What can cleanse our sinful hearts?

And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Mark 7:20-23 (Read v. 14-23)

It is not enough to be cleansed on the outside. Cleansing one’s hands before eating will not make a person clean before God. Our real problem is the uncleanness and sinfulness of our hearts.

Jesus explains in Matthew 15:17-20: “Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”
Our sinful nature, inherited from Adam, is the cause of our uncleanness before God and moves us to commit all sorts of sinful acts.

St. Paul, quoting the Old Testament Scriptures, further explains man’s sinfulness in Romans 3:10ff. In Jeremiah 17:9, God’s Word says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” Or, as David wrote in Psalm 51, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (v. 5).

That is why we need to be cleansed by the blood of Jesus which was shed on the cross for the sins of the world (cf. Hebrews 9:22). Because of our sin-infected hearts, we cannot be clean of ourselves and we cannot cleanse ourselves. The only way to be counted clean before God is to have our sins washed away in Jesus’ blood.

Again, as God’s Word says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). And why is this so? “And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2).

As the 1876 hymn of Robert Lowry states in its opening verse, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus; What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

O dearest Jesus, grant that we not attempt to be clean by our own works but rather acknowledge the sinfulness of our hearts and trust in You and Your shed blood for pardon, forgiveness and cleansing. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

America ought to heed the wisdom of Psalm 33

The words of Psalm 33:12 say: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” For many generations, that applied to America, because the people, for the most part, gave honor to the LORD God — notice that I said LORD God because our people sought to honor a specific God, the LORD God of the Bible (LORD is how most translations reflect the Hebrew name of God sometimes translated Jehovah or Yahweh). Now, however, references to God have become generic and could mean the god of any religion; and yet for many, any reference to God is condemned. The words of Psalm 33 may apply to many in America but no longer to our nation, for our nation has rejected the God of the Bible.

Our nation and people would do well to consider the truths professed in the psalm. Consider this: “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6-9).

Sadly, our nation has rejected the creation account of Genesis in favor of an unproven theory — a theory which is becoming more and more ridiculous as we learn more and more about the complexities of our world and all life in it, down to the smallest creature. And since evolution rather than creation is taught to our children at every turn as though it were a proven fact, should we be surprised to see our children begin to live and act like the animals they are taught they are? In the face of the meaningless existence taught in our schools, perhaps I should mention this truth: “For the word of the LORD is right, and all His work is done in truth. He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (v.4-5).

I could also mention this: “The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect. The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (v. 10-11). Try as we may to cast off the God of the Bible, the plans of our nation and ungodly rulers will ultimately come to nothing. God’s plans, on the other hand, will stand forever and touch every generation.

America, it seems, has become more and more dependent upon its great technology and military might. The truth, however is this: “No king is saved by the multitude of an army; a mighty man is not delivered by great strength. A horse is a vain hope for safety; neither shall it deliver any by its great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine” (v. 16-19). America’s strength will fail, but those who honor the LORD God of the Bible and place their hope in His mercy for the sake of Christ Jesus and His innocent sufferings and death on the cross for the sins of the world will be delivered from death and kept alive in times of famine and shortage.

Yes, America and all the nations and people of this world would be wise to humble themselves before the LORD God of the Bible who created and sustains the world and everyone in it. They would be wise to acknowledge their foolishness in not honoring Him or listening to His Word. They would be wise to trust in Him and hope in His mercy for Jesus’ sake. They would be wise to give the LORD God the honor and praise due His name.

“Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Your mercy, O LORD, be upon us, just as we hope in You” (v. 20-22).

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How and when did God create the earth?

How did God create the heavens and the earth?

Again, the Bible says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” (Genesis 1:1-3; Read all of Genesis 1 and 2).

The Hebrew word for “created” in verse one is ברא (bara) and indicates that God created all out of nothing. He called it into existence by saying, “Let there be,” and “There was.”

The Scriptures echo this truth throughout.

Psalm 33:6 says: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”

Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

These words teach us the truth that God created all things and sustains them by the power of His word.

The Bible says of the Son of God, in Hebrews 1:2-3: “Whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high….”

So, what has God done? He created all things out of nothing. He created and called all into being by His all-powerful word. And, it is by that same creating word that all continues to exist.

It is as Nehemiah wrote (9:6): “You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You.”

When did God create the heavens and the earth?

Again, the Bible answers that question for us when it says: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

Though some would attempt to extend the six days of creation into long periods of time and others would introduce a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 with the claim that the angels were a part of an earlier failed creation, the Bible is quite clear that the six days are literally six days: “So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genensis 1:5), with the same parameters mentioned of each day: “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).

