Let None Escape
Let not one of them escape.
1 Kings 18:40
When the prophet Elijah had received the answer to his prayer, and the fire from heaven had consumed the sacrifice in the presence of all the people, he called upon the assembled Israelites to take the priests of Baal and sternly cried, “Let not one of them escape.” He took them all down to the brook Kishon and slew them there. So must it be with our sins—they are all doomed; not one must be preserved.
Our darling sin must die. Do not spare it because it cries. Strike though it be as dear as a beloved son. Strike, for God struck at sin when it was laid upon His own Son. With stern unflinching purpose you must condemn to death that sin that was once the idol of your heart. Do you ask how you are to accomplish this? Jesus will be your power. You have grace to overcome sin, given you in the covenant of grace; you have strength to win the victory in the crusade against inward lusts because Christ Jesus has promised to be with you even unto the end.
If you would triumph over darkness, set yourself in the presence of the Sun of Righteousness. There is no place so well adapted for the discovery of sin and recovery from its power and guilt as the immediate presence of God. Job never knew how to get rid of sin half as well as he did when his eye of faith rested upon God, and then he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes.
The fine gold of the Christian is often becoming dim. We need the sacred fire to consume the dross. Let us fly to our God. He is a consuming fire; He will not consume our spirit, but our sins. Let the goodness of God excite us to a sacred jealousy and to a holy revenge against those iniquities that are hateful in His sight. Go forth to battle in His strength and utterly destroy the accursed crew: “Let not one of them escape.”
Walking with Christ Romans 1:4-6
The pathway of faith has divine purpose, and we’re to obey, no matter what. But even when God’s direction is perplexing, we can count on the fact that He is good.
Walking obediently with Christ doesn’t guarantee an easy life, which is obvious when we consider the apostle Paul. He encountered all kinds of hardships, including shipwreck, persecution, and beatings (2 Cor. 11:23-27). Keep in mind, though, that nothing can touch a believer without God’s loving permission. He uses difficulty to strengthen and correct believers–and eventually to achieve His ultimate plan. Also remember that the Lord protects His followers in their suffering, just as He kept Paul safe in situations that seemed impossible.
Adversity can tempt us to ignore the Holy Spirit’s guidance. But we will ultimately regret such a decision, as God doesn’t spare us from the consequences of our sin. However, He never lets go of His children, whom He will continue to protect and guide throughout life.
Walking in obedience and trust is the only avenue to true peace. As Paul sat in an uncomfortable Roman prison where his life was in danger, he encouraged believers not to worry but to pray with gratitude. Doing so leads to experiencing peace beyond what we can comprehend (Phil. 4:6).
The only wise way to live is to trust in almighty God and follow wherever He leads. That is the road to contentment, fulfillment, protection, and peace. Are you journeying on the pathway of faith? Or is something holding you back from all God intended for your life?
You will arise and have pity on Zion; it is the time to favor her; the appointed time has come. For your servants hold her stones dear and have pity on her dust.
A selfish man in trouble is exceedingly hard to comfort, because the springs of his comfort are entirely within himself, and when he is sad all his springs are dry. But a large-hearted man full of Christian generosity has other springs from which to supply himself with comfort beside those that lie within. He can go to his God first of all and there find abundant help; and he can discover arguments for consolation in things relating to the world at large, to his country, and, above all, to the Church. David in this Psalm was exceedingly sorrowful; he wrote, “I am like an owl of the waste places; I lie awake; I am like a lonely sparrow on the housetop.”1 The only way in which he could comfort himself was in the reflection that God would arise and have mercy upon Zion. Though he was sad, yet Zion should prosper; however low his own estate, yet Zion would arise.
Christian man, learn to comfort yourself in God’s gracious dealing toward the Church. That which is so dear to your Master, should it not also be supremely precious to you? Although your path be dark, can you not cheer your heart with the triumphs of His cross and the spread of His truth? Our own personal troubles are forgotten while we look not only upon what God has done and is doing for Zion, but on the glorious things He will yet do for His Church.
