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2017 40 Days of Prayer, Day 40

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The Abiding Presence of God:
A Life of Complete Dependence

 

Day 40

 

For the last 39 days we have mediated on Romans 8.  We have read such powerful words as: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” and “the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace…” and “we have received a spirit of adoption in which we cry out ‘Abba, Father!” and “God works all things together for good for those that love Him…” and “who can separate us from the love of God in Christ…”  For this last day of our 40 days of prayer, reflect on these truths.  Contemplate God’s sovereign mercy to save us from sin and to make us His own children.  Reflect on the presence of the Spirit in our lives.  We are completely dependent on the Spirit of God.  We must live with a constant awareness of our need for His work in our lives. 

Consider FF Bruce’s summary of this chapter from excerpts from his book, Romans in the Tyndale New Testament Commentaries.  “So long as we endeavor to rely on our own resources, we fight a losing battle; when we avail ourselves of the resources of life and power that are ours ‘in Christ Jesus,’ we are more than conquerors.  Christ dwells in us by His Spirit, and His Spirit infuses into us a new principle – the law of life – which is stronger than indwelling sin and sets us free from sin’s tyranny.  Under the old order, before the coming to the Spirit, it was impossible to do the will of God.  …But those who belong to the new order of the Spirit do the will of God from the heart. … For not only does the Spirit maintain life and power in the spirit of believers here and now; His indwelling presence is a token that our body, still subject to mortality, will rise to new life as Christ’s own body rose … The glory to come far outweighs the affliction of the present.  The affliction is light and temporary when compared with the all-surpassing and everlasting glory. … When the day of glory dawns, the glory will be shown on a universal scale in the people of God, the glorified community of Christ. … This is the hope of the people of God, “Christ in you.” … This is an essential element in our salvation; it enables us to accept the trials of the present, so that by patient endurance we may win our lives ... Indeed, God’s grace co-operates in all things for His people’s good, even in those things which at the time are so distressing and perplexing and hard to bear. …  Since God is our strong salvation, what force can prevail against us?  Since His love was supremely shown in the sacrifice of His own Son on our behalf, what good thing will He withhold from them?  … Nothing can come between us and His love.”

Prayer Focus

Thank You, God, for all that You have done in saving us through the life of Your Son.  Thank You for giving us Your Spirit to lead us.  God, You are so good.  Your mercies are new every morning.  I ask that You would do a work in my life.  Make me more like Your Son every day.  Do a work in my family and friends.  Please, do a work in the ministries of Matthew Road Baptist Church by the power of Your Spirit.  Help us as we minister to the communities in our area and as we seek to minister all over the world.  By Your Spirit, help us as we partner with Your servants in difficult places.  In all things be glorified as we exalt Your Son.  Be glorified as You bring us ever increasing joy.

From DL Moody’s Secret Power

PEACE DECLARED

When France and England were at war, a French vessel had gone off on a long voyage. When they came back, the crew were short of water, and being now near and English port, they wanted to get water. But they were afraid that they would be taken if they went into that port. Some people in the port saw them, saw their signal of distress, and sent word to them that they need not be afraid, that the war was over, and peace had been declared.  But they couldn’t make those sailors believe it, and they didn’t dare to go into port, although they were out of water. At last they made up their minds that they had better go in and surrender up their cargo, and surrender up their lives, to their enemies than to perish at sea without water. When they got in, they found out that peace had been declared, and that what had been told them was true. So there are a great many people who doesn’t believe the glad tiding that peace has been made. Jesus Christ made peace on the Cross. He satisfied the claims of the law; and this law which condemns you and me, which has been fulfilled by Jesus Christ. He has made peace, and now He wants us just to enjoy it, just to believe it. Nor is there a thing to hinder us from doing it, if we will. We can enter into that blessing now, and have perfect peace. The promise is: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind remains on You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in the Lord God is everlasting strength.” Isaiah 26:3-4

Now, as long as our mind is stayed on our dear selves, we will never have peace. Some people think more of themselves than of all the rest of the world. It is self in the morning, self at noon, and self at night. It is self when they wake up, and self when they go to bed. They are all the time looking at themselves and thinking about themselves, instead of “looking unto Jesus.” Faith is an outward look. Faith does not look within, it looks without. It is not what I think, nor what I feel, nor what I have done, but it is what Jesus Christ is and has done. So we should trust in Him who is our strength, and whose strength will never fail. After Christ rose from the grave, John tells us three times, He met His disciples and said to them, “Peace be unto you.” There is peace for the conscience through His blood, and peace for the heart in His love.

