Each week a member of LLC offers a short devotional to support you in your walk with Christ. We hope each week is an encouragement to you and leads you deeper in your relationship with our marvelous, ever loving God.
"I felt I did trust Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death."
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
Psalm 1:1-3 ESV
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”
Romans 6:1-4 ESV
Recently in our Sunday school class, we discussed how Romans is such an interesting book that has a profound way of bringing deeper understanding to all of scripture. I found that these verses in Psalm 1 were deepened so much by the understanding of this portion of Romans.
All of us struggle with sin in some capacity. It can be a struggle in our minds, how we deal with stress or conflict, how we handle our finances, or any other number of things. Basically anything that turns our eyes away from the Lord can indicate what that sin might be.
Romans 6:6 says, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.” However, sometimes this feels impossible in the midst of our struggle. There are times where it feels like my own sin claws and grips at my feet as I struggle to kick free of it. Psalm 1 tells us a very clear answer though when it says, “but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Several weeks ago, Pastor Jon encouraged us to take time of quiet solace in the Lord while meditating on the truth of His word. This practice, as we are reminded to do in Psalm 1, is the key to breaking sins' grip on our hearts. God offers us freedom from sin but we are reminded that this doesn’t mean temptation will not come.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”- 1 Corinthians 10:13.
John Wesley once said, “I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
When we trust wholly in Jesus Christ and run to him in our temptations, even ours, he is faithful to provide a way of escape that we may endure it. I hope this encourages you with whatever you are facing that we serve a God who is faithful to keep all his promises.
We live in a broken, fallen world. Everyday, there is another story of a child being hurt
or killed in some tragic way. Just this month, several kids were drowned, one fell from balcony, kids were trafficked, starving, suffering from terrible disease, etc. As followers of Christ, it is important to remember that this world is not our home. I don’t have an answer as to why so many innocent suffer during their lives, but I have personally seen God use suffering in amazing ways. We don’t always know what the end will hold, but Romans 5:3-5 offers an excellent resource for the explanation of suffering during our lifetimes. It says, “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom. 5:3-5 ESV). Many times in our lives, we as humans experience suffering based on our own poor decisions. However, as seen above there are other times when we suffer because of other; poor decisions, disease that we may or not be responsible for, or just natural occurrences in life that are beyond our control. No matter what we are going through, God is always good, just, and right; and can use whatever terrible situation is happening as something that ultimately glorifies
Insights from Job
“There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless
and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1)
God speaks to him after his many trials and questioning: “Dress for action like a man, I will question you, and you make it known to me. Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be in the right” (Job 40:7-8)?
Through all of this, Job’s love for God helps him to hold fast to his faith and grow in his trust in the Lord, despite the terrible circumstances.
Insights from Joseph
The story of Joseph is also a great illustration of being long suffering in the face of trial. For several years, Joseph endures trial after trial as he is sold and enslaved, wrongfully accused, sent to jail and then forgotten. In the end, however, he is able to forgive his brothers who originally sold him, saying, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them” (Gen. 50:19b-21).
These two stories are great examples of how we can come to the place of trusting God through hardship. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). Whether we are innocent or guilty, God can use whatever we have gone through for his glory if we have placed our trust in him, turned from our evil ways and are called according to his purposes in our lives.
The Father's Bargain
John Flavel (c.1627–1691) was an English Puritan Presbyterian minister and author and he once imagined a verbal exchange between God the Father and God the Son. In this exchange, the Father is considering the hopeless condition of sinful man and how they (we) are open to His eternal wrath. In this exchange, the Son lovingly offers an alternative to the Father: to pay the wrath in full.
This exchange has become known as “The Father’s Bargain.”
It's short, so I encourage you to read it slow... It's tremendously powerful.
"Father: My son, here is a company of poor miserable souls, that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them... What shall be done for these souls?
And thus Christ returns:
Son: O my Father, such is my love to, and pity for them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be responsible for them as their Surety; bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee… Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them; at my hand shalt thou require it. I would rather choose to suffer thy wrath than they should suffer it: upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.
Father: But, my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements… if I spare them, I will not spare you.
Son: Content, Father, let it be so; charge it all upon me, I am able to discharge it… And though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures, yet I am content to undertake it."
What a great truth... Christ took every last one of our "bills", and paid them so there would be zero wrath left for you and me. The haunting words "if I spare them, I will not spare you" echo eerily in my ear, but I praise God that Christ was not only willing to take it, but worthy to take it.
What a marvelous God we serve!
