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9/26/16 8:03 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 26

Manasseh Humbling Himself before the Lord

Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God. (2 Chronicles 33:12-13)

Manasseh's prideful rebellion against the Lord was astoundingly extensive. He was deeply engaged in abominable practices. He "caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists" (2 Chronicles 33:6). Nevertheless, when he humbled himself before the Lord, God poured out grace upon him.

When people humble themselves before God, phenomenal spiritual recovery can be experienced. The abominations Manasseh perpetrated would seem to leave no path of restoration for him. Yet, the Scriptures abound with declarations and testimonies of God's gracious response to those who humbly cry out to Him. The Lord invites such entreaties in the midst of great need. "Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me" (Psalm 50:15). Even when the trouble would be captivity that resulted from rebellion, the Lord promised to hear and to deliver. "Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the LORD, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the LORD, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive" (Jeremiah 29:12-14).

This is the gracious heart of our God toward genuine humility. No wonder that the Lord would pour out grace even upon a prideful rebel like Manasseh. "Now when he was in affliction, he implored the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and prayed to Him; and He received his entreaty, heard his supplication, and brought him back to Jerusalem into his kingdom." This was no casual entreaty. In the midst of his shameful agonies, he was overwhelmed with humility. He begged the Lord to rescue him. The Lord restored him. The wonderful result of this gracious work of God was the spiritual reality it planted in the heart of this former rebel. "Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was God."

O gracious Lord, I am so encouraged to see Your heart toward true humility. Too often, I have thought that I was beyond Your work of recovery in my life. Lord, there are areas in my life that need Your restoring touch. I humble myself before You now, entreating You to pour out Your grace in new measure and new power, Amen.

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9/25/16 7:27 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 25

Manasseh Pridefully Rebelling against the Lord

Manasseh…did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel…And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen. Therefore the LORD brought upon them…the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon. (2 Chronicles 33:1-2, 10-11)

Manasseh was another king who walked in prideful rebellion against the Lord. "He did evil in the sight of the LORD." His pride was even more shocking than Nebuchadnezzar's (who ruled in Babylon), since Manasseh ruled in Jerusalem and had been raised by a godly father, King Hezekiah.

Manasseh was heavily influenced by the godless nations that dominated the land before God gave it to Israel. His evil was "according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel." The spiritual behavior of these Canaanite nations was abominable in God's sight. They indulged in licentious worship of idols on the hills and mountains. Manasseh "rebuilt the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down; he raised up altars for the Baals, and made wooden images; and he worshiped all the host of heaven and served them" (2 Chronicles 33:3). Manasseh also brought idolatry into the very Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. "He also built altars in the house of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, 'In Jerusalem shall My name be forever'" (2 Chronicles 33:4).

The nations that preceded Israel in the land were even engaged in sacrificing their children and seeking demonic guidance. Shockingly, Manasseh also "caused his sons to pass through the fire in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom; he practiced soothsaying, used witchcraft and sorcery, and consulted mediums and spiritists" (2 Chronicles 33:6). Actually, Manasseh brought more evil into the land than his abominable predecessors. "So Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do more evil than the nations whom the LORD had destroyed before the children of Israel" (2 Chronicles 33:9). Lovingly, the Lord reached out to this pridefully rebellious king. "And the LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they would not listen." The ultimate result of this persistent resistance was humiliating and painful captivity. "Therefore the LORD brought upon them the captains of the army of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh with hooks, bound him with bronze fetters, and carried him off to Babylon."

Heavenly Father, please guard me from the seductive influence of this godless world. I am already too familiar with the bondage that worldly indulgence brings. Please nurture to fullness every godly seed ever planted in my life, for Your glory, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 24

Nebuchadnezzar Exemplifying God's Grace for Humility

And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever…He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth…At the same time…I was restored to my kingdom…Now I…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven…and those who walk in pride He is able to abase. (Daniel 4:34-37)

When Nebuchadnezzar exalted himself, he exemplified God's opposition to pride. "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?…a voice fell from heaven…'the kingdom has departed from you'" (Daniel 4:30-31). When he humbled himself, he exemplified God's grace for humility. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5).

Nebuchadnezzar had been driven into the fields to live as an animal. "That very hour the word was fulfilled…he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen…till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws" (Daniel 4:33). This season of God's opposition for Nebuchadnezzar's pride would end when he looked to the Lord above. "And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me." Now, with his mind enabled to think rightly, he began to give blessing and praise and honor to the Lord God Most High. "And I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever."

This represented a completely transformed perspective for the king. Previously, he was glorifying himself. Now, he glorified the Lord. Previously, he thought he had established himself upon his throne. Now, he saw the will of God behind his ascendancy to power. "He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth." The Lord then granted grace to this humbled king, who had formerly walked in rebellious pride. "At the same time…I was restored to my kingdom." Seated again in authority, he gave honor to the King of heaven (instead of to the king of Babylon). "Now I… praise and extol and honor the King of heaven." Then, he added a remark that reveals the new conviction he received during his humbling. "And those who walk in pride He is able to abase."

Lord God Most High, I confess that I have had moments of success which I wrongly assumed were of my doing. Thank You for the grace You have always given when I humbly turned to honor You again. Lord, help me to keep my eyes consistently toward heaven that I might think rightly and give You all glory and praise day by day, Amen.

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9/23/16 6:59 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 23

Nebuchadnezzar Exemplifying God's Opposition to Pride

All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar…he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. The king spoke, saying, "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you." (Daniel 4:28-31)

Our lofty and holy God graciously revives the hearts of all who walk in humility and lowliness. "Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar" (Psalm 138:6). Those who walk in pride experience quite a different response from the Lord. King Nebuchadnezzar exemplified God's opposition to pride.

Nebuchadnezzar was a powerful king in Babylon. One day, he was in his royal palace reflecting upon the greatness of his kingdom. He concluded that it all came to pass because of his own might and for his own glory. "Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?" This prideful evaluation was in stark contrast to David's earlier humble profession. "Yours, O LORD, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; for all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and You are exalted as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we thank You and praise Your glorious name" (1 Chronicles 29:11-13).

Before Nebuchadnezzar had finished his self-centered pronouncement, heaven declared God's opposition to his pride. "King Nebuchadnezzar…the kingdom has departed from you." The consequences would be appropriately severe. "And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses" (Daniel 4:32). Another proud ruler experienced similar radical consequences in the days of the early church. "So on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, 'The voice of a god and not of a man!' Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died" (Acts 12:21-23).

Lord God Almighty, Creator of all and Ruler over all, I repent of the times I have spoken pridefully, as Nebuchadnezzar did. I long to openly profess David's humble, God-glorifying perspective day by day throughout my life, Amen.

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9/22/16 6:29 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 22

More on God Dwelling with the Humble and Contrite

The LORD is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth? He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap. (Psalm 113:4-7)

In our previous meditation, we considered the Lord's loftiness, coupled with His interest in man's lowliness. "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit" (Isaiah 57:15). In our present verses, we again see the Lord's desire to dwell with the humble and contrite.

Our great God dwells in the heaven of heavens, ruling over all the nations of the world. "The LORD is high above all nations." His glory is even more majestic than the galaxies which He hung throughout the stellar heavens: "His glory above the heavens." There is no one in all the universe who could be likened unto Him. "Who is like the LORD our God?" Nevertheless, though He rightly inhabits the highest realms of existence, He is willing to consider our lowly estate and become involved in the affairs of humanity: "who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth."

From His high and lofty position, the Lord observes the family of man. He is not looking for the boastful and the arrogant. He is looking for the humble and the contrite. "Though the LORD is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar" (Psalm 138:6). Although our God is the creator of all the universe, He is looking for the spiritually bankrupt and those whose hearts are crushed. "'For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,' says the LORD. 'But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word'" (Isaiah 66:2). This last phrase gives a key characteristic of those who are truly humble and contrite. They respond with reverence when hearing God's word.

What does the Lord desire to do for the humble and contrite? He wants to bring spiritual restoration: "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me" (Psalm 138:7). Our great God is a God of compassion. He wants to restore the crushed heart. "The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit…He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 34:18 and 147:3). Our mighty, compassionate Lord "raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts the needy out of the ash heap."

Creator of heaven and earth, I am amazed that You are interested in me. I want to be numbered among the humble and contrite. I have nothing by which to commend myself to You. I only bring a heart that is broken by a multitude of agonies and impossibilities. Please revive me by Your grace, through Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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9/21/16 4:12 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 21

God Dwelling with the Humble and Contrite

For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." (Isaiah 57:15)

God delights in pouring out His grace into humble hearts. "God…gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). What a remarkable arrangement this involves. The God who dwells on high in heaven above wants to also dwell with the humble here on earth below.

Our great God, the true and living God, is high and lofty. "For thus says the High and Lofty One." He is exalted. "For You, LORD, are most high above all the earth; You are exalted far above all gods" (Psalm 97:9). He rules far above, and completely over, every valid authority and every false god. Also, eternity is His rightful habitation: "who inhabits eternity." Furthermore, holiness is His essential character: "whose name is Holy." Among all professed powers or spiritual usurpers, none is like our holy Lord. "Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exodus 15:11).

In light of His holy and eternal character, it follows that He would make this proclamation: "I dwell in the high and holy place." Beyond the atmospheric heavens, beyond the stellar heavens, the Lord dwells in the heaven of heavens. In this spiritual dimension beyond time and space, the fullness of the Lord's presence is known. Yet, He is even greater than this "third heaven" itself. "Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool…Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You" (Isaiah 66:1 and 1 Kings 8:27).

The Lord is high, lofty, holy, and eternal. These truths impact us with awe and reverence. Yet, there is a corollary truth that brings us encouragement and hope (even though it seems almost contradictory). "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit." God essentially dwells on high, but He also desires to dwell with man here below. Who are the people who experience the Lord dwelling with them? Such communion with God is for the contrite and humble. The Lord wants to make Himself known to the repentant and meek in order to bring them spiritual revitalization: "to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones."

O Lord God, I worship You as high, lofty, holy, and eternal. I exalt You as above all and ruling over all. Yet, I praise You for desiring to dwell with me here on earth below. I humble myself before You, confessing my need for spiritual revitalization, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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9/20/16 3:11 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 20

Access to Grace through Humility and Faith

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble…through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. (James 4:6 and Romans 5:2)

Thus far in our daily meditations on growing in the grace of God, we have examined various areas of biblical truth, such as: the Old Covenant of law, the New Covenant of grace, God's sufficiency for godly living, living by the promises of God, and Old Testament saints who lived by God's grace. Now, we return to an extended consideration of how we avail ourselves of the glorious riches of God's grace. As noted earlier in our studies, God's grace is accessed through humility and faith.

If we desire to live by God's grace, we must be willing to renounce pride and to walk in humility. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble." The Lord is opposed to the path of self-sufficiency. When we pridefully assume that we can produce the kind of life God calls us to live, spiritual progress is prevented. Humility involves agreeing with God's pronouncements concerning our inadequacies. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves" (2 Corinthians 3:5a). The person who is willing to walk humbly before the Lord has an accurate understanding of our comprehensive need for the Lord to work in and through our lives. "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5b).

Along with humility regarding ourselves, God wants us to walk in faith regarding Him. The Lord wants to work in our lives by His incomparable grace. Faith accesses grace: "through whom [Jesus] also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand." The Lord is pleased by the path of "Christ-dependency." Whenever we face any issue of life by faith in Jesus Christ, we are drawing upon the abounding grace of the Lord. When we dependently accept that God can produce the kind of life He calls us to live, spiritual progress is assured. Faith involves agreeing with God's pronouncements that He is our adequacy: "but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5b). The person who is willing to walk in faith toward the Lord has an accurate understanding of God's comprehensive ability to work in and through our lives. "He who abides in Me… bears much fruit" {John 15:5b}

Dear Lord, I humbly admit my own insufficiency to produce the life You want me to live. Nevertheless, I confidently confess Your grace as my sufficient resource for abundant fruitfulness. Lord, I want to know You better, that humility and faith might be growing realities in my life, Amen

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9/18/16 8:35 P

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 19

More on Jeremiah Contrasting the Two Options on Trust

Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength…Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but her leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit." (Jeremiah 17:5a, 7-8)

Again, we consider Jeremiah contrasting the two options on trust. As we noted, there are only two choices: man or God. When man is the object of our hope, the result is the curse of spiritual barrenness. "Cursed is the man who trusts in man." Contrariwise, when God is the object of our dependence, the result is great blessing. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD."

The spiritual blessing that comes from trusting in the Lord is likened to a tree that is growing by the continual flow of a river. "For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters." The riverside is the ideal location for developing a flourishing tree. Trusting in the Lord is the only setting in which a flourishing spiritual life can be developed. A tree that is located by the river sends out its roots to take in more and more life-giving water: "which spreads out its roots by the river." The Christian who is hoping in the Lord finds the life his inner man cherishes, and he reaches out for more of that life for which he yearns.

When the heat of drought comes, it is a dreadful threat to plant life (unless the plant is located beside a sufficient river). When the heat of battle or impossible circumstances arise, they can pose a fearful threat to human beings. Even a child of God is tempted to be anxious. However, if the Lord is our hope, we "will not fear when heat comes…and will not be anxious in the year of drought." Instead, we will continue in growth and spiritual fruitfulness. "Her leaf will be green, and will not…cease from yielding fruit."

What radically different results come from trusting in God (instead of hoping in man). We receive spiritual blessing (instead of a cursing). Our spiritual life is like a luxuriant tree beside a river (instead of like a shrub in the desert). We experience the grace resources of God (instead of the flesh resources of man).

Dear God, I praise You for the abundant grace that flows from You into my heart every time I trust in You. It is blessing beyond measure. Nothing else could ever keep me from fear and anxiety. Nothing less could ever bring growth and fruitfulness in the midst of threatening circumstances. You are my hope day by day, Amen.

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9/18/16 7:13 A

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 18

Jeremiah Contrasting the Two Options on Trust

Thus says the LORD: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD." (Jeremiah 17:5-7)

Jeremiah also offers insight into living by grace as he contrasts the two options on trust. When it comes to where we will place our trust, there are basically only two choices: man or God. This choice is a critical one, because one is a curse, and the other is a blessing. "Cursed is the man who trusts in man… Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD."

The natural mind of fallen humanity places its confidence in man (usually, in themselves). The flesh of every born again believer is tempted to place trust in the same direction. This brings a very serious spiritual curse. "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength." When we exercise dependence upon man, we can only draw upon fleshly resources for strength. This amounts to a departure from the Lord in whom we are to trust: "whose heart departs from the LORD." The Lord is the only source of all true blessings. Consequently, to trust in man results in a curse.

The curse that results from depending upon human resources (ours or others) is barrenness of life, spiritually speaking. "For he shall be like a shrub in the desert." A desert shrub represents the antithesis of abundant spiritual life. It is the picture of a plant that is barely surviving. Desert shrubs are typically sparse in growth and lacking in fruitfulness. A person who trusts in flesh is like this shrub. He will not see good days of bountiful vitality. "For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes." People who trust in the fallen resources of man never do really see days that God's word would call good. Rather, they dwell in spiritual conditions that are like salty soil, wastelands, scorched land, incapable of habitation: "but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited." Such living is a cursed spiritual existence of carnal desolation.

Yet, there is a fully effective option by which such barrenness can be avoided. "Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD."

Dear Lord, I confess that I have often trusted in myself. I agree with Your word that the flesh always brings the curse of spiritual barrenness. I have found the same is true when I place my hope in others. Lord, teach me to trust in You, that I might know the blessedness of having Your grace as my resource, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 17

Waiting on the Lord, Hoping in the Lord

I will wait on the LORD…and I will hope in Him…strong>Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!…Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD. (Isaiah 8:17; Psalm 27:14; and 31:24)

Living by waiting on the Lord offers a helpful perspective on living by grace. Waiting on the Lord is the same spiritual reality as hoping in the Lord. "I will wait on the LORD…and I will hope in Him." Waiting on the Lord is not merely about waiting (that is, allowing time to pass). Rather, it is about humbly placing our hope and expectations in the Lord God as time is passing. This is what living by grace comprises (looking to the Lord to work on our behalf and within our hearts).

Waiting on the Lord (hoping in the Lord) is appropriate for every area of our lives. Furthermore, wondrous consequences result from hoping in our God. "Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!…Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the LORD." When we place our hope in the Lord (waiting for Him to work in our lives and circumstances), He brings us spiritual courage and spiritual strength within our inner man.

Those who wait on the Lord have a distinctively different destiny than the wicked, than the evildoers. "For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth…Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it" (Psalm 37:9, 34). Evildoers (the wicked, who have no interest in the way of salvation) end up "cut off." In attempting to develop their personal earthly kingdoms, they lose everything. They think they can take over a portion of this world, which belongs to our Creator God. Instead, they lose it all. They are cut off forever from their achievements, as well as from the God who made them. On the other hand, those who hope in the Lord inherit all of creation, as well as an eternal relationship with their Creator Redeemer.

Truly, "The LORD is good to those who wait for Him" (Lamentations 3:25). Therefore, let us "hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption" (Psalm 130:7). Yes, let us "hope in the LORD from this time forth and forever" (Psalm 131:3).