SECRET OF JOY

Remember, then, that love is power, and peace is power. Now I will call attention to another fruit of the Spirit, and this too is power - the grace of joy. It is the privilege, I believe, of every Christian to walk in the light, as God is in the light, and to have that peace which will be flowing unceasingly as we keep busy about His work. And it is our privilege to be full of the joy of the Lord.

We read that when Philip went down to Samaria and preached, there was great joy in the city. Why? Because they believed the glad tidings. And that is the natural order, joy in believing. When we believe the glad tidings, there comes a joy into our souls. We are told that our Lord sent the seventy out, and that they went forth preaching salvation in the name of Jesus Christ, and the result was that there were a great many who were blessed. The seventy returned, it says, with great joy, and when they came back they said that the very devils were subject to them, through His name.

The Lord seemed to just correct them in this one thing when He said, “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject to you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:20 KJV

There is assurance for you. They had something to rejoice in now. God doesn’t ask us to rejoice over nothing, but He gives us some ground for our joy. What would you think of man or woman who seemed very happy today and full of joy, and couldn’t tell you what made them so? Would we not think such a person unreasonable? But there are a great many people who want to feel that they are Christians before they are Christians. They want the Christian’s experience before they become Christians, and they want to have the joy of the Lord

before they receive Jesus Christ. But this is not the Gospel order. He brings joy when He comes, and we cannot have joy apart from Him. There is no joy away from Him, for He is the author of it, and we find our joy in Him.

JOY IS UNSELFISH

Now, there are different kinds of joy. There is the joy of one’s own salvation. I thought, when I first tasted that, it was the most delicious joy I had ever known, and that I could never get beyond it. But I found, afterward, there was something more joyful than that. Namely, the joy of the salvation of others. Oh, the privilege, the blessed privilege, to be used of God to win a soul to Christ, and see a man or woman being led out of bondage by some act of ours toward them.

To think that God should condescend to allow us to be co-workers with Him. It is the highest honor we can wear. It surpasses the joy of our own salvation, this joy of seeing others saved. John said, He had no greater joy than to see His disciples walking in the truth (3 John 1:4). Every man who has been the means of  leading souls to Christ understands what that means. Young disciples, walk in the truth and you will have joy all the while.

I think there is a difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is caused by things which happen around me, and circumstances will mar it. But joy flows right on through trouble, it flows on through the dark. Joy flows in the night as well as in the day, and through persecution and opposition. It is an unceasing fountain bubbling up in the heart; a secret spring which the world can’t see and doesn’t know anything about.  But the Lord gives His people perpetual joy when they walk in obedience to Him.

This joy is fed by the Divine Word. Jeremiah says,

“Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16 NKJV

He “ate” the words, and what was the result? He said they were the joy and rejoicing of his heart. Now people should look for joy in the Word, and not in the world. They should look for the joy which the Scriptures furnish, and then go work in the vineyard.

Because a joy that doesn’t send me out to someone else, doesn’t impel me to go and help the poor drunkard, doesn’t prompt me to visit the widow and the fatherless, that doesn’t cause me to go into the mission field or other Christian work, is not worth having, and is not from above.  A joy that does not constrain me to go and work for the Master is purely sentiment and not real joy.

