A Finished Work

Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.

~ Philippians 1:6

God does not leave us unfinished, half done, incomplete Christians. He who began the good work of salvation, finishes that glorious work until the day of Christ Jesus. What the Bible is teaching us here is that God does not forget nor forsake those He calls to Himself. That once we are called unto salvation, God through Christ, ultimately sees us through to the end. The work of salvation is a persevering work. And this beloved is where our assurance and our hope stem from – from the goodness and grace of our God.

~ apl

No Condemnation

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus

~ Romans 8:1 (NKJV)

“It is the unspeakable privilege and comfort of all those that are in Christ Jesus that there is therefore now no condemnation to them. He does not say, “There is no accusation against them,” for this there is but the accusation is thrown out, and the indictment quashed. He does not say, “There is nothing in them that deserves condemnation,” for this there is, and they see it, and own it, and mourn over it, and condemn themselves for it but it shall not be their ruin. He does not say, “There is no cross, no affliction to them or no displeasure in the affliction,” for this there may be but no condemnation. They may be chastened of the Lord, but not condemned with the world. Now this arises from their being in Christ Jesus by virtue of their union with him through faith they are thus secured.”

~ Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible

Enkindle In US

O God, Who art the unsearchable abyss of peace, the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings, and the bestower of affection, Who sendest peace to those that receive it; open to us this day the sea of Thy love, and water us with the plenteous streams from the riches of Thy grace. Make us children of quietness, and heirs of peace. Enkindle in us the fire of Thy love; sow in us Thy fear; strengthen our weakness by Thy power; bind us closely to Thee and to each other in one firm bond of unity; for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen.

~ Syrian Clementine Liturgy 380 A.D.

At The Cross

It is at the cross where God’s Law and God’s grace are both most brilliantly displayed, where His justice and His mercy are both glorified. But it is also at the cross where we are most humbled. It is at the cross where we admit to God and to ourselves that there is absolutely nothing we can do to earn or merit our salvation.

~ Jerry Bridges (1929-2016)

To the Saints in Colossae

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

~ Colossians 1:1-2 (NKJV)

Paul begins his letter to the Church at Colossae in his customary manner. He addresses his position and authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ who is so by nothing less than the divine will of God. In this case, Paul adds to his greeting Timothy, his faithful protégé, who had been accompanying him on his missionary journeys. The Apostle has written an epistle to the saints, the Spirit wrought believers in Christ, who worship, live, serve and fellowship together in Colossae, the celebrated city of Phrygia, in Asia Minor.

To these beloved people, both men and women alike, Paul offers his introductory benediction: Grace and peace… These words are meant to summarize what it means to belong to Christ. To know the grace and peace that comes from God our Father is to know the Lord Jesus Christ. For in Christ alone, is there grace and peace with a holy, just and righteous God. Meditate on that phrase for a moment, “in Christ”, for it is in Him all the blessings and goodness of God dwell.

Christians today should do all they can to exhibit the grace and peace of God to others. How desperately this sin-darkened world needs to embrace saving grace and experience godly peace. If you yourself are “in Christ”, then you can be a divine instrument for spreading the grace and peace of God among your neighbors, friends and family. Let us, like the Apostle Paul, be eager to be in this holy service of sharing the grace and peace of the Lord that others may to come to taste of Jesus Christ, and know that He is good.

Where Our Minds Are

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy–meditate on these things.

~ Philippians 4:8

The old adage goes something like this: “Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action, reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character, reap a destiny.” The thoughts of our mind ultimately become the destiny of our life. The thoughts we entertain, like the charts on a ship, set our lives on a particular course. And this course charted for us by our thoughts can be for better or worse depending on what thoughts we allow ourselves to cultivate and take root in our mind.

In our text today, the Apostle Paul exhorts the Christians at Philippi to constrain their thoughts, to discipline their minds, to focus, to think or meditate on such things that please the Lord and conform their thinking to such lofty ideals that bring about His honor and glory. He tells these believers, whatever is true, whatever is lovely or of good report, whatsoever has virtue or is praiseworthy, that it is in these things; it is here where our heart and mind should lie.

The inward topics our mind should dwell on should tend towards outward holiness and righteousness in our life, not away from it. The characteristics of truth, love and virtue are of a godly sort. These are the attributes of thought and attitudes of heart those who follow Christ should seek to develop because they will move us ultimately closer to Him.

Two of the most beneficial ways to train our minds to dwell on such noble things are Scripture reading and prayer. Through these two means of grace, our minds, which are by nature opposed to such thoughts, will, by God’s grace, slowly yet surely bend towards His goodness and glory. But like in our passage, Christians must be reminded of our duty in this regard.

So, are you actively seeking to conform your thoughts to such characteristics as Paul describes here in Philippians? Do you find your mind wandering into areas of unrighteousness which may lead to sinful patterns of life? Do you make diligent use of Scripture and prayer to help keep you on course towards holy and pure living? May we seek God’s help to do so.

~ apl

The Prayers of St. Paul – Pt. 2

Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me

~ Romans 15:30 (NKJV)

In this verse, taken from Romans 15, there are really two precepts on prayer that might be culled away. But for the purpose of this brief essay, I would like to only consider one with any real depth. The first principle is believers ought to strive together in prayer. The collective voice of Christ’s church is a powerful weapon against His enemies and a wonderful sound in the ear of God. Here, the Apostle Paul touches on this seeking other Christians to join him in prayer.

This leads me into the main point I hope we can take from this passage: The Apostle Paul strives in prayer for himself. Notice how he asks others to unite “with me in prayer to God for me” (emphasis mine). St. Paul knew the necessity of a prayer life which included supplication for himself. If you look at the verses which follow, you will read some of the specific items of concern both Paul and the others are praying about on his behalf. Paul prays on his own behalf to God “that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe” and “that my service for Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints” (vs.31). Likewise, he asks, “that I may come to you with joy by the will of God, and may be refreshed together with you” (vs.32). Paul prayed for himself so he might faithfully labor in the service of God and be spiritually strengthened to serve others.

The mighty apostle knew lifting up his own spiritual needs before the Lord was essential to fruitful and meaningful service in the name of Jesus Christ. It is never self-centered to pray for ourselves. And to the first point, neither is it to ask others to strive together with us in prayer. Yet, confessing our own sins and admitting our own needs before the Lord ourselves, is a vital step in walking with God, growing in grace, and being a true blessing to our fellow man.

~ apl

Father, Please Give Me

Gracious and holy Father, please give me intellect to understand you, reason to discern you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, a spirit to know you, a heart to meditate upon you, ears to hear you, eyes to see you, a tongue to proclaim you, a way of life pleasing to you, patience to wait for you, and perseverance to look for you. Grant me a perfect end, your holy presence, a blessed resurrection, and life everlasting. Amen.

~ Benedict of Nursia (480-547)