Resting on Grace

from Lynda Lindsey

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring——not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.  Romans 4:16

No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness. Romans 4:20-22

It will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.  Romans 4:24(b)-25

Grace, grace, God’s grace. It is God’s grace by which we are saved. God counts us righteous as we, by faith, believe and trust God’s promise that Jesus is the one and only way of salvation. Trusting Jesus’ work on the cross, not in anything we have done, brings us into right relationship with God. Resting on God’s grace, secure in Him for eternity, we have peace. Trusting in our own works leads not to security and peace, but to strife and worry. Did we work hard enough to merit salvation? Did we do enough? How will we know?

Abraham, the father of our faith, chose faith when it looked impossible. He and Sarah were old, long past childbearing years, yet Abraham didn’t waver concerning the promises of God. Abraham was fully convinced that God not only was able to make good on His promises, but would do so. It’s one thing to believe God is able to do something and another thing entirely to believe He will do it! God promises to forgive our lawless deeds, cover our sin with His blood, spend eternity together with us, be light for our path and give us guidance through His Holy Spirit. 

Every promise of God is sure and certain. Abraham believed unwaveringly and grew strong in faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He promised, even before he, Abraham, saw fruit of the promise! To believe God can raise the dead and create something out of nothing defines faith. God resurrected Jesus from the dead; God resurrects us, giving life to what was once dead, making us alive in Christ. God promises to be enough for us; take Him at His word, believe Him. It may look impossible, but it’s not. Choose faith and find yourself resting on grace!

No Boasting or Bragging; No Strutting or Preening

from Lynda LIndsey

None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Romans 3:11-12 ———— For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by His blood, to be received by faith. Romans 3:23-25(a)

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the Lord? … O, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. Psalm 14:4; 7

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart, there is no fear of God before his eyes. For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated. The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit…  Psalm 36:1-3(a)

A sorrowful state. All have sinned; there is none righteous, no not one. No one knows God, no one seeks after God. All have turned aside. Wicked deeds spring up out of wicked hearts, from internal to external, from thoughts and words to actions. Sin progresses from our inner depths and spills wickedness into our society. Evil progresses from evil. All this because we have no fear of God before our eyes. We boast and brag, we strut and preen, we flatter ourselves that we are a law unto our own, that we can flout God and live as we please. Who will know or even care?

Why does it matter? Because sin, a universal problem, affects us all. Without God, we have no inner peace, no shalom and our rebellion sets us at war with God, ourselves and others. Our speech reflects the strife and bitterness within our heart. We speak evil lies with deceptive tongues, with mouths full of cursing and bitterness. This inner warfare then spills over into society; we are quick to fight and quarrel, to shed blood, to murder. We go down paths of disorder, misery, and confusion. On an endless treadmill, we repeat what we know, over and over again. 

But God made a way to arrest this endless cycle, a way for us to be in right standing before Him. This way is not achieved by anything we do; it rests solely on what Jesus did. It’s not reforming ourselves, making new resolutions, having better intentions, keeping a code of law. We have right standing with God by faith when we trust in Jesus’s shed blood. God’s grace alone. Jesus alone. Faith alone. No boasting, bragging; no strutting or preening. Lay it all down at the cross. Repent. Turn to God. Salvation has come out of Zion! Rejoice and be glad! To God’s glory alone!

Givers and Receivers

from Lynda Lindsey

For I long to see you, that I may import to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you——that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. Romans 1:11-12

So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:15-17

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Paul, a servant of Christ, called to his apostleship by the Lord and set apart for the advancement of the gospel, longs to see the saints in Rome, eager to both give and receive, spiritual truth and encouragement. Paul’s life mission is to make the gospel known, to encourage all men and women everywhere to yield their lives to the obedience of Christ. Paul delights in encouraging and strengthening disciples to grow strong in faith and in seeing non-believers come to saving faith in Christ. Paul, a giver, a deliverer of the gospel, longs for God’s righteousness to be revealed by faith to all.

Paul models his life and ministry after Jesus, the giver of life and light. God is a giver; God gave His only Son to us to save us, to deliver us from the power of sin and death. Jesus willingly gave His life on the cross so we might have eternal life. The Holy Spirit gives us power to live transformed lives, as well as gifts with which to serve one another. Paul desires the recipients of the gospel to know that salvation is not our own doing; it is the gift of a generous God, who by grace has saved us through faith. We are saved by faith, walk by faith, and continue walking by faith. 

Receiving the good news is more than just assent to a belief. It’s life changing and transforming. Because we are declared righteous before holy God and are regenerated and made new, our thinking and actions change. We walk no longer in the futility of darkness but in the light of hope. Our repentant hearts, no longer hard and closed, are soft and open toward God. Acknowledging God, we renounce idolatry. We love, honor, obey, and worship God, and God alone. Be both a giver and a receiver of the good news, because God’s supply of Good News is inexhaustible!

