Salvation is not merely a point in time, but a progress through time.
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Are You Sure?
Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Sometimes it is easy for us to become frustrated trying to figure out God’s will for our lives. Doubt can plague our thoughts, even to the point of wondering if we missed the call of God. Even Moses responded to God’s call on his life with a question, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11b)
Paul encourages the Philippians to respond to the call of God in Christ Jesus by leaving the past behind. If Paul had allowed his past as a persecutor of Christians to dictate his future, his ministry and witness would have been stunted. Instead, our sinful past should inspire us, like Paul, with an ever greater fervency. God desires to use ordinary men and women so that He might receive the glory. Paul also reminds us that our calling is not complete until we reach heaven.
The call of God is not just for a select few but for everyone. Whether I hear God’s call or not depends on the condition of my ears, and exactly what I hear depends upon my spiritual attitude.
Deuteronomy 23 – 25
Love Through the Ages
Jesus replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37, NLT
1 John 3:16-18
Two wings of a bird; two halves of scissors; two sides of a coin. Sometimes two things go together so well that, alone, they are only part of the picture. That is true of the Old and New Testament revelations of God’s love.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word hesed—“loyal-love” or “lovingkindness”—illustrates the central theme of God’s love. God’s loyalty to, and compassion toward, Israel was demonstrated by His hesed toward them. But there were conditions to be met: the requirements of the Mosaic Covenant. By the time we get to the New Testament, Israel’s failure to walk in God’s covenant resulted in discipline. God’s loyal love was then extended to all the world in an expanded way. Agape is the New Testament word that means unconditional, sacrificial love—love “in spite of.” Even while we Gentiles were sinners, Paul wrote, God loved us unconditionally and sent Christ to die as payment for our sins. Loyal, unconditional, sacrificial love—that is the full expression of God’s love for us.
Toward you, God is loyal and faithful and unconditional. Meditate on how life-changing His love is and what your respond should be to Him.
God’s love for his people is infinite and unconditional.
Deuteronomy 20 – 22
Faith through the Fire – 3:1-30
A. The Image in the Desert – 3:1
Humans are incurably religious and will bow before some shrine. Something or someone will become their "god." They may worship the god of possessions, the god of self, or they may idolize a child, a mate, a lover, or a friend. Many today bow before the god of entertainment or their pet projects with the PTA, the Little League, world peace, politics, hobbies, and religious programs. Some people live to get in Who's Who. They want to be on the social register or love to see their name in the paper. They live to be the chairman or have the chief seat at the banquet table. Man is incurably religious and he will find something to worship if he doesn't worship the true God.
As we come to our story apparently Nebuchadnezzar could not get out of his mind the idea that he was "the head of gold.” (How quickly he has forgotten his new religious insights into God's sovereignty and the great stone that would one day demolish the kingdoms of this world – see 2: 46, 47) According to the Septuagint account of this passage, there was somewhere from 16 to 20 years between the end of chapter 2 and the beginning of chapter 3. If this is correct, Nebuchadnezzar had plenty of time to rethink his impulsive commitment to the Lord and revive his own egomania.
Nebuchadnezzar's "gold fever" causes him to send the best of his craftsman to the plain of Dura to construct an image. This desert plain was located about 6 miles from Babylon. Interestingly, the French archaeologist, Oppert while digging southeast of the site of ancient Babylon discovered a huge brick foundation (45 feet square and 20 feet high) that he believed held a gigantic statue. This plain is a flat area where a statue of this size would have been visible for a very great distance. Further the bright sun in the area would have made it sparkle and shine in an incredible display of grandeur.
The dimensions of 60 cubits and 6 cubits (90' x 9') are an indication of the Babylonian sexagesimal system of numerics. Our decimal system is based on tens whereas their system was based on sixes. Scholars are not sure who the image represents. Some think it was Nebuchadnezzar, and others the patron god of the Chaldean government, Nabu, for whom Nebuchadnezzar was named. There is also some disagreement as to whether the dimensions are just of the statue (which would then be oddly proportioned) or perhaps of the statue and its base (one third being the base, and two thirds being the statue).