My Creator Redeemer, I want to live all my days waiting on You, hoping in You. What growing expectations You give me as I hope in You. I anticipate courage, inner strength, Your abundant goodness, an eternal inheritance, and (above all) an everlasting relationship with You. Praise Your name!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 16

Isaiah Encouraging All to Wait on the Lord

Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength…And I will wait on the LORD, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; and I will hope in Him…And it will be said in that day: "Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation." (Isaiah 40:31; 8:17; and 25:9)

Isaiah's desire to live by grace was evident in his proclaiming that God's power was for those who admit their own weakness. Now, we see Isaiah's heart for God's grace in his encouraging all to wait on the Lord.

One of Isaiah's encouragements to wait on the Lord came in conjunction with God's promises to give power to the weak. "He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength… They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:29, 31). This gracious work of God in people's lives only required their waiting on the Lord. "Those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength."

Another of Isaiah's encouragements to wait on the Lord occurred at a time when Israel was rebelling against God. "For the LORD spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people" (Isaiah 8:11). The Lord strongly urged Isaiah to stand against Israel's rebellion, even though they were threatening the prophet. "Do not…be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The LORD of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear" (Isaiah 8:12-13). Isaiah's encouraging testimony revealed that his heart was fully set on the Lord. "And I will wait on the LORD, Who hides His face from the house of Jacob; and I will hope in Him." God was not revealing Himself to rebellious Israel. On the other hand, Isaiah would "wait on the LORD" (that is, he would "hope in Him").

Isaiah's ultimate encouragement to wait on the Lord is related to God's establishing of His everlasting kingdom. "And it will be said in that day: 'Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.'" Those who place their hope in the Lord during their pilgrimage on earth will rejoice forever when the Lord implements for eternity the fullness of His salvation for His people!

Dear Lord, I am aware of my utter weakness, so I wait on You for Your strength and stamina. At times, I am intimidated by rebellious people, so I wait on You for protection and vindication. I have experienced so many earthly heartbreaks, so I wait on You for the joy and gladness of Your everlasting kingdom.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 15

Isaiah Warning against Worldly Counsel

"Woe to the rebellious children," says the LORD, "Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin. Who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice." (Isaiah 30:1-2)

Those who want to live by grace (living by God working in and through their lives) characteristically depend upon the counsel of the Lord. Correspondingly, they have a burden to warn against worldly counsel, which undermines, or substitutes itself for God's counsel. "'Woe to the rebellious children,' says the LORD, 'Who take counsel, but not of Me.'"

Everyone needs counsel consistently. We all need to find valid guidance and direction through the opportunities and challenges of life. The Lord is to be our constant resource for such counsel. "This also comes from the LORD of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance" (Isaiah 28:29). The counsel of the Lord is wonderful; it is excellent! In fact, when Messiah would come (Jesus, the Christ), one of His descriptive title names would be "Wonderful Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6). This wonderful counsel of God comes to us through the word of God. "Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors" (Psalm 119:24).

Consequently, those who turn elsewhere for counsel are rebelling (at least, inadvertently) against the Lord. "'Woe to the rebellious children,' says the LORD, 'Who take counsel, but not of Me.'" Our God of grace wants to counsel us down His path. He wants to teach us to live by His wisdom and His provision. When we are formulating our plans, He wants us to allow His Spirit to direct us through His word. The only other option is to lean on the counsel of the world: "who devise plans, but not of My Spirit… who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice." God strongly warned His children of the vanity of seeking the worldly wisdom of Egypt. "You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels; let now the astrologers, the stargazers, and the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from these things that shall come upon you" (Isaiah 47:13).

The church world today frequently turns to the contemporary speculations of man. The wisdom of man is a vain help. We would do well to consider Isaiah's clear warning. "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help…who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!" (Isaiah 31:1).

Lord Jesus, my Wonderful Counselor, forgive me for the many times that I have turned to worldly counsel. I see that such a choice interferes with Your work of grace in my life. Please remind me day by day to seek all of the counsel I need through the Holy Spirit unfolding the wisdom of Your word, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 14

Isaiah Warning against Worldly Counsel

"Woe to the rebellious children," says the LORD, "Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin. Who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice." (Isaiah 30:1-2)

Those who want to live by grace (living by God working in and through their lives) characteristically depend upon the counsel of the Lord. Correspondingly, they have a burden to warn against worldly counsel, which undermines, or substitutes itself for God's counsel. "'Woe to the rebellious children,' says the LORD, 'Who take counsel, but not of Me.'"

Everyone needs counsel consistently. We all need to find valid guidance and direction through the opportunities and challenges of life. The Lord is to be our constant resource for such counsel. "This also comes from the LORD of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance" (Isaiah 28:29). The counsel of the Lord is wonderful; it is excellent! In fact, when Messiah would come (Jesus, the Christ), one of His descriptive title names would be "Wonderful Counselor" (Isaiah 9:6). This wonderful counsel of God comes to us through the word of God. "Your testimonies also are my delight and my counselors" (Psalm 119:24).

Consequently, those who turn elsewhere for counsel are rebelling (at least, inadvertently) against the Lord. "'Woe to the rebellious children,' says the LORD, 'Who take counsel, but not of Me.'" Our God of grace wants to counsel us down His path. He wants to teach us to live by His wisdom and His provision. When we are formulating our plans, He wants us to allow His Spirit to direct us through His word. The only other option is to lean on the counsel of the world: "who devise plans, but not of My Spirit… who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice." God strongly warned His children of the vanity of seeking the worldly wisdom of Egypt. "You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels; let now the astrologers, the stargazers, and the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from these things that shall come upon you" (Isaiah 47:13).

The church world today frequently turns to the contemporary speculations of man. The wisdom of man is a vain help. We would do well to consider Isaiah's clear warning. "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help…who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD!" (Isaiah 31:1).

Lord Jesus, my Wonderful Counselor, forgive me for the many times that I have turned to worldly counsel. I see that such a choice interferes with Your work of grace in my life. Please remind me day by day to seek all of the counsel I need through the Holy Spirit unfolding the wisdom of Your word, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 13

More on David Confessing the Lord as His God

For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me…I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long…in You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God…Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me! (Psalm 38:4, 6, 15 and 21)

When the battles raged with pain and cruelty, David drew upon God's grace by humbly confessing the Lord as his God. "I hear the slander of many; Fear is on every side…But as for me…I say, 'You are my God'" (Psalm 31:13-14). Then David added, "My times are in Your hand" (Psalm 31:15). He knew that all of his times were in the hand of his sovereign God. David demonstrated this dependence upon the Lord in all types of situations (not only during the agonizing betrayals that he faced).

When David experienced times of personal sin and failure, he turned to the Lord, his God. "For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me." The guilt of David's sins overwhelmed him like mighty flood waters and crushed him like a massive weight. "I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long." This left David distressed, greatly pressed down, and continually grieving. Thus, with a broken and humble repentance, he confessed the Lord as his God. "In You, O LORD, I hope; You will hear, O Lord my God…Do not forsake me, O LORD; O my God, be not far from me!"

In other times, David confessed the Lord as his God. When he was sick and near to death, he turned to the Lord, confessing Him as his God. "O LORD my God, I cried out to You, And You have healed me. O LORD, You have brought my soul up from the grave; You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit" (Psalm 30:2-3). When David was humbly aware of his lack of innate goodness, he also confessed the Lord as his remedy. "Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. O my soul, you have said to the LORD, 'You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You'" (Psalm 16:1-2). On the other hand, when David was joyously abounding in the goodness of the Lord, he also confessed the Lord as his God. "Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; And Your thoughts which are toward us cannot be recounted to You in order" (Psalm 40:5).

Dear Lord, You are my God as well! Yet, I know that in many situations, I have not confessed You as my God. Lord, teach me to confess You as my God in every circumstance—when I have sinned, when I am sick, when I am abased, when I am abounding. Wherever I am, whatever comes my way, may I see You as my God, lovingly and powerfully handling my times, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 12

David Confessing the Lord as His God

I hear the slander of many; Fear is on every side; While they take counsel together against me, They scheme to take away my life. But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." (Psalm 31:13-14)

Living by grace involves looking to the Lord as the one who must work His ways in and through our lives. Another distinctive indication that David lived in this manner was his habit of confessing the Lord as his God. "I say, 'You are my God'."

Such confessions by David were not mere religious ceremony, given in settings of ease and security. Rather, he made such confessions in times of threat and impossibility. When David voiced this particular confession, more than a few people were coming against him with a barrage of slanderous attacks. "I hear the slander of many." The situation was so bad that fearful circumstances surrounded him. "Fear is on every side." His slanderers were conspiring against him. "They take counsel together against me." Their goal was a total victory. They were plotting in order to completely destroy him. "They scheme to take away my life."

David (like many of God's children) found himself in such embattled situations frequently. One of these many conflicts included cruel taunts that even accused David of being cast off by the Lord. "My enemies speak against me; And those who lie in wait for my life take counsel together, Saying, 'God has forsaken him; Pursue and take him, for there is none to deliver him'" (Psalm 71:10-11).

Another encounter was accompanied by a very distinct type of pain. David was under threat of death from the hand of Saul, the king he had faithfully served. The superscription from Psalm 59 documents this painful opposition. "A Michtam of David when Saul sent men, and they watched the house in order to kill him."

One opposition brought David a unique measure of personal agony. This occurred when David's own son came to usurp his father's throne. "LORD, how they have increased who trouble me! Many are they who rise up against me" (Psalm 3:1-2). The superscription above this Psalm indicates that Absalom led this army of insurrectionists. "A Psalm of David when he fled Absalom his son."

In each of these cruel and painful betrayals, David confessed the Lord to be his God. "But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God'…O my God, make haste to help me!…Deliver me from my enemies, O my God…Arise, O LORD; Save me, O my God!" (Psalm 31:13; 71:12; 59:1; and 3:7).

Dear Lord, I also want to confess You as my God when I face opposition or attack. Even when my heart is aching from the most painful betrayals, I want to confess You as the sovereign Master, Who is in control of every aspect of my life, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 11

More on Living According to God's Word

You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word…Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word. (Psalm 119:65 and 169)

Those who live according to God's word will characteristically have this testimony. "You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word." This is true, because the word of God is our comprehensive source of the Lord's direction and of His provision. When God's mercy unto salvation is needed for new life, one must turn to God's word. "Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD-Your salvation according to Your word" (Psalm 119:41). When reviving is needed for those who have new life, one must turn again to God's word. "I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word…My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word" (Psalm 119:107 and 25). Whatever the need, the Lord invites us to face it according to His word.

When we do not understand the issues of life that press painfully in upon us, it is again time to run to the Lord and His word. "Let my cry come before You, O LORD; Give me understanding according to Your word." So often, perplexity is our human situation. The word of the Lord can sort it all out.

When the circumstances around us, or the turmoil within us, bring great distress, it is once again time to rely upon the Lord and His word. "Let, I pray, Your merciful kindness be for my comfort, according to Your word to Your servant" (Psalm 119:76). What comfort can fill our hearts, as we allow the Lord to speak words of peace and consolation from the Scriptures into our lives.

When our inner man is so burdened that we imagine our spiritual strength is gone forever, we have another great opportunity to seek the Lord in His word. "My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word" (Psalm 119:28). God's living and powerful word can bring strength anew to our weary soul.

When we are sinking into a sea of despondency, our God and His word are our sufficient remedy. "Uphold me according to Your word, that I may live; And do not let me be ashamed of my hope" (Psalm 119:116). His life-giving word sustains us, proving once more that our hope in the Lord is never in vain.

When we are trapped or bound and need to be set free, God will again rescue us through His mighty word. "Let my supplication come before You; Deliver me according to Your word" (Psalm 119:170). The Lord is our great Deliverer!

Dear God of the Bible, I praise You for the comprehensive work of Your word in my life. Day by day, please give me understanding, comfort, strength, and deliverance—all according to Your word!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 10

Living According to God's Word

You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word. (Psalm 119:65)

David was a man who basically lived by grace (that is, by depending on the Lord to work in his life). Consequently, he trusted in the word of God ("the word of His grace"- Acts 20:32). David lived according to God's word. Psalm 119 bears substantial testimony of what can happen when one lives in this manner. "You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word." The strategic phrase ("according to Your word") has two implications: living in line with God's word and living by the provisions of God's word. Therefore, those who live according to God's word not only find their direction in the Scriptures, they find resource there as well.

Many respected Bible teachers are convinced that David was the human instrumental author of Psalm 119. Whether this is true or not is incidental to our present meditation. In this majestic Psalm, the Holy Spirit (the ultimate author) depicts the all-inclusive nature of living according to the word.

Every person on earth begins life with a sin problem (guilty, condemned, alienated from God). If a person wants to have his life cleaned up spiritually, he must have that accomplished according to God's Word. "How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word" (Psalm 119:9). Anyone who will pay close attention to the message of the Scriptures will find therein God's provision of forgiveness and salvation. "Let Your mercies come also to me, O LORD-Your salvation according to Your word" (Psalm 119:41). God's merciful salvation (from sin and unto godliness) is enjoyed by those who call upon Him wholeheartedly, as declared in God's word. "I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; Be merciful to me according to Your word" (Psalm 119:58).

Every person who has found new life through the Lord's merciful salvation needs reviving at times. When the difficulties of life seem to choke all spiritual vitality out of us, it is time to call upon the Lord and turn to His word. "I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word" (Psalm 119:107). Sometimes, the battle is so intense that our inner man seems to be smashed face down in the dirt. Again, it is time to seek the Lord in His word. "My soul clings to the dust; Revive me according to Your word" (Psalm 119:25). Yes, in God's word, we find direction for our lives and replenishing of our lives.

Dear Lord of the Scriptures, I praise You for giving me new life according to Your word. Now, in the afflictions and battles that I face, I ask You to revive me according to Your word.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 9

David Trusting in and Praising the Lord and His Word

In God (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust…In God (I will praise His word), In the LORD (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust…You have magnified Your word above all Your name. (Psalm 56:4, 10-11 and 138:2)

To live by grace, one must trust in the Lord. David urged others to trust in the Lord. "Trust in the LORD…feed on His faithfulness…Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him" (Psalm 37:3, 5). David himself trusted in the Lord. "In God I have put my trust." Part of trusting in the Lord involves holding His word in an exalted place (trusting in it, honoring it, praising it). David proclaimed, "I will praise His word." This is an inherent part of living by grace, since it is "the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance" (Acts 20:32).

God's word is so trustworthy, so praiseworthy. David proclaimed the unique character of God's word, which gives the word its incomparable effectiveness. "The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul" (Psalm 19:7a). God's word is fully sufficient. The Lord has left nothing out of it that we need for spiritual development. Therefore, it can transform lives into what God wants them to be.

Furthermore, "The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple" (Psalm 19:7b). The Scriptures are absolutely reliable. They provide God's indisputable insights into life on earth, as well as necessary preparation for heaven. Consequently, they bring the Lord's wisdom to those who humbly admit that they need it.

Additionally, "The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart" (Psalm 19:8a). The Bible alone is irrefutably correct. Man's perspectives, opinions, systems, and theories are riddled with inaccuracies and fallacies. What a joy this brings to the inner man, knowing that there is a place to find the Lord's absolute realities.

Moreover, "The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Psalm 19:8b). God's word is holy and untainted. Man's words are polluted with sin and self and all sorts of unrighteousness. When people feed on the contaminated words of humanity, their eyes become dull and lifeless. Contrastingly, when the words of the Lord are consistently taken in, one's eyes shine with heaven's light.

Upon consideration of the unparalleled character and ability of God's word, it is no surprise that the Spirit of God inspired David to exclaim, "You have magnified Your word above all Your name."

Dear Lord God, I see that the words from Your heart are to be treated just as You are to be treated. As part of my trust in You and my praise for You, I confess my trust in, and praise for, Your word. Please use the word of Your grace to transform and shape my life in every way, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 8

David Urging Others to Trust in the Lord

Trust in the LORD, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. (Psalm 37:3-5)

Those who live by grace trust in God to work in their lives. We can see David's heart to live this way, as he urges others to trust in the Lord. "Trust in the LORD… feed on His faithfulness…. Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him."

God wants His people to be characterized by goodness. "Trust in the LORD, and do good." Yet, David understood that no one does good on their own. "There is none who does good, No, not one" (Psalm 14:3). So, for anyone to do good, the Lord must do a good work in and through their lives. Those who trust in the Lord find the will and the strength to do that which is good in the sight of God. To be faithful in doing good, God's people must be nurtured in God's faithfulness. "Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness." Those who place their trust in a faithful God become faithful servants of God.

Of course, the work of God in lives is centered in the heart of man. David prayed for an undivided heart of reverential trust toward the Lord. "Unite my heart to fear Your name" (Psalm 86:11). All who let the Lord become the fundamental joy of their lives will find that God Himself plants godly desires within their heart. "Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart." These implanted desires are then worked outward unto godly living.

As godly living develops, we experience a growing interest in walking in the ways of the Lord. David had such a yearning in his heart toward the Lord. "Show me Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me" (Psalm 25:4-5). The Lord unfolds His will to those who entrust their lives to Him. "Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass." Those who do place their lives under the sovereign care of God enjoy the great privilege of having the Lord God Almighty governing the very steps that they take day by day.