 

Posted by Daniel Sweet with

2017 40 Days of Prayer, Day 1

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The Abiding Presence of God:
A Life of Complete Dependence

 

Day 1

 

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Romans 8:1

The Weightiest “Therefore” in the Bible

For the next forty days we will pray together while contemplating the great work of God of our salvation.  We will spend each day meditating on a single verse from Romans 8, working verse by verse throughout the forty days.  I realize that by selecting Romans 8, this places us right in the middle of the greatest theological treatise ever written.  The opening word of the chapter, “therefore” contains unimaginable presuppositions by Paul.  He is assuming the reader of Romans chapter 8 has read and comprehended the first seven chapters.  In this regard, throughout Romans 8 he links the work of God in our daily spiritual life to the incredible work of eternal salvation already accomplished in us.  Paul spent those first seven chapters articulating these glorious truths.  This is the weightiest “therefore” in the Bible.  The implications of seven chapters of rich doctrine come to critical consummation in Romans 8.  In the first three chapters, Paul presented humanity in a sea of sinful, caustic rebellion against God.  The language of our depravity graphically details our natural bent against the things of God.  Our depravity collides with His righteousness in God’s justifiable anger against such sedition.  God holds all people accountable for their sin.  Romans 3:21 transitions the reader from the terrifying wrath of God to now contemplating a salvation so rich and profound as to stagger the imagination.  We have been saved by God from God’s wrath.  Romans 3:21 through the end of Romans chapter 5 covers us in rich, theological language while sharing the wonderful message that God has transformed us from lawbreaking rebels into His adopted children.  God performs this transformational act through the work of His own Son, Jesus Christ.  This great work was predicated on divine love.  “God demonstrates His own love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” Romans 5:8.  How then shall we now live?  How shall we now live knowing this great salvation?  How then shall we live, now that God has saved us in His Son?  In Romans 6 and 7, Paul called on all believers to live according to their newfound status.  God has not only saved us from eternal hell, but He has provided eternal access to heaven.  Beyond those future graces, God liberates us here and now.  We are to live as our newfound spiritual status dictates.  God sees us in Christ.  He sees us as holy, justified, righteous, and free.  We cannot return to a life dominated by sin.  God unshackles us from that old way of life.  He then binds us to Himself through our identity in His Son, Jesus Christ.  We are called to a life of righteousness and purity.  However, we cannot live this life of righteousness in our own strength.  Our complete dependency continues beyond our initial salvation.  We are saved by faith, a faith that is completely dependent upon God.  But our dependence does not cease at the moment of salvation.  Our complete dependence on God for our daily living has just begun. 

From this theological foundation, Paul launched into thirty-nine of some of the most glorious statements ever written.  God has eternally set us free from the power of sin and death.  He has also provided the means for us to live free from the power of sin and death.  How do we live free?  There are thirty-nine verses in Romans chapter 8.  We will spend these forty days praying with these biblical truths in mind, one verse at a time.  And then, with a look back, on the last day we will then contemplate the entire chapter as a whole on the final day of the forty days of prayer.

Therefore, “there is now” A radical change has occurred.  In this first verse of chapter 8, Paul captures the nature of the change God has brought about in our lives.  Once we were under God’s condemnation.  Now we are under God’s grace.  At one time we were destined for an eternity separated from God.  Now we have been brought into an eternal relationship with God.  This dramatic shift occurs for all who call upon Jesus Christ as their Savior.  The “before and after” images of those who are in Christ dwarf any diet company’s promotional ads or any house remodel's transformation.  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, your life has been radically and eternally changed.  Ironically, only God can see all the before and after effects of this change.  Only God can see us in Christ.  Before coming to Christ, God saw all of our sin, all of our blemishes, and all of our rebellious nature.  Before coming to Christ, God held us in contempt of His sovereign reign and authority.  Now God sees us in Christ.  Now when He sees us, He sees the righteousness of His Son.  That is a radical change indeed!

Condemnation We use this term in two distinct ways.  First, condemnation functions as a legal term.  A convicted criminal is legally condemned to serve a particular sentence for his crime.  For instance, we might say, “the judge condemned the bank robbers to twenty years in prison.”  Second, condemnation functions as a relational term.  A husband may say to his wife, “Please don’t condemn me for forgetting our anniversary.”  When a relationship is damaged because of sin, condemnation describes the broken fellowship because one of the two parties views the other as a violator of their trust.  When we hurt another by our betrayal, we can often sense his condemnation.  In this case, condemnation describes a relationship that is broken because of a violation of trust.  We break the trust of another, and at the same time we break the other person’s heart. 