Of importance are the reasons why Nebuchadnezzar would build such an image. What was he trying to accomplish? Personally I believe he was attempting to ensure the unification of his empire. What better glue could there be than a common religion (a state church) and a culture deeply influenced by that common religion. For often religion in the ancient world was defined as "that which binds" and was acknowledged everywhere as the best cement to keep society together.
In forcing all his leaders to bow down to him, he was also receiving a verification of their support and loyalty. He would quickly find out if they were "on the team." But perhaps the greatest reason of all was that Nebuchadnezzar had an incredible ego and wanted all the glory for himself. After all, he was "the head of gold." It seems that ultimately as Nabu’s earthly representative he is setting himself up to be worshiped as god.
In the late 1930s, it was written:
“One cannot be a good German and at the same time deny God. But an avowal of faith in the eternal Germany is an avowal of faith in the eternal God. Whoever serves Adolf Hitler the Fuhrer serves Germany and whoever serves Germany serves God.”
Later on, in 1942, this was written:
“There is a lot of talk in Germany about Hitler's messianic characteristics. The thesis that Hitler is a miraculous being sent by a Supreme Power, and that he is capable of mystic communion with the German masses is gaining greater currency. Consequently, the attack on Christian religion becomes more severe. In Germany, no attempt is made to stamp out the faith in the supernatural. The policy is more blasphemous. It is to replace Christ. Religion is now counterfeited rather than dismissed. This extraordinary tendency is perhaps without parallel during the last 2000 years. The Nazis are trying to create an anti-type of Christianity. They have made their leader their God.”
B. The Invitation and Ceremony - 3:2-7
Immediately puzzling is the absence of Daniel at this time. We do not know why he is not mentioned but a number of reasons have been given by scholars. Many say that he was away on public business. Others say that he was possibly ill and unable to attend the ceremony (see 8:27). Perhaps he had proven himself loyal at the Royal Court and therefore was exempted from the ceremony. Perhaps he was there, but his exalted position as the Governor of Babylon caused the Chaldeans to be fearful of accusing him. Nevertheless his three friends stood strong.
The guest list consisted of the cream of Babylonian society. The king summoned the satraps ("protectors of the realm" - the leading office in the Empire over a region much like one of our states), prefects (a lieutenant governor), governors (a leader over a subdivision or administrative district of the satrap), advisors (counselors or arbitrators), treasurers, judges (guardians of the law), magistrates (Sheriffs or minor judges) and province officials (probably a government executive).
The music included the Royal orchestra which was a strange conglomeration of instruments. It had everything from a horn to a bagpipe. Six instruments are mentioned: the horn, flute, zither (lyre or a type of harp), lyre (a triangular instrument of four strings which played high notes sometimes called a trigon), harp (or a psaltery which was another triangular instrument which had its strings beneath the sounding board in distinction from a harp), pipes (probably bagpipes), and apparently a number of other different instruments. This cacaphony of sound would in no way resemble our symphonic music.
Then steps forward the kings paid preacher or herald. He makes it very clear that at the sound of the music everyone present must bow down and worship the image of gold which Nebuchadnezzar had set up. To ignore the Kings order was to burn in a fiery furnace that had been prepared for any disloyal subjects.
When the band played the crowd, which would have numbered in the thousands, dutifully hit the dust in worship of the image. The official leadership of every nation and district under Nebuchadnezzar's rule had bowed their knee in worship on pain of death. Or had they? Conspicuous as a spot of ink on a white shirt, there stood three young men who had refused to bend their knees and worship the image.
What were they thinking? Wasn't it obvious that everyone was looking? Were they really willing to give up their highly respected jobs and favor with the King? Were they willing to die instead of just quickly bowing and getting it over with? After all, were not many of the other captives from Judah bowing? You see these were not ordinary men but men of principle and integrity. They would not compromise internal principles due to external pressure. They would not bow if it meant losing their position or losing their life. Death was preferable to apostasy.