Try this approach, O believer, whenever you are sad of heart and in heaviness of spirit: Forget yourself and your little concerns, and seek the welfare and prosperity of Zion. When you kneel in prayer to God, limit not your petition to the narrow circle of your own life, tried though it be, but send out your longing prayers for the church’s prosperity. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem,”2 and your own soul shall be refreshed.
1Psalm 102:6-7 2 Psalm 122:6
The Pathway of Faith Genesis 12
Faith is the foundation of our Christian lives. Hebrews 11:1 gives us the biblical definition of this term: “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (NIV).
True belief is more than something we express verbally; it is a pathway you and I follow. Throughout life, our heavenly Father takes us on a journey, allowing us to experience a real relationship with Him as we encounter each circumstance.
Today’s passage illustrates that God has a purpose for everything we encounter. The Lord promised Abraham descendants as numerous as the stars visible in the sky. (Gen. 15:5). Then He directed His servant to obey several commands, such as moving from home. Abraham was not told the details of this plan.
We now know that he was the father of the Jewish nation, and his lineage included Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind. Though the patriarch did not obey perfectly, he did step forward in faith, trusting in God’s ultimate purpose.
We, too, can know with certainty that the Lord is weaving together a beautiful plan. He isn’t obligated to explain His reasoning or reveal every detail. Instead, God shows us the next step (Ps. 119:105), and our job is to obey, even when it doesn’t make sense.
If you want to know what God is doing in your life, obey Him. Often, you won’t understand the intricacies of the plan, but you can trust the goodness of His heart. Rest assured that all He does is purposeful and for your benefit. So step forward in faith, and you will see His faithfulness.
He appeared first to Mary Magdalene.
Jesus “appeared first to Mary Magdalene,” probably not only on account of her great love and persevering seeking, but because, as the context intimates, she had been a special trophy of Christ’s delivering power. Learn from this that the greatness of our sin before conversion should not make us imagine that we may not be specially favored with the very highest grade of fellowship. She was one who had left all to become a constant attendant on the Savior. He was her first, her chief, object.
Many who were on Christ’s side did not take up Christ’s cross; she did. She spent her substance in relieving His wants. If we would see much of Christ, let us serve Him. Tell me who they are who sit most often under the banner of His love and drink the deepest from the cup of communion, and I am sure they will be those who give most, who serve best, and who abide closest to the bleeding heart of their dear Lord.
But notice how Christ revealed Himself to this sorrowing one—by a word: “Mary.”1 It needed but one word in His voice, and at once she knew Him. Her heart expressed allegiance by another word, but her heart was too full to say more. That one word would naturally be the most fitting for the occasion. It implies obedience. She said, “Master” [KJV]. There is no state of mind in which this confession of allegiance will be too cold. When your spirit glows most with the heavenly fire, then you will say, “I am your servant. . . . You have loosed my bonds.”2 If you can say, “Master,” if you feel that His will is your will, then you stand in a happy, holy place. He must have said, “Mary,” or else you could not have said, “Rabboni,” “Master.” See, then, from all this how Christ honors those who honor Him, how love draws our Beloved, how it needs but one word of His to turn our weeping to rejoicing, how His presence makes the heart’s sunshine.
1 John 20:16 2 Psalm 116:16
Eternal Life John 3:16-18
Each of us faces the same dilemma. We have a sin debt that we owe to God but no way to pay for it. None of our solutions–living a moral life, being religious, or doing more good deeds—can take care of our problem.
God Himself has provided the solution–one that both satisfies His justice and grants us mercy. He sent His Son to pay the penalty we owed. Jesus was qualified to be our substitute because He never sinned (2 Cor. 5:21). He willingly took our place on the cross and experienced the full measure of the Lord’s wrath against our sinfulness. In dying for us, Christ secured our salvation by paying the debt for all our past, present, and future sins. When we trust in Jesus and surrender our life to Him, He becomes our personal Savior and Lord.