Heavenly Father, I want to trust in You so that Your goodness will develop in my life. I want to embrace You as the ultimate joy of my heart so that You may plant Your desires deep within me. I entrust my life into Your hands so that You may control my daily path, through Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - September 7

Once More on David and the Lord's Lovingkindness

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures. For with You is the fountain of life. (Psalm 36:7-9)

As we go further into these verses, David confesses to God another reason why he had such a yearning for the Lord's lovingkindness. "You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures." Those who are drawn to God's lovingkindness (desiring to face all of life on the basis of His loving commitment to His people) find a delightful spiritual river from which to drink by faith.

This world is a dry place, spiritually speaking. As we saw previously, David understood this clearly. "O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1). In this dry and barren world, David experienced much anguish. He served a king who wrongfully persecuted him. "Saul saw and knew that the LORD was with David, and that Michal, Saul's daughter, loved him; and Saul was still more afraid of David. So Saul became David's enemy continually" (1 Samuel 18:28-29). David had a wife who mocked his love for God. "And as the ark of the LORD came into the City of David, Michal, Saul's daughter, looked through a window and saw King David leaping and whirling before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart" (2 Samuel 6:16). He had a son who betrayed him. "Now Absalom would rise early and stand beside the way to the gate…Moreover Absalom would say, 'Oh, that I were made judge in the land, and everyone who has any suit or cause would come to me; then I would give him justice'…So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel" (2 Samuel 15:2, 4, 6).

In this barrenness of unfaithful relationships, David sought after the Lord earnestly. "I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land" (Psalm 143:6). In stark contrast to such heart-breaking, human disappointments, David found the Lord's lovingkindness to be like a satisfying river of spiritual delights. "You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures." He found the Lord to be an ever-flowing supply of true life. "For with You is the fountain of life." In the Lord's lovingkindness, David found loyal love, steadfast commitment, and abounding grace.

Dear Lord, my fountain of life, the world has been a dry and thirsty land for me as well. There has been opposition, rejection, and betrayal. Lord, I want to come to You day by day to drink by faith from the lovingkindness that You alone can pour forth, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - September 6

Even More on David and the Lord's Lovingkindness

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house. (Psalm 36:7-8a)

We have been meditating upon Old Testament passages that speak of God's lovingkindness (a term very much like the word grace in the New Testament). We have been considering verses from David's life and testimony. David treasured the lovingkindness of the Lord. "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!" An understanding of the far-reaching implications of the Lord's lovingkindness gave him this perspective. David learned that the Lord's lovingkindness (His zealous, steadfast love for His people) drew hearts to seek God for His gracious protection. "Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings." David also knew that God's lovingkindness fully satisfies hungry hearts that seek the Lord's fullness. "They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house."

Man is so needy, and God has so much to give. The needs of man could hardly be overstated. The resources of God could only be understated. Words like emptiness and deficiency describe humanity. Words like fullness and abundance describe our God.

Man begins his human existence in spiritual bankruptcy (born in sin and ready to pursue ungodliness). "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me…The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies" (Psalm 51:5 and 58:3). For these desperate needs, the Lord has forgiveness and salvation. "Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered…The LORD is…my salvation" (Psalm 32:1 and 18:2). Yet, once redeemed, man still must not look to himself, nor to the world from which he came. "My soul thirsts for You…in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1). The Lord must be the new supply for the new man. Like David, we must find what we need from "the fullness of [God's] house." When we look to God's fullness to replace our inadequacy, we will find the same spiritual satisfaction that David testified about long ago. "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips" (Psalm 63:5). We also will rejoice, because we will be "abundantly satisfied."

Dear God of spiritual abundance, I am so blessed to be in Your family. Please remind me often that the world and the flesh are spiritually bankrupt. Teach me to draw upon the fullness of Your house through humble dependence upon You. Every time I have ever done that, my heart has been fully satisfied!

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Today's promise from the Bible - September 5

More on David and the Lord's Lovingkindness

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings. (Psalm 36:7)

Lovingkindness is one of the terms in the Old Testament that has profound spiritual kinship with the New Testament term, grace. Lovingkindness speaks of God's zealous love for His people. This love includes His mercy to hold back the judgment we deserve, as well as His goodness to pour out all that we need. David's heart for God's grace can be seen in the way he cherished the Lord's lovingkindness. "How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!" In a series of verses over a few more days, we will see why David greatly valued God's lovingkindness. It involved the far-reaching implications of the Lord's dealing with us according to His lovingkindness.

The first implication that David refers to here is God's protection. "Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings." When people consider God's lovingkindness, they are encouraged by His desire to shelter them. Thus, they draw near in faith to be safeguarded by His merciful care. "Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me! For my soul trusts in You; And in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by" (Psalm 57:1). Like a devoted bird guarding its young, the Lord displays His lovingkindness in keeping those who trust in Him.

Jesus expressed His desire to care for people in this intimate fashion, even though they might deserve the opposite. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!" (Luke 13:34). David was one who was willing to be gathered under the loving wings of God's care. "Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, from the wicked who oppress me, From my deadly enemies who surround me" (Psalm 17:8-9). What joy this brings to those who flee to the Lord's lovingkindness. "Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice" (Psalm 63:7).

Dear Lord, forgive me for the times I have been unwilling to come to You for Your lovingkindness. I repent of those times when I neglected, or even refused, to humbly place my hope in Your protecting care. How foolish I was. Lord, every time I have come to You, joy has eventually filled my heart. Please nurture in me a heart that consistently relies on Your precious lovingkindness, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - September 4

David Relying upon the Lord's Lovingkindness

Show Your marvelous lovingkindness…Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You…Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You…Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust. (Psalm 17:7; 36:10; 63:3; and 143:8)

There are many reasons why David is a wonderful Old Testament example of God's people living by His grace. Previously, we saw that David confessed the Lord as his strength and his refuge. "The LORD is the strength of my life…God is a refuge for us" (Psalm 27:1 and 62:8). In our present verses we see David relying upon the Lord's lovingkindness.

Lovingkindness is an Old Testament term that is closely related to the New Testament term, grace. It speaks of God's zealous, loyal, steadfast love toward His people. It includes the truth that God is merciful (that is, He provides a way to hold back from us the judgment that our sins deserve). Yet, it goes beyond that wonderful fact. Lovingkindness also includes God's goodness (that is, His commitment to do good things for His children day by day, supplying whatever is needed in our lives).

Much insight into (and appreciation for) this truth is found in David's frequent reference to God's lovingkindness and his reliance upon it. "Show Your marvelous lovingkindness." David had a deep desire that the Lord would demonstrate the wondrous reality of His lovingkindness through David's daily walk. He knew that the Lord's lovingkindness made life what God intended it to be. "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You." David praised God for His faithful goodness toward him, which was far better, and far beyond, merely enjoying the natural things that life offers to all who exist. The Lord is good to all who live on this earth. "He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). However, His lovingkindness is shown to those who have a true relationship with Him by faith. David wanted this supply of God's goodness to be the resource for his own life-and for all of God's people. "Oh, continue Your lovingkindness to those who know You."

David sought the Lord for the work of His lovingkindness at the beginning of each day. "Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust." As the Lord poured out His loyal, steadfast love, David gave glory to the Lord among His people. "I have not concealed Your lovingkindness…from the great congregation" (Psalm 40:10).

Dear Lord of lovingkindness, I thank You for Your loyal, steadfast love toward me through the years. You have had mercy upon me. You have shown great goodness toward me. Help me to point others to Your marvelous lovingkindness, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - September 3

David Confessing God as His Refuge

Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us…You are my hiding place…You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 62:8 and 32:7)

David often confessed God as his refuge. This is another indicator that he typically lived by the grace of God (that is, by trusting God to work on his behalf).

The need or desire to find a refuge (a place of shelter or protection) is common among mankind. The storms of life can beat down relentlessly. Circumstantially, it can be as though Ezekiel's prophetic warning is being fulfilled toward us. "There will be flooding rain… great hailstones…and a stormy wind" (Ezekiel 13:11). We long for a shelter. At other times, threats and dangers seem to lurk around every corner. Experientially, it can be as though we are reliving the trials of David. "The pangs of death encompassed me, And the floods of ungodliness made me afraid. The sorrows of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me" (Psalm 18:4-5). We long for a place of protection. David knew where to turn for refuge when troubles multiplied. "God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). Our place of shelter and protection is not a place, but a Person. When troubles come, we can turn to Him. He is totally available to help us ("a very present help"). Whenever we exercise our trust in Him, whenever we pour our heart out to Him in prayer, we can enjoy the Lord as our refuge. "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us."

At other times, we are not looking so much for a refuge (a place of shelter or protection), we are seeking a hiding place (a secret solitude). When this occurs, we easily identify with David's desire to flee. "Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, And remain in the wilderness" (Psalm 55:6-7). Well, God has more good news for us. As David learned, the Lord is willing and able to be that hiding place. "You are my hiding place …You shall surround me with songs of deliverance." Whenever we turn to the Lord and allow Him to encompass us with songs of His delivering power, we can enjoy the Lord as our hiding place. Of course, one practical way to be surrounded by God's "songs of deliverance" is to spend time prayerfully reading in the book of Psalms. They are God's divinely inspired rescue songs.

Dear God, my refuge, I so often long to be sheltered and protected. I praise You that I can find that by running to You in prayer! Dear Lord, my hiding place, I frequently yearn to flee for a secret solitude. I rejoice that I can find that by allowing You to surround me by Your message of deliverance found in Your word!

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Today's promise from the Bible - September 2

David Confessing the Lord as His Strength

The LORD is the strength of my life…The LORD is…my strength, in whom I will trust. (Psalm 27:1 and 18:2)

Living by grace involves depending upon God to work in our lives. For the greater part of his life, David was an outstanding Old Testament example of such living. This was certainly evident in the way David frequently confessed the Lord as his strength.

Everyone in this fallen world needs strength just to deal with the daily responsibilities and challenges of life. When you add the calling and desire of believers to please and honor God, much strength is needed day by day. David confessed the Lord as his strength for living. "The LORD is the strength of my life." How wonderful to know that the Lord is with us to impart His strength in us for every aspect of our lives, whether home, or work, or ministry, or whatever.

In our earthly pilgrimage, we need strength to stay on course. The world, the flesh, and the devil want to prevent us from progressing down the Lord's perfect path. David found in the Lord the strength for this need as well. "It is God who arms me with strength, And makes my way perfect" (Psalm 18:32). At times, when walking along our designated path of life, we get trapped in circumstantial nets, laid by the enemy of our souls. When David experienced these traps, he cried out to God for the necessary strength. "Pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, For You are my strength" (Psalm 31:4). At other times along our path, the problem is not a trap, but an all-out battle. Once again, David found the strength he needed in His Lord. "For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me" (Psalm 18:39).

Sometimes, the need for strength pertains to what is going on within (or flowing forth from within). The thoughts we are thinking and the words we are expressing might need to be anchored again in the will of the Lord. David also knew how to turn to God for this essential strength as well. "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer" (Psalm 19:14). When he weakened within and stumbled in failure, David still knew where to turn for the only help that will ever prove sufficient. "My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever" (Psalm 73:26). Whatever the need for strength, David learned to rely upon the Lord. "The LORD is…my strength, in whom I will trust."

O Lord, my strength, I need Your strength for daily responsibilities, strength for staying on track with You, strength for periodic battles, strength for weaknesses within, strength to please You. You are my strength; I trust in You!

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Today's promise from the Bible - September 1

Joshua Leading the People in God's Victory

And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho…a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, "Are You for us or for our adversaries?" So He said, "No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come." And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, "What does my LORD say to His servant?" (Joshua 5:13-14)

When Moses pointed Israel to the Lord for battle, he was teaching God's people to live by grace (which involves God at work on behalf of His people). "The LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you" (Deuteronomy 20:4). Joshua demonstrated this same truth, when he led the people in God's victory.

Before the first battle at Jericho, God gave Joshua the opportunity to commit to the Lord as the Commander of the army of Israel. "And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho…a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, 'Are You for us or for our adversaries'?" The Lord appeared in the form of an armed soldier. Joshua asked if the man was for Israel or against them. The Lord responded that it was not a matter of being for or against Israel, but that He was in charge of Israel. "'No, but as Commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.' And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped." At this point Joshua fully yielded to the Lord as the leader of God's army. "What does my LORD say to His servant?" Any victories would have to be provided by this divine Commander.

At Jericho, this divine Commander would cause the walls to fall down, as His people would humbly trust Him, obediently marching around the city. "And it happened when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat" (Joshua 6:20). At Ai, the Commander gave Joshua a two-pronged ambush strategy. "We will flee before them. Then you shall rise from the ambush and seize the city, for the LORD your God will deliver it into your hand" (Joshua 8:6-7). Against the Amorite kings, large hailstones and an extended day were used by the Commander to bring a mighty victory. "The LORD cast down large hailstones from heaven…So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day" (Joshua 10:11, 13). Whether by perplexing marching orders, by understandable strategy, by "natural phenomenon," or by miraculously extended time, the Commander brought victory.

Mighty God of Israel, I look to You to be the One Who is in charge of my battles, the One Who fights for me. Lord, bring forth victory by any means You desire—whether perplexing, understandable, "natural," or miraculous, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 31

Moses Pointing to the Lord for Battle

Hear, O Israel: Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies; do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. (Deuteronomy 20:3-4)

Moses is another example of those who lived by grace in the Old Testament. He knew the necessity of relying upon the sufficiency of God, instead of upon the inadequate resources of man. One illustration of this is seen when he pointed Israel to the Lord for battle.

When the children of Israel would enter into the Promised Land, innumerable battles would lie before them. These battles were inevitable, since godless nations had entrenched themselves in the land: "because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you" (Deuteronomy 9:5). Thus, the history of Israel documents one battle after another.

Moses announced the truth that the people of the Lord need to hear as the battle draws near. "Today you are on the verge of battle with your enemies; do not let your heart faint, do not be afraid, and do not tremble or be terrified because of them." So often, when the warfare appears, the foe seems invincible: "When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you" (Deuteronomy 20:1). The natural temptation is to "faint …be afraid…tremble or be terrified." Another temptation is to try to match the enemy horse for horse and chariot for chariot. The Scriptures warn of the futility of turning to worldly resources. "Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 31:1).

Moses knew that God's people need a reminder that the Lord wants to be our hope. When we must go into the battles of life, the Lord accompanies us. "For the LORD your God is He who goes with you." He is with us not only to comfort us, but also to battle on our behalf: "to fight for you against your enemies, to save you." The Lord can fight for His people in an unlimited variety of ways. He can change the hearts of those who oppose us. He can bring their plans to naught. He can trap them in their own evil plans. He can cause our enemies to turn and devour one another. He can effectively save us in any manner that He chooses.

O Lord, my Defender, I face many battles that leave me intimidated and fearful. My hope is often placed in my own worldly strategies or the help that man can offer. Lord, I look to You afresh to fight for me and to rescue me any way You choose, for Your glory and honor, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 30

Joshua and Caleb Entering the Promised 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 land… because 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.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 29

Living by God's Grace in the Old Testament

And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes…"If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us…Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land…the LORD is with us." (Numbers 14:6, 8-9)

Throughout the Old Testament, we can find examples of people living by the grace of God. They may not have been able to describe their experience in terms of grace. Yet, their reliance upon God to work on their behalf was just as valid as ours. Living by grace is about God at work in people's lives. Even though they may have been born under the law, they could not live by means of the law. The law supplied no resource for life. Without God at work, the only resource is from the flesh, from natural human sufficiency. This has always been inadequate for living as God intended. Joshua and Caleb realized that God's sufficiency (His grace) was the only reliable hope.

Twelve Israelites had just returned from spying out the Promised Land. Ten of them had a similar perspective. "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey…Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large…We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we" (Numbers 13:27-28, 31). Their bad report was based upon what they saw, measured against their own resources. By this evaluation, they concluded: "We are not able to go up against the people." They were comparing two sets of human resources. "They are stronger than we."

Joshua and Caleb were deeply distressed by this inappropriate evaluation. "And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes." They knew that this outlook ignored what God had promised and what God could do. "If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us." They realized that this majority report, which was based on human sight and human capabilities, was actually a form of rebellion against the Lord. "Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land." Their rebellion was in fearing man and not trusting God. All the children of Israel needed to do was remember the Lord was committed to them. "The LORD is with us." The Lord was willing and able to give them the land.

Lord God Almighty, I am reminded that the majority report is so often based on human sight and earthly resources. Help me to be like Joshua and Caleb. I want a perspective that is based upon what You have promised and what You are able to do, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 29

Living by God's Grace in the Old Testament

And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes…"If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us…Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land…the LORD is with us." (Numbers 14:6, 8-9)

Throughout the Old Testament, we can find examples of people living by the grace of God. They may not have been able to describe their experience in terms of grace. Yet, their reliance upon God to work on their behalf was just as valid as ours. Living by grace is about God at work in people's lives. Even though they may have been born under the law, they could not live by means of the law. The law supplied no resource for life. Without God at work, the only resource is from the flesh, from natural human sufficiency. This has always been inadequate for living as God intended. Joshua and Caleb realized that God's sufficiency (His grace) was the only reliable hope.

Twelve Israelites had just returned from spying out the Promised Land. Ten of them had a similar perspective. "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey…Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large…We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we" (Numbers 13:27-28, 31). Their bad report was based upon what they saw, measured against their own resources. By this evaluation, they concluded: "We are not able to go up against the people." They were comparing two sets of human resources. "They are stronger than we."

