IS THERE POWER IN CHRIST BLOOD?

Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. -1 Peter 1:2, emphasis added

Have you ever considered that the blood of Jesus Christ provides the power to live obediently? If you are a genuine, born-again saint of God, according to 1 Peter 1:2, you can live obediently because God provides the way to do so. Every time you disobey Him, He won’t strike you in punishment, and you don’t have to somehow earn His forgiveness. God bought you in Christ in spite of knowing your liabilities. He knows not only what you have done in the past but also everything you will do in the future. God loves you unconditionally!

Christ’s blood has the power to cleanse you and loose you from sin’s grip: The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). Jesus can cleanse every sin in the past, present, or future because of His once-and-for-all sacrifice on the cross. For He loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood (Revelation 1:5). His blood sacrifice provided the power to break the hold of any sin!

Christ’s blood has the power to elicit our proper response: “God be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). The loveliest picture I know of Christ’s forgiveness is the story of the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, deserted by her companion in sin, and dragged before Jesus.  John 8:3  tells us that the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And . . . set her in the midst (emphasis added). The word “set” connotes “throwing down or dumping.” This woman was literally dumped in front of Jesus!

Next, they said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” (John 8:4-5). Apart from Christ, this is how all of us are in God’s presence. We are guilty, vile, helpless, and hopeless. We are crumpled before Him, unable to look up because the Law points out every sin we have committed, and our accusers scream that we deserve death.

Jesus insightfully told the accusers that whoever was without sin should throw the first stone at the woman. After they departed, one by one, with no one left to condemn her, Jesus compassionately said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (see John 8:6-11).

This incident clearly reveals the difference between how Satan and Jesus want to treat us: Satan’s goal is “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10a), while Jesus, who forgives and does not condemn, desires that we “may have life, and . . . have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). Our proper response to Jesus Christ is to thus cry out: What a Savior-To Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. (Revelation 1:6b)!

SPIRUTUAL EDGE?

Over the next several devotionals, I want to focus your attention on something that affects every Christian at one time or another:  Losing our spiritual edge.

God wants us to stay spiritually sharp.  Consider Ecclesiastes 10:10,

If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength; but wisdom brings success.

God is using this analogy to illustrate a very important truth:  If you lose your edge spiritually, you lose your effectiveness as well.

Maybe you feel that way today.  Though you are exerting strenuous effort, you are making little progress in your spiritual life.  God wants you to go forward.  He wants you to progress and not become stagnant in your spiritual life.

I have a friend whose father was a logger many years ago.  It was a time when they cut all the timber by hand with just an ax.

One day his father shared about the way he would operate.  After he chopped down a tree, he would sit on the stump of the tree he had just chopped down, take out a file he kept on his belt, and he would sharpen the edge of the ax.  He would sit there until the ax was very sharp again, then he would go after the next tree.

Each time he chopped down a tree he would do exactly the same thing.  But he said most of the other guys didt do that.  They just wanted to keep going, never stopping to sharpen their axes.

Without fail, he said, he always got more done than they did, and he used a lot less effort.  They had to exercise more strength, yet they got less done.

Over the next several days, we will look at what it takes to regain that spiritual edge.

COMPLETE OBEDIENCE?

22And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.23For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king. —  1 Samuel 15:22-23

The instructions had been simple to understand. The battle had gone just as God said that it would. The opportunity for full obedience was readily at hand . . . and King Saul blew it. In 1 Samuel 15, we read the account of how God rejected Saul from being King over Israel after Saul’s disobedience in the aftermath of the Amalekite battle. It was just six chapters earlier that we read of Saul becoming the first human king over God’s people. What had started with such seeming promise was now coming to an astounding end as God rejected this man. Saul was the one whom the people were sure would be the great leader. He looked the part (I Samuel 10:23) and had even shown evidence of promise in leadership (Chapter 11). But now, when it seemed that the success would simply continue, God rejected Saul.

What caused such a change in this King that warranted God’s rejection? Saul became disobedient to God. Saul disobeyed God’s instructions because he was captivated by his own ambition and desires. The reader gets a small preview of this pride and disobedience issue in I Samuel 13 when Saul offered a sacrifice to God which he did not have the authority to do or his place to do so. When confronted by Samuel, Saul only gave excuses. In Chapter 15, the call to completely wipe out the Amalekites was a clear instruction from the Lord. Instead of full obedience, Saul did most of what God had asked, but then kept the best of the spoils of war for himself. The truth was simple: Saul’s lack of full obedience was an absolute affront to the sovereign instruction and authority of God.

