Today’s devotion comes from Romans 14:10-12.

“But you, why do you judge your brother?  Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt?  For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.  For it is written,

“AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME,
AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”

So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”  Romans 14:10-12.

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At first reading of today’s Scripture, we may tempted to shrink back in fear.  But, when we read the context of the source of these verses, we are surprised at the hope that there is in the context.

“21 “Declare and set forth your case;
Indeed, let them consult together.
Who has announced this from of old?
Who has long since declared it?
Is it not I, the Lord?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A righteous God and a Savior;
There is none except Me.
22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 “I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
24 “They will say of Me, ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame.
25 “In the Lord all the offspring of Israel
Will be justified and will glory.”  Isaiah 45:21-25.

In other words, it is God Who successfully saves all of His elect such that in the language of this Scripture in verses 24-25:  “They will say of Me, ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’  Men will come to Him, …  “In the Lord all the offspring of Israel Will be justified and will glory.”  Now, we see how this fits well with Paul’s paraphrase in verse 11:  “EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.”

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad;  for the tree is known by its fruit.  You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good?  For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.  The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good;  and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil.  But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.  For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”  Matthew 12:33-37.

In other words, God makes all of His elect good trees producing good fruit.  God makes all of His elect to possess good treasure out of which His elect will say words that “give praise to God” in the language of Paul in verse 11 and in the language of Matthew:  “For by your words you will be justified”.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely;  and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.”  Jude 1:24.

In other words, yes, “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.”, but through God’s grace and work, we will do so “without blame” and “with great joy”.

In conclusion, understanding Scripture and living by faith and enduring through the grace of God, we do not shrink back to destruction, but we receive what was promised:  eternal life.

“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE,
HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.
BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH;
AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.

But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”  Hebrews 10:36-39.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | March 18, 2020

“we are the Lord’s.”

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 14:5-9.

“One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike.  Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.  He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God;  and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God.  For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;  for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord;  therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.  For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.”  Romans 14:5-9.

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“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable.  All things are lawful, but not all things edify.  Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor.”  1 Corinthians 10:23-24.

“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;  just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.”  1 Corinthians 10:31-33.

We can do all to the glory of God, because “we are the Lord’s”.  The Lord “makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.”  My only comfort in life and death is “That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ”.  Question and Answer 1 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Q. 1.  What is thy only comfort in life and death?

A.  That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ;  who, with His precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil;  and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head;  yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.  Heidelberg Catechism.

“For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself;  for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord;  therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.”  Verses 7-8.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | March 17, 2020

“the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 4:1-4.

“Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions.  One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only.  The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him.  Who are you to judge the servant of another?  To his own master he stands or falls;  and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”  Romans 4:1-4.

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Praise God that “the Lord is able to make him stand.”  What a help and comfort!  It affects our attitude to other believers as taught in today’s Scripture.  But, it does so much more.

This is “Preservation of the Saints”, the “P” of “TULIP”, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation more fully taught in the Canons of Dordt.

Article 3.  By reason of these remains of indwelling sin, and the temptations of sin and of the world, those who are converted could not persevere in a state of grace, if left to their own strength.  But God is faithful, who having conferred grace, mercifully confirms, and powerfully preserves them herein, even to the end.  FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Perseverance of the Saints.

“For the LORD loves justice
And does not forsake His godly ones;
They are preserved forever,
But the descendants of the wicked will be cut off.”  Psalm 37:28.

“You, O LORD, will not withhold Your compassion from me;
Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.”  Psalm 40:11.

“Hate evil, you who love the LORD,
Who preserves the souls of His godly ones;
He delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”  Psalm 97:10.

“You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.”  Psalm 139:5.

“7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9 If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10 Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”  Psalm 139:7-10.

“This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.”  John 6:39.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;  and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish;  and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all;  and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29.

“While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me;  and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.”  John 17:12.

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.  For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called;  and these whom He called, He also justified;  and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”  Romans 8:28-30.

“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely;  and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.”  1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.  Amen.”  Jude 1:24.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 13:8-14.

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another;  for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.  For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  Love does no wrong to a neighbor;  therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep;  for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.  The night is almost gone, and the day is near.  Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.  Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”  Romans 13:8-14.

