(C) 1984, 2007 N. A. Collins limited copy permission for 1 personal file copy
When we think about the grace of God, our minds go to its two faceted aspect. Of course, there is the wonderful grace of God at salvation, as well as the precious grace of God in trials. What is the application of God's grace in each of the two aspects? I think we first have to look at the two arenas of spiritual life. One, being the event of salvation, or spiritual birth. The other, being the process of sanctification, or spiritual growth. In salvation, God's grace is seen in the long-used acrostic of God's Riches At Christ's Expense. it is all of God, in that there is nothing a sinful heart can ever do to redeem himself from his estranged state. But God so loved the world, that He sent Christ to pay for our sins. In this way, both justice and mercy were executed. In sanctification, God's grace is seen as in the acrostic of God's Resources At Crisis Encounters. As various life difficulties are encountered, God has taught us, in James 1, that we can count it all joy with the knowledge that the trying of our faith works patience. It is as we draw near to God, James goes on to say in chapter 4, that God draws near to us. It is as we, in our impatience, snuggle close to His heart, that His divine attribute of patience begins to be seen in the character of our lives. The joy of the Lord becomes our strength, and when the world questions our "ability" to manage great trials, we can give a reason of the hope that lies within us, and thus glorify God. And so, for the obedient, growing believer, his life engages both the saving and the sustaining grace of God. The saving grace was at the event of salvation; the sustaining grace is available on a repetitive and continuing basis every moment of every day. We know, according to 2 Cor.12:9, God's reply to Paul was promised to be sufficient for every need. "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." Paul's response was "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." May we know the two-fold grace of God today!
(C) 1984, 2007 N. A. Collins limited copy permission for 1 personal file copy
James talked about joy amidst trials. Paul talked about rejoicing in everything and how God had taught him to be content in whatever state he was. In taking a fresh look at those divine modes of operation, we often hear the instruction that, as believers, we should have joy in trials. Just exactly what does it mean to "have joy in trials?". In our mind's way of thinking, that sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? That is, the two ends of that phrase don't seem to match. We have habitually associated joy with an absence of trials, and trials as a period of time where there is an absence of joy. However, what a blessing it is to realize that anytime we ask a question, God has already answered it for us in His Word. Look at John 16:33b, where Christ said " ... In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." He had just outlined, with great clarity, those things that were to be following His return to the Father. The disciples were, as we are, trying to see exactly how His words were going to work. But He succinctly 'tied it up' with the fact that He HAS overcome the world. That's it!!! We will not know joy in trials unless we have a firm fix in our. Ind as to the temporarily of this life and the permanency of the next one. Paul said, in Romans 8:18, that " the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Again, an eternal focus is the imperative ! Between now and then, we must be sure that we have taken the free gift of salvation through personal faith in the shed blood of the Lord Jesus, as full payment for our sin debt to God. Thereafter, the all-sufficient grace of God is an absolute promise of God in 2 Corinthians 12:9, and a way of escape is promised in 1 Corinthians 10:9 for those difficulties that seem to loom greater than we can bear ( you may want to re-read THE WAY OF ESCAPE article of 3 weeks ago). May God help you today to know HIS eternal joy in the midst of temporal trials.
(c) 1993 N.A.Collins Copy permission limited to one personal file copy
The psalmist, under inspiration, gave us great hope and confidence when he penned "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusted in thee." (Isaiah 26:3) When I think of a biblical word picture that illustrates perfect peace, I think immediately of the boat on the Sea of Galilee which carried Jesus and His disciples. As the darkness fell, the typical storm blew quickly upon them, and midst the wind and waves, there was hysterical fear. As you will remember, Jesus was asleep in the bow of the boat, and the disciples found it hard to understand why He wasn't up DOING SOMETHING about the problem. As they drew nigh to the Lord, as James would later address, He drew nigh to them And simply spoke to the waves, and they were stilled. Incredible!!!!!! How often we find ourselves in a sudden, unexpected, severe "storm" and find that a word from Jesus brings peace. The adjective God chose to use for this marvelous state of tranquility and trust was the open-ended, unlimited, incomprehensible one of PERFECT. There is no means known to man to improve on that state. So when God freely offers PERFECT PEACE to the believer, He gives no qualifying circumstances that must be in order. He only gives the two clear qualifications for it. One is salvation, the other is meditation on and obedience to His Word. That is, after all, what it means to"stay your mind" on Him. It is not simply thinking about Him, nor is it looking at a picture someone has painted of Him that hangs on a wall. It is not even merely thinking abut a Scripture, for in all actuality, according to James 1, the flesh, from whence originates the lust and ensuing departure from intimate fellowship with our loving Lord must be over-ridden by practical yieldedness to the Scripture if we are to know victory over sin. Perfect peace.....in times of storm, with the temptations to fear and worry, comes as the believer draws nigh to Him in remembering the SCRIPTURE that pertains to the situation, PRAYING agreement with God's Word, and following with ACTIONS that apply His Word. Using that SPA acrostic gives us the exercise unto godliness that Paul spoke of to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:7. May God give you His perfect peace today in the midst of your particular storm as you keep your mind stayed on Him.
(c) 1993 N.A. Collins - Limited copy permission for one personal copy
I've been thinking a lot lately about the tremendous fear that the thought of death beings to the human heart. Actually, when we look at Hebrews 2:14-15, we can clearly understand that it has always been so, when we read "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage." What a thought! That The fear of death is actually the common denominator for every living soul. It is so strong, that the Bible word for its grip is bondage. But it is able to be broken by the power of God in salvation, seen in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Remember that Jesus told Mary in John 11:25, when she was astonished at the empty tomb where her Lord had laid, "...I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"
Freedom from bondage to the fear of death is available if we will put our trust in Him. He forgives sin,on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus Christ, which is the barrier to our fellowship with Him. He then promises us the glories of Heaven, in the presence of Christ and loved ones who have trusted Him, as well. Let's think it through theologically for a moment. when Paul said in Philippians 1:21 that for Him to live was Christ, and to die was gain, he articulated the future joy of being in the very presence of His Savior for all the endless ages of a timeless eternity. "...He that liveth and believeth in me shall never die..." what a promise from the lips of our Lord!
We simply need to be sure that we know Him, and freely share this glorious gospel with others, as well.
(c) 1992 N.A.Collins - Limited copy permission for one personal copy
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