing that I have been sealed with the signet ring of the Most High God. Don't you?

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Promise of Safety

Read the daily paper. Listen to the news. Follow local politics. Watch the latest State of the Union speech. Honestly, how safe do you feel?

Analyze this:

"Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
But whoever trusts in the LORD
is kept safe."
~Proverbs 29:25

If it's true that everyone who trusts in the LORD is kept safe, why don't people flock to Him in droves?

It's a long story, dating back to the Garden of Eden where Satan unveiled his plan to wrest the hearts and souls of men away from the LORD. His foul tactics haven't changed since he first cast doubt on God's love for man and His ability to provide all we need. 

Satan doesn't care whether we pledge allegiance to him or to our own brilliance. His only mission is to lead us away from God--to turn us against the One who offers eternal life and safety. Satan hurls his poison darts at the apples of God's eye in an attempt to break His heart and overthrow His kingdom.

Is God afraid of Satan? Is He trembling in His heavens?

Hardly. As always, His concern is for us . . . that we not choose to follow the serpent, the father of lies. God is not willing that any should perish, and Jesus calls on men to see through Satan's deception.

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
~Mark 8:36

We must shun the empty promises of the world, the flesh, and the devil. If we keep our eyes on God, we need not fear anyone. The battle has already been fought, and God won.
"Sing to the LORD a new song;
for he hath done marvelous things;
his right hand and his holy arm
have gotten him the victory."
~Psalm 98:1 KJV
Cling to the LORD, for He alone is mighty to save! And He loves to bless His children.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Promise of Holy Boldness

Have you ever witnessed the glorious transformation of a timid, gentle, soul into a bold proclaimer of truth?

I have. Years ago, a subcommittee in the Oregon State House of Representatives was considering the merits of crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs). A pro-abortion group had called into question the work of CPCs and was attempting to shut them down--permanently.

People on both sides were invited to testify.

Representatives of Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups testified first and did their level best to condemn the centers and their staff of "deceptive and misleading practices."

When they had finished, the chairman of the House subcommittee invited representatives of the other side to speak.

One by one former clients of CPCs calmly testified that they'd found:

genuine concern,
pressure-free environment,
free goods and services,
confidentiality, and a
non-judgmental attitude.

You could tell that many of these women felt intimidated testifying before this august legislative group.  Yet when it came to defending the truth about organizations that had helped them in difficult times, these gentle souls were bold as lions.

The same thing is happening across the land with women who have experienced abortion firsthand. After years of suffering pain and remorse of post-abortion stress, they have found the courage to join the Silent No More Awareness Campaign and are boldly proclaiming the truth about abortion . . . warning others not to participate in it.

This is holy boldness in action!  

The Apostle Paul told Timothy "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." When it comes to speaking truth, we can be bold--speaking the truth in love, yet with the boldness of lions.

"The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion."
~Proverbs 28:1

 By the way,  the House Subcommittee found in favor of CPCs.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Promise of Pure Joy

Does the world seem a joyless place--the news all bad? Does it seem that even when good news is reported, it's recounted with a sense of incredulity and, perhaps, skepticism?

Well, guess what . . . the world IS a joyless place, full of tribulation and sorrow. Abiding joy is found only in a relationship with Jesus Christ--and this CAN BE hard to believe, unless you've experienced it.

The apostle Peter, who actually walked with Jesus, discusses the grief we encounter here on earth and says it will only be overcome "when Jesus Christ is revealed." In the meantime, Peter says that just knowing He's coming again fills believers with an inexpressible and glorious joy.

Do you need joy in your life? Then focus on this: Jesus is coming again and bringing with Him "the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."

Then what are we to do with the tribulation and sorrow we face while we wait? Ignore it? Hope it will go away?

In his epistle, James, the brother of Jesus, says to consider it pure joy when we "face trials of many kinds."


Why? Because, James says, trials and tribulation can work as a springboard for us to grow in our faith and to propel us toward God's wisdom.

So we have the promise of pure joy, 
even as a result of our trials, 
even as we await the coming of our Savior to free us from them! 

Think about that. It's a win-win situation . . . .

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Promise of Grace

When I encountered Jesus in a life-changing way, I was directed to a Bible verse that clarified my new found position in the Kingdom of God.

"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."
~Ephesians 2:8 NKJV

This grace is a marvelous thing, I thought. I need all of it that I can get! Later I ran across other Bible verses that talked of grace, such as, "The LORD will give grace and glory." This grace, like the other, comes from God. Who does He give it to? How often does He give it out? Where do I go to get more of it?

Thirty-five years have passed since I first began to ask those questions. I've received God's grace over and over again and have discovered that it didn't ever come because I "deserved" it or had "earned" it in some way. It has always come as a gift from the hand of a gracious (or grace-filled) God who loves me just as much as anyone, since God is not a respecter of persons.

There are times, however, that He withholds His grace--not because He doesn't love His child, but rather because He cannot bless me when I am acting naughty--when I am acting proud.

"God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble."
~James 4:6

Won't you this day purpose, along with me, to reside in the land of humility?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Promise of Mercy

If you're like most people, you want to be treated kindly, mercifully. We say, "Gimme a break," or "Try a little tenderness," and we mean it!

Too often, we forget that it cuts both ways. Consider the following verses:

"Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy." 
~Matthew 5:7

"A man who has friends must himself be friendly." 
~Proverbs 18:24 NKJV

The good news is that our heavenly Father shows mercy to us even when we don't deserve it. Didn't He send His beloved Son to die for the ungodly. Doesn't He forgive us each and every time we repent of our misdeeds.

Since He calls us to be imitators of Him, let's try being merciful even as He is merciful. Let's try being holy even as He is holy. It should come as no surprise that when we extend mercy to others, most will reciprocate. But then, even if they don't, our heavenly Father notices and will supply whatever is lacking in their response to us--if not now, then when He passes out rewards in Heaven.

"With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful."
~Psalm 18:25 NKJV