I cannot save and sanctify myself; I cannot make atonement for sin; I cannot redeem the world; I cannot right what is wrong, purify what is impure, or make holy what is unholy. That is all the sovereign work of God. Do I have faith in what Jesus Christ has done? He has made the perfect atonement for sin. Am I in the habit of constantly realizing it? The greatest need we have is not to do things, but to believe things. The redemption of Christ is not an experience, it is the great act of God which He has performed through Christ, and I have to build my faith on it. If I construct my faith on my own experience, I produce the most unscriptural kind of life— an isolated life, with my eyes focused solely on my own holiness. Beware of that human holiness that is not based on the atonement of the Lord. It has no value for anything except a life of isolation— it is useless to God and a nuisance to man. Measure every kind of experience you have by our Lord Himself. We cannot do anything pleasing to God unless we deliberately build on the foundation of the atonement by the Cross of Christ.
The atonement of Jesus must be exhibited in practical, unassuming ways in my life. Every time I obey, the absolute deity of God is on my side, so that the grace of God and my natural obedience are in perfect agreement. Obedience means that I have completely placed my trust in the atonement, and my obedience is immediately met by the delight of the supernatural grace of God.
Beware of the human holiness that denies the reality of the natural life— it is a fraud. Continually bring yourself to the trial or test of the atonement and ask, “Where is the discernment of the atonement in this, and in that?”
Misery Has Company
From: Our Daily Journey
Peter’s healing of a crippled beggar drew a crowd, so he used the opportunity to tell them about the God who heals. He told them about Jesus, whom they had rejected and handed over to Pilate. “You rejected this holy, righteous one . . . . You killed the author of life” (Acts 3:14-15).
Peter knew what he was talking about. The same Greek word that is translated “rejected” was used by Jesus for Peter’s denial. “I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me” (John 13:38). Peter “broke down and wept” after his denial; and though Jesus later restored him, that moment of betrayal was seared in his memory (Mark 14:72).
I wonder what pangs of remorse Peter felt as he told the crowd they were guilty of the same offense. As he had denied his friend during His hour of need, so they had rejected Jesus and demanded His death. But perhaps Peter found solace in knowing the crowd was equally in need of the grace he had received. This is good to remember when we’re crushed by guilt. Yes, we should be ashamed. Yes, we deserve judgment. But we’re all guilty. We’re not alone.
And by His grace, God hasn’t left us alone. The very sin that led to Jesus’ death led Him to sacrifice His life for our salvation. Jesus bore our guilt and shame, “but God raised him from the dead”! (Acts 3:15). We need only “repent of [our] sins and turn to God” and our sins will be “wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and he will again send [us] Jesus” (Acts 3:19-20).
The next time we see Christ, we won’t reject Him but will welcome the One who rejected our rejection. Thanks be to God!
|October 9, 2017
Go Find Your Old Self
KAREN EHMANFrom: Crosswalk.com
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)
I sat on my twin-sized bed, curled up in my lavender bedspread, sobbing until I felt I had no tears left. My 11-year-old self had her hopes once again dashed, causing a wave of grief that would only subside once exhaustion set in and sleep finally took over.
I was dealing again with the sorrow that came from being a child of divorce.
In the days before my parents’ divorce was final, there were times I spied a glimmer of hope that the court proceedings would be canceled, and my parents would stay married. But the glimmer soon faded when my dad packed his bags again and moved out to an apartment, leaving my dream in the dust.
That old bed became a familiar grieving ground. It held me when later I was left out of my circle of friends, overlooked for the starring role in the play, rejected by a crush I thought surely would notice me. Over the years, the four walls of my bedroom witnessed the heart-cries of a young girl trying desperately to navigate relationships and reality.
Toward the end of high school, I became connected to the little country church across the street. Its quaint, tall white steeple beckoned me to come in. Its friendly people did, too. Soon I was told the gospel story. How Christ took my place on the cross, paying the penalty for my sin and purchasing my way to heaven. I responded to the Spirit’s invitation and placed my trust in Jesus.
Becoming a believer didn’t change my circumstances. However, it did change my response to them.
As I spent time with my mentor from the church, Miss Pat, I saw where to take my sorrow, how to deal with my grief and find comfort in the security of God’s love. She had been through many of the same situations I found myself facing. She’d invite me into her home, pour me a cup of tea and offer me a homemade cookie. Her listening ear, loving advice and prayers of consolation helped me through many rough patches of life. Today, over three decades later, she remains a loving influence in my life.
Today’s key verse, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, is a picture of this very concept: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
As Miss Pat thought about the ways God had comforted her in the past, she reached out to me with that same comfort, helping me deal with the various situations life brought my way. She pointed me to the Father of compassion, the only One who completely understood my dilemmas and caused all my situations to work together for good, according to His purpose.
Today, as a mother of teenagers and young adults, I often find myself in a similar situation. My kitchen island is a sacred space, drawing others in who long to have someone help process life’s ups and downs. So, I bake cookies and pour a cup of coffee. I listen and I love. In many ways, I feel that in ministering to the people God sends my way, I am being like Miss Pat was to me. I am comforting others with the comfort I myself have received from Christ. I not only do this in my home, but I try to do it through my writing.
If we feel our life is lacking purpose, we have a very simple solution: Go find your old self and encourage her. Were you a lonely teenager? Reach out to one today. Were you once a stressed-out mother, drowning in diapers and laundry? Find such a mom today and help to lighten her load.
Go find your old self. Comfort them. Love them. Point them to Christ. When you do, you will find purpose in your past pain. And you’ll be an example to someone who just might keep the circle of comfort going.
Father, thank You for being my hope from the days of my youth until now. May I encourage others with the stories of Your faithfulness to me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.