Wonder-Working Grace Empowers Us to Obey

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“I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.” (Psalm 119:30)

Out of context, this can sound like one of those “old covenant legalistic verses.” However, it is apart of an eight verse set and must be read in context. Verses 25-32 speak of our earthly nature as dust our souls cling to and the author longs for life, confesses his ways, and asks god to teach him god’s way, not merely as a list of dos and don’ts to be followed just because god said so, but to teach him god’s ways as principles that have been explained to him so he understands them.

The author reveals he is in such deep sorrow as he writes this, it feels like his heart is melting away, but asks god to give him strength as “according to your word’ in other words, he is looking through the scriptures available to him at the time and seeing where God promised to give life and strength and asking God to reconcile his experience to what is written in the scripture and give him what it promises.

In verse 29, he asks for false ways to be put far from him. No one asks to have removed things they don’t have. Thus the person choosing the way of faithfulness has not been faithful in all things. Rather they are picking themselves up and making a U-turn, determined to stand in God’s grace as God teaches him how to walk rightly before him.

Through all of this, he focuses his thoughts upon the great wonders and miracles the bible testifies of God doing,  and “clings to” God’s “Testimonies,” which, according to m-w.com, refers to the five books of Moses and any divine decree recorded in the scriptures primarily, which is again standing firm upon what God has said about him rather than what his eyes see around him, to ask God that he would not be put to shame. The set ends with the author declaring by faith that he will “run” (not merely walk) as God commanded–because God will “enlarge my heart” or as the footnote suggests, “For you set my heart free.”

Thus it is grace and God’s power at work in us that enable us to declare in faith the same.

Lord, we ask you as the psalmist did, strengthen us to will and to obey. Open our eyes and our hearts to understand your ways. Set us free from anything that holds our hearts captive and holds us back from being all you made us to be. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

When waiting means continuing to serve

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“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

In verses 29 and 30, God says even youths, who usually have tons of energy, get tired, become weak, faint, and exhausted, probably meaning both literally and spiritually, and promises to empower us.  If we wait for the Lord, he will refresh and revive us with new energy and vigor, to soar, to run, and walk with him.

But what does it mean to wait? This is an instant now culture, so we don’t much like that part too much. But m-w.com tells us waiting is more than patience, it is staying where God has planted us, continuing to serve him as he has previously instructed us, and looking to him expectantly to keep his promise and give us the strength we need to carry on. That requires trust, that requires faithfulness, and pressing on when we feel like giving up.

Strange to think that waiting can actually mean we keep moving, but the key is not running ahead of him, but continuing in our previous marching orders until we hear from him again. But waiting also means listening for his voice and obeying when the call comes to rest in him.

Lord, we grow tired and weary and we feel like quitting and giving up. Give us rest for our souls and spirits in you when we need it. Open our ears to hear you, transform our hearts to desire to obey and wait upon you. We choose to trust you today. Grant us the self-control we need to resist the fallen flesh and rise up in the spirit and behave like you today. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

 

Full Armor of God Commentary #1,0627,003

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“ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:10-11)

I was really reluctant to write a devotional based on today’s verse of the day. Tons of commentaries have been done on this passage, and entire books written on the armor of God.

We can apply the same lens we’ve held up before to the scripture: what God commands us to do, he will empower us to do. View this as a blessing and a promise and allow the verse to strengthen you rather than beat you up for feeling weak. And lets strip out the lovely metaphors that have been dissected at length elsewhere.  For protection and strength to stand against the enemy:

  • Know the truth and be truthful
  • Be righteous (i.e stop sinning and walk in the spirit, not the flesh)
  • Know the gospel so you’ll be prepared to act when God calls on you.
  • Have Faith
  • Pray and Study the Bible

The list is a bit simpler and straightforward than we thought, isn’t it?

Lord, we thank you for your truth, we thank you for your righteousness, we thank you for grace and forgiveness, and the finished work of the cross. Increase our faith, increase our knowledge of the truth. Grant us the will and the hunger today to study your word. Show us how we can carve more time out of our busy schedules for the spiritual preparation we need to stand against that onslaught of the evil one. Increase our dedication and discipline. If there is any pet sin in our lives opening us up for attack, reveal it to us, take away the desire for it, and enable us, by your grace, to be so repulsed by it, we will lean on your grace to cleanse us of this evil and turn away from it. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Source of strength

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

When we’re feeling so discouraged, frightened and dismayed is saying the least, this verse can feel like more expectations we can’t possibly live up to. But there’s a difference between God and Man. When the Lord commands someone to do the impossible, a miracle bringing his word to pass usually accompanies the person’s faithful obedience.

Not surprising, then, that the context of this verse is both another promise he will never leave us nor forsake us, and a command to be faithful to the teachings of the Bible, meditating on it day and night, and being faithful to follow it. That was the secret to Joshua’s prospering in and succeeding in his mission from God.  Staying true to the Lord, loving him and others as he first loved us (as this is the fulfillment of the law), and trusting him to be with us wherever we go is the bible’s secret recipe to the strength and courage we need to face the day and complete the work he gives us.

Lord, forgive us for holding back from you. Forgive us when we go our own way. We choose this day to put our trust in you. Cleanse us of evil desires, give us the will to walk in your ways. May we love you and each other with our whole hearts and be obedient to your voice. May we discern rightly the spirits. Be strong on our behalf, strengthen us, for we are weak. Take all our fear, all our shame, our discouragement, and disappointments today and grant us in their place courage and confidence that you are with us wherever we go. In Jesus’ name we pray, Lord, amen.