Daily Light – August 13, 2019

‘He’ is the Strong Force

By Don Hester 

Part I

I’m sitting at my computer key board in my home office of Evansville, IN, USA., the latitude of 38.0223°degrees North.  While I sit comfortably in my chair, I am aware that scientific study and observation of the ‘things’ that are visible reveal that the Earth is spinning on its axis at my latitude/degree location at approximately 795 mph.   We know that the Earth is a part of ‘our’ solar system which includes our known neighboring planets and our wonderful star which is our Sun.  We know that our solar system is a part of the immense Milky Way Galaxy and we know that the MW Galaxy is a part of the larger and vastly immeasurable universe.  Scientific observation reveals that the Earth is revolving around the Sun at approximately 67,000 mph and our entire solar system is revolving in our galaxy at approximately 515,000 mph.   

There are ‘visible’ observations in all of these scientific calculations.  And then..there are the ‘invisible’ observations.  Such as, what is the force that holds all of this together and how does it work…where does it come from.  Once we move from what can be accurately observed to what is beyond observation and is not visible to measure or calculate, we move into the realm of ‘theory’.    

The strongest force in nature, according to ‘particle’ physicists, is the Strong Force and it is this ‘strong force’ that holds existence together.   If we have studied physical science at even a high school level, then we have a basic understanding of the elementary particles which are the core matter of all things that have mass.  We have heard of the basic particles that are named atoms and atoms possess neutrons and protons and we now know that there are even smaller classes of particles called elementary particles and they are named quarks and leptons.   All of these particles can be identified and observed within the study of particle physics.  Then, we get into the area of the fundamental forces that are at play within and between all of the various particles.   And it is these ‘forces’ that are at work to bind all things together.   Two of those forces, one strong, and one weak, have been named ‘gravity’ and ‘electromagnetism’.  Science can only theorize how the forces actually work and what they do and why they do it.   These theories are developed into ‘models’.

As a faith-based human being (meaning…I personally have placed my belief for the existence of ‘all things’ in the person and power of God-the-Son, Jesus Christ as Creator and Sustainer of ‘all things’) I have confidence that Jesus Christ is the creator and force that holds the universal system together.  He sustains it by His power.  I know this ‘because’ the Word of God, the Bible, reveals it over and over, again and again.

I want to take the next few days and look at verses in the Bible that clearly state that God/Jesus is the creator of the all things, is the creator of the heavens and the earth, and that He holds the existence of all things ‘together’ by His power. He alone is the Strong Force.   I pray that as you read these verses, that your heart will well-up with praise and that you will be drawn deeper into your relationship with your sovereign and powerful God.  

John 1:3 ESV

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Hebrews 1:3 ESV

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,

Hebrews 11:3 ESV

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Colossians 1:16 ESV

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Genesis 1:1-31 ESV

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. …

Revelation 4:11 ESV

“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”

Genesis 2:7 ESV

Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Genesis 1:1 ESV

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

John 1:1-3 ESV

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Romans 1:20 ESV

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Exodus 20:11 ESV

For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Genesis 1:26 ESV

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

Genesis 1:24-25 ESV

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

Job 12:7-9 ESV

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?

Psalm 33:6 ESV

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

2 Peter 3:5 ESV

For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God,

My prayer and praise:  Glorious God and Savior, Jesus Christ.  My heart leaps with praise to You.  I know that You alone created all things and hold all things together by your power.   I praise You as Creator and Lord of the entire universe.   I have such peace and confidence knowing that such a powerful and loving God can easily keep and sustain me and bring me into eternity to live with You forever.  Thank you, thank you. 

(con’t tomorrow, part II)

Daily Light – August 12, 2019

Most Growth Will Be Slow Growth

Article by Scott Hubbard, Editor, desiringGod.org

The road to heaven is flanked with dangers — and not always the dangers we expect.