The great tragedy is that many have heard the gospel and rejected it. Some are like the rich ruler who placed his trust in material possessions and turned his back on the truth. Others have refused to even listen. Another group is convinced they are heaven-bound, based on erroneous confidence in their own good deeds. Only those who have entered into a relationship with Jesus through faith in Him will be welcomed into heaven.
If you’re wondering, How can I have eternal life? there is only one answer: through faith in Jesus Christ (John 14:6). We have an Enemy who actively seeks to blind people to the truth (2 Cor. 4:4). Pray that many who are separated from the Lord will trust in the Savior and gain everlasting life.
Toward the dawn . . . Mary Magdalene . . . Went to see the tomb.
Let us learn from Mary Magdalene how to obtain fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Notice how she sought. She sought the Savior very early in the morning. If you can wait for Christ and be patient in the hope of having fellowship with Him at some distant season, you will never have fellowship at all; for the heart that is fitted for communion is a hungering and a thirsting heart.
She sought Him also with very great boldness. Other disciples fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed; but Mary, it is said, “stood”1 at the tomb. If you would have Christ with you, seek Him boldly. Let nothing hold you back. Defy the world. Press on where others flee. She sought Christ faithfully—she stood at the tomb. Some find it hard to stand by a living Savior, but she stood by a dead one. Let us seek Christ after this mode, cleaving to the very least thing that has to do with Him, remaining faithful though all others should forsake Him.
Note further, she sought Jesus earnestly—she stood “weeping.” Those teardrops were as spells that led the Savior captive and made Him come forth and show Himself to her. If you desire Jesus’ presence, weep after it! If you cannot be happy unless He come and say to you, “You are My beloved,” you will soon hear His voice.
Lastly, she sought the Savior only. What did she care about angels? She turned herself back from them; her search was only for her Lord. If Christ is your one and only love, if your heart has cast out all rivals, you will soon enjoy the comfort of His presence. Mary Magdalene sought thus because she loved much. Let us arouse ourselves to the same intensity of affection; let our heart, like Mary’s, be full of Christ, and our love, like hers, will be satisfied with nothing short of Himself. O Lord, reveal Yourself to us this evening!
The Rich Young Ruler Luke 18:18-23
Three of the four gospels contain an account of the young man who asked Jesus a very important question: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (v. 18). A ruler with great wealth, he considered himself a moral man because he had kept God’s commandments.
However, he was operating under the false assumption that good works bring salvation. He seemed to be asking Jesus what else he had to do to secure his place in heaven–besides all the good things he’d already accomplished.
This is what I refer to as the “great deception”–the false belief that eternal life can be earned through our own efforts. If we give credence to this lie, then we do not understand the problem of our sin and how it separates us from God. Scripture tells us that we have inherited a sinful nature from the first man (Rom. 5:12). Ever since that time, humanity has been in rebellion against the Lord and under His judgment. There is nothing we can do to pay for our sin. If this were the end of the story, we would be a people without hope for today or the future. But the good news is that the heavenly Father recognized our plight and mercifully provided the way to heaven (John 14:6).
When God made us in His image, He created us to live forever. So, though our earthly body will perish, our spirit will never die. The question about eternal life is important, as we’ll spend eternity either with God in heaven or in an insufferable state, separated permanently from Him (Matt. 25:34, 41).
God Is For Me
Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.
It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase, “God is for me.” He was for us before the worlds were made. He was for us or He would not have given His well-beloved Son; He was for us when He smote the Only-begotten and laid the full weight of His wrath upon Him—He was for us, though He was against Him. He was “for us” when we were ruined in the Fall—He loved us notwithstanding all. He was for us when we were rebels against Him and with a high hand were bidding Him defiance. He was for us or He would not have brought us humbly to seek His face. He has been for us in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within—how could we have remained unharmed to this hour if He had not been for us?
