John 17:6 "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word."
What an amazing verse this is! Jude 1 also reminds us that we are ""kept by Jesus Christ"" He will keep us as long as we need to be kept.
If you can lose your salvation by your works, you have to gain it back by your works, too. Since you weren't saved and forgiven because of the good things that you did, you can't lose your salvation based on terrible things that you now do. You didn’t earn by giving, but were saved by grace.
Indeed, Jesus holds us and holds us up—eternally and daily. Breath by breath he holds our life. The logic of heaven holds. Since God did not spare his Son (Rom. 8:31-38), but gave him up, therefore, he will give us all things with him. Take hold because God takes hold of you.
Christian, this day you'll lose battles big and small with sin, but you won't lose your salvation given wholly by Jesus. Why? Because it's based on what He did, not what you do. Oh, praise the Lord!
Father, thank you that biblical truth and theology inform me that you hold me. Father, you gave us to your Son. He holds us securely because He is the Good Shepherd. And we obey your word now because you are worthy to be praised. Thank you for taking care of us in this way! If I could lose my salvation, I would. But it is not up to me. It has been purchased once-for-all as Hebrews tells us by you and you alone. Oh, Father, forgive me this day of my sin, but I praise you for your keeping me secure! In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Romans 8:30 "And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."
For many, this is a very scary verse with a very scary word— “predestination.” Yet, this word is the “fingernails on a chalkboard” to my soul and my pride. Friend, this word is not scary but reassuring! The biblical doctrine of predestination is meant to comfort and bring truth to assure God's people, not as a weapon to cut down or a wall to climb.
And let’s be honest: You will hate the doctrine of predestination until you study Scripture to such a degree that you hate how little you studied it before. Have you looked at Ephesians 1? Have you looked at Romans 8-9? Have you considered how much God talks about how he has planned since the beginning?
Here are some practical takeaways:
--If God predestined the bloody, sinner-saving cross and brought from it eternal blessing, why can't he predestine our troubles and turn them for good (Rom. 8:28-30)?
—Our boldness in evangelism is strengthened by the firmness of our belief in predestination (Acts 4:27-29).
--“In love God predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ . . . to the praise of the glory of his grace.” Eph. 1:5
--It is breathtaking that before the ages God predestined that his infinite wisdom would plan our eternal glory. (1 Cor. 2:7)
Friend, we’ve been predestined in love before the world began, cared for presently (in space & time), and guaranteed a future inheritance beyond all imagining. How can we not praise the Lord?
Father, sometimes we don’t like the Scripture because it arrests our attention to areas of our life that we don’t want any light or knowledge to spring forth from. Yet, Lord, words such as predestined remind me just how deep is your love and how high and wide is your mercy. Lord, we know your grace is ever deeper. Our hearts overflow with praise to you. Only a God like you could do this for us. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:23 "But to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
God has only known two different people: Those in Christ and those who are not. The Gospel is open to all. All who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
""For God so loved the world ... that whoever ..."" (John 3:16). Yes, God chose some. But God loves and welcomes all. Ever since God called out in the garden, ""Adam, where are you"" he has been pursuing humanity in spite of our sin. This is breathtaking love.
In the middle of the universe is a love too amazing to be limited to what we deserve (judgment). There’s no greater love. No greater sacrifice. No greater offer. No greater rescue. No greater gift. Proclaim it!
After you tried the elevated-life, still-deeper life, and your best-life-now, go to the all-everything Gospel for all of life. This is how God loved the world: he gave Jesus so that anyone (whosoever) believes in him will be saved. What better words could you find to start the day than ""God so loved the world that he gave his only Son”?"
Father, thank you that offered the Gospel not just to a select few of awesome and amazing people. But you offered it to us sinners—the ones that need it the most. Tear down the spiritual eyes of some who see the Gospel only for the Jews or Greeks or something else. Thank you that your love of this world is unmatched and unrivaled. God, you are good. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 "May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."
It is the nature of God’s grace to sanctify. Any “gospel"" that doesn't have the power to sanctify (set us apart unto holiness - 1 Peter 1:14-16) us doesn't have the authority to justify us (declare us right in God’s eyes—all by Christ).