If I Were _________

from Lynda Lindsey

Then Absalom would say, “Oh that I were judge in the land! Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice.”… Thus Absalom did to all of Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel. II Samuel 15:4-6   ~   The hearts of the men of Israel have gone after Absalom. II Samuel 15:13(b)

For the Lord had ordained to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, so that the Lord might bring harm upon Absalom. II Samuel 17:14(b)      

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

Absalom had been allowed to return to Jerusalem, yet he still lived as an outcast, banished from the king’s presence. Having had several years to brood and plot, Absalom embarked on an ambitious plan to make himself king. Absalom set himself up as Jerusalem’s unofficial greeter to people already feeling ill-treated by the justice system, then slyly planted the suggestion that they had come in vain to receive due justice. Ahh, but if he were king, he would be on their side. Surely David heard of all these public encounters at the city gates? Either way, it appears he didn’t intervene. 

Plot and counterplot, intrigue and conspiracy, whispers and innuendos stole the hearts of the men of Israel. David, despairing, weeping and mourning, fled Jerusalem lest the city be destroyed. David, betrayed even by his trusted counselor Ahithophel, set up an elaborate information network designed to foil Absalom’s takeover. Was David facing the painful reality that perhaps his own past sin played a role in his present situation, that these happenings were consequences of God’s judgment of his sin? Regardless, David cast himself on God, content to receive either God’s favor or His displeasure.

God did as David asked and turned Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness. Absalom’s rejection of Ahithophel’s war counsel sealed Absalom’s defeat, for God had ordained that specific event in order to bring about His purpose in Absalom’s life.  Did Absalom receive ill treatment at David’s hand? Indeed! But Absalom, himself a murderer, allowed discontent, disappointment, and jealousy to lead him into deeper sin by playing the dangerous game, “If I were king, _____.” That arrogant thinking steals our hearts and leads us away from God. Guard your heart; don’t think or say, “If I were ________.”

Like Water Spilled on the Ground

from Lynda Lindsey

Nathan speaking God’s words to David: Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in His sight?… II Samuel 12:9(a)   Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. …Behold I will raise up evil against you out of your own house… II Samuel 12:10-11(a) 

We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and He devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast. II Samuel 14:14

And the king said, “Let him dwell apart in his own house; he is not to come into my presence.” So Absalom lived apart in his own house and did not come into the king’s presence. II Samuel 14:24

Sin, missing the mark, falling short of God’s plan, doing what is evil in His sight, grieves God. Sin, rebelliously despising God’s clear word, distances us from God’s holy presence. David’s catalogue of sins is sorrowful. David avoided his duty to lead his troops into battle. In the wrong place, at the wrong time, David began the steep slippery slide into sin. His, lust, greed, and covetousness led him to commit adultery with Bathsheba, which in turn led to deceit, trickery, and intentionally plotting Uriah’s murder. David repented; but the consequences were calamitous.  

David’s dynasty was lasting just as God had promised, but the consequences of sin brought misery and grief, dishonor and violence to David’s house. David’s son Absalom murdered his half-brother Amnon to avenge the rape of his sister Tamar; then Absalom fled. Such heartache and anguish: Tamar, humiliated, Amnon murdered, Absalom banished, David mourning. Because David either excused or overlooked heinous wrongs, he didn’t confront the sins of rape, murder or his own neglect to judge and resolve family issues. Hearts languished and the situation festered. 

David, when confronted with his lack of initiative to bring his son home, effected only a partial reconciliation; Absalom was allowed to return but was essentially an outcast, banished from the king’s presence and from the king’s home. Thankfully when Jesus invites us home again, we are totally and completely reconciled. We are no longer outcasts. We are brought in, gathered up and have total access to Jesus’ sweet presence. Life is brief. Death comes unexpectedly like water spilled on the ground that cannot be gathered up again. Repentance and restoration are urgent. Don’t wait. 

A Reliable Compass

from Lynda Lindsey

After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship. Then, fearing that they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the gear, and thus they were driven along. Since we were violently storm-tossed, they began the next day to jettison the cargo. Acts 27:17-18

When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope of our being saved was at last abandoned.  Acts 17:20

Yet now I urge you to take heart, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship…   So take heart, men, for I have faith in God that it will be exactly as I have been told. Acts 27:22; 25

Before the invention of the compass, a navigational tool that points travelers in the desired direction, sailors used the location of the sun and stars to get their bearings. During storms, when the sun and stars weren’t visible, it was easy to veer off course and suffer shipwreck. Paul, on his way to Rome to appeal to Caesar, was caught in a storm so violent that even seasoned sailors, after taking every precaution, were resigned to shipwreck and death. Paul encouraged the men to take heart, to not be afraid, to have faith in his God who had assured Paul that there would be no loss of life. 

The sailors prepared to ride out the storm. They secured the ship’s boat, undergirded the ship, and jettisoned all nonessential cargo. When the sailors attempted to jump ship with the ship’s boat, leaving the passengers without a navigational crew, that small vessel was set loose. The storm raged for more than two weeks before land was sighted and they dropped anchors in hopes that the drag would keep them from running aground on the rocks. The men had done everything they knew to do, and encouraged by Paul’s faith and his prayers, they awaited daybreak.

It happened just as the Lord told Paul; all the men were brought safely to land even though the ship was wrecked. The Lord saves our lives, not necessarily our boats. In heavy seas when the constellations are dark and we can’t see our way, Jesus, the radiant Son of God is our reliable compass. God saves. Our responsibility is to do what we know. Make preparations. Undergird any weak places. Jettison everything not essential. Stay together in community. Set loose every distraction. Take heart. Be encouraged by words of faith and prayer. Obey God, settle in and await daybreak.