The Perfecting Work of Patience – He Who Began a Good Work

Is our salvation and sanctification our responsibility, or is it the work of God’s Spirit within us? Some will say, “We are to work out our own salvation.” (Philippians 2:12) Others will counter with, “It is the Holy Spirit who gives us both the desire and the power” to do that (Philippians 2:13).

Most people agree that salvation is through grace by faith; but believe that we have to work for sanctification (Ephesians 2:8). Yet, the foolish Galatians were reprimanded by Paul for attempting to perfect themselves through their own self-efforts (Galatians 3:1-3).

Paul was amazed that they actually believed they could sanctify their life by their works. Paul constantly reminds the early Saints that nothing in our Christian walk is by works, because then we could boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

God is not interested in our ability, but in our availability to His Spirit. The works of the flesh can only be crucified by the work of the Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:16). We live and walk only by the Spirit of God; otherwise, we spin our wheels and end up exhausted (Galatians 5:25).

We boldly claim that we can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13); but when we put the emphasis on “we” can do all things, we fail time and again. We pull our self up by our boot straps until they are totally worn off.

This verse is actually saying that we cannot do anything except “through Christ”. When we completely capitulate to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to both save and perfect us, we enter God’s rest (Hebrews 4:10).

It is the Spirit, not our self-effort, which transforms us from one stage of sanctification to the next (2 Corinthians 3:18). Even the armor of God, which Paul encourages us to wear, is the work of God’s Spirit in our life (Ephesians 6:10-18).

God’s Spirit transforms our mind to the mind of Christ (Romans 12:2). He also renews our character with the divine nature of Christ (2 Peter 1:4). He who began the work of salvation in us, will continue to perfect us through His work of sanctification (Philippians 1:6).

Prayer:
Father God, we humans do not want to admit that we are helpless without a Savior. We want to believe that even if we cannot save our self, we can attempt to perfect our self through our diligence and self-discipline by obeying Your Word.

Remind us that we can do good works only as we abide in the faith of Christ within us (James 2:17). We could not justify our self by keeping the law and we cannot sanctify our self through self-effort either. Keeping the law never gave us life prior to salvation and there is no way that walking in obedience to the law can perfect us after salvation. Without Your Spirit doing the sanctifying work, we are totally lost and undone.

Thought for the Day:
When we do choose to obey, the desire and ability is generated by God’s Spirit within us; God has a perfect plan for our life, and we find it only when we walk in the Spirit each moment of the day (Ephesians 2:8-10).

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Focusing on the Eternal

I was born with a melancholy personality. Over the years of my life, God’s Spirit transformed many of the negative melancholy characteristics into His fruit. I went from a reclusive introvert to a spirit-filled extrovert.

I used to drown in depression, but now I only experience brief moments of melancholy. My former pessimism is swallowed up by optimistic faith in God’s faithfulness (Hebrews 12:2). It is all a matter of our focus.

Do we see the glass half empty or half full? We make innumerable choices every day, all day. If we use the Philippians 4:8-9 formula, we will choose to think about, say and do only positive words and deeds.

We keep our mind on eternal matters, rather than on worldly, carnal aspects of life. “God promises that if we take care of His business, He will take care of ours” – Kevin Bradley (Matthew 6:33).

Unless we are reaping some corruption, which we sowed into our life, there is nothing that will happen to us, which is not already part of God’s plan for us. Give the truth of this statement some time to sink into your soul.

We no longer tremble in fear of the next natural disaster, relational issue or financial loss devastating us. God has all of this, every single part of it, under His sovereign control. He has a perfect plan for our life (Ephesians 2:10).

Although the destruction accompanying trials seems horrendous at the time, there is always a seed for a miracle in the midst of the catastrophe, and it will eventually turn out for our ultimate good (Romans 8:28).

Prayer:
Father God, you never allow Your Saints, whom You make righteous in Christ, to go hungry (Proverbs 10:3; Psalm 37:25). When we honor and obey You, we lack no good thing (Psalms 34:9-10). When we trust in You, we prosper in every area of our life (Proverbs 28:25). We are Your adopted children, because of our position in Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:20). You are our good and loving Father and You care about every aspect of our life.

Thought for the Day:
We serve a living Savior and minister at the pleasure of our King.

God’s Plans in Our Losses

Living life as a good person does not guarantee our earthly success or our place in eternity (Galatians 3:21). Beliefs founded on humanistic philosophy may change our life and give us temporary relief, but it does not last for eternity. Only the Word and Will of God are entirely righteous and true (Psalm 19:9). God is patient with our unbelief, because He does not want anyone to die in their sin (2 Peter 3:9).

He walks with us through every valley and gives us His joy as our strength (Psalm 23; Nehemiah 8:10). For instance, after 22 years of marriage, the love of my life decided that he could no longer live with my Italian emotionalism. A wall of constant misunderstandings stood between us, so he determined that there was no option for us but divorce. I was shocked and in disbelief; yet, I did not want to live where I was not loved.