Many of us set out on this journey expecting threats to come from the world: its comforts and pleasures, its false stories and faux moralities. Many of us also anticipate danger to come from suffering: sudden losses, broken dreams, persecution in its various forms. But perhaps fewer of us are aware of another threat, less familiar but just as dangerous: the slowness of our sanctification.

John Piper once said in an interview,

I have dealt with more people — I’m not sure if this is true, but it is close — who are ready to give up their Christian faith precisely because of the slowness of their sanctification, rather than because of physical harm that’s been brought to them or hurt that’s come into their life. They’re just tired.

Some of us consider leaving the road to heaven not mainly because we are tempted by the world, nor because we are tried by suffering, but because we are just plain tired. Tired of daily self-denial. Tired of taking two steps forward and one step back. Tired of walking on a road that feels endless, toward a city we cannot see.

Disillusioned and exhausted, many sit down on the path, not sure if they will get back up again.

Ten Million Steps

Why does the slowness of our sanctification come as a surprise to so many of us (myself included)? Where did we get the idea that holiness would come swiftly?

From any number of places. Perhaps our high-speed culture has shaped our expectations more than we realize. Perhaps our own pride has caused us to misjudge our powers of endurance, much like Peter’s did long ago: “All these may grow tired, Lord, but not I!” (see Matthew 26:33). Or perhaps we have heard a few too many Christians talk about “the secret” or “the key” to overcoming some sin — suggestions that, nine times out of ten, oversimplify our complex struggles.

Wherever we got the idea that the path of discipleship would be faster, we did not get it from the Bible. In Scripture, we see that mature Christlikeness does not happen in a month, a year, or a decade, but over a whole lifetime. Holiness has no ten-step plan — only a plan with ten million steps, a plan that ends only when we die.

Take the Long View

The pictures of growth that God gives us in his word bid us to take the long view of sanctification. They shift our expectations from the fast to the slow, from the immediate to the gradual.

We are farmers planting crops (Galatians 6:7). Grace grows in our souls much like God’s kingdom grows in the world: the seed slowly sprouts to the sky, the crops slowly fill the field (Mark 4:28). We plow and sow, water and watch, and bear fruit only “with patience” (Luke 8:15).

We are children growing up (Ephesians 4:14–15). Like all children, our bones grow slowly. We move from milk to solid food on our way to looking like our elder brother (1 Peter 2:2Romans 8:29). One day we will be like him, but only “when he appears . . . because we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

We are runners in a race (1 Corinthians 9:24). The race is not a sprint, nor even a marathon, but a lifelong jog. Only when we reach the end of our lives can we say, “I have finished the race” (2 Timothy 4:7). Until then, we “run with endurance” (Hebrews 12:1), not wasting our legs in the first one hundred meters, but pacing ourselves to the end.

We are travelers beneath the rising sun (2 Peter 1:19). Light is scattering our darkness, but only a shade at a time; our path is “like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Proverbs 4:18). Christ’s glory rises over us “from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

We are farmers, children, runners, travelers. Each of these images reminds us that deep, pervasive holiness happens over a lifetime: God’s word slowly reframes our perspective on ourselves and the world. Jesus gradually extends his lordship over even the most ordinary of tasks. The Spirit steadily makes obedience in certain areas habitual. God renews us not at once, but “day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Spiritual Realism

Two clarifications are needed at this point.

First, not all progress in righteousness happens slowly; many of us can testify to overnight deliverances from particular sins, even ones that once enslaved us. When we take the long view of sanctification, then, we should not cease praying for God to do “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

Second, woe to us if we use the long view of sanctification to justify spiritual negligence. “Slow and steady now” has been the watchword for many a nominal Christian. “Tomorrow, tomorrow,” they tell themselves. But tomorrow always looks much like today, as they go on comforting themselves with God’s promises while refusing to hear his warnings. Like the sluggard, who “does not plow in the autumn” and “will seek at harvest and have nothing” (Proverbs 20:4), those who settle in with sin now will have no refuge on judgment day.