C. The Chaldean Conspiracy - 3:8-12
Those who came forward to accuse were not merely astrologers, but more correctly "Chaldeans" (see NIV margin note). These were men of nobility and prominence. They were priests educated in the classical Babylonian literature, especially in traditions of astronomy and astrology, which held the highest positions of authority in the land. They were seen in that culture as members of a master race. It is quite possible that Daniel, after interpreting Nebuchadnezzar's dream in Chapter 2 (and his three friends), had been elevated to positions of power above these Chaldeans. Whatever their situation, these men would clearly profit from the three Hebrews’ execution.
Their disdain and envy against Nebuchadnezzar having given Jewish captives (imported hostages) such high ranking positions is obvious. How could he continue to honor these Hebrews who paid no attention to him and publicly disrespected his gods and his command?
D. The Kings Coercion and the Three Hebrews Courage - 3:13-18
Furious, the king summoned the three men to appear before him. It is interesting that he dropped the first accusation made in verse twelve that the young Hebrews had no regard for the King. He knew that wasn't true! He repeats his command to worship the image and the dire consequences if they do not. He even gives them a second chance to obey and allows them to speak in their defense. Yet foolishly, he pits himself up against Jehovah God as if he were greater than God.
Boldly the three Hebrews answer, "we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter." The idea here is that they do not need to defend themselves because God will. They have shown their allegiance to the one true God and he will come to their defense. There is also another possibility here. As Leon Wood writes, "this was not an answer of arrogance, as one might think. The thought is that the three were admitting their guilt. They had no need of answering, because they had nothing to say in the way of denial. They had not bowed to the image." (A Commentary on Daniel [Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids, Michigan,, 1973], p. 88) Their trust was in God whether he delivered them or whether he did not. There was no uncertainty in God's ability but only as to his willingness. If it was possible for God to deliver them in terms of what he saw best, then he would deliver them.
Ronald Wallace again writes (pg. 65), "Their answer under such a fierce and determined threat, took superb courage, and was given with extraordinary dignity. It illustrates again how faithful and loyal behavior, sustained in a series of quiet decisions on less important matters, can come to glorious fruition in a spectacularly courageous witness to God in the hour of more severe and open trial."
Luther, as he faced the inevitable hour of excommunication at the Diet of Worms, said, "My cause shall be commended to the Lord, for he who lives and reigns preserved the three youths in the furnace of the Babylonian king. If he is unwilling to preserve me, my life is a small thing compared to Christ's. Expect anything of me except flight or recantation. I will not flee, much less recant. So may the Lord Jesus strengthen me."
E. The Companion in the Fire - 3:19-27
When these three fellows responded to the King, he flew into a rage and once again showed his irrational side. He heats the furnace seven times hotter. If he really wanted to torture these youths, he would have turned the heat down and prolonged their misery. Heating it seven times hotter would only result in instant execution. Further, the strong men, who tied up the three Jewish men and cast them into the fiery furnace, were probably his best soldiers and maybe his own personal bodyguards. In a very real sense Nebuchadnezzar's rage killed them. Our actions in the heat of the moment do have consequences.
The furnace was a big pot-bellied thing with a large opening at the top looking much like an old-fashioned milk bottle. The victims would be thrown in from above from a platform built off to the side. There was also a lower opening from where the fire was stoked and fed and the opening at the top also served as an air draft. These large furnaces were used by the Babylonians to make bricks and were big enough for several people to walk around in. Large bellows were used to help control the air supply and by pumping them the intensity of the fire was greatly increased.
The King could have easily seen the three youths from the platform. Oh how awestruck he must've been when he saw the three youths unbound walking around in the fire - no four men walking around in the fire! No they weren't in a frenzy looking for an exit, but patiently waiting and enjoying each other's company. The fourth man in the fire had the appearance of a god, according to Nebuchadnezzar. But who was he?