For many believers, sanctification is a series of daily attempts to stop sinning and then making themselves feel miserable when they can’t. Who would choose to live in the midst of a blazing fire? Yet, it is the only way to be refined as God makes us more like Christ. Sanctification and an easy life are incompatible.
We are all in different places in our sanctification, but there is only one class of Christian: a forgiven sinner. Whatever you are facing today, “This is good for my sanctification. This is good for my sanctification. This is good for my sanctification.” Gospel Implications: Justification by sanctification is a heresy. Justification without sanctification is a myth.
Will you trust God with what lies ahead?
Father, remind us today that the doctrine of sanctification that says to try harder isn’t your plan for us. Equally, the doctrine that says to stop trying altogether isn’t what you have for us. Remind us today that the same act of faith that has to always look to Jesus alone for justification looks to Christ alone sanctification and glorification as well. Christ wasn’t given to us to be saved but also to grow in you. Thank you for these truths. Seal my heart in them today for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Genesis 43:23 He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.”
There’s little doubt that most are looking for an edge. Whether in sports, school, or video games, spending time “picking the brain” of the experts is a dream for most people to get ahead
If you want to learn the secrets of basketball, ask Michael Jordan or LeBron James.
If you want to learn the secrets of movie making, ask Steven Spielberg
If you want to learn the secrets of karate, ask Chuck Norris.
And, if you want to learn how to handle grudges and forgiveness, ask Joseph.
As we tag along with Joseph’s brother, we see that some 20 years after selling Joseph as a slave, they still struggle with a guilty conscience. Just as God providentially brought Joseph through slavery, prison, and now being second-in-command over Egypt, so also God arranged providentially for his brothers to be confronted over their guilt of the past. The LORD was forcing these brothers to face their past sins. They had not gotten away with it!
Only 10 brothers of Joseph go down to get grain to eat. Jacob, their father, doesn’t allow Benjamin to go with his brothers. The reason for holding Benjamin back is based on fear, “I am afraid that harm may befall him” (Genesis 42:4). Jacob has already lost Joseph and he doesn’t want to lose Benjamin, too.
God’s plan was for Jacob (Israel) and his family to move to Egypt. There God would take care of this family. But the brothers of Joseph didn’t want to go because, for all they knew, Joseph was in Egypt. They didn’t want to be around him.
Something only God could do was taking place. Remember, over 20 years before, Joseph had shared two dreams to his brothers and father. These dreams showed that his family would bow down to him. His brothers hated him for that, but not they were the ones bowing, unknowingly, before Joseph. God was faithful to fulfill His promise to Joseph.
We, as the reader, just stand here with our mouths open. We understand what is going on, but the brothers don’t. The ten brothers of Joseph confess their guilt to one another and they come clean about how they had mistreated Joseph. The amazing thing is that Joseph was right there, hearing everything. Of course, he had pretended to speak through an interpreter. But he understood what they were saying
Holding a grudge in your heart is like holding a rattlesnake by the tail: Stupid at best, deadly at worse. As long as we keep gazing at Jesus, all excuses we make for grudge-holding, gossiping & and not forgiving are doomed. Friend, take comfort today that there is enough grace and forgiveness in Jesus to forgive all your wrongs past, present, and future. Don’t take this as a pass to sin, but do realize you will never exhaust God’s storehouses of infinite mercy.
Father, only a fool will choose to nurse a grudge or fertilize roots of bitterness today. The gospel deconstructs both. Help us to realize this. As you worked grace in the heart of Joseph, may it be true of us. Help me to know that whatever grudge I have against another brother or sister in Christ, a pastor, a church, a deacon, or whomever it may be, Lord, help me to realize that your grace covers every sin, including my own. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Genesis 45:1 "Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!"
So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. "Can you imagine what conflicting thoughts must have been going through the minds of Joseph’s brothers? The video reel of sin, regret, shame, and fear played over again in their minds as they faced their brother in person.
What about Joseph? The pent-up emotion, smothered feelings, and tender thoughts were revolving in his head just the same.