Scripture gives us the long view of sanctification not so we would stop praying big prayers, nor so we would grow spiritually complacent, but rather so we would possess spiritual realism. Spiritual realists believe, on the one hand, that God has “granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), and so they strive. But spiritual realists also feel, down deep, that they will never pass through a single day without requiring the cleansing power of Jesus’s blood.

As long as we are on the road to Mount Zion, repentance will be our daily habit. As long as we have indwelling sin, “forgive us our debts” will be a fitting prayer (Matthew 6:12). As long as we are in this body, we will have cause to say (to paraphrase John Newton), “I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am” (Newton on the Christian Life, 268).

Daily Littles

The long view of sanctification, received rightly, refashions our perspective on today. On the one hand, we will adopt humble expectations of today’s progress. The farmer plowing his fields does not expect to harvest a crop by evening; nor does the cross-country traveler expect to reach his home. The rhythms of the seasons and the breadth of the country have chastened their expectations.

The Christian seeking God should likewise not grow unduly discouraged when today’s efforts fail to yield immediate fruit. Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, and fellowship are less like the crank of a lever and more like the sowing of a seed. We plant, we water, and then we keep our eyes on the harvest.

On the other hand, however, the long view reminds us that today’s small acts of obedience are of the utmost importance. The steps we take today may not take us all the way to glory — true. But we will never reach glory unless we keep stepping.

We need to give ourselves to what Horatius Bonar calls “daily littles.” He writes, “The Christian life is a great thing, one of the greatest things on earth. Made up of daily littles, it is yet in itself not a little thing, but in so far as it is truly lived . . . is noble throughout” (God’s Way of Holiness, 127). If we want to persevere to the end, we need to maintain this dual perspective: (1) the Christian life is “a great thing,” and (2) the Christian life is made up of “daily littles.” Holiness happens one step at a time.

The acts of obedience in front of you today may not be grand. But if you do them in faith, relying on the grace of Jesus and the power of his Spirit, they will not be in vain. Today’s Scripture reading and praying, today’s confessing and repenting, today’s serving and evangelizing will all drop into the soil of your soul. You will sow the seeds of your future self.

Scott Hubbard is a graduate of Bethlehem College & Seminary and an editor for desiringGod.org. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Minneapolis.

Daily Light – August 9, 2019

Too Afraid to Say Nothing

The Healthy Place of Fear in Evangelism

Article by:  Elliot Clark

On a steamy Saturday in July, I dropped off our son at a local community college to take the ACT. Earlier that morning, before leaving the house, we paused for prayer. I knew how nervous he was, how much he hates a timed test. I remembered my own anxiety and apprehension as a high schooler, realizing that part of your future rests on a few hours in a room full of strangers. So, I prayed for him not to be afraid.

Fear is a curious and powerful emotion. It can debilitate. Fear can stop our mind, shut our mouth, and stay our hand. Yet fear can also set us into action. As much as fear keeps us from taking risks and being effective, fear can also be an incredible motivator. In a way, fear is what’s made our son an excellent student thus far. It’s what kept him up studying late at night, and it’s why he willingly walked into that testing room.

The right kind of fear is also one of the best motivators for our evangelism.

Fear That Freezes Evangelism

When it comes to evangelism, Christians tend to view fear as purely negative. Many of us have come to believe that fear is the primary factor that keeps us from speaking the gospel to others. Fear freezes us. When we sense the Spirit leading us to talk with our neighbor, friend, or family member, we get the same feeling that many of us experienced on a Friday algebra exam. We struggle to focus. Our hands perspire. We don’t even know where to begin.

Some of that physical response comes from a fear of failure. Like when taking a test, we don’t want to mess up. We don’t want to give someone the wrong answer. So, churches often respond by providing evangelism training. Education is the solution. We help people prepare, supply them with resources, and even give them, as it were, the opportunity for practice tests. And this information is truly important. We must be able to proclaim the gospel clearly and truthfully.

