Philippians 4:20 (NIV)
To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
The church I grew up in ended every service with the singing of the doxology: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…., Praise Father, Son & Holy Ghost. World without end. Amen!
I have to admit that it did not mean much to me back in those days, however, the repetition certainly deposited those truths in my head for all my life. Doxology is praising God for who he is. It is giving God the glory that is due him for his radiant holiness. In thanksgiving we offer up gratitude for something we have received. But in doxology we honor the very being of God. We exalt and praise the Lord simply because he is God.
The word doxology comes from Greek and literally means “glory word.” We see God’s glory, and we speak a word of wonder as we send that glory of God heavenward.
Doxologies flow from Paul quite often in his New Testament letters—and usually near the end, as we find here in Philippians 4. Doxologies of many kinds should regularly flow from our hearts and lips too. Our glorious God is worthy of all the glory we can bring back to him.
All praise and glory belong to you, Father, Son & Holy Spirit. You are holy, pure, righteous, and we have the great joy of resting in your great beauty. YOU are Worthy! Amen.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Vs.10 – 11 (NIV)
I am sure you have all heard the phrase: “Bigger is better.” It is funny how we always seem to run after what is bigger, faster, more powerful, etc. Even when it comes to church life we always look to those ministries or church fellowships that are bigger and have greater influence. Early in my ministry life I heard a pastor speak of the church he pastored as small but mighty. They never reached the 200 mark in attendance, but they were regularly sending people from the church out into ministry.
The psalmist reminds us that God is not impressed with size and strength but with those whose character honoured God and were faithful in their responsibilities. Throughout scripture we see that there was always a remnant that remained faithful. From that small remnant of faithful and dedicated people would raise up his nation or his church and his purposes would be fulfilled. Even Gideon who amassed some 32,000 warriors was directed by God to take just 300 to defeat the enemy.
God does not need bigger or more powerful to carry out his plan for this world. He needs faithful, dedicated, committed and loving people who are willing to listen, to obey and to boldly carry out his plans for his kingdom. So, don’t ever consider yourself inadequate or insignificant. The Lord is looking for those who fear him and put their hope in his unfailing love.
Make me an instrument in your hands. Make me a faithful warrior in your kingdom. Help me always to lean on your unfailing love. Amen.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Vs.42, 46 (NIV)
Sunday is a day when people of every age, culture, nation, and race gather as brothers and sisters in Christ, for worship and fellowship.
The early church had to gather in their homes for fear of being persecuted. Acts 2 tells us they were devoted “to the fellowship” and to each other. They gathered joyfully and sincerely, filled with gladness. There was laughter and song. People came into the fellowship not out of a sense of obligation or fear but out of a desire to be with fellow believers.
I cannot imagine any type of formality; there was just a sense of joy in being together. These people were genuine. They were open and honest about their lives and their hearts. We read that they sold their possessions to help meet the needs of those who were hurting. Not only were some people willing to give, but others were willing to receive.
These people knew each other well and accepted each other regardless of their status, wealth, or position in life. True fellowship exists when people can be open and honest about their struggles and their needs. God invites us to experience such fellowship ourselves in communities of faith where believers are deeply devoted to each other’s care and wellbeing.
Jesus, we long for the day when our fellowship is like the perfect community you have with your Father and the Spirit. Help us build true fellowship within our churches. Amen.
The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? Vs. 1 (NIV)
Have you ever been afraid? I remember looking at my young family while we were touring the countryside in Holland. We were on our way to Tanzania. We had no real idea of what we were headed for in Tanzania and this was a volunteer position. Suddenly I was terrified of the future on the inside, wondering what I had gotten us into.
Fear is a fact of life, even for believers, and being afraid is a part of most people’s lives. Even David, who wrote Psalm 27, is described elsewhere in the Bible as being “very much afraid” (1 Samuel 21:12).
Lots of children seem to have a fear of the dark. Parents are afraid about the future of their children. Many people are afraid of death. I am not afraid of death, but I certainly can think of manner of death and there are lots of those I do not want to experience. Fear does creep into our lives from time to time.
