Archive for May, 2015

Daily Devotional: Do The Impossible

Daily Devotional: Do the Impossible

Jesus saw a thirty-eight year old man lying on his mat at the pool of water at Bethesda and approached him asking, “Do you wish to get well?” (John 5:5-6).

Christ told the man to do the impossible. “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”

The apostle John tells us “And immediately the man became well, and took up his pallet and began to walk” (v. 9).

This man could not help himself. Only the divine power of Jesus Christ enabled the man to rise and walk. It was a miracle that Jesus performed at the pool of Bethesda.

This miracle is a remarkable illustration of the spiritual condition of every individual. You and I cannot help ourselves spiritually; our salvation depends upon the grace of God alone. Just as this physically lame man could not help himself we are utterly helpless in our sinful condition to influence our salvation in any way.

Those disabled individuals lying at the pool were without strength to help themselves. John describes them as blind, lame and paralyzed. The poor man said to Jesus, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me” (v. 7). How sad is the man who knows only man.

This is a vivid and valid description of our human depravity without Jesus Christ. Spiritually, we are sick, blind, lame and withered.

Like the lame man we are weak, helpless, powerless as described in Romans 5:6. “While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” “Helpless.” The Greek lexicon says, “infirm, feeble, unable to achieve anything great, destitute of power among men, sluggish in doing right.”

When Jesus arrived at the pool no one rose to greet Him because they were powerless. No one reached out his hand to greet Jesus because they were paralyzed. However, we do see Jesus moving among them and healing the most helpless and lame sinner.

The Bible makes it emphatically clear that God does not help those who help themselves. He helps the helpless. He provides for the powerless.

We are powerless to stop sinning without the work of the Holy Spirit indwelling us (2 Pet. 12-16). We are lame spiritually without the saving grace of God.

God demonstrated His love toward us at Calvary when we were altogether unlovely. Christ died for us when we were utterly helpless. When it was impossible for us to do anything for ourselves Christ came and died for us on the cross. There is nothing we can do for ourselves to satisfy a righteous God.

In Mark 2:1-5 we have a helpless man who could not come on his own. His friends tore open the roof and lowered him to the feet of Jesus. He needed for someone to bring him to Jesus.

What a powerful commentary on our human depravity when Jesus explained, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44).

Men and women without the illumination of the Holy Spirit cannot understand the truth of God (1 Cor. 2:14). The word of God, and salvation by grace alone by faith alone in the death of Christ, are foolishness to the spiritually blind. They are spiritually blind to the truth of God in Christ.

Moreover, we are spiritually deaf until the Spirit of God enables us to hear the truth of God. That is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts (John 8:43).

Jesus told a great Jewish religious leader, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The kingdom of God is a spiritual realm. It cannot be seen with the physical eyes. But to the spiritually regenerated He gives sight.

On another occasion Jesus healed a man who had been born blind and then explained to the hostile religious leaders that they were spiritually blind to spiritual things as evidenced by their refusal to believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God (John 9:39-41). The healed blind man saw Jesus, believed and worshipped Him (vv. 37-38).

How can we walk in the narrow spiritual path of righteousness if we are blind? And if our friend is spiritually blind we both fall into the ditch. Spiritually blind people are following every form of blind spiritual guides who disguise themselves and angels of light.

Men are spiritually blind until the Holy Spirit opens their eyes. The blind could not see Him moving among them until He touched them.

We are spiritually lame because we are spiritually blind.

Moreover, there is a spiritual paralysis that takes hold of a person who has never come to Christ. We know to do right, but find ourselves feeling paralyzed, and it impossible to do what we know to be the right thing to do (Rom. 7:18). We know to be like Christ in our behavior, emotions and actions, but are powerless until Christ releases us from our bondage. It is like someone or something has a strange hold over us.

What is the solution to such a terrible disease? Christ came to bring healing to the blind, lame and paralyzed spiritually.

God’s sovereign saving grace saves sinners who are blind, powerless and paralyzed. If our eternal salvation depended upon us who could ever be saved? Surely not I. What I need is His saving grace. We do not have strength to pull ourselves up. We cannot save ourselves. Instead of waiting for us to rise and come to Him for salvation He comes to us, opens our eyes, releases us from the hold Satan has over us, and raises us up together to be with Him (Eph. 2:5-7). The “Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).

I thank God every day that Jesus came to seek me out because I was blind, lame and paralyzed. It would be an insult to God for me now that His grace has intervened in my life to stand and brag about what I have done. The spiritually sufficient will never be saved. You and I can never change our spiritual condition, but God in Christ can.

My sins have been dealt with in the blood of Jesus Christ, and He has graciously given me new life through faith in Him. Has Jesus Christ done the impossible in your life?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: The Day I Died

Daily Devotional: The Day I Died

Message By Wil Pounds

 

God takes sin seriously. Sin is a terrible thing in the Christian’s life. That is why God did not overlook sin, but dealt with it in one complete stroke of judgment by sending Christ to die for us on the cross.

Now that we have been saved by grace can we live any way we so please? Can we sin it up now that our fire insurance has been paid in full?

The apostle Paul responded to that arrogant attitude saying, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).

We died to sin. “Died” is in aorist past tense, indicating a once for all death in a judicial sense. We legally died (vv. 2, 6, 7, 8, 10, 13, 18). It refers to a single action that has taken place and has been completed in the past.

The idea of our death to sin is basic in this great chapter, and is essential to the sanctification of all believers.

“We died to sin.” When did you die?

The apostle Paul does not say we are going to die to sin, or we are presently dying to sin. He does not say we are continually to die to sin. The apostle has in mind a completed past action.

We “have died” to sin is already true of us if we have entered into a vital union with Christ. Charles Hodge notes, “it refers to a specific act in our past history.”

The apostle Paul tells us there is a watershed, a before Christ and after he came into our lives. Before Christ describes the old man, the old self, what I was like before my conversion. The after Christ came in describes the new man, the new self, what my life has been like after I was made a new creation in Christ. The before Christ ended with the judicial death of the old self. I was a sinner. I deserved to die. I did die. I received my righteousness in my Substitute with whom I have become one. It describes my resurrection. My old life is finished, and a new life to God has begun.

Our continuing in sin is unthinkable says Paul because God by His grace took us from the position of being in Adam and transferred us into the kingdom of Christ. It is something God has already done. It is not something we do, or have done, but something God has done to us. We have been joined to Jesus Christ. The old life ended in that transaction, and a new life has begun at the same time.

In Romans 6:1-11 the apostle Paul compares our dying to sin to how Christ died to sin. Although He had never experienced personal sin, He died to sin by suffering its penalty on the cross. “The wages of sin is death.” He died as our substitute. He was punished for our sin in our place once for all on the cross. Jesus died to sin once for all. His relationship to sin is finished forever. By dying in our place on the cross He put an end to its claim upon us once for all. Jesus died. That will never happen again. It will never be repeated. It is a completed action in the past. Paul makes this emphatically clear in verses 9-10, “knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin, once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.”

Moreover, Paul tells us that our old life of sin in Adam is over. We died. Just as Christ can never go back and die again, we can never go back to the old life in Adam. That part of our lives died. The result of our vital union with Christ in His death and resurrection is that our old life in Adam is past, over with, and we now have a new life in Christ.

Our life is divided into two parts at the point in which we believed on Christ and were born again. At a specific act in past history we accepted Christ as our Savior and we became new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).

Can you point to a time in your life and see the change before and after Christ separated by the new birth? When we put our faith in Christ as our Savior and were born again the old self died through union with Christ and was buried. The penalty of our sins was paid in full by Christ’s atoning death. At the same time the believer rose again from death, a new person, to live a new life in Christ. We were crucified with Christ and rose with Him to new life.

We died to the life of sin. God counts the utterly perfect righteousness of the risen Christ as ours. He sees us risen in Him. We live a new life in Christ. The old one died, and it was buried.

Does your life have a dividing line marked Christ?

“O for a thousand tongues to sing. . .” the triumph of His grace in a thousand different languages!

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

Daily Devotion: Commitment to Christ

Daily Devotion: Commitment To Christ

Message by Wil Pounds

Commitment to Christ

When we trust or yield ourselves to Christ, there is a true commitment just like in a healthy marriage.

How tragic that many many marriages are dysfunctional and are a poor example of long lasting commitments.

Jesus made an eternal commitment to us (Rom. 8:38-39). In response to His love we are called upon to pledge ourselves to him.

We love Him because He first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).

The apostle Paul used the marriage relationship to illustrate our relationship with Christ (Eph. 5:22ff). “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (v. 25).

Just like in the vows of a wedding we can express our faith to Christ who died for us, demonstrating His great love for us. We love Him because He first loved us.

One of the best illustrations of this commitment I have ever read was by C. H. Spurgeon. He said Christ Jesus vows to us: “I, Jesus, take you [whoever you may be; put your own name in the space], to be my wedded wife; and I do promise and covenant before God the Father and these witnesses gathered here, to be your loving and faithful Savior and Bridegroom: in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, in this life and for all eternity.”

With a true conversion experience we vow to Him in a similar manner: “I, [whoever you are; add your own name], take You, Jesus, to be my loving Savior and Lord; and I do promise and covenant, before God the Father and these assembled witnesses, to be your loving and faithful wife: in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, for this life and for all eternity.”

It is God the Father who then blesses the marriage, and the believer belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ forever. Our commitment to Christ is a simple act of faith that has eternal significances (Rev. 19:7; John 17:3-5; 1 John 5:13).

The disciple Thomas made such a commitment when he declared, “My Lord, and my God!” (Jn. 20:28). The apostle Paul wrote, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Tim. 1:12). The writer of Hebrews describes our Lord’s commitment and our response to Him in these words, “‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’” (Heb. 13:5-6).

 

The LORD God made a great covenant when He sent His Son to go to the cross and die for our sins that He could save us by grace through faith in Christ (Matt. 26:26-29; Heb. 9:11-16, 23-28). “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). That is exactly what Jesus did for us; only He died for those who were His enemies so that we could become His friends (Rom. 5:6, 8).

The ABC’s of salvation express the same conviction. We must Accept Jesus Christ and the truths concerning His life, death and resurrection. The apostle Paul said “the gospel which I preached to you . . . that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared . . . to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of who remain until now . . .” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). Those are basic facts we must accept regarding Jesus Christ. They are well attested to in history. Jesus Christ is believable.

We must Believe on Jesus Christ personally. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. He died as my substitute in my place paying my penalty for sin (Rom. 5:6, 8; 2 Cor. 5:21). I believe He is the only way for me to go to heaven and enjoy eternal life with Him (Acts 4:12). It is a personal relationship with Him.

We must Commit ourselves to Jesus Christ. This is the moment when He becomes “my Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28). I take You, Jesus Christ, as my Lord and Savior. We are saved by the grace of God that is received by simple faith in Jesus Christ alone (Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 10:9-10, 13).

Have you made that commitment to Him? Have you asked Him to be your Savior? Have you believed on Him? Have you made a commitment of yourself to Him? “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved . . .” (Acts 16:31).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

Christian Articles Of Faith: Greater We Can Imagine or Think

Christian Articles Of Faith: Greater We Can Imagine or Think

 

God is impeccable: “He cannot sin” (1 John 3:5).

A sinner tells lies and is often motivated by selfish desires. Since God is impeccable, He is incapable of both deceit and selfishness.

In Romans 8:38, it states “Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love” – nothing. His Love is proven on the cross, where Jesus became the sacrifice for every Prodigal Son who believes in Him. If God be us so much that His perfect Son was murdered on our behalf, don’t you think He will protect us in our times of need.

God cannot lie. Deuteronomy 31:9 says “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor abandon you”. This and every other promise of God must be true since God cannot lie.

God is the Trinity – the Father, the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. God is eternal (Psalms 90:2), just (Isaiah 30:18), all-knowing (Psalm 119:168), omnipresent (Jeremiah 23:24), all powerful (Psalm 135:6), and sovereign (Job 37:23). “ Since God is incomprehensibly perfect in all ways, and is more than willing to lead us through high mountains of adversity, we can find comfort, courage, and hope that God will never let us down. As Romans 8:31 says, “If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”

I think a major reason why we have troubles in our faith is that we don’t truly understand God. God is incomprehensible in all ways, and humanity’s comparably limited reasoning capacities, is incapable of truly understanding what it means to be “omnipotent”, “omniscient”, “sovereign”, etc. Because we cannot “conceive” the fullness of God, we subconsciously “limit” what He can do, etc. So when fear arises, and when Satan uses lies to shrink our faith, we become more vulnerable to believe in God’s Truth.

Faith gets built through trials, and God likes to use them to build our faith, so He can later use us to show His greatness when we overcome great odds in a Christ-like way. For us to learn how to persevere, the Teacher must give us hands-on lessons. Then we must study the Bible, learn from the Holy Spirit, and build relationships with God, so when times get tough, we can feel increasingly confident in the works of the Trinity.

Ephesians 3:20 => “Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”

Inspirational Quotes Addictions Recovery

 

Inspirational Quotes Addictions Recovery

(For anyone who faces great difficulties)

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“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

– Japanese Proverb

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”
– Kenji Miyazawa

 

“We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope.”
– Martin Luther King

 

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.”
– Chinese Proverb

 

“Prosperity is a great teacher; adversity is a greater. Possession pampers the mind; privation trains and strengthens it.”
– William Hazlitt

 

“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan

 

“The difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is how you use them.”
– Unknown

 

“The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests.”
– Epicetus

 

“The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”

– Nelson Mandela

 

“It is only in our darkest hours that we may discover the true strength of the brilliant light within ourselves that can never, ever, be dimmed.”
– Doe Zantamata

 

“Every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.”
– Napoleon Hill

 

“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.”
– William James

 

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop.”
– Confucius

 

“Man is fond of counting his troubles but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up, as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”
– Fyodor Dostoevsky

 

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“With man, this is impossible, but with God, all things are possible.”  Matthew 19:26

 

Daily Devotion: Christ our Reconciliation

Daily Devotion: Christ our Reconciliation

Message by Wil Pounds

 

Adam enjoyed perfect fellowship and communion with God before he disobeyed Him in the Garden. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God that fellowship was broken, and Adam tried to hide himself from God (Genesis 3:8-11).

That broken relationship with God needed to be restored or man would be eternally separated from God’s holy presence.

The apostle Paul tells us God “reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).

God “makes one” that which was formerly a broken relationship. The word “reconcile” properly denotes to change, like exchanging money, and in relationship to persons, it is to change from enmity to friendship, and thus to reconcile.

This is what God accomplished by exercising His grace toward us sinners on the ground of the death of Christ for our sins. We are the ones who needed the change from enmity to friendship with God. We needed to be reconciled to God.

Because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ men in their sinful condition and alienation from God are invited to be reconciled to Him. The change in attitude is on our part, not God’s. Sinful, rebellious, disobedient men are the ones who need to change. God in love and grace reached down to man and provided a means whereby He could reconcile us to Himself.

The change that is needed on our part is repentance and faith. A spiritual birth brings about this change in our hearts toward God.

The apostle Paul tells us that we were the ones who were reconciled to God in Christ. “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:10). We were the enemies and hostile to God. Until this change takes place in our hearts we are under condemnation, exposed to the wrath of God.

How can God reconcile us to Himself? The death of His Son is the reason of removal of God’s wrath and thus we receive the recondition.

The emphasis of these passages is on the attitude of God in grace acting toward us to change our attitude toward Him. We love Him because He first loved us.

We receive “reconciliation” because Christ offered atonement for our sins. Therefore, God can act according to His unchanging righteousness and lovingkindness toward sinners. He did not forget that we are sinners, nor does He “make up” with sinful men. We needed to be reconciled to God because of our enmity.

Sin always separates and destroys relationships. Just like God went searching for Adam after he sinned (Gen. 3:9), He comes searching for us and reconciles us to Himself.

The only person who can mediate between the guilty sinner and God and bring reconciliation is Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). The barrier that separates us from God was removed by the death of Christ. Our reconciliation to God is made possible because of the sinless sacrifice of Jesus as our substitute. God reconciles us to Himself through the redemption in Christ. It was an act of God because “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.”

It is an act of grace. We do not deserve it, but God in His love took the initiative and removed the barriers (2 Cor. 5:21). The reconciliation for the believer is complete. He has removed all enmity and nothing stands as an impediment to peace with God. Have you been reconciled to Him?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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Daily Devotion: What does it mean to be lost?

 

Daily Devotion: What does it mean to be lost?

Message by Wil Pounds

What does it mean to be Lost?

How does God view the individual who has never put his faith in Jesus Christ as his personal Savior?

The Bible describes the estate of the unsaved person as a “children of disobedience,” “dead in trespasses and sins,” “lost,” “perishing,” “condemned,” “under the wrath of God,” “blind,” “in the powers of darkness,” “loves spiritual darkness,” “under the control of Satan,” “disobedient to God,” etc. (John 3:18-20, 36; 8:44; Eph. 2:1-2; Mk. 7:21-33; Rom. 5:19; 1:29-32; 3:10-18; Gal. 5:19-21).

The lost person is spiritually blind to the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Jn. 3:3). Therefore, he sees little value in the demand of the Bible to have a personal faith in the saving power of God in Christ.

All moral and religious people who do not have a personal trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior are not saved. They are spiritually lost and not counted among the saved (Isa. 53:6). There is nothing they can do to merit or earn salvation by their virtue or good works. No good works in any form can take the place of a spiritual birth (Jn. 3:3). Good religious works and high moral values cannot impart new life or salvation.

Man has wandered away from God and is in the wrong place. In Luke 19:10, Jesus said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and save that which was lost.” John summarizes the saving Gospel, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Then he goes on to explain, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (v. 18).

The lost person is totally depraved meaning that he cannot influence God in any way to merit or gain a right relationship with God. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus described the lost person: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness” (Mark 7:21-22). It looks and smells like prime-time television, but it is totally unacceptable to God. “There is not a just person on the earth, that does good, and sins not” (Ecc. 7:20). “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away” (Isa. 64:6). In the sight of a holy God, such individuals are lost and cannot find their way to God.

Only God can remedy this problem in the heart of a person. “The wages of sin is death,” and every sinner must pay the penalty or have someone pay it for him (Rom. 6:23; 5:6-8).

Jesus gave Himself as a ransom for our sins, the just for the unjust. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds we were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).

God the Holy Spirit energizes the estate of the person who has put his faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ (Phil. 2:13; Jn. 3:3). The saved person is under the life changing power of God. We are energized either by God or by Satan. We are either saved or unsaved; there is no other choice. The saved person is “delivered from the power of darkness,” and God “has transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). The LORD God Himself has provided the only acceptable cure demanded by an infinitely pure and holy God.

God is the sole author of our salvation. We are lost in the “power of darkness” of sin until God transforms us. The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who have not believed on Christ (2 Cor. 4:3-4). When we are born spiritually, our spiritual eyes are illuminated and we see the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our minds, hearts, and volition come under the influence and power of the Holy Spirit and we are changed from the inside out.

The greatest thing an infinite God can do for man is to transform him from one who hates God to a lover of God. He takes us from an estate of hostility to God to one in which we are “conformed to the image of His Son.” Salvation transforms us to be “like Christ.”

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

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Daily Devotional: Constant, Conscious Communion with Christ

Daily Devotional: Constant, Conscious Communion with Christ

Message by Wil Pounds

Constant, Conscious Communion

with Christ

Christians are to live in constant, conscious communion with Christ. Yes, Jesus Christ literally lives within you if you have put your faith in Him as your personal Savior.

The heart of Christian living is found in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Christ lives in you (Col. 1:27). That is a fact that is true of every believer.

Jesus prayed for you and me when He prayed, “That all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and You in Me” (John 17:20-23).

“I in them and You in Me.” Because Jesus Christ lives in you, His strength works in and through you to bring glory to Him. Learn to trust Him moment by moment living in you.

Jesus living in us is like the glove on your hand. I may say to my glove, “Pick up that Bible.” That glove cannot do a thing. But when I slip that glove on my hand it is a perfect fit. Then when I say, “Pick up the Bible” it has perfect control. Jesus Christ living in you is a perfect fit. “Christ in you” is the astonishing reality that He clothes Himself with us and uses you and me for His eternal purposes. As we make ourselves available to the indwelling Christ, He molds us and uses us as He so pleases for His glory.

Jesus said, “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).

It is essential that we have this confidence in Jesus Christ who will in His divine power, make us partakers of His work, His life, His indwelling. What you and I cannot do, He does in and through us.

Christ our Redeemer is the Almighty One, who is everlasting and unchangeable, and it is He who has chosen to indwell you and me with His holy presence. He effected real cleansing and a putting away of sin, so that He can enter into our inmost being and dwell there.

He alone is the One who can reach your heart and fill it with the power of His eternal Word. Moreover, He can maintain without any shadow of turning in never ceasing fashion His life with you.

“Christ in you,” Christ living in you by faith, has the power to make your circumstances, no matter how difficult, a heavenly discipline, to serve His eternal purposes for His glory and your good.

Christ in us, abiding in us, gives us new life, and fills us with Himself. As we make ourselves available to Him, He makes our inner life the proof of His almighty power. The apostle Paul said, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Yes, you can have a constant, conscious communion with Christ in a living experiential heart knowledge that comes from faith and fellowship with Him.

Christ living within us works in us everyday to lift us up and enables us to live as those who are seated with Him in the heavenlies.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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Daily Devotion: The Eternal Purpose Of God

 

The Eternal Purpose of Godf

Daily Devotion: The Eternal Purpose of God

Message by Wil Pounds

Where is God at work in your life? Are you going through some deep hurt, pain or suffering? Could God perhaps be doing a special work through your present circumstances?

One of the greatest promises in the Bible is found in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purposes” (New International Version). The New American Standard Bible reads: “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.”

There have been many times in my life when I have paused and stood back in amazement and reflected on how God works in all things of our good and His glory.

The New Testament scholar, F. F. Bruce observes, “Grammatically ‘all things’ may be either subject or object of the verb ‘works together’; it is more probably the object. The subject will then be ‘he.’” The subject is God. Therefore the translation preferred, “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” (NASB). Goodspeed translates, “We know that in everything God works with those who love Him . . .” RSV, “We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him . . .”

“We know” by the knowledge of faith in God’s Word.

In the context Paul has been addressing giving assurance to Christians who are enduring persecution and sufferings that “are not worthy to be compared with glory that is to be revealed to us” (v. 18). Why? God is at work in all these circumstances causing them to work together for the good of those who love Him. Everything will work together for our good to achieve His purpose.

“Everything” or “all things” refers to all our sufferings and trials, persecutions, calamities to which we are exposed. Paul has in mind the sufferings of believers.

Paul does not say this promise is true for everyone. He clarifies it by saying God does it for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. It is true only of those who love Him. What is that purpose God has in mind? His goal is that we be conformed to the likeness of His Son. This is not a promise that “all things” work together for all people everywhere. It is for believers in Jesus Christ alone. Only those who love God realize that all things work together for their good.

The “good” is not health, wealth and happiness. The “good” thing God is after is Christ-likeness. He works in all things to present us complete in Christ Jesus. When we keep this goal in mind we can see how God works in our sickness, suffering, persecution, grief, etc to achieve His purpose in our lives.

There are a lot of bad things, evil that we encounter. It is by nature evil, but God brings good out of the evil. I have watched God use the murder of missionaries, the persecution of believers, death of a child, etc. to accomplish His goals in people’s lives, including my own. The “good” and perfect goal is to conform us to the character of Christ.

A friend of mine often says, “Keep your heart tender toward God.” What is my attitude toward God? What is my attitude toward my circumstances? Do I color God by the circumstances, or do I see Him at work for my “good” through those circumstances?

The apostle Paul tells us that all things that have happened to us or can possibly happen to us are ordered and controlled by the LORD God so that His eternal purpose will be accomplished in and through us to His glory. Even the worst things that we can imagine are used by God to conform us to the likeness of Christ.

No, I may not feel like that is happening in my life when I am suffering. But Paul does not say we are to feel “good.” He says, “but we know” that God is at work in these things.

Most of the time we don’t see it all working out for our good until it is all over and perhaps years later we see it all coming together so that others are impacted with the gospel. Sometimes the working together is for the good of other people. Often, people we are not even aware of others who are watching others their lives.

The reason this promise is so precious is that there is nothing that can come into our lives that can defeat God’s purposes—nothing. That is what Romans eight is all about. The chapter comes to a grand climax reinforcing this great truth. Shall anything come into our lives that shall separate us from the love of God? Nothing (vv. 31-39).

Mere things do not work together for our good, but “God works all things” to accomplish His eternal purposes. God is sovereign and He is at work in our lives. In the sovereign hands of God they are made to work toward that goal. Even things that are inherently evil in themselves, when taken in concert with everything else that occurs, are made to accomplish His goal. “Not one detail works ultimately for evil to the people of God; in the end only good will be their lot.”

C. H. Dodd says, “There is no situation however desperate, in which a man can find himself where he cannot find God, and have His aid and interest.”

In the sovereign love and wisdom of God “all things” are made to converge and contribute to God’s eternal purpose.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds

 

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Daily Devotional – Discipline: Train Yourself To Be Godly

Daily Devotional – Discipline: Train Yourself To Be Godly

Message by Wil Pounds

 

Discipline: Train Yourself to be Godly

What will it take in the Christian’s life to overcome broken resolutions and commitments?

It will be a great benefit to realize that there is no such thing as instant godliness. There are no “one minute,” thirty days, or “three easy steps” to a life of righteousness that pleases God. That is not the way God planned for our sanctification.

We are justified instantly by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. But justification and sanctification are completely different.

We have spent a life time developing patterns of sinful attitudes, thinking and behaviors. These habits will not be broken and replaced with godly behavior and thinking without commitment and discipline.

The apostle Paul uses an athletic image to tell us we must discipline ourselves to live godly. “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Why is it so important? The next verse tells us “it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” It has immediate pay offs in this life, and eternal rewards.

Discipline is that determined effort on our part that corrects, molds and perfects the character of a person. Holy character does not come all at once, but over a lifetime.

This “discipline” is the training that is needed for the unhindered pursuit of God’s will and purposes.

Discipline puts into daily practice our commitment to live a godly life. It begins in the mind. “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

This inner transformation takes place as we memorize, meditate, and put into daily practice the precious truths of the Bible.

Old sinful habits and patterns of behavior and thinking are changed as we form new habits of obedience to the will of God. As we put these new attitudes and behaviors into practice over a period of time we form new patterns of thinking and behavior. It then becomes easier and easier to live a life that is pleasing to God. We are responsible to put into action a plan for daily Bible reading, study, prayer, etc. The Holy Spirit can then apply to our inner person the Scriptures we have learned. I cease to be amazed how He brings to my mind in time of need passages of Scripture or principles I have learned in the past. He gives us inner strength as He applies His Word to our daily life. We have to do our part by disciplining ourselves to study and meditate on the Word of God. If you will not discipline yourself to get into God’s Word you will not grow in Christ-likeness. No one else can do that for you.

Just as physical exercise is good for the body, the apostle Paul tells us our mind, emotions, will and spiritual life needs vigorous exercise as well. Just as the Greek athlete would discipline himself with vigorous exercise in order to win the athletic games, we are exhorted to exercise in such as way as to excel in godliness.

M. R. Vincent notes, “Godliness has promise for the present life because it has promise of the life which is to come. Only the life which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 1:1) is life indeed (1 Tim. 6:19).”

Are you training yourself toward the goal of true godliness? “The reason why we toil and struggle so hard is that we have set our hopes on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe” (1 Timothy 4:10). That is what makes the effort on our part so worthwhile.

As we have stressed before, we live a life of obedience as we yield to the presence of the Holy Spirit. We must daily know Jesus Christ better if we are to grow in Christ-likeness. To know Him better we must feed our minds and nourish our faith in Him.

Are you training your soul in holiness? Are you in a determined pursuit of godliness in your own life?

When we keep in mind of the ultimate goal we realize the pursuit is worthwhile.

Our goal is the pursuit of holiness. It is nothing less than to be presented to God the Father whole and complete, perfect, in Jesus Christ.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

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Daily Devotional: Getting Near To God

Daily Devotional: Getting Near To God

Message by Wil Pounds

Getting Near to God

The essential work of our great High priest is to bring us near to God. The Lord Jesus Christ gives us perfect confidence in drawing near to our heavenly Father. He has opened up and keeps open for us the blessed access into God’s presence and fellowship. Therefore, the Kingdom of God is a reality in the heart of every believer.

The measure of nearness to God is a good indication of our knowledge and intimacy of Jesus Christ. This confidence is what the Holy Spirit works in us as the inward participation in Christ’s entrance into the Father’s presence. He takes us by the hand and brings us into the presence of the Father (Eph. 2:18).

Our great High Priest has entered into heaven and there intercedes on our behalf. He understands us and our deepest needs because “we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 NET).

Our great High Priest has been where we are, and tempted in every way. He is able to “sympathize,” lit. “to feel or suffer with” our weakness. “The sinless One has a greater capacity for compassion than any sinner could have for a fellow sinner.” A sinless person would feel temptation in a much greater way than you and I could ever experience.

Thus, the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help” (v. 16 NET). We are invited and encouraged to come to the “throne of grace” of the Sovereign King any time we are in need.

It is the marvelous teaching of Hebrews that we can actually, in spiritual reality, draw near to God, and live in that nearness in a living fellowship with Him all day, every day. We can live our daily life in a living communion with God. Our entrance into the holiest is by means of the cleansing of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ. There is no other means of access and maintenance in the presence of the Holy One.

The work of our great high priest is so perfect, and His power in heaven so sovereign that he not only gives us the right and freedom to draw near, but by his high priestly activity he takes us into the presence of God so we can abide there.

Our great high priest takes possession of our innermost being and enables us to live in God’s holy presence.

Once we learn to appropriate the present work of our great High Priest, our Christian life takes on an even greater personal meaning to us.

We can enter often with confidence or boldness before the “throne of grace.” This is essential for a healthy Christian life. It should be the passion of the Christian to strive to maintain an unbroken fellowship in drawing near to God.

Every believer can enter into the presence of God with the full blessing of a life spent in the power of Christ’s heavenly priesthood. Let us come with confidence and tarry before the throne of God in grace and prayer so that we may find life within the veil, in the power of the sinless One who has entered there for us.

Do you desire with deep, intense longing to be made free from sin, as free as God can make you in this life? Then come boldly to the throne of grace and mercy. The only way we can come is by means of His blood.

This is where we find sustaining grace for daily life and power for ministry. Our great High Priest “has gone right up to heaven itself, let us continue to keep a firm hold on our profession of faith in Him . . . so let us continue coming with courage, to the throne of God’s unmerited favor to obtain His mercy and to find His spiritual strength to help us when we need it” (Williams translation of Hebrews 4:14, 16).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

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Daily Devotion: Finish Your Work, Lord

Daily Devotion: Finish Your Work, Lord

Message by Wil Pounds

Finish Your Work, Lord

Since we are the very workmanship of God created in Christ Jesus for good works, it is imperative that we yield to His creative hand, and allow Him to finish the work He has begun.

With the new birth God has commenced the character of His people fashioning us in the likeness of His Son. No human mind could ever conceive or fully comprehend the full design of God’s infinite wisdom and love. We will have to wait until that day when Christ comes, or when we meet Him in death, to know His perfect character. We really are even right now now the children of God, but “it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.” But we know “when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

We are loved by God and have been born again; we are now His children. But even now, it has not been revealed clearly to us what we shall be. However, we know absolutely that whenever He comes we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope continually set on Him is constantly purifying himself just as He is pure.

The present reality is we are God’s children because of the new birth and adoption into the family of God. He wants us to spend eternity with Him. Only a person who knows God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ knows what it means to be a child of God.

When Jesus Christ comes a second time all true believers in Him will become like Him (Phil. 3:20-21). They will have new, glorified, resurrected bodies adapted for heaven. Such a hope in His coming leads to a life of personal integrity. We want to live lives that are pleasing to Him.

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered into the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Cor. 2:9; cf. Isa. 64:4).

We do not know the complete details of this “likeness of God.” But we do know that we will be like Christ because our destiny and glory is to be like Him (Rom. 8:29). We will be like Jesus who is like God (2 Cor. 4:6).

Since we do not know the final outcome of our redemption, who are we to dictate to God what we want to become? He is the Potter; we are the clay. Let’s let Him choose the outcome. Let’s let the Author of our salvation also be the Finisher.

Pop psychology, self-help philosophies, new age movements lead many astray with their secular humanism (1 John 3:10). Because they can only reform depraved man they cannot do what God alone can do through His Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:24; Heb. 12:10). We, on the other hand, are “made partakers of His divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:9; Eph. 4:13).

God’s workmanship is to “present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28; cf. Eph. 4:13).

Who am I to impose on God’s handiwork my flaws of humanism when He has a greater goal in mind? How much better it is to come to Him, and yield to the Holy Spirit to apply God’s truth to our lives.

We were designed to be like Christ. Therefore, it is in our best interest to find out in God’s Word what He is like and yield to the divine Potter. “Not I, but Christ.” Not man created in man’s selfish, depraved, sinful image, but in all the pure character and holiness of Christ.

A. T. Robertson said, “The transforming power of the vision of Christ (1 Cor. 13:12) is the consummation of the glorious process begun at the new birth (2 Cor. 3:18).”

C. H. Spurgeon wisely wrote: “That which is your own work, you may well blush to own; that which is the devil’s work, you are bound to detest; but that which is the work of the Holy Spirit in you, will bear inspection, and no guilty fear should cause you to conceal it. Let your meekness, your kindness, your uprighteousness, your truth, your purity appear unto all men. Never let it be a question whether you are a Christian.”

You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. Let Him finish His product. He does not make junk. His work is always perfect and it is always beautiful in His eyes. Why settle for second best by choosing for yourself? We are God’s workmanship and that always means He gives us His very best. What is there that God cannot do for you far better than you can ever do for yourself?

“We are His workmanship created in Christ for good works.” Don’t mar His new creation.

 

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

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Daily Devotion: Consequences of Unbelief

Daily Devotion: Consequences of Unbelief

 

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

The gospel writer Luke described Zacharias and Elizabeth as an elderly couple, “both advanced in years,” and without children. “Elizabeth was barren.” Zechariah was a priest who married a woman of priestly descent. “They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord” (Luke 1:6).

Zacharias had the honor “to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense” (v. 9). “And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering” (v. 10).

It was a very special time for the elderly priest. He and his wife had prayed often and for many years for a son to carry on his family name, and to fill their lives with joy.

Imagine what it was like that day in the temple when “an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense” in the Holy Place (v. 11). “Fear gripped” Zacharias as he listened to the angel.

“Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth” (vv. 13-14).

God answered the prayers of this righteous couple in a most impressive manner. But it was not a message of importance just for this humble couple; it was an important word for the people of Israel.

“For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God” (vv. 15-16, cf. v. 41). God has chosen this child for a special purpose. He will have a special anointing of the Holy Spirit “while yet in his mother’s womb,” and his message will be the instrument of God to bring a revival in the nation.

His presence will remind people of “the spirit and power of Elijah,” and his message will be used “to prepare a people” for the coming of the Lord (v. 17). This child to be born will prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah.

God answers prayers! He does the impossible. He accomplishes His eternal purposes in the most astonishing manner. “And after these days Elizabeth his wife became pregnant . . .” (v. 24). It was not a virgin birth, but a natural conception. Elizabeth became pregnant. How beautiful.

What was the reaction of the father to be when God’s messenger brought the good news? “How shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years” (v. 18).

It was enough that God said He was answering Zachariah’s prayers. Gabriel had just given Zachariah the evidence. God’s word is a good enough reason.

When the answer came Zachariah was astounded and filled with amazement. He was not expecting God to answer his prayers, because a secret unbelief lay hidden away in his heart. God is faithful, and His consistent faithfulness reveals our hollow and shallow faith. When the answer came, Zachariah could not believe it!

When God answers our prayers we often are astonished and filled with amazement. Like Zachariah, we have heard the promises and we have asked God in sincere prayer, and when God says yes we are surprised. We are not strangers to the blessings of God’s eternal and unchanging love. The angel said, “Your prayer has been heard.” God’s purposes are being fulfilled in you.

Zachariah wanted a sign. He wanted a fleece, and he got it! Gabriel was put out with Zachariah’s unbelief. “And behold, you shall be silent and unable to speak until the day when these things shall take place, because you did not believe my words, which shall be fulfilled in their proper time” (v. 20).

Zachariah did not speak a word for nine months! What if God did the same thing to you and me in our unbelief? How long would we remain silent? Do we tempt God in a similar manner? What guarantees do we go asking for when God speaks? Do we go “looking for some minute circumstances to verify a magnificent promise”? Do we make our feelings a kind of test of our acceptance of God’s word? I will not believe unless I ____? What? Why should God tolerate our unbelief and chastise Zachariah? What has God done to chasten your unbelief? What if God said to you or me, “If that is the way you witness to My faithfulness, you shall never speak again”? God be merciful to your servant for we, too, are like Zachariah. Thank God, “If we believe not, yet He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”

Zachariah could not bless the people who waited anxiously outside for the blessing. He could not speak a word. He could give no instruction, or a word of praise, or even tell them what God has said to him. He was a useless servant. He was as good as dead for nine months until his son John the Baptist was born.

After John’s birth, God loosed his tongue, and he poured out praise to God and prophesied under the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 64-79). May the God of grace loosen our tongues as well.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

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Daily Devotion: “Christ Much and Christ More”

 

Daily Devotion: “Christ Much and Christ More”

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Have you ever thought what it would be like if you could not die? How terrible it would be if your body had wasted away with a terrible disease and you could not die. I have conducted many funerals when loved ones have reluctantly said the deceased was better off because he was no longer suffering.

On the other hand, Francis Bacon echoed the attitude of many when he said, “men fear death as children fear the dark.” Apart from an intimate love relationship with Jesus Christ no man is prepared for his encounter with death.

Moreover, death for the believer in Christ is presented in the Bible as an improvement over the very best in this life. How wonderful it would be if Jesus came for us on the very best day this life could offer when everything is going great. It would not be a terrible tragedy. The apostle Paul’s life was full and he could write, “For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain” (Philippians 2:21 NET).

Paul did not say his death would be “better by far” because he wanted to escape this life. The death of the Christian is never portrayed as an escape or improvement on the worst of life.

The heartbeat of Paul’s life was Christ. “For to me to live is Christ and to die is better yet.” Christ was everything to Him.

H. C. G. Moule with keen insight said, “Life and death . . . look to him like two immense blessings, of which he knows not which is the better. On either side of the veil, Jesus Christ is all things to him.” The only difference will be that “on the other side” everything Paul longed for in this life “in Christ” will be more perfectly realized there.

The apostle’s desire was to “depart” and be with Christ. He had tasted the delights of God’s righteousness and longed for freedom from evil that he would never have in this life on the earth. He would know perfect freedom.

For the Christian death will be freedom from all sin, pain, suffering, persecution, cares, etc.

I am sure the apostle Paul had in mind that this freedom would mean that finally he would be like Christ in His perfect righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). Crowned with His righteousness! It is not our self-righteousness, but our being clothed in righteousness that Christ imputes to us (2 Cor. 5:21).

We will know him as he is known. Every spiritual truth that has puzzled us in this life will be clearly revealed to us in Christ. In that day we will know as he knows (1 Cor. 13:12).

But the blessed thought, most precious of all is we will be with him. Every born again believer will be with Christ. Yes, we know him and he is with us in our present life, but oh the fullness of our knowledge of him and his wonderful, glorious presence when we are with him clothed and crowned with his righteousness!

The Psalmist said, “precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints” (Psalm 116:15 NASB).

For the unbeliever death is an eternal separation from a righteous, loving God. It is something to be feared and dreaded. However, for the believer death is just the opposite; it is also precious to the believer just as it is to God. There will be no separation from him.

Moule says it well. For Paul it was a dilemma “between Christ and Christ, Christ much and Christ more, Christ by faith and Christ by sight.” And that is our dilemma, too.

As you read these words is it true of you? Do you long to be like Christ? Do you long to see Him in all His gory? Do you earnestly desire to be perfect as he is perfect?

The apostle John said, “And everyone who has this hope focused on him purifies himself, just as Jesus is pure” (1 John 3:3 NET).

Selah!

 

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