The Bible also makes clear that all things were created within the six days when it says: “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” (Exodus 20:11); and “You alone are the LORD; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You” (Nehemiah 9:6).

When did the six days of creation occur? While it would be a mistake to make a doctrinal issue out of a specific date or year, the Bible’s genealogical records indicate that creation occurred approximately 4,000 years before Christ, or approximately 6,000 years ago – numbers which can be calculated based on the ages of the patriarchs when sons were born to them, the lengths of kings’ reigns and other dates or events in the Bible such as the exile and destruction of the temple (e.g., Genesis 5 and 11; 1 and 2 Kings; 1 and 2 Chronicles).

Though the Bible contradicts modern “scientific” theory regarding the age of the earth, there is no contradiction with the true evidence which suggests a young earth and a catastrophic and universal flood (Genesis 6-8). Believers accept the accuracy of God’s account of creation which is recorded for them in the pages of the Bible.

Test yourself: Are You a Christian?

“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. 2 Corinthians 13:5a

This Word of God calls upon all who call themselves “Christian” to examine and test themselves to see if they are truly in the faith. And this is indeed important, for many deceive themselves and think that all is well with their souls when, in fact, they are living in sin and unbelief!

Are you genuinely sorry for your sins, or are you securely or intentionally continuing on in your sinful ways? Do you trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal salvation, or do you rely upon your own works or life to merit God’s acceptance of you and a place in His heavenly kingdom? Do you sincerely desire, with God’s help, to amend your life and live for Christ in accord with His Word, or are you unwilling to give up some sin or evil practice in your life? These are questions which may help you in examining yourself to see if you are in the faith.

If you are not sorry for all your sins, not trusting in Christ Jesus for salvation, or are not sincerely desiring and seeking to amend your life, you fail the test and ought consider the consequence of continuing in sin and unbelief and repent before it is too late. Cf. Psalm 32; Psalm 51; 1 John 1:5 – 2:6.

The Bible tells us: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).

The Bible also says: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
 
O Dearest Jesus, for the sake of Thy Holy life and innocent sufferings and death upon the cross, forgive me for all my sins and iniquities, cleanse my heart and grant me the sincere desire to amend my sinful ways and live for You. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

How did Life begin? and Who is the Creator?

How did life and all things begin?

How is it that this world and the universe came to be? How did life begin and why does it go on? Is it all the result of chance over extreme lengths of time? Or is it the result of an intelligent creator who wisely designed and created all things?

While many have speculated and theorized, there is one eye-witness account of how all came to be and who is behind it.

Many scoff and criticize this account and offer alternative theories with no foundation in truth in an attempt to escape the accountability which goes with the creation account, but wisdom calls upon us to seek the truth and accept it, along with any accountability which accompanies that truth.

That one eye-witness account is recorded for all to know in the first two chapters of Genesis. It is the account of the Creator Himself, recorded by Moses for all to read and know the truth.

That account begins: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

Who is the Creator?

Who is the Creator? The Bible, which is God’s inspired account, tells us that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

And, who is this God? The Hebrew word, Elohim, which is the plural form of God, is the descriptor used to describe the Creator (cf. Genesis 1:26-27). He is also called by the name Jehovah or Yahweh, often translated LORD. “This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (Genesis 2:4).

The Bible further defines God, when it says: “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live” (1 Corinthians 8:6). Thus we see that all things were created by God the Father through Jesus Christ.

God’s creation account also tells us that, in the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:2). Thus we see that the Holy Spirit, too, was active in the creation of all things.

The opening verses of John’s Gospel tell us: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). Thus we see that the Word, Jesus Christ, identified in v. 14 as God Himself in the flesh and the only-begotten Son of the Father, created all things and is the giver of life, both physical and spiritual.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians, the inspired Scriptures say of Christ Jesus, that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17).

So, who is the Creator? It is God, the God the Scriptures identify for us as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

Though God is one – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronmy 6:4) – God is also three – thus, the command to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). This is why the God of the Bible is often called the Triune (three/one) God, because He is one God and yet three distinct Persons. Thus, the Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. Yet, there are not three Gods, but one God.

The Bible tells us “there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one” (1 John 5:7).

Though beyond our ability to comprehend, this is how God has revealed Himself to us – it is His account and His word. And it is this God who has created all things and given us life.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tradition or Commandment of God?

He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men — the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” Mark 7:6-8 (Read 1-13)

Do religious traditions ever stand in the way of obedience to the Word of God? Indeed, that’s an important question to consider because, so often, it happens.