Such an approach in evangelism training, however, might assume that the way we address fear in evangelism is primarily through increasing our accuracy and ability. But I’m not convinced, because I believe the fear that freezes us would more accurately be labeled as shame (Luke 12:8–92 Timothy 1:8–12).

The Fear of Rejection

I suspect the greatest hindrance to bold witness is not the fear of getting it wrong; it’s the fear of being rejected. We don’t want to be ostracized or shunned. We don’t want our friends to think we’re narrow-minded, unscientific, bigoted, intolerant, or just uncool. If we’re honest, we’re often too embarrassed to evangelize. We’re ashamed of Christ.

Education will never overcome that kind of fear. Instead, we need to encourage bold witness by dealing with the emotional and social dynamics of shame. Shame’s power is its ability to disgrace and divide. Shame humiliates and separates from others. Which means the antidote to shame is glory and community — and we find those in the gospel.

The good news of Jesus promises us both honor and a home (Matthew 10:32John 14:1–3). Only when Christians recognize this will they be able to overcome the shame that silences their witness. Because they’ll be more confident in the praise and glory that God himself promises them on the final day (1 Peter 1:7Romans 2:7). They’ll fear rejection less, because they’ll have experienced the welcome of Christian fellowship, the earthly foretaste of the heavenly home that God gives his chosen exiles.

Fear That Fuels Evangelism

Realizing the social and emotional dynamics of fear can also help us see how it can be a positive motivator for mission. In recent years, there’s been such an experiential increase in a particular kind of fear that the phenomenon has been given a pop-culture label: FOMO — the fear of missing out.

FOMO is understood as people’s anxiety, largely fueled by viewing social media, that they’ll miss out on some exciting event, important relationship, or salacious news. But this particular fear doesn’t generally stifle people. It drives them to constantly check their phones. It leads them to follow more people, make more friends, be more active.

Now, I’m not suggesting that FOMO leads to positive or healthy behavior. What is helpful to see, though, is how fear can powerfully move us into action. If we experience a fear similar to FOMO with regard to evangelism, we can see how it could lead us to pursue our neighbors and open our mouths with the gospel. Once we have tasted of God’s goodness in the gospel, we will want others to experience the same. We will fear them missing out on the glories of heaven, the wonders of Christ, and the most spectacular news of all. Such fear is not antithetical to love; it’s a demonstration of Christ’s compassion for them (2 Corinthians 5:14).

But there’s more to understanding how fear should fuel our evangelism. Jesus said, “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). There it is. The solution to the shame that silences our witness is our fear of missing out on glory and honor with the heavenly host. If we are embarrassed of Christ and his gospel, if we avoid evangelism as a way to protect our reputation and maintain our relationships, we will lose the honor he promises. We will miss out on the community of glory, with the Father and all his holy angels.

More Fear, Not Less

This means that fear is not the greatest hindrance to evangelism. Our lack of fear is. Instead of being ashamed before others, we need to be concerned about being ashamed before Christ at his coming (1 John 2:28). Instead of fearing what others will say about us or do to us, we need to fear God, the one “who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Shame isn’t purely negative. “Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Corinthians 5:11). Fear can be a positive force.

My son realized that taking the ACT is the means to college admission, a potential scholarship, and a future career. The results also have a profound emotional and social dimension — just wait until the scores come back! He knows the stakes are high. But recognizing the weight can be a motivating factor, and not necessarily a debilitating one.

So it can be for us. As we grow in an appropriate fear of God and for others’ eternal well-being, we will be moved to speak the gospel with more urgency and care. And as we sense the honor and home that God promises us in Christ, we will fear less the humiliation and rejection of others. We will not be ashamed of the gospel.

Elliot Clark is the author of Evangelism as Exiles: Life on Mission as Strangers in Our Land. He served as a cross-cultural church planter in Central Asia, along with his wife and children. He is currently working to train local church leaders overseas with Training Leaders International.