Joshua and Caleb were deeply distressed by this inappropriate evaluation. "And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes." They knew that this outlook ignored what God had promised and what God could do. "If the LORD delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us." They realized that this majority report, which was based on human sight and human capabilities, was actually a form of rebellion against the Lord. "Only do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land." Their rebellion was in fearing man and not trusting God. All the children of Israel needed to do was remember the Lord was committed to them. "The LORD is with us." The Lord was willing and able to give them the land.

Lord God Almighty, I am reminded that the majority report is so often based on human sight and earthly resources. Help me to be like Joshua and Caleb. I want a perspective that is based upon what You have promised and what You are able to do, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 28

The Certainty of All the Promises of God

For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us…was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. (2 Corinthians 1:19-20)

As we have seen, some of the promises of God are "exceedingly great and precious." Others are very "unpopular." The former category of promises brings encouragement, strength, hope, comfort. For example,"The LORD will perfect that which concerns me" (Psalm 138:8). The latter category warns, awakens, humbles, prepares. For example, "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12). Yet, whether we gladly embrace a "precious" promise or struggle with an "unpopular" promise, there is the absolute certainty of all the promises of God being fulfilled. Our present verses explain the basis of this certainty. The assurance is related to the very nature of Jesus Christ.

When Paul and his missionary team preached about the Lord Jesus, it was not a "yes-and-no" message. "For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us…was not Yes and No." The attributes and the message of Jesus are not characterized by uncertainty. He is faithful and sure. The message concerning Him, as well as the messages He proclaimed, are "Yes." They are all guaranteed realities. It is not that Jesus could be the Son of God. He is certainly such. It is not that Jesus might save all who call upon Him. Such is totally assured. It is not that some of His promises could possibly be fulfilled. Rather, all of them will absolutely be fulfilled. Ezekiel declared this truth concerning all of the Godhead. "For I am the LORD. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass…the word which I speak will be done" (Ezekiel 12:25, 28). Later, John added a particular word concerning our reliable Savior: "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness" (Revelation 1:5). No wonder then that "all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us." Our God is going to faithfully do everything that He has ever stated in every one of His promises. The result will be great glory to Him, as He fulfills His promises in and through our lives.

Day by day throughout the family of God, some Christians live in the blessed certainty of God's promises, while others do not. The determining difference is faith versus unbelief. Joshua and Caleb of old entered into the promised land. The rest of that generation "could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:19).

Dear Lord, I long to be a promise believer, living by faith in Your promises to me. Thank You for making it so simple and so available. You want to make promises to me, and You want me to count on You to fulfill them. I rejoice that all Your promises are Yes and Amen in Jesus Christ, my Lord!

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today's promise from the Bible - August 27th

An "Unpopular" Promise Regarding Persecution

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

For a final visit, we return to the category of "unpopular" promises. This promise guarantees persecution for serious believers in Jesus Christ. In a church world where many treasure comfort and popularity, this promise is not well-received.

This promise is given to those who want to live a life of godliness: "who desire to live godly." Godliness is the will of the Lord for His people. "But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness" (1 Timothy 6:11). Our Lord Himself declared that there is great blessing in having a passion for righteous living. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" (Matthew 5:6a). The blessing is God's pledge to satisfy that heart which yearns for righteousness: "for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6b).

Yet, we have seen that fullness of righteousness is not all that is promised to those who want to walk in godliness. Persecution is also promised. "Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution." Notice the comprehensive, inescapable dimension of this promise. "All who desire to live godly… will suffer persecution." There are no exceptions. There are no exemptions. All who sincerely desire to follow the Lord Jesus Christ will experience the consequences that He met as He walked in righteousness. "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" (John 15:20). Jesus was not universally hailed for His righteous path. He was opposed, mocked, conspired against, and betrayed. We need not be startled when measures of similar persecutions befall us.

Of course, this promise of persecution is not given to discourage us from pressing on down the path of godliness. Rather, it is offered to prepare us for the difficulties that are guaranteed as we seek to grow in Christlikeness. The Lord even adds gracious encouragements to righteousness, so we will be strengthened to pursue His holy will in this matter. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:10). Persecutions can remind us that we are headed for heaven. Persecutions can bring us heavenly measures of sustaining grace along the way.

O righteous Lord, I long to walk in Your paths of righteousness. Strengthen my heart with Your grace that I might press on in godliness. Help me to never shrink back, even though persecutions are guaranteed. Help me to stand true, even though persecutions may become severe. Lord, I count on Your promises to see me through the battles, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 26

More on the Most Precious Promise of Shared Life

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (2 Peter 1:4 and John 15:4-5)

This promise of shared life is so "exceedingly great and precious" that we would do well to consider it further. Being "partakers of the divine nature" (without becoming divine ourselves) is a difficult concept to grasp. The Scriptures clearly invite us to live day by day through Christ sharing His life in us. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). Yet, how to walk in this truth can seem quite elusive. In His teaching on the vine and the branches, Jesus provided a wonderful physical illustration of this tremendous spiritual reality.

Jesus' visible example involves actual grapevines, grape branches, and the grapes that can potentially result. For grapes to grow, the appropriate life source must be accessed by the branches. The grape branches do not have this life in themselves. "The branch cannot bear fruit of itself." In order to bear grapes, the grape branch must share in the life of the vine. "The branch cannot bear fruit… unless it abides in the vine." This can be irrefutably demonstrated by separating a grape branch from its vine. No grapes can ever be produced on the branches, if the life of the vine is not flowing through the branches. The life of the vine is essential.

The spiritual application specifies Jesus as the vine and us as the branches. "I am the vine, you are the branches." For Christlike fruit to develop in us, the appropriate life source must be accessed by us. We branches do not have this life in us: "neither can you [bear fruit], unless you abide in Me." This truth is lamentably demonstrated daily by Christians who live self-sufficiently, not depending upon the life that is in Jesus, the vine. "Without Me you can do nothing." Day by day Christian living is only possible by the shared life of Jesus at work through us.

Once again, we are reminded that humility and faith are the practical application for living as God intends. We must humbly depend upon Jesus for true fruitful living, just as grape branches must depend upon their vine for grapes.

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You that I do not have to produce true life in and of myself. Teach me to live by Your shared life. I want to humbly and dependently abide in You, that You might live in and through me, for Your glory, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 25

The Most Precious Promise of Shared Life

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature…Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (2 Peter 1:4 and Galatians 3:13-14)

Here, we get at the heart of God's "exceedingly great and precious promises." By means of promise, the Lord has made it possible for us to share in His life: "that through these [God's promises] you may be partakers of the divine nature."

What a remarkable prospect this is-that man could participate in the divine nature. Yet, the promises of God make this available to man. Of course, this does not mean that man becomes divine (as many false religions and some aberrant theologies espouse). God alone is, and will ever be, divine. "I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me" (Isaiah 46:9). Nonetheless, man can share in the life of God, even though he will never become "a god" himself. This is accomplished by Jesus Christ coming to dwell within the lives of those who believe in Him. The Lord Jesus died for us that He might give life to us. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6:47). This life that Jesus wants to share with us is His own life. "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life'…Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life'" (John 11:25 and 14:6).

The Apostle Paul taught this great truth extensively. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 1:1). He understood that his apostolic ministry was not only anchored in God's will, but it also depended upon the spiritual life that God promised. Thus, he confessed Christ as his very own life: "Christ who is our life" (Colossians 3:4). Paul was not the source of the daily Christian life that he lived. "It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20). The Lord Jesus was Paul's life source.

This is what the promise of the Spirit is about. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law…that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." At new birth, the Holy Spirit also comes to indwell those who believe. The Spirit reveals these truths to us through the word of God. Then the Spirit pours forth the life of Christ through every humble, dependent child of God. "It is the Spirit who gives life" (John 6:63).

Lord Jesus, thank You for making Your life available to me. What a precious promise that is! Teach me to walk according to Your Spirit, that Your life might be expressed through my life day by day, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 24

An "Unpopular" Prophetic Promise of Apostasy

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:1-2)

As we continue to alternate between "precious promises" and "unpopular" promises, we come to a prophetic promise of apostasy. Among those who are actually drifting into apostasy, this promise is certainly "unpopular." Additionally, in a church world that wrongly accepts what sounds positive and rejects what sounds negative (instead of rejecting error and accepting truth), this promise is often met with disinterest or, worse, disdain.

"The faith" is the message of the word of God. It is the divine truth in which we are to place our faith, our trust. It especially includes the good news of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our present promise forewarns that there will be those who fall away from "the faith" as the days press closer and closer to the end of the church era. "In latter times some will depart from the faith." Since this is a departure, they seemed to adhere to the word of God for a season. Then they turned away from it. If they remain active in the church world, their message will no longer reflect the true content of the Scriptures. Peter gave a similar warning. "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" (2 Peter 2:1). As sure as Israel had false prophets, the church would have false teachers.

Paul provided some insights into their path of apostasy. They would be "giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons." Paying attention to concepts that were perpetrated by demonic deception would result in errors in their doctrine. The devil and his army of evil spirits are intent on confusing and distorting the teaching of the word of God. Typically, such errors feed man's fleshly desires to glorify self.

These apostates would also be "speaking lies in hypocrisy." Not only would their teaching be erroneous, their lives would be marked by falsehoods related to pretense. They would add untrue testimony to their inaccurate message. Perhaps the reports of their ministerial prowess would be grossly exaggerated.

They would also be "having their own conscience seared with a hot iron." They would teach errors and live lies until their consciences were no longer convicted of sin. We are forewarned. Such apostates undoubtedly abound in these last days.

Lord God of truth, thank You for lovingly warning of the danger of apostasy. Enlarge my appreciation of such "unpopular" promises. Please help me to cherish the truth of Your word. Give me a heart to know Your word. Sharpen my discernment concerning error. Keep my heart and my message anchored in the truth of Scripture, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 23

A Precious Promise of God's Perfecting Work

The LORD will perfect that which concerns me. (Psalm 138:8)

Again, we look at one of God's "precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4). This one pertains to His perfecting work in the lives of those who know Him and humbly depend upon Him. This priceless promise is the Old Testament antecedent of the one we recently considered from Philippians 1:6. "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it."

Think of the astounding implications of our present promise. "The LORD will perfect that which concerns me." Our God has pledged to fully accomplish His will and His plan in every matter that pertains to our lives. Let's consider three important examples of "that which concerns [us]": development of biblical understanding, growth in godliness, and (for the married) spiritual progress in marriage.

God's word reveals that He wants us to develop in biblical understanding. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food" (Hebrews 5:12). If we will humbly feed on God's word, seeking Him for spiritual insight, He "will perfect that which concerns [us]" in this area of life.

God's word reveals His will for us to grow in godliness. "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age" (Titus 2:11-12). If we seek the Lord and trust in Him for ongoing growth in godliness, He "will perfect that which concerns [us]" in this area as well.

God's word reveals His will with respect to spiritual progress in marriage. The Lord wants married couples to become mutually submissive servants, each serving the other out of reverence for the Lord: "submitting to one another in the fear of God" (Ephesians 5:21). The servant wife would follow the spiritual leadership of the husband. "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). The servant husband would love His wife with sacrificial Christ-like love. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (Ephesians 5:25). As each seeks the Lord for His transforming grace, He "will perfect that which concerns [us]" in this vital area of life also.

Dear Father, I acknowledge many futile attempts to perfect myself. I easily forget that You have promised to attend to my perfecting. My vain efforts only quench the work of Your Spirit of grace. Lord, please carry out Your transforming work in my study of Your word, in my need to grow in godliness, in my relationships at home—as well as in my testimony on the job, in my service of You—yes, in my entire life, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 22

"Unpopular" Promises Regarding Sowing and Reaping

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

We now revisit the category of "unpopular" promises. This set of promises concerns the absolute certainties of the reaping and sowing process. "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." In a world that often rejects accountability, these promises are very "unpopular."

Many people are deceived on this matter. They wrongly assume that they will not have to face the consequences of the "daily seeds" they are planting. To hold such an inaccurate perspective is actually a mockery against God, who established this principle. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked." The pattern of planting and harvesting is clearly demonstrated in the case of physical seeds. Whenever a farmer sows corn, he always reaps corn. He never reaps wheat. This pattern is just as certain in the realm of spiritual seeds. Every person is sowing spiritual seeds every day of his life: either seeds of "his flesh" or seeds of "the Spirit." The harvest for each person is thereby determined: either "corruption" or "everlasting life."

Throughout the world (and, sadly, in many instances within the church world) seeds of flesh are sown day by day. In word, deed, attitude, or relationship, people are planting seeds that are characterized by this fleshly list in Galatians 5:19-21. "Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like." These seeds bring forth a harvest of destruction. "For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption." Such seeds diminish and destroy every life that engages in them. Such seeds bring multiplied condemnation and judgment for unbelievers. When believers are caught in such carnal indulgences for a season, these seeds bring forth spiritual dryness, fruitlessness, and lack of appetite for communion with the Lord.

On the other hand, far different seeds are available for sowing, and they produce a distinctly different crop. "He who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." The seeds that are planted by dependence upon the Spirit of God bring fruit as described in Galatians 5:22-23. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."

Heavenly Father, I deeply regret the fleshly seeds that I have sown. They always diminish my life and dishonor You. I desire to sow seeds of the Spirit. They always enrich my life and bring glory to You. I long to please You with good fruit, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 21

A Precious Promise of God's Completing Work

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Now, we return to the category we are calling "precious promises." (2 Peter 1:4). Here we have a priceless one concerning God's commitment to complete in us the wonderful work of salvation that He began at our new birth.

If our faith is in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, God has started a tremendous saving work on our behalf: "He who has begun a good work in you."

He has made us new creatures in His Son. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). He has supplied us with immeasurable heavenly resources. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). What a grand work has been started in us. Yet, God's saving work is "so great a salvation" (Hebrews 2:3). Thus, whatever He has already accomplished in us is only a part of the whole. Wherever we are in this glorious process, there is some completing work that God desires to do. He wants to bring into our understanding, our character, and our daily experience more of that which is fully ours in Christ.

Furthermore, our God wants us to be confident concerning this matter: "Being confident of this very thing." As noted in our previous meditation, God does not want people living in self-confidence. That misplaced trust is just another form of pride. This does not mean that we Christians are to be without confidence in our lives. It does mean that all of our confidence is to be placed in the Lord. "And we have such trust [confidence] through Christ toward God" (2 Corinthians 3:4). Our Lord wants us to have strong assurance in Him that He will complete this work in us.

Also remember, God's saving work is completed within our lives: "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it." The Lord has established an eternal position for us with Him in heavenly places: "and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6). Yet, He wants to effect a godly walk for us here on earth. "Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called" (Ephesians 4:1). This walk is not based upon human theories of behavior modification. Our Lord Himself develops this in and through our hearts. "Now may the God of peace…make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight" (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Dear Lord, I long to walk in more of the reality of that which is mine in Christ. Thank You for these words that build my confidence in You. I humbly repent of my self-confident attempts to do what only You can do. I look to You anew and alone! Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 20

A Precious Promise of God's Provision

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (2 Peter 1:4 and Philippians 4:19)

In recent meditations, we have looked at two differing categories of promises: "exceedingly great and precious promises" and "unpopular" promises. Both play a vital role in God's plan. The first category of promises brings encouragement, comfort, and hope. The second category warns, convicts, and awakens. Both types are equally certain of fulfillment. Both types are to be heeded and embraced. For awhile now, let's alternately consider promises from these two categories.

Our present verses contain a promise of the first type. "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." The context of this promise concerns material provisions. "Now you Philippians know…no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities" (Philippians 4:15-16). The saints at the church in Philippi regularly gave of their financial resources that the Apostle Paul might concentrate on ministering the gospel. "Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18). Paul was abundantly supplied through their gifts. This generosity was also a pleasing spiritual sacrifice in the eyes of the Lord.

As He did with Paul, the Lord promises to meet the physical needs of all of His children. We can rely on His promised care for us. We do not need to worry or fret. "Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Matthew 6:31-32). Our faithful and loving Father is fully aware of our material needs, and He has committed Himself to supplying them. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Our heavenly Father wants us to give our attention to seeking after Him, not after our needs. He wants us to be on a quest to know Him. He desires that we seek after His holy rule and His righteous ways. He will be faithful to "supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." He may typically use a paycheck to fulfill His promise, but He will supply our needs. Even if we are flat on our backs and unable to work, God is our faithful source.

Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for Your faithfulness in supplying my material needs through the years. Forgive me for doubting You at times, when it looked like the provision was not coming. Help me to seek You and not my needs, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 19

A Precious Promise of God's Provision

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (2 Peter 1:4 and Philippians 4:19)

In recent meditations, we have looked at two differing categories of promises: "exceedingly great and precious promises" and "unpopular" promises. Both play a vital role in God's plan. The first category of promises brings encouragement, comfort, and hope. The second category warns, convicts, and awakens. Both types are equally certain of fulfillment. Both types are to be heeded and embraced. For awhile now, let's alternately consider promises from these two categories.