Nebuchadnezzar thought it was an angel (verse 28). We cannot know for certain whether it was an angel that God had sent or perhaps a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. Nebuchadnezzar describes the fourth person with the words "like a son of the gods." Goldingay writes, "it suggests a god of universal authority, but of otherwise undefined personal qualities. For a pagan, it would denote only the highest among many gods, but as an epithet (a phrase describing) of EL it was accepted in early Old Testament times and applied to Yahweh, so that for a Jew it has monotheistic (or mono-Yawistic) implications." (Word Biblical Commentary Series on Daniel [Word Books: Dallas, 1989], pg. 72)
Once again God reveals his faithfulness to his people. God does not always deliver us from the fire, but he will always deliver us in the fire. We go through no experiences where God is not there as our heavenly companion. The hotter the fire gets, the sweeter the fellowship becomes. When we take a stand for something that results in persecution, we can have a tremendous sense of divine companionship and experience the strengthening presence of God. Perhaps the three youths remembered the words of Isaiah, "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you a blaze." (Isaiah 43:1, 2)
Nebuchadnezzar calls for them to come out and now witnesses another aspect of the miracle. If you have ever had a fire, you know that is virtually impossible to remove the smell of smoke from clothes. No wonder everyone was amazed that the fire had not touched them in any way! They had escaped without being singed or their garments burned. Impossible! But our God is the God of the impossible. There was a sense in which (as Daniel predicted) Nebuchadnezzar had already been struck by the stone.
F. Nebuchadnezzar's Second Submission to God - 3:28-30
Nebuchadnezzar must now humble himself and admit defeat. He accepts the deadly wound that this demonstration of God's power inflicts on his pride and he surrenders. Now not only is God superior in revealing mysteries, he is also superior in his power. Perhaps this was the conversion of Nebuchadnezzar, but not necessarily so. We do not see him abandoning his polytheism, but merely sticking God on the top of the pile of the other gods that he worshipped. He was not acknowledging that the Lord is the one true God, but only that God was the supreme deity, while retaining his traditional worship of many gods. At the least, Nebuchadnezzar was impressed with the faithfulness of the three Hebrews and decrees that from that day on nothing can be said against the God of the Hebrews. To show disrespect would have dire consequences. This most certainly would have provided protection for the Jewish people under his rule and it would have greatly humbled the Chaldeans. The three Hebrews now had even greater authority and power.
People see God in us when we are in the fire. It's easy to be a Christian when everything is going okay, but when the fire is hot, we are often being watched. When God tests us and we prove faithful, it is nearly always for the purpose of enlarging our influence for him (see Revelation 2: 10; Romans 8:17).
John Chrysostom was one of the greatest of the Greek Church fathers. He lived in A.D347-407. He was still a very young Christian when he was brought before the Emperor and was told to give up his faith in Christ or he would be exiled from the country. Chrysostom said, "You cannot for the whole world is my father's land. You can't banish me." The Emperor said, "Then I will take away all your property." Chrysostom answered, "You cannot. My treasures are in heaven." "Then I'll take you to a place where there is not a friend to speak to," said the Emperor. Chrysostom replied, "You cannot. I have a friend who is closer than a brother. I shall have Jesus Christ, for ever." Then the Emperor finally threatened, "Then I'll take away your life!" Chrysostom answered, "You cannot. My life is hid with God in Christ." Amazed the Emperor replied, "What do you do with a man like that?" Many such persons are standing like that under persecution today!
Rivers of Living Water
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
All of us regularly receive invitations. We may receive invitations to a wedding, to a house for dinner, to a concert or to be a follower on twitter or a friend on Facebook. Some of these invitations we gladly receive and they cause us to be excited. Others are not so welcome, and we find ourselves asking, “Do I have to go there?” Or, “How can I get out of responding to that one?” Well as we come to our text, we are given the most important and joyful invitation that we will ever receive. Jesus welcomes us with the words, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink… Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water!”