Daily Light – August 8, 2019

We Need a Church Besotted with the Glory of God

Article by Jared C. Wilson

“The reality of God lays lightly on the American church.” — David Wells

“Arise! Shine! Your light has come; the LORD’s glory has shone upon you. Though darkness covers the earth and gloom the nations, the LORD will shine upon you; God’s glory will appear over you. Nations will come to your light and kings to your dawning radiance. Lift up your eyes and look all around: they are all gathered; they have come to you. Your sons will come from far away, and your daughters on caregivers’ hips. Then you will see and be radiant; your heart will tremble and open wide, because the sea’s abundance will be turned over to you; the nations’ wealth will come to you. Countless camels will cover your land, young camels from Midian and Ephah. They will all come from Sheba, carrying gold and incense, proclaiming the LORD’s praises. All Kedar’s sheep will be gathered for you; rams from Nebaioth will be your offerings; they will be accepted on my altar, and I will glorify my splendid house.” — Isaiah 60:1-7

American evangelicalism has emerged in the 21st century not as a prophetic witness but as a political action committee, not as a proclaimer of the glory of Christ but a purveyor of pragmatism and production values.

We take God lightly. We treat him flippantly. We are too busy saying “whee” in church when we should be saying “woe is me.” The weightiness, the gravity, the all-encompassing and awe-inspiring glory of the Creator God, the Great I AM, is woefully neglected in far too many places where something resembling worship takes place.

But God will not have it.

In Isaiah 60 we see the enormity of the effect on the church and on the world of the God who lives. Think of all the ways we try to make the church appealing that have almost nothing to do with God. God almost seems like an afterthought, or a benevolent grandpa sitting in the corner admiring our concerts to ourselves. There is no glory in those exercises.

In the end, if we will have glory it MUST come from God. Our light comes from HIM shining over us – Is. 60:1 His glory will appear over us – v.2 The radiance is a reflection of him – v.5 The praises will go to the LORD – v.6 He will glorify HIS beautiful house – v.7

This theme runs throughout the entire book of Isaiah. In the midst of ruins, the Lord reigns:

For the High and Exalted One, who lives forever, whose name is holy, says this: “I live in a high and holy place.” (Isaiah 57:15)

Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where could you possibly build a house for me? (Isaiah 66:1)

God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. (Isaiah 40:22)

Look, the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are considered as a speck of dust on the scales; he lifts up the islands like fine dust. (Isaiah 40:15)

And this commences of course with Isaiah 6:

I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. And the angels are calling Holy Holy Holy and Isaiah is utterly undone. “I am unclean. Woe is me!”

And it is out of this divine discombobulation, this awestruck reconstitution, that the missional mandate is given. And this is always the case with great moves of God in which men are tools in his hands—they always begin with gospel exultation. Mission begins not with leadership skills or leadership strategies, but a glorious encounter with the living God.

Look, what America needs, brothers and sisters, is not merely believers in God, but worshipers of God—not people simply willing to mentally assent to the reality of the supreme being, willing perhaps to accommodate acknowledgment of him into their weekly schedule, willing to nod at him on social media as a missing “value” in society, but people willing to offer their whole hearts to the reality of the glory of the one true God YHWH, willing to surrender their days—their very lives—to him, willing to reorient their very existence around the One in whom we live and move and have our being.

When we look back at the genuine moves of God throughout history we inevitably find a preaching of God that is drenched in majesty. Movements begun through the preaching of the glory of the church fizzle out quickly. But movements begun through the preaching of the glory of God have captured whole counties and countries. They have changed the face of the globe.

A domesticated, privatized god moves nothing. But the majesty of the God of the Scriptures is like a heavenly magnet, drawing and repelling, reshaping the very world into a reflection of his foreordained designs.

Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel WakefulnessThe Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church

Daily Light – August 7, 2019

Will God Ever Give Us More Than We Can Handle?  

Article/Answer from John Piper

Question:   Is it biblically correct to say “God will never give us more than we can handle?”

Two Essential Words

Whether that statement — “God will never give us more than what we can handle” — is biblically correct depends on what we mean by we and handle.