Consider the scribes and Pharisees in Mark 7. They found fault with Jesus and His disciples because Jesus’ disciples ate without doing the ceremonial washing prescribed by the tradition of the elders. And, as a result, the scribes and Pharisees were unwilling to hear the message of the Gospel proclaimed by Christ Jesus or look to Him for salvation. They even carried their following of tradition so far as to negate God’s command to honor father and mother by saying the money or resources they had were devoted to God upon their death so they could not be used to care for their aging parents.

This prompted Jesus’ words: “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men — the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”

But we must also ask ourselves if our traditions, perhaps also passed down to us from our fathers, ever get in the way of obedience to God’s Word. Does our zealousness for tradition keep us (or others) from hearing the Gospel of forgiveness and life in Christ Jesus?

So, we ask ourselves the question: Tradition or Command of God? If it is the command of God, we must cling to it and seek to follow it; but if it is tradition, it is not sin to discard it. And, if it is tradition, it cannot be elevated to the level of commandment of God.

And, do our traditions stand in the way of hearing the Gospel of life? Do they keep us or others from coming to Jesus and trusting in Him for forgiveness and life? If so, are our traditions worth the cost?

O dearest Jesus, grant us the wisdom to judge ourselves and our traditions that we might never let traditions keep us from following Your Word and that we might never let our traditions keep us or others from hearing the Gospel of forgiveness and life for the sake of Your holy and precious blood shed for all upon the cross. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

‘Blessed are the pure in heart….’

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

The Bible tells us that our hearts, as they are by nature, are “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). This means that our own hearts deceive us into thinking we are pretty good, that our motives are right, and that God would not condemn us. But, it is as Jesus says: “Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies…” (Matthew 15:19). If you don’t believe it, just keep track of how many times in a day evil thoughts go through your mind — how often evil words, hateful thoughts, sexual desires, unjust anger, evil names, selfish ambitions, etc. come out of your heart. And, if that is not enough, consider how little your heart loves to think of God, read His Word or communicate with Him in prayer!

Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The words of Psalm 15 echo the same thought: “LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill? He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart; he who does not backbite with his tongue, nor does evil to his neighbor, nor does he take up a reproach against his friend; in whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors those who fear the LORD; he who swears to his own hurt and does not change; he who does not put out his money at usury, nor does he take a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things shall never be moved.”

So how can any one see God? What hope is there for sinners like you and me?

David prayed: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin….” (Psalm 51:1-2).

Our only hope is in God’s mercy and forgiveness for the sake of His Son, Messiah Jesus. Because God the Son took on human flesh and blood and was born a true man of the Virgin Mary, because He was pure in heart for us, and because He suffered and died upon the cross to pay the just penalty for our sins and rose again in victory, the LORD God is a merciful God, offering and giving to all who look to Him: mercy, forgiveness and life everlasting.

And not only does David pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness, He prays: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). David knew his need for a pure and clean heart, and he knew that only God could create such a heart within him.

And so, we too, ask the LORD our God for mercy and forgiveness, and we pray for clean and pure hearts. We pray that God the Holy Spirit would cleanse our hearts and create in us pure hearts filled with love for God and holy thoughts toward our neighbor.

O God, have mercy upon me and cleanse me of my sins for Jesus’ sake. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and grant that I might see Your face. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Why do we live as if Jesus did not rise?

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb….” John 20:1 (Read John 20:1-18; Cf. Matthew 28:1ff.; Mark 16:1ff.; Luke 24:1ff.; 1 Corinthians 15)

The stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, and the burial clothes of Jesus were lying there; but Jesus was not there — He had risen from the dead! He appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb, to the other women as they ran back into Jerusalem, to Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to all the disciples on numerous occasions, and even to over 500 brethren at once. Angels proclaimed His resurrection, and Jesus’ own followers finally came to understand and believe that Jesus really was alive — He had risen, as He said!

But what about you? Do you believe that Jesus rose bodily from the dead on the third day — that He really is alive? Like Jesus’ first disciples, we too may be “slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). Truly “it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47). The Scriptures foretold how Christ Jesus would suffer and die and bear the iniquity of us all, and how He would rise again in triumph and establish His everlasting kingdom (cf. Isaiah 53; Psalm 22). Jesus truly did die for the sins of the whole world, and He truly did rise again from the dead on the third day!