We must be careful here not to overemphasize or devotionalize this passage. However, there is a picture here between Joseph and his brothers that is very encouraging. Just as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, so also God, in conversion and sanctification, reveals Himself to his people during strenuous times.
Can I ask you: Are you a risk-taker? Do you think God is a risk-taker?
Believe it or not, there is a belief called Open Theism that says God is a cosmic risk taker. They say God is said to not be in control, does not know the future, nor does He control the future. Open theists claim that God does have knowledge of the future—it is just limited and based upon our human response.
The last time I checked, though, the God of the Bible was in complete control and knows everything (1 John 3:20). In Genesis 45, Joseph reassured his brothers that their hatred toward him actually worked out for their deliverance via God’s divine foresight and plan.
Genesis 45:9 ”But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
Either God took a giant risk, banking on the fact that Joseph would come through okay (the odds were stacked against him), or, God, in His entire sovereign plan, knew exactly what was going to happen and failed to take a crapshoot. I believe the latter is the only position that is true to Scripture.
By faith, no matter what you are going through, you can trust in the God who never changes (Malachi 3:6) and who works all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Recognizing and accepting God’s sovereignty is the only way to stay sane in an insane world.
Father, we thank you that you are not a risk-taker. We thank you that what your have ordered from eternity past is exactly what we need. Father, forgive us this day when, like Joseph, we may have been surprised how you worked. Yet, despite terrible events in one point, you have used such good for the betterment of our faith to be more like Christ. Thank you, Lord. Thank you that the cruel cross of your Son, Jesus Christ, as terrible as it was, was meant for our greatest good--your wrath satisfied and our salvation complete. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Genesis 50:20 "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
Have you ever played a game or participated in an activity when you knew you could easily beat your opponent? I have played many games with my niece and restrained myself from playing at my ability level. I did not allow her to win every time, because I firmly believe she needs to understand what it feels like to lose. These were great teaching moments for her. She often said, “Why do I have to lose? No one can beat me!” I explained that sometimes we lose even when it seems we cannot at all and that our attitude should be one of happiness and not frustration.
Isn’t this how it is with God? It may appear for the time being that God is not in control. It may seem like the power of God has been frustrated. Or perhaps it feels like His divine will has been foiled by the power of satan.
And, sometimes as I read the Bible, I skim over sections and miss deep faith lessons that are practical to my life. Take, for instance, this short section at the death of Jacob (Genesis 48:21). Surrounded by the account one of the most popular characters in Scripture (Joseph), this last charge of Israel himself holds great weight for all who have ever struggled with walking by faith.
We often say, “I am not sure God is with me!” The LORD is not far from any of us. Have you received His free gift of salvation by faith? Are you trusting Him this moment? Are you determined to rely on nothing but the finished-atoning work of Jesus Christ?
Then, dear young person, He is with you. Though you may not perceive the work of the Holy Spirit in your toughest and darkest moments, the living God is with you.
You know, I don’t pretend to completely understand why evil men kill thousands of people each year. But like Joseph, I know that God is present in our suffering (Gen. 50:20). He will help us find purpose and meaning in our pain. And though we may fail to see it now, He will turn our place of suffering into a place of blessing.
There isn’t a more comforting fact to know except that nothing happens apart from the will of our heavenly Father.
Scripture is clear that the LORD can take any deed, whether from sinful man or Satan himself, and turn it around for His own purposes and glory. Not only is He all-wise, all-knowing, and all-powerful, but under His sovereign control, evil can be turned around to accomplish His eternally good purposes.
Let’s make it our prayer to do all we can for the One who laid down His life for us and who continues to abide with us. May He continually be our joy and our strength!
Nehemiah 8:10 ”And do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."
Father, thank you that nothing escapes your vision or your hand. You are sovereign. There is no god in heaven and earth except You. Father, thank you that through the story of Joseph we see your mercy and forgiveness in much sin. You restored what was broken and saved many lives through the suffering of one. Oh, Lord, remind me today how that is a picture of Jesus! We know that through his one death, we all who repent and believe in Jesus by faith alone are saved! Father, praise you so much for the gift of salvation. In Jesus' name. Amen.