What does we mean? Does we mean God takes into account our independent possibilities based on our track record of handling trouble and, thus, measures out that trouble to us so that it doesn’t go beyond what we — independently, by our own resources — can handle? Is that what we means?

“If I survive any test or accomplish any work when I am tested, it is grace, decisively grace — not decisively me.”

Or, does we mean that we can handle it if we receive it by faith in divine assistance, and that God knows what he himself will give us by grace in enabling us to handle what he gives us? So, he is not thinking of we as independent, but we as dependent on the grace that comes with the difficulty. Which of those two does this statement ask about?

What does handle mean? Does handle mean you never collapse under it? Does it mean you never fail in any task? Does it mean you never mess up? Does it mean you never fail to get a B+ on every one of life’s tests?

Or, does handle mean that you never fail so that you never recover or repent or restore reconciliation, and that you are finally lost because you failed? Which does handle mean?

Dependent on Grace

To answer all of that and to give my answer to the question, let’s just look at the key texts that I think he probably has in mind. 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation” — or test, since it is the same word in Greek — “has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted [tested] beyond your ability [beyond what you are able], but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

When Paul says that God won’t give what is beyond what you are able, he means not beyond what you are able with God’s help. We know that because of a couple of other things he says. For example, in 2 Corinthians 9:8 he says, “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”

In other words, in every test or temptation, the question is, Will I do what I ought to do? Paul says, “There will be grace.” He does not merely say, “I am depending on you to use your resources without depending on grace.” Rather, God is telling us, “I am giving you grace so that there will be grace to do it, but you are not independent of my powers to help.”

“God will never give his people trials in which he will not sustain them and bring them through to everlasting glory.”

Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” In other words, if I survive any test or accomplish any work when I am tested, it is grace, decisively grace — not decisively me.

So, my answer to the first query — What does we mean in the statement “God will never give us more than what we can handle”? — is that we means we who are helped by sovereign grace, not we independent of the power of God’s help.

Sustaining Power

Then the question is, What does handle mean? Does it mean never stumble, never fail, never get a C- or an F on a particular test that God gives? My answer is no. It doesn’t mean that. If we had perfect reliance on all that he is for us in Christ, we would pass every test glowingly, but God does not promise that kind of perfect reliance on his omnipotent grace.

Well then, what is being promised when he says that we will always have, with every test, an escape and when he says that we will have grace for every good work? I think what is promised is ultimately this: God will never let us so stumble or so fail that we don’t recover and repent and are restored. In other words, he will never let us sin our way into apostasy and damnation. He will enable us to bear the fruits of genuine faith and perseverance to the end.

Here are the texts that make me think that:

Philippians 1:6: “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Romans 8:30: “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” He is going to keep you.

Luke 22:31–32: “Simon, Simon,” Jesus says to Peter, “behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat [or, get your faith out of you], but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” In other words, I prayed for you. Yes, you are going to deny me tonight, but I am bringing you back. You are going to get an F on this test tonight, and I am going to make you pass your life-test.

1 Peter 1:5: “By God’s power [we] are being guarded through faith for a salvation.” God’s power is guarding me. He won’t let me fail in any test utterly.

1 Corinthians 1:8: “[He] will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So, here’s my conclusion. “God will never give us more than what we can handle” — is that biblically correct? Yes, if we mean God will never give his people trials in which he will not sustain them and bring them through to everlasting glory. We will be enabled to do all we must do to get there.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.

Daily Light – August 6, 2019

(I remember my Dad today…his birthday….born 8-6-1909…..he loved Jesus…)

In Our Religious Exercises, We Must Keep Our Eyes on Jesus

Article by Jared C. Wilson

Do you remember in Matthew 14:22-33 when Jesus came walking on the waves to his friends in the boat? The disciples were terrified at first, until he identified himself. Peter, always impetuous, asks for permission to join his Master on the waves. It is given, and so he does the good work of clambering over the side. Lo and behold, next to Jesus, he can walk on water too!