Our present verses contain a promise of the first type. "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." The context of this promise concerns material provisions. "Now you Philippians know…no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities" (Philippians 4:15-16). The saints at the church in Philippi regularly gave of their financial resources that the Apostle Paul might concentrate on ministering the gospel. "Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God" (Philippians 4:18). Paul was abundantly supplied through their gifts. This generosity was also a pleasing spiritual sacrifice in the eyes of the Lord.

As He did with Paul, the Lord promises to meet the physical needs of all of His children. We can rely on His promised care for us. We do not need to worry or fret. "Do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things" (Matthew 6:31-32). Our faithful and loving Father is fully aware of our material needs, and He has committed Himself to supplying them. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33). Our heavenly Father wants us to give our attention to seeking after Him, not after our needs. He wants us to be on a quest to know Him. He desires that we seek after His holy rule and His righteous ways. He will be faithful to "supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." He may typically use a paycheck to fulfill His promise, but He will supply our needs. Even if we are flat on our backs and unable to work, God is our faithful source.

Dear heavenly Father, I thank You for Your faithfulness in supplying my material needs through the years. Forgive me for doubting You at times, when it looked like the provision was not coming. Help me to seek You and not my needs, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 18

Another "Unpopular" Promise of Sin's Consequences

"So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just, and cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 13:49-50)

Here are some more "unpopular" promises from Jesus. This series of promises intensifies the warning He gave in our previous meditation concerning the consequences of sin. "If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24). Our present verses reveal by promise the absolute certainty and dreadful duration of sin's consequences. In a world that wants to deny accountability and ignore eternity, these are unpopular promises.

All who die in the guilt of sin will definitely be judged some day. It is an absolute certainty. A day of accountability is coming. "So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just." Those who die before this day will also face judgment. "It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The place of final judgment for the unsaved will be the great white throne. "Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it…And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God…And the dead [the unredeemed dead] were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books…And they were judged, each one according to his works…And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:11-15).

This absolutely certain judgment also has a dreadful duration. It is eternal. Sin is a spiritual crime against God. The true and living God is eternal. He is the great "I AM" (Exodus 3:14 and John 8:58). Therefore, the consequences of sin are also eternal. Thus, all unbelievers will be "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone…And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:10). The ultimate torment of hell will be separation from God's presence for eternity. "These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

The absolute certainty and dreadful duration of the consequences of sin make earlier promises we have examined all the more critical. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord…And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (Romans 6:23 and John 10:28).

Everlasting Father, I know that I deserve eternal judgment due to my sins against You. I praise You for the gracious gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Use me to help others know of the reality of judgment and the availability of everlasting life, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 17

The Importance of God's "Unpopular" Promises

"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." (John 8:24)

Generally speaking, God's promises are "popular" with many people. When most of the Lord's promises are read or taught, people are delighted. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed…Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest…Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (John 8:36; Matthew 11:28; and Matthew 4:19). Promises like these are so often received with favor, because they are so encouraging. They are embraced with approval, because they are so comforting. On the other hand, some of God's promises are definitely "unpopular" with certain segments of humanity. This type of promise is scorned or rejected because of its convicting or sobering character. Nevertheless, these promises that are not always well-received have great importance in God's plan.

One such promise is given two-fold in our present verse. "You will die in your sins… you will die in your sins." In a "tolerant" world that wants to deny the reality of sin and its consequences, this is an unpopular promise. Yet, the promise is true nonetheless. Sin brings spiritual death. From the beginning, this has been the case. "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die'" (Genesis 2:16-17). This truth was restated by the prophets of Israel. "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20). It was also repeated by the apostles in the early church. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Since everyone has sinned, this warning by promise that Jesus gave applies to us all. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

To escape the inevitable consequences of sin, one must trust in Jesus as the promised, divine Savior. "If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins." This statement ("I am He") points to Jesus' deity. Shortly thereafter, He openly declares that He is God, the Son. "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM" (John 8:58). Here, Jesus applies to Himself the same name that God revealed to Moses. "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you'" (Exodus 3:14). This important promise by Jesus warns that only faith in Him as the divine Savior will deliver a person from the certain consequences of sin.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for this important warning given by promise. I am delighted to have yielded to its truth and certainty. I rejoice that my sins are forgiven. Use me to pass on this promise to others who need to respond to it, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 16

More on the Promise of Freedom in Christ

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed…How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation. (John 8:36 and Hebrews 2:3)

By the promise of God, true spiritual liberation is available in Jesus Christ. "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." If this saving work of the Lord is neglected there is no rescue from the devastating consequences of sin and self. "How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation." As we previously noted, this delivering grace of God is so great that it not only provides a rescue "from," but it also supplies a rescue "unto."

This great salvation, which is experienced by coming to Jesus in humble faith, includes a setting free from innate sin unto imputed righteousness. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). This great salvation in Christ includes deliverance from the kingdom of darkness unto the kingdom of light. "Giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Colossians 1:12-13). This great salvation also includes liberation from enmity toward God unto friendship with God: "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God [turned from enemies into friends] through the death of His Son" (Romans 5:10). This great salvation also includes deliverance from alienation regarding God unto union with Him. "And you, who once were alienated…have been united together in the likeness of His death…. [and] in the likeness of His resurrection" (Colossians 1:21 and Romans 6:5). This great salvation also includes liberation from our own weakness unto God's mighty power. "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Lastly, this great salvation includes a rescuing from a self-produced life unto Christ living in us. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

Lord God, I thank You for providing a rescue from sin, darkness, enmity, alienation, earthly weakness, and self. I praise You for providing a rescue unto righteousness, light, friendship, union, heavenly strength, and Christ! What a great salvation is found in Christ Jesus! I do not want to neglect it through doubt, distraction, disobedience—or anything else. Help me, Lord, to walk by faith, day by day, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 15

The Promise of Freedom in Christ

"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." (John 8:36)

As mentioned previously, one way to examine the life of grace is to look at living by faith in the promises of God. Let us now proceed in our consideration of God's "exceedingly great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4). The promise of spiritual freedom in Christ is certainly a magnificent and priceless promise. Although we have already given considerable attention to the liberating work of the Lord, this promise gives another appropriate opportunity to meditate on this vital theme (which appears repeatedly throughout Scripture).

When people come in humility to the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in Him for freedom, they will be genuinely liberated. This is what the saving grace of God is all about. In coming to the Lord for His salvation, a person is delivered, rescued, set free. This gracious freedom that we find in Christ has both a "from" and an "unto" aspect. Those who look to Jesus for spiritual liberation are free to leave old things behind. They are also free to enter into corresponding new things.

Those who come to Christ are set free from death unto life. "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24). Those who come to Christ are delivered from condemnation unto justification. "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life" (Romans 5:18). Those who come to Christ are rescued from hell unto heaven. "Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (Matthew 23:33 and 1 Peter 1:3). Those who come to Christ are liberated from the bankruptcy of vain human resources unto the richness of abundant spiritual treasures. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells…Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Romans 7:18 and Ephesians 1:3).

Dear Lord Jesus, You are the one who has truly set me free. I thank You that I am no longer spiritually dead, condemned, headed for hell, and limited to inadequate human resources. I praise You that I am alive in Christ, justified, headed for heaven, and enriched by all the resources of Your grace, Amen!

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 14

Coming to the Lord for Edifying Grace

Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)

Coming to Jesus habitually for the grace that we need daily is at the heart of growing in grace. These closing verses of our previous meditation provide a profound example of this relational emphasis in the Christian life. The spiritual impact in view here is edification: "being built up." As we saw earlier, God's grace is the edifying resource for our lives. "And now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up" (Acts 20:32). Now we will look at the relational path that God has designed for accessing that edifying grace.

Jesus is likened here to a "living stone." He is solid and reliable, like a rock. Yet, a rock is lifeless, insensitive, unresponsive. Jesus is a "living stone." He is alive, tender, lovingly responsive. The Lord wants to build us up to be like Him (solid and stable, yet loving and caring). The Lord's way to build us up "as living stones" is to call us to an ongoing process of coming to Himself: "Coming to Him as to a living stone…you also, as living stones, are being built up." In order to practically grow "as living stones," we must be coming to the one who already is innately what He wants us to become. He alone can provide what is needed in our lives.

How do we come to Jesus in this manner? Well, again, it is a matter of relating to Him. When we get into the word of God, we are not merely looking for more biblical information. Jesus is the one we are to be seeking. When we are praying, we are not merely "saying our prayers." Jesus is the one in whose name we are praying and whose will and work we are seeking. When we are worshiping, we are not merely singing songs, we are singing to the Lord Himself. When we are going forth in ministry, we are not merely carrying out a valid task. We are looking to the Lord for enablement, while desiring to please and honor Him.

The more we come to Jesus in this way, to that extent His edifying grace will be building us up "a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."

Dear Lord, You are the true living stone, stable and loving. So often I am unstable and unloving. I need to be built up as a living stone. I need to be more like You. Lord, help me to come to You daily, habitually. When I am studying the Scriptures, praying, worshiping, or serving, help me to seek You in and through it all, in Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 13

Coming to the Lord for Grace

"Come to Me…and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me…and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:28-29)

Our previous meditation on the spiritual rest promised by Jesus provides an excellent opportunity to reflect again upon the relational aspect of living by the grace of God. God's grace does not abound toward us by means of some religious procedure. His grace flows into our lives as we walk in a developing relationship with Him. This is essential to understand, since it is "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 8:9) that we are to be experiencing.

It is in coming to the Lord, in relating to the Lord, that we find His grace at work in our lives. "Come to Me…Take My yoke… learn from Me." When we first come to Jesus in humble dependence, we find His grace forgives us of our sin and guilt. When we yoke up with Him, walking intimately with Him each day, we find His grace rescues us from religious, fleshly striving.

This pattern of coming to the Lord is prevalent in the Scriptures. Isaiah wrote of it concerning salvation. "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other…Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength. To Him men shall come" (Isaiah 45:22, 24). Isaiah also declared that by simply coming to the Lord spiritual refreshment and life from God would be available. "Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters…Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live" (Isaiah 55:1-3). Of course, Jesus restated this profound invitation concerning Himself. "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:37-38).

The Apostle Peter wrote of another significant issue for which we come to Jesus. "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2:4-5). If we are going to access the grace that edifies our lives, we must consistently be coming to Jesus Christ, the Father's chosen and precious cornerstone.

Dear Lord, I praise You for the grace that I find every time I come to You in humble dependence. Coming to You, I am cleansed, sustained, refreshed, and built up. I am so thankful that Your grace is accessed through relationship with You and not through religious performance by me!

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 12

Jesus Promising Spiritual Rest

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

Two of the Lord's "exceedingly great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4) are found in our present verses: "I will give you rest" and "you will find rest for your souls." These promises supplement well our earlier studies on God's promises and God's rest. The first promise pertains to justification and spiritual birth. The second pertains to sanctification and spiritual growth.

The first promise is addressed to those who are struggling under the burden of guilt and condemnation related to sin: "all you who labor and are heavy laden." This is where everyone begins their earthly trek. David testified of this common starting point for humanity. "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me" (Psalm 51:5).

In order to enjoy the benefits of this initial promise of rest, a person must bring their sin and guilt to Jesus. "Come to Me." The Lord Jesus can remove this load of guilt, because He carried that burden of sin for us on the cross. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). For all who come to Jesus in humble repentance, forgiveness is granted. The promise is fulfilled. "I will give you rest."

The second promise is addressed to those who have found the initial rest of forgiveness, but their soul is restless. They are struggling under the burden of trying to produce a godly life by their own fleshly resources. "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3). They yearn for rescue from the crushing load of walking according to the flesh. "Who will deliver me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24).

In order to enjoy the benefits of this additional promise of rest, a person must yoke up with Jesus (walk with Him in daily intimacy). "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me." This yoke is not for the purpose of pulling half of the load (like the yoke placed upon two oxen). "My yoke is easy and My burden is light." This is a yoke of relationship and communion. "Learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart." Those who walk this path of growing communion with the Lord have this second promise fulfilled. "You will find rest for your souls."

Lord Jesus, I give You praise for granting me rest from the burden of sin's guilt and condemnation. Now, I seek You for that daily rest from a self-striving soul. I want to walk with You intimately, day by day, that I might learn of Your humble ways. I long to walk in humility and faith toward You, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 11

Exceedingly Great and Precious Promises

By which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises…And He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men." (2 Peter 1:4 and Matthew 4:19)

As we have seen, faith is the proper response to the promises of God. Let us now return to individual consideration of God's wonderful promises. They are so wonderful that the Scriptures describe them as "exceedingly great and precious." The promises of God (which are deserving of our trust) are "exceedingly great." They are far beyond magnificent. The Greek root behind this phrase provides the English prefix, "mega" (as in "mega-bomb" or "mega-celebrity"). The promises of God are also "precious." They are priceless. They are beyond what any human or temporal treasure could ever secure.

One of God's "exceedingly great and precious promises" is linked to Jesus' call to discipleship. This call was an invitation to come and pursue after Him. "And He said to them, 'Follow Me.'" The Lord Jesus wants people to develop a life with Him. He wants us to build a relationship with Him. For all who will humbly focus their days on earth in a quest after Him, Jesus makes this magnificent promise. "I will make you." As we follow after Him, we can count on His fulfilling the promise to remake us. These men He addressed were "fishers of fish." Jesus promised to make them "fishers of men." "From now on you will catch men" (Luke 5:10).

The critical point is that Jesus would be the one changing these men. In this situation, He speaks of changing them from those who caught fish (for a temporal fishing business) to those who would catch men (for the eternal kingdom of God). Yet, in every situation, He is the one to rely upon for a changed life. It is amazing what people (even believers in Jesus Christ) will do to try to change their lives. They will sign up for every new program that comes through town (or is offered over national television). They will commit themselves to years of humanistic, speculative therapy. They will follow gurus to every continent on earth. They will even make endless lists of promises to God to do better or try harder. Yet, all of this is to no avail. God's plan for transformation of life is to believe in His promise. "I will make you." God wants to be the cause that produces the effect of a transformed life. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:10).

Yes, by the grace of God, transformation of life is available by faith in the promises of God. If we are willing to humbly pursue after a developing relationship with the Lord of life, He promises to make us into what He wants us to be.

Lord Jesus, thank You for being so patient with me through all my futile attempts to change myself. Please remind me daily to seek after You, knowing that I can count on You to be transforming me into what You want me to be, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 10

Strengthened in Faith Regarding God's Promises

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (Romans 4:20-21)

Faith is the proper response to the promises of God. Also, our faith in God's promises can increase day by day, year by year. These present words offer helpful insight into being strengthened in faith regarding God's promises.

It is so often the case that the circumstances we are in cast doubt upon the promises God has made. This was certainly what happened to Abraham concerning his promised son, Isaac. It was obvious in God's first set of promises to Abraham that a son would be provided some day. "I will make you a great nation" (Genesis 12:2). Soon thereafter, the Lord promised that the land He had for Abraham would go to his seed. "Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land'" (Genesis 12:7). The years rolled by, and no son had arrived. Eventually, a son was specifically included in God's promises. "And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 'This one [Eliezer, his servant] shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir'" (Genesis 15:4). Still, the years passed by without the arrival of the son.

Now, as Abraham approaches one hundred years of age, God repeats promises that necessitate a son. "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God…I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly …And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you'" (Genesis 17:1-2, 7). More time passes. Once again, the Lord restates His promise of a son. "Sarah your wife shall have a son" (Genesis 18:10). At this point, the Scriptures record the natural impossibility of this promise being fulfilled. "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing" (Genesis 18:11).

Nevertheless, "[Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith." How did he grow in faith? His circumstances gave reason to doubt: "his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Romans 4:19). He focused upon the ability of God who had promised a son, and he was assured: "being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform."

Dear Lord, in the midst of my doubt-provoking circumstances, help me to focus upon Your limitless ability to fulfill all that You have promised to Your people, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 9th

Another Proper Response to God's Promises

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called," accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. (Hebrews 11:17-19)

As demonstrated in our previous meditation, Sarah eventually responded properly to God's promise of a son (to be given in her old age). "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised" (Hebrews 11:11). In our present verses, Abraham represents another proper response to God's promises.

The setting was, undoubtedly, the greatest testing of Abraham's spiritual pilgrimage. God had made great promises to Abraham. They included a land, a great nation, a great King (the Messiah), and blessings available to all nations (salvation through the Messiah). In order to have these promises fulfilled, Abraham would have to receive the promised son. Like Sarah, Abraham stumbled somewhat along the way. He cooperated with Sarah in fleshly scheming to bring the promised son through their servant maid. "Then Sarai, Abram's wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram …So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived" (Genesis 16:3-4). Also, like Sarah, he later laughed in unbelief. "Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, 'Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child'?" (Genesis 17:17). Nevertheless, God proved faithful and gave them Isaac. "And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age…And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him…Isaac" (Genesis 21:1-3).

Finally, after many years of waiting, the promised, necessary son had arrived. Yet, the Lord required that Isaac be placed upon the altar of God. He was the only son who could fulfill the promises: "his only begotten son, of whom it was said, 'In Isaac your seed shall be called'." Isaac must now be given back to God. By faith, Abraham did the impossible, placing his son on the altar. The ability of God was the truth upon which this act of faith depended: "accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense."