So, why is it that we often live our lives as though He were not raised from the dead — as though He were still in the tomb? Why do we go about as though God were still angry with us and our sins were not forgiven? The Bible assures us that “Jesus our Lord … was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:24,25). Jesus paid in full for our sins — “it is finished” (John 19:30). God reaches out to us with open arms! He calls us to repent and offers us forgiveness and life in Christ Jesus! “He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:6, 7).

Why do we live in fear of death? Jesus conquered death for us and rose again. As the Scripture says, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). We need not fear death since Christ has removed our sin and the condemnation of God’s law from us (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Hebrews 2:14-17). Indeed, when death comes to a believer, we need not “sorrow as others who have no hope….” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

Why do we live our lives here in this world as though this is our home? “Our Lord Jesus Christ … gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age” (Galatians 1:3,4). He now prepares a place for us in the mansions of His Father’s house, and He will soon come again and take us to Himself that we may be with Him there (cf. John 14:2-3). All that is here in this world will soon be burned up — only what is done for Christ will last (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 2 Peter 3:10-13).

Why do we live our lives as though we have nothing to do for Christ Jesus here in this world? He has commanded us to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature….” (Mark 16:15). He commanded us to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus rose from the dead! He won forgiveness of sins and eternal life for all, and He is coming again soon to judge this evil world! Shouldn’t we be about the work of our Lord and calling lost sinners to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus? Apart from Him there is no salvation (cf. Acts 4:12)!

And finally, why do we live our lives as though Jesus is not with us? He is risen from the dead, ascended to right hand of God the Father, and rules over and fills all things (cf. Ephesians 1:15-23). The risen Jesus is with us always, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

Dear Lord Jesus Christ, our risen Savior, open up our minds to understand the Scriptures that we might not only believe that you truly are risen from the dead, but live our lives by faith in Your glorious resurrection and all that this means for us now and forever. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Jesus spoils the kingdom of darkness

“Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12

Because Jesus Christ suffered and died upon the cross, shedding His holy and precious blood for our sins and rising again in victory, He will spoil the dominion of darkness and execute judgment upon this earth.

The Apostle Paul writes of Jesus’ victory in this way: “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:14-15).

In the Garden of Eden, Satan used the commandment of God to bring sin and eternal damnation upon all mankind (Genesis 3). On the cross, Jesus Christ, the righteous, made atonement for our sins and the sins of the whole world and satisfied God’s just wrath against us (1 John 2:1,2). Thus Satan’s work and power over us was defeated and cast off, and a door was opened unto us to receive pardon, forgiveness and everlasting life (cf. Hebrews 2:14-17).

As a result of Jesus’ work when He suffered and died upon the cross and then rose again from the dead to intercede for us before the Father with His shed blood, those who by God’s grace and mercy are brought to repentance and faith in Christ Jesus are delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed in to the eternal kingdom of Jesus, the Son of His love (cf. Colossians 1:12-14). But those who spurn God’s gift of salvation and continue on in disobedience and rebellion shall be judged and condemned on the Last Day when the crucified and risen Christ returns to judge this world in righteousness and equity (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; Hebrews 2:3).

O crucified and risen Savior, grant that I not continue on in my disobedience and rebellion but truly true repent of my evil ways and trust in You and Your redeeming work for my salvation. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Enlarge my heart to obey Your commandments

“I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart. Psalm 119:32 (Read Psalm 119:25-32)

The Bible teaches us that we are saved by God’s grace alone: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). But the Scriptures go on to say: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

It is entirely of God’s grace that our sins are forgiven and washed away in Jesus’ blood. We receive these blessings through faith alone in Christ Jesus; our works add nothing! And even the faith by which we receive the forgiveness and life which Jesus won for us on the cross is the result of God’s gracious working in our hearts through Word and Sacrament. But, we are saved for a purpose. God graciously saved us that we might now live for Him and do those works which God created us to do (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:15).

Therefore, the believer in Jesus, having been saved by grace alone, now desires to live his life in accord with God’s holy will. He desires to run the course of God’s commandments. And this is so because God enlarges his heart. The believer’s heart, which was once dead in trespasses and sins, which was narrow and self-seeking, is enlarged by the gracious working of the Holy Spirit so that it now loves the LORD God and seeks to live a life pleasing to Him.

The believer’s heart is enlarged so that he now loves God, and he also loves his neighbor. And, being taught of God from the Scriptures, he knows that God’s commandments are good and right; and so he seeks to obey these commandments and live according to them.

O LORD God, thank you for graciously granting me salvation through the innocent sufferings and death of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ, and for bringing me to know and trust in Jesus alone as my Savior by Your Spirit’s working through the Word. Enlarge my heart to love You, seek after You, and to run the course of Your commandments. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.