everyone … shall be saved

Acts 2:21 (ESV)

21 “‘And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”

So what does it mean to ‘call upon the name of the Lord’?

If we turn to Paul in the Letter to the Romans we find: ‘… if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.’ (Rom 10:9)

Paul, too, then quotes Joel 2:32 saying ‘For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”‘ (Rom 10:13)

So it seems to me that it’s an acknowledgement that Jesus is Lord and a whole-hearted acceptance that He died and was raised to life by God.

Pretty straight-forward.

But so, so hard for many people to grasp a hold of. They would rather turn their back on Him; ignore Him; reject Him.

Yet the offer of salvation is to everyone.

There’s no select group. No elite inner circle. Simply a universal offer to ‘all nations’. (Matt 28:19)

Everyone.

Kim+

prayer : thank you that hold out to everyone the offer of salvation

action : help me to tell everyone I know that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Saviour

the LORD will come in fire

Isaiah 66:15-16 (ESV)

15 “For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
and his chariots like the whirlwind,
to render his anger in fury,
and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16 For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
and by his sword, with all flesh;
and those slain by the LORD shall be many.”

I think we often forget that the LORD is a God of judgement as well as mercy.

And that His judgement will be harsh but fair (Romans 2:2).

Fire is considered a means of purification; a way of cleansing and refining. Like the process of melting down gold to separate the good bits from the bad bits and in so doing create a pure metal.

Because God hates sin, because He is angry with man’s ungodliness and unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), He will one day act to destroy those who sin: to ‘slay’ those who turn their back on Him.

In some ways it is a “fire & brimstone” message.

And we should all sit-up and take note of it. Because no one – not one of us – is guilt-free.

We have all – every last one of us – rejected God and “gone our own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

Yet that’s where Jesus comes into the picture …

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for your justice and mercy

action : confess my sin before God, repenting, and seeking His forgiveness and mercy

trust in the LORD with all your heart

Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.

A simple instruction. Yet easily forgotten.

I find it’s all too easy to ignore His sound advice and fall back on my own counsel.

Yet He will “make straight [my] paths” if I “acknowledge” Him.

He “leads me in paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).

Kim+

prayer : thank you LORD for your guidance

action : trust Him

we ought always to give thanks to God

“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3 (ESV)

More on the topic of Thanksgiving. But this time it’s Paul’s thankfulness for his “brothers” at Thessalonica.

Specifically, because their “faith is growing” and their “love” “for one another is increasing”.

I love the balance between the inward, personal “faith” and the outward, helpful “love”.

And how their “faith” is not just “growing” but “growing abundantly”. Such providence can only come from God.

Both are important aspects of the Christian life. Both are necessary elements.

I imagine one leads to the other. That their trust in the Lord results in greater “love” for each other as they become less distracted by worldly concerns.

And so how could Paul not be thankful?

Kim+

prayer : that my “faith” would “grow” and thus my “love” for my brothers and sisters in Christ would “increase”

action : pray for my fellow Christians

give thanks to the LORD

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalms 118:29 (ESV)

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving today I am challenged to think about thankfulness.

It’s a common theme these days but I want to look at it from a Biblical perspective.

It’s an easy trap to thank God for the many blessings we have. And that’s not a bad thing. After all, it is thanks to Him that we have all these good things.

But do we thank Him for simply “loving” us “steadfastly”.

For His patience? His forgiveness? The wonderful gift of His precious Son sent to die on the cross for us despite our, and sadly because of our, rejection of Him who loves us unconditionally?

In a materialistic society the focus is, more often than not, centred around our welfare and wellbeing.

We thank God for possessions and health and family etc. But as great as these all are, they’re simply temporal. Fleeting. Transitory. As the writer of Ecclesiastes astutely observes.

We seem so selfish. So self-interested. So self-absorbed.

There are people living on the streets of our cities. Countless millions starving in Third World countries. Kids being sold into slavery and prostitution.

Friends suffering from disease. Mental anguish. Stress. Pain. Loss. Grief.

I lament the greed and idolatry of our society and the way it distracts us from the important things: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible.

Shouldn’t our energy be spent helping others? Loving others? Praying for others?

Isn’t our priority to be a witness of God’s love in this broken world?

How can we best do this? What practical things do you do?

Kim+

prayer : thank you God for your never-ending love

action : seek to love others as God loves us

all one in Christ

“…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28 (ESV)

Continuing the theme of unity is this passage that talks of there being no distinction between Christians of differing backgrounds.

Thus, there is no reason to claim superiority based upon gender, or race, or heritage etc.

We’re all heirs of Christ. We’re all equal in God’s eyes.

For some people, perhaps many, this is hard to accept.

The self-righteous totally miss the point: that it’s through God’s grace, specifically the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, that we are saved.

Not through anything we may do “so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 6:2).

This is reassuring as it’s beyond our means anyway. Our efforts, no matter how well intentioned, are pitifully inadequate.

Thank God we can rely upon Him and His gracious goodness.

Kim+

prayer : thank you for the gift of faith

action : share this gift with others

How Christ Enables the Church to Upbuild Itself in Love

Eph 4:4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high
he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in *deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Ephesians 4:4-16 (ESV)

Through the reading of scripture over the past week or two I have learned that God uses all His people to build up His church.

And this has become even clearer by listening to John Piper in his sermon, “How Christ Enables the Church to Upbuild Itself in Love“.

The main point I take away from this particular talk is the importance of small groups. Groups of believers meeting regularly to talk; to listen; to read God’s word; to pray for one another.

Essentially, they perform the invaluable function of support and encouragement to one another. And thereby enable the growth the church as their faith is strengthened.

These groups are meant to complement regular weekly meetings such as Sunday worship services. But they’re not supposed to replace them.

Ideally, we should attend both. And in so doing, find opportunities to love each other in practical ways.

Kim+

prayer : that small groups in our church would be a great source of learning and encouragement

action : attend a small group regularly – every week where possible