He is for us with all the infinity of His being, with all the omnipotence of His love, with all the infallibility of His wisdom. Arrayed in all His divine attributes, He is for us—eternally and immutably for us; for us when the heavens shall be rolled up like a worn-out robe; for us throughout eternity. And because He is for us, the voice of prayer will always ensure His help. “Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.” This is no uncertain hope, but a well-grounded assurance—”this I know.”
I will direct my prayer unto You and will look up for the answer, assured that it will come and that my enemies shall be defeated, for “God is for me.” O believer, how happy you are with the King of kings on your side! How safe with such a Protector! How sure your cause pleaded by such an Advocate! If God be for you, who can be against you?
What Christ’s Blood Does for Believers Romans 3:21-26
Knowing what we believe is a key to strong, life-sustaining faith. Yesterday we saw two of the blessings that are ours through the blood of the Savior. Today we will look at two more.
By trusting in Christ as Savior, we are . . .
Justified. Justification is the process by which God declares us “not guilty.” Romans 3:23 condemns all mankind as sinners who are under a sentence of death and facing a dreadful eternity apart from the Lord and His blessings. But everything changes for the person who accepts Christ’s shed blood as payment for his sins–through Jesus, our heavenly Father declares the sinner not guilty, provides him with Christ’s righteousness, and adopts the new believer into His family (Gal. 3:26). Jesus’ sacrifice satisfied our sin-debt, and His death was counted by God as our own (Rom. 5:9).
Reconciled. Before salvation, we were separated from the Lord and spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1). We had no way to span the gap between Him and us. Christ sent His Holy Spirit to convict us of our guilt (John 16:8), make us aware that we need a Savior, and bring us to saving faith. Jesus, the Lamb of God, removed the barrier of sin that separated us from God. Christ reconciled us to God “having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20).
As believers, we should understand what occurred when we received Jesus as Savior (Acts 16:31). Through His sacrifice, we are redeemed, forgiven, justified, and reconciled to God. That is, Christ’s blood has brought us from death to life–and has let us enter into an eternal relationship with the Father.
His heavenly kingdom.
2 Timothy 4:18
The city of the great King is a place of active service. Ransomed spirits serve Him day and night in His temple. They never cease to fulfill the good pleasure of their King. They always rest, so far as ease and freedom from care is concerned, and never rest, in the sense of indolence or inactivity. Jerusalem the golden is the place of communion with all the people of God. We shall sit with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in eternal fellowship. We shall hold high converse with the noble host of the elect, all reigning with Him who by His love and His powerful arm has brought them safely home. We shall not sing solos, but in chorus shall we praise our King. Heaven is a place of victory realized.
Whenever, Christian, you have achieved a victory over your lusts—whenever after hard struggling, you have laid a temptation dead at your feet—you have in that hour a foretaste of the joy that awaits you when the Lord shall soon tread Satan under your feet, and you shall find yourself more than a conqueror through Him who has loved you.
Paradise is a place of security. When you enjoy the full assurance of faith, you have the pledge of that glorious security that shall be yours when you are a perfect citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem. O my sweet home, Jerusalem, happy harbor of my soul! Thanks, even now, to Him whose love has taught me to long for you; but louder thanks in eternity, when I shall possess you.
My soul has tasted of the grapes,
And now it longs to go
Where my dear Lord His vineyard keeps
And all the clusters grow.
Upon the true and living vine,
My famish’d soul would feast,
And banquet on the fruit divine,
An everlasting guest
The Shed Blood of Jesus John 1:29-34
When John the Baptist saw Jesus approaching, he declared Christ to be the Lamb of God (John 1: 29).
This concept was actually familiar to the Israelites, since their law required blood offerings as atonement for sin (Lev. 17:11). Jesus became our sacrificial lamb, paying “once for all” the sin debt owed by mankind. (1 Pet. 3:18). His death secured forgiveness and eternal life for everyone who trusts Him as Savior. With regard to salvation, nothing else is required or acceptable to God.
Jesus was the one who set things right between the Father and man. He died to bring us . . .