God proved that He has a perfect plan and purpose for us all (Ephesians 2:10). He led me to relocate and to attend divorce recovery classes in two different churches in order to heal from my loss. I learned that God still had plans for me, which did not include my former husband. One day when I least expected it, in a crowded Books-a-Million bookstore, I divinely met a pastor whose wife recently decided to end their union too.

Now, after 20 years of marriage to this wonderful man who dwells with me with understanding (1 Peter 3:7), I can see from hindsight that in both of our lives God used these devastating, negative circumstances for our good (Romans 8:28). In this new union, we appreciate each other’s gifts and character as we serve God together. We truly cherish one another, even with all of our idiosyncrasies (Ephesians 4:12-16).

Prayer:
Father God, we may be hesitant to put our total faith in You, but You always prove that Your ways will bring us ultimate fulfillment. We are so grateful that we can trust You to work out for our good every circumstance, no matter how devastating it is (Romans 8:28). You help us to grieve the loss of our relationships, health, wealth and material possessions. Although, crying may last through many nights, Your joy always comes in the morning (Psalm 30:5).

Thought for the Day:
We can trust in God’s ways, even when they do not coincide with our view of the perfect life, because His ways are always perfect, even when we experience trials, heartache, loss and devastation.
– Psalm 18:30; 2 Sam 22:31; Deuteronomy 32:4

No One is God’s Equal

Our awesome God formed the earth with the power of His Words (Genesis 1). He holds the seas in the hollow of His hand, and He measures the sky with the width of His hand. He knows the number of the grains of sand on the seashore and the dust of the earth. He even calculated the weight of the mountains and hills (Isaiah 40:12-18; Isaiah 46:5).

No one can compare to our awesome God. All of the nations of the earth added together are a mere drop of water in the ocean, and they always do His bidding. He reduces rulers and cares nothing about the decisions made by judges. No one directs God, because He is in control. We are like insects compared to Him.

His throne is above the circle of the earth. He gave us the ozone layer to protect us (Isaiah 40:22-23). No one compares to the Lord or is His equal. He stands above the crowd. He brings out the stars by number and calls each one by name (Isaiah 48:13); and not one of them is missing.

God never grows sleepy or exhausted, and His wisdom is deeper than any human philosopher will ever figure out (Isaiah 40: 25-28). When God acts, no one can reverse it (Isaiah 42:13). All of God’s judgments will be proven holy and righteous, once we understand all things (Isaiah 5:16, 8:13). He preserves our life as we devote it to Him.

He is our God and we trust Him as we serve Him each day (Psalm 86:2). God knows the end from the beginning, because He does not dwell in time. His purposes will stand and we serve at His pleasure (Isaiah 46:10). There is nothing that our God cannot do. When we call on Him, He will respond to us and demonstrate to us vast and almighty deeds (Jeremiah 33:3).

Prayer:
Father God, You are the first and the last. You are the only God. You made everything. You even formed us in our mother’s womb according to Your perfect plan for our life. You know the number of hairs on our head (Isaiah 44:24; Isaiah 48:12). Apart from You there is no other God. You are the Lord and there is no other (Isaiah 45:5-6).

Thought for the Day:
God already decided what would happen on the earth from creation to eternity. – Isaiah 45:21-22

God’s Got It All Under Control

Regardless of our social, economic or religious standing, we often feel disappointment throughout our lifetime. It is clear that disappointment is no respecter of persons. We all foster expectations and we hope to achieve certain goals, which never come to pass. We sink into the pits of discouragement and flounder in the sea of despair. These negative emotions are murder on our body and soul (Proverbs 13:12).

The alternative is to surrender our expectations to God and to gratefully accept the conditions He allows to come our way. Then, we will live in serenity. God has a perfect plan for each life and only in the center of His will do we find perfect peace and contentment (Isaiah 43:1-2). Faith in God’s faithfulness will provide us with inner joy and tranquility regardless of our circumstances (Romans 5:3-4).

When we compare our issues with the life of those who are persecuted for their faith, we gain a better perspective. When we prioritize our life with our standard as eternity, our temporal issues are trivial at best (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Christians throughout the ages all faced discouragement (2 Corinthians 1:8-9); but authentic Believers have no need to surrender to discouragement. God give us glorious, indescribable joy (1 Peter 1:8).

A personal, intimate union with Christ provides us with the protection, guidance, comfort and strength of the Lord (1 Peter 5:10; John 3:16). As we submit to God’s will, we realize that He is always in control (Ezekiel 38:4; Proverbs 21:1). Nothing, which occurs in our life, surprises Him, because He already planned an equitable solution for us (Romans 8:28). With God on our side, nothing will ever attack us without His knowledge (Romans 8:31-32).

He is actually greater than the spiritual forces of darkness, which come against us (1 John 4:4). With Christ dwelling within us, our heart is no longer anxious or frightened (John 14:27). We can count it all joy when we face various trials and tribulation (James 1:2), because we see His hand working out everything to our advantage (Romans 8:28). The seeds of the ultimate miracle within our suffering and disappointment end up increasing our faith (Colossians 3:15).