I do not think we can eradicate fear from our lives, but I do believe we can keep fear in its proper perspective. The only way to keep our fears at bay is to turn to God and to remember that God is the stronghold of our lives. One way to accomplish that is to have God’s word tucked away in our hearts. Like these words from Hebrews 13:6: “We say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.’” We can also reread and repeat the words of Psalm 27: “The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” When we ask for God’s help and look to his Word, we can trust that the Lord will be our stronghold.
Lord, there are many things in life that create fear in our hearts. Help us to turn to you and to trust in you when fear creeps in and steals our joy. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Vs. 28 (NIV)
Dr. Tom Dow was my theology teacher. He told me one day that I just might be too pragmatic to be a theologian. That came at the end of a discussion with several students around the “eternal security” question. If you are unfamiliar with that issue, there are two schools of thought. First, one theological position is that once we accept Jesus as saviour, we can never lose our salvation. The second position is that God holds us, protects us and keeps us but not against our will and we can walk away from salvation if we choose.
My position is that you can prove both points from scripture, therefore my final theological stance is this: As long as you are in Christ, you are eternally secure. Apparently too pragmatic to be of any theological value.
But when the Bible talks about the assurance of our salvation, it is completely different. There’s nothing said about the “likelihood” of being saved. Instead there’s the ironclad promise of Jesus himself.
The Bible teaches us that, first, Christ gives us salvation. And he personally makes sure that no one can snatch us out of his hand. That’s why those of us who know Jesus as Lord and Savior don’t have to worry about the probability of salvation. Instead we can serve him with joy and thanksgiving.
Don’t worry about the theology of eternal security. Be constant in your love for Jesus and you will be blessed with the blessed assurance of Jesus salvation and God’s love.
Jesus, thank you for your salvation, forgiveness, and love. Father, thank you for your firm grip that holds me in safely and securely in your hand. Amen.
1 Peter 2:4-8
For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Vs. 6 (NIV)
What a delight to be a child of God! This delight is based in the fact that Jesus is my Savior and my brother.
When I am feeling pressed, down, and defeated by personal sin, the constant attack of guilt, or the fear of punishment, I focus on Jesus my Saviour. The Bible tells me that Jesus actually became sin for me (2 Corinthians 5:21). Through his suffering and death, he removed my guilt and set me free from condemnation (Romans 8:1). Jesus is truly a friend of sinners like me.
And when I face life’s daily struggles, I focus on Jesus my Brother. Jesus too experienced temptation, betrayal, and loneliness. He was tested in all ways and yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Because he shared all of life’s joy and pain, he is able to and desires to help me.
When I sense the Father’s uncompromising love, through Jesus, I am simply overwhelmed with gratitude, and I want to live with him and for him every day. We are his children and as Peter says, we are each a “living stone” in the building that Jesus has established: the church. We are all part of something greater and we all live the role God has given to us. There is no place for personal pride, rather we serve together, living as a child of God with humility, childlike trust, and complete surrender to Jesus. If we all live this way and all do our part the church, the body of Christ will stand as a beacon of light to the world.
Father make me a living stone that fits properly into the beautiful spiritual house that will draw others to your place of refuge and shelter. Lord keep me humble, childlike in my faith and willing to do whatever you ask me to do. Amen
Philippians 4:4-7 (NIV)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes I think we forget that the God who created and sustains the world, listens to our prayers. How incredible is it that the sovereign God hears our prayers and cares deeply about our lives?
We live in a world that consumes us. Our thoughts, our activities, our needs, all of it draws us away from the true reality that God is still in control. Prayer reorients us to our real truth: We are weak, but he is strong, and we are fully dependant on him. So, we bring our praise, petitions, gratitude, and concerns to him. We are reminded that God is also in control of our lives and he fully reigns over everything!
While living in Tanzania we received a letter to tell us Naomi’s aunt had passed away from cancer. That news was two weeks late sine the letter took that long to arrive in our mailbox. There was nothing we could do, but we could pour out our sorrow and concern for the family knowing that our all-powerful God had no difficulty with the miles that lay between us and home.
Prayer is necessary because it is the most important part of our thankfulness to God. Even in times of trouble, knowing that God cares and wants to carry our burdens of sorrow and pain gives us a reason to give thanks. So, give thanks always in prayer. God is listening and he cares.
Almighty God and our heavenly Father, thank you for listening to us and loving us. Dear God inspire me to pray often. Amen.
