Paul tells us God adopted us simply because he loves us: “According to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:5-6).
You may say, “I know God’s Word says I’m accepted and I know Jesus gave me direct access to the throne of grace. But I’m too ashamed to draw near. I still struggle with powerful temptation and I still sin on occasion. The only prayer I can utter is, ‘God, help me.’”
Answer this simple question: Do you love Jesus? Are you his child? Is he your high priest who intercedes for you? If so, the Scripture says it doesn’t matter what you’ve done. You have the right to enter into his presence, to find all the mercy and grace you need. In fact, it’s at just such a time that he acts as your high priest.
“We do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Christ is telling us, “I can discern your every thought, good or evil. I see every secret ambition, every secret lust and deed. Yet still I invite you to come boldly to my throne. I long to give you all the grace and mercy you so desperately need.”
Some Christians think their prayers won’t be accepted because they’ve neglected to pray for too long. For months, even years, God’s Spirit has urged them to come closer but they have built up a reservoir of guilt which made them neglect to pray.
“They go down again to the depths … Then they cry out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm … Then they are glad” (Psalm 107:26- 30).
You can trust God to love, forgive and care for you even though you’ve neglected him. If you can forgive a loved one who has hurt you, how much more will our loving Savior forgive and bless you — his beloved child!
“War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail … So the great dragon was cast out … he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:7-9).
We are in a war between two eternal powers: Satan’s principalities and powers, and God’s only Son, Jesus. This war started eons ago in heaven with the archangel Michael and an army of angels fighting against Lucifer and the rebellious angels who had aligned themselves with him.
Satan lost the battle and was cast down to earth with the other insubordinate angels (who comprised a third of all the angels of heaven) and he began waging war against God’s people. He appointed demon-possessed people to be prophets, teachers, even rulers of nations, and he sent them forth to spread his unholy “gospel.” But the devil had a problem. He couldn’t win converts through his teachings or persuade anyone of his gospel because it didn’t produce life or provide peace, joy or power over enslaving sin. So he had to resort to warfare.
The war Satan wages has always been against God’s people, those who believe and preach Jesus Christ as Lord. But our Lord is never caught off guard. He knows the end from the beginning and he knew Satan’s flood against the church had to be thwarted before it consumed them.
The Lord proclaims: “The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings … You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet” (Malachi 4:2-3). When hell seems to have won, heaven will cry, “Help is on the way. Don’t fear! The gates of hell will not prevail against God’s people.”
What a day it will be when evil men realize that the very name they tried to wipe out completely now stands before them as their Judge. Our Lord’s divinity will be undeniable and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
Jesus asked the twelve disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” and Peter answered, “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:29). May our answer be the same as Peter’s — and may that be our confession before the whole world, now and forever. Jesus has won the war!
“Early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them” (John 8:2, NLT).
Jesus’ reputation had spread far and wide because he spoke profound words and performed powerful works of God. Yet, no sooner had this crowd of commoners gathered than the religious leaders showed up.
“As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd. ‘Teacher,’ they said to Jesus, ‘this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’” (8:3-5). These leaders saw Jesus as a threat to their authority because he exposed their rigid, self-justifying practices and they were trying to trap him (see 8:6).
The scene unfolded dramatically. Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger and, as they continued to demand an answer, he stood up and said, “All right, let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped again and wrote in the dust — and the accusers slipped away one by one.
“Then Jesus … said to the woman, ‘Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?’ ‘No, Lord,’ she said. And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I. Go and sin no more’” (8:10-11).
As Jesus defused a highly charged situation, he used the moment to deliver one of his most famous teachings: “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (8:12). God’s light in that moment altered everything!
Jesus transformed every heart present — what an amazing moment. The powerful love behind God’s grace was revealed and in the crowd’s eyes this was a miracle that immediately transformed them. Jesus used that stunning moment to teach about the cross: “When you have lifted up the Son of Man on the cross, then you will understand I am he. I do nothing on my own but say only what the Father taught me … Then many who heard him say these things believed in him” (8:28-30).
Every time you act as Jesus did, extending grace to those marginalized by sin, you take part in a great transformation. All through the amazing grace of our Savior!
After Peter and John ministered to a crippled beggar outside the temple gate and the man was healed, they began to boldly preach repentance and minister to the people. “Many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand” (Acts 4:4). As a result of their witness, Peter and John were brought before the high priest and elders. “And when they had set them in the midst, they asked them, ‘By what power or by what name have you done this?’” (4:7).
This hearing was orchestrated to intimidate Peter and John but it had the opposite effect. Peter must have thought, “Thank you, Jesus, for allowing me to preach your name to these Christ-haters.” This tells us that Peter wasn’t going to deliver a lecture, quiet and reserved. No, he was a Jesus-possessed man, bursting with the Holy Spirit, ready to proclaim the truth!
Peter’s boldness wasn’t a brassy, condemning word, however. His aim wasn’t to judge or belittle those religious leaders. He only wanted them to see their sin and repent. That’s why he gave an altar call, saying, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (4:12).
The rulers were astonished. “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained me, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (4:13).
Peter must have winked at John and perhaps thought, “They remember that we were with Jesus weeks ago but they don’t realize we’ve been with the resurrected Master ever since.” The two men were just recently with him in the upper room and that morning, they were with him as they prayed in their cell.
This is what happens with men and women who spend time with Jesus. Even when they come away from their time with Christ, he’s with them wherever they go.
When the crisis strikes, you don’t have time to build yourself up in prayer and faith — those who have been with Jesus are always ready. Truly, this is a blessed assurance.
Those who spend time with Jesus can’t get enough of him! Their hearts continually cry out to know the Master better, to draw closer to him, to grow in the knowledge of his ways.
Paul states, “God has dealt to each one a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3). The “measure” Paul speaks of means a limited amount; in other words, we’ve all received a certain amount of the saving knowledge of Christ.
Some believers are completely satisfied with their initial “measure.” It’s just enough to escape judgment, to feel forgiven, to keep a good reputation. Such people are in “maintenance mode” and they give Jesus the bare requirements: church attendance, a muttered daily prayer, perhaps a quick glance at Scripture. In short, they avoid getting too close to Jesus. They know that if they read much of his Word or spend time praying, the Holy Spirit will make demands on their lives.
Paul desired so much for every believer: “He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints … till we all … grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-13, 15).
Paul was saying, in essence, “God has given these spiritual gifts so you may be filled up with Christ’s Spirit. This is crucial, because deceivers are coming to rob you of your faith. If you’re rooted in Christ and maturing in him, no deceptive doctrine will ever sway you. Yet the only way to grow to such maturity is by seeking more of Jesus.”
Many believers prefer a gospel that speaks only of grace, love and forgiveness — marvelous biblical truths, to be sure — but according to Paul, this is not the meat that a mature life requires. You will not grow to full stature in Christ if you refuse to hear a gospel that provokes you to seek the Lord and walk in his holiness.
The more someone is with Jesus, the more that person becomes like him — in purity, holiness and love. In turn, his pure walk produces in him a great boldness for God.