"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Month: June 2013

The Inescapable Presence

“But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped … Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand.” (Psalm 73:2, 23)

The clash between truth and apparent reality in this world had nearly become too much for the psalmist. He had almost lost his footing in faith. He had a deep crisis of faith and confessed that he had nearly succumbed and given way. Yet when God prevailed in his life and once again gave him perspective (v.17), the psalmist awakened to discover “I am continually with you”! Throughout the entire crisis he had remained in God’s favor, relationship and presence. Though he could not see it, the entire ordeal had transpired in God’s presence, with God near. Indeed, he could confess that through the entire experience “you hold my right hand.”

All our depression and every crippling crisis in actuality is based on a facade. When God seems far away, removed, and inactive it is but a half-drawn picture that ignores the greater reality of God’s inescapable presence with us through all things. We doubt God’s presence while immersed in God’s presence. Sometimes, for His own sovereign reasons and sanctifying purposes, God suspends the sense of His presence, but never His actual presence.

Forgive me, Lord, for my failing faith. Keep me. Awaken me to the reality of your presence and the riches I have in you. I ask this in the Name of Him who promised, “I am with you always” and “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Amen.

He is Able!

Here’s the basic truth about life: You can’t.

But there’s good news: God can.

You can’t … stop, overcome, compensate, quit, change, conquer, triumph, refrain, etc., etc.,etc.

Clearly, you can’t. Otherwise you would. You would love to! But you can’t.

But God can. You name it. God can do it.

And He is willing to do so, if it meets two simple tests. It must be for your good and His glory. And remember: God gets the last word on defining “your good” and “His glory.”

No, this is not a carte blanche kind of deal. God is able to do anything that He wills to do. But what is He willing to do?

When and in what is God both able and willing?

Here are several of the things the New Testament tells us God is able and willing to do:

·         God “is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

·         God “is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages.” (Romans 16:25)

·         “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18)

·         God “is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” (Jude 1:24)

·         “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

·         Abraham was “fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” (Romans 4:21)

·         God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

·         “I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me. (2 Timothy 1:12)

·         Abraham “considered that God was able even to raise [Isaac] from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” (Hebrews 11:19)

·         “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy.” (James 4:12)

What will it take to see God do them?

First, we have to admit that we can’t. We have trouble with this. We don’t like to admit this. This is humiliating. It seems to dash all our hopes.

But it is essential. For as long as we insist that we can, God won’t.

But weakness is the way to entering into God’s strength. The Lord told Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul decided, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Major W. Ian Thomas put it this way: “I cannot—God never said I could; but God can, and always said He would!” (The Indwelling Life of Christ, p.31)

May we find the joy of discover just how able and willing God is to do through us all that He requires of us. Such joy begins with the crushing of self-hope: I can’t. It finds full flower in Christ-hope: But He can! He is able!

New Resources on Philemon!

Over on the “Resources” page you’ll find the audio and .pdf files for a new series of studies through the brief, but profoundly powerful letter to Philemon. Our theme is “Doing Relationships Redemptively.” And isn’t there need for that in all of our lives? Happy listening and studying!

The Saving Life of Christ

“To be in Christ—that is redemption; but for Christ to be in you—that is sanctification! To be in Christ—that makes you fit for heaven; but for Christ to be in you—that makes you fit for earth! To be in Christ—that changes your destination; but for Christ to be in you—that changes your destiny! The one makes heaven your home—the other makes this world His workshop.” (Major W. Ian Thomas, The Saving Life of Christ, p.20)

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