# 15 of 30 – The Working of the Word

This is # 15 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word gives the believer an increase in the spiritual fruit of faith, love, and hope.  We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in Heaven, of which you heard before in the Word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth (Colossians 1:3-6).


# 5 of 30 – The Working of the Word


This is # 5 of 30 ways that God’s Word, the Bible, works in the lives of His people.

God’s Word gives the believer hope. I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word (Psalm 119:147).

What We Shall Be

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2).

Across the street from my home there is a 300-room hotel going up. When the hotel is opened, occupants will be able to look down right into my living room windows!

Because of our continual rainy weather, the 5-level building is covered in plastic so the work can go on. Once in a while, the construction workers will move the sheets of plastic and I’ll get a peek at what’s going on underneath, but most of what the hotel will be is hidden for now.

Early Christians were troubled when their saved friends and loved ones died. The Apostle Paul wrote to encourage and comfort them, explaining why believers don’t mourn over death like the unsaved do. The Bible’s great funeral text says that death comes with hope (1 Thess 4:12-18).

When a Christian dies, his spirit immediately goes into the presence of God in Heaven (2 Cor 5:6, 8). His body goes into the grave awaiting the resurrection of all believers, when mortality is transformed into immortality. In the resurrection, the body will be reunited with the soul and spend eternity in fellowship with God (John 5:29). At the same time, the bodies of living believers will be transformed and also rise to be with Christ in Heaven.

Like the hotel being constructed underneath the plastic, we don’t know everything about these resurrected bodies, but we do know a few things.

For the child of God, your resurrected body will be like Christ’s resurrected body (1 Cor 15:49-53). After His resurrection, Jesus ate food (Lk 24:42-43), and could touch and be touched (Jn 20:27). He had flesh and bone, but no blood (Lk 24:39) and was not bound by time or space so He could appear and disappear (Jn 20:19; Lk 24:31). More importantly, we will be made like Jesus in character, free from sin and the affects of sin.

For now, the details of these bodies is hidden from us, like the hotel across the street. To go beyond Scripture is to go beyond God, but we know that when Jesus returns, and we see Him as He is, we’ll be made like Him. Until then, everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure (1 John 3:3).


We Do Not Lose Heart

Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16).

Paul knew the difference between his outward body and his inward man.

The outward man is the physical person we see each time we take a selfie or look in the mirror. It’s the person we watch brush his teeth, feed with three healthy meals, and who lays his head on the pillow at night. This is the “man” who generally gets all the attention despite that the Bible teaching that this man is perishing because of sin. It’s just like us to try and uphold what is terminally failing to the point of death.

Because of sin, the physical person we know is headed back to our initial starting point: And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 2:7; 3:19). There’s  nothing we can do to slow or stop that downward slide caused by sin.

On the other hand, those who are brought into the New Covenant of grace through the blood of Jesus aren’t discouraged by our frailty. Instead, we do not lose heart. Yes, the outward man is perishing, but the inward man is being renewed day by day!

Every trial and tribulation adds another wrinkle or achy join outwardly, but serves only to build inner strength because we learn to humbly, hopefully, and prayerfully depend on Jesus more and more.

My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me … For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).


The Believer’s Hope and Joy

Have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called (Ephesians 4:1).

Yesterday we learned of the death of Dr RC Sproul (1939-2017), a man who had a profound impact on both my beliefs and my preaching. Even at the end of his life, when he could no longer breathe, he made every effort to continue teaching the Bible. For a preacher, it’s all you can do!

The Bible says that for the believer, to be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord in Heaven (2 Cor 5:8). Upon hearing the news of Dr Sproul’s entrance into the presence of God, I thought of Jesus calling His apostles.

In Matthew 4:18-22 we’re told Jesus found brothers Peter and Andrew hard at their job as fishermen. He said, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. The Bible says the two immediately left their nets and followed Him (Mt 4:20). A bit further on Jesus found two more brothers, James and John in the boat with Zebedee their father … and He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him (Mt 4:21, 22).

Imagine, in both instances, those whom Jesus called left everything to immediately be with Jesus. Without hesitation they left their employment. They abandoned their livelihood. They departed from their own families. Can you image what Zebedee said when his two sons left in the middle of the work day?

When Jesus called Dr Sproul, he didn’t linger. He didn’t say, “Lord, just give me a few more days with my family. Heal me so I can live a longer and more productive life.” No, when Jesus called, RC immediately left this world behind to be with Jesus. He lived to be worthy of the One who called him.

