Archive for May, 2016

Daily Devotional: Super Conquerors through Christ

Daily devotional: Super Conquerors through Christ

Message by Wil Pounds

Super Conquerors through Christ

Satan is a very dangerous enemy.

We are engaged in the spiritual battle of our lives.

“Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The odds in such a spiritual battle are not very good if you do not know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

There can never be an armistice or truce in our spiritual warfare. From the moment we became believers in Christ Jesus we were made targets of the world, the flesh and the devil. There is never a moment when that is not true.

Why does the apostle Paul consider the believers “more than conquerors” in the spiritual battles? “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

Tribulations, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, and the list could go on and on. “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

There is no other way to conquer. Only Jesus Christ can give us the spiritual victory in life.

The apostle Paul is stressing a “superlative of victory.” Everything may appear to be just the opposite, but it only places the reality of the victory in bolder relief. Martyrdom only appears to be defeat, but when seen through the eyes of God it declares “more than conquerors” in Christ. It is an unqualified victory through the love of Jesus Christ demonstrated at Calvary. The basis of all spiritual victories took place at Calvary (Col. 2:15).

We win the victory through Him who loved us, and died for us. Christian joy comes to us in spite of tribulation, disappointments, sin, defeat, persecution, etc. We have victory even when life and death have done their worst.

In all of the chances, changes and circumstances in life we are coming off constantly with more than the victory through the One who loved us.

The apostle Paul has come through the process of persuasion to the settled conclusion that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things about to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. None of these things are capable of severing or even damaging that relationship with God in Christ.

Yes, “we are more than conquerors,” “we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

No matter what the circumstances or situation in life, God will always keep the Christian secure in His great love. Nothing in life or death can stop God from loving us. Angels, demonic rulers in spiritual realms, heavenly beings or earthly rulers, regardless of what you can imagine in heaven or earth, good or bad, cannot stop the conquering love of God for us.

We may only see crowns of thorns in this life, but when Jesus Christ comes we will receive incorruptible victory crowns of glory.

Time and space are powerless against the Christian because whatever life brings, the love of God triumphs over it. “No angelic power of any sort can separate us from God.” Nor anything else you can think of can separate us from God’s love for us. Life, death, angels, demons, or all of them combined cannot separate us from His love.

This wonderful love from which we cannot be separated is the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. It can be experienced only in Christ Jesus. God demonstrated that majestic sacrificial love at Calvary.

Yes, believers are all “super-conquerors,” “more than conquerors” in Jesus Christ. We are “super-overcomers” in Christ by His enabling grace.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Why Pain and Suffering?

Daily Devotion: Why Pain and Suffering?

Message by Wil Pounds

Why Pain and Suffering?

Researchers recently asked a cross-section of adults: “If you could ask God only one question and you knew He would give you the answer, what would you ask?” The majority of the people responded, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”

That is not a new question. It is the age old question the patriarch Job asked in the oldest book in the Bible during his earth shaking tragedy (1:13-19). If you substitute in this passage the words “Sabeans” and “Chaldeans” with “terrorists,” and tornado or hurricane for the strong wind you have the headlines in today’s news.

Job asked the same question, “Why?” seven times in chapter three. “Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?” (v. 11) Repeatedly, he asked “Why?” People still ask, “Why did God allow this to happen?” “Where is God?” “Why didn’t God do something?”

The Greek philosopher Epicures asked if there is a God, and if that God is good, why is there evil in our world? Epicures reasoned: “God either wishes to take away evil, and is unable; or He is able and unwitting; or He is neither willing nor able; or He is both willing and able.”

His reasoning raises other questions. Is He weak and feeble because He wishes to take away evil, but unable to do so? However, that does not answer to the real character of God.

Is He wicked because He is able and willing, but will not?

If He is weak, feeble and wicked He is not God. Then we must ask since God is not the source of evil what is its source? Since He is God and He knows the source then why does He not remove it immediately?

The prophet Habakkuk asked God, “Why do You make me see iniquity? Why do you cause me to look on wickedness?” (Hab. 1:3).

The prophet Jeremiah asked another relevant question, “Why has the way of the wicked prospered?” (12:1).

The Hebrew mind reasoned that all suffering is unjust and that God’s silence is inexcusable. In Hebrew, the word “why” is a cry of protest.

How strange that we call God on the carpet every time there is a tragedy, or crisis in our lives. We go to Him and demand that He explain Himself and He had better have a good reason that satisfies us or we will not believe in Him. Our insistence on demands from God in time of disaster borders on arrogance and spiritual infidelity.

The fact is the Lord God does not have to explain Himself to anyone simply because He is the sovereign God.

In the book of Job God is totally silent for 37 chapters. He patiently listens to Job and never says one word. Then He asked one question, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding” (38:4).

To paraphrase God, “You wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t decided to create you.” “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it” (40:2).

The Lord God is a sovereign, good God and His providence extends over all things including both good and evil. He demonstrates His sovereignty by His ability to bring good out of evil, and to use it for His glory and our good.

He is absolutely good and righteous; therefore, He can redeem that which is evil and use it for His eternal purposes.

I may not know the reason why, but the Lord knows, and that is enough.

I may not know why the Lord leads me in paths I dread, but the Lord knows and therefore I will trust and obey Him.

There is good in the world because God is good. We experience His goodness because He is the God of grace.

Selah!

Daily Devotion: “But I Don’t Have Enough Faith”.

 

Daily Devotion: “But I Don’t Have Enough Faith”

Message by Wil Pounds

“But I Don’t Have Enough Faith”

I often hear people say, “I am afraid I don’t know if I have enough faith.” How much faith do you need in order to be saved?

The Bible does not teach that you are justified because of your faith. Faith is not works.

Faith is nothing more than the instrument to receive our salvation. Nowhere in Scripture will you find that we are justified on account of our faith. The Scripture says that we are justified by faith or through faith. Faith is nothing but the the channel by which this righteousness of God in Christ becomes ours. It is not our faith that saves us.

What saves us is the Lord Jesus Christ and His perfect saving work. It is the death of Christ upon Calvary’s Cross that saves us. It is God putting Christ’s righteousness to our account that saves. Faith is only the channel and the instrument by which His righteousness becomes mine (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:24). The righteousness that saves is entirely Christ’s. My faith is not my righteousness and I must never define or think of faith as righteousness. Faith is nothing but that which connects us to the Lord Jesus Christ and His righteousness.

The whole emphasis on salvation by faith is clearly on the object of our faith: Jesus Christ. Jesus saves! Faith does not save us. Jesus alone does that.

If we are saved at all it must be through faith in the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

Spurgeon once said, “It does not take a strong faith to save you, just faith. The weakness of your faith will not destroy you. A trembling hand may receive a golden gift.”

The object of our faith is the all-important thing (Acts 16:31). Our faith must be focused on Christ Jesus and His saving work on the cross. He died as our substitute. We must trust in Christ to save us.

The righteousness that God has graciously provided becomes ours through simple faith. Ponder over Romans 3:22, 24-25, 26, 28, 30 and observe the emphasis the apostle Paul is making in these verses. Faith will not earn your salvation. If it did then faith would be works and God would owe you something. Faith is essential because only those individuals who put their trust in Christ will be saved.

The apostle Paul wrote, “The righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe” (v. 22). Sinners are “justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (vv. 24-25a). God did it this way as a demonstration “that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (v. 26). You cannot boast if you are saved by grace through faith in Christ, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law” (v. 28). Moreover, “He will justify the circumcision by faith and the uncircumcised through faith” (v. 30).

If you have never done so, will you believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved today? “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Have You Fallen From Grace?

Daily Devotion: Have You Fallen from Grace?

Message by Wil Pounds

Have You Fallen from Grace?

“Grace is neither withheld nor reduced because of sin.”

I have been asked many times if a born again believer can fall from the grace of God since Galatians 5:4 says, “you have fallen from grace.”

The context of that statement is Jewish teachers who emphasized that a person had to keep the Law of Moses to be saved had confuse the Christians in the church at Galatia. They were insisting that all non-Jews must be circumcised and become Jews first. The apostle Paul had taught them clearly that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ (Gal. 1:10; 2:16-21; 3:1-14, 22-29; 5:5-6). Paul wrote his letter to the church admonishing the believers to stand firm against the bondage of legalism. The immediate context states Paul’s conviction clearly, “Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:2-4).

Paul is not saying, “You have lost your salvation.” What happens when you fall from grace? You fall into law observance. You become legalists. A. T. Robertson, writes, “‘You left the sphere of grace in Christ and took your stand in the sphere of law’ as your hope of salvation. Paul does not mince words and carries the logic to the end of the course. He is not, of course, speaking of occasional sins, but he has in mind a far more serious matter, that of substituting law for Christ as the agent in salvation.”

It is a very serious matter. Paul is concerned that if the Galatians accepted the right of circumcision as necessary for salvation, then they would be leaving the principle of grace and going back to the Mosaic Law.

Here are two opposing approaches to God. One system based on legalism and the other on God’s grace. The same error can be seen in a church that teaches that salvation depends on repentance, confession, faith, baptism, and church membership as opposed to one that emphasizes salvation by grace through faith. There is nothing wrong with these teachings except when they become the means of salvation. Baptism by immersion and church membership are not things you do in order to be saved. That is legalism at its worst scenario.

The biggest tragedy for the believer is that he is robbed of the spiritual wealth that is his by abiding in Christ. Legalists rob the Christian of his liberty. Legalists do not live by the Spirit, but by rules and regulations. He is bound to laws and traditions instead of walking by faith in Christ. Legalism gives a false sense of security, but it chokes the Christ-life out of the believer.

No matter how much morality a person attains by legalism he still comes short of the glory of God. No radically depraved sinner can live up to the expectations of God. He may live up to another sinner’s expectations, but not according to God’s standards.

However, when God saves us by grace and we live by grace through faith in Christ we share in the riches of God’s grace (Eph. 1:7), the wealth of His glorious inheritance in the saints (Eph. 1:18; Phil. 4:19), the riches of His wisdom (Rom. 11:33), and the unfathomable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8). Moreover, in Christ we have “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3), and we are “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10). Once a person is “in Christ,” he has all that he needs to live the kind of Christian life God wants him to live. Legalism keeps you bound up with the system of men and men’s expectations as opposed to God.

God will never decrease His grace toward you because of your sin. Your sins, all of them have been dealt with by the atoning death of Christ. “All my sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,” wrote Horatio Spafford. The basis for such belief is the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ imparted to the believing sinner. We have been justified by grace alone through faith in Christ.

You cannot fall from grace, but you can break the Law. Our breaking of the Law causes us to cast ourselves upon the grace of God and plead for His mercy. Christ died for all our sins. Jesus paid it all. Our knowledge of sin should make us pray, “God be merciful to me the sinner.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Get in the Boat with Jesus

Daily Devotional: Get in the Boat with Jesus

Message by Wil Pounds

Get in the Boat with Jesus
The vital thing in discipleship is to actually follow Jesus Christ wherever He goes.

Have I left the lesser loyalties to follow the higher priorities of the Kingdom of God?

It is not enough to be impressed with His person, or what we can get from Him. Perhaps some of our evangelism and friendly “seeker services” are like the people on the shore of the Sea of Galilee seeking another amazing miracle. Perhaps like Carnival, we shout, “Throw me something mister!”

The crowds along the lakeside wanted more healings than teaching. Jesus got into a boat and headed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee.

The vital thing Jesus wants is for us to follow Him. Jesus still says to would be disciples, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury the dead” (Matthew 8:22). Jesus got in the boat “and His disciples followed Him” (v. 23).

Have we gotten into the boat with Jesus? Weak faith grows strong in the fierce storms of life.

One moment Jesus is asleep on a pillow in the rear of the boat in a fierce storm, overcome with exhaustion from a busy day. Then we see Him a few moments later calming the fierce wind and waves, which only God can do.

Matthew, Mark and Luke tell the events that day when Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee (Luke 8:22). Jesus, exhausted from a day of ministry, fell asleep in the rear of the boat. “A fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger” (v. 23). Matthew who was an eyewitness said, “There arose a great storm,” literally “a shaking.” The “boat was covered with waves” (Matt. 8:24). It was such a severe storm that these professional sailors panicked.

Jesus was not only divine, but He was thoroughly human. He is the God-man. He is fully God and He is fully man. Here we have a beautiful picture of the human side of Jesus because He was in the need of rest. He was tired and exhausted. He needed to get away from the crowds and rest. He put His trust in His heavenly Father to watch over Him.

Suddenly, a furious storm came up and strong violent gale winds whipped the waves and engulfed the boat. It was a “boisterous surge, a violent agitation.”

This storm was different from anything they had ever encountered before. They had never experienced anything like it. Humanly speaking the situation became increasingly grave.

The disciples panicked. “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” (Matt. 8:25).

Jesus “rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm” (LK. 8:24). Matthew says, “it became perfectly calm,” or literally “a great calm occurred.” After such a storm a lake does not calm down that quickly and stay that way. The disciples knew that it normally takes a while for the waves to settle down. Here, eyewitnesses said the lake calmed immediately.

Christ, God omnipotent, was in the boat. He is the master of the wind and the waves. Wherever Jesus is the power of God is there. Wherever Jesus is the storm becomes calm. Suddenly the surface of the lake became as smooth as a piece of glass.

The reaction of the disciples at the calmness struck them with “fear and amazement.” It is probably correct to say they were now more afraid of the calmness than the storm.

Jesus asked, “Where is your faith?” (Lk. 8:25). His faith was in His Father (Ps. 89:8-9).

The amazed disciples were saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?” (v. 25).

Where was their faith? They had enough to get into the boat with Jesus and follow Him. Yes, getting into a fishermen’s boat was their safety zone. They had done that hundreds of times. They had also ridden out a few bad storms in their lifetime.

Why were they not exercising their faith in Him at this time?

Our faith in God has to be exercised personally. It refuses to be controlled by the fierce storms in life. It refuses to panic when the going gets tough and beyond our comfort. We have to focus our faith on Him.

The thing that moved Jesus in this account was not the violent storm, but the lack of faith of the disciples. “Why are you timid, you men of little faith?” (Matt. 8:26).

With Jesus in our boat we should have courage to face the storms by faith in Him. Christ is always in the boat. Jesus is praying that we will have strong faith in Him (Lk. 22:31-32).

The things that hinder our faith are doubt, rationalizations, anxiety, lack of courage, etc. Faith is volitional. It is a choice I make.

Our faith has to be tested before it can be trusted. God allowed a violent storm to test the disciples. Jesus entrusted His safety to the Father. The disciples trusted in their own competence as professional fishermen. “Their unbelief was more dangerous than the storm.” It takes God to change the weather.

“Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid” (Isaiah 12:2).

Where is your child like trust? Would the One who had chosen them to follow Him allow them to perish in the storm? Was not His presence reassuring? We know Jesus had the storm “under control” because He was sound asleep in the raging storm.

John Ryle said, “How many have faith and love enough to forsake all for Christ’s sake, and to follow Him wherever He goes, and yet are full of fears in the hour of trial! How many have grace enough to turn to Jesus in every trouble crying, ‘Lord, save us,’ and yet not grace enough to lie still and believe in the darkest hour that all is well.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Backsliding

Daily Devotional: Backsliding

Message by Wil Pounds

Backsliding

Have you ever temporarily lapsed into unbelief and sin after you became a Christian? The condition of backsliding results from spiritual apathy or disregard for the truth of God’s Word. It results in a departure from a winsome confession of faith and Biblical ethical standards. Actions are affected by our attitudes toward God and His Word.

Jesus said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Backsliding is different from apostasy, which spurns the grace of God by renouncing the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-31). When a person renounces his faith in Christ that person was never a true child of God, and never was among the elect of God (John 3:18-21, 36; 5:24-29).

On the other hand, the elect individual, regenerated by the Holy Spirit, justified by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and redeemed by God has been delivered once-for-all from the bondage of sin. Backsliding is not a “fall from grace” in the sense that a Christian once saved by grace can lose his eternal life in Christ. He is God’s child forever, and He has placed His life in the believing sinner.

There were times when the disciples of Jesus withdrew from fellowship with the Lord (Matt. 26:56), Peter denied Christ (26:69-75), Corinthian believers lived in sin (2 Cor. 12:20-21), the Church in Asia became lukewarm (Rev. 2:4, 14-15, 20), etc.

The people of Israel serve as an example for Christians today. We are exhorted to persevere in righteousness and doing the will of God. Israel forsook her covenant with the LORD God (Jer. 2:19; 8:5; 14:7), and demonstrated her unfaithfulness by disobeying God.

In the New Testament backsliding is viewed as an individual problem, although it is possible for churches to become backslidden, too.

Why do Christians become backslidden? We all still possess the old nature that is “corrupt through deceitful lusts” (Eph. 4:22; Rom. 7:13-24; 1 Cor. 3:1-3). Lack of continuous fellowship by “abiding” in Christ results in a lack of spiritual vitality and ineffective Christian service (Jn. 15:4-8). There is no other way to live the Christian life except by maintaining an intimate fellowship with our Lord. If we do not maintain that vital contact with Him we cannot sustain spiritual growth and effectively minister in His name.

Unbelief (Heb. 3:12), bitterness (12:15), love for the world (2 Tim. 4:10), love for money (1 Tim. 6:10), adherence to worldly philosophy (Col. 2:8), legalism (Gal. 3:1; 1:6; 5:7), indifference and spiritual coldness (Rev. 2:4; 3:16) are other causes for backsliding.

Backsliding grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), and it displeases our Lord (Heb. 10:38). There are natural consequences that follow this sin (Lev. 26:18-25).

How can we prevent backsliding in our spiritual life? It is essential that we “abide” in Christ (Jn. 15:4-7), remain spiritually alert (Eph. 6:18), put on the full armor of God (v. 10), be prayerful (1 Thess. 5:17), etc. Seek to love the Lord God with all your mind, heart and personal being every day.

We can thank God that He patiently perseveres with His saints. Just as we are to persevere in doing His will, we can be thankful that He has made a wonderful covenant with us in the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. The grace of perseverance is one of the great benefits of the atoning death of Jesus Christ for our sins. The solution for backsliding is found in the abiding love and mercy of our God of grace who remains faithful to His promises.

Backsliding is serious business. Martin Luther well said, “The offenses given within the church are greater than those given among the heathen because when Christians degenerate, they are more godless than the heathen.”

We have a choice. We can progress or regress in our Christian life. We have a great responsibility in how we choose to live the Christian life. God is able to strengthen and progressively sanctify the Christian if we cooperate with Him (Heb. 3:12; Phil. 3:10-16).

The promise to every backsliding Christian is to, “Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:7). Acknowledge your sin, turn from it, trust in the Lord for forgiveness and ask the Holy Spirit to take control of your mind, heart and daily life. Jesus says, “Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent” (Rev. 2:5).

It is reassuring that the Bible clearly teaches that the truly spiritual regenerate can never be lost. We are his forever children. Once his child by the new birth, always his child. However we can lose our fellowship with God and our effectiveness in Christian service. The God of all grace has provided a bar of soap; let’s use it often (1 John 1:6-10; 2:2).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

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