Redemption. This was a word that was used to describe a marketplace transaction–one that buys back something of value. All humanity was in bondage to sin and unable to pay the penalty (Rom. 6:23). As our sacrificial lamb, Jesus willingly died in our place and, with His blood, redeemed us for His Father (1 Peter 1:18-19).
Forgiveness. As God’s adopted children, we have been saved by the blood of Christ (Matt. 26:28) and permanently pardoned for our transgressions. The penalty for our actions has been fully paid. So at the moment of salvation, our guilt for the sins we committed–past, present, and future–is wiped away.
Meditate on what the Savior did at Calvary (Eph. 1:7). As the sacrificial Lamb, Jesus exchanged His life for ours and gave it up to pay what we owed. His death redeemed us, secured our forgiveness, and gave us a permanent place in God’s family. Thank You, Jesus, for bringing redemption!
Darkness And Light
And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
IThe evening was “darkness,” and the morning was “light,” and yet the two together are called by the name that is given to the light alone! This is somewhat remarkable, but it has an exact analogy in spiritual experience. In every believer there is darkness and light, and yet he is not to be named a sinner because there is sin in him, but he is to be named a saint because he possesses some degree of holiness. This will be a most comforting thought to those who are mourning their infirmities and who ask, “Can I be a child of God while there is so much darkness in me?” Yes; like the “day,” you do not take your name from the evening, but from the morning; and you are spoken of in the Word of God as if you were even now perfectly holy, as you will be soon.
You are called the child of light, even though there is darkness in you still. You are named after what is the predominating quality in the sight of God, which will one day be the only principal remaining. Notice that the evening comes first. Naturally we are darkness first in order of time, and the gloom is often first in our mournful apprehension, driving us to cry out in deep humiliation, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”1
The place of the morning is second; it dawns when grace overcomes nature. It is a blessed maxim of John Bunyan, “That which is last, lasts forever.” That which is first yields in due season to the last; but nothing comes after the last. So though you are naturally darkness, once you become light in the Lord, there is no evening to follow; “your sun shall no more go down.”2 The first day in this life is an evening and a morning; but the second day, when we shall be with God forever, shall be a day with no evening, but one, sacred, high, eternal noon.
1Luke 18:13 2Isaiah 60:20
Gods Promise in Context Psalm 19:7-11
Yesterday we noted that believers must consider the whole counsel of God to understand His promises. For example, the Lord’s commitment to supply our needs isn’t an isolated pledge without connection to other parts of Scripture.
Trust God to provide. James opens his letter with a strong warning that those who doubt the Lord can expect nothing from Him (1:6-7). God’s trustworthiness is clear in Scripture and in believers’ lives, but our wavering confidence undermines His work.
Wait upon His timing (1 Sam. 13:9-13). King Saul took over the prophet Samuel’s duty and made a pre-battle sacrifice to God. Like so many people who manipulate circumstances and timing, Saul was dissatisfied with the results. He won the war but lost not only God’s favor but also his kingdom. No one gets what he really wants by supplying his own need.
Accept responsibility (Prov. 19:15, 20:4). God does not open a door to opportunity while we’re lying on the couch. We have to be on the lookout. If we need a job, we should be out making applications. If we want to know the Father’s direction for a hard situation, we need to be seeking Him regularly through prayer and His Word. The Lord goes before us to soften hearts, but we must do our share.
God knows our needs, and He has committed Himself to meeting every one. But He does not make promises in a vacuum. We have a responsibility to trust Him, be patient, and do our part. Then we leave it to the Lord to move heaven and earth to give us what we require.
An Internal Disagreement
And God separated the light from the darkness.
A believer has two principles at work within him. In his natural estate he was subject to one principle only, which was darkness; now light has entered, and the two principles disagree. Consider the apostle Paul’s words in the seventh chapter of Romans: “I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.”1 How is this state of things occasioned? “God separated the light from the darkness.” Darkness, by itself, is quiet and undisturbed, but when the Lord sends in light, there is a conflict, for the one is in opposition to the other, a conflict that will never end until the believer is altogether light in the Lord.
