2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV
Christian counselor Dr. Ann Shorb writes, “Each morning I reach for an assortment of nutritional supplements. Each has something I need, but not one by itself is enough to provide everything.” Here are the “spiritual supplements” she says she takes: (1) His death on the cross is sufficient for my salvation: “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him…He…lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV). (2) His strength is sufficient for my weakness: “He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak” (Isaiah 40:29 NCV). (3) His authority is sufficient for my struggles: Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and…earth. Go therefore” (Matthew 28:18 NKJV). (4) His power is sufficient to restore me: “The Lord upholds all who fall, and raises…all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:14 NKJV). (5) His wisdom and knowledge are sufficient to direct me: “He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10 NKJV). (6) His grace is sufficient for all my needs: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV). Sometimes you’ll hear Psalm 51:12 quoted as “Restore unto me the joy of my salvation,” instead of “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation.” There’s a big difference! My salvation means me working to be saved and never knowing if I’ve done enough. Thy salvation depends totally on Christ’s finished work on Calvary. It acknowledges that while we’ll never be “sufficient of ourselves…our sufficiency is from God.”
Soul food: Acts 27-28; Luke 10:13-24; Ps 78:17-31; Prov 16:26-30
Romans 4:22-24 NKJV
To understand the word “imputed,” picture funds being transferred from one account to another. Banks do it every day. Imagine yourself totally destitute and unable to pay your debts. Then in an astounding act of grace someone assumes all your debts, and at the same time transfers to your account such “abundance” that you never have to work. That’s what happened at the cross when God “imputed” all your sins to Christ’s account, and “imputed” all His righteousness to your account. Mind-blowing, isn’t it? Would you say, “I can’t allow you to pay all these debts alone, so I’ll work to prove myself worthy of your grace?” We do that when we “add” our good works to Christ’s finished work. Salvation is like health food labeled “no man-made additives.” Paul writes, “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV). In the same sense God “made” Jesus who never sinned, to “be” sin, He “made” you who could never be righteous enough, to “become” righteous in His eyes. “But I feel such guilt when I sin.” You’re supposed to! But when Christ took away all your sin, He took away all your guilt. So what are you feeling? Inner conflict! Your regenerated spirit is telling you that you can’t indulge in sin; it’s not who you are anymore! Why did God do it this way? Because any righteousness we could achieve falls far short of what He requires. Rejoice – today God sees you clothed in the righteousness of Christ, therefore you’re always loved and accepted by Him.
Soul food: Acts 22-23; Luke 9:57-62; Ps 78:1-8; Prov 16:23-24
1 Corinthians 1:29 NIV
God says: ‘I am the LORD. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another’ (Isaiah 42:8 NCV). Everything we do should give glory to God. But that can sometimes be challenging for us. We can be tempted to think that we deserve the credit and glory for the things we’ve done, especially when we’ve put a lot of effort into them. Paul writes that ‘No one may boast before him.’ We can’t boast about our salvation; it’s all by God’s grace. The Bible says: ‘You have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it’ (Ephesians 2:8-9 NCV). We also can’t boast about what we do for God before we go to heaven, because it’s God who has called us and equipped us to be able to do it. God’s given us the gifts, skills, and strength to do the things we do, and therefore we need to give all the glory to Him. We’re not wired to be humble, so we need to learn how to lay down our desire for approval and glory, and instead hand it all over to God. When we remember to give God the credit for our success, He’ll keep using and blessing us. The Bible says: ‘Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above’ (James 1:17 NKJV). Every good thing we enjoy today, and every good thing tomorrow, is a gift from God. We need to be thanking God for those gifts, and giving Him the glory as provider in our lives.
Jer 14-17; Luke 4:1-13; Ps 98; Prov 14:34
1 Peter 2:2 NAS
Daily Bible study is essential to your spiritual growth. Professor Howard Hendricks writes: “When our kids were youngsters growing up, we set up a growth chart on the back of a closet door. As they grew, they begged us to measure how tall they’d gotten and record it on the chart. It didn’t matter how small the increments were, they bounced up and down with excitement to see their progress. One time after I measured one of my daughters, she asked me the sort of question you wish kids wouldn’t ask: ‘Daddy, why do big people stop growing?’ How could I explain that big people don’t stop growing – we just grow in a different direction? I don’t know what I told her, but to this day the Lord is still asking me, ‘Hendricks, are you growing old, or are you growing up?'” How about you? How long have you been a Christian? Nine months? Thirty-nine years? The real issue is how much have you grown up? Step up to God’s growth chart and measure your progress. That’s what the apostle Peter meant when he wrote, ‘Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.’ Just as a baby grabs for the bottle, you grab for the Bible. The baby has to have milk to sustain its life physically; and you have to have the Scriptures to sustain your life spiritually. So the first reason for studying the Scriptures is that it’s a means of spiritual growth. It is God’s primary tool to develop you as an individual.”
Soul food: Hosea 11-14; Luke 2:34-40; Ps 21; Prov 14:17-20
Luke 19:8 NIV
Zacchaeus got rich by taking more taxes from people than his Roman masters demanded, and pocketing the difference. But after he met Jesus, he said, “If I have cheated people…I will give them back four times as much!” (NLT). Consequently, Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this home today” (v. 9 NLT). Integrity isn’t about regret, or seeking to minimize painful consequences, or attempting to do damage control. It’s about honest repentance, making amends, and living in a way that guarantees you’ll do things differently in the future. Writing about integrity, one pastor says: “People look around them at promiscuity, abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and mourn its passing. They see officials taking bribes, business leaders demanding kickbacks, investors parlaying inside information into untold wealth, and they lament the demise of integrity. They read about battered wives, jobless husbands, and abused children, and wonder what happened to caring.” The Bible says, “The integrity of the upright shall guide them” (Proverbs 11:3 KJV). Rebuilding your integrity means humbly acknowledging that sometimes your thoughts aren’t fit to print, or that you’ve hurt someone and need to make things right. It’s estimated that 50 percent of American Christians cheat on their tax returns; that’s roughly the same percentage as those who don’t claim to follow Christ! Integrity is who you are when nobody’s looking. Job said, “Does He not see my ways…If I have walked with falsehood, or if my foot has hastened to deceit, let me be weighed on honest scales, that God may know my integrity” (Job 31:4-6 NKJV). Starting today, rebuild your integrity.
Soul food: Hosea 6-10; Luke 2:21-33; Ps 17; Prov 14:13-16