The setting of our text is the last and greatest day of the festival known as The Feast of Tabernacles. For seven days the priest have marched in solemn procession from the Pool of Siloam to the temple and poured out water into a basin on the west side of the brazen altar. Many Jews have accompanied these priests. Some of them have drunk from the pool, while others chanted Isaiah 55:1 and 12:3; “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters… With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” It was such a joyful occasion that the Mishnah stated, “He that never has seen the joy of the water drawing has never in his life seen joy.” The priest would pour water into the basin at the time of the morning sacrifice. And another priest would also pour the daily drink offering of wine into a different basin. Then they would both pour out the water and wine from both basins before the Lord.
What did this all mean?The pouring out of the water symbolized God’s provision of refreshing water for his people as they wandered in the wilderness and also the rains that would later provide for the harvest. They would think back to the time when Moses struck the rock, and out of it gushed living water. The Jews regarded this provision of water as harbingers of the great blessings which one day they would experience under Messiah’s rule over all the nations. The pouring out of wine symbolized God’s giving of his Spirit in the last days.
With this in mind, we can begin to appreciate the beauty of Christ’s invitation. As Christ announces his invitation he stands, (something unusual for a rabbi who would always sit to teach) clearly demonstrating how important this invitation is. Jesus is saying that he is the fulfillment of all that the Feast of Tabernacles had anticipated. He is the Messiah. He is the “Rock” from which the water flowed in the wilderness.
But you ask, “What does that matter to me?” To you Jesus is saying, “If you thirst for God in any way, come to me and I will fully satisfy that thirst.” Drink your fill, that is, enter into a trusting, ongoing, fully committed personal relationship with me, and when you do, I will fill your dry and thirsty soul - deep down into your innermost being - with an abundance of refreshing life-giving water.
But what is this water? What are these rivers of living water? Jesus is saying: 1) that when Jesus sends the Holy Spirit, he will do such a powerful inward work in your life that it will well up and burst forth out of your being - bringing multiplied blessing to others. People will know that you have been with Jesus. They will see his character manifested in everything that you do. They will see his love (the unconditional kind that loves others no matter what). They will see his mercy (an immediate reaction to forgive someone who has confessed and turned his back on his sin and wants to begin again). They will see his strength (that steadfast endurance in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances). And they will see his holiness (a revulsion and abhorance for the sin in your life). They will see Jesus! 2) Jesus is also saying that this day will come after his death, resurrection, and ascension. He must first return to the Father to be our advocate before the throne and to prepare for us our future dwelling place. And then he will send another Comforter, just like himself - the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will come upon his people at Pentecost in a new way, with an outpouring unlike anything ever before. “Those who believe in him” includes will include people from every tribe and nation. But what exactly happens when the Holy Spirit comes to us. Today, we will look at several ministries of the Holy Spirit that satisfy the thirsts of our hearts:
I. He gives us life!
** We can finally quench our thirst to live, really live! All of us want to live life to its fullest! Now we can!
1. John 3:6 says that we are born of the Spirit. We are given life by the Spirit - abundant life! Where we were dead and enslaved by sinful practices before we came to know Christ, we are now made a new creation - a new creature. The old tired ways are passing away and a new life has taken their place (Second Corinthians 5:17).
2. Further, Romans 8:11 tells us that it is the Holy Spirit that will give life to our dead bodies when they are raised from the dead in the future. This means that ultimately every part of us will be totally transformed into something that is beautiful and perfect in every way.
II. He purifies us!
** We can finally quench our thirst to be free from the devastating impact of our sin.
1. At the time of our salvation, the Spirit does the initial work of cleansing us from sin in our lives. That is, he sanctifies or makes us holy (First Corinthians 6:11). We are washed clean - whiter than snow.
