Work Out Your Salvation?

We are going to, for the next few days, reflect upon one of daily lectionary readings that are used by so many as part of what’s called the Morning Office.  You can find a link to these readings here.

Today in Philippians 2:12-13, we read these words:

12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

weightliftingThese two verses here share with us some of the most important details of being a Christian. The first of these details is when we come to saving faith in Jesus Christ, that is not the end of our journey of faith.  But in fact, it’s just the beginning.

Paul here tells us to work out our salvation with much fear and trembling.  That I think is important, but also dangerous and scary if we don’t read the entire verse.  It’s important, because God desires that we be faithful.  God desires us to grow.  To learn.  To do our part.  Our “part” doesn’t save us, only God saves us.  But when we are faithful, when we do things that allow us to grow, it really does please God.  We work out our salvation as we are faithful.

Now here’s why we have to read the entire part of this verse.  As Paul says in verse 13, but know this.  It’s God is who is at work in us.  We aren’t “doing” it.  God is doing it for us and through us.  It is God that is the one that is at work.

For all that we do, remember, it’s God’s grace that enables us to do it.  It’s God’s grace that empowers us.  It’s God’s grace that makes it all possible.

So yes, we do our part, we are at work. But know, just as oxygen and food give us the ability to do the things we are supposed to do each day, that’s how God’s grace is.  His grace, it gives us the ability to be faithful.

We can’t do it, we can’t do anything, without God’s grace.

So, today, may we be faithful.  And may we remember that it is only through God’s grace that makes us faithful.

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52 Weeks (Week 8)

66982Just like we did a few weeks back with Psalm 121, we are going to learn another set of passages.  We are going to, over the next few weeks, learn the concluding verses in Romans 8.  Last week we learned Romans 8:28, this week we will learn Romans 8:29-30.

If you look at Romans, you see Paul spending so much time in Romans 1- 7 explaining our need for Jesus, how everyone that has ever lived needs Jesus.  And when you read it,  you can almost feel a little down because Paul really hammers everyone and their sin and their need for salvation.

And then you get to Romans 8.  Romans 8 may be one of the most graceful, optimistic chapters in the entire Bible.  It starts off the call that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, we are forgiven. And then it just keeps getting better and better and better.

Today we and memorize Romans 8: 29-30:

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

In this passage, we see this truth about salvation.  It’s not just about us.  Now of course we have to respond to God’s offer.  We have to respond to God’s gift of live and joy and peace.  We have to move.

But, it doesn’t start with us.  It starts with God.  He is the first actor.  He reaches out to us.  He calls us.  He comes to us.  He moves first.  He acts first.  He says you are mine.

And then it’s up to us to respond.

Today, through Jesus Christ, God has called you.  He had reached out to you.  He desires to know you.

And He calls us to reach back.  He calls us to respond.

Today, as grace is offered to us by God, may we receive that precious gift.  May we respond to God’s action.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones, and you thought our app, you can now watch our worship services from Asbury too!

God Delights in You

Yesterday when we read in Psalm 18 about how our perspective on the day will determine the kind of day that it will be.  Will it be good, or bad?  A lot of that will focus on the way that we choose to look at things.

Today, we look again at Psalm 18, but this time, we focus on why in the world that God will save us in times of trouble. Why is it, when the perspective looks bad, that we can have hope?  Why can we cling to that notion, even when things look really bad?

Listen to what the word says in  Psalm 18: 17-19:

He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.

img_3395God delights in you.  It isn’t just that He’s proud of you, or He loves you, or any of these things.  He delights in you.

You make Him happy. Think about that.  You bring a smile to the face of our awesome God.   You bring Him joy.  You delight Him.

That’s how precious you are to Him this morning.  Now, this doesn’t mean that things will be perfect.  We see in the text that the the Psalmist was in a place of great trouble and great worry.  He was afraid.  He felt as though things were going to end badly. It didn’t look God.

And then God stepped in and saved the day.  Because God delighted in him.

He does the same for you today.  Trust.  Hope.  Believe.  Know.  God delights in you. And He will be there for you, in your moment of need.  Today, we know that to be true.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phone.

Putting the Cart Before the Horse

One of the constant battles, struggles, whatever word you want to use, that we face sometimes as Christians is this struggle between faith and works. We are saved by faith, right?

And if we are saved by faith, then our works don’t matter at all. For our works don’t save us, they don’t make God love us, they don’t do any of that.

So, we have no reason to worry about our works or really even focus on our works in any way at all, right? Our works, the stuff we do, they just don’t matter.

Well, that’s not quite right. Listen to how Paul talks about all this today in Galatians 2:15-20:

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

cart-before-the-horsePaul says, yes, we are justified or “saved” by faith, not by works. Our salvation occurs not because of anything that we have done, but totally because of what God has done for us in Christ. As he says in, because by works of the law no one will be justified (saved).

But then, after that Paul reminds us, that we if we have saved, then it is Christ who lives within us. And we die to ourselves, our desires, our flesh, our sin. Our stuff. Our works don’t save us. We are not saved by what we do or not do. We are saved by what Christ has done.

But, it is Christ that now lives within us. And if we lives within us, then it will change our lives. It will change our thoughts. It will change who we are.

We aren’t saved because we “do” stuff. But, because we are saved we “do” stuff. We put the cart before the horse. We want to get clean and then get saved. And we get frustrated because we are never clean enough.

Don’t worry about cleaning yourself. Come to Jesus. And He will clean you. He will wash it all away. He will take care of it.

Don’t put the cart before the horse. Focus on Jesus. And He will take care of your actions. For we are saved by grace through faith.

But that salvation will truly change us.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones

All

Who does God want to save? All people.

Who does God love? All people.

All people. Me, you, that guy down the street, your co-worker, cousin, aunt, and mail man. Everyone. All people. The world. Whosever.

Listen to what Paul writes to Timothy today in 1 Timothy 2:3-6:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

271402392_640God desires that all be saved. Jesus Christ gave himself as a ransom for all. God wants there to be restoration and hope for all people. That’s His heart and His desire. And He wants to used us to accomplish that.

We are His representative today. We go out in our work. In our family. In our community. Everywhere we go. And take that Good News with us.

To all.

To everyone.

No one is unimportant. Everyone matters. Everyone is made in His image. All of us. Me, you, all of us.

God loves them all. May we do what we can do today, to show His love to all that we meet today.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Healing

Do you want to be healed today? That was the question that Jesus asked a man today in John 5. Jesus saw a man sitting beside a pool where healing happened.

Listen to what happened:

When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me. “Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

This man had been sitting there for many years. Jesus came to him and said, do you want to be healed. He said no one could help him.

Jesus cuts to the chance. He doesn’t accept that statement. He heals him. He restores him. He helps him to become whole again.

The same Jesus comes to us today and asks us the same question. Do you want to be healed? Now we may be facing a physical situation that has no easy answer.

We may be facing and emotional or spiritual situation that has no easy answer.

We may be dealing with things that aren’t easy to fix. That are challenges. That may take lots of work, tears, prayers, and faith.

Our life may be full of these types of challenges. But, listen to the question that Jesus asked this man.

Do you want to be healed? Do you want to be whole? Do you want to be restored?

You can be. By Jesus.

He can make you whole. Even if He doesn’t “heal” you. You may still have you physical challenges. You may still have your emotional challenges. You may still face trials, trouble, and worries.

But, you can be healed today. You can be made whole today. You can be restored and renewed today.

Through Jesus. In Jesus. By Jesus. Today.

Today, do you want to be healed? Today, may each of us find that new life in Jesus Christ!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Not Who We Used To Be

We know Paul as Paul. The guy that wrote most of the New Testament. The guy that started churches all over the known world. The guy that is the reason that those of us that are Gentiles (i.e. non Jews) are Christians. He took the gospel to the Gentiles.

So, Paul’s kind of a rock star. That’s who we know him as.

But, that was not how he was always known. Listen to what happens right after Paul starts preaching in Acts 9:20-22:

And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” And all who heard him were amazed and said, “Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.

They say, hey, wait, how can this be Saul (when God saved him, He changed his name from Saul to Paul)? How can this be Saul? Remember what he used to do? Remember the havoc he used to raise?

Surly this guy up there preaching can’t be the same guy that we all used to know. There’s no way!

But that’s what God does. He changes us. He makes us new. He restores us. He recreates us.

He changes our name. He changes us.

So, two things this morning. First, when your past is brought (others, the devil, yourself) remember, you aren’t who you used to be. You are new. You are changed. You are different.

Remember the work that Christ has done in your life. You are new!

And likewise, when you meet a new creation today, someone that is not who they used to be. Remember.

They are not who they used to be.

Don’t allow the devil to bring up your past.

Don’t you be the one bringing up someone else’s past.

I am forgiven. You are forgiven. They are forgiven.

Today, let’s all live in the newness of life that God has given to us. Let’s be the people that God is calling us to be.

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.

Doing our Part

I sometimes think of what Dr. Bryson, one of my professors at Mississippi College, used to say about Paul. He said, sort of jokingly, that we as preachers would rather preach on Paul than Jesus. He said Paul was hard understand, so we could preach for hours about Him.

He said Jesus wasn’t hard to understand. He was just hard to follow. It’s not hard to understand loving your enemy. It’s really, really hard to do.

Today in Philippians 2:12-13, we have one of those Paul passages that can be hard to understand at first.

Listen to what it says:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Is Paul telling us that we have to earn our salvation? That our salvation is up to us? That its something that we have to “do?” He says to work it out.

But then, notice what he says right after, it’s God that works through you. For His will and good pleasure.

So, well then. Which is it? Do we work it out, or is it God that is at work?

Yes!

We do our part. We are faithful. We put ourselves in a position to hear God speak and move in us.

One of my mentors used to always say – pray, read your bible, and go to church. That won’t make everything easy or perfect, but it will put you in a position to hear God.

So, we do our part. We put ourselves in a position to hear God and know God.

And God moves. God speaks. God changes us. God saves us. God works on us.

So, we’ve done our part. And God does His. We don’t earn it. It’s not about anything we can do. It’s about all that He has done and is doing.

And, the very fact that we have the desire to know Him, to follow Him, to love Him, to put ourselves in that position?

That desire comes from Him. He is at work. Even in the acts of faithfulness. He is at work, calling us to be faithful.

So, today, let’s do our part. And let’s know that in that, God is at work. And He will be working on us for His good pleasure.

Let’s be faithful. And let’s see what God will do in our lives!

Don’t forget, you can click here to download Asbury’s mobile app and read these devotionals, as well as listen to my sermons on your smart phones.