But it doesn’t last long, does it? Eventually he begins to sink beneath the waves and cries out for help. Why? Matthew 14:30 says it’s because he saw the strength of the wind. Peter had taken his eyes off Jesus.

And yet, Jesus still held on to Peter.

Just as it is grace top to bottom that saves us, it is faith beginning to end that sustains us. We do not start over by faith and then embark on a great “good works” self-improvement project. No, we “walk by faith” (2 Cor. 5:7). The author of Hebrews says, in fact, that we run by it:

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, 2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. (Heb. 12:1-2)

What is the weight—other than sin—that can easily ensnare us? Is it not our own sense of self-righteousness? Isn’t it anything, even good things, that can distract us from focus on Jesus? The author of Hebrews says to “keep our eyes” on him (v.2). Why? I think it’s because he knows that even in our spiritual disciplines, religious efforts, and theological studies, it is so easy to pursue these means as if they are ends to themselves. We want to look more holy, more knowledgeable, more “put together.” This is not walking or running by faith at all.

No, we must keep our eyes on Jesus. Every good work must be submitted to the glory of Jesus. Every spiritual discipline must be conducted as a means of deepening our friendship with Jesus. Every religious book read, every theological idea explored, every biblical doctrine studied must have as its aim a stirring of our affections for Jesus. Only by focusing on Jesus will we be able to endure in the Christian life and have a faith that lasts to the finish line.

It will not be easy. The life of faith is difficult. But there is a joy waiting for us beyond all comparison. It is the great, eternal joy of being reunited to the one in whom we have believed, having become convinced that he is able to guard what we’ve committed to him. Jesus is able to present us blameless before God’s glory without stumbling. Let us fix our eyes on him to the end.

Jared C. Wilson is the director of content strategy for Midwestern Seminary, managing editor of For The Church, and author of more than ten books, including Gospel WakefulnessThe Pastor’s Justification, and The Prodigal Church

Daily Light – August 5, 2019

The Masterpiece of All Promises

Article by Marshall Segal, Staff Writer, desiringGod.org

Many of us fight and lose against temptation because we fail to bring a specific promise from God to the battle. Our shield of faith against Satan will be small if it is only a vague hopefulness about God, and not a firm hold on what he has actually said — if his specific, living, and active words do not abide in our hearts.

John Piper writes, “A nebulous sense that God is somehow working to help us is not such a clear channel for the Holy Spirit’s power as when we have a clear, sharp sight of a specific promise” (Reading the Bible Supernaturally, 287). A nebulous sense that God is for us may feel warm enough on good days, but it feels painfully thin when trials come — and they will come.

We need a clearer, sharper, more vivid sight of God in the daily wars we fight, and his promises paint with that kind of detail and life.

The Power of a Specific Promise

Realizing that God has given us specific promises for particular sorrows and struggles was a massive discovery for me in the fight to kill my sin and walk well with Jesus.

“Even one specific word from God can make you far more dangerous on the battlefield for your soul.”

Has anxiety crawled into our minds — about life, about family, about work, about ministry? We can remember Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26). Has lust vied for our attention? We can rehearse the wonder of this reward: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Are we tempted to withhold forgiveness from someone who has hurt us? We can call to mind the inconceivable mercy (and serious warning) in Jesus’s promise, “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14–15).

If you’ve fought temptation without having committed at least a few verses like these to memory, you have probably felt like you parachuted into war with only a hope and a prayer (and a parachute). From experience, I can tell you that even one specific word from God can make you far more dangerous on the battlefield for your soul.

You will eventually need more than one, but I want to plant at least one that has felt like a fresh layer of armor over the last several months. Charles Spurgeon says of these five words, “This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below and will make a heaven above.” Come and commit a masterpiece to memory.

Our Heaven Below

What promise makes a heaven wherever it goes? Spurgeon goes on to say, “Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe your spirit in it; swim an age, and you shall find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and you shall find no bottom: ‘I will be their God.’”