So I have to ask: How many times are we like Saul? Maybe we find ourselves doing part of what God’s Word says to us, but not quite finishing the job of obedience. It is often our pride and our desire for accomplishment that leads us to hide behind half-truths and excuses. Stop for a minute and consider the extent of obedience God requires from us. He wants us to put our excuses on the shelf and then get ourselves out of the way and fully and faithfully obey Him and His Word. The instruction is clear . . . let the obedience be complete. As Samuel noted, the LORD delights more in obeying His voice than in all the burnt offerings we can give. —Brian White

Journal:

·  As I review my life, am I one hundred percent obedient to the Word of God?

· In what area of my life do I struggle most with obedience. Why is that?

Prayer – Father, Your instructions are so clear, I must obey You. It seems so simple but in reality is so hard. Thank You for your Word that shows me examples of what happens when people succeed or fail in their obedience. Give me the faith I need to obey You in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

WE ARE LOVED!

Romans 9:25-26 (As He says also in Hosea)

25 “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.” 26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.” NKJV

Paul is pulling verses from the book of Hosea, a “minor prophet”, with a major league message. Hosea was guided by God to marry a prostitute named Gomer. She left the lifestyle; they grew in love and established a family. Soon, though, she returned to her former practice. Time and again, she would come back to Hosea only to abandon him for another. One day she chose not to return. Hosea searched high and low and when he found her, she was for sale in a slave market. In an outpouring of his undying love, Hosea paid the price and purchased her back. It is an incredible story of unfaltering love and loyalty and is an eloquent rendering of God’s never-ending love even when His people turn to idols.

1 John 4:16 “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.” NKJV

God sees our faults and loves us. He finds us slaves of sin and frees us. When we go back to the chains, Jesus doesn’t turn His back, but holds out His pierced hands. “I love you, and I miss you.” Friend, have you wandered off? God’s heart for you is restoration and love. What will you do?

Life Lesson: God is love. You are loved.

Dear Father: Thank You for Your love. Lord, at times, I will admit I feel like a slave to my sins. Thank You for looking past my faults and freeing me of my sins. When I see the faults of others, remind me to examine them with Your unfaltering love and loyalty toward them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

WILL YOU ENTER THE PROMISE LAND?

Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, because they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb…and Joshua…for they have wholly followed the LORD. (Numbers 32:11-12)

Those who live by humble faith enter into the fullness of God’s provisions of grace. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand” (James 4:6 and Romans 5:2). Joshua and Caleb illustrated this truth by entering the Promised Land.

As we have seen, God’s great salvation is both “from” and “unto.” “We have passed from death to life” (1 John 3:14). Also, this life we have been given is to be experienced in abundance. “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Israel’s calling by the Lord from bondage in Egypt to fullness in the land pictures this truth. “So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:8).

Joshua and Caleb were the only adult Israelites in that first generation who went “into the fullness” of God’s calling. They alone went into the land. “Surely none of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and above, shall see the landbecause they have not wholly followed Me, except Caleb…and Joshua.” Joshua would not only enter the land, he would lead Israel into God’s victory. “Then Moses called Joshua and said to him…you must go with this people to the land…and you shall cause them to inherit it (Deuteronomy 31:7). Caleb would not only enter the land, he would still be strengthened by faith in God even in his old age. “Here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war (Joshua 14:11).

Unlike Joshua and Caleb, the other Israelites followed the Lord’s calling out from Egypt, but they did not follow Him into the land. Many Christians repeat this same error today. They have followed the Lord as He led them out of the spiritual death of sin and guilt. They are “out of Egypt.” They are forgiven of their sins. They have new life in Christ. However, they do not follow the Lord on “into the land.” They do not follow by faith into abundance of life. They do not follow the Lord in humble dependence for transformation, for fruitfulness, for a life of spiritual victory.

Dear God of Israel, thank You for bringing me out of the Egypt of my own spiritual bondage. Now, as Joshua and Caleb did, I long to follow You wholly into the fullness that you desire me to walk in, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

ENTHRONED ON HIGH!

Who is like the Lord our God,

the One who sits enthroned on high,

who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?

Psalm 113:5

FROM THE FATHER’S HEART My child, heaven may seem far away, but it is as near to you as your heart. I am the One enthroned on high, but I don’t live in palaces. I live in the hearts of all My children. I am not too high and mighty to overlook the down and out. Every child of Mine will one day sit at My table where a luscious feast has been prepared in their honor. Yes, I have many rooms in heaven, but they are all under one roof—My roof, and My love. When I come again, we will live on high forever.

A GRATEFUL RESPONSE Although Your home is in heaven, You always take time for each of Your creations. Gently and tenderly, You nourish them, breathing new life and beauty into each one. You are the One enthroned on high, but You live in my heart, as well. Lord, thank You for caring for one like me.