Prayer:
Father God, our deepest sense of joy comes from a life surrendered to You (Hebrews 13:5). An optimistic unbeliever can radiate a positive attitude in negative circumstances, but they are still missing the joy and peace, which only You can provide (Philippians 4:7; Ephesians 3:19). We are a witness to a lost and dying world of Your protection and provision (John 16:33; Romans 8:28, 37). We gain strength in our weakest times from the presence of Your Holy Spirit within us (2 Corinthians 12:8-10). At the center of Your will, we find deep and lasting peace (Isaiah 26:3).

Thought for the Day:
Anyone, who is born of God and believes in His Son, has His faith dwelling within us, helping us to overcome the negative issues in the world. – 1 John 5:4-5

God Is On Our Side

God became to the earth as Immanuel and redeemed everyone humble enough to trust in His name. We live by faith in Jesus and according to His living Word. Tribulation, trials and persecution occur in everyone’s life. The difference between a Believer and unbeliever is that God is on our side! He wants to reconcile and bless everyone who calls on His name (Revelation 22:17).

If we are persecuted for Christ’s sake, He rewards us both now and in eternity (Hebrews 11:26). Those who persecute us are probably under conviction. They hate us because we remind them of their need to surrender to God. Our stance on Biblical Truth judges their actions and they blame us rather than repent. They turn against us, but they are actually rejecting Jesus, not us.

Satan uses our negative emotions, such as anxiety, grief and lust, to draw us away from God’s chosen path for our life (2 Timothy 3:12). We get so wrapped up in our circumstances that we neglect God. We lose our focus and our peace at the same time (Isaiah 26:3). In case you had not noticed, God did not die and leave you in charge.

You cannot possibly fulfill every perfectionist goal you create nor can you save the world single-handedly. Living as a martyr does not impress God or anyone else. You can never twist God’s arm in order to force Him to do your will. God holds all the cards, has all the world’s resources at His disposal. He does not need us at all.

Our only hope for a fulfilled life is to return to our first love (Revelation 2:4). Tribulation helps us to straighten out our priorities and to put Jesus first in our life. Rather than resist the trials God brings your way, look for God in the midst of them. He may have a message for you in them, a miracle for you at the end of them, or time to spend alone with Him through them. He loves us and has a perfect plan for our life.

Prayer:
Father God, help us to resist Satan’s temptation to pull us away from full devotion to You. Reveal to us the lies Satan uses to keep us under his bondage. Obliterate his deception with Your truth. Forgive us for putting other people, places and things ahead of You in our life. We know that You do not need us, but we thank You for caring about us so much.

Thought for the Day:
The question is not if God is on our side, but if we are on His side. Repent and believe in the name of Jesus Christ and be saved. – Acts 16:31

Breathing Room for our Soul

With preconceived ideas of what we want from life, we often miss out on God’s best for us. We toil and strive for fulfillment only to end up disillusioned and frustrated. If we completely surrender to God’s will, enter into His rest and consult Him in all of our decisions, He opens doors for us that no one can close (Ephesians 2:10; Hebrews 4:10; Proverbs 3:5-6, Revelation 3:8). We find complete joy in the Lord (Colossians 2:10).

Positive attitudes enhance our life. Forgiveness allows us to feel kindness and compassion for other people (Ephesians 4:32). Each moment that we hold a grudge, feel resentment or entertain bitterness robs us of our health, wealth and success. Negative emotions and attitudes are red flags, indicating that we are not caring for our soul. We rent our soul out to others, so they can abuse and devalue us.

We all appreciate having a second chance when we fail, so giving someone else that same opportunity will bring us joy, especially when they prove their faithfulness. We can also take complete responsibility for our life, faults and failings. We can apologize for letting someone down, even when we are not really at fault. This keeps peace in our relationships and our life.

Gratitude is another important key to entertaining positive attitudes (1 Thessalonians 5:18). We often have unfulfilled expectations, which make us unhappy with what we already have. God gives us abundant blessings every day, and we fail to notice or thank Him for them. Sometimes, other people bless us, and we fail to show them appreciation too. Start counting your blessings and saying, “Thank you.”

As we renounce the negative self-talk in our life, we gain our identity from God’s love and acceptance. Learning to laugh at our idiosyncrasies, we stop taking our self so seriously. God gives us courage to make changes and to trust Him with our life. Fellowshipping with other authentic Believers, we limit our exposure to negative people. Living by God’s promises will change our future.

Prayer:
Father God, we know that You love us so much that You became a man and died for us on Calvary’s cross. We cherish our life and want to live it for Your glory. You have a perfect plan for each of us. We submit to You and resist Satan, so that he cannot influence our life (James 4:7). Help us to center our time in You and to live in Your will for each moment of it (Ephesians 2:10). Make us a light, which cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14-16); so we can encourage others to come to You too. In Jesus’ name and for Your glory. Amen.

Thought for the Day:
Seeking God’s Will gives us breathing room for our soul. – Psalm 62:2