If there is a division inside the individual Christian, there is certain to be a division outside. As soon as the Lord gives light to any man, he proceeds to separate himself from the darkness around; he withdraws from a merely worldly religion of outward ceremony, for nothing short of the Gospel of Christ will now satisfy him, and he removes himself from worldly society and frivolous amusements and seeks the company of the saints, for “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers.”2
The light gathers to itself, and the darkness to itself. What God has separated, let us never try to unite; but as Christ went outside the camp, bearing His reproach, let us come out from the ungodly and be a special people. He was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners; and as He was, so we are to be nonconformists to the world, dissenting from all sin, and distinguished from the rest of mankind by our likeness to our Master.
1Romans 7:21-23 21 John 3:14
Our Unmet Needs Philippians 4:19
God promised to supply all your needs, and yet sometimes fulfillment is slow in coming. What could be the problem? Perhaps you are. When our Father fails to meet our expectations, we generally look outside ourselves for the reasons. But while the Lord’s love is unconditional, many of His promises are not.
For example, Philippians 4:19 is a “family promise”—it can be claimed only by those who rightly call the sovereign of the universe “my Father.” His unlimited resources are not available to men and women who reject salvation through Jesus Christ. Moreover, when we look at the whole framework of Scripture, we see that the Lord makes our obedience a condition for His fulfilling needs (Ps. 81:10-12). He will not condone sin by blessing us while we rebel against Him.
Think of yourself as part of an army at war, which is what you are, in a spiritual sense. A top military priority is to keep the supply line open—victory is impossible if the soldiers are weaponless, cold, and starving. Our willful disobedience allows Satan to cut our supply line from the Lord. Restoring that connection is a matter of repentance. Those who walk in God’s way are protected, provided for, and satisfied (Ps. 81:13-16).
Taking a promise out of its biblical context is dangerous. And expecting God to keep a conditional pledge when we aren’t meeting its requirements is even more unwise. The Lord keeps His word but rightfully expects us to do our part. Thankfully, His yoke is light—to love, honor, and obey Him.
You Are My Salvation
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.
When the believer has begun with trembling feet to walk in the way of the Lord, he still asks to be led onward like a little child upheld by its parent’s helping hand, and he yearns to receive further instruction in the alphabet of truth. Experimental teaching is the burden of this prayer. David knew much, but he felt his ignorance and desired to be still in the Lord’s school: four times over in two verses he applies for a scholarship in the college of grace. It would be better for many professors if instead of following their own devices and cutting out new paths of thought for themselves, they would inquire for the good old ways of God’s own truth and beseech the Holy Ghost to give them sanctified understandings and teachable spirits.
“For you are the God of my salvation.” Jehovah is the Author and Perfecter of salvation to His people. Reader, is He the God of your salvation? Do you find in the Father’s election, in the Son’s atonement, and in the Spirit’s quickening all the grounds of your eternal hopes? If so, you may use this as an argument for obtaining further blessings; if the Lord has ordained to save you, surely He will not refuse to instruct you in His ways. It is a happy thing when we can address the Lord with the confidence that David displays here; it gives us great power in prayer and comfort in trial.
“For you I wait all the day long.” Patience is the fair handmaid and daughter of faith; we cheerfully wait when we are certain that we shall not wait in vain. It is our duty and our privilege to wait upon the Lord in service, in worship, in expectancy, in trust all the days of our life. Our faith will be tried faith, and if it is of the true kind, it will bear continued trial without yielding. We shall not grow weary of waiting upon God if we remember how long and how graciously He once waited for us
Faithfulness through the Ages Deuteronomy 7:8-10
God is the only One who never disappoints. From the beginning of time, His Word has remained true. Every prophecy is a promise that has been or will be fulfilled.