If you’re like me, this was not the first verse that came to mind when I first read “the masterpiece of all promises.” But the longer we think over this promise — the more we wade out into the waves of this mercy — the more stunning it becomes. The words are short and familiar enough for a two-year-old, and yet no one dies having reached the bottom of this ocean or the height of this heaven. Even when we have spent ten thousand years wandering the new creation with God himself, we will still wonder that he is ours and that we are his.

“Every good we receive has its roots in one extravagant promise: ‘I will be their God’ — and in Christ, your God.”

If we have lost the ability to swim in this promise, it’s likely because we have been thinking too much on ourselves and not enough on God. We have not let ourselves be lost enough in “the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God” (Romans 11:33). Again, likely because we have thought too long and too hard about ourselves — our needs, our trials, our work, our desires, our relationships, us. In our desperate search for clarity, comfort, and control, we forget how awesomely unsearchable our God is — the God who works for those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4).

That word — God — gives the other four words in this promise their grandeur. His sovereign power and infinite wisdom and unrivaled creativity and scandalous love and unrelenting justice and inexhaustible compassion and mercy — his God-ness — make any of his promises beautiful and trustworthy, but especially this one: “I will be their God.” Your God.

‘I Will Be Their God’

God first made this promise to Abraham and his offspring.

I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7–8)

And if you believe in Christ, you are Abraham’s offspring, an heir of all God’s promises (Galatians 3:729). “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20). God now says to you, in Christ, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

When God announced the new covenant, the one he would purchase for us with the blood of Christ, he repaints the masterpiece, with even more color and detail:

They shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul. (Jeremiah 32:38–41; see also Jeremiah 31:31–34Ezekiel 37:21–28)

I will make a covenant with them. I will only ever do good to them. I will renew their dead and lifeless hearts with holy fear. I will rejoice in loving them. I will plant them where I am — forever secure, well-fed, and fruitful — “with allmy heart and all my soul.” Jesus bled and died to bring you to this God (Luke 22:201 Peter 3:18). In him, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Peter 2:9).

Every good we receive has its roots in one extravagant promise: “I will be their God” — and in Christ, your God.

The Heaven Ahead

When God knit together this great promise and gave it to Abraham in the very beginning, he knew it would also be the final and never-ending note of history. When every fiber of anxiety, lust, and pride finally falls away from us, and God makes all things new, we will wade into an ever wider and deeper ocean:

Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:3–4)

“God is now our God, but not in the way he will be.”

If we fail to see the wonder in “I will be their God,” we will not hunger for heaven. We will put off thoughts of the paradise to come, suspecting it will be something less than what we’ve had. But all that we have now is only a refreshing pitcher of cold water compared to that deep sea of bliss. God is now our God, but not in the way he will be (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Heaven is not heaven because our loved ones are there, or because tears are wiped away, or because all is made new — glorious as these things are. Heaven is heaven because of these five words: “I will be your God.”

Live Up to Your Privileges

Spurgeon marries the wonder of the promise with the weight of urgency when he writes,

This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of your Lord, and let your soul be always ravished with His love. Get out the marrow and fatness that this portion yields you. Live up to your privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy.

If God is with you and for you, though you did nothing to deserve or earn his promises, do everything you can to live up to their privileges. “Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27).

The apostle Paul sounds the same note when he rehearses the promise “I will be your God.” After quoting Leviticus 26:12, he writes, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). Those who are saved by grace alone and given priceless, blood-bought promises by God confront every defilement and strive for complete holiness. We make every effort, by the Spirit and strength and help of God, to be found worthy.

When you hear and remember the masterpiece “I will be their God,” let your heart soar on the winds of his glory, put to death whatever might hinder your communion with him, and so live up to the privilege of being his.

Marshall Segal (@marshallsegal) is a writer and managing editor at desiringGod.org. He’s the author of Not Yet Married: The Pursuit of Joy in Singleness & Dating. He graduated from Bethlehem College & Seminary. He and his wife, Faye, have a son and live in Minneapolis.