—————–

“and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”  Ephesians 4:24.

“I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 2:20.

“For you were called to freedom, brethren;  only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;  for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.  …  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:13-17 and 22-24.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:1-2.

“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”  Romans 6:22.

Today’s devotion is a special devotion devoted to our National Day of Prayer.

“12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
The people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

13 The LORD looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men;
14 From His dwelling place He looks out
On all the inhabitants of the earth,
15 He who fashions the hearts of them all,
He who understands all their works.
16 The king is not saved by a mighty army;
A warrior is not delivered by great strength.
17 A horse is a false hope for victory;
Nor does it deliver anyone by its great strength.

18 Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,
19 To deliver their soul from death
And to keep them alive in famine.”  Psalm 33:12-19.

Dear Heavenly Father:

On this National Day of Prayer, we come to You not based on our wisdom, strength, nor other merit deserving Your protection from this coronavirus.  We come to you humbly and plea:  “Have mercy on us!”

We are Your nation, Your people, Your children.  

We trust in You and pray for Your protection and deliverance from this coronavirus.

In Your Word, You state:

“5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night,
Or of the arrow that flies by day;
6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
7 A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
8 You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9 For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.”  Psalm 91:5-10.

Please protect and heal us.  Please comfort us and give us peace.  Please guide and bless us.

“2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
3 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
4 Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5 Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”  Psalm 103:2-5.

“22 The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.”  Lamentations 3:22-23.

In Jesus’ name, we pray.  Amen.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 13:1-7.

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.  For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.  Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God;  and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.  For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil.  Do you want to have no fear of authority?  Do what is good and you will have praise from the same;  for it is a minister of God to you for good.  But if you do what is evil, be afraid;  for it does not bear the sword for nothing;  for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.  Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake.  For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.  Render to all what is due them:  tax to whom tax is due;  custom to whom custom;  fear to whom fear;  honor to whom honor.”  Romans 13:1-7.

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Today’s teaching (“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities.”) is clearly established and detailed in today’s Scripture and needs no further comment.

Today’s devotion will focus on the basis of the authority of governing authorities which is God’s authority, or in other words, the sovereignty of God.  

“…  For there is no authority except from God, …”  Verse 1.

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.”  Psalm 103:19.

Yet, we vainly seek freedom and independence.  We even want our salvation determined by our alleged free-will.

“Why are the nations in an uproar
And the peoples devising a vain thing?
2 The kings of the earth take their stand
And the rulers take counsel together
Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us tear their fetters apart
And cast away their cords from us!”  Psalm 2:1-3.

We think God will release us or at least back-off and at least us allow to control our own salvation.

But, God does not release nor back-off one bit.

“For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.”  So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.  …  So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.”  Romans 9:15-16 and 18.

God laughs at our vain attempt to be released from His total sovereignty over all.  God scoffs at us, and then terrifies us.

“4 He who sits in the heavens laughs,
The Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then He will speak to them in His anger
And terrify them in His fury, saying,
6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King
Upon Zion, My holy mountain.”

7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD:
He said to Me, ‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.
8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.’”  Psalm 2:4-9.

But, there is hope!

“10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment;
Take warning, O judges of the earth.
11 Worship the LORD with reverence
And rejoice with trembling.
12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way,
For His wrath may soon be kindled.
How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!”  Psalm 2:10-12.

Other doctrine takes refuge in its own wisdom and its own alleged free-will.

But, Reformed Doctrine takes refuge in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to provide all that is necessary for salvation.

Consider what the Heidelberg Catechism states.

Q. 30.  Do such then believe in Jesus the only Savior, who seek their salvation and welfare of saints, of themselves, or anywhere else?

A.  They do not;  for though they boast of Him in words, yet in deeds they deny Jesus the only deliverer and Savior;  for one of these two things must be true, either that Jesus is not a complete Savior, or that they who by a true faith receive this Savior must find all things in Him necessary to their salvation.

Also, consider what the Canons of Dordt states in the section SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby.

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father;  that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing;  and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.  

“…  But if you do what is evil, be afraid;  for it does not bear the sword for nothing;  for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.  Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, …”  Verses 4-5.

“6 “Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power,
Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
7 “And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You;
You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.” Exodus 15:6-7.

“But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”  Luke 19:27.