Lord God of resurrection, concerning the "Isaacs" in my life that You want upon the altar of Your will and Your timing, please help me to focus on Your ability to resurrect that which seems to be dead or dying, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 8

Responding Properly to God's Promises

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11)

Before we proceed in our consideration of God's promises, let's look at some examples of those who responded properly to His promises. This will assist us in the path of living daily by the grace of God. Remember, living by God's grace and depending upon His promises are two perspectives concerning the same reality. Both speak of God working in and through the lives of His people.

Sarah responded properly to God's promises. It is true that she tried to fulfill God's promise of a son by her own ingenuity. "So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her'" (Genesis 16:2). It is true that she later laughed with incredulity, when the promise was repeated. "And He said, 'I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.' And Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him…Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, 'After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also'?" (Genesis 18:10, 12). Nevertheless, she eventually responded properly to what God had promised to do. "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed." The proper response to God's promises is to believe them. All who trust in the Lord to do what He has promised will experience God at work in their lives. Sarah trusted God's promise of a son, and God enabled her to conceive and birth that son. "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age."

Isaac was born in spite of the fact that Sarah did not have the natural biological capacity to conceive anymore. Isaac was born by means of Sarah's exercising faith in the promises of God. Note, however, that Sarah's faith was not merely some act of the human will (like "mind over matter" or "power of positive thinking"). Her faith was based upon the faithfulness of God. "She judged Him faithful who had promised." She considered what God had revealed to her about Himself and concluded that He was reliable, so she relied upon Him.

Dear faithful Father, I confess the many times I have responded to Your promises like Sarah did at first—scheming to fulfill them myself, or overtaken with unbelief. Yet, when I look in the Scriptures, I see Your faithfulness declared regularly and documented repeatedly. Also, every time I trust in You to do what You have promised, You demonstrate again Your great faithfulness. Lord, would You especially fulfill Your promises in those areas where I am as convinced of my helplessness as Sarah was of hers, for Your glory and honor, Amen

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 7

Once More on God's Promises and God's Rest

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience…And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises…And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 4:11; 6:11-12, 15)

Once again, God's promises and God's rest are in view. In these intriguing verses, two insightful terms are linked with the promises and the rest of God: diligence and patience. Although they sound contradictory, they are actually complementary.

For those who believe in the Lord Jesus, He promises spiritual rest. This rest begins with a divine rescue from the crushing burden of sin and guilt. Then, it is to develop into heavenly relief from the unbearable load of self-generated Christian living. Entering into this daily spiritual rest is neither an optional nor a casual matter. "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest." The Lord wants to stir and maintain in us an eagerness for this daily rest in Him. He wants us to earnestly and attentively seek Him for the rest that He alone can give. Our God wants to bring us along in a maturing assurance (a growing confidence in His promises). "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end." If we are unwilling to cry out to the Lord for such diligence in seeking His rest daily, we will eventually become spiritually lethargic: "that you do not become sluggish." God's rest is designed to produce spiritual fervency, not laziness: "not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

Along with diligence in seeking God for the rest He promises, the Lord also wants to develop in us a patience regarding His promises. "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises…And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise." God does not want our spiritual diligence to deteriorate into anxiety and impatience. Yet, how can we grow in diligence and patience at the same time? How is it that the two are not mutually exclusive? Well, diligence concerns what God promises to do. We are to earnestly seek such. Patience concerns when God may desire to fulfill His promises. We are to patiently trust Him for His prefect timing.

Lord, I praise You for the wonderful realities that You have made available through Your promises. I want to seek You diligently for their fulfillment in my life. Yet, dear Lord, if I must wait an extended time on various issues, as Abraham did for his promised son, help me to be patient, trusting in Your wise timing, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 6

More on God's Promises and God's Rest

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

Included in God's promises is rest for His people. This rest not only begins with rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but it also can grow into rest from carnal striving and vain self-sufficiency. Our verses speak of this latter rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." When we became the people of God, we entered into God's rest from sin and guilt. Yet, having tasted of this rest, there still "remains…a rest for the people of God."

Entrance into this additional spiritual rest requires a ceasing from one's own works. "For he who has entered His [God's] rest has himself also ceased from his works." Renouncing one's self as the source or cause of spiritual growth, we can then rest in the Lord for a growing life of godly service and fruitfulness. Previously, we saw that the Apostle Paul walked with and lived unto God in this manner. "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul worked harder than any other leader in the early church. Yet, he acknowledged that the enabling reality was the grace of God, not himself. This fits perfectly with another confession of Paul's that we considered in previous devotions. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5). Ultimately, such a life is explained as Christ Himself expressing His life in and through our lives. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

This cessation from our works is to be as complete as God's ceasing from His work at creation. "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works…For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His" (Hebrews 4:4, 10). God rested on the seventh day, because His "creation-work" was finished. We are to rest from our works, because we cannot add to the finished work of Christ for us. He completed our redemption upon the cross. "He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:30). He has also fully prepared the works that He wants us to now enter into by faith. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

Lord, I see that I must rest in You for daily growth and service as fully as I rested in You for initial salvation. Help me to cease from my own vain striving, that I might trust in You to work in and through me, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 5

God's Promises and God's Rest

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest. (Hebrews 4:1-3)

Through the promises of God, all who believe can experience spiritual rest. Initially, those who believe enjoy rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin. Additionally, those whose faith embraces other promises from God can enjoy rest from carnal striving and worldly indulgence.

When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they had rest from the bondage they had known there. This pictures our rest from sin and guilt. Yet, the Lord had more rest to share with His people. He wanted to give them rest from the futile wilderness striving they experienced between Egypt and the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. This pictures how we can rest from the fleshly striving of doubt and disobedience by drawing upon the riches that are ours in Christ.

The Israelites wandered through the wilderness in hardness of heart for forty years. All of that generation (except Joshua and Caleb) missed the additional rest that God wanted them to experience. "Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest'" (Hebrews 3:10-11). They were out of Egypt, but they would not enter into the Promised Land.

Are we entering into the additional rest that God has for us? "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it." The Promised Land is a picture of the abundant spiritual life (not a picture of heaven-no battles or failures in heaven). This additional rest is what Jesus offers to all who believe in Him. "I have come that they may have life [eternal life, forgiveness of sin], and that they may have it more abundantly [richness of life, growing in practical righteousness]" (John 10:10). This abundant life is enjoyed as we believe in the word of God, as it describes the riches that are ours in Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). Will we take the Lord at His word and believe that we might enter in? "For we who have believed do enter that rest." Israel did not believe, so they did not enter in. "The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."

Dear Lord, I thank You for giving me rest from sin and guilt, simply by trusting in Your promises. Now, I ask for new measures of additional rest from barrenness and striving, simply by trusting in Your promises of abundant life, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 4

Once More on God's Promises and God's Law

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all (as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations") in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did. (Romans 4:16-17)

We can have great certainty concerning the fulfillment of God's promises, because grace and faith are the foundation of our assurance. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed." Grace is the heavenly resource behind all of God's promises. Faith is the simple means of accessing that grace. These realities make God's promises certain to all who believe them, whether Jew ("not only to those who are of the law") or Gentile ("but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham"). This is how Abraham related to God's promises. Thereby, he became the spiritual leader for all who would follow His example: "who is the father of us all (as it is written, 'I have made you a father of many nations') in the presence of Him whom he believed."

The true and living God, whom Abraham believed, makes two declarations here that strengthen our assurance in His promises. First, He is a God "who gives life to the dead." Consider the impact this attribute has on our confidence in God's promises. Often, the promises of God must overcome death (or deadening circumstances) in order to be fulfilled. The promise that Lazarus would live again was given while his dead body was lying in a tomb. "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live" (John 11:25). Often, the deadness of our own circumstances wants to challenge the certitude of God's promises. Yet, the God who has made to us a multitude of promises is the God "who gives life to the dead."

Second, our God of promises is one who "calls those things which do not exist as though they did." We are not yet personally righteous (in any intrinsic sense). Yet, God calls us righteous (justified, declared righteous in Christ). "Whom He called, these He also justified" (Romans 8:30a). We are not yet glorified (experientially). Yet, God speaks of our glorification as already accomplished. "Whom He justified, these He also glorified" (Romans 8:30b). What a joy to know that our God of promises will bring to pass eventually that which He promises prophetically.

Lord, my heart is comforted, and my faith is strengthened by the undeniable certainty of Your promises. Death or deadness cannot prevent Your keeping of Your promises. Any lack of existence cannot keep You from bringing forth what You declare as real. What blessed assurance is available through Your promises—by grace through faith!

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 3

Still More on God's Promises and God's Law

Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed. (Romans 4:16)

The Lord desires that we should have great certainty concerning His promises. Our God does not want us to be plagued with apprehension concerning the fulfillment of His promises. In all that God has promised, He intends for us to stand in bedrock assurance: "that the promise might be sure to all the seed." This certainty is based upon two sets of related truths: one between His promises and His grace, and another between His grace and faith in Him.

The first set of related truths mentioned here (that makes God's promises sure) is His promises and His grace. Living by God's promises allows us to walk in the all-sufficient grace of God. The heavenly dynamic behind the promises of God is the grace of God. If God's promises are to be sure in our lives, we must relate to them "according to grace." If we are counting on any other hope besides grace to make God's promises certain, we will never stand in full assurance of the promises being fulfilled. If God's promises depend upon our performance, we will never walk in full assurance. If His promises depend upon the faithfulness or ability of others, full assurance will always elude us. The fulfillment of God's promises depends wholly on His grace.

Now, how do we treat God's promises in a way that does not disregard the grace that is behind them? The only acceptable response is faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace." Every other response creates a discord with grace. This was the great mistake that Abraham and Sarah made early in their pilgrimage with the Lord. When they relied upon their own ingenuity (using the slave girl, Hagar, to try to supply the son God had promised), they were operating outside the realm of dependence upon God. Basically, they were trusting in themselves.

Behind all of the promises of the gospel is the promised Savior, who would die on the cross for our sins. If we attempt to base God's saving work on our performance, we are setting aside God's grace. We are inferring that His death for us was unnecessary or inadequate. "I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain" (Galatians 2:21).

Father God, what a marvelous plan You have for Your children! You lay out Your purposes by means of great promises. You put Your wondrous grace behind every promise. Then, You ask us to place our faith in You to graciously fulfill all that You have committed to do. Lord, what assurance this gives concerning Your promises!

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 2

Even More on God's Promises and God's Law

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect. (Romans 4:13-14)

These words from the book of Romans provide further consideration of God's promises and God's law. Abraham is again the person around whom the insights unfold.

God promised Abraham blessings beyond measure. "Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 28:14). These promises were not contingent upon Abraham's ability to follow God's holy law. "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law." When God made these promises to Abraham, the law was still hundreds of years from being revealed. Likewise, these promises were not contingent upon circumcision (the sign of this covenant with Abraham). "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe" (Romans 4:11). Circumcision was added after Abraham heard the promises and believed.

In these encounters with God, Abraham was being asked to put his trust and confidence in the Lord. "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." When Abraham believed in the promises of God, at that moment, God declared him righteous in His sight. "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3). Abraham trusted in the Lord, and this gave him a right standing with God and allowed him to enter into God's promises.

The only other option to "God-dependent faith" would be "self-dependent law performance." Such an approach to God would be totally unacceptable. "For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect." Attempting to merit God's promises by law performance says we view faith in Him as meaningless. Striving to earn what God has pledged to provide says we consider His promises as ineffectual.

Dear Lord, forgive me for my frequent attempts to accomplish by my performance that which You offer by promise. Lord, I see that this shows disdain for faith in You and for Your promises to me. Please give me a fresh new awareness of the excellence of faith and the power of Your promises, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - August 1

More on God's Promises and God's Law

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions…Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:19, 21-22)

In our previous meditation, we saw that God implements His plan of salvation by making and fulfilling promises. His plan is not contingent upon man's ability to perform acceptably before His holy law. To put it another way, the law of God (given hundreds of years after the promises to Abraham) does not replace those promises.

This raises a very important question: "What purpose then does the law serve?" If God's law did not cancel or rearrange His promises to Abraham, then why was it added? "It was added because of transgressions." God wanted people to know that they had a major problem: sin. Man's sin needed to be clearly defined. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). The extent of sin would never be fully known apart from the law. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Romans 7:7). Also, God wanted everyone in this world to know that they were accountable to Him for their transgressions. Thus, the law convicts the sinfulness of man, that "all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19).

This raises another important question. "Is the law then against the promises of God?" The law does not replace God's promises, but does it work against His promises? "Certainly not!" The law of God and the promises of God simply have different purposes (just as it is with law and grace). The law of God reveals the holiness that is inherent to the very character of God. At the same time, it describes the holy life that God wants His people to live. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). The promises of God become the means by which man deals with his unholiness and accesses God's holiness. This is what true spiritual life is about: forgiveness of sin and a life of righteousness in Christ. This cannot come by law performance. "For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law." Rather, the promise of life is entered into only by faith. "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."

O Holy Lord, I confess that in my own natural resources there is no innate holiness. I can find forgiveness of sin and true righteousness from You alone. Help me to understand the difference between Your law which convicts and Your promises which bring life, through Christ my Lord, Amen

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 31

God's Promises and God's Law

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:16-18)

Early in our meditations, we considered one of the most profound subjects in the Scriptures: the relationship between the grace of God and the law of God. These verses engage a comparable subject: the relationship between God's promises and God's law.

Again, we are reminded of God's fundamental use of promises in bringing forth His will among mankind. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made." God made far-reaching promises to Abraham and his descendants, promises that included the coming of the Messiah, the anointed King, the Savior. Although these promises guaranteed an innumerable posterity to Abraham, this statement specifies one descendant in particular. "He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ." The Lord Jesus Christ is in view here. The promises that were the root of the new covenant of grace were made by the Father to His Messiah (as well as to Abraham). "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made." God provides us added assurance here. The Father's primary commitment was to His Son!

Now, what about the law of God, which was added hundreds of years later? Could the law possibly have replaced the promises to Abraham and to the Son of God? "And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ." The promises of God to Abraham and to His Son were not nullified by the giving of the law of God ("that it should make the promise of no effect" ). People, through their own law performance, cannot become heirs of that which God promises to His children. If they could, then God's blessings are no longer based on God's fulfillment of His promises. "For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise." This cannot be, because "God gave it to Abraham by promise." God's work among mankind stands on His ability to fulfill His promises. It does not depend on our ability to live up to the perfect law of God.

Dear Father, my heart is assured of these promises of blessing for man that you made to Your Son. My heart rejoices that Your work in my life rests on Your promises and not on my performance, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 30

The Gentiles Included as Children of Promise

That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel…that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Ephesians 3:6 and Galatians 3:14)

There are monumental implications when we become children of promise through faith in the promises of God. One of the consequences of outstanding significance is highlighted in our present verses. It involves the Gentiles.

It is quite obvious in the Old Testament that God had great plans for the Jews (for Israel, His chosen people). "'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6). God's plans ultimately included the Gentiles (the nations of the world). "Oh, praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!…The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising" (Psalm 117:1 and Isaiah 60:3). Nevertheless, the Jewish people would have a special place in God's purposes. "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 14:2).

In light of these Old Testament truths regarding Israel, imagine what an astounding revelation it was when the Holy Spirit began to unfold, through the Apostle Paul, the full participation that the Gentiles would have in the promises of God: "That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs." By believing in the promises of God, the Gentiles would have full partnership shares ("fellow heirs" ) in the inheritance of God for His people. The Gentiles would also be "of the same body." This body that included Gentiles and Jews was the church of Jesus Christ. "And He is the head of the body, the church" (Colossians 1:18). Jew and Gentile would comprise one new unit, the church. There is no longer a separation. Also, the Gentiles would be "partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel." Through the promises of the gospel of grace, Gentiles would share fully in eternal life, daily blessing, and intimate access to the Lord. By faith in the God of Abraham, the Gentiles would also enjoy (along with any Jew who believed in Jesus as Messiah) the promise of the Spirit: "that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Yes, now the Holy Spirit would dwell in the lives of all who would believe-not only the Jew, but also the Gentile!

Lord God of Israel, I praise You for being the God of believing Gentiles as well. How glorious is Your grace—how mighty are Your promises—Jews and Gentiles sharing in common the realities of God that are freely given to all who believe in Jesus Christ!

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 29

More on God's Children by God's Promises

Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: "At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son"…Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise…As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." (Romans 9:8-9; Galatians 4:28; and Colossians 2:6)

Once again, our verses reveal a God of promises, who brings forth spiritual children of promise. This truth not only dictates how we enter the family of God, it also determines how we are to live as the children of God.

Ishmael could not be counted as the true seed of Abraham, because he was the product of fleshly ingenuity. "Those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God." Only Isaac could be called the true seed. "But the children of the promise are counted as the seed." This is true concerning us as well. We became God's children through faith in the promise of the gospel. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12). We could not be saved by any fleshly provision: "Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13). Isaac was born through faith in the promises of God. "For this is the word of promise: 'At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.'" We also were born again through faith in the promises of God. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise."

Children of promise are spiritually birthed by promise and spiritually developed by promise. Now that we have been born into God's family by faith in His promises, we are to live day by day in the same way that we became His children. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him." The parallel is simple and straightforward: "As… so." As we were saved, so we are to walk. We started out with the Lord by faith in the life-giving promise of the gospel. "And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life" (1 John 2:25). We are to live each day by faith in the life-developing promises that are inherent to the gospel. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (John 7:38).