SIMPLE TRUTH

His royal decree of love can never be reversed; we are His children forever.

THE POWER OF GOD’S VOICE?

“Then you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness. And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice.” Deuteronomy 4:11-12

In the book of Exodus, the Israelites begin their journey from Egypt, across the Red Sea, heading to the Promise Land. Along the way, they stopped at the base of Mount Sinai and had an experience of a lifetime. It was at this place that the Lord appeared to them for the first time, and they could not handle what they saw. Moses recounts this experience in the book of Deuteronomy and reminds them of what happened on that amazing day. The Lord appeared in smoke, fire and thick darkness. There was thundering and lightning in an awesome display of God’s power on the top of that mountain. And, they were scared to death! They told Moses that they did not want to hear from God, just from Moses. He could speak on behalf of God and they would just listen to Moses. The Lord’s voice was too much for them to handle.

For us, maybe the Lord’s voice is a bit too much to handle at times. Sometimes, His voice seems to be loud and consuming—and scary. Maybe the dark clouds that come into our lives are evidence that the Lord is trying to speak to us. Instead of being afraid, we need to be alert to what God is trying to say to us. Instead of hiding, we need to start seeking Him even more. Our God is a consuming fire, not to our harm or destruction, but to our reverence and worship of Him. He is God. He is a jealous God, and He does not want to share us with other gods. His words from the top of mountain warned the people not to go out and make Him into a molded image, nor to worship any other images of gods created by their hands. His words today are the same to us. The Lord wants us to know Him personally, to love Him with all that we are, and to fear Him in respect and honor. Why? Because He wants to bless, protect and lead us in His ways. We are the safest and the most peaceful when we are obeying His words and willing to listen to His voice, even when it seems too loud and scary to handle.

FIRE WILL NOT CONSUME US?

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” – Isaiah 43:2

Architects of the current Texas capitol chose marble because the previous structure burned in 1881. In 1888, the home of Texas government, built of granite, was dedicated, and stands today. Fires rage in the fallen world, and sometimes God’s people have to walk through them. We will pass through “many tribulations” (Acts 14:22), but those whose lives are built on, in and through Jesus will not be burned up, any more than a building constructed of granite. They will be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who found in Babylon’s searing furnace the very presence of God.

HOLY GPS?

2 Peter 2:1

“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” NKJV

In today’s age, we live by our GPS. Whether it is a long trip or a new area of town, we like to use them to find where we need to go. They are extremely helpful when we are moving into unknown territory. Now imagine you’re preparing a trip to Florida. You’ve heard of the beautiful beaches and look forward to spending time with family on one. Yet, when you give someone your GPS to program the coordinates, they set it for Maine. When you continue on your trip, you’ll be traveling, but in the wrong direction.

This is the danger of false teachers. They promise eternal life at the end of life’s journey but the route they prepared does not lead that way. You see, the Bible is very clear in its directions to heaven. We cannot earn God’s love or work hard enough to outweigh our sin. Instead, we admit we are sinners and then trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus as the payment of our sin. When we do that, we are headed on a life-long journey that ends at heaven’s doorstep. Jesus is our driver, the Holy Spirit is our vehicle and God’s Word is our GPS. Are you on the right path?

Life Lesson: Our salvation is only found in the completed work of Jesus Christ, any other teaching is false.

Dear God, Thank You for Your guidance. Because of Your Word, I can know the right path to take. Father, please forgive me afresh of my sins. Today, I confess that I am not perfect and need Your grace. Fill me with Your Spirit and continue to guide me by Your Word. In Jesus ‘ name, Amen.

A CHRIST LIKE HEART?

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. 1 Samuel 16:7

Lori Salierno, in her book Designed for Excellence, relates that she developed a terrible case of acne when she was in high school. Everything she tried failed. She even heard girls at school whispering about her face. One night her will to cope copped out. Sobbing, she threw herself on her bed. Eventually her father came in to comfort her. “Lori,” he said, “I’m sorry. I know it’s tough, but you can overcome this. You need to forget about your face and start to work on your inner qualities.”

Lori wasn’t too sure her father knew what he was talking about, but she thought it was worth a try. She decided to focus on the Lord’s command to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). She began visiting a nearby nursing home, telling residents about herself and listening to their stories. The more Lori learned about the hearts and concerns of these senior citizens, the more her own pain seemed to diminish. One day, when a resident told Lori that she was “beautiful,” Lori realized that she truly felt beautiful. Her trips to the nursing home boosted her self-image and made it easier for her to face her schoolmates.

Scripture says that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). When we teach our children to know and follow the Word of the Lord, they will move ever closer to the heart of Jesus—and develop a healthy self-concept in the process.