Suppose I was going to Disneyland. You wouldn’t be sad that I was going to California to be welcomed by Mickey Mouse into his Magic Kingdom. You would be glad. Your sadness would be that you’re not going along. So it is with God’s people whom He calls home.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints (Ps 116:15). We should rejoice in what God rejoices. So we are reminded that in death we do not sorrow as others who have no hope (1 Thess 4:13). Death for the child of God is not a time to mourn like those with no hope, but a time for joy and personal longing to also be with Jesus.


God’s Plans to Prosper You

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

There is a reason why some verses come before others and chapters precede others. Context dictates meaning and you can’t talk about Jeremiah 29:11 before pitching a tent on Jeremiah 29:8-9:

Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are in your midst deceive you, nor listen to your dreams which you cause to be dreamed. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them, says the Lord.

Humanly speaking, in the day when the prosperity gospel has preoccupied our lives, we find nothing good to smile about in Jeremiah 29:8-9 but we find everything to be glad about in Jeremiah 29:11 because of words like plan, prosper, hope, peace, and not evil. While some words and concepts take us captive because of the goodness they carry, we should held captive by accurate biblical interpretation.

Jeremiah 29 crushed the false hope the surviving elders of the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon (Jeremiah 29:2). Their false hope was propagated by false prophets and dreamers who lied to them, saying that God was going to free them from the captivity in two years (Jeremiah 27:9). That didn’t happen; it was 70 years. A whopping difference of 68 years! That’s how colossal false prophets cross-stitch Scripture.

The Jews desperately wanted to return to Jerusalem, but God had taken them to exile as punishment for their disobedience. Yet He promised to return them after slavery in Babylon.

The context of Jeremiah 29:11 is Israel’s mantra of enduring pain for 70 years. God expected them to stay where they were, persevere, serve king Nebuchadnezzar, and help prosper the nation that enslaved them (Jeremiah 27:6-7). His plan wasn’t to escape trials but to persevere through trials.

The promise isn’t for you, but we can learn a thing from the passage about God’s character and our Christian living. God expects us to confidently say; Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4). Because in the world we will have tribulation (John 16:33).


Doubly Secure

My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).

My wife laughed uncontrollably as she watched the video of the grandson taking his first steps. Isaac stood on his own like a pro and then wobbled and hobbled a few steps before jerking and teetering like the toy tin robot I had as a child. Unable to control his speed, he finally fell.

Spiritually, I feel strong, but I know how truly weak and feeble I really am. I know the sin that so easily sits under the surface of every moment, ready to knock me to the ground and bloody my lip. I’m aware of the pride and self-sufficiency that follows me through my day, and the lusts and doubts that haunt my nights.

Jesus promised to give His sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand (John 10:28). He holds me securely in His hand, and if that isn’t enough, as if His strength could ever fail or falter, I’m also held in the hand of the Father. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand (John 10:29). I’m kept doubly secure.

My faith, my hope, and my eternal soul are not secure because of any strength in me. I have none. But I do trust and rejoice that I am kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5).


The Perfect Man

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself … holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:25-27c).

I’ve got the best wife in the world, at least the best for me. She is supportive when I lack faith, encourages me with hope in disappointments, listens when I need a friend, goes along with my spontaneous road trips to Wyoming, laughs even when I’m not trying to be funny, is my partner in ministry I can always count on, and loves me despite my every fault.

I admit that I’m not a perfect husband. Not. Even. Close. I continually pray that God provides in Himself what I lack toward my wife, and that He grows in me in the ways I need to be a better husband.

God never expects us to be perfect husbands, but He does expect us to love our wives. That means that I give up myself and my dreams and wants for what is best for her. It means that my highest priority in our marriage is not to make her happy, but to encourage her in holiness and godliness.

Husband, love your wife as Christ loves the Church.


We Wait for His Son

Photograph of the solar eclipse seen in Oregon, USA August 21, 2017

We wait for His Son from Heaven, who He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

I live within the path of the recent solar eclipse of the sun. Some Americans believed this passing of the moon between the sun and the earth was a sign of the end of the world. They were sure it would announce the return of Jesus or the advent of the Antichrist. They twisted together speculation and Scripture taken out of context for their strange doctrine. In doing so they created fear and raised money while maligning Jesus Christ and His holy Word.

As Christians, we eagerly await the return of Jesus from Heaven. We look for Him – who died for the Church and was raised from the dead for the Church – to return in the clouds and gather His Church unto Himself to forever be with Him. We anticipate Jesus Christ, not the Antichrist.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 11). We have comfort, joy, hope, and demonstrate lives of godliness in Jesus, we don’t live in despair and fear over the future.