Heavenly Father, thank You for making me a child of promise—born again through faith in Your life-giving promises. O Lord, teach me to live day by day in this same manner—sustained and transformed by trusting in Your life-developing promises, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 28

God's Children by God's Promises

For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise…Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. (Galatians 4:22-23, 28)

Our God is a God of promises. He characteristically works by making and fulfilling promises. We are His children. We are children of promise. We were birthed spiritually into God's family through faith in His promises. Two sons of Abraham (Ishmael and Isaac) provide a vivid contrast that attests our sonship by promise.

God had promised to make Abraham a mighty nation, through which would come the Messianic seed that would bless all nations. "I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-2). Yet, the years passed by, and Abraham was still without a son. Eventually, he implied to God that his servant would have to be the beginning of this promised seed. "Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house [Eliezer, his servant] is my heir!" (Genesis 15:3). However, the Lord clarified His promise to give Abraham a true son, sired from his own body. "This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir" (Genesis 15:4). As time passed, the aging couple decided that they would have to come up with another alternative for God. "Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children…So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.' And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived" (Genesis 16:1-2, 4). Thus, Ishmael was born as the result of Abraham's and Sarah's ingenuity: "But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh."

Thereafter, the Lord reiterated His promise of a son. "My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year" (Genesis 17:21). As God promised, so He did. "And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken" (Genesis 21:1). Thus, Isaac was birthed as a result of God's promises. This is a picture of the only possible way that we could ever have become God's children, by His fulfilling of His promises. "Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise."

Dear Father, the God of promises, I praise You for promising salvation to all who would believe. I rejoice in being a child of promise. Lord, no effort or ingenuity of my flesh could have ever given me a place in Your family. Please teach me to live by Your promises, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 27

How We are to Respond to God's Promises

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith." (Romans 1:16-17)

How are we to respond to God's promises of blessing? Such promises are not automatically at work in every life that hears them. Some people respond correctly, while others respond improperly. Some enjoy the benefits of God's promises, whereas others do not. In these two verses, we are given the necessary response to all that pertains to the gospel of grace. That response is faith. This would certainly include living by the promises of God.

Paul was unashamed of the gospel because he knew its effective character. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation." The good news about Jesus Christ is essentially the grace of God proclaimed to man: "the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God" (Acts 20:24). This grace is God's power poured out unto the saving of souls. This power is experienced by all who place their faith in the gospel, whether Jew or Gentile: "for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." The gospel is effective, because it holds forth God's righteousness to sinful man, if he is willing to trust in the Lord. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith."

The gospel is referred to in the Scriptures as a promise. "And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life" (1 John 2:25). The gospel is often stated in the form of promises: "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved… whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 15:11 and Romans 10:13). These gospel promises are partaken of by faith. "The just shall live by faith."

In addition to initial salvation, the good news of God's grace includes many other promises from God. "I will build My church…You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (Matthew 16:18; John 8:32; and 16:13). All of these promises are experienced by faith as well, because "the just shall live by faith"-continually, as well as initially.

O Lord God, I want to respond to Your promises properly. How gracious that You only ask me to trust in what You have promised to do. I do not want to ignore Your promises or doubt them. I want to live by relying upon every promise You have ever made. In Your faithful name I pray, Amen.

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 26

Once More on God's Faithfulness and His Promises

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

This magnificent benedictory prayer closes with another proclamation of God's faithfulness, coupled with a strategic promise from the Lord. "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." What has our faithful God called us to, and what is He promising to do?

The Lord has called us to sanctification and blamelessness (that is, a life of increasing personal righteousness). "For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor" (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). It is the will of God that His children grow in a sanctified life (that is, to be set apart increasingly for the glory, honor, and use of God). The particular issue in view here is sexual purity: "that you should abstain from sexual immorality."

Another term for this godly goal is blamelessness. "May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." As we live unto the Lord day by day (awaiting His return), He wants us to develop in Christlikeness. He desires that there be less and less reason for people to point a finger of blame at us: "that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world" (Philippians 2:15).

How is this desire of the Lord to be accomplished? It is to be done by the work of our faithful God, who promises to do such. "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." What is the Lord's means in advancing this process? It is His word. Jesus revealed this in His prayer for us as He approached the cross. "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth" (John 17:17). Our Lord wants to unleash the power of His word in our lives, changing the way we think and act. He wants to use His word to set us apart for Himself. The Apostle Paul wrote of this powerful spiritual process in referring to Jesus' intentions for His church: "that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:26). Will we humbly and dependently cooperate with our Lord in this desire of His heart for us?

Lord God of holiness, I long to be set apart more and more for Your glory, honor, and use. I yearn for more godliness in my daily life. I humbly ask You to transform my heart and mind by the power of Your holy word. You are faithful! Please do it, Lord!

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7/25/16 8:20 A

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 25

Even More on God's Faithfulness and His Promises

The Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one. (2 Thessalonians 3:3)

Perhaps, a word of reflection upon our context would be helpful. In our daily studies on growing in the grace of God, we have been looking at the promises of God. Living by God's promises is comparable to living by His grace. In both perspectives, the critical matter is having God at work in our lives, doing what He alone can do, doing what we could never deserve or never produce on our own. In considering God's promises, we have allowed the Lord to increase our confidence in His promises by focusing first on His ability, and now on His faithfulness. Our present verse proclaims God's faithfulness, while adding a two-fold promise concerning high priority issues of Christian living.

The faithfulness of God is one of the grand themes of Scripture. "The Lord is faithful." Our God is reliable, so we can rely upon Him and His abundant promises. "God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:9). The true and eternal God, who has invited us into an intimate relationship with His Son, is trustworthy, so we can trust in Him and His bountiful promises.

For example, we can trust in His promise to bring spiritual stability to our lives. "The Lord is faithful, who will establish you." This is one of the major needs in people's lives. On our own, we can easily be unstable and inconsistent. The Lord wants to turn us into responsible and steadfast servants of God. He will be faithful to do this, if we humbly open our hearts to the work of His word and His Spirit.

Another example of how God wants to demonstrate His faithfulness is in protecting us from the evil one. "The Lord is faithful, who will…guard you from the evil one." We are God's sheep. "Know that the LORD, He is God…We are His people and the sheep of His pasture" (Psalm 100:3). Our enemy is like a lion, who wants to consume us. "Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). Sheep do not do well against lions. However, we have a wonderful shepherd, who will not flee when the attack comes. "The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own" (John 10:13-14).

Our Lord wants us to know that we can count on Him to be faithful to keep His promises to establish us and to guard us.

Dear Lord, my Good Shepherd, on my own I am as vulnerable as a sheep and as unsteady as ater. In light of Your faithfulness, I rely upon Your promises to protect me from the enemy and to build into my life spiritual stability.

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7/24/16 7:43 A

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 24

More on God's Faithfulness and His Promises

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

When we are considering the promises of God, it is invaluable to keep His faithfulness in view. Our present verse helps us focus on the faithfulness of God, while offering more promises from our God of promises.

The setting for our meditation is temptations (or, testings). "No temptation has overtaken you." It is interesting to note that this word translated temptation could also be rendered as "testing." This gives insight into the question frequently raised during difficult times: "Is this the enemy, or is this the Lord?" In the midst of the battles of life, the enemy of our souls wants to tempt us into wrong responses like doubt, fear, or compromise. On the other hand, in the same battles, the Lord wants to test us (to exercise our faith). Appropriately, this one term can be used for both situations. Thus, in any temptation or testing, we can be assured that our struggles are not unique. "No temptation [or, testing] has overtaken you except such as is common to man." Whatever our struggle, the Lord has dealt with it innumerable times before.

More significant than the commonplace nature of our difficulties is the faithfulness of God: "but God is faithful." This is the pivotal issue in our impossibilities. Too often, we find ourselves fainting at the challenges that we face. We sense our own unreliability. We are concerned that we may prove unfaithful. God wants us to concentrate on His faithfulness.

After reminding us of God's faithfulness, the Spirit brings forth two promises that provide hope to those in temptations and testings. First, God will not allow battles that are inappropriate for our stage of spiritual growth. He"will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able." Second, God will eventually provide a way out of the battle. He "will also make the way of escape." If we respond in godly faith to the enemy's "mortar shells," the Lord will not allow him to destroy us. Whatever the difficulty involves, the Lord will see us through ("that you may be able to bear it"). We can count on God fulfilling these promises, because "God is faithful."

Dear Lord, thank You for exposing the lie of the enemy that my trials are unique. Thank You for promising to see me through and bring me out. Lord, help me to rest my expectations on Your faithfulness, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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7/23/16 8:39 A

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Today's promise from the Bible - July 23rd

God's Faithfulness and His Promises

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:23)

Previously, we reflected upon God's ability in conjunction with His promises. The capability of the one making promises is strategic when promises are made. When relating God's ability to His promises, we have full assurance that He can fulfill what He has promised to do. "Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You…Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:17, 27). Our Lord created all the universe, and He is ruler over all of humanity. Surely, He is able to fulfill all of His promises.

Now, we have another issue to consider: faithfulness. When promises are made, faithfulness is just as important as ability. It is vital to know that the one promising is not only able, but is also reliable. In our present verse, we are given reason to exercise unwavering confidence in God, based upon His faithfulness. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

In the book of Hebrews, we are given a recurring call to stand firm in the hope of the Lord. To participate more and more in the reality of being God's spiritual household here on earth, we are to confidently embrace throughout our pilgrimage the hope that is available in our Lord: "whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end" (Hebrews 3:6). To fully partake of all that is ours in Christ, we are to persistently cling to Him by faith right up to our last days on earth. "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:14).

Our present verse also stresses persistent faith in the hope of the Lord. "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering." This persistence of trust in God is related to His promises and His faithfulness. "For He who promised is faithful." We can cling tightly to the promises of God. We can confidently hope in God's fulfilling His promises to us. We do not need to waver in doubt, because God is reliable. He is trustworthy. He is faithful.

Dear God of faithfulness, how delightful to realize that my persistence of faith in You hinges on Your faithfulness toward me. I see that I can continue to depend upon You, because you are fully faithful to me. What expectation this gives me as I consider Your great promises! You will be faithful to fulfill every one of them, as I place my trust in

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Edited by: WESLEYV at: 7/23/2016 (08:40)
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7/22/16 5:43 A

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 22

The Lord Promising a New Heaven and New Earth

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance…Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:9, 13)

In our previous meditation, we considered Jesus' promise to return for His people. "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:3). Many centuries have come and gone with that promise remaining unfulfilled. Consequently, some are inclined to scoff at this promise. The Scriptures have prepared us for this by giving us another promise. "Knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days…saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation'" (2 Peter 3:3-4). Nevertheless, we who believe God's promises are convinced that He will keep His word and return for us. When He returns, He will fulfill another promise as well: the promise of a new heaven and new earth. "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells."

Two insights are offered here concerning the Lord's delay in His return. The first one pertains to God's compassion and patience in allowing more opportunity for people to repent and not perish. "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise…but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." The second insight pertains to God's perspective on time. For our eternal Lord, it is as though He made the promise of His return only a couple of days ago! "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Peter 3:8).

Yet, some day the Lord will fulfill His promise to return for us. Then, the new, eternal reality will come. "Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." It is delightful to consider! "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth…And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away'" (Revelation 21:1-4).

Dear Lord, I eagerly await Your appearing. I rejoice at the place You have prepared for us—a place of righteousness, joy, and peace. Above all, I anticipate dwelling in Your visible presence forever and ever, Amen!

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7/21/16 7:05 A

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 21

The Lord Promising to Return for Us

"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:1-3)

Jesus' promise to return for His followers was given to bring them heavenly comfort. How comforting to us, in this troublesome world, to know that Jesus will be back for all of us who have followed Him here on earth.

When the Lord Jesus spoke these words, He would soon be leaving His disciples. He knew that the cross, the resurrection, and His ascension were close at hand. As He spoke of His departure, they were troubled. "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me." One purpose in His leaving was to make ready a heavenly home for those who believed in Him. "I go to prepare a place for you." Then, the promise that followed brought Jesus' ultimate comfort. "I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." Jesus would be returning to take His beloved followers to be with Him again.

After His atoning death and victorious resurrection, the Lord instructed the disciples for a brief season in the matters of His kingdom. Then, it was time to depart. "Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9). Their gaze remained upon this one whom they had come to love. "They looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up" (Acts 1:10). Then, angelic messengers repeated the promise of His return. "This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). What hope this must have stirred in their yearning hearts.

Throughout the history of the church, loving hearts have longed for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostles were inspired by the Spirit of God to bring us comforting promises of His return. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). This is the promised hope we are to live in day by day: "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

Dear Lord Jesus, I find sweet comfort in Your promises to return for me. I long to see You face to face. It is inexpressible joy to anticipate being with You forever. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

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7/20/16 6:53 A

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 20

Answered Prayer Promised in Jesus' Name

"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14)

We who belong to the Lord have a great invitation to thoroughly express our hearts to Him in humble, dependent prayer. "Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him" (Psalm 62:8). We also have a great need to speak to Him. "Without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). We also have great promises of answered prayer. "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do…If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

When the people of God are prayerless, they do not receive from the Lord all that He wants to give to them. "You do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:2). At times, God's children pray, but they still do not receive from the Lord. "You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures" (James 4:3). Their prayers are anchored in their own wills and interests. True praying is to be anchored in the will of God. "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15).

At this juncture, the Scriptures are vital in our daily prayer life. God's word directs us in praying according to the will of God. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you" (John 15:7). As we are abiding in (depending upon) Christ, we will want His word to have full sway in our lives. As we consistently get into His word, the Scriptures shape our thoughts and our desires. Consequently, we ask what the Lord teaches us to desire. In that beautiful biblical setting, He promises to give us whatever we ask.

All of this describes the essence of praying in the name of Jesus. Praying in Jesus' name is not merely a formula of words with which to conclude our prayers. Whether we verbalize that phrase or not, it is about praying as Jesus would pray (always concerned with the will of His Father). It is about praying based on all that the word teaches concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus on our behalf. Those who pray this way enjoy the certainty of these great promises of answered prayer, and they see much glory brought to God. "And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it."

Lord Jesus, thank You for these great promises of answered prayer. Teach me to pray in Your name. Please shape my praying by all that Your word reveals concerning Your will and Your work on my behalf. In Your precious name, I pray, Amen.

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7/19/16 6:54 A

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 19

More Truth to Deliver Us from the Law

Now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? You observe days and months and seasons and years. (Galatians 4:9-10)

In our last meditation, we saw that the Lord's promise of liberating truth includes truth to deliver us from the law. If we are going to be justified (declared not guilty and pronounced righteous in Christ), we must be delivered from the law (which condemns us, pronounces us guilty of sin). We are rescued from the law by placing our faith in the Lord Jesus, thereby receiving His justifying grace. "We have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law" (Galatians 2:16).

Through this exercise of faith, we come to know the Lord. At this point, many Christians return to a religious striving-under-law performance, assuming they can grow in sanctification by their own dedicated efforts. "Now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements?" These words from Galatians repeat a major theme of that revolutionary letter: the power and richness of grace contrasted with the weakness and poverty ("the weak and beggarly elements") of the law. The grace of God, that was powerful enough to bring us justification, is the only option powerful enough to provide us daily sanctification (growth in godly living). The grace of God, that was abundantly rich unto the saving of our souls, is the only resource rich enough to effect the transforming of our heart and character. God's law was never intended to provide the heavenly power or riches needed for justification. Neither was the law intended to do such for sanctification.

The futility of producing godliness through the law can be seen in the Galatians' vain hope that observing religious holy days would empower them spiritually. "You observe days and months and seasons and years." Far from liberation, this was a return to religious enslavement. "You desire again to be in bondage." God's people are certainly free to celebrate days that may have spiritual significance to them. "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind" (Romans 14:5). We are not to require or prohibit the observance of days. Nevertheless, if our hope is in religious observances, we are heading into religious bondage, not into spiritual liberty.

Dear Lord, I rejoice in the power and richness of Your grace that has brought me justification from sin! I humbly cry out to You for a daily supply of Your powerful and rich sanctifying grace. Convict me when I am leaning upon the weak and beggarly elements of law performance, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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7/18/16 7:40 A

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 18

Truth to Deliver Us from the Law

The law has dominion over a man as long as he lives…But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. (Romans 7:1, 6)

In the word of God, the Lord has promised truth which brings spiritual liberation. "The truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). We have considered such truths that set people free from bondage to sin, from bondage to the fear of death, and from bondage to the influence of the evil one. Now, we will look at another category of liberating truth: truth to deliver us from the law.

This issue pertains to everyone initially, because we all begin under bondage to the law. "Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19). Everyone who has ever lived, is living now, or will live in the days to come ("all the world") is initially held in a state of condemnation ("guilty before God"), because of their sin. This guilty condition would persist for a lifetime, if God did not supply a remedy. "The law has dominion over a man as long as he lives." However, this condition need not persist, because the Lord's word proclaims liberating truth for this drastic need. "But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by." The person we were at physical birth died on the cross with Christ, when we believed in Him. The new creature in Christ now stands justified by faith in Christ (not by law performance). "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified [declared not guilty, pronounced righteous in Christ] by faith apart from the deeds of the law" (Romans 3:28).

All of God's children have experienced these liberating truths, as they apply to justification (our eternal righteous standing before God in heaven). However, many of God's people are unaware of deliverance from the bondage of the law concerning sanctification (our daily growth in personal, practical godliness on earth). This matter is repeatedly addressed in the word of God. Here, in one of our primary verses for meditation, we see these truths given a sanctification implication. "Now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter." Yes, understanding the truth of deliverance from the law determines whether we will struggle in bondage to law performance, or live freely by the ongoing, fresh work of the Spirit of God.

Dear Lord of deliverance, I worship You for delivering me from the condemnation of the law, by grace through faith. Teach me how to live daily by grace through faith, that I might be practically delivered from law performance as I serve You, Amen.

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 17

Truth to Set Us Free from the Enemy's Bondage

"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"…that they may know the truth… and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him. (John 8:31-32 and 2 Timothy 2:25-26)

As followers of Jesus Christ, it is so important that we abide in His word. We are called to live in the word of the Lord that we might know His truth. As we embrace God's truth, we are impacted by its liberating power. "The truth shall make you free." One fundamental area where people need spiritual liberation is bondage from the enemy.

The entire realm of unbelieving humanity lies under the binding influence of the evil one. "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). Even those unbelievers who do not accept the truths of God about Satan and sin are nonetheless captivated by him. Consequently, we are to humbly reach out to them with the truth: "in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will." Paul was sent forth to proclaim the gospel truth that offers freedom from such bondage: "to open their eyes and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God" (Acts 26:18). The testimony of all who believe in the truth of the gospel is this: "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Colossians 1:13).

The problem of Satan's binding, hindering, restricting influence did not end at salvation. Many saints (though headed for heaven) are still bound in areas of their thinking and behaving. They are still influenced by the enemy's lies. They cannot make the liberating confession of Paul and his missionary team: "we are not ignorant of his [Satan's] devices" (2 Corinthians 2:11). Ignorance of the enemy's tactics will persist in the lives of those who do not know (or will not yield to) God's liberating truth. On the other hand, all who are willing to embrace the truths of God's word will enjoy more and more freedom from the enemy's lies. They will grow in understanding of, and reliance upon, the victorious purposes of Jesus' coming to this earth. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8 ).

Dear Lord, I praise You for the liberating truth of Your gospel of grace that delivered me from the enemy's grasp. Now, I need more and more of the liberating truths of Your word that I might not be ignorant of his devious and persistent tactics. Teach me Your truths, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 16

The Truth Promised to Set Us Free

"If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)

As we have seen, the Holy Spirit is promised as our guide into all the truths of God's word. "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13). A related promise assures us that this truth will have a liberating impact upon our lives. "The truth shall make you free." This promise of spiritual liberation through the truths of God's word is such a vital one for man, because various forms of spiritual bondage threaten us all.

Everyone needs liberation from bondage to sin. Those who first heard this promise of Jesus needed instruction on this. "We are Abraham's descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can you say, 'You will be made free'? Jesus answered them, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin'" (John 8:33-34). This "whoever" includes us all, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). However, we can all praise God that His liberating truth can set us free from the bondage to sin. All who trust in the Lord Jesus are justified from their sins (declared righteous in God's sight) through the redemption price of the blood of Christ: "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth to be a propitiation [satisfactory payment for sin] by His blood, through faith" (Romans 3:24-25).

The fear of death is another bondage from which people need liberation. Hebrews speaks of those "who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage" (Hebrews 2:15). What a tormenting bondage is the fear of death! Yet, Jesus' liberating truth can deal with this bondage as well. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26). All who believe in the one who is resurrection life will live forever. Even if they should experience physical death, the grave has no grip on them. In fact, though their bodies may go into a tomb, they would go immediately into the presence of the Lord. "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).

Dear God of truth, I rejoice in the freedom that comes through Your truth! Thank You for setting me free from the bondage of condemnation and judgment that I deserved because of my sin. I praise You for liberation from the fear of death. May I live victoriously by these truths and pass them on to others who need to be set free, in Your holy name, Amen.

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 15

The Spirit Promised to Glorify Jesus

"When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth…He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you"…Now we have received…the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. (John 16:13-14 and 1 Corinthians 2:12)

The promised teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit guides us into all the truths of the word of God. "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth." As the Spirit fulfills this promise, He especially wants to unfold God's truth in ways that will glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. "He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." The desire of the Holy Spirit is to bring glory and honor, not to Himself, but to the Lord Jesus Christ. "But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me" (John 15:26).

One basic way the Spirit glorifies Jesus is by revealing to us (and bringing into our growing experiential knowledge) the free heavenly riches that are ours in Christ. "Now we have received…the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God." This is the language of grace: "freely given to us." The wonders of God's grace are poured out freely: "being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed upon us in the Beloved" (Romans 3:24 and Ephesians 1:6, NASB). What man deserves (and has earned by his own sin and offenses) is judgment. However, Christ supplies at His cost (His death for us) the free remedy of eternal life. "But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many…For the wages of sin is death, but the [free] gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 5:15; 6:23).

These freely given things of everlasting life include far more than the precious gift of forgiveness. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). We are to freely drink from a river of blessings (including, peace, hope, fruit, gifts, victory, etc.) throughout time-and even for all eternity. "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts… and let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 21:6; 22:17).

Lord Jesus, these freely given things of God, revealed to me by Your Spirit through Your word, cause me to glorify You greatly. Please teach me to freely drink of these riches yet more and more, through humble dependence upon You, Amen.

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 14

The Lord Promising His Spirit to Teach Us

"The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things…When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all the truth." (John 14:26 and 16:13)

We have been meditating upon the Lord's promise to build His church. "I will build My church" (Matthew 16:18). One aspect of this promise is the qualitative development of the spiritual life of God's people. To properly develop spiritually, the Lord's people need to learn the truths of His word. The Holy Spirit is promised to us to fulfill that need.

The coming of the Spirit (in His ministry as Helper to the church) was a matter of promise: "The Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name." When the Father would fulfill this promise (on the day of Pentecost), one of the primary purposes would be the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. "He will teach you all things." This teaching work of the Spirit leads us into all the truths of the word of God. "He will guide you into all the truth." This role harmonizes with one of the titles of the Spirit: "When He, the Spirit of truth, has come."

We must have the teaching ministry of the Spirit in our lives. We cannot learn the truths of God on our own intellectual capabilities. "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8). The thoughts and ways of God are as far above our thoughts and ways as the heavens are above the earth. Jesus gave similar insight concerning the heavenly kingdom that He invited people to enter. "My kingdom is not of this world…My kingdom is not from here" (John 18:36). Consequently, we need the Holy Spirit to be our teacher concerning this kingdom.

God loves us beyond measure. The death of His Son demonstrates that without question. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). For all who will come by faith and, thereby, love Him in return, He offers blessings far beyond what human minds can grasp. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him" (1 Corinthians 2:9). Yet, these wonders can be known. "But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:10). These spiritual treasures in the word of God are to be unfolded to us by the Spirit of God.

Lord God of great promises, thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit. I need Your Spirit to teach me the wondrous realities of Your kingdom. As I humbly approach Your word, guide me into all the truths You want me to know and to live, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 13

More on the Lord Promising to Build His Church

"I will build My church." (Matthew 16:18)

This promise has monumental implications for every follower of Jesus Christ. "I will build My church." Each of the five words in this brief declaration reveals an essential truth of Christian life and service.

First, this promise discloses who will build the church. "I [Jesus]will build My church." Jesus is the builder of the church, not man. He wants to use us in the process, but He is the builder. Paul understood this arrangement. "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation" (1 Corinthians 3:10). By the grace of God, Paul served the Lord. As he went about proclaiming Christ, the Lord was using him to lay the foundation (Christ) in lives that were being saved and individual churches that were being started.

Second, Jesus' promise reveals the certainty of His church being built. "I will [assuredly] build My church." There is no room for doubt. Jesus will do what He is promising. The only question for us is whether or not we will be available as a part of this wondrous process. The Lord wants to make us usable for His work: "sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work" (2 Timothy 2:21).

Third, this promise indicates the manner in which the Lord wants to work. "I will build [construct] My church." As with any construction project, there are both the quantitative and qualitative aspects. The Lord saves souls, adding them to His church in a quantitative increase. "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:47). The Lord also enriches those He saves, bringing to His church qualitative development. "And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all" (Acts 4:33).

Fourth, His promise settles the issue of ownership. "I will build My [Jesus'] church." The church does not belong to the Pastor, the Church Board, or the District Office. It is Jesus' church. He paid the price to redeem us: "the church of God which He purchased with His own blood" (Acts 20:28).

Fifth, this promise specifies exactly what Jesus is going to build. "I will build My church [His people]." The church is not a building. This word (church) literally speaks of "a called-out people." "But you are…His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God" (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Dear Lord Jesus, I honor You as the builder of the church. I rest in the certainty of Your task being accomplished, both quantitatively and qualitatively. I see that the church, Your redeemed people, belongs to You. Also, I humbly ask that You equip me and use me as You fulfill this grand promise, Amen.

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 12

The Lord Promising to Build His Church

"You are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18)

"The" promise of all promises that God has made is the gift of everlasting life. "And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life" (1 John 2:25). All who respond by faith to this promise of life become part of the church Jesus promises to build. "I will build My church."

The Lord gave this promise after Peter's accurate confession of Jesus being the Messiah. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). As Jesus confirmed this confession, He let Peter know that he did not come up with that insight on his own. "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). Then, Jesus contrasted the meaning of Peter's name with the kind of foundation He would lay for His church. "You are Peter [in Greek, "Petros," a stone], and on this rock [in Greek, "petra," a bedrock] I will build My church." Peter's name signified a stone, that which could be easily moved or held within one's hand. Jesus would not build His church on mere men, which at best are like movable stones. Rather, he would build upon a bedrock foundation that could not be moved. He would build upon the rock-solid truth contained in Peter's confession. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Yes, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself would be the actual foundation for the church. "For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 3:11).

This picture of Jesus Christ as the foundation of His church is a fulfillment of one of the great prophetic promises the Lord made long ago. "Therefore thus says the Lord God: 'Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation'" (Isaiah 28:16). Also, this is in perfect harmony with the Old Testament revelation of God as our Rock. "Oh come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation" (Psalm 95:1). This rock-solid, anointed King (Jesus, the Messiah) would be fully effective in His mission. Even Satan and his demons, the authorities ("gates") of death and darkness ("Hades"), would be unable to prevent the fulfillment of His promise to build His church: "and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it."

Lord Jesus, I also confess You as the Christ, the Son of the living God. I praise You as the rock-solid foundation of Your church collectively—and of my life individually. Please use me as You fulfill Your promise to build Your church. In Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

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Today's Promises from the Bible - July 11

More on the Promise of Eternal Life

And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life…And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (1 John 2:25 and 5:11)

We previously referred to the promise of eternal life as "the promise of all promises" (regarding its impact upon man). Thus, we will give it additional attention. We saw that eternal life (everlasting life) has both a quantitative aspect (lasting forever) and a qualitative aspect (growing in fullness). Also, eternal life is a gift of God's grace, which is received in humble faith. There are other distinctives of eternal life that are very edifying to contemplate.

The gift of eternal life is to be possessed now, not just awaiting us in eternity. "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life…Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life…Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47). Those who have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus already have eternal life here on earth.

Furthermore, that reality can be embraced with assurance. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:11-13). Eternal life is innate to Jesus Christ. "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live…I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 11:25; 14:6). He is the life. All who have trusted in the Lord Jesus have Him dwelling in their lives. Therefore, they are assured of having eternal life.

Ultimately, these verses remind us of the most profound aspect of eternal life. The realities of that life are all related to Jesus. "God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." In order to grow in that life, one must only pursue a growing relationship with the one who has the life. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (John 17:3 and 2 Peter 3:18).

Dear Lord, I rejoice that Christ dwells within my life. Therefore, with full assurance I know that eternal life is my present possession. Now, I desire to grow in the fullness of that life, so I set my heart to know You better. Please reveal Yourself to me more and more through Your holy word, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 10

God Promising Eternal Life

And this is the promise that He has promised us—eternal life. (1 John 2:25)

We have examined a number of strategic promises from God in the Old Testament. We have also considered how a growing awareness of God's ability builds our faith in His promises. Now, let's begin to examine some of the promises that God has made in the New Testament.

The first promise we will look at could actually be called "the promise of all promises" (as far as that which impacts man the most profoundly). This promise is the culmination of all the others. "And this is the promise that He has promised us-eternal life." As in human life, eternal life has a quantitative aspect (related to duration) and a qualitative aspect (related to substance).

The quantitative aspect of eternal life pertains to the fact that it never ends. Consequently, it is sometimes translated as everlasting. "And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40). For humans, whose natural life is limited to a brief number of years, the thought of a never-ending life is overwhelming. Yet, as amazing as the quantitative side of eternal life is, the qualitative side is even more stupendous.

Jesus spoke of the qualitative aspect of eternal life. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). This is a life in which the fullness of Jesus' grace is being increasingly manifested. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… full of grace and truth… And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for [upon] grace" (John 1:14, 16). This is a life in which the Holy Spirit is being trusted to produce Christlike characteristics in an increasing manner. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). This is a life in which God, not man, is the source of sufficiency. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5).

Appropriately, this eternal life is offered to man as a gift. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord…And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (Romans 6:23 and John 10:28). Necessarily, this gift can only be received by faith: "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:15).

O gracious Lord, what a wondrous gift is ours through faith—eternal life! I praise You that it will never end. I seek You that it may grow abundant in and through me. This I pray for Your glory and honor, Amen.

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Day By Day By Grace - July 9

Once More on God's Ability and His Promises

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think… (Ephesians 3:20)

These opening words from one of the most well-known benedictions in all of the New Testament offer a unique opportunity to consider God's ability, as related to His promises. How able is God? He is "able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think." Could we possibly ask for more than that which God has already promised? Could we properly think greater things than what God has promised? Well, let's reflect upon some of the promises of God that we have already considered.

We have seen that God promised to make a mighty nation with worldwide blessings from one man, Abraham. "I will make you a great nation…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3). God also promised to deliver His people from bondage into an abundant land. "I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt…to a land flowing with milk and honey" (Exodus 3:17). He also promised to fight for His people. "The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you" (Deuteronomy 1:30). Additionally, God promised an eternal kingdom for His people, through the line of David. "And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever" (2 Samuel 7:16). Further, God promised that His Messiah would sit on that eternal throne. "A Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him" (Isaiah 11:1-2). Moreover, God promised that Messiah would be a unique King. "A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench" (Isaiah 42:3).

Ultimately, the Father promised that the Messiah Himself (Jesus) would be the new covenant of grace. "I, the LORD, have called You in righteousness, and will…give You as a covenant to the people" (Isaiah 42:6). Correspondingly, the Lord promised that this covenant of grace would provide forgiveness of sins ("I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more"-Jeremiah 31:34), intimacy with God ("They all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them"-Jeremiah 31:34), and an inner work of God to change us from the inside out ("I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts"-Jeremiah 31:33).

Certainly, we could not ask or think beyond these promises. Yet, our God is able to do far beyond these extraordinary matters. What confidence this gives us regarding God's promises, as well as every prayer we offer based on these promises!

Almighty God, how often I underestimate Your ability and thereby end up doubting Your promises. Lord, I praise You that You are able to do far beyond my prayers or thoughts—and every promise that You have ever made!

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Day By Day By Grace - July 8

Still More on God's Ability and His Promises

For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. (2 Timothy 1:12)

A growing appreciation of God's ability produces an increasing tendency to rely upon God's promises. In this present meditation, we are reminded of how relationship with the Lord is always at the heart of the Christian life.

Paul's experience of suffering was the setting for this "one verse testimony." "For this reason I also suffer these things." The reason he suffered was related to his calling to preach the gospel: "to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles" (2 Timothy 1:11). When the Lord first called Paul to serve Him in the good news of grace, God revealed his future sufferings. "I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16). Suffering is inevitable while serving God in an ungodly world. Jesus Himself was our example. "For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21).

Although Paul suffered, he was not shamed by his suffering. "Nevertheless I am not ashamed." If our suffering is for godly reasons, we likewise do not need to be ashamed. "If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter" (1 Peter 4:16). The faith that enabled Paul to endure sufferings properly came from His growing relationship with Jesus. "For I know whom I have believed." Since originally believing in the Lord, Paul had become increasingly acquainted with Him. A wonderful consequence of increased intimacy with Christ is becoming increasingly convinced of His ability. "For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able." This conviction encouraged Paul to entrust the issues of life into the care of His Master. "He is able to keep what I have committed to Him." This trust was Paul's daily desire right up to the return of the Lord: "until that Day." Again, Jesus left us a similar example. He committed His daily situations into the hands of His able heavenly Father. "When He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (1 Peter 2:23).

Dear heavenly Father, again I see that it is all about relationship. As Jesus related to You in His day by day living, I want to relate to Jesus. Lord Jesus, help me to know You more and more. Getting to know You is what persuades me of Your ability to fulfill Your promises. Lord, I have many sufferings that I need to trust You to handle, from now until You return for me. In Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

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