It is a good reminder for me and causes me to bear the conviction of wrong thoughts, attitudes, words and deeds that I may have done intentionally or unintentionally. It reminds me of how blessed I am to belong to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. "I am my beloved's, and his desire is for me.” (Song of Solomon 7:10)
I can almost hear some oppose my words “belong to”. Human beings are rebellious and independent people, they don’t like anyone having authority over them. And that is the problem! When I confess that I belong to God I am acknowledging that my life is not my own. I have been bought with a price, a very high price, the blood of Jesus Christ! It took a terrible, horrible, excruciating death of the only begotten Son of God to open up a way for me to enter into His family. I am an heir to the throne of the Most Holy One of Israel! “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:8-10 emphasis mine) As an heir, I represent Him! I am accountable to my Father in heaven. "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36) “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12) “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” (Colossians 3:23-25)
I am so thankful that we have a great high priest who intercedes for us! “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16) I am so grateful for God’s grace and mercy! I don’t deserve to be an heir to the throne of God. I don’t even deserve to receive the free gift of the sacrifice of Jesus. But that’s the whole point! None of us deserve it, none of us can earn it, none of us are good enough but because of grace we can enter in through faith in Jesus Christ!
So what is this grace that Scripture talks about? There is actually two important aspects of grace that we need to understand. There is a word in Hebrew that is “hesed” or “chesed” depending on who is writing the commentary. This word is so full off God’s attributes that we do not even have a word in the English language that can translate it. The closest man has come to trying to interpret the word is “lovingkindness”. I love that word but unless you understand the Hebrew meaning behind that word you will not fully grasp the goodness of God and how it affects you. Hesed is really mercy, grace, love, kindness, caring, compassion and blessing all wrapped up in one word. It truly is God’s character being manifested to you and me. It is because of who God is and His great love and desire for us that He bestows that love upon us. It is what touches our hearts and causes us to seek something or, hopefully someone, who is greater than us and can fulfill that empty void in us, that longing for meaning in our lives. It is God’s drawing us to Himself. Grace is God’s “agathos”, His good. His good is displayed for all the world to see His glory, to draw the lost to seek salvation through Jesus Christ. God’s good always has a higher purpose, it’s just not to make us happy or to answer our prayer for our comfort or convenience.
Of course, those who are unsaved, cannot and do not want to acknowledge God’s existence or sovereignty. They won’t acknowledge God’s goodness, they want all the credit. Unfortunately that is also true of many who say they are believers. In a believer’s life, God’s goodness is displayed in various ways and are unrecognizable to most people. Today, people have been taught to only recognize material things as a sign of being blessed. I challenge you to try and line that up with Scripture. Before we look at a couple of these men and women, I also want to tell you about the second aspect of God’s grace. I can’t take credit for this definition, I heard it taught many years ago and it has become imbedded in my spirit. Grace is the very presence of God in me that empowers me to be who God created me to be. That definitely is God’s “hesed” lovingkindness! That is the Holy Spirit who lives in us and guides us (if we allow Him). The Holy Spirit lives in us when we are saved. He will guide us, warn us, instruct us, give us discernment and wisdom...if we allow Him. We can also shut Him up in a dark place and never allow Him to bless us with the “gift of grace” that God has given us and that Jesus Christ died for.
Can you think of anyone in Scripture that received a blessing that was not a material blessing? I’ll start off with a couple for you to consider and then I’m sure you will think of many others. How about the disciple John at the foot of the cross? He was there with Jesus’ mother Mary. Before Jesus breathed His last breath He spoke to each of them, ”When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” (John 19:26-27) Here is Jesus, in the most devastating pain there is, about to breathe His last breath and His concern is for His mother! This is the love of Christ! Remember that the disciple John was also called “the one whom Jesus loved”? Jesus did not entrust His mother’s care to John just because he was there with her, but because he cared so deeply for her and for Jesus that he didn’t worry about anyone arresting him and crucifying him alongside Jesus. His was a pure love that counted others more important than himself. He wouldn’t let Jesus’ mother endure this painful experience alone. And Jesus knew that! He entrusted His mother to John’s care because his was an unconditional love. It was an honor and a blessing for Jesus to acknowledge him and entrust him with His mothers care!
“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.” (Acts 16:14) Lydia’s blessing was that she opened up her home to the Apostle Paul. “And when she and her household had been baptized, she urged us, saying, ‘If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house and stay.’ And she prevailed upon us.” (Acts 16:15) She opened her home to literally become a home church for the believers to meet in. Through her earnings she supplied food and helped with the needs of Paul and his disciples. It is important for us to hear why the Holy Spirit felt that the account of Lydia’s conversion was so important. First of all, when women are talked about in Scripture it always relates to redemption. Lydia opened up her home and through the Apostle Paul and his disciples, the Holy Spirit worked in the lives of many people who received salvation! And, the second thing we need to see is that Lydia’s gift of hospitality is VERY important to the Lord! She gave what God had given her back to the Lord to be used for His glory. What a blessing! She didn’t receive anything of material worth but she most definitely received spiritual blessings and her love for the Lord touched many lives.
I’ll give you one more from the Old Testament. How about Noah? God considered Noah a righteous man and commanded him to build an ark. Immediately we think how wonderful that God chose him to do this! But think about this seriously. “Then God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.’” (Genesis 6:13) "Behold, I, even I am bringing the flood of water upon the earth, to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life, from under heaven; everything that is on the earth shall perish.” (Genesis 6:17) Noah labored for many years building the ark to the exact specifications that the Lord had given him. Can you imagine the ridicule he received from the rest of the people around him? Can you imagine the amount of labor it took to build the ark? His was not an easy task. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called! Noah received a two fold blessing! The first was that God called him a righteous man because he walked with Him (Genesis 6:9) and, secondly, he and his family were the only human beings that would be saved! The book of Hebrews is a good starting place to begin to read about men and women of faith. It’s a summary of many from the Old Covenant. I would encourage you to further explore these testimonies of men and women who walked by faith, trusting in the Lord Almighty and not considering their lives here on earth as the place of their residence.
We also need to recognize that the Holy Spirit was as critical and instrumental in the first covenant as He is in the new covenant. In the former covenant He “came upon” the people, they didn’t have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as you and I do. But nevertheless He was there to empower those to carry out God’s plans. I believe, this manner of understanding the coming upon the people was a sign to us of the Holy Spirit coming upon the disciples on Pentecost. "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49 emphasis mine) When the tongues of fire came upon them they began to speak in known languages. They were actually speaking in their native tongue but the power translated what they said into every language of those who heard them speaking! That my dear friends is a miracle if I have ever heard one!
The disciples had already received the Holy Spirit. “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said* to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (John 20:22) This is a very important fact that most people do not realize. Jesus gave the disciples the Holy Spirit before His ascension into heaven. "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luke 24:49 emphasis mine) As we just read, the tongues of fire that came upon the disciples at Pentecost empowered them to carry out what the Lord God directed them to do. Again, let me remind you, they spoke known languages. Whoever was in their midst could hear them but in their personal language. This was the “power” of the Lord upon them that brought about these miracles throughout their ministries.
Let me give you a personal testimony of this power. I’ve been very blessed to have worked in a number of ministries. However, if it was left up to a decision by a person, many of those opportunities may never have happened. One of the things that most ministries look for is for both of the spouses to be “in ministry” together. My husband had no desire to be in ministry. Ministry made him uncomfortable because anyone who is in ministry knows that they need to be transparent and surrendered to follow the leading of the Lord. He wasn’t willing to be transparent nor was he surrendered to the Lord. But as God opened doors rather than me believing the lies of the enemy that I couldn’t step forward, the Lord gave me the strength to not only step out in one ministry but several ministries!
In one particular situation I literally heard the Lord’s voice in my Spirit, even though it was so loud I would have thought the whole block heard it! I mention this because we usually get a confirmation through the Scriptures, through a person or through our Spirit, this was totally different. The Lord gave me instructions as to what to say, and what not to say. When the Director of the ministry asked me what position I would like to serve in, my response was not your usual response. I said, “this may sound strange but the Lord told me not to ask for any particular ministry area because He already had it worked out!” So her follow up question was, “what is your passion?” That was easy, it was sharing with lost and hurting women how much the Lord loved them and desired to be in relationship with them. The Director looked at the other lady in the room with her and they started laughing! She then turned to me and said that they needed someone to teach Bible Studies to the shelter women. I was overwhelmed. Without that “power” supplied by the Holy Spirit this would not have even happened because I would have heard the Holy Spirit in my spirit but I would not have followed His leading!
I share this because I received an urging from the Lord yesterday that someone who would be reading this devotional needed to hear this testimony. There are so many other situations where this same truth was repeated in my life and I needed to share it so that others who are hesitant to step out will trust the Lord to come upon them and give them the boldness to step out in faith and watch God open doors! I was not capable to do what God called me to do, but He was capable to speak through me and set the captives free! Once we finally understand this truth, that it is not “us” but the POWER OF GOD that is at work and He will do His will, it takes all the pressure off! If anyone has any further questions or would like to share, please feel free to contact me, the link is on the website, I would love to hear from you and be a prayer partner with you.
There is another very important aspect of why it is so important for us to love and trust the Lord and be obedient to His desires for us. We usually only consider the benefits that we will receive when we surrender to Him. But there’s another aspect that most of us have never considered. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.” (Hebrews 1:1-2 emphasis mine)
Jesus Christ is the heir to ALL things created, that includes you and me! Think of an inheritance. Are you excited about receiving an inheritance of little worth? An inheritance is of considerable worth, not necessarily monetary (even though in our society that is how it is thought of). So let me ask you, “Are you producing something of worth?” Remember, you can’t produce anything by your own power to earn your salvation, so are you surrendered and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through you? "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (John 15:4)
Are you abiding in Him? "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) To further clarify in your hearts, consider these words of the Apostle Paul, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance IN the saints,” (Ephesians 1:18 emphasis mine) What kind of inheritance is your life producing?
When we are in sin we are filthy and dirty, but when we recognize that sin and repent and ask Jesus into our hearts we begin life as a new creation. We learn to think, talk and walk differently and it can be painful. There is discipline from the Lord to teach us and to keep us on the narrow path. That discipline can feel like pressure! “...’MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.’ It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” (Hebrews 12:5-8)
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:28-31)
As we come to a close the following Scripture sums up what the life of a true believer looks like. “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:4-7)
Abba Father, thank You that Your desire is for us! Thank You that You do not leave us in the filthy rags in which were had when we received salvation through Your only begotten Son Jesus Christ.” I will rejoice greatly in the LORD, My soul will exult in my God; For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10) Through Your Word we learn who we truly are and what You desire from us. May Your word be a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path! (Psalm 119:105) May we pant for Your word as the deer pants for water! (Psalm 42:1) You make our feet as hinds’ feet! (Psalm 18:33) Establish my footsteps in Thy word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me. (Psalm 119:133) May we find the judgment seat to be a place of joy to be in your presence and not one of pain and sorrow! I pray that the eyes of our hearts would be opened to see the reality that our home is already in eternity with You and that this earth is not our home. We are not to conform as the world conforms but to be continually renewed by the Holy Spirit to walk in the way of the redeemed, to bring You glory! Thank You for Your mercy and grace. This we pray in the blessed name of Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior! Amen.