 

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | March 12, 2020

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 12:14-21.

“Bless those who persecute you;  bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another;  do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.  Do not be wise in your own estimation.  Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.  Respect what is right in the sight of all men.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord.  “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK;  FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  Romans 12:14-21.

———————

“Why do you boast in evil, O mighty man?
The lovingkindness of God endures all day long.”  Psalm 52:1.

“8 But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God;
I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever.
9 I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.”  Psalm 52:8-9.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;  and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character;  and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Romans 5:1-5.

Through the lovingkindness and peace given to us by God which endures all day long, we can have peace in a world that contains those who persecute us, in a world that weeps, and in a world that has enemies and evil.

Through the lovingkindness and peace given to us by God which endures all day long, we can bless and not curse.

Through the lovingkindness and peace given to us by God which endures all day long, we can feed our enemy.

Through the lovingkindness and peace given to us by God which endures all day long, we can overcome evil with good.

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you have tribulation, but take courage;  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 12:9-13.

“Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil;  cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;  give preference to one another in honor;  not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;  rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”  Romans 12:9-13.

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Today’s Scripture presents examples of “what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” which examples bubble out of us who have been transformed by the work of God.

We remember the verse at the beginning of this chapter which presented the foundation.  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:2.

“and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”  Ephesians 4:23-24.

This is the work of God which transforms us and renews our mind.

Consider what the Canons of Dordt states in the section THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.

Article 11.  But when God accomplishes his good pleasure in the elect, or works in them true conversion, he not only causes the gospel to be externally preached to them, and powerfully illumines their minds by his Holy Spirit, that they may rightly understand and discern the things of the Spirit of God;  but by the efficacy of the same regenerating Spirit, pervades the inmost recesses of the man;  he opens the closed, and softens the hardened heart, and circumcises that which was uncircumcised, infuses new qualities into the will, which though heretofore dead, he quickens;  from being evil, disobedient and refractory, he renders it good, obedient, and pliable;  actuates and strengthens it, that like a good tree, it may bring forth the fruits of good actions.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 12:3-8.

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think;  but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.  For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly:  if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;  if service, in his serving;  or he who teaches, in his teaching;  or he who exhorts, in his exhortation;  he who gives, with liberality;  he who leads, with diligence;  he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.”  Romans 12:3-8.

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Today’s Scripture instructs us to exercise our spiritual gifts according to the proportion of our faith.

First, we believe that we are God’s workmanship created for good works and that God gave us a spiritual gift to do those good works, so we exercise that spiritual gift out of such faith.  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

Second, we believe that God gives us the will to use that spiritual gift and that God also works within us to use that spiritual gift, so we exercise that spiritual gift out of such faith.  “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

Third, we believe that God will perfect our use of that spiritual gift, so we exercise that spiritual gift out of such faith.  “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

Today’s devotion comes from Romans 12:1-2.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.  And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Romans 12:1-2.

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Our tendency when we read such exhortations of duty is to focus on ourselves and try harder through the flesh.

But, we cannot do so through the flesh, “because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God;  for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”  Romans 8:7-8.

“Are you so foolish?  Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  Galatians 3:3.

Specifically, consider the highest demands in today’s Scripture.

First, we are exhorted:  “present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice”.

How can we do that?!  In the flesh, we are dead in sin!  

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, n which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”  Ephesians 2:1-3.

Second, we are exhorted:  “prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” 

How can we do that?!  We cannot even be good, much less perfect!

“10 as it is written,

“THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”  Romans 3:10-12.

And yet, every Sunday, other doctrine just exhorts us to focus on ourselves and try harder.

But, Reformed Doctrine exhorts us to focus on God and God’s work within us.

Here is our hope!

“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;  and these whom He predestined, He also called;  and these whom He called, He also justified;  and these whom He justified, He also glorified.”  Romans 8:28-30.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:17-18.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh;  for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.  …  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:16-17 and 22-24.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature;  the old things passed away;  behold, new things have come.”  2 Corinthians 5:17.

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”  Ephesians 2:10.

“and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”  Ephesians 4:23-24.

“I have been crucified with Christ;  and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me;  and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”  Galatians 2:20.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”  Romans 6:22.

“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 1:6.

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