Perhaps the greatest of these foretellings were the ones that spoke of Messiah, and throughout the ages, God people longed for His coming. Many prophets spoke about the Anointed One (2nd Sam 7:12-16; Isa 7-14; and 9:6; Dan. 9:25 niv; Micah 5:2;). Although there was no further prophecy on the subject during the four centuries leading up Christ’s birth, when the time was right Jesus came to reconcile mankind to the Father.
Surely, people must have questioned whether the Savior would ever come. After all, 400 years is a long time to wait without any word. But, as history proves, God never falls short on His promises. He is trustworthy, even when His timetable differs from what we hoped.
Knowing this, we can read Scripture’s assurances with expectation. For instance, if we believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and choose to follow Him, the Bible promises our salvation. We can rest assured that we are forgiven and redeemed. Whats more nothing can separate us from God’s love (Rom. 8:38-39), and we can trust that He will provide everything we need to accomplish His purpose in our lives.
These are but three foundational promises; the Word contains many more. Consider God faithfulness through out the Bible and in your own life and realize that He will be steadfast in the future as well. By living obediently, you can have full confidence that He will do all He has promised.
Mandate of Mercy
When I passed by you . . . I said to you . . . ‘Live!’
Believer, consider gratefully this mandate of mercy. Note that this decree of God is majestic. In our text we find a sinner with nothing in him but sin, expecting nothing but wrath; but the eternal Lord passes by in His glory. He looks, He pauses, and He pronounces the solitary but royal word, “Live.” Only God can speak in this way, dispensing life with a single syllable! Again, this decree is manifold. When He says “Live,” it includes many things. Here is judicial life. The sinner is ready to be condemned, but the Mighty One says, “Live,” and he rises pardoned and absolved.
It is spiritual life. We did not know Jesus—our eyes could not see Christ, our ears could not hear His voice—but Jehovah said “Live,” and we who were dead in trespasses and sins were quickened. Moreover, it includes glory-life, which is the perfection of spiritual life. “I said to you . . . ‘Live,'” and that word rolls on through all the years of time till death comes; and even in the shadows of death, the Lord’s voice is still heard: “Live!” In the morning of the resurrection it is that selfsame voice that is echoed by the archangel, “Live,” and as holy spirits rise to heaven to be blessed forever in the glory of their God, it is in the power of this same word, “Live.” Note again, that it is an irresistible decree.
Saul of Tarsus is on the road to Damascus to arrest the saints of the living God. A voice is heard from heaven, and a light is seen above the brightness of the sun, and Saul is crying out, “Who are you, Lord?”1 This decree is of free grace. When sinners are saved, it is only and solely because God will do it to magnify His free, unpurchased, unsought grace. Christians, see your position—debtors to grace; show your gratitude by earnest, Christlike lives; and as God has called you to live, see to it that you do so in sincerity.
Our Faithful Father 2 Timothy 2:11-13
All of us experience times when circumstances feel unbearable, prayers appear to go unanswered, and God seems distant. When that happens, we may wonder if He is the same as we once believed Him to be.
During such periods of helplessness, faith falters for some people yet grows stronger for others. What is it that can cause such opposite responses to suffering?
The key is simply one’s understanding of and trust in God’s faithfulness. This term means that the Lord never changes–He always does what is right, remains true to His promises, and is 100 percent reliable. In other words, we can trust our almighty God, regardless of our situation or attitude.
Our understanding of God relates to this concept. Do we trust Him enough to obey, even when obedience seems foolish? Are we so confident He hears and answers prayer that we consistently bring requests before His throne, even when we don’t see an immediate response? Are we daily sacrificing our selfish desires and patterns of living because we believe His promise of eternity, joy, and peace? An answer of “no” may indicate a deficient understanding of God’s character. That’s why reading the Bible is so important—through Scripture’s countless illustrations of our Father’s attributes, we learn who He is and increasingly trust Him.
Thankfully, the Lord’s faithfulness does not depend upon our circumstances, our feelings, or even our own faithfulness. He is true to His Word and true to Himself. How would your life look different if you had complete confidence that God was trustworthy and unchanging?