2. After this initial break with sin the Holy Spirit begins to daily cause us to separate ourselves from sinful practices and to grow in holiness of life (Second Thessalonians 2:13; Romans 8:13). By his power we are able to put to death the sinful practices in our lives. Where once our lives were dominated by sexual immorality, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, addictions and all sorts of evil (Galatians 5:19, 20), we now manifest the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23). We now know what it means to genuinely love, to feel the thrill of vibrant joy, to know the calm of complete peace, to understand the strength of being patient, to reach out with compassion and kindness to those who are suffering and demand large amounts of our time, to be gentle where once we were harsh, to have self-control where once we found ourselves constantly out of control. The Holy Spirit is creating a brand new you!
III. He empowers us for service!
** We can finally quench our thirst to have the power to do what we believe we must do.
1. We have the power to stand up to defeat our arch enemy. James 4:7 tells us that when we resist the devil he will flee from us. As we turn to him and say “No!” he flees from us.
2. We have the power to proclaim the great news of the gospel. Acts 1:8 and 4:8, 31 speak of how the Holy Spirit gives great power so that we can proclaim his Word confidently. When we feel timid and afraid, suddenly he provides a boldness that we never thought possible. And not only that, but he provides the words to give a strong defense for what we believe, a solid explanation for the hope that burns within us (First Peter 3:15).
3. He gives us spiritual gifts, talents, and abilities that empower us in serving God’s people as well as our community (First Corinthians 12). We all desire to fit in, to contribute, and God gives to each of us a special place and a special service in his church. We may have a special Spirit-given gift of wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, the gift of helps, prophecy, evangelism, teaching, etc.
IV. He seals us!
** We can finally quench our deep thirst to feel secure.
1. He guarantees our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13). He protects and preserves us as Christians until one day we receive our final and full inheritance in the new heaven and new earth. He is the royal seal, the divine engagement ring, that certifies and that declares that we have been accepted by God.
2. He bears witness with our spirit, whispers to our soul, the assurance that we have been saved and that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:16; First John 4:13).
V. He unifies us!
** We can finally quench our thirst for unity. Most of us have a desire that we all get along. Even one Super Bowl Ad reflected it.
*** The Super Bowl commercial for Coke featured a montage of the cruel and hateful ways that people use technology today—from nasty online comments to bullying text messages. Then, it breaks to a server room filled with wires, where a worker accidentally spills his Coke onto "the internet." You can picture what happens—the red (happy) surge of energy flows through the world's connections, replacing the blue (suspiciously Pepsi-colored) of hatred, cruelty, and just-plain-meanness. All around the world, the power of Coke renews and rejuvenates, bringing happiness! While the corporate messaging—Coca-Cola as the potential for healing human negativity—is laughable when you think about it, the ad provided a powerful example of our thirst for unity. What if there was a force truly able to remake the whole world with harmony, joy, and happiness? The Bible says that there is, the Holy Spirit, and that process has already begun.
1. When the church began in the book of Acts, it was marked by an unprecedented unity (Acts 2:44-47). They got along. Paul instructed that all believers be eager to maintain that unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). Most of us want a church that is marked by an attitude of reconcilliation and love when problems arise.
2. Although we will never see it perfectly in this life, what we do find among spirit-filled believers is an interdependency, an intimate fellowship, a unity of purpose, and a desire to do that which is for the common good (First Corinthians 12:7).
All of us experience or have experienced a profound thirst in some way. As we have seen, we may thirst for security and so try to find it in possessions or power. We may thirst for unity to replace the division and fighting that is so prevalent in our society. And so we look for a leader who can satisfy this basic thirst of ours. We may thirst for the day when our bodies and our emotions will be free from the cancer of sin.
Against this backdrop of profound need Christ is issuing to you an invitation today. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink and out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” I long for such a flood, don’t you? Spurgeon spoke of it back in the 19th century comparing it to the incoming tides on the Thames River that lifted the great river barges. When the tide was out nothing could move these barges as they lay in the mud of the river’s bottom. A team of men could not move them. Machinery could not even move them out to the sea. But then the tide would come, and soon they would be seen floating. When the tide returned, even a child could move them by his hand.
