DEVOTION, 10/13/2020, Tuesday, Goodness and mercy
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6).
The 23rd Psalm is one of the most beloved parts of the Bible. It begins with, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Jesus referred to Himself as the Good Shepherd, and when we trust in Him, we can say, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Many things come to those who trust in Jesus. Our verse says that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. Jesus is goodness personified, and He will be with those who trust in Him. Jesus blessed us with divine mercy when He went to the cross to absorb the divine judgment we deserve. His mercy follows those who trust in Him. I remember years ago reading about a man who named his two dogs “Goodness” and “Mercy” His two dogs would follow him everywhere, reminding him that the Good Shepherd is always with him.
As you walk with Jesus and look over your right shoulder, there is His goodness. As you look over your left shoulder, there is His mercy. They will be there daily, to the very end of your earthly life. And the best is yet to come. When we leave this life, we go to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. It is true for everyone who can say, “The Lord is my shepherd.” Why would anyone refuse such a gracious proposal?
Almighty God and Father, thank You so much for sending Jesus to be our Good Shepherd. Thank You that we can count on His goodness and mercy daily. Help me to share this message with as many others as possible, that they may know how they may dwell in the house of the Lord forever. In the name of the Good Shepherd, I pray, Amen.
Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10, NET).
Paul makes a rather strange statement. In the midst of all kinds of personal troubles, he remains content. Wow! I wonder if I can say what Paul said. Frankly, I don’t care much for insults and persecution! Where does such spiritual strength come from? Paul says he is content because he is serving Christ. If serving Christ brings trouble and persecution, Paul remains content. I think Paul is saying that since he is on the side of God, it doesn’t matter how others react to him. When trouble comes because he is serving Jesus Christ, he remains content. Christ is with him giving him the strength to endure whatever comes.
This is one of many verses that destroys the idea that faithfulness brings nothing but blessings, health, and wealth in abundance, as some teach. Who among us is more faithful than Paul? Paul’s faithfulness brought him nothing but trouble. His trials drained him of strength, but Christ strengthened him. He trusted Jesus in his weakness and found the strength of Christ imparted to him.
The lesson for us is clear. Be faithful, serve Jesus, and if that brings trouble, so be it. You are pleasing God, and that is infinitely more important than pleasing men.
Father in heaven, I thank You that if and when I face trials because of my faith in Jesus, You give strength. Forgive me for those times when I fail You and move out from under Your protection. I want to live out the truth in Paul’s words, but I need Your help. In my weakness, I pray for Your strength, In Jesus name, Amen.
DEVOTION, October 7, Wednesday, our struggle
“For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Romans 7:19).
Yes, God is indeed with us to help us live the Christian life. It is also true that our old human nature remains intact. Paul describes the battle we all face, the struggle between our old self and our new self. We want to do the right thing, but we fall short. We want to avoid evil, but we are not always successful. Martin Luther described a Christian as one who is simultaneously a righteous person and also a sinner.
Paul is not giving us an excuse for our sins but is merely reflecting reality. Once we face up to the fact that our best efforts to please God always fall short, it drives us back to the cross where we find forgiveness. We don’t ever want to think so highly of ourselves that we no longer need the cross. Nor do we want to become so discouraged over our failures that we give up.
As we read Romans 7 in its entirety, we understand that we are victorious through Jesus Christ. As we live by faith, trusting in Jesus daily, we experience two things: the power to grow in faithfulness, and the grace that leads us constantly to the cross where we find forgiveness.
Gracious Father, help me to see how urgently I need Jesus. I need His help daily to live a God-honoring life. I need His cross daily to remind me that my sins are forgiven. Thank You, Jesus, for meeting these needs in my life. Amen. Jump to Toolbar
DEVOTION, Oct. 5, Tuesday, God’s gifts
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
Whenever fear overtakes us, we know one thing for sure, that God did not give us that spirit. If fear does not come from God, then who? Could it be, Satan? Paul is speaking to Timothy and to all Christians, reassuring us that fear does not come from God. We understand that God has redeemed us freely by His grace through Jesus Christ, and therefore we have nothing to fear because God is on our side. John MacArthur writes, “The threat of Roman persecution, which was escalating under Nero, the hostility of those in the Ephesian church who resented Timothy’s leadership, and the assaults of false teachers with their sophisticated systems of deceptions may have been overwhelming Timothy. But if he was fearful, it didn’t come from God.”
Paul mentions three blessings we do receive from God. Power, the power to live a Christian life. The power to serve Jesus. Love also comes from God. The Holy Spirit gives us a deep love for God and for others. God’s love is poured into our hearts and shines out to touch the lives of others. He also gives us a sound mind. Christians think clearly because they are in a relationship with God. As long as we are living by the Word of God, we are not mentally confused. All of this is wonderful, but there is a caveat which we will look at tomorrow.
Blessed Father, thank you for delivering us from fear, and thank You for the good gifts You give us. May those good gifts be present in my daily life. May I reflect daily the power of God, the love of God, and a sound mind, that others may be drawn to the Savior. In His name, I pray, Amen.
The Men’s group meets tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/6) at 8 AM. The Women’s group meets Wednesday at 9:30.
Official Board meets Tuesday evening (10/6) at 6 PM. All have agreed to wear a mask so those who are uncomfortable around unmasked people will be able to attend. Thank you for your cooperation.
Bible Study Wednesday at 3:30. Again, please wear a mask. Our study on discipleship will focus on the Holy Spirit.
Next Sunday (Oct. 11) we will examine what it means to pray in Jesus’ name, and what it does not mean. Looking ahead, Marie and I will be taking a vacation Sunday on 10/18. Mark Simmons will be our guest speaker. October 25th is Reformation Sunday. We will take another look at the legacy of Martin Luther.
Remember, the Benton County Health Department strongly recommends wearing a mask in group settings. We will not demand that everyone wear a mask on Sunday morning, but please consider the feelings and health of others.
Blessings in Christ, Pastor Bowman