Condemnation describes a legal action by a judge acting upon the law and condemnation describes a relationship breach by an individual whose trust has been broken through sin.  Both of these ideas describe what happens in our relationship with God prior to salvation.  Before coming to Christ we were justly condemned under the Law of God.  We have all violated God’s Law and must face the just punishment due for our crimes against God and His Law.  However, there is a relationship breach as well.  It is not that God sits as impersonal judge over humanity.  This is no mere mechanical transaction on the part of God.  This is intensely personal.  He is heartbroken over our betrayal.  Because of the depth of God’s condemnation, this state of condemnation is insurmountable by humans.  We are not strong enough, rich enough, or resourceful enough to remove this legal and relational condemnation.  Only God can fulfill the requirements of His Law’s just penalty, and only God is big enough to heal His broken heart.  Both aspects of condemnation, the legal and the relational, are satisfied in the work of Jesus Christ.  Christ pays the legal penalty for our sin.  He bears our just punishment.  Christ also satisfies the relationship breach with the Father by bearing the just wrath of our brokenhearted God.  God the Father and God the Son determined long ago to do this great work of salvation.  Before there were stars, before the earth rotated on its axis, before the moon orbited around the earth, God the Father and God the Son had our salvation on their mind.  God made you even though He knew you would violate His trust.  God created you even though He knew your actions would break His Law.  God created us even though He knew our relationship and just standing before Him would cost His Son a violent and unjust death.  God brought the world into being, knowing that He would confront and solve our just condemnation.

In Christ Jesus

It is all about Jesus.  This is the Father’s desired plan for the entire universe.  God the Father wants to make much of His Son.  Jesus Christ is the reason we were created and the reason we were saved.  Since He saved us from our sins through His Son, we will now and eternally worship the Father through His Son.  God is most glorified when His Son is exalted in our lives.  This is God’s plan for you.  He removed our condemnation in His Son so that the Son would be the eternal focus of our praise.  God is most glorified in our complete dependence in the work of His Son.  Condemnation is now gone because we are now in Christ.  In Christ, we stand before God as though we ourselves were righteous because He is righteous.  In Christ, we stand before God as perfected in our relationship with God because Christ has a perfect relationship with His Father. 

Prayer Focus

God, I worship You for Your glorious power.  Through Your great might, You have saved me from my just condemnation.  I confess that without You I am justly condemned under the Law.  I thank You that in Your Son, I stand before You as though I am righteous.  I thank You that in Jesus Christ I stand before You as beloved.  Please Father come and work in my life today.  I want to be used by You to bring glory to Your name.  I want my relationship with You to be reflected in my relationships with others.  Please do a work in me for Your name’s sake.  In Christ Jesus, my Righteousness, I pray.  Amen.

 

From DL Moody's Secret Power

POWER – ITS SOURCE

“Without the soul, divinely quickened and inspired, the observances of the grandest ritualism are as worthless as the motions of a galvanized corpse.” - Anon.

I quote this sentence, as it leads me at once to the subject under consideration. What is this quickening and inspiration? What is this power needed? From what place is its source? I reply: The Holy Spirit of God. I am a full believer in “The Apostles’ Creed,” and therefore “I believe in the Holy Spirit.”

 A writer has pointedly asked: “What are our souls without His grace? - as dead as the branch in which the sap does not circulate. What is the Church without Him? - as parched and barren as the fields without the dew and rain of heaven.”

There has been much inquiry of late on the subject of the Holy Spirit. In this and other lands thousands of persons have been giving attention to the study of this grand theme. I hope it will lead us all to pray for the greater manifestation of His power upon the whole Church of God. How much we have dishonored Him in the past! How ignorant of His grace, and love and presence we have been? True, we have heard of Him and read of Him, but we have had little intelligent knowledge of His attributes, His offices and His relations to us. I fear He has not been to many professed Christians an actual existence, nor is He known to them as a personality of the Godhead.