The Confidence of Faith

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

“If the God we serve exists, then he can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and he can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if he does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.” ~ Daniel 3:17-18

Faith in God gives us confidence to face difficult circumstances and even death.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three friends of Daniel, served well in Nebuchadnezzar’s government. Yet, when the king built a giant statue and demanded everyone under his rule worship before it, these three, being faithful Jews, refused. When the music played and everyone else fell to the ground, they stood firm, even in the threat of death.

They were given a second chance, and even then, they refused. When faced with the rage of the king and the threat of death via a fiery furnace, they still stood firm. And why?

Because they knew that God was greater than the king of Babylon, the most powerful nation of that time. They knew that God was big enough to rescue them. Yet, as they told Nebuchadnezzar, even if God did not spare their lives, they would still not worship the idol. They knew that God was worthy of supreme glory.

Such confidence we can have by faith in God through Jesus.

We hope not to face a threat like these three faced, but even if we do, our faith leads us to strength and confidence.

Jesus, after all, is the Resurrection and the Life, as he told Martha in John 11. If we have Jesus, even if someone is to kill us, the worst they can do is usher us into the joyful presence of our Savior-King. Even if they destroy this body in a fire, we will get a glorious one in the resurrection.

Faith gives us confidence to face the extremes. How much more the ups and downs of daily life?

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

sunray through trees
Photo by Todd Trapani on Pexels.com
Photo used with permission: https://www.pexels.com/photo/sunray-through-trees-1420440/

Praying the Bible ~ John 12:20-22

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: John 12:20-22
Now some Greeks were among those who went up to worship at the festival. So they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and requested of him, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, we live in a world filled with people who need to meet Jesus. Where they come to us, may we be faithful to show them Jesus through our acts of love and tell them of Jesus through the gospel story. Where they don’t come to us, may we be faithful to go to them with acts of love and the gospel story. Give us hearts for your mission. Cause us to see the great need around us. Make us kind, compassionate, and loving. Lead us to show others Jesus. Amen.

The Folly of Sin

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

Then a large crowd of the Jews learned Jesus was there. They came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, the one he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests had decided to kill Lazarus also, because he was the reason many of the Jews were deserting them and believing in Jesus. ~ John 12:9-11

Sin blinds us. Sin makes even intelligent people do foolish things.

The religious leaders of the Jews during Jesus’ time on earth were not dumb men. Most were well educated and knew the Torah from front to back. Yet, in their sin, they seethed with a hatred for Jesus. In their pride, they wanted to kill him because they felt he was robbing them of followers.

Yet, as John explained, they not only wanted to kill Jesus but also Lazarus.

In John 11, we are told the story of Lazarus’ death and resurrection. Though he was in the grave for four days, Jesus arrived, spoke into the darkness of the tomb, and Lazarus emerged wrapped in burial clothes but very much alive.

Because of the miracle, many among the Jews began to follow Jesus and sought him out to see Lazarus as well. (It’s not everyday, after all, that one meets a person who was days dead and then alive.)

Throughout the Gospels, we don’t read about the scribes, Pharisees, or priests denying that Jesus did miracles. Instead, they attributed them to devilish origins. The raising of Lazarus seems to be no different: They did not deny what had occurred.

But they thought of a less than brilliant plan–they would kill a person who had already been raised from the dead. Never mind the fact that if they were successful, and the Bible never tells us their plan went beyond the initial thought, then Jesus could easily just raise him from the dead again.

Sin blinds us to the obvious. This is why the Proverbs say that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. The way to overcome the blindness of sin is by trusting in the God who sent Jesus to be the solution to our sin. May God be the source of our wisdom!

All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

Sunday 11.17.19 (Psalms of Ascent: Hope)

This Sunday, we’ll continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent with Psalm 130. We’ll see how on our life’s God-ward journey in Christ, God provides us hope through his promises and our salvation. We hope to see you there!

Schedule
@945 Small Groups / Sunday School for all ages
@1045 Worship Gathering
@6pm Onward video study

Sermon Notes
Hope ~ Psalm 130

The sermon in one sentence: Life in Jesus is an upward journey on which God gives lasting hope.

  • Hope is an optimistic longing for a better future
  • We have hope because:
    • God hears (130:1-2)
    • God forgives (130:3-4, 7-8)
    • God speaks (130:5-6)
    • God loves (130:7)

Songs for Worship
The Solid Rock
All in All
The Steadfast Love of the Lord
My Faith Has Found a Resting Place
He Leadeth Me

Psalm 120-134 (Psalms of Ascent)

Image used and modified with permission: https://www.pexels.com/photo/mountains-nature-sunset-summer-91224/

The Glory of God Among the Nations

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

“I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the judgment I have executed and the hand I have laid on them.” ~ Ezekiel 39:21

There is no greater good than God. There is no greater treasure than Jesus. There is no greater sight to behold than the glory of God on display in the world.