"A Devotional About Personal Devotional Time"
This week I received an email from Jackie Hershey, LLC Administrative Assistant, reminding me that it is my turn to write the DEVOTIONAL for the June 2022 Living Legacy Newsletter. I needed that reminder and am grateful for the note from Jackie.
As I thought about what to write I began to wonder what does the word ‘devotional’ really mean? I was surprised by the definition given:
From Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary:
Devotion~ Prayers and supplications, especially as designed for private worship.
Devotional~ Adjective form of the word devotion.
Prayerfully I began to think about that definition when deciding what to write for this devotional. This is my conclusion: I am to write something that would prompt an individual to be moved toward prayer and supplication during a time of personal worship. One thing that I like to do is pray Scripture. Here is a devotional suggestion for devotional time for each of us. It is one suggestion repeated seven times.
In the English Standard Version translation of the Bible Psalm 92 has this superscription: “A Psalm. A song. For the Sabbath day.” This tells us the Israelites sang this praise song in public worship on the Sabbath day. What if each of us was to pray this psalm in private worship on Saturday each week?
According to the New Living Translation Study Bible, “Jewish tradition assigned one Psalm to each day of the week” (quote from K. T. Sim)
Sunday~ Psalm 24 Monday~ Psalm 48 Tuesday~ Psalm 82 Wednesday~ Psalm 94 Thursday~ Psalm 9 Friday~ Psalm 93 and the Sabbath~ Saturday~ Psalm 92
7 Psalms 7 times of private worship. 7 times of praying Scripture.
The Reformation, after generations of a shrouded ‘gospel’ and construct of false teaching, owned a vivid and accurate understanding of the gospel - because the reformation was Scripture inspired and informed. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and the other magisterial reformers came to the truth, amidst all the errors and assumed authority of the Roman church and its popes, because in preparation to teach and preach they were going to the Scripture and turning to God, rather than to ‘the church’, for the truth. It was studying the Bible and believing what it presented as the truth that turned Roman Catholics into Reformers and Reformers into Protestants.
The Bible is the revelation of eternal truth, God’s truth. So if God has written a book and given that book to us, and has filled His people with His own Holy Spirit, who wrote that book, we must ask why there is so much disunity among those asserting themselves to be God’s people, why there are so many conflicting ideas about what the truth is. In a certain manner the answer rests here; the history of the church is a history of man trying to improve the gospel. From first century doctrinal disputes to today’s broad scope of differing approaches and practices of local congregations, men have tried to minimize or eliminate Biblical truths they think too offensive to draw people to Jesus and have introduced Sunday services that are more akin to some manner of community get-together than a coming together of God’s people to worship a holy God.
Paul wrote “I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel” . . . and yet he also had to write “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”
That’s how authoritative the Bible is, how true and reliable the text of Scripture is - we are cautioned that even if we have a vision presenting a message to us directly, even if we are personally visited by an angel - if the message is not the message of the Bible, reject it. Paul even repeats his warning saying “I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” This is not about mere doctrinal accuracy, the reason Paul is so militantly insistent on what the message actually is, and why he never sought to ‘improve’ or soft peddle the gospel is because, as he himself said “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”. It”, the Bible, is the power of God for salvation - not our cleverness, not our constructs, not even our sincerity. We must turn to the Bible, study the Bible, and trust in what the Bible presents as the truth and not rely instead on men or denominations or our own assumed competence. The Holy Spirit inspired the text of Scripture and the same Holy Spirit has been given to everyone who trusts in Jesus alone as their only hope . . . studying the Bible is more than an intellectual exercise, more than a comfort, more than a religious chore - for the Christian studying the Bible is the Spirit nourishing our heart and enlightening our mind in a spiritually miraculous manner, something otherworldly, heavenly is happening as you study God’s word.
In April 2017, Jim's incredible mother died the Wednesday before Easter. This grandma, mom of 4 men, and wife for 48 years had left behind a legacy that runs threads of faithfulness through our lives. She had lived for 22 days in Hospice care with no water or nourishment. When her soul was passed into eternity, we had both intense joy and sorrow. The power of Christ's sacrifice for our redemption was close to our hearts as we remembered each day of that holy week. On Sunday morning, we celebrated Christ's resurrection with abandon. Our worship was only a fraction of the joy that Verlaine must have experienced as she passed into eternity. In Christ alone His promise was kept. Our hope in Him is sure. He is worthy of every word of worship as we celebrate His resurrection. Praise be to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!
In Christ Alone, Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend, 2002
In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My comforter, my all in all
Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save
Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand