Archive for the ‘Daily Devotional’ Category

Daily Devotion: The Fullness of God’s Love

 

Daily Devotion: The Fullness of God’s Love

Ephesians 3:14-19

New International Version (NIV)

A Prayer for the Ephesians

Read: Ephesians 3:14-19

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Consider: How can you know something that can’t be known? It sounds impossible, but that is what Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers (and for us). He prayed that we would “know this love that surpasses knowledge” (3:19).
Well, the only way we can make sense of that is to try to understand what Paul means by knowledge. And it’s obvious that Paul is speaking about two different kinds of knowledge. There are some things we can grasp with our minds. We can know the story of Jesus’ birth, life and death. But the love of Christ surpasses that capability. I can’t contain his love in my thinking and reasoning.

While that may be obvious, Paul needed to remind us. It is easy for us to try to “know” Christ in the wrong way. It is our nature to approach all of life from a rational point of view. We try to figure things out. We make reasoned decisions. And if, at some point we fail to live life in that manner, we chide ourselves for being “irrational.”

Well, to know the love of Christ is not rational and it’s not irrational. It is what one author likes to call “trans-rational”—it transcends our knowledge or, as Paul says it, it “surpasses knowledge.”

That means that you and I need a different capacity—a spiritual capacity—to know that love. Paul said that capacity is given to us from “the fullness of God” and he prayed that we would be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (3:19).

Pray: “Lord, I open myself to you and ask your Spirit to fill me this day. By your presence in me, I ask that today you would help me ‘to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.’ I know this can’t happen in my mind alone, so help me to see you today with new eyes, in new ways.”

Phil Stout, Lead Pastor, Jackson First Church Nazarene

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

 

Daily Devotion: God’s Problem

Daily Devotion: God’s Problem

Message by Wil Pounds

God’s Problem

The greatest message God has ever delivered to sinful man is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. It is the declaration of the righteousness of God, and a demonstration that God is both “just and the justifier of him that believes in Jesus” (Romans 3:26).

The proof of the steadfast righteousness of God was made in the cross of Jesus Christ. God had declared that He is righteous and holy (Isa. 6:3). He cannot and will not tolerate sin in His presence (Ezek. 18:4, 17-18, 20, 30, 32).

The greatest divine problem is how can God be just and at the same time love a sinner and allow him into His holy presence? The cross reveals God’s holiness, righteousness and hatred of sin. It also demonstrates the depth of His love and integrity.

Sin must always be treated as sin, and the wages of sin is always death (Ezek. 18:4; Rom. 3:23; 6:23). It cannot be treated otherwise. So how can God save the sinner and remain righteous? God cannot change His eternal attribute of righteousness.

God taught His people in the Old Testament to anticipate a perfect and sufficient sacrifice for sin. The blood of bulls and goats symbolized the blood that would one day be shed by the perfect “Lamb of God” who would lift up and take away our sins and the sins of the whole world. The blood of animals could never take away sin, but only point to the greater “Lamb of God.”

These animal sacrifices were a part of the covenant of the LORD God that He would “in the fullness of time” provide the perfect substitutionary sacrifice that would deal with man’s sin problem (Gal. 4:4-5). Romans 3:25 tells us the proof of the righteousness of God was made in the death of Christ on the cross concerning all sins committed before Christ died. “Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.”

The death of Christ was the true and all sufficient sacrifice that stood as proof that God had fully accomplished His righteousness in all generations down through history.

Moreover, the all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins was fully accomplished on the cross in the substitutionary death of Christ. The cross is also a full demonstration of God’s righteousness to everyone who had lived since Christ died on the cross. Now the cure for our sin problem is not in the symbolic sacrifices in the Old Testament, but in the actual substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for our sins on the cross. The sacrifice of Christ is for “him who believes in Jesus.” The sacrifice of Christ is made effective to all who appropriate it by faith in Him. The sacrifice is effective “at this time” for everyone who believes on Christ (v. 26). It is the full proof of the righteousness of God so that He can be “just and the justifier” of all who believe in the all-sufficient atonement of Christ for sins.

The cross is God’s answer to the problem of His righteousness. He cannot change the demands of His righteousness and keep His integrity. The solution He provides in His omniscient wisdom is the sacrifice of His own Son. God remained just and at the same time saved the believing sinner. As the righteous Sovereign Judge He pronounced the full punishment of the wrath of God against all sin. As the divine Savior of all sinners who believe on Christ He took upon Himself the very punishment He imposed on the guilty sinner and paid the penalty in full. Because of the cross of Jesus, the divine righteousness of God can never be called into question even when He pardons the vilest offender of His righteousness. The Judge Himself has provided the perfect righteousness for the sinner who accepts God’s estimate of his sin and God’s all sufficient solution in Christ.

“God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). God satisfied His own righteous requirements at the cross. The death of Jesus was all-sufficient to meet God’s righteous requirements for the sinner.

The Judge paid the full redemption price for the helpless sinner.

God provided the solution for His own problem before any person had sinned, and in the fullness of time, He acted on it. Since judgments have already been perfectly met by the death of Christ, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: I Died

Daily Devotion: I Died

Message by Wil Pounds

I Died

Christ died for me, and I died in Christ.

Pascal said, “Everything which happened to Christ should come to pass in the soul and in the body of each Christian.”

The apostle Paul declared, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Again, he wrote, “You died, and your life is hid with Christ in God” (Col. 3:2).

Who died? I died.

In God’s reckoning we are even now delivered by our vital union with Christ. That vital, intimate relationship filled the mind of the great apostle.

“I have been crucified with Christ.” “Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11).

What was true of Paul is true of every believer because we are “in Christ.” Our spiritual union with Christ is entirely independent of all conditions of time and space. And in depth of intimacy there can be no difference between the believer of today and those who knew our Lord on earth, since “by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body” (1 Cor. 12:13).

Paul writes, “As many of us as were baptized into Christ were baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3). The water baptism by immersion is a symbolic picture of an even greater spiritual baptism when we were placed in the body of Christ when we first believed on Him as our Savior.

“In Christ.” “I am crucified with Christ.”

Have you gone back to the cross of Jesus and conceived of yourself so identified with Him in His death and obedience unto death that when He died you died? Jesus Christ paid your death penalty in full. You are now free to live the Christian life.

The apostle Paul’s one obsession was Christ. “That I may know Him.”

Is your one obsession to know Christ in His suffering, His death, His resurrection and glory?

Our spiritual union with Christ is entirely independent of all conditions of time and space. Since we are one with Him by faith then our death in Him was real.

Martin Luther wrote, “Believing in Christ, I am by faith crucified with Christ; so that all these things are crucified and dead with me.”

Paul is not referring to the atonement because no one including the believer can atone for his own sins. It took the sinless blood of Jesus to pay our debt. There is nothing in us worthy of making atonement for sin. It is Christ alone, never Christ plus anything in or of ourselves that makes us right with God. However, there is for the believer a fellowship that can be entered into Christ through identification with His death.

The apostle Paul tells us to “reckon” upon the fact that we died in Christ. The word means “to take into account, to calculate, to estimate.” The work of Christ is imputed to our account. We are to believe that it really is true in our lives. Christ has put His righteousness to our account, and furthermore, the power of sin no longer has dominion over us.

Paul doesn’t tell us to feel as if we were dead to sin, but act on God’s Word and claim it as a fact. Reckoning is a matter of faith that results in action. Reckoning is not claiming a promise; it is taking God at His word and acting on a fact. God does not command us to become dead to sin. He tells us that we are dead to sin and alive unto God. Therefore, He commands us to act on that truth. Even if we do not act on it, the facts are still true. Because sin and death have no dominion over Christ, and we are “in Christ” sin and death have no dominion over us. Jesus Christ not only died “for sin,” but He also died “unto sin.” That means Christ not only paid the penalty for my sin, but He broke the power of sin in my life. Sin no longer is the master of our lives. It no longer controls us. We are dead in Christ, and alive to His righteousness.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Custom Made By God

Daily Devotion: Custom Made By God

Message by Wil Pounds

Custom Made by God

Our great God and Savior knows everything, is everywhere, and is all-powerful.

The LORD God knows me because He made me, and since He made me, I am responsible to Him for my actions. That’s probably the biggest reason why people do not want to accept the fact that God created man. But whether a person acknowledges the facts about creation or not, he or she will still have to answer to Him personally.

The Psalmist David observed that the LORD God “formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). Our Creator not only created the first man Adam, but He continues to create. There is not another person on the face of this earth with the same genes, DNA, and chromosomes. I am a unique person, custom made by God for a specific purpose in history. No one else can fulfill that purpose in history; no one else can fulfill my purpose.

God’s dealings with you and me are not a duplicate of His dealings with anyone else in time and space. It is unique to me because I am unique. There is no one else like me. A person who wants to be something different from God’s purpose for him is like a cancer cell. We become like cancer cells in the body of Christ when we want to be like someone else and not what God wants us to be. God deals with each child differently. We do not trust Him when we ask that our experience duplicate someone else’s. No one is inferior or unspiritual because his or her experience is not just like someone else’s.

Thank God that you are who you are. His resources have already been revealed in creating you. “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:14). Have you thanked God for making you just the way you are? “My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them ” (Psalm 139:15-16).

I worship a God who knows me and is near me. He created me for today. There is only one me. I am a pattern that God will never use again. In all the time to come, there will never be another me. I am somebody. I am a unique creation of God. Therefore, I must be found doing the will of God. My responsibility is not to seek the praise of men, but to be what God made me.

Have you considered who you are in God’s eyes? Have you in humility thanked Him for making you so wonderfully complex? The Lord’s work is marvelous.

The Psalmist catches his breath and declares, “How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast the sum of them!” (v. 17). “How weighty are your designs” (NAB). “How immeasurable your concepts are” (R. K. Harrison). “How hard it is to grasp your thoughts” (Jerusalem Bible). “How deep I find Your thoughts” (NEB). “How precious and weighty!” (Amplified Bible).

How odd that in our day the U. S. government and the politically correct no longer refer to the unborn child as a baby. The fact is no one likes to think about killing an unborn baby so it has been renamed a fetus or an embryo or human tissue. God said it is His creation fearfully and wonderfully made. It is a baby custom made by God.

The LORD said to Jeremiah, “ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). Each one of us is custom made by God.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: God’s Kind of Life

Message by Wil Pounds
Daily Devotional: God’s Kind of Life

From God’s eternal perspective the believer in Christ is already a finished work. From our human perspective in time and space, He is continuing to work the truth deeper and deeper into our hearts so He can conform us to the image and likeness of Christ.

The tension is always there: perfect and yet not perfect, holy and yet sinners, righteous and yet, unrighteous.

Since the day we put our faith in Christ God sees us complete in Him (Col. 2:10). We are already holy in His presence (Col. 3:2). We are already perfect in His eyes (Heb. 10:14). We are His righteousness in Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). There is nothing else to be done to achieve a right relationship with God. When we accept those truths by faith we will live it out each day. God makes what is already true in the eternal, unseen spiritual reality, a reality in the seen and temporal realm. We live out what is already true. We live in union with Christ. We rest in Him and He lives His life out in us. “Christ in you” means God has permanently joined Himself to you. He lives in you and you in Him.

“I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Jesus says to you and me, “I am the Life.” I am your life. You take Me into you, and you have life. I live My life in and through you. I live my life as you. The Christian life is He in you, and you in Him. He will live His life in you if you will let Him live as He chooses. Christ lives the life that is impossible for us to live. Christianity is Christ, and it is Christ in you.

Do you experience the life He gives with a sense in which you are content with a knowledge of God’s grace that is more than sufficient for your personal needs, that nothing in this life can suppress it, and that God’s favor toward you is unending? Do you live in the reality of your unending unchanging eternal position in Christ Jesus?

Our life in Christ is a life with a surplus. We have it in Christ in superabundance. Jesus said, “I am come that you might keep on having life, and might keep on having it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10b).

How do you characterize this life that overflows in Christ?

The apostle Paul described it as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control, etc. (Gal. 5:22-23).

Just the opposite is a life without Christ in control of your life. “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Jesus is not the source of that kind of life. Which life would you rather have?

The only source of God’s kind of life is Jesus Christ. He said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus puts His finger on what we most need as human beings in life.

In the presence of Jesus Christ we have received God’s answer to our individual problems. Instead of being alienated, there is “the way” to God the Father. Instead of ignorance and error, there is “the truth” of God. Instead of death, there is “the life” He gives. Only in the person and work of Jesus Christ is there the perfect way from man’s total ruin in sin to the Father. Jesus is the perfect and only way to God, and He promises to give His kind of superabundant life to all who will come to Him. The life Christ gives is God’s kind of life. Therefore, the Christian can no more perish than God the Father can. The normal Christian life is a superabundant life in Christ. Have you put your faith in Him and received the gift of His life?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily devotion: God’s Perfect Goal for You

Daily devotion: God’s Perfect Goal for You

Message by Wil Pounds

God’s Perfect Goal for You
C. S. Lewis said, “Our Lord . . . warned people to ‘count the cost’ before becoming Christians. Make no mistake,’ He says, ‘if you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less, or other than that. You have free will, and if you choose, you may push Me away. But if you do not push Me away, understand that I am going to see this job through… I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect—until My Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with Me’” (Mere Christianity, pp. 157-58).

The apostle Paul wrote, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

What is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God? What is that “good work”? Again the apostle wrote, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your [rational] spiritual service of worship” (Romans 12:1). How do you prove that is the will of God? The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” In verse one the apostle states the goal positively when he wrote, “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice acceptable to God which is your [rational] spiritual service of worship.” That is our responsibility as Christians. It is a “once and for all” decision of commitment of our lives to God and a daily renewal of that life-long determination to live for God.

Paul also states the goal negatively in verse two. “Be not conformed to this world.” We no longer want to use our bodies to fulfill sinful pleasures. We now belong to God who purchased us in the death of His Son Jesus Christ. Christ has ransomed us. The Christian’s body is God’s temple (I Cor. 6:19-20). We can now glorify God with our bodies.

How do we experience such a daily transformation? “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It is interesting that Paul uses the same word here that is translated “transfigured” in Matthew 17:2. Jesus was “transfigured” on the mountainside. The word means to “change into another form.” It is an inner change, a radical renovation. The transformation is invisible to the physical eye; however, we do see the outward effects of that inward spiritual birth.

Robert Haldane observed, “There are degrees in this transformation, although all Christians are transformed when they are born again, yet they ought to be urged, as here, to a further degree of this transformation.”

This inner transformation is the work of the Holy Spirit. C. E. B. Canfield brings out the force of the tense. “Stop allowing yourselves to be conformed… continue to let yourselves be transformed …”

The renewing of the mind of the Christian is not something that takes place in an instant, but is something that must be continually repeated. It is a process which has to go on all the rest of the Christian’s life.

The Holy Spirit helps us look at life from a new perspective. The renewal is an adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God. It stresses the continual operation of the indwelling Spirit and the willing response on the part of the believer.

The world system of beliefs seeks to control our minds so we will conform to its way of thinking about moral values, behavior, philosophy of life, etc. It constantly seeks to squeeze us into its mold.

We are transformed in the renewing of our minds as the Holy Spirit applies the Word of God over a lifetime. We have spent years under the influence of a constant bombardment of a way of looking at life that is opposed to the Christian way of life. The Holy Spirit takes God’s Word and reprograms our way of thinking. His goal is that we will live to please God, and do His will which is always “good and acceptable and perfect.”

I like the freshness of the NET Bible. “Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God – what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Conduct in Humility” (Romans 12:2).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Good Works for God’s Glory:

Message by Wil Pounds

Daily Devotion: Good Works for God’s Glory

Why should the believing sinner do good works?

Do we do good works so we can atone for our “temporal” sins after we were baptized? Are we to do good religious works in order to make satisfaction for our sins? Do we contribute to our salvation in some measure by good works? Are we to believe that one day we will stand before God listening to the judgment as He decides if we have had enough good works to outweigh our sins and condemnation?

The essential question is what is your motive for doing good works? Are these done in order to be saved, or are they done because we have been saved by grace through faith? The Bible is clear that we are not justified by faith plus good works, but works do follow justification by faith.

It is only natural that good works should flow out of the salvation already accomplished for us by Jesus Christ. Jesus alone is our Savor. He alone is the sinless Lamb of God who could make atonement for sins. Only His blood cleanses from sin. The only requirement of God is to repent and believe on Jesus Christ.

The only thing left for the sinner to do is accept the finished work of Christ. Have you trusted in His work alone to save you?

Since we are God’s workmanship, created in His sovereign grace, our salvation cannot be of ourselves. We are God-made. We are His workmanship. We have been created in Christ Jesus for good works. We are God’s spiritual handiwork. In regeneration we were made a new spiritual creature by Him (2 Cor. 5:17).

The apostle Paul wrote, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

God created us with the view of good works. Good works are not the cause of our salvation, but the object of God’s creation. “We were created in Christ Jesus for good works,” says the apostle Paul.

“God prearranged” for the sinner saved by grace to do good works as evidence of being saved by grace. Good works are the necessary outcome of our salvation by grace through faith. God destined these good works as His purpose for us. The unseen source of these good works is God’s new creation. God’s purpose is that these good works should actually and habitually be done by the believe. It is not an option to serve Christ in good works, yet it is not a requirement to gain our salvation.

Our being God’s handiwork implies that our new nature will reproduce His handiwork. We have been made anew in Christ; therefore we are expected to produce from that new nature a life that is pleasing to our Creator. Our old nature implies that we had to be made a new creation in Christ before we could produce anything pleasing to a holy and righteous God.

Our salvation is all of grace. The marvelous thing is, “If anyone is in Christ; he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). Because of being God’s new creation we have a better nature than we had before. Our new nature “is nothing less than the nature of the holy and eternal God within His people.”

C. H. Spurgeon said, “Because God is gracious, therefore sinful men are forgiven, converted, purified and saved. It is not because of anything in them, or that ever can be in them, that they are saved; but because of the boundless love, goodness, pity, compassion, mercy and grace of God.”

Faith plus good works does not equal justification.

Works follow justification as a consequence and evidence of it. To eliminate good works in a Christian’s life as a result of saving grace must also be rejected. They will always be the evidence of true spiritual regeneration in a Christian’s life.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Groan, Groans, and Groaning

Daily devotion: Groan, Groans, and Groaning

Message by Wil Pounds

Groan, Groans, and Groaning

Life is full of pain, suffering and death. Each of us has our share of heartaches and hurts. Sometimes we groan under the load of suffering. In my daily ministry I see hundreds of poor people facing pain, poverty and suffering in Latin America.

The word for groaning is found only six times in the New Testament. In Romans 8:22, 23, 26 the word stenazo and its variants refer to three different things: creation groans (vv. 18-22), believers groan (vv. 23-25), and the Holy Spirit groans (vv. 25-30).

The apostle Paul tells us that creation groans (Romans 8:18-22). He is referring to the “non-rational creation, animate and inanimate.” Angels are not included because they were not subjected to the bondage of corruption. Satan and his demons are not included because they will not share in the freedom of glory of the children of God. The children of God are distinguished from the creation in vv. 19-23. The unbelievers are not included because they are not characterized by an earnest expectation of hope in the coming of Christ. Rational creation is excluded in this passage. Paul tells us the “non-rational creation, animate and inanimate” creation “waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God” (v. 19). It “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now” (v. 22).

Why does it groan like a mother dilating at childbirth? Verse 21 tells us it longs to be “set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” Creation, the cosmos, is looking beyond itself to the “glorious freedom of the children of God.”

It longs to be liberated from the curse God placed upon it in the garden when Adam sinned (Gen. 3:17-18). “Cursed is the ground because of you.” Creation will one day be delivered by the Redeemer. When the Christians are fully redeemed, resurrected in glory, the cosmos will likewise be fully redeemed.

Creation groans, but one day it will become a glorious creation. Today it groans in pain and suffering, decay and vanity. The pain will end when the child is delivered. This groaning creation looks forward to the day it will be set free. The day is coming when the cosmos will be renewed (Isa. 11:6-9; 2 Pet. 3:13). The promise was given in the garden (Gen. 3:15).

Creation will share in the glory that will be bestowed upon the children of God. “The entire creation, as it were, sets up a grand symphony of sighs” (Phillips).

Not only does the cosmos groan, but also the children of God are described as groaning (vv. 23-25). We have already been adopted, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, are the “sons of God,” have the witness of the Holy Spirit, heirs and co-heirs with Christ, etc. It may seem odd that the believer groans when God has done so much to save us. We groan because we have experienced “the first fruits of the Spirit” which is a foretaste of the glory to come. We have already tasted the blessings of heaven and the age to come so we long for the full manifestation of the kingdom of God. We groan to be under the full control of the Holy Spirit with resurrected bodies. The Holy Spirit anticipates that final salvation. He is the pledge, the guarantee, the down payment that we who have the Spirit shall in the end be saved. We who have Him indwelling anxiously await that glorious day with full expectation. The final delivery is guaranteed by His indwelling presence. When Jesus Christ returns we shall enter into our full inheritance with Christ. We are saved by “that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Romans 8:24; Titus 2:13).

We groan in suffering and pain now, but when Jesus appears we will enjoy eternal glory with Him.

The apostle Paul tells us the Holy Spirit groans, too (vv. 25-30). Jesus groaned when He saw the effect of sin and unbelief on people (John 11:33, 38; Mk. 7:34). Today our Paraclete, Comforter, or divine Helper feels the pain of our sin and groans over us when we sin. He “helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (vv. 26-27).

The Holy Spirit prays for us in His groanings so that we will please God. We do not know the will of God, but He does because He is God. He prays for us in His groanings interceding so that we will do the will of God in spite of our suffering. He reminds us that regardless of what we experience here temporarily it is nothing in comparison to “the glory that is to be revealed to us” when Christ comes.

God pledges that we will rise from the dead. Our deep sorrow will be turned to great rejoicing. The end will not be the survival of the immortal soul, but the resurrection of the body, equipped for heaven and eternity.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: God’s Greatest Gift

Daily Devotion: God’s Greatest Gift

Message by Wil Pounds

God’s Greatest Gift
God has provided salvation for you in Jesus Christ.

In simple, lucid language Jesus sums up the entire Gospel for Nicodemus and us in one beautiful sentence rich in content.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Martin Luther said these “words are able to make the sad happy, the dead alive, if only the heart believes them firmly.”

Jesus revealed what is in the heart of the LORD God. “For God so loved the world.” The very one who came down from heaven reveals the greatest revelation man could ever receive from the Creator.

In these words a holy God is saying to sinful man, “I love you.”

Depraved man could never have conceived how much God loves sinful man. God had to reveal and demonstrate that love to man. The best that man and humanism could come up with was an exaggeration of his own depravity as expressed in world religions.

Jesus uses the word agape denoting the highest type and form of love. It is not a love of mere affection, friendship, or ordinary human relationships, but the very highest type of love that is self-sacrificial for the object loved.

God cleansed the depraved sinner and took him to His bosom. No human intelligence could ever fathom such love. This revelation of God distinguishes Christianity radically from all the world religions.

Such love God has for a sinner is the pinnacle of His glory. It is in fact, the crown of all of His attributes.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son . . .”

God’s own Son sat before Nicodemus and spoke those words to him. This “Son” is above all others who in any sense may be called “sons.” All other “sons” are adopted “sons.” Jesus is “the Only-begotten Son.” He is the “one and only Son of God.”

It is strange, even frightening, how one of the modern pagan cults of our day can claim that Jesus was the brother of Lucifer, Satan. Such a teaching is an abomination to God.

Jesus used a term for Himself “so strange, striking, unique, exalted” and distinctive that no one else could ever be so compared. He is “the only begotten Son of God.” There is none other (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18; 1 John 4:9). “The only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” No one else ever could have. He was with the Father in heaven from all eternity. He is the “true God, begotten of the Father from eternity,” writes Luther. God gave the very best—Himself—for us.

God the Father gave His only begotten Son as a gift with the purpose in mind “that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Jesus had already told Nicodemus that the Son of Man must be lifted up (v. 15). That is how much God loves us. He gave His only begotten Son up to death on the cross for sinners.

The object of our faith is “in Him,” the only begotten of the Father. Jesus is the object of saving faith. There is no other name that we can call on for salvation. All other names will send you to hell (Acts 4:12).

Those who believe on Him “shall not perish, but have eternal life.” The word “perish” never means to suffer annihilation as another modern cult teaches. “To perish” denotes total and eternal rejection by God.

On the basis of the gift of God we receive eternal life. God loves you so much “that He gave His one and only Son.” Believe on Him today and you shall receive eternal life.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: From Despair to Hope

Daily Devotion: From Despair to Hope

From Despair to Hope

Message by Wil Pounds

It is almost uncanny how the poet describes the abandonment of the sufferer by God to the scorn of evil people who mocked Him. The Hebrew poet-king wrote,

But I am a worm and not a man,
A reproach of men and despised by the people.
All who see me sneer at me;
They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying,
“Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him;
Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him” (Psalm 22:6-8).

King David writes using gestures of helplessness, frailty, and hopelessness in these verses. It is another vivid picture of the events at Calvary put in writing a thousand years before they actually took place in history (Matt. 27:39-43).

“They open wide their mouth at me, as a ravening and a roaring loin” (v. 13). The crowd at the crucifixion of Jesus did just that in graphic detail. His bones were pulled out of joint at the hands, arms, shoulders and pelvis (v. 14). “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax; it is melted within me” (v.14). Perspiration pours profusely from the intense suffering, and the exhaustion and strain affects the functioning of His heart. With His strength exhausted, and dehydration, His tongue clings to His mouth from extreme thirst (v. 15). “My strength is dried up like potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws” (v. 15).

We draw up near the cross in verse sixteen and hear him say, “For dogs [Jewish term for derision for Gentiles] have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet” (cf. Matt. 27:35; Jn. 20:20, 25).

They stare at Him on the cross. He is so frail from suffering they can count His bones on His naked body. Even the casting of lots for His clothing is literally fulfilled (v. 18; cf. Matt. 27:35; Lk. 23:34; Jn. 19:24; 19:23; Mk. 15:24).

Any unbiased reader of this messianic poem must come to the inescapable conclusion that it finds its historical fulfillment in the crucifixion of Christ.

The death of Jesus Christ made perfect atonement for our sins. He was forsaken of God so we could be forgiven.

This matchless messianic poem also declares that the suffering servant of God died in triumph knowing that His suffering produced perfect atonement for the sinner. He tells how His prayer was heard and affirms that He will praise God before the brethren in the great assembly.

There is an abrupt change in the steady progress of the poem from the despair in suffering to one of renewed trust in God. Verses 22-31 conclude with the results that spring from the resurrection. It closes with a message of thanksgiving and hope in the anticipation of the proclamation of the good news.

“I will tell of Thy name to my brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise thee” (v. 22). He admonishes others, “You who fear the LORD, praise Him” (v. 23a).

Moreover, the message is not just for the Jewish brethren (vv. 22-24), but also “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will worship before Thee” (v. 27). Is this not the great missionary message preached after the resurrection of Christ? (cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Rom. 1:16; Phil. 2:8-11; Rev. 4-5).

The psalmist gives a great invitation for all to humble themselves and trust in the Savior. Salvation is for those who “fear the LORD” (vv. 23, 25), “seek the LORD” (v. 26), “remember and turn to the LORD” (v. 27), and “bow down before Him” (vv. 27, 29). It is for all who will call upon His name and be saved.

People yet to be born in future generations will serve Him (v. 30-31). “It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation. They will come and will declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has performed it.”

You and I are included in this great multitude (Jn. 17:20). The Savior had you and me on His mind while He hung on the tree. Have you responded to Him in faith?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily devotional: God is an Eyewitness

Daily Devotional: God is an Eyewitness

Message by Wil Pounds

God Is An Eyewitness

The final words of Jesus just before He ascended into heaven are a constant encouragement in my ministry and should be for every Christian.

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).

It is great reassurance to remind ourselves, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (v.20).

However, that is not a new promise in the Scriptures. The Psalmist David reflected on that great truth about the LORD God is Psalm 139 when he wrote, “Where can I go from Thy Spirit?” Or where can I flee from The presence?” (v.7). I don’t think at that stage in his life he wanted to escape from God. He was thinking through the implications, and applying the omnipresence of God to His own his own life situations.

We are not alone in our circumstances. The Lord is with us all the time. The reason He sees and knows everything is because He is everywhere all the time. God will forever be with me. He is constantly aware of where I am and what I am doing. I am never out of His sight, and because I am never out of His sight, I am never out of His awareness. I am never “out of sight, out of mind.” Nothing in my life catches Him by surprise.

It is a comfort to know that I can never escape Him. Even if I were so foolish to want to, I could never flee from His presence or His knowledge of my circumstances.

“If I ascend to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,’ Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psalm 139:8-12).

Think about it. There is no place to flee from His eyes. But why should I ever want to flee His presence? Knowing that He is aware of my thoughts and actions gives encouragement to keep my mind and heart pure.

“But you are not perfect Wil Pounds.” No, I am not sinless in thought or deed. But knowing that He knows when I sin drives me to the cross, and the fact that if the blood of Jesus does not wash me of all my sins, I can never be saved and glorified.

The fact that He knows when I sin is a humbling truth; however, it is also the greatest incentive to go to Him as David did and confess my sins. “I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah” (Psalm 32:5).

The apostle John wrote, “And the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7b). The original language says, the blood of Jesus “continues to cleanse,” keeps on cleansing constantly. All my sins, every sin, are under His cleansing blood. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:9-10).

Yes, He is an eyewitness, so why should I fear His presence? He has made a perfect provision to cover all my sins. I am secure in His all-knowing presence and powerful hands.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: God Knows Me

Daily Devotion: God Knows Me

Message by Wil Pounds

God Knows Me

God knows me, and He still wants to pursue a personal relationship with me. That is truly amazing. He knows everything about me, and still wants to enjoy my fellowship with Him.

What does it mean to know God? How do you come to an intimate personal knowledge of Him?

I am not thinking of intellectual knowledge or facts about Him, but the importance of knowing a close friend.

The apostle Paul prayed that believers would know God the Father who chose us, God the Son who redeemed us, and God the Holy Spirit who applied salvation to us personally through the new birth. Now that He has saved me do I have a growing knowledge of Him? Perhaps in our busy schedule and pressures of modern life we should ask do I even want it? How do I fit a hunger for God into a complex worldview?

In Ephesians 1:17-19 the apostle Paul prayed that God would give believers “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation . . . to know Him better.” Paul wanted them to have a “true knowledge of Him.” But you say, they already knew Him as their Savior, and had obtained eternal life. But what I am asking is has God placed within your heart a hunger to know Him better?

With every relationship in life we make deliberate choices as to whether we want to pursue the relationship. God has invited us to get to know Him better. Have we responded to that invitation to belongingness? Do we have that “we” feeling with Him? Have we taken the first few faltering steps and halted? Have we reached a plateau, and is it now time to respond to further instruction in His Word?

Has the Holy Spirit opened the “enlightened eyes of our hearts” in order that we may know “the hope to which He has called us, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe”?

Paul’s prayer for knowledge of God is based on a plea to have a greater knowledge of God’s saving grace. God takes the initiative and invites us to a personal involvement of our whole person. It is a permanent relationship based on the awesome knowledge that He knows me and desires a personal, abiding relationship with me.

Perhaps Paul had in mind the great prayer of Jesus, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

Do you know Him? Do you want to know Him better? It is true that we have a great deal more to learn about Him in His Word. Knowing about Him is important, but knowing Him personally is more important. We must act on what we have learned in His Word.

How do I get to know God better in His personal dealings with me? It begins with a hunger or thirsting for the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to our soul and to open the living Word of God to our inner person. Such a knowledge is not found apart from a study of the Scriptures. It is to the person who sits at Jesus’ feet that God opens His heart to reveal Himself. It is time spent with God on our knees with the open Word that issues in an intimate knowledge of Him. You cannot get to know a real person without spending time with him or her. We cannot know God without time in His presence. We know truth about His attributes from His revealed Word as the Spirit applies them to our lives, and as we act upon that knowledge we experience Him personally.

God chose us, and called us “to be holy and blameless in His sight” as His full grown adopted children. We grow in our knowledge of God as we become more like the Lord Jesus Christ in every way, every day. As we grow in the knowledge of His grace we grow in His likeness. One day we will know Him in perfect character. My prayer is that He will hasten that day. Today, we live in the tension of the here and now and that which is yet to be.

Because we are His unique possession, purchased by His blood, “we share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Col. 1:12). God has rich blessings in store for those who get to know Him better. Are we claiming our inheritance now? We can only as we get to know Him intimately. The apostle Paul said, “We know little; and we know imperfectly.” One wonderful day when He comes we will know fully and perfectly.

Do I know Him in the power of His resurrection? This is to know God’s power by personal experience. Do I know the power that God exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead? The knowledge of God is experienced in the power of Christ’s resurrection in our lives today. Oh, God that I may know you today!

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: The Model Prayer: Deliver Us From Evil

Daily Devotion: The Model Prayer: Deliver Us From Evil

Message by Wil Pounds

The Model Prayer:
Deliver Us from Evil

The last petition in the Model Prayer looks to the future when we pray, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).

That is a prayer that every believer should pray daily because we are all vulnerable to succumb to temptation. One wag said truthfully, “If a man wakes up and finds his house on fire, he does not sit in a chair and write or read a treatise on the origin of fires in a private house; he sets to try to extinguish the fire and to save his house.”

Where is the fire in your house? Each one of us has a different spot of vulnerability. What is a brutal temptation for one person, may leave another one unmoved, and vice versa. Every person has a weak spot which if he is not careful can ruin his life.

“Do not lead us into temptation.” The word for “temptation” has the basic meaning, “to test.” When it is used of Satan testing us it is with the view of causing us to fail the test.

Are we honest enough with God to ask Him to keep us out of circumstances and tempting situations because we know from experience our faith could not endure them? Do we play with temptations instead of praying that God will keep us away from them?

The Bible tells us God tempts no one (Jas. 1:13). But we have an old nature that is always capable of sinning, and it is at war against the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:17 explains that both the Holy Spirit and the flesh are in constant active unceasing conflict. “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

“But deliver us from evil.” The word “deliver” (ruomai) means “to rescue, save, deliver, or preserve someone from someone or something.” When the believer is walking in dependence upon the Spirit he is delivered from the lust of the flesh. Whatever is undertaken in the energy of the flesh will fail, because it is not in the power of God. The only way we can possibly be delivered over our old nature is by the Spirit working in us (Rom. 6:14; 8:2). The most spiritual Christians are warned to pray daily, “and do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” If we do not we are courting failure in living the Christian life.

It is our responsibility to walk in the Spirit, reckon on the indwelling power of Christ living in us, putting off the old man, mortifying the flesh and abiding in Christ.

The deliverance from the power of sin is through Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:25). Romans 6:1-10 teaches us that the believer’s fallen nature has been judged by co-crucifixion, co-death, and co-burial with Christ, therefore making it possible for the indwelling Holy Spirit to answer this petition of the believer.

“Evil” can be translated “the evil one” meaning the devil, or it can mean evil in the ethical sense. Here it is probably the evil element in life.

The Holy Spirit delivers us from the power of sin in our daily life. We have been delivered from the penalty of sin by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The moment we put our faith in Christ as our Savior we were forgiven of our sins and the assurance that our debt has been paid in full.

This prayer deals with the power of sin in our daily life. From the human side it depends upon our attitude of faith in the death of Christ and the action of faith taking God at His word and depending on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to over come temptation. There will never be a time in the Christian’s life when he will not need to depend on the Holy Spirit. The just one shall live by faith—faith which depends on the power of the indwelling Spirit. This is what it means to abide in the Spirit or abide in Christ.

The doxology, “For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (v. 13b) was added in later manuscripts as a fitting liturgical closing to the prayer. All power, honor and glory belong to the LORD God.

Our greatest defense against falling into sin is the presence of Jesus Christ living in us, and our dependence upon Him. “What would you do, if you suddenly found Christ standing beside you?” is a good question to ask ourselves often. How would you then live? It is His “inescapable presence” that keeps us from yielding to temptation.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily devotional: the model prayer: forgive our debts

Message by Wil Pounds

The Model Prayer: Forgive Our Debts

Why is it so hard to forgive?

Only a person committed to Christ dare pray this prayer. “Forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12 NET).

These are the most frightening words in Christianity.

This part of the prayer wakes us up spiritually and make us think about what we are saying.

Do we have an unforgiving spirit? If things are not right with other people, how can they be right with a holy God?

Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Forgive our debts, as we also forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

“Our debts” is a common word for legal debts, but here it is used of moral and spiritual debts to God. We are sinners who have wronged God. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. . . If we say we have not sinned, we make him a lair and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8, 10 NET).

We are sinners who are constantly in the need of forgiveness. We have obligations to God. We owe God a debt. We need Him to cancel our debt because as sinners we can never repay it. We are spiritual debtors in the need of God’s saving grace.

“Forgive our debts,” means, “to send away, to dismiss, to wipe off, put away” (cf. 1 Jn. 1:7-9; Eph. 1:7; Matt. 26:28). From other Scriptures we learn that God provides forgiveness on the basis of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ. Nothing can be added to that. Our forgiving disposition does not earn God’s pardon. Our forgiveness is based entirely on God’s unmerited favor and grace, and not on any merits on our part. It is the divine grace of God in Christ that saves us (Eph. 1:7; 2:8-10).

The act of forgiving others does not merit an eternal reward or gain for us salvation or eternal life. However, when we forgive others it is evidence that the grace of God is at work in our hearts. That which is impossible for us to accomplish in our own strength God enables us to do by the power of His indwelling in our hearts. If we hold on to our bitterness and grudges and unforgiveness, we need to examine ourselves. The apostle Paul admonishes us, “Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you–unless, indeed, you fail the test! (2 Corinthians 13:5 NET).

The grace of God in the believer’s heart keeps bringing him back to the sanctifying truths of God’s word. “But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleaning us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9 NET).

In the most hurtful experiences of life we forgive, and we to choose forgive again. It is a process whereby we confess our sins and choose to forgive the person who has offended us. It is a choice we make once and for all to let it go and trust God with the consequences. And everytime the “old man” brings it back up we choose to forgive again. Our old sinful nature will remind us of the hurts of life.

When we choose to forgive we demonstrate that we are children of God and we have experienced His saving grace. By nature this is not something we do on our own. Human nature says take charge, get revenge, get even, don’t let them do this to you. However, we have become new persons, a radical change has taken place in our hearts and we cannot live in the character of the person we were before we came to Christ. The power to forgive comes from the new life in Christ.

Salvation always begins with God’s electing grace and never with us (1 Jn. 4:19; Jn. 13:15; Eph. 4:32; 1 Pet. 2:21). The evidence of that saving grace is how we respond to the circumstances of life.

Jesus taught the disciples to pray, “Forgive our debt as we forgive our debtors.” The idea can be paraphrased: “Forgive us our sins in proportion as we forgive those who have sinned against us.” Jesus says with powerful words in verses 14-15 that if we forgive others, God will forgive us; but if we refuse to forgive others, God will refuse to forgive us.

“For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15, The NET Bible).

No amount of trying to make excuses, or interpret the words in a way that caters to our sinful human nature won’t work. Human forgiveness and divine forgiveness are relational. Jesus says our forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of us cannot be separated. The are related to one another.

This prayer forces us to our knees in humble confession and repentance.

Do you remember Peter’s question about forgiveness? “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus’ response was unnerving, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). Then Jesus told a parable on forgiveness and concluded, “‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (vv. 23-35).

Jesus said forgiveness must be present in us if we are to receive the Father’s forgiveness. We must be willing to forgive others if we have experienced His forgiveness. The person seeking forgiveness must have first taken forgiving action with respect to those who have sinned against him.

Jesus keeps bringing us back to a spiritual birth, a radical change in us, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away, what is new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NET). Forgiveness is evidence of that radical change in our hearts.

Has anyone in this earthly life arrived at this perfect state of forgiving? Let’s face the reality that only Jesus Christ has been able to forgive perfectly (Luke 23:34). Our forgiveness is so imperfect.

All excuses laid aside, we are forced to come to God and deal with these issues of forgiveness and receiving forgiveness daily. This prayer for forgiveness should be a daily priority in our lives.

Jesus expected His people to forgive others, and He gives assurance that the forgiveness of God is certain. In order for us to enjoy God’s forgiveness of our sins we must forgive our debtors. We get back what we give. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy.”

What we are humanly unable to accomplish, God enables us to do by His power working within us. It is His grace within us that gives us the desire and ability to forgive our neighbor. When we do take action to forgive we have a credible witness to our lost neighbor. He can see the grace of God at work in our lives. He will see the change and ask, “What makes you different?”

Vengeance belongs only to the Lord (Rom. 12:19). We are to hand every situation over to the Lord and trust it to Him. We can find no greater example of this action than in Christ Himself while hanging on the cross. He prayed, “Father forgive them, for they now not what they are doing” (Luke 23:34; Jn. 13:12-15; Eph. 4:32; 5:1-2; Col. 3:13). The forgiveness of Christ must have startled those who were hurling insults, curses and abuses on Him in the hour of His death. One of the criminals saw the difference in Christ and responded to His love.

There is a tremendous sense of inner peace of mind and heart when we choose to forgive. God’s name is glorified because we have been obedient to His command.

Only the power of Christ living in us can empower us to forgive. “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8).

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Evidences of the Death of Christ

Daily Devotion: Evidences of the Death of Christ

Message by Wil Pounds

Evidences of the Death of Christ

The eyewitness John keenly observed two unusual things that happen at the crucifixion of Jesus. These facts made a deep impression on him as he watched the crucifixion taking place.

The crucifixion took place on the day of preparation for the Passover festival that would begin at 6 p.m. The Jewish authorities felt an urgency to get the bodies off the crosses and buried before the sun went down.

“So that the bodies might not remain on the crosses on the Sabbath (for the Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (John 19:31; cf. Deut. 21:22-23).

The legs of Jesus were not broken as was the case of the other two men crucified that day, and in His case a Roman soldier seeing He was already dead thrust a spear deep into His side and out flowed water and blood. Either to make doubly sure that Jesus was dead, or out of hate he picked up a spear and thrust it deeply into the side of Jesus (John 19:32-34). A real man, with a real human body, with real human blood, died on the cross that afternoon in Jerusalem.

Prophecy was fulfilled in a most unusual manner. One Scripture said the Savior’s bones must not be broken (Exodus 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20), and another said His body must be pierced (Zech. 13:1).

These Roman soldiers would have done just the opposite. They came to break the legs of Jesus as they had the other two men, but there was no point in breaking his legs since He was already dead.

Moreover, they had no intention of piercing the side of Jesus with the spear. To John’s utter amazement that is exactly what the soldiers did.

Why was this observation so important to John?

God intervened and caused it to happen as His Word said it would centuries before. God overruled the circumstances and caused it to happen according to His will. The enemy was unconsciously executing God’s counsels. A sovereign God was in control at Calvary. The soldiers had received instructions to break the legs of Christ, but this had not been done. The soldier had not received the order to pierce the Savior’s side, but this he did (John 19:34).

The purpose of God was fulfilled in the case of the typical Passover lamb whose bones were not broken (Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12). The astonishing thing that John pondered was the fact that not a bone of Jesus was broken proving that He was the Passover Lamb that God provided. Not one bone of the Passover lamb was broken. God slew His own Lamb and made provision in the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, so that when the judgment of God comes, He will see the blood of Jesus and pass over you. Only the blood of Jesus makes atonement for our sins.

It was no simple pricking of the body of Jesus, but a wound intended to kill someone. “If you are not already dead, this will finish you off,” was the intent of the soldier. Blood and water flowed out of His body.

The prophet Zechariah had written, “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity” (Zech. 13:11).

There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Infinite Love of God

Daily Devotion: Infinite Love of God

Message by Wil Pounds

Infinite Love of God

The Lord God has chosen to fully reveal Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ. He has done it in such a way that a finite mind might grasp the essential truth of God’s infinite being (Rom. 1:19-20).

“No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). We have come to know God’s love “because He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16). “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9, 10). “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

God declared His love in the cross of Jesus Christ, and we need never question it ever again. Jesus Christ “loved me and gave Himself for me.” We perceive and understand the love of God because Jesus laid down His life for us.

In eternity we will have “a ceaseless unfolding of that fathomless expression of boundless love,” says Lewis Chafer. “For God so loved the world that He gave . . .” The ultimate picture of the love of God is the cross of Jesus.

Why such a demonstration of love? “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19). Every righteous judgment of God against sin was removed by Christ.

Sin is not a fleeting thing, or a small issue with God. It has eternal repercussions and was dealt with at Calvary by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The only means of dealing with sin is the all sufficient Substitute who stood in the sinner’s place until all the grounds of our condemnation was dealt with past, present and future.

Jesus Christ died for me, and as a result, I will never have to bear what He bore on the cross on my behalf. Christ “died for me” so that I might not die. “The wages of sin is death.” Christ died my death for sin. God’s love provided a substitute for me which reaches out into infinity. This is His constant attribute toward the sinner.

Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth.” God’s love is undiminished. God has perfectly demonstrated His love to sinful man. The cross is God’s perfect and final revelation of His love.

God manifest that great love while we were still hostile sinners (Rom. 5:6, 8). Sin created the greatest problem for God, and in the cross of Jesus God provided the only possible solution for Himself. Every sinner is at enmity toward God. The cross of Jesus reveals the desperate wickedness of our sins.

God alone accomplished the reconciliation of sinful, rebellious man to Himself. He accomplished it by the death of Jesus on the cross. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isa. 53:6). “Whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed” (Rom. 3:25). “For He [God] has made Him [Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

God accomplished our reconciliation to Himself through the death of Christ. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” Jesus said, “I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:17-18). Jesus was in control of His own death. “Father into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” Moreover, God the Father was involved in Jesus’ death (Acts 2:23).

Infinite love was unveiled at the cross in the saving act of God in the death of Christ. “God was in Christ.” In that death, “God has set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins. . . that He might be just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus” (Rom. 3:25-26).

“God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotion: Are You in Adam or in Christ?

Daily Devotion: Are You in Adam or in Christ?

Message by Wil Pounds

Are You in Adam or in Christ?

Charles Hodge asked a crucial question: “If God requires one thing, and we present another, how can we be saved? If He has revealed a method in which He can be just and yet justify the sinner, and if we reject that method and insist upon pursuing a different way, how can we hope to be accepted?”

The safest answer, of course, is in the Scriptures. What has God revealed?

The first man sinned, but not just once; Adam sinned many times. Before he sinned the first time he was righteous. His righteousness was of his own doing, as a created being. It was the righteousness of a man. However, Adam never had the righteousness of Jesus Christ upon him. What he lost was his own self righteousness.

When you and I put our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior we are not merely given back a human righteousness that Adam had before the fall. We are given the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. God gives us “much more” in abundance, a superabundance of grace. He gives us the full weight of His perfect righteousness.

Adam did not stand in his own righteousness. He fell. If we attempt to stand in our own righteousness we, too, shall fall.

The gift of God in Christ far surpasses the effects of Adam’s sin and all other transgressions we have committed.

The humbling fact is we were all in Adam once, and we fell in him. He brought sin and death to the human race by his own sin.

How can you and I escape the effects of the fall of Adam on us?

We can stand in a divine righteousness provided by our divine substitute that will never be taken from us. It is God’s gift to us in His grace. The poet expressed it beautifully:

Jesus thy Blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress.

The apostle Paul wrote that we have received, “God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).

We “reign in life” even now through Jesus Christ. We have been elevated to a position far above what Adam had before his fall. We not only have been “recovered from the fall, but made to reign through Jesus Christ.”

The righteousness of Jesus Christ has been put to our account, put upon us and it is a righteousness in abundance, ever superabundance.

Because it is of divine grace, all of the glory belongs to God alone. Adam stood at the head of the human race and brought death upon all, so our Lord Jesus stood for man and brings life to all who believe on Him.

Every one of us is in Adam. However, the most important question is, are you in Christ? We have Christ only through faith.

We are under grace because we stand before God as justified men. Grace is the state of justification. Because we have been justified, we remain justified and we can never be condemned.

We have been justified by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. There is no other way to have a right standing with a just and holy God. “Oh to grace how great a debtor.”

God was under no duress or compulsion to save us. Nothing made Jesus Christ die for our sins on the cross. Nothing made God credit the perfect righteousness of Christ to our account. God did it because He chose to do so out of grace.

If you are objecting to God’s revealed word saying how can I be saved by something someone else has done fore me, it is probably because you are not saved.

The good news for all in Adam is that a righteous God by a judicial act declares sinful men to be in a right standing before Him, not on the basis of their own merits because they have none as sinners, but only on the basis of what Jesus Christ has done by dying in our place on the cross. Jesus took the penalty of death for our sins upon Himself and died on our behalf. Now those sins have been punished and God imputes the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ to our account.

You are in Adam, but are you in Christ?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

Daily Devotional: Satisfied Faith

Daily Devotional: Satisfied Faith

Message by Wil Pounds

Satisfied Faith

Faith is simply taking God at His word and then acting on it.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29b). These words are for you and me because we have not seen Him in the days of His incarnation.

Jesus is not suggesting faith without the facts, but “a satisfied faith.” It is a faith that is satisfied with God’s provisions and does not plead for visions, miracles or strange experiences as evidence of God’s blessings.

Jesus is saying that a faith without these evidences is superior because it is a mature faith.

God’s word is full of promises to those who by faith act on His truths. God blesses faith in the Triune God. The Bible teaches us to trust in Him, and not the living out of some spectacular experience. The blessings of God are for all believers, and are common to all who call upon the name of Christ as God and Savior.

If we are constantly looking for spectacular miracles, rather than walking by faith in Christ, we will gradually become insensitive to the thousands of normal everyday experiences that God continually gives us.

God blesses those who live by faith, and not by sight. The person who enjoys the great benefits of the Christian life lives by their faith in the character and benevolence of God and not in the evidence of visions, miracles, or other religious experiences.

It is by faith that we become the children of God and enter into His family (Jn. 1:12-13). We received eternal life by simple faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who gave His life for us and rose from the dead (Jn. 3:16; 20:30-31; 11:25-26).

It is also by faith in Christ that we grow in His likeness. We live by faith in Him and He delivers us from spiritual darkness and bondage (12:46). He gives us His life to enjoy today. Jesus is the Bread of Life and He invites us to feast upon Him by faith (6:35). All of our spiritual longings are fulfilled as we walk by faith in Christ.

It is by faith in Christ that He uses us to minister to a faithless world (14:12). When the child of God takes Him at His word He uses us to impact a watching world. The unbelieving world is watching to see what God is going to do in and through your life. Do we step out by faith and trust Him to do the impossible in our lives? This is the only way God will be glorified in our ministry. Without faith we are just like the heathen, who are surrounded by the glory of God and never see it. May God open our spiritual eyes so we can see what He is doing all about us daily.

It is only as we put our trust in God that our eyes are increasingly open to see where He is at work.

The Holy Spirit works through us so that we may point people to Jesus.

By faith we will one day see Jesus in all the fullness of His glory (11:25-26, 40).

What is faith? Faith is our spiritual eyes that looks away from ourselves and focus on the Lord Jesus. Do not rest, then, on your faith, but on the Savior Himself.

It is not the character or degree of faith, but Christ. How much is a grain of mustard seed? Not much. It is tiny, but that is what God requires of us.

Faith is simply believing what God has said regarding His Son in the Holy Scriptures. The moment you do that you are saved.

“Whosoever that believes shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” It is like saying to a starving beggar, “Here, take and eat. Here is a free gift. All you have to do is receive it.” Faith says, “Thank you.”

Lord, increase our faith so that we may see and obey You.

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

 

Daily Devotion: The Forsaken and the Forgiven

Daily Devotion: The Forsaken and the Forgiven

Message by Wil Pounds

The Forsaken and the Forgiven

The poignant, opening sentence in Psalm 22 reveals the disturbing fact of God’s servant crying out in God forsakenness.

How could one of the members of the Godhead turn His back on another member of the Trinity?

“God forsaken of God” was the price of our atonement. When Jesus Christ bore our sin on the cross He was forsaken of God the Father. He paid the full price for our atonement on the cross when He bore the penalty of the wrath of God against sin for us. This sacrificial act reveals how much God loves us.

Psalm 22 has been described as the “Psalm of the Cross” because it is the best description in the entire Bible of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The amazing thing is King David wrote it a thousand years before the event described actually took place in history. Moreover, execution by crucifixion was never practiced by the Jewish people and was unknown for centuries until developed by the Carthaginians and later refined by the Romans. David paints a prophetic picture of the anguish of the Suffering Servant of God to pay the penalty for our sins. Psalm 22 is entirely messianic and prophetic. David foresaw and spoke of the suffering of the Anointed of God.

No event in the life of David accounts for the terrible events in this Psalm. It defies a naturalistic explanation.

The words of the poet are fulfilled literally and exactly in the execution of Jesus Christ. The desolate God forsaken cry (v. 1; cf. Matt. 27:46); the contrasting periods of light and darkness (v. 2; Matt. 27:45); the extreme humiliation and treatment of the sufferer (vv. 6-8, 12-13; Matt. 27:39-44) and the casting of lots for His garments (v. 18; Matt. 27:35) are some of the greatest evidences for divine inspiration of all the Scriptures including this Psalm.

What was Jesus thinking about while He hung on the cross during the terrible three hours of God forsakenness? The Gospel writers Matthew and Mark inform us He suddenly cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani.” It was a direct quotation of Psalm 22:1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34).

“My God, my God” is the translation of Eli, Eli “my Strong One,” “my Strong One.” It is He who turns His face from the suffering one (vv. 2-3).

Why is it that our ancient fathers trusted in Elohay, the One to be feared by men, and He always answered them, but even though His Servant cries “by day,” the response is, “You do not answer; and by night, I have no answer” (v. 2)? They “trusted,” “cried out,” were “determined” and “not ashamed” (v. 4). God has turned His back on Him and has forsaken Him.

Jesus was apparently reflecting on great Old Testament Scriptures as He hung dying as our sacrifice. He saw His crucifying as a fulfillment of the Scriptures. These prophecies gave Him encouragement and focus as He died to purchase our atonement.

Psalm 22 opens with the awful sense of God forsakenness that took place during the three hours of darkness at Calvary. The one crying out in God forsakenness feels completely enshrouded by the wrath of God.

The answer to the question, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is found in the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:21. “He [God the Father] made Him [Jesus Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

Have you experienced perfect forgiveness from the One who was God-forsaken?

Selah!

Message by Wil Pounds (c) 2006

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