Yes, we all know some “boats” that need floating. They live quiet lives of desparation because they do not know God. They are thirsty, dry, searching for someone or something - anything- that can satisfy.
What would happen if each one of us who knows Jesus would become a blessing to them? What would happen if we would become that agent of change for others? Imagine how all of us together, empowered by the Holy Spirit, could become a great river of God’s grace flooding and transforming lives all around us.
Yes, we Christians might first need to be dramatically changed, to experience a fresh infilling by the Holy Spirit. We might need to stop resisting him, stop quenching him - stop putting out his fire in our lives through our disobedience and apathy. We might need to be reminded that within us is the One who has all the living water that we will ever need. The supply is already there, but we have put a kink in the hose. Are you thirsty? Jesus says, “Come!” Drink your fill! Will you come and drink?
David Jeremiah, February 25, 2017
[Jesus] said to [Peter] again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” [Peter] said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” [Jesus] said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
How would you feel about a good friend denying any knowledge of you? We know that’s what happened when Peter denied knowing Jesus. As a disciple, Peter was outspoken and impulsive. Perhaps a weakness like his was a wake-up call.
Recommended Reading: Luke 22:54-62
But how does one recover from such a failure? After having been given the keys to the kingdom of God and declared to be the foundation of Christ’s Church, how does one regain favor after failure? (Matthew 16:17-20) Favor is the word—favor as in grace. Grace is the unmerited (unconditional) favor of God, which is what Jesus showed to Peter after His crucifixion and resurrection. When Jesus met with Peter after the Resurrection, He didn’t say, “Peter, you can continue to serve Me if you promise never to deny Me again.” He simply recommissioned Peter with no strings attached. Jesus loved Peter unconditionally in spite of his failure.
That’s how God loves you today—unconditionally, no strings attached. Rest in His grace and love today.
Christianity does not think of man finally submitting to the power of God; it thinks of him as finally surrendering to the love of God.
Read-Thru-the-Bible: Deuteronomy 12 – 19
God saves your life. (103:4a, 3b)
He redeems your life from the pit… and heals all my diseases
God saved your life from being destroyed and from going to waste. You and I were headed for the very pit of hell and God sent his Son who went to hell for us. But not only did he save us from something, he saved us to something. Not only has the healing begun, but one day it will be perfected as God heals us from every sickness brought on by sin. All illnesses will be gone, all emotional turmoil will be in the past, and all spiritual struggles will be forever behind us!
*** So many times my dad saved my life like when he forbid me to go canoeing again at 5 o’clock in the morning all by myself down the rapids, or swimming in the Canadian Lake where I had come up covered with leeches, or jumping off the roof of the house. He was there through my three day measles, my German measles, my chickenpox, my double hernia operation, my lifelong struggle with assurance of my salvation… In many cases he provided the medicines, the emotional support, and the spiritual direction that brought healing to all my diseases.
If God had a Facebook page, what would it look like? What would it emphasize? What questions would it answer? Would it demonstrate that God is actively and meticulously engaged in what happens in your life and in your world? Or would it portray God as distant, remote, and uncaring? Does God judge wrongdoers like ISIS in this life? Does God express wrath toward people and nations in this age? Or is God only kind, forgiving, and helpful to people in need? What exactly is God like? Is God a celestial police officer who looks for opportunities to pounce upon erring and straying people? Is the country song right when it says “God’s gonna get cha for that; ain’t no use to run or hide, cuz he knows where you’re at.” Or is he some kind gentlemanly grandfather who runs to fulfill every whim and fantasy of his subjects? Well whatever this FACEBOOK page might look like, one thing is certain. There is no one like our God! Indeed, getting to know God is a journey that begins with the day when you come to know him as your personal Savior and it will never end. In the trillions of years to come, you will ever be learning something new and exciting about our God. You will ever be growing in your understanding of those qualities of God which constitute what he is: those spellbinding characteristics of his nature.