Acts 13:22 (NIV)
]After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’
Have you ever been hurt so badly that you cannot forgive the offender? I have testified several times that there are a couple of people in my life that cut me so deeply that scars have remained for years. I am not proud of that fact. It is a struggle on a pretty regular basis for me to come to grips with my failure.
David’s first sin was not to be at war with his men (2 Samuel 11), where he was expected to be as a king. While at home, he then committed adultery with Bathsheba. To cover his sin with her, he had her husband killed during battle. David was anything but a model follower of God during this time. Yet God calls David, “a man after his own heart;” knowing full well that David would so very completely fail him.
So why is David a man after God’s own heart. If you were to read through Psalm 51 you would see the repentant heart of David before God. David begins verse 4 with “Against you, and you only, have I sinned …” David came to grips with his total failure before God and fell prostrate, broken and humiliated before the God who had so blessed him. I believe it is the repentant heart of David that makes him the kind of person that God can say of him, he is “a man after my own heart.”
Lack of forgiveness is an ungodly attitude. Retaliation or wishing harm on someone is the way of the devil. I cannot find forgiveness on my own, but in Christ, with His help and the power of the Holy Spirit within me, God is creating a space for forgiveness to grow so I might also be “a man after God’s own heart.” Don’t give up on forgiveness. Ask God to help you so that you too may experience the joy there is in forgiveness – even when it is hard to do so.
Lord Jesus, I know that you have so freely forgiven me of all my sin, make me strong enough to forgive those that have cut me deeply. Let me know the joy of your forgiveness anew and afresh. Amen.
Ephesians 1:3-14 (NIV)
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Vs. 4-6
Adoption is not a new concept in our family. Four of our five children are adopted and this year we have applied to adopt another son. At a family gathering I spoke with one individual and mentioned that we were in the process of adopting our foster son who is almost 18 years old now. Her question took me by surprise: “Why would you want to adopt him now that he is almost an adult?”
It took me all of a second to respond: “Because we love him and want him to have a family forever.” Paul is telling us in Ephesians 1 that God in all of his infinite wisdom and perfect foreknowledge adopted us. Why would he do that when he knew that we could never live a perfect life, we could never meet the standards of an almighty, all powerful God who is full of glory, majesty and is perfect in all his ways? Paul does not use any of those attributes or character traits to help us understand this adoption.
Paul uses a number of descriptors of God to help us understand his reason for adopting us. “In love he predestined us for adoption ..” “with his pleasure and will…” Through Jesus, God expressed his unfathomable love for his children – that would be you and me and many, many more.
It truly is humbling to know that God could love me that much. It is truly amazing that Jesus loved us so much that he was willing to endure the cross for us, to bear our sin. We ARE daughters and sons of the Most High God, loved by him, forgiven by him through Jesus, adopted lovingly into his family.
Father thank you for your incredible love for me. I am humbled by your willingness to make me a child in your family. Help me to live in a manner that will bring honour to your name. Amen.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
The opening verses of John 14 are very often read at a funeral. It is a time when people are upset and somewhat disoriented. So, these verses truly bring comfort, especially when the person was a believer and those left behind also believe. But Jesus does go on in this discourse to explain that the truth that underlies those words of comfort. Not only is there great and sure hope for the grieving people and the person who has died but also for all of us who believe are promised the reality of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
The disciples were extremely anxious. They had been with Jesus for three years, most likely every day. Now he is telling them he is going to leave them. What will they do? Who will lead them? What about the hopes and dreams they all had with Jesus leading the way?
Jesus assures them, that he would not leave them alone in all this trouble. He would send another teacher, helper, and counselor. The Holy Spirit of God would come to live in their hearts! He would produce in them a beautiful array of spiritual fruit, including a highly prized and needed peace (Gal. 5:22-23). They would become blessed as peacemakers, just as Jesus had taught them earlier (Matt. 5:9).
Do you have the Lord’s peace in your heart? Are you confident that his comforting care is with you in any conflict? Do you know that in his strength you can be victorious in every struggle and trial? The Bible shows that Jesus’ followers did, when the Spirit was poured out on them (Acts 2:1-4). Remember Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We too have the Holy Spirit residing within.
Lord make aware daily of the presence of your Holy Spirit in my life. Help me to rest in you and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me daily into all truth so I might live a confident and pleasing life for Jesus. Amen.