J. F. MINISTRIES ASSOCIATION INC.

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My Daily Blog

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 11, 2017 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. (Romans 4:20-21)

 

Faith is the proper response to the promises of God. Also, our faith in God's promises can increase day by day, year by year. These present words offer helpful insight into being strengthened in faith regarding God's promises.

It is so often the case that the circumstances we are in tend to cast doubt upon the promises God has made. This was certainly what happened to Abraham concerning the promised son, Isaac. It was obvious in God's first set of