As you read through the Bible, you realize that God is passionate about his glory. Glory is a term that means brightness or majesty. In terms of God, it speaks to his goodness and character. Glory is very much a part of the nature of God. He is light and in him there is no darkness, James tells us. And none is good but God, Jesus said. God is also all-powerful and all-pure, thus why he told Moses that no person could look upon his glory and live.

In a world that has been broken and corrupted by our sin, God puts his glory on display most fully through judgment and salvation. The closing sentences of Ezekiel 39 speak to both these realities. God declared his glory would be displayed to the nations of the earth at that time as they saw the exile of Israel due to their sin and unfaithfulness but also as they saw his love for his people and his grace upon them after the exile.

This, in part, is a picture of the greater glory we see as God saves and judges through Jesus.

God brings his wrath against sin. God also gives grace and love to sinner. When Jesus went to the cross, he took all the sins of all his people–all who will trust in him as their Savior-King. In love, Jesus willingly bore all the wrath of God for sin. In turn, he grants complete forgiveness for those all who recognize their sinfulness and rely on Jesus alone. This is the glory of God in his grace through salvation.

Yet, when Jesus returns, he will also stand as judge over the sinners who have refused God’s grace and have chosen to bear the weight of their own sin. God’s wrath against sin is described as an eternal fire. The judgment against sin is final. As perfect goodness, he will not allow evil, corruption, and rebellion remain in his creation forever. He will purify creation by removing sin from it. This is the glory of God in his righteousness through judgement.

In both cases, God puts his glory on display. The day will come where all people will see the glory of God through Jesus. The choice is ours today whether we will see that through salvation or judgment.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

beige analog gauge
Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com
Photo used with permission: https://www.pexels.com/photo/beige-analog-gauge-697662/

Praying the Bible ~ John 11:25

Praying through verses or passages of the Bible is a great way to help you pray according to the will and desires of God. Below is a passage of Scripture and a sample prayer. I would encourage you to pray that prayer, or, even better, read the passage and pray as God leads you.

Text: John 11:25
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”  (Christian Standard Bible)

Prayer
Father, death is an enemy and often seems final in our everyday experience. Yet, we know that the world is more than we see. You sent us Jesus to give us the hope of life beyond death, and not only spiritual life but also, one day, physical resurrection. Lord, increase our faith to live not just for the now but for what comes next. Help us to remember that life is more than the 70 or 80 years you grant us and to trust in Jesus for the hope of resurrection. Help us to prioritize eternity in how we live each day. Amen.

Spiritual Growth

This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.

I am writing to you, little children, since your sins have been forgiven on account of his name. I am writing to you, fathers, because you have come to know the one who is from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have conquered the evil one. ~ 1 John 2:12-13

Like in physical life, where we are born, grow, and mature, in spiritual life we are born again through faith in Jesus, then meant to grow and mature. The book of Hebrews speaks about feasting on spiritual milk, like a child, versus spiritual meat, like an adult. In his first letter, John also speaks of this growth as he gives his purpose for writing.

John saw his audience in terms of three main stages of spiritual development: Little children, young men (young person), and fathers (parents). These speak to the three main stages of our spiritual growth.

Little children are those who have new life in Jesus. They have experienced the grace of God, know God as their Father (2:14), and have their sins forgiven. They are God’s precious sons and daughters, but they are just starting out in their faith (or have a faith that is undernourished and not yet very mature). They have much growth to experience in the years to come.

Young men (young persons) are those who have been faithfully following Jesus into a spiritual adolescence or young adulthood. Physically, adolescence and young adulthood is the stage where are most full of energy and experience the most change. Spiritually, this stage is similar. This is the stage of a spiritual warrior, a person who is growing strong in their faith and understanding of God’s word. A person who has “conquered the evil one” as they learn to rely more on Jesus and scripture (2:14). They are learning to put sin to death and are becoming more faithful to Jesus.

Fathers (parents) are those who have stepped into maturity. They have a deep relationship with God and a mature understanding of his nature and work in the world. More than this the term fathers indicates they have had a hand in producing a new generation of believers. They share their faith and the gospel with others and have taken responsibility to help others grow and mature in Jesus.

John’s descriptions give us a general picture of the spectrum of spiritual growth and maturity. Where do you see yourself in terms of your spiritual growth? Commit yourself to continue to grow and mature and to become spiritual parents to others to help them grow and mature in Christ.

Scripture quotes taken from the Christian Standard Bible.

grayscale photo of man woman and child
Photo by Kristin De Soto on Pexels.com
Photo used with permission: https://www.pexels.com/photo/grayscale-photo-of-man-woman-and-child-736428/