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Today's promises from the Bible - November 30

The Observable Nature of the Grace of God

The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad. (Acts 11:21-23)

Fundamentally, the work of God's grace takes place within human hearts. "It is good that the heart be established by grace" (Hebrews 13:9). Yet, whenever grace is at work in lives, visible indicators inevitably appear: "When he came and had seen the grace of God." This statement raises for our consideration the observable nature of the grace of God.

After Stephen was stoned by the religious leaders, an expansive persecution arose. God used this widespread difficulty to extend the proclamation of the gospel. "Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only" (Acts 11:19). Others began to reach out to those whose background was Grecian. "But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus" (Acts 11:20). God used them to touch many lives. "The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord." Word of this spiritual harvest soon reached Jerusalem. "Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch." So, Barnabas traveled to Antioch, where the first great Gentile church was being birthed. When he arrived, the invisible was being made visible: "When he came and had seen the grace of God." It was obvious to Barnabas that God had been working by His grace. Souls were being saved. The saved were growing in godliness.

What Barnabas saw was undoubtedly similar to the spiritual phenomenon that had occurred in the church at Colosse. When the gospel was embraced there, it clearly impacted lives: "the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 1:5-6). In Colosse, the outward effects of the inward work of the grace of God was spiritual fruit. When Barnabas saw this same process unfolding in Antioch, "he was glad."

Dear Lord, I praise You that Your grace has given me a new spiritual heart. Now I ask You to impact my heart deeply by Your grace. I pray that the visible evidences of grace will be seen by all who observe my life. May it bring gladness to them and honor to You, Amen.

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Today's promises from the Bible - November 24

Once More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

Before Paul believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, he spoke evil of Jesus, oppressed His followers, and exalted himself. "I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man." Yet, God called Paul from this ungodly religious life and made him a faithful, fruitful servant of the Lord. Once more we will see this can only happen by exceedingly abundant grace for transformation.

This magnificent transformation process began with mercy, the necessary companion of grace. God's mercy holds back the awful consequences that our ungodliness deserves. God's grace brings us the wonderful blessings of godliness that we could never deserve. God was merciful toward Paul's ignorant and unbelieving behavior. "But I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." The ministry of grace that God would eventually give to Paul (as well as any ministry God has for us) was established upon mercy. "Therefore, since we have this ministry [new covenant grace-2 Corinthians 3:6], as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart" (2 Corinthians 4:1). God chose Paul to be a distinctive example of His rich mercy. "For this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life" (1 Timothy 1:16).

This grand project of transformation then proceeded with grace. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus." This bountiful grace brought two spiritual blessings (faith and love) that would be essential for Paul's ministry. Paul had been a man of religious works and self-righteousness. God turned him into a man of faith. "The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith'" (Romans 1:17). He had been a man of cruel hatred and religious prejudice. God turned him into a man of love. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6).

O Lord of rich mercy and exceedingly abundant grace, I worship You. I thank You for mercifully holding back the judgment I deserved. I praise You for graciously bringing to me wonderful blessings that I could never deserve. Now, by Your bountiful grace, please work in my heart more faith and love, that I might serve and honor You more effectively. In Your mighty name I pray, Amen.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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Today's promises from the Bible - November 23

More on Exceedingly Abundant Grace for Transformation

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man…And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant. (1 Timothy 1:12-14)

By His bountiful grace, Jesus Christ transformed Saul of Tarsus into the Apostle Paul. The Lord did this by enabling Paul, making him a man of faith, and putting him into ministry. As we consider what Paul was before the Lord began to change his life, we will see even more on exceedingly abundant grace for transformation.

Before he became a follower of Jesus Christ, Paul engaged in blasphemous behavior. "I was formerly a blasphemer." Through uninformed religious zeal, he said and did much that insulted and opposed the Lord. "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). Part of his sin of blasphemy included trying to force Christians to speak evil of the Lord. "And I punished them often… and compelled them to blaspheme" (Acts 26:11).

Related to this, Paul severely persecuted believers in Jesus Christ before he came to salvation. "I was formerly…a persecutor." He aggressively searched out anyone he could find who followed Jesus, hoping to imprison them. "As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison" (Acts 8:3). He was so enraged against the followers of Jesus that he even obtained authorization to pursue them into distant cities beyond Israel. "Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem" (Acts 9:1-2).

In light of such brazen aggression, it is no surprise that Paul confesses to being an arrogant man before he was saved. "I was formerly…an insolent man." His religious success clearly led him to a prideful estimation of his own spirituality. "If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Philippians 3:4-6).

Nevertheless, all of this misguided religiosity could be transformed by God's bountiful grace. "And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant."

Lord Jesus, what marvelous grace this is! What encouraging words these are! Yes, I see that my own disqualifying failures can be turned around by Your exceedingly abundant grace! Transform me Lord, I humbly pray!

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Today's promises from the Bible - November 11

Another Consequence of Accessing Grace through Faith

Who through faith…obtained promises. (Hebrews 11:33b)

In our current section of Scripture, we have begun to consider a summarized testimony of God's servants who experienced various consequences of accessing grace through faith. Two of these benefits were, they "subdued kingdoms" and "worked righteousness." These are wonderful realities, but these accounts show that relying upon the Lord can produce more consequences than these.

Another rich blessing that came from trusting in God was that they "obtained promises." Jeremiah, a mighty prophet of God, certainly experienced the benefit of fulfilled promises from the Lord. He was given a challenging call to root out and destroy entrenched ungodliness so that a fresh work of God might begin. "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant" (Jeremiah 1:9-10). The religious establishment would come strongly against him, but God promised to sustain and protect him. "'They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you,' says the LORD, 'to deliver you'" (Jeremiah 1:19). The promised opposition surely came. "Therefore the princes said to the king, 'Please, let this man be put to death'…So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the dungeon…which was in the court of the prison" (Jeremiah 38:4, 6). More importantly, the promised rescue came as well. "So they pulled Jeremiah up with ropes and lifted him out of the dungeon. And Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison…then they sent someone to take Jeremiah from the court of the prison, and committed him to Gedaliah…that he should take him home. So he dwelt among the people" (Jeremiah 38:13; 39:14). Even more importantly, the Lord continued to speak to and through His servant in the midst of it all. "Now the word of the LORD had come to Jeremiah while he was shut up in the court of the prison" (Jeremiah 39:15).

We may not have a prophetic calling exactly like Jeremiah. However, we are all called "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude v. 3). If we faithfully respond, many will oppose us as well. We, too, will need to "obtain promises." We will need to rely upon God's promised protection. "He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'…So we may boldly say: 'The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?'" (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Lord God of promises, I need to obtain Your promises. I need to entrust myself to Your promised work in my life. So, I look to You again, not only to protect me as I serve You daily, but also to sustain the ministry You have given to me, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's promises from the Bible - November 10

More Consequences of Accessing Grace through Faith

Time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness. (Hebrews 11:32-33a)

With time and pages running out in his epistle, our divinely inspired writer summarizes the testimonies of specific servants of the Lord (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, and Samuel), as well as one general category (the prophets). His summary presents more consequences of accessing grace through faith.

The first consequence of their faith is that they "subdued kingdoms." As with Joshua, David was exceptionally effective in defeating enemy nations. "David attacked the Philistines, subdued them… Then he defeated Moab…And David defeated Hadadezer king of Zobah as far as Hamath, as he went to establish his power by the River Euphrates…Then David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus…He also put garrisons in Edom" (1 Chronicles 18:1-3, 6, 13).

The next consequence of their faith is that they "worked righteousness." These terms speak of walking in righteousness before the Lord and calling others to the righteous ways of the Lord. Samuel had a reputation of walking in righteousness before his God. "'There is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man'…Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate" (1 Samuel 9:6, 18). The prophets persistently called the people to forsake their ungodly ways and to turn to the Lord's righteous ways. Isaiah preached powerful warnings concerning unrighteousness. "Alas, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a brood of evildoers, children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked to anger the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away backward" (Isaiah 1:4). He also held forth the Lord as man's only hope of righteousness. "Seek the LORD while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).

The kingdoms we are to subdue today are the kingdoms of self and flesh, as well as the kingdom of this world (with its millions of bound and lost, who are perishing in darkness). The righteousness we need and that we proclaim is the righteousness of Christ, who lives in us! The means is ever the same-by faith.

Lord God of power and righteousness, teach me to rely upon Your power, that the kingdoms of self and flesh might be subdued in my life day by day. Lord, I want to abide in You, so Your righteousness might shine through me daily. Enable me to cry out against ungodliness, while at the same time, pointing people to You for the forgiveness and righteousness they need, Amen.

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Edited by: WESLEYV at: 11/10/2016 (05:17)
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Today's promises from the Bible - November 9

David and Samuel—by Faith

Time would fail me to tell…also of David and Samuel. (Hebrews 11:32b)

Our divinely inspired author sensed that time was running out to elaborate upon the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah. He also recorded that time was not sufficient to include specific testimony about the faith of David and Samuel. This is surprising, since they would be viewed by many as likely candidates for extensive consideration.

David was such a notable man of faith. He faced the giant Goliath by faith. "Then David said to the Philistine, 'You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts'" (1 Samuel 17:45). When Saul wanted to destroy him, David entrusted the King into the hands of the Lord. "Let the LORD judge between you and me, and let the LORD avenge me on you. But my hand shall not be against you" (1 Samuel 24:12). He confidently confessed the Lord as his strength, his joy, and his comprehensive salvation. "The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation" (Psalm 118:14). He also turned to the Lord at the lowest spiritual point in his life (after he sinned tragically in adultery and murder). In humble dependence he cried, "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:1-2).

Samuel was another notable man of faith. He began to trust in the Lord as a young boy. "Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel answered, 'Speak, for Your servant hears'" (1 Samuel 3:10). Then, he grew spiritually and faithfully served the Lord throughout the nation of Israel. "So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD" (1 Samuel 3:19-20). Also, he courageously rebuked King Saul for not fully carrying out God's instructions to destroy the Amalekites. "Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king" (1 Samuel 15:23).

David and Samuel were outstanding servants of the Lord. However, the noteworthy distinctive in their lives was the same spiritual distinctive that caused some men of lesser renown to be listed here as well…faith. "For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah" (Hebrews 11:32a).

