Galatians 1:15 ” But when God, Who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased…”

I wonder why we’re so surprised every time God moves in the middle of our best laid plans. We need to remember, when it pleases God, He will act…always with perfect intention and resolution of His good pleasure for us. But what do we usually do? We plan, scheme, and even predict what’s going to happen… giving God no elbow room to work. We find our plans set in concrete, our teaching written out word for word, when suddenly it pleases God to move, and we can either welcome it or be upset about Him changing things up. So the best way to make room for God is to expect Him to move…but not always in the way we think. By living in a constant state of expectancy…leaving room for God to break through as He sees fit…we will be showered with His lovingkindness and favor as we watch in anticipation.

Galatians 5:24 ” Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.”

Our natural life in and of itself is not sinful. And as a Christian, it’s not a question of giving up sin – it’s a question of giving up my right to myself. My natural life wants to maintain autonym and my right to self-will…so in reality this is where the battle is really fought. Sure, we don’t need to debate over what’s evil or wrong, that’s obvious…but when it comes to things that are “good”, we’ll argue with God , wanting our way. But that’s in direction opposition to what the Lord desires…for He wants only the very best for us. And it’s not until we deny our natural self…crucifying our flesh through faith and love in Christ, that “good enough” will make way for God’s best.

John 1:14 ” The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”

The eternal Word of God, the second person of the Godhead, didn’t merely appear in human form – Jesus actually became flesh and blood – taking on a complete and genuine human nature, and with that becoming subject to every emotion, suffering, trial and tribulation. In other words, Jesus appeared in flesh and blood in order to fully share in our humanity. (Hebrews 2:14) Philippians 2:6-7 tells us, “Who, being the very nature God…took on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” What this verse is saying is that prior to His incarnation, Jesus existed in the form of God, but in the incarnation, His exalted and divine status didn’t keep Him from assuming the form of a slave…the position He willingly took on during His humiliation here on earth. Jesus was no less God, but also no less slave…in total service to others and obedience to His Father…obedience even to the Cross.

Job 31:33 ” If I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart…”

Because of Adam, as human beings we all have the same commonality…a corrupt human nature. Thus we’ve all become very adept at hiding and covering our sins. We think they are well hidden…buried deep in our hearts where no one can see them…that is no one but God. Proverbs 28:13 says, He who conceals his sins doesn’t prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” So this path to God’s mercy must first start with a willingness to acknowledge our hidden sin, followed by confession to God, which then leads to authentic repentance – not just lip service or some emotional altar call – but true remorse and regret, taking full responsibility and accountability for our actions. This will then lead to restoration and a right relationship with God…which is what He wanted in the first place. This process is shown beautifully in Psalm 32:5, ” I acknowledged my sin to You and didn’t cover my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord – and You forgave the guilt of my sin.’ ”

Hebrews 1:1-2 ” In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son…”

Formerly, divine revelation by way of the prophets was very piecemeal and showed its incompleteness, just as the repetition of animal sacrifice showed that it couldn’t completely remove sin and guilt. The greatest difference of this being…prophets were only servants in God’s house, where as Jesus Christ is over God’s house as a Son. (Hebrews 3:6) So today, we are living in the present era of redemptive history, where God’s last and best Word is being spoken through His Son, Jesus Christ…the only One that can speak as a Son – “Chosen before the creation of the world, but revealed in these last times for our sake.” (I Peter 1:20) and whose divine revelation is final.

Psalm 143:3-4 ” The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. So my spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed.”

The enemy here can take on many faces. It can be fear of the unknown, anxiety over the COVID virus, grief and loss from losing a loved one, depression from receiving a terminal disease diagnosis, or watching someone you dearly love slowly die. Whatever it may be, the result is exhaustion of mind, body, and soul…where just existing is a difficult task. That’s when verse 5 gives us direction and hope…”I remember the days of long ago; I meditate on all Your works and consider what Your hands have done.” When we are in distress it can be very healing to reflect – going over and over in our mind – the mighty and gracious works of God from the past. But not just remembering, but declaring them out loud or to ourselves. It may not change the circumstances around us, but internally and spiritually, the darkness and despair can be lifted as we lift our eyes to the Lord and remember.

Luke 21:17-19 ” All men will hate you because of Me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.”

As the world becomes more and more polarized…with personal views, beliefs, and morals fair game for anyone to belittle and degrade…especially if you claim Jesus as your Savior, we need to read this Scripture carefully today. We look at it, not for what we already know…The world rejects and hates us because of our faith in Jesus and their little if any knowledge of who God is…but we read it to know exactly what should be our focus in the face of this persecution. This passage is a strong affirmation of God’s control and sovereignty over His attention and care for His people. He cares about you and knows acutely how the slings and arrows feel. So the bottom line here is, there is no need to fear man, for man can’t take your soul…and by standing firm in your faith you will gain eternal life…which man can’t take from you either.

Numbers 11:23 ” The Lord answered Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s arm too short? You will now see whether or not what I say will come true for you.’ “

All Moses could see were unsurmountable obstacles, complaining and whining crowds, and his own inability to handle it…all the while forgetting just Who was speaking to him. No wonder God became impatient with Moses! There were many times throughout the Bible where we see the same situation happening…In Isaiah 50:2 God incredulously asks, “Was My arm too short to ransom you? Do I lack the strength to rescue you?” In Numbers 23:19 the Writer asks, “Does He speak and then not act? Does He promise and then not fulfill?” Too many times we too forget exactly Who we’re speaking to…the Great and all Powerful Lord Almighty, Creator of all, Who cannot lie nor change His mind, and will fulfill whatever He says.

I Peter 4:1 ” Therefore, since Christ suffered in His body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.”

We want it both ways. We are happy to share in Christ’s resurrection…but have a difficult time sharing in His sufferings. Somehow we imagine that Jesus’ sufferings at Calvary weren’t as horrific as portrayed…but we need to remember that He was not only fully God, but also fully man…and capable of feeling every searing pain imaginable. Not only that, but it says that He suffered and died for us, leaving us an example – or a pattern – to follow…uniting us to Him by our sufferings. (I Peter 2:21-24) But we still want it both ways. It tells us to arm ourselves with the same attitude…the same mindset and intention by living for God’s glory and not our own. To look at our sufferings as character building opportunities, so hiding our life in Christ that we then possess the motivation and power to resist sin through the Holy Spirit. And when we accept both shared experiences…Christ’s resurrection as well as His sufferings…our purpose changes from living for self to living for His glory.

Hosea 6:2 ” After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.”

Israel’s breaking of the covenant that God made with them when He redeemed them out of Egypt is vividly illustrated by the broken marriage covenant between Hosea and his unfaithful wife, Gomer. But throughout the Chapter there still remains the promise of restoration. But with the promise there also comes responsibility and accountability on our part. God called His wayward children to repentance, conversion, and a solemn seeking after His Word….a call to true knowledge of the Lord. (Hosea 6:3) It meant an acceptance in the teaching of the Gospel Message as seen in I Corinthians 15:4…our absolute belief and trust in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this verse above, we see the true promise of God – a chance to live anew, revived, and restored… all the while it showcasing God’s great fidelity, faithfulness, and covenant keeping on our behalf.