Lord God of the "likely servant," in many ways, I can identify with Barak and Jephthah more readily than with David and Samuel. Yet, I am encouraged to see that what pleases You in any person is always the same—faith. Teach me to trust You, Lord.

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Today's promises from the Bible - November 8

Rahab, the Harlot, Rescued, by Faith

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31)

God delivered the fortress of Jericho into the hands of His people, as the walls fell down, by faith. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days" (Hebrews 11:30). This evil city of abominations was then destroyed, as the holy Lord God had justly required. "You shall utterly destroy them…lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods" (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). Yet, the family of Rahab, the harlot, was rescued, by faith. "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe."

In preparation for entering the land, Joshua had sent out two spies, who were eventually received by Rahab. "Now Joshua…sent out two men…to spy secretly, saying, 'Go, view the land, especially Jericho.' So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there" (Joshua 2:1). The king of Jericho searched for the men and could not find them, for Rahab had concealed them. "She had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax" (Joshua 2:6). Why would this woman have risked her life to protect these two strangers? She and her family had heard of the reality of the God of Israel. "We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites…whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted…for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (Joshua 2:10-11). This heathen family now wanted to turn from their idolatrous ways and identify by faith with the true and living Lord God and with His people. "Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall" (Joshua 2:15).

By her confession of faith, confirmed by her actions of faith, Rahab and her family were rescued from the judgment that her unbelieving city experienced. "And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day" (Joshua 6:25). She became a part of the nation Israel, even appearing in the line of Jesus, the Messiah! "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…Abraham begot Isaac… Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab" (Matthew 1:1-2, 5). What astounding blessings come to those who believe. By faith, Rahab went from judgment to deliverance, from idols to God, from shame to honor!

Lord God of all who believe, I am humbled and encouraged by Rahab's testimony. It is humbling to see how much more revelation I have—yet, at times, I wrestle with fears and doubts. However, it is encouraging to see the radical changes that You bring whenever we trust in You!

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"To God be the glory!!"


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Anyone reading the devotionals?

"To God be the glory!!"


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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 7

Rahab, the Harlot, Rescued, by Faith

By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. (Hebrews 11:31)

God delivered the fortress of Jericho into the hands of His people, as the walls fell down, by faith. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days" (Hebrews 11:30). This evil city of abominations was then destroyed, as the holy Lord God had justly required. "You shall utterly destroy them…lest they teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods" (Deuteronomy 20:17-18). Yet, the family of Rahab, the harlot, was rescued, by faith. "By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe."

In preparation for entering the land, Joshua had sent out two spies, who were eventually received by Rahab. "Now Joshua…sent out two men…to spy secretly, saying, 'Go, view the land, especially Jericho.' So they went, and came to the house of a harlot named Rahab, and lodged there" (Joshua 2:1). The king of Jericho searched for the men and could not find them, for Rahab had concealed them. "She had brought them up to the roof and hidden them with the stalks of flax" (Joshua 2:6). Why would this woman have risked her life to protect these two strangers? She and her family had heard of the reality of the God of Israel. "We have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites…whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted…for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath" (Joshua 2:10-11). This heathen family now wanted to turn from their idolatrous ways and identify by faith with the true and living Lord God and with His people. "Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall" (Joshua 2:15).

By her confession of faith, confirmed by her actions of faith, Rahab and her family were rescued from the judgment that her unbelieving city experienced. "And Joshua spared Rahab the harlot, her father's household, and all that she had. So she dwells in Israel to this day" (Joshua 6:25). She became a part of the nation Israel, even appearing in the line of Jesus, the Messiah! "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…Abraham begot Isaac… Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab" (Matthew 1:1-2, 5). What astounding blessings come to those who believe. By faith, Rahab went from judgment to deliverance, from idols to God, from shame to honor!

Lord God of all who believe, I am humbled and encouraged by Rahab's testimony. It is humbling to see how much more revelation I have—yet, at times, I wrestle with fears and doubts. However, it is encouraging to see the radical changes that You bring whenever we trust in You!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 6

Israel Seeing Jericho's Walls Fall Down, by Faith

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. (Hebrews 11:30)

The children of Israel are now poised on the edge of the land that God had promised to give them. By faith, they had kept the Passover and were spared the judgment of the firstborn that befell the unbelieving Egyptians. By faith, they had been delivered from bondage in Egypt. By faith, they had passed through the Red Sea. Now, they would begin to possess the promised blessings of God, seeing Jericho's walls fall down, by faith.

The first great challenge that Israel faced in the land was the fortress city of Jericho. Previously, the doubting spies had discouraged the people by speaking of these impenetrable cities. "The cities are great and fortified up to heaven" (Deuteronomy 1:28). Now, the Lord gives words of encouragement. "And the LORD said to Joshua: 'See! I have given Jericho into your hand'" (Joshua 6:2). Although these words must have stirred hope, the battle plan may have brought some perplexity. "You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days…But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets" (Joshua 6:3-4). The natural question would have been, "How can a fortified city be taken by marching in circles and blowing trumpets?" Yet, these unusual battle instructions were accompanied by a divine promise. "When they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat" (Joshua 6:5). If the people would trust in the Lord, march around the city as told, and add a victory shout at the end of the seventh day, then the walls would fall down. "And he said to the people, 'Proceed, and march around the city'" (Joshua 6:7).

Day after day, they marched on silently. On the seventh day, they marched repeatedly. Many times they may have been tempted to forsake the process as foolish and futile. Yet, patiently and obediently, they pressed on, by faith. Finally, the seventh march was completed on the seventh day. "When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout…the wall fell down flat. Then the people went up into the city… and they took the city" (Joshua 6:20). How could this be? It was the result of faith in God. "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down."

Lord God of the impossible, many times I have been as helpless as Israel was before the impregnable fortress of Jericho. When I tried to knock down the circumstances by my own power or thought, I was defeated. When I trusted in You prayerfully, I was victorious. Please help me to patiently and persistently face such battles in prayer, awaiting Your work, by Your mighty grace, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 5

The Israelites Passing through the Red Sea, by Faith

By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. (Hebrews 11:29)

By faith, Moses called God's people to apply the blood of the Passover lamb that they might be delivered from the judgment that was to befall Egypt. "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them" (Hebrews 11:28). Then, Moses led the people out of Egypt, eventually passing through the Red Sea, by faith.

Instead of sending Israel directly north toward the promised land, the Lord sent them eastward toward the Red Sea. "So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea" (Exodus 13:18). From the outset of their journey, the Lord became their guide. "And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light" (Exodus 13:21).

Yet, Pharaoh's heart hardened against Israel once again. "So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea" (Exodus 14:9). Soon, the people were trapped between the formidable sea and a mighty army. They were overtaken with fear, so Moses pointed them to the Lord. "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today" (Exodus 14:13). Then, as the Lord had instructed him, "Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left" (Exodus 14:21-22). Into this intimidating setting, by faith in the Lord, the children of Israel advanced. "By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land."

Again, as the Lord commanded, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. "Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained" (Exodus 14:28). The rebellious Egyptians could not follow where God's people had gone by faith. "Whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned."

Almighty God, when the way is blocked before me and an army of circumstances closes in behind me, help me to stand by faith, looking to You to open a way. Lord, I want to follow You, asking You to lead me where my enemies cannot go, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 4

Moses Keeping the Passover, by Faith

By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. (Hebrews 11:28)

When Moses boldly led Israel out of Egypt, his fearlessness was based upon his faith in the true and living God. "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:28). His confidence in the invisible Lord God had been confirmed by what he saw regarding the Lord's faithfulness when he kept the Passover, by faith.

The crushing blow of God's judgment upon Egypt was the death of the firstborn in every household. "The LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…So Pharaoh rose in the night…Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Go, serve the LORD as you have said'" (Exodus 12:29-31). Israel was delivered from this judgment by trusting in the Lord's protection, which was provided through the shed blood of the Passover lamb. "Now the LORD spoke to Moses…every man shall take for himself a lamb…a lamb for a household…Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight. And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it…For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt" (Exodus 12:1, 3, 6-7, 12-13). Responding in faith, Moses and the Israelites were delivered. "By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them."

We, too, are delivered from judgment by faith in the blood of the ultimate Passover Lamb. "Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us" (1 Corinthians 5:7). We who trust in the shed blood of Christ are forgiven, delivered from the eternal wages of sin by God's abounding grace. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace…For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Ephesians 1:7 and Romans 6:23). This eternal life (of endless duration and abundant dimensions) is ours through the New Covenant of grace. "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you" (Luke 22:20).

Lord Jesus, my Passover Lamb, I thank You for Your shed blood that rescued me from the eternal judgment that I deserved. I praise You for the abundance of life that Your New Covenant of grace brings to me, by faith!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 3

Moses Leading Israel out of Egypt, by Faith

By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:28)

Moses left Egypt on two occasions, under two different sets of circumstances. On the first occasion, he left Israel behind in Egypt, going out in fear. On the second occasion, he is seen leading Israel out of Egypt, by faith.

Moses' first departure saw him fleeing for his life, fearing what the Pharaoh might do to him. Moses' heart had been drawn to the people of God. He went out to consider their situation. "When Moses was grown…he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens. And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren" (Exodus 2:11). Moses killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. When his brethren became aware of this reckless deed, Moses was frightened. "So Moses feared and said, 'Surely this thing is known!' When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian" (Exodus 2:14-15). So, Israel was left in Egypt in bondage, and Moses' desire to see God's people delivered was thwarted.

Moses' second departure found him leaving courageously, with no fear of what Pharaoh might do. "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king." Much had transpired between these two departures. For forty years, Moses had humbly tended sheep on the back side of the desert. "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. And he led the flock to the back of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God" (Exodus 3:1). There, the Lord revealed Himself to Moses in a burning bush, sending him back into Egypt to demand the release of God's people. "I am the God of your father-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob…Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt" (Exodus 3:6, 10). So, Moses boldly confronted one of the most powerful leaders in the world. "Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'Let My people go'" (Exodus 5:1). Then, the Lord performed awesome wonders until He caused the will of mighty Pharaoh to be broken. "The LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt…So Pharaoh rose in the night…Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, 'Go, serve the LORD as you have said'" (Exodus 12:29-31). The ultimate difference in this second departure was that Moses had seen the Lord and had learned to trust in Him. "For he endured as seeing Him who is invisible."

O Lord God, awesome deliverer, I know what it is to run away from situations in fear. I also know what it is to lead out in faith. The difference, Lord, is seeing who You are and what You alone can do. Please reveal Yourself to me that my faith might grow!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 2

Moses Esteeming Christ's Riches above Egypt's, by Faith

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)

By faith, Moses renounced his place of privilege in Pharaoh's family, choosing to identify himself with God's people. He knew that loss and suffering awaited him. Yet, he was strengthened by faith to make this life-shaping decision by esteeming Christ's riches above Egypt's.

When Moses identified with the Israelites, he was joining himself to the people of the Messiah, the Anointed One (the Christ). From the earliest days, the people of God had been promised an Anointed Deliverer. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He [the Savior] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel… I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you [by the coming of Messiah] all the families of the earth shall be blessed…The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Prince of Peace] comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people" (Genesis 3:15; 12:3; and 49:10).

Yet, this heaven-sent King (Jesus), as well as His people, would encounter reproach. "He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him…Also the sons of those who afflicted you shall come bowing to you, and all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; and they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel" (Isaiah 53:3 and 60:14). In spite of such reproach, Moses joined himself to the Messiah and His people. Moses understood that he was more blessed to stand with a divine, though despised, Messiah than to have all the material treasures of Egypt: "esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt." He made this wise evaluation by considering the eternal consequences: "for he looked to the reward." He anticipated eternal realities that subsequent men of God would powerfully proclaim. "God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…Whereas you have been forsaken and hated…I will make you an eternal excellence, a joy of many generations" (Psalm 73:26 and Isaiah 60:15).

Dear Jesus, the Christ, my Messiah, I want to stand with You and Your people, even if it means sharing in Your reproach. I know that You will strengthen me now and be my portion forever. By Your eternal excellencies make me a joy to others now, as I await with eager anticipation Your everlasting kingdom, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - November 1

Moses Refusing Egypt and Choosing God's People, by Faith

By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. (Hebrews 11:24-25)

The natural tendency of humanity is to desire privilege and pleasure. These two were certainly available to Moses in Egypt. Yet, he refused Egypt and chose God's people, demonstrating the far reaching impact of trusting in the Lord.

When the daughter of Pharaoh discovered baby Moses, she decided to raise him as her child. "Moses was born…and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. But when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son" (Acts 7:20-21). As an offspring of the palace, Moses had access to the very best of human education, and he became proficient in all that was provided for him. "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:22). In terms of conventional earthly perspectives, Moses was guaranteed a life of privilege and pleasure.

However, when he reached the age of relative maturity, his heart was drawn in a distinctively different direction. "But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel" (Acts 7:23). The wording implies that he had been taught of his link with the Israelites as he was growing up in Pharoah's household. Eventually, his heart was stirred by this connection, and he made a life-shaping decision, by faith. "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter." He decided to renounce his place of privilege in Pharoah's family and to identify himself with God's people. He was aware that this choice was a renunciation of a pleasure-filled life and would inevitably lead to suffering: "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin."

To commit to the palace would have been pleasurable, but sinful. Furthermore, those sinful pleasures would have been temporary. On the other hand, the blessings of following the leading of the Lord would last forever. Moses' heavenly perspective was much like the Psalmist. "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [that is, in anyplace else]. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psalm 84:10).

Heavenly Father, help me to discern whenever the offer of human privilege is competing with Your will for my life. Please give me a heart to identify with Your people, even though inconvenience or suffering might result. Strengthen my faith to choose eternal blessings over the passing pleasures of sin, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 31

Moses' Parents Acting Courageously, by Faith

By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. (Hebrews 11:23)

Our present study reveals another strategic illustration of the extensive consequences of walking by faith. Fear is one of the major threats to living as God intends. Faith in God brings the courage that is needed to overcome fear. Moses' parents are outstanding examples of acting courageously, by faith.

Moses' parents ("Amram… Jochebed"-Exodus 6:20) faced a dreadful dilemma. Jochebed had just given birth to Moses. Pharoah, who was fearful of the rapidly growing slave population, had previously ordered the death of all male Jewish newborns. "The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives…and he said, 'When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live'" (Exodus 1:15-16). However, the midwives had faith in the Lord and spared the male babies at birth. "The midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive" (Exodus 1:17).

Moses' parents had a similar, courageous faith in God. "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents…and they were not afraid of the king's command." Nevertheless, their baby was still in danger, since Pharoah had also commanded all the Egyptians to destroy any male babies that they might discover. "Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, 'Every son who is born you shall cast into the river'" (Exodus 1:22). When they could no longer hide Moses, Jochebed put him in a simple ark in a place where he might be rescued. "When she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank" (Exodus 2:3). God honored the faith of these courageous parents, allowing the Pharoah's daughter to discover Moses' floating basket and to respond with mercy. "And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him" (Exodus 2:6).

Moses' parents courageously risked their lives in order to do that which would be pleasing to God. Their action was based upon their faith in God. Whenever necessary, we too can act courageously, if we rely upon our great God. "In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 56:11).

Dear faithful Lord, when I am intimidated by the threats or pronouncements of others, please remind me of Your faithfulness to the parents of Moses, that I too might have courage to do that which would please You, through Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 30

Joseph Also Viewing the Future, by Faith

By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)

When Isaac and Jacob pronounced blessings upon their posterity, they exemplified viewing the future, by faith. When Joseph requested that his bones some day be buried in the land of promise, he was also viewing the future, by faith.

Joseph's journey to leadership in Egypt was marked by alternating battles and blessings. His brothers had betrayed him and sold him into slavery. "Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers…sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt" (Genesis 37:28). Soon, Joseph found blessing under the care of Potiphar, an Egyptian captain who purchased him. "And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hand" (Genesis 39:3-4).

Yet, another battle arose. Joseph was imprisoned when Potiphar's wife lied. She resented Joseph's refusal of her sensual advances. "'He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice'…Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison" (Genesis 39:14, 20). But, more blessing came as the Lord granted Joseph favor with the prison keeper. "And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners…because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper" (Genesis 39:22-23). Another spiritual battle ensued, as one of Pharoah's servants forgot Joseph's kindness to him in prison. "The chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream" (Genesis 40:23-41:1). Joseph's interpretation of Pharoah's dream would bring Joseph to his position of authority in Egypt. "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you" (Genesis 41:40).

Faith in the Lord certainly sustained Joseph and brought him to God's desired place of service and opportunity. Yet, our present verse reveals that Joseph's basic interest was not his own blessing and advancement. Joseph had a heart for the plans and purposes of God. As he viewed the future, he was convinced that the Lord would some day bring His people back to the land of promise. His request to have his bones buried in the land of promise was an expression of his faith in God's promises. "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here" (Genesis 50:25).

Lord God of eternity, as I alternate between the battles and blessings of life, help me to view the future by faith. Remind me that Your everlasting purposes can guide and shape my temporal circumstances, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 29

Isaac and Jacob Viewing the Future, by Faith

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph. (Hebrews 11:20-21)

Since we have previously considered Abraham's offering of Isaac (in the meditation on God's promises on August 9), let's move on to consider Isaac and Jacob. While pronouncing prophetic blessings upon their descendants, these two men became examples of viewing the future, by faith.

The example of Isaac actually occurred in the midst of a deceitful plot by one of his own sons. Isaac wanted to pass on a blessing to his oldest son, Esau. "Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him…'Make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die'" (Genesis 27:1, 4). Jacob (the supplanter or "schemer") disguised himself and lied to his father, attempting to steal the blessing. "And Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn…sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me'…And he did not recognize him…so he blessed him" (Genesis 27:19, 23). Although Esau later was given a blessing as well, the blessing for Jacob passed on the headship of the family to this younger son. "Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you" (Genesis 27:29). When informed of the deceit, Isaac let the blessing stand. The Lord indicates this was an act of faith in the purposes of God.

The example of Jacob also occurred in an unusual setting. Joseph was bringing his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to his father for a family blessing. "Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them" (Genesis 48:10). Joseph brought Ephraim (the younger) toward Jacob's left hand and Manasseh (the firstborn) toward his right hand. However, Jacob crossed his hands, thereby switching the primary blessing. "And Joseph said to his father, 'Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.' But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he'" (Gen 48:18-19).

These actions may not seem significant to us. Yet, the Lord lists them as notable steps of faith in Him. Why? Because these blessings reflected and instituted aspects of God's sovereign plans, in spite of inappropriate scheming and established traditions.

O sovereign Lord, I bow in faith to Your perfect plans and purposes. What a comfort to know that Your will cannot be thwarted by inappropriate schemes or established traditions. Teach me to view the future with faith in Your wisdom and Your sovereignty.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 28

More on Abraham's Patient, Heavenly Pilgrimage, by Faith

And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:15-16)

Abraham (and his family) lived as "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13). He lived as an obedient sojourner here on earth, trusting God to lead him about as one who was in the world, but not of the world. He also lived as a patient, heavenly pilgrim, trusting God to lead him to the eternal homeland that awaits all who have saving faith in the Lord. We have a similar calling from the Lord. "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11).

Abraham understood that spiritual sojourners and heaven-bound pilgrims must stay away from earth-bound cravings that undermine one's godly quest. "And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return." Abraham and his seed had many tests and trials in their pilgrimage with the Lord. If they had set their attention on the country they forsook, they would have been tempted to return there. The enemy of our souls wants to wage war against us by ensnaring us again in the world that we have forsaken: "in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2). Everyone is vulnerable to such attack. Even one of Paul's early associates in ministry fell prey to this enticement. "Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world" (2 Timothy 4:10). Thus, the Lord warns us to stay away from any indulgent relationship with the world. "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).

Instead, we are to desire the priorities of Abraham and his family. "But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country." Even though the land of promise was in their inheritance some day, they hungered for the realities of heaven above. Such heaven-focused faith is pleasing to our heavenly Father. "Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them." In this heavenly city ("the city of the living God-Hebrews 12:22), we will dwell forever with our glorious Lord!

Lord God, the only true and living God, I regret those times that the world has drawn my attention away from my heavenly homeland. I cry out to You—please anchor my heart in heaven above, that I might thereby please You in my pilgrimage here on earth below, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 27

Abraham's Patient, Heavenly Pilgrimage, by Faith

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. (Hebrews 11:13-14)

We looked at Sarah's testimony in Hebrews previously (in the meditation on God's promises on August 8). Now, we will move on to consider a strategic facet of Abraham's testimony regarding his obedient, earthly sojourn, by faith. Therein, we saw him traveling through life on earth as an alien, a stranger (in the world, but not of it). Now, we will see Abraham's patient, heavenly pilgrimage, by faith. His previous testimony concluded with this pilgrimage theme: "For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:10). Early in the present continuing testimony, the two themes are coupled. "They were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." A stranger (sojourner) is one who does not belong to the given locale. The pilgrim is one who is marching toward a given spiritual destination.

Abraham and his family (Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob) were promised the land flowing with milk and honey. "These all died in faith, not having received the promises." They did not personally possess the promised land. Yet, they lived with a sense of guaranty that God would fulfill His promises: "but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them." They fully accepted the certainty that the Lord would some day give that land to their seed. Meanwhile, they confessed that they were content to live as strangers concerning this world and as pilgrims anticipating the world to come: "and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."

Now, the pilgrimage aspect of Abraham's testimony (and his family's) is emphasized. "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland." As the years passed and the promised land was not given to them, their hearts yearned for a true, lasting, eternal homeland. "For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland." God wants to develop this perspective of heavenly pilgrimage in our hearts as well. "Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11). The Lord wants us to set our daily course toward heaven, rejecting earthly cravings that diminish spiritual vitality.

Father God, You have fulfilled so many promises for me here on this earth. I praise You and thank You for such loving grace. Still, my heart yearns for that which heaven alone can provide. Thus, I press on as a pilgrim, bound for my homeland above.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 26

Abraham's Obedient, Earthly Sojourn, by Faith

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. (Hebrews 11:8-10)

Abraham provides one of the most profound studies concerning the extensive consequences of walking by faith. One lesson he offers is that trusting God enables us to obediently leave familiar settings to follow the Lord into new, uncertain situations. Beyond this, Abraham's example sheds light on how to face our entire journey on earth. We see this in Abraham's obedient, earthly sojourn, by faith.

God called Abraham to leave his familiar homeland and to follow Him to a new land that the Lord would give him. "Now the LORD had said to Abram: 'Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you'" (Genesis 12:1). Abraham obeyed the Lord by stepping out through faith into a monumental change. "By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would afterward receive as an inheritance." He trusted the Lord to lead him, even though he was given no indication of where this land would be. "And he went out, not knowing where he was going." When he arrived in the land, his faith again was exercised by having to sojourn there, as if he were an alien in a foreign land. "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise as in a foreign country." Year after year, he moved about in tents with his son and grandson, who were also promised this same land: "dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise."

There certainly are times when the Lord calls us to follow Him into unknown territory. Only trusting our Lord, as Abraham did, will sustain us. Still, whether circumstances are shifting or stable, we are to face all of life's journey as he did. This world is promised to God's children some day. "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). Until the Lord makes it so, we sojourn here as visitors (in the world, but not of it), walking with our God and being used by Him. Meanwhile, like Abraham, we are waiting by faith for an everlasting city that man cannot produce. "For he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God."

Lord God of Abraham, for any changes that You want to lead me into, I want to trust You, as Abraham did. Lord, for all of my sojourn here on earth, I look to You to keep me and use me—as I await Your return, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 25.

Noah Building an Ark, by Faith

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

At times, the Lord asks His people to engage in assignments that seem to make no sense at all. Perhaps, it is a task that we have never undertaken. Perhaps, it is preparation for a problem that we have never encountered previously. One of the most profound examples from such categories was Noah building an ark, by faith. His example is profound both in the circumstances that he faced and the extent of the impact of his faithful response.

The setting was the extreme wickedness of humanity. "Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). Mankind's deserved judgment was a worldwide flood. "So the LORD said, 'I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth…I Myself am bringing the flood of waters on the earth'" (Genesis 6:7, 17). Noah was an upright man who lived in close fellowship with the Lord. He would be graciously delivered. "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD…Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God" (Genesis 6:8-9).

To build an ark for a monumental flood must have appeared absurd in a world that had never experienced such a phenomenon. Nonetheless, Noah fully accepted this divine admonishment, even though he had never witnessed what God was warning about. "By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen… prepared an ark." His faithful obedience was motivated by holy respect for the Lord and for all of His pronouncements: "moved with godly fear."

The consequences of his labor of faith were far-reaching. His own family was saved: "prepared an ark for the saving of his household." By Noah's godly trust, the rest of the world was condemned for their ungodliness and unbelief: "by which he condemned the world." Noah himself became numbered among those who illustrate that the Lord's righteousness is received by trusting Him: "and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith." Additionally, he became a reminder of being ready for the return of the Lord. "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:37).

Dear Lord, please teach me to respond in faith, as Noah did, whenever You call me to a perplexing assignment. Also, as impending judgment awaits those who indulge in growing worldwide ungodliness, help me to proclaim Christ as the present ark of rescue, while eagerly anticipating His return, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 24

More on Enoch's Pleasing Walk with God, by Faith

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death…for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:5-6)

Before Enoch was taken to heaven, he walked with God in a manner that pleased the Lord. Enoch's faith in God is what was pleasing unto Him. "Before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him." Pleasing God, as Enoch did, should be our desire.

Many people waste their lives by aiming to please themselves. Their lives are choked with self-indulgence. "And the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity" (Luke 8:14). They have ignored the fact that pleasing self cannot lead to spiritual growth and Christlikeness. "We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves… For even Christ did not please Himself" (Romans 15:1, 3). Others live in carnal bondage to human opinions. Their consistent priority is to please people. This was part of King Saul's downfall. "Then Saul said to Samuel, 'I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice'" (1 Samuel 15:24). We cannot aim to please man and still serve God. "Do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10).

Living to please God is what we were created for. This can never happen apart from faith. "Without faith it is impossible to please Him." Coming to the Lord in true biblical faith begins with a conviction that God exists. "For he who comes to God must believe that He is." Additionally, God-pleasing faith eagerly anticipates the Lord's gracious response to all who truly seek Him. "He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Although there are many blessings that result from pursuing the Lord, the ultimate reward is God Himself. God told this to Abraham. "After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, 'Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward'" (Genesis 15:1).

Lord God Almighty, too often I have aimed at pleasing myself. At other times, my goal was to please people. Thank You for Your patience and forgiveness. Now, my heart desires to please You in all things. By faith, I know that You exist. By faith, I seek You, anticipating the grand reward of knowing You better and better, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 23

Enoch's Pleasing Walk with God, by Faith

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him…. (Hebrews 11:5-6)

It is the will of God that we learn to walk in a manner pleasing to the Lord: "that you may have a walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him" (Colossians 1:10). Again, such godly living can only be developed by faith. Much helpful insight into such a life is provided in Enoch's pleasing walk with God, by faith.

Enoch was one of our earliest forefathers. "Enoch lived sixty-five years, and begot Methuselah" (Genesis 5:21). After the birth of Methuselah (who became, at 969 years, the oldest man ever on earth), Enoch began a three hundred year-long journey of close fellowship with God. "After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years" (Genesis 5:22). After three centuries of spiritual intimacy, Enoch was taken into heaven without experiencing death. "And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). Enoch's intimacy with God and his unique home going were related to a life of reliance upon the Lord. "By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death…for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God." Of course, what was so pleasing to God about Enoch's walk was his trust in the Lord. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him."

Enoch is a wonderful reminder of what life is all about-walking with God by faith throughout our days on earth, then walking right on into the presence of God in heaven someday. Many will eventually do this, like Enoch, without facing death. "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). Others may face death, but the key ingredient of fellowship on earth right on into heaven is the same. "I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me to glory" (Psalm 73:23-24).

Dear God of heaven and earth, I desire to please You by a life of faith here on earth. Help me to walk closely with You day by day throughout my pilgrimage here below. I eagerly anticipate the day that I will forever be with You in the fullness of Your glorious presence in heaven above, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 22

Abel's Acceptable Worship Sacrifice, by Faith

By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks. (Hebrews 11:4)

The Lord desires that people become true spiritual worshipers of Him. "The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John 4:23). This can only become a reality through faith in the Lord. One helpful example of this is Abel's acceptable worship sacrifice, by faith.

Cain and Abel were two sons of Adam and Eve. The time came when they both offered sacrifices unto the Lord. "And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat" (Genesis 4:3-4a). The sacrifice of Cain was rejected by God, whereas Abel's sacrifice was accepted. "And the LORD respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering" (Genesis 4:4b-5a). Our primary verse tells us why Abel's gift of worship was acceptable to the Lord. "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." Abel's sacrifice was given by faith. It came from a heart that believed in the Lord and trusted in His righteous ways. "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD…but He loves him who follows righteousness" (Proverbs 15:8-9). When the Lord accepted Abel's offering, He was declaring that Abel was righteous in His sight: "through which he obtained witness that he was righteous." Elsewhere, the word confirms that Cain was an unbeliever; whereas, Abel walked in righteousness. "Cain…was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother's righteous" (1 John 3:12).

When we offer worship sacrifices to the Lord, He is looking at our hearts. Are we trusting in Him? Are we yielding to the righteous paths that His word has set forth? Whether we are offering praise, giving thanks, doing good deeds, or sharing our resources with others, we are to do it all by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased…you…are being built up a spiritual house…to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (Hebrews 13:15-16 and 1 Peter 2:5).

Dear heavenly Father, I want to be a true spiritual worshiper of You. I repent of any sacrifices that I have offered from self-interest or self-righteousness. I want to offer my worship to You through faith in Jesus Christ, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 21

The Extensive Consequences of Walking by Faith

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good testimony. By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible. (Hebrews 11:1-3)

In order to live by grace, we must be willing to walk by faith. For those who actually depend upon the Lord day by day (thereby accessing His grace), the Scriptures regularly proclaim the extensive consequences of walking by faith.

First, let's consider the significant characteristics of faith. "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for." Faith is the assuring confirmation of the wonderful things that we anticipate God will do. As our faith grows in the promises and purposes of God, that faith brings us more substantiation of the certainty of God's heavenly plans. Also, faith is "the evidence of things not seen." Faith brings us verification of realities the human senses cannot observe. Faith convinces us of the absolute existence of God and His angels, Adam and Eve, the devil and demons, heaven and hell, and the prophets and apostles of old.

Next, let's consider some of the living results of faith. "For by it the elders obtained a good testimony." By faith men and women of generations past established a godly witness concerning their relationship with the Lord: "By faith Abel…By faith Enoch…By faith Noah…By faith Abraham…By faith Sarah…By faith Isaac…By faith Jacob…By faith Joseph…By faith Moses…By faith the harlot Rahab… [and others]" (Hebrews 11:4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 20, 21, 22, 23, 31). Their testimonies were exceedingly diverse. Yet, the common elements were their trust in the Lord and the glory such faith brought to His name.

Last, let's consider some of the spiritual understanding of faith. "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." God has shaped the heart of all humanity so that the observation of creation guarantees a universal conviction of Himself as Creator. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead" (Romans 1:20). His holy Scriptures then explain how He created all visible things. "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Psalm 33:6).

Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Creator of heaven and earth, I bow before You in faith. I rejoice in the assurances, convictions, and understandings of faith. I have a deep desire to obtain a good testimony through faith in You, for Your honor and glory, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 20

Victory over the World through Faith

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)

The enemy of our souls would love to devour our lives. "Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Peter 5:8). We can enjoy protection from the devil through faith. "Resist him, steadfast in the faith" (1 Peter 5:9). When the enemy cannot devastate us by direct attack, he still desires to pull us down into defeat, using the pitfalls and temptations available to him through the entire world system. "The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one" (1 John 5:19). All of the unredeemed, as well as all of their cultural networks, are under the influence of the evil one. Nevertheless, for the redeemed, victory over the world through faith is available daily.

The only people who can ever walk in victory over the world are born again believers in Jesus Christ. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world." We desperately need the overcoming grace of God, because of the earthly enticements that the devil can use against us. "For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-is not of the Father but is of the world" (1 John 2:16). Through the world around us, our spiritual foe wants to draw us into ungodly areas that our flesh craves, our eyes covet, or our pride wants to feast upon. The path of victory is traveled by faith. "And this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith." We initially entered into the victory of Christ by placing our faith in Him. "Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" We continue to experience all the manifold ramifications of that victory through day by day dependence upon the Lord.

Jesus taught these truths when He was here upon earth. "In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). It is absolutely certain that the world will bring to us all many troubles and trials. Our fully sufficient hope is the Lord Jesus Christ. The world came against Jesus with all of its plots and ploys. Our Lord and Savior never succumbed at any point. He is the one we are to rely upon, in order to walk in victory ourselves. "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). Trusting in the victor allows us to walk in His victory.

Lord Jesus, the world has surely brought me many difficulties and temptations. Yet, You are the overcoming victor, so I look to You for personal victory day by day. How blessed I am to have living in me the One who is far greater than the enemy who roams about in the world, Amen

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 19

Protection from the Devil through Faith

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

As we walk by faith, God's grace is imparted into our lives, bringing us many blessings in our Lord. We have seen that among these heavenly delights are assurance of salvation and security of salvation. "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…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 John 5:13 and 1 Peter 1:5). Related to these delights is protection from the devil through faith.

Godly Christian living involves spiritual gravity and spiritual attentiveness. "Be sober, be vigilant." These necessary traits that the Lord wants to develop in us do not nullify the reality of joy and peace in the Lord. However, such earnestness is mandatory due to the enemy that we have. "Because your adversary the devil walks about." We do have a committed and intimidating spiritual opponent, and he has an organized army of fallen, rebellious, demonic cohorts. "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12). The intention of our spiritual foe is deadly. He goes about "like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Our enemy does not merely desire to frustrate us or make us miserable. He wants to devour us, to devastate our lives. Jesus stated the matter this way: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy" (John 10:10).

Although our adversary is relentless and imposing, God's gracious remedy is simple and effective. "Resist him." We are to oppose him. We are to stand against him. How are we to accomplish this? Are we to pit our own strength against his? Never! We effectively stand against him by being "steadfast in the faith." We simply continue trusting in the great truths of God's word, which declare Christ as victor over our foe. "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil…Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it [the cross]" (1 John 3:8 and Colossians 2:15). By faith, we renounce the enemy and submit to our Lord. Thereby, God promises us that the enemy will flee. "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

Dear Lord, mighty conqueror, what a joy it is to know that You have defeated the enemy and his demonic conspirators. What grace You offer in providing protection from the devil as I simply resist him by trusting in You. Praise Your victorious name!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 18

Security of Salvation through Faith

An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4-5)

In our previous biblical meditation, we considered the delightful work of God's grace that brings to His children assurance of salvation through faith. "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" (1 John 5:13). Assurance of salvation pertains to the certainty that we actually are saved. Another related work of God's grace is security of salvation through faith. Security of salvation pertains to the certainty that we will remain saved.

The Scriptures offer great confidence that our salvation is eternally secure. Jesus spoke of such security for His sheep. "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28). Paul was inspired of the Holy Spirit to write of this grand theme. "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). What great security is available in Christ!

Yet, other Scriptures stir apprehension for some. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit…if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance…For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (Hebrews 6:4, 6 and 10:26). Such verses certainly provoke debate on whether or not one can lose his salvation (or whether a willfully fallen, professing Christian was ever saved or not).

In light of this, where do we turn to settle eternal security? We must turn to the Lord in faith. The children of God have a rich salvation inheritance waiting in glory: "An inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you." Day by day, we can enjoy the blessing of being guarded by God's power for this salvation, if we are depending upon the Lord: "who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Security of salvation is known through day by day faith in the Lord Jesus.

Lord God of my salvation, I praise You that eternal security is available in Christ through faith. At times, I have tried to find security of salvation through theological debates with others. Lord, I gladly trust you to keep me this day by Your power, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 17

Assurance of Salvation through Faith

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)

If we are to grow in grace, we must live by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Romans 4:16). If our faith is to develop and mature, we must know where faith comes from. Jesus (and His word) is the source of our faith. "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Hebrews 12:2 and Romans 10:17). As we get to know our Lord better and better, as we get into His word more and more, our faith grows. As our faith grows, we experience the grace of God more and more. One of the blessings of God's grace is assurance of salvation through faith.

Some people wonder if they are saved. Others hope that they are saved. Still others think that they might be saved. God wants people to know that they are saved. "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." Of course, salvation (the gift of eternal life) is given to those who "believe in the name of the Son of God." This means that they trust in the person and work of Christ. They believe He is God, the Son. They believe He died and rose victorious over sin and death. Many who have entered into salvation are, nonetheless, without assurance of this great gift.

Assurance is imparted through the faithful and true word of God. "And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son." The gift of eternal life has truly been provided for by the Lord. However, the Father wants us to be reminded that this eternal life is "in His Son." Everlasting life is not some "packaged blessing" that comes to us separated from Jesus. The life God has for us is found through a dependent relationship with a person, Jesus. If we have Jesus in our lives, we have the life that is found in Him. "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." If we have invited the Lord into our lives, He now dwells in us. "As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:12). Jesus gives us assurance of salvation through faith in Him and His word.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for coming into my life when I received You by faith. Therefore, I know that I have eternal life, since that life is in You. Thank You for the grace that brings such assurance through simple faith in You and Your word, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 16

Once More on the Source of Faith

Then He who sat on the throne said…"Write, for these words are true and faithful"…Then he said to me, "These words are faithful and true"…So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Revelation 21:5; 22:6; and Romans 10:17)

Jesus is the faithful and true witness, who gives us the reliable truth that we must have in order to find life and live life as God intended. "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness…the Faithful and True Witness…And He…was called Faithful and True" (Revelation 1:5; 3:14; and 19:11). Faith toward Him develops in our lives, as we see His faithful and true character. His word is a vital part of this process, since it has the same character that He has (faithful and true). "Write, for these words are true and faithful… These words are faithful and true."

When people humbly receive the word of God, the Scriptures change their lives. This is how we started out with God: "Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever, because 'All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the Lord endures forever.' Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:23-25). We were born again into the family of God in conjunction with the incorruptible, living, eternal word of God being planted like a seed into our lives. This occurred when we heard the gospel. We then believed the good news of Jesus Christ, and this gospel seed germinated within us unto life eternal.

After being born again by grace through faith in Christ, God's plan was that we continue to respond to His word (like those in Thessalonica did). "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe" (1 Thessalonians 2:13). These saints welcomed the Scriptures into their lives. They knew that it was not a mere human message. They knew it was from the Lord. They were eager to hear it and to rely upon its life-nurturing message. Therefore, it effectively worked in their hearts, as they believed in the truths they were hearing. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." Initially and continually, faith comes by hearing the faithful and true words of God, and that faith accesses grace.

Dear Lord, even as You are faithful and true, so Your word is faithful and true. I began by a faith that was stirred through the gospel message of Your word. I know that I can only grow in faith as I humbly receive Your word into my life day by day. Lord, I long to live by faith that I might grow in Your grace, in Your holy name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 15

Even More on the Source of Faith

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness…the Faithful and True Witness…And He…was called Faithful and True. (Revelation 1:5; 3:14; and 19:11)

Faith comes into our lives through the work of Jesus Christ: "Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Faith develops in our hearts when the name of the Lord is revealed to us (that is, an understanding of who Jesus is and what He is able to do). "And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong…Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness" (Acts 3:16). We grasp to some degree how great He is, so we trust Him to do great things. Thereby, faith comes into our spiritual experience through Him. Our present verses are related to this development of faith, for they depict Jesus as faithful and true.

He is the reliable witness, who tells us the truth: "Jesus Christ, the faithful witness…the Faithful and True Witness…And He…was called Faithful and True." As the ultimate witness, Jesus gives us testimony of the truths that are essential for every person. He tells us about the kingdom of heaven. "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 18:3). He warns us about the judgment of hell. "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).

He also tells us about the heavenly Father. "If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11). He warns us about the "father of lies." "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44). He tells us what true living is all about. "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (John 17:3). We have faith in Him and all that He bears witness to, because He is "the Faithful and True Witness."

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank You for being the reliable witness. I trust in You because You are faithful and true. Your trustworthy witness has rescued me from hell and headed me toward heaven, protected me from the father of lies and made me a child of the heavenly Father. Your witness has brought me to life everlasting. I praise You with unending gratitude!

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 14

More on the Source of Faith

And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. (Acts 3:16)

The path of discipleship can only be traveled by faith (by trusting in our unseen Lord). Progress can never be made by sight (by relying upon that which our human senses can gather and process). "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Therefore, it is vital that we understand where we must go for the source of our faith: "Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus is the source of faith. The Scriptures often expound upon this fundamental truth.

This truth was again declared when the lame man was healed at the temple gate. This miracle occurred when two of the Lord's disciples were going to the temple in Jerusalem to pray. "Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer" (Acts 3:1). A crippled man requested a gift. "And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful… asked for alms" (Acts 3:2-3). Peter and John had no money to give, but they offered far more than the man had sought. "Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk'" (Acts 3:6). They offered this man healing in the name of Jesus Christ. "And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them-walking, leaping, and praising God" (Acts 3:7-8). The miracle was extensive. The lame man was not only strengthened to walk, he was also enabled to leap and stirred to give exuberant praise unto the Lord.

As an astonished crowd gathered, Peter explained how the miracle was related to the name of Jesus. "And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know." The name of Jesus referred to His person and His power (that is, all that Jesus was and all that He was able to do). This demonstration of Jesus' power was experienced through faith in His name (that is, reliance upon who He was and what He could do). Then, Peter explained the source of such faith. "Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." Jesus is the source of faith. Those who know Jesus to be a wonder-working Lord will trust Him to do extraordinary things.

O glorious Lord, I see many matters that only You can handle—problems in the world, needs in the churches, difficulties threatening loved ones, burdens in my life. I trust in Your name. Please show again who You are and what You alone can do, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 13

The Source of Faith

Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)

In order to grow in grace, we must live by faith. "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace" (Romans 4:16). We cannot progress spiritually by the use of our natural, Adamic faculties. We must walk by faith in the Lord and His word. "We walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). Yet, where do we get faith? What is the source of faith?

Jesus is the source of our faith: "Jesus, the author… of our faith." If we have saving faith in Christ, it was brought into being by Him. Our faith was authored by Jesus in a revelatory and relational manner. He revealed to us the truth we needed to know (through sermons, personal witnesses, tracts, audio tapes, books, Bible reading, or whatever). Then, He invited us into a relationship with Himself.

First, He told us the truth about our need. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 3:23 and 6:23a). Then, He told us the truth about His loving work on our behalf. "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). All the while, His Spirit was convicting us of the reality of these matters. "And when He [the Holy Spirit] has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). Ultimately, Jesus invited us to trust in Him for the gift of salvation. "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.…the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Matthew 11:28 and Romans 6:23b). Basically, Jesus revealed Himself to us as the one who could be trusted to save our souls, so we placed our hope in Him. Thereby, He authored faith in us.

Now, where are we to go for more faith (for the developing of our faith)? Jesus is the source for this need as well: "Jesus…the… finisher of our faith." The one who authored faith in us now wants to perfect our faith (to mature it) in the same manner that He began it. Initially, we had to have Jesus revealed to us to have faith authored in us. Now, we must have a continuing revelation of Him through His word, if our faith is to be increasingly built up.

Lord Jesus, I praise You for authoring faith in me. Thank You for convincing me of my need of forgiveness of sins. Thank You for revealing to me Your great work on the cross. Thank You for inviting me to enter into a relationship with You. Please continue to reveal Yourself to me that my faith might grow and mature, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 12

Walking by Faith, Not by Sight

We walk by faith, not by sight…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. (2 Corinthians 5:7 and 4:18)

The Christian life is a walk. It is comprised of day by day steps from where we are to where the Lord wants us to go (both spiritually and geographically). This walk is undertaken by faith, not by sight. "We walk by faith, not by sight."

Walking by sight is the natural manner by which human beings walk. This is true both for literal walking, as well as for taking the proverbial journey through life. When engaged in physical walking, people rely upon visual data (along with input from other human senses, like sound, smell, and touch). Likewise, as the unredeemed are engaged in their trek through life, they set their course and proceed by that which their natural abilities provide. We who know the Lord Jesus Christ cannot walk in this manner in His kingdom. We must walk by faith, by depending upon our Lord, His word, and the work of grace by His Holy Spirit. Spiritual progress is made "while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."

So often, things are not as they appear to be in the natural. Consider Joseph being sold to slave traders by his jealous and deceitful brothers. It did not look like Joseph was being groomed to be Prime Minister in Egypt. Think of Pharoah and his army closing in on Israel, as they were trapped beside the Red Sea. It did not look like Israel would be delivered and the Egyptian army would be destroyed. Remember young David standing before gigantic Goliath. It did not look like the giant would be defeated and David would enjoy a thorough victory. Only eyes of faith could really appreciate what was actually happening.

The cross of our Lord Jesus is undoubtedly the greatest example of things not always being what they appear to be. As Jesus hung upon the cross, it appeared that godless men had defeated the most godly man that ever lived. "Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst…Him…strong>you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Acts 2:22-23). Yet, in fact, God was at work, preparing a resurrection victory over sin and death for all who would believe. "Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it" (Acts 2:24).

Heavenly Father, I want to walk with You by faith. I desire to respond to the circumstances of life by what You have said in Your word and by what You are able to do. Too many times, I have set my course by sight, relying upon the appearance of things. Teach me to trust in You more and more, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 11

Great Blessings through Living by Faith

Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:35-39)

Our present verses include the third time that Habakkuk's pronouncement on living by faith is repeated in the New Testament. "The just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). In Romans 1:17, it was connected with the gospel of Christ. In Galatians 3:12, it was contrasted with living under the law. Here, it is seen as the pathway to great blessings, such as: spiritual endurance, God-pleasing obedience, and pressing ahead in assurance.

The opening exhortation warns about forsaking bold dependence upon the Lord. "Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward." The loss of great blessing is the reason given. The Lord wants us to trust in Him without wavering, from the beginning of faith to the end of our earthly pilgrimage. This makes us consistent partakers of the blessings of grace that are ours in Christ. "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:14).

These blessings include endurance. "For you have need of endurance." The Christian life requires spiritual stamina. The journey of growth, trials, service, and battle can become wearisome. We can be tempted to slack off, to quit pressing ahead. Such is always vain thinking for us, and it is displeasing to the Lord. "If anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him." It is by faith that we persevere in the Christian race. "Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Also, these blessings of faith include obedience and assurance. "You have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise." As we walk by faith, we are enabled to do God's will. Walking in obedience with Christ builds assurance that we will some day be in the presence of the Lord. "For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry." As we grow in faith, we can be assured that our profession will not be in vain. "Now the just shall live by faith… we are not of those who draw back to perdition but of those who believe to the saving of the soul."

Dear Father, I need more spiritual stamina. I desire to please You by obedience. I long to walk in more assurance. I praise You that all this is ours in Christ, by faith, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 10

Living by Faith Contrasted with Living by Law

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them." But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "The just shall live by faith." Yet the law is not of faith, but "The man who does them shall live by them." (Galatians 3:10-12)

In our previous meditation, we considered God's call to live by faith, given through the prophet Habakkuk. "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). We also looked at the first of three appearances of this quote in the New Testament. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ…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). The second appearance is given in Galatians, where living by faith is contrasted with living by law.

This contrast between law and faith involves a curse that is related to the law. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse." The curse is upon those who attempt to establish an acceptable relationship with God based on human works, as measured by God's holy law. The accompanying Old Testament quote explains the curse. "For it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them'." The curse is that those who choose to live by human performance under the law must always accomplish everything the law commands. Performance of some of the law's demands some of the time is unacceptable. This relentless pressure requiring perfect performance may seem curse enough. Yet, the consequences of inevitable failure intensify the curse. This dreadful consequence can be seen in the reminder of the blessed remedy that God's grace provides. "Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree')" (Galatians 3:13-14). Those who violate any portion of the law's demands deserve the judgment that Jesus took on the cross.

This gracious provision of salvation through the substitutionary death of Christ reminds us that faith, not law, is our abundant hope. "But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for 'The just shall live by faith.' Faith depends upon the work of another, even Christ. Living by law is not living by faith. It is living by human performance. "Yet the law is not of faith, but 'The man who does them shall live by them.'"

Dear Lord, I praise You for taking upon Yourself the curse of the law that I deserved. My heart exults that the just shall live by faith, not by human performance. Please teach me to live by faith and not by law, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 9

Growing in Grace through Living by Faith

Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith…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." (Habakkuk 2:4 and Romans 1:16-17)

In our previous devotions about Jesus as our ultimate example, we concluded our series on "humility and grace" and began to consider "faith and grace." If we want to grow in the grace of God, we must live by faith, since faith accesses grace. "We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2).

Our present, initial verse also builds upon our earlier studies about humility, which was repeatedly contrasted with pride. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Habakkuk was inspired of the Spirit to state the same truth in this form. "Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him." James contrasted pride with humility. Here, the prophet concluded his statement by contrasting pride with faith. The proud person is depending upon himself. The humble person is willing to depend upon the Lord. The humble person is the one who will be growing in the grace of God.

This simple proclamation of living by faith is so profound that it is repeated in three strategic epistles in the New Testament. The first mention is in Romans in connection with the gospel of grace. "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." Paul was not embarrassed by the good news of the grace of God that was available in Jesus Christ. He knew that it was God's powerful truth that would save the soul of anyone (Jew or Gentile) who would believe in Christ. That message of grace offered God's righteousness to all who would believe. "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." The same righteousness that the law demanded, the gospel of grace provided. "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ to all and on all who believe" (Romans 3:21-22). The righteousness that people need (both for a standing in heaven and for a walk on earth) comes by grace through faith. Yes, initially and continually, "The just shall live by faith."

O righteous Lord, I praise You for the gift of Your righteousness, by grace through faith. My heart rejoices that I have a righteous standing before You in heaven above. My heart humbly cries out in faith for a daily impartation of that same righteousness in and through my life for a godly walk on earth below, through the grace of Christ, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 8

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith's Results

"The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary…The Lord God has opened My ear…I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting. For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed." (Isaiah 50:4-7)

In our previous prophetic verses, we saw that the promised Servant of the Lord would undertake His Messianic mission through faith in His heavenly Father. "My God shall be My strength" (Isaiah 49:5). These verses depicted Jesus as the ultimate example of faith. Now, a corresponding prophetic passage reveals the blessed consequences of trusting in the Lord. Herein, we see Jesus as the ultimate example of faith's results.

Once again, the prophetic parties are the Messiah and His heavenly Father. The confessions of Jesus (trusting in the Father) comprise the prophetic statements. "The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned." Jesus was "discipled" day by day by the Father (certainly using, in part, His godly parents). "The Lord God has opened My ear." This equipped Jesus to minister to burdened lives: "that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary." In fact, people were amazed in general at the manner in which He spoke. "So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth" (Luke 4:22).

As Jesus would trust in the Father, He would also be prepared for the mounting difficulties that He would face. "I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting." In approaching the cross, these prophecies of Jesus (and the enablement He found through depending upon the Father) were fulfilled. "Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands" (Matthew 26:67). Though He knew all of this awaited Him before He came to Jerusalem that last time, He put His faith in the Father. "For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed." The Father helped Him. He marched on resolutely to keep His redemption appointment at the cross. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51). These are the wonderful consequences of faith.

Father, Your Son, my Savior, was prepared, strengthened, sustained, and used through faith in You. I need to experience these same blessed results of faith in my life. Please build my faith, more and more, for Your glory and service, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 7

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Faith

And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant…(for I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and My God shall be My strength)…Thus says the LORD: "In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You." (Isaiah 49:5 and 8)

Numerous times throughout these hundreds of meditations, we have examined the relationship of "humility and faith" to "growing in grace." Such repeated opportunities assist us in apprehending the means of living day by day by 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). For a number of days, we have been considering humility and grace. In a recent meditation, we saw that Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. Now, we begin to give considerable attention to faith and grace. Concerning faith, we begin where we left off with humility-with Jesus as our example. Again, we will see that Jesus is the ultimate example of faith.

Our present verses are a prophecy involving the Father and His Son, the Servant Messiah, who would go forth to provide God's gift of salvation. "And now the LORD says, who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant." An angel would eventually announce this prophecy as coming to fulfillment. "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:20-21). The confession of the Messiah is also given here prophetically. "My God shall be My strength." When the Son would leave heaven for His incarnation, He would function by faith in the Father. The Father's reassuring words affirm this trust in Him. "Thus says the LORD: 'In an acceptable time I have heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You.'"

The fact that Jesus lived by faith in His Father was a part of His own teaching ministry. "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner" (John 5:19). Herein, Jesus (who had laid aside the independent exercise of His deity) was exemplifying how man should live in humble dependence upon the faithfulness of God.

Dear Savior, I humble myself before You, expressing my desire to grow in grace. I know that faith accesses grace. Lord, please teach me to place my faith in You, just as You fully relied upon the Father, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 6

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Godly Exaltation

He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)

There is an ungodly, self-sufficient exaltation that leads to defeat and dishonor. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased" (Luke 18:14a). On the other hand, there is a godly, self-denying humility that leads to a proper exaltation. "He who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14b). We saw in our previous meditation that Jesus was the ultimate example of humility. Here, we see that He is also the ultimate example of godly exaltation.

Jesus humbly surrendered Himself to the will of the Father, that our salvation might be secured through His atoning death. "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." The results were glorious. God's great salvation was purchased for man, and God's Son was greatly exalted. "Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name." First, Jesus was raised victoriously from the dead and seated at the Father's right hand, being granted the name above all names. "He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 1:20). Some day He will return triumphantly. "Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war" (Revelation 19:11). Finally, He will rule forever sovereignly. "Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end…to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever" (Isaiah 9:7).

Those who must be forced to bow at the end will be separated from Him forever. Those who humbly bow and confess Him now will be exalted now (that is, "lifted up" now into heavenly realms of forgiveness, blessing, growth, and fruitfulness). Eventually, they will enter into His eternal exaltation (joint-heirs with Christ, serving Him forever)! The pathway is humility. He humbled Himself, yet, will rule eternally. We humble ourselves before Him now, yet we reign with Him forever!

Lord Jesus, what an amazing path You walked—from humble servanthood to a heavenly throne. What a grand exaltation will be Yours forever. What an astounding joy to know that I will join You in that exaltation, serving You eternally. Lord, I humble myself before You anew. Make me Your faithful servant now while I await the glorious privilege that is coming, Amen

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 5

Jesus, the Ultimate Example of Humility

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

In order to live daily by the grace of God, we must be willing to walk in humility. "God … gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). The word of God offers extensive teaching concerning a life of humility. Moreover, in all of the Scriptures we will find no greater insight than that which pertains to Jesus, the ultimate example of humility.

Before He came to earth as a man, Jesus had existed throughout eternity past as deity, the eternal Son of God. "Bethlehem …out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). Since He was God, claiming deity was not an inappropriate intrusion into another's domain: "who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God." Although He would of necessity exist endlessly as God (even during His pilgrimage as a man), He did not go about independently exercising His Godhood: "but made Himself of no reputation." Instead of manifesting all of His innate glory, He functioned as any human slave would: "taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men." During His earthly ministry, He Himself would emphasize His servanthood role. "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

In His majestic salvation mission, Jesus, the Son of God, would voluntarily accept the path of humility. "He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." This humility involved a yielding to the Father that was so extensive He would even embrace the most abhorrent death of all, a sin-atoning crucifixion. In spiritual agony, He would pray, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39). This humble surrender to the Father's will is the path that our Lord calls us to walk. "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus."

Dear Lord, my heart is humbled as I consider the humbling You accepted in coming to this sinful planet. As God, You deserved all honor and glory. Yet, in order to please the Father and to save sinners, You were willing to become a lowly, human servant. Unlike Your example, I am easily tempted to resist humility, even though I deserve to be totally humiliated. Lord, please work in me a humble heart like Yours, in Your holy name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 4

More on Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation and Humility

And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"…everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:13-14)

Our present meditation continues Jesus' parable that warns against self-righteousness and encourages lowliness of mind. In this teaching, the Lord declares contrasting results for self-exaltation and humility. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." The contrasting examples in the parable are the prayers of a vainglorious religious leader and a contrite publican.

The Pharisee's prayer was addressed to himself and was filled with glorying about himself. "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men…I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess'" (Luke 18:11-12). In stark contrast to this arrogant, feigned prayer, the tax collector would not so much as lift his countenance toward heaven. Instead, he pounded his guilt-ridden chest, humbly pleading for mercy. "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God be merciful to me a sinner'!" His attitude was like that of David, who knew he could not withstand the righteous judgment of God. "Do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sight no one living is righteous" (Psalm 143:2).

These two men (who both appeared to be praying to God) faced drastically differing results. "I tell you, this man [the humble publican] went down to his house justified rather than the other [the self-righteous religious leader]" (Luke 18:14a). The self-exalting Pharisee was abased. He was dishonored before God and confirmed in his guilty, unrepentant state. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased." The humble tax collector was exalted. Through humble dependence, he was raised up to the blessed realm of justification. "To him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness" (Romans 4:5). He was declared not guilty, forgiven, righteous in God's sight. "He who humbles himself will be exalted."

Lord God, I deserve to be abased for the times I have exalted myself in Your sight. I want to take my stand with this repentant tax collector. I want to humble myself before You, pleading Your mercy. I hope in You to lift me up to new realms of obedience, godly growth, and service, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 3

Contrasting Results for Self-Exaltation and Humility

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men"…everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:11, 14)

The importance of Jesus' teaching here can be seen in its repetition on various occasions (Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11). The instruction sets forth the universal inevitability of contrasting results for self-exaltation and humility. "Everyone who exalts himself will be abased, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

This particular proclamation of the message was given in a parable that warns against self-righteousness and encourages humility. "He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (Luke 18:9). The contrasting examples in the parable are the prayers of a self-assured religious leader and a repentant publican. "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector" (Luke 18:10). When the self-righteous Pharisee prayed, he was actually having a personal dialogue with himself, even though he vainly addressed his prayer to God?! "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself" (Luke 18:11a). He then appears to begin his prayer in a biblical manner, with an expression of thanksgiving. "In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). However, his gratitude was based upon the ungodly assumption that he was innately better than others, particularly, this nearby publican. "God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector" (Luke 18:11b). Then, he proceeded to elaborate upon his own virtues by reviewing his religious performance, which obviously seemed very impressive to him. "I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess" (Luke 18:12).

This self-righteous Pharisee was so assured of his good standing with God. Yet, he was measuring himself by his own eyes and in comparison to others. The Scriptures that he would claim as his guide condemned such self-righteousness. "There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness" (Proverbs 30:12). Although man may have been impressed with his external behavior, God saw the abomination of his godless heart. "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15).

Dear Lord, I am so grateful that the blood of Christ washes away the times when I have talked or thought—or, even prayed—like this self-righteous Pharisee. Help me to humbly embrace Your perspective, not man's, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 2

Spiritual Greatness through Childlike Humility

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:1-4)

Our God is great. "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 145:3). Since we were created to know our great God, we have a yearning to find true greatness. The counterfeit path to greatness for the world, the flesh, and the devil is through self-exaltation. "I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14). The heavenly path to find spiritual greatness is through childlike humility.

The disciples asked Jesus who had truly found greatness in His kingdom. "At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'" No doubt, to their amazement, he placed a little child in the middle of them. "And Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them." How could this small child give insight into their query? Jesus' words must have been staggering for them to receive. "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."

In the first place, no one can even enter into the Lord's kingdom without having a change of mind from the natural perspective of fallen humanity. We have such a self-sufficient, self-exalting viewpoint on life and how to find greatness. In order to become a child of God, we must be willing to adopt the Lord's perspective. Instead of us being capable of developing spiritually significant lives on our own, we must take the place of a humble, inadequate, needy child, looking to the Lord of life to give us eternal life. Then, in order to grow in spiritual substantiality, we must be willing to continue in a daily walk of childlike humility. "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

This teaching had to fall like a stinging indictment upon their hearts, since their motivation in asking was based upon their repeated arguments over which of them was the greatest in His kingdom! "Then a dispute arose among them as to which of them would be greatest…But there was also rivalry among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest" (Luke 9:46 and 22:24).

O, great and awesome Lord, I confess that I have often sought greatness through the self-exalting paths of this fallen world. Many times, I have compared myself to others, thinking that would make me the greater. Lord, I repent. I want to walk before You day by day as a humble, needy, dependent child of the great King of kings, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - October 1

Scorn for the Scornful, Grace for the Humble

Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble. (Proverbs 3:34)

The Scriptures emphasize the Lord's commitment to pour out grace upon those who walk in humility, while opposing the path of those who walk in pride. "But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'…Be clothed with humility, for 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'… Though the LORD is on high, Yet He regards the lowly; But the proud He knows from afar" (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5; and Psalm 138:6). In our present verse we have another pointed example. "Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble."

It is an absolute certainty that the Lord will scorn the scornful. "Surely He scorns the scornful." The scornful person shows arrogant disregard for the Lord and His righteous ways. He is a mocker of godliness and a boaster in wickedness. The Lord will assuredly scorn such people. He will treat them with a holy disdain. He will reject their path with holy contempt.

For so many of us who have a heart for the Lord, walking scornfully before the Lord is not a likely attitude. However, somewhat related attitudes may become a part of our walk (even inadvertently). Pride and haughtiness are two of the most common, and most deadly. "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall" (Proverbs 16:18). These companion evils could both be summarized as self-exaltation. Such an approach to life always results in devastating downfalls. These attitudes and their consequences are most fully illustrated by the history of the devil himself. Before he became the ultimate rebel against God, he was a magnificent, privileged angelic being. "You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God …You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you" (Ezekiel 28:14-15). This iniquity that developed was self-exaltation. "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!…For you have said in your heart:…I will be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:12-14). This haughty exalting of self brought a disastrous fall, which will end up forever in hell itself.

May we choose daily to walk with God's humble saints, refusing to join the ranks of the proud, with their self-advancing schemes. "Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud" (Proverbs 16:19).

Lord God Most High, I repent of the times that I have exalted myself in word or deed or attitude. I renounce the prideful path of self-advancing humanity. I want to identify with Your humble saints, looking to You to shape and use our lives through Your abounding grace, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 30

Humility and the Fear of the Lord

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life…with the humble is wisdom…The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 22:4; 11:2; and 9:10)

Many of our previous meditations have clearly demonstrated that walking in humility is the pathway for living by the grace of God. "God…gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). In our present verses, we see that humility and the fear of the Lord are related.

Humility and the fear of the Lord result in the same blessings. "By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches and honor and life." The closing trio ("riches and honor and life") are an Old Testament description of a life that is fully blessed by God. The New Testament counterpart would be fullness of spiritual life. "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Humility and the fear of the Lord also result in wisdom. "With the humble is wisdom… The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom."

Humility is the candid acknowledgment of our absolute need for the Lord to work thoroughly in our lives day by day. The fear of the Lord is respect and reverence toward our great God. It is not a fear involving terror or apprehension. Rather, it is based upon profound admiration and dependent devotion.

Those who humbly fear the Lord (by placing their admiration and devotion in Him) also embrace His perspectives and values. They develop a hatred for the things that He hates. "The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate" (Proverbs 8:13). Correspondingly, those who have respect and reverence for the Lord develop a love for all that He loves. The Lord loves for His people to walk in righteousness and justice. "The LORD loves the righteous…the LORD loves justice" (Psalm 146:8 and 37:28). The Lord loves Israel, His chosen nation. "The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples" (Deuteronomy 7:7). The Lord loves His church, the children of God. "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1). The Lord loves the world, those who need to know Him. "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).

Lord God Almighty, I humbly bow before You, acknowledging my absolute need for You to work thoroughly in my life day by day. I want to walk in the fear of the Lord, placing my admiration and devotion in You. I want to hate all that You hate and love all that You love, in Jesus' name, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 29

Pride and Shame or Humility and Wisdom

When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom…The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools. (Proverbs 11:2 and 3:35)

In order to live by the grace of God, we must be willing to walk in humility, instead of in pride. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). We must be willing to acknowledge our daily, desperate need for God. Any other approach to life is based upon pride (which is a foolish, inaccurate assumption that we are adequate to produce a life on our own). Those who walk in pride end up with shame. Those who walk in humility end up with wisdom.

The Scriptures describe those who foolishly walk in pride, as well as declaring the shame that they experience. "When pride comes, then comes shame…shame shall be the legacy of fools." One example would be the wicked way that many privileged and powerful people persecute the downtrodden and the vulnerable. They are demonstrating their pride. "The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised" (Psalm 10:2). Their shame is that they can become entangled in the very schemes that they have contrived. Another example is seen in those who arrogantly oppose the people of God. "This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts" (Zephaniah 2:10). Their shame was announced as a barrenness so severe as to be likened unto the end of Sodom and Gomorrah. "'Therefore, as I live,' says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Surely Moab shall be like Sodom, and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah-overrun with weeds and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation'" (Zephaniah 2:9).

In contrast to the shame that comes to the prideful, is the wisdom (and resulting glory, or honor) that comes to the humble. "With the humble is wisdom… The wise shall inherit glory." Those who walk humbly before the Lord find the godly wisdom available in the Lord's infallible word. "The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple" (Psalm 19:7). This wisdom from God brings honor to the humble ones who live by it. "A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor" (Proverbs 29:23). Again, this honor for the humble is in striking contrast to the wretched and ignoble end that pride engenders.

Dear Lord of Glory, how fitting that those who pridefully oppose You will be brought low and will end up in shame. I do not want to be numbered among them. I desire to walk in humility, to eagerly acknowledge my desperate need for You every day in every way, and to be compassionate toward the needy. I desire to bless Your people, to humbly seek the wisdom of Your word, and to be a vessel of honor unto You, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 29

Pride and Shame or Humility and Wisdom

When pride comes, then comes shame; but with the humble is wisdom…The wise shall inherit glory, but shame shall be the legacy of fools. (Proverbs 11:2 and 3:35)

In order to live by the grace of God, we must be willing to walk in humility, instead of in pride. "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:5). We must be willing to acknowledge our daily, desperate need for God. Any other approach to life is based upon pride (which is a foolish, inaccurate assumption that we are adequate to produce a life on our own). Those who walk in pride end up with shame. Those who walk in humility end up with wisdom.

The Scriptures describe those who foolishly walk in pride, as well as declaring the shame that they experience. "When pride comes, then comes shame…shame shall be the legacy of fools." One example would be the wicked way that many privileged and powerful people persecute the downtrodden and the vulnerable. They are demonstrating their pride. "The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised" (Psalm 10:2). Their shame is that they can become entangled in the very schemes that they have contrived. Another example is seen in those who arrogantly oppose the people of God. "This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts" (Zephaniah 2:10). Their shame was announced as a barrenness so severe as to be likened unto the end of Sodom and Gomorrah. "'Therefore, as I live,' says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, 'Surely Moab shall be like Sodom, and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah-overrun with weeds and saltpits, and a perpetual desolation'" (Zephaniah 2:9).

In contrast to the shame that comes to the prideful, is the wisdom (and resulting glory, or honor) that comes to the humble. "With the humble is wisdom… The wise shall inherit glory." Those who walk humbly before the Lord find the godly wisdom available in the Lord's infallible word. "The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple" (Psalm 19:7). This wisdom from God brings honor to the humble ones who live by it. "A man's pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor" (Proverbs 29:23). Again, this honor for the humble is in striking contrast to the wretched and ignoble end that pride engenders.

Dear Lord of Glory, how fitting that those who pridefully oppose You will be brought low and will end up in shame. I do not want to be numbered among them. I desire to walk in humility, to eagerly acknowledge my desperate need for You every day in every way, and to be compassionate toward the needy. I desire to bless Your people, to humbly seek the wisdom of Your word, and to be a vessel of honor unto You, through Christ Jesus, my Lord, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 28

More on Josiah Humbling Himself before the Lord

Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Concerning the words which you have heard—because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you," says the LORD…"your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants." (2 Chronicles 34:26-27)

King Josiah was a godly ruler, who purged the land of idolatrous activities. When the neglected word of God was discovered in the temple, he responded humbly as he heard it read. "Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes." He thereby escaped the judgment that was deserved by the rebellious people. Also, this appropriate wrath was postponed until after his reign.

These blessings of grace came because of Josiah's humble response to God's word. His heart was soft when he heard the word of the Lord: "Concerning the words which you have heard-because your heart was tender." The attitude of the heart toward the Scriptures is pivotal if a person is to experience God's grace at work in his life. A hardhearted response to the word of God does not receive the grace of God. The Israelites in Zechariah's day were a sad example of this. The Lord sent His word to them, "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts" (Zechariah 7:11-12).

Josiah's attitude was a vivid contrast. "You humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants." He did what James would later call God's people to do. "Receive with meekness the implanted word" (James 1:21). Josiah's humility was so evident. "You humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me." The result was that Josiah would enjoy the grace of God. His time of leadership would not have to go through the wrath that the people deserved from their previous rebellion and hardheartedness. "Your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants."

Dear Lord, I confess that I have not always responded in humility before Your word. I thank You for Your forgiving grace. Yet, even more, I hunger for Your transforming grace. Shape my heart into a tender vessel that will meekly receive Your holy word, day by day, for Your honor and glory, Amen.

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Today's Promise from the Bible - September 27

Josiah Humbling Himself before the Lord

Then Hilkiah answered and said…"I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD"…Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes…[and said] "…great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD." (2 Chronicles 34:15, 19, and 21)

When Nebuchadnezzar and Manasseh humbled themselves before the Lord, our great God poured out amazing grace upon these formerly godless and prideful kings. Of course, it is not necessary to first be rebellious in order to be humbled and to become a recipient of further grace from God. This truth is illustrated by Josiah humbling himself before the Lord.

Josiah began to reign in Jerusalem at a very young age. "Josiah was eight years old when he became king" (2 Chronicles 34:1). When he was yet in the teen years, he began to pursue the Lord. "For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David" (2 Chronicles 34:3a). His quest for God led him to serve the Lord faithfully and courageously by destroying the implements of idolatry in the land. "In the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images. They broke down the altars of the Baals in his presence, and the incense altars which were above them he cut down" (2 Chronicles 34:3b-4).

Later, he ordered the temple to be repaired. "Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had purged the land and the temple, he sent… [various leaders] …to repair the house of the LORD his God" (2 Chronicles 34:8). There, they found copies of God's word, which had been neglected for many years. "Then Hilkiah answered and said…'I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD.'" Immediately, they took these precious writings to King Josiah. "Now it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes."

The Lord had instructed His leaders to rule by the truth of His word. "It shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book…And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes" (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). Josiah was humbled with intense grief, knowing this had been neglected and that severe judgment was in order. "Great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD."

O Lord God, my heart is torn when I think of the way Your word is neglected today. National leaders generally ignore it. Many church leaders compromise it. I have not given it appropriate attention. Let me be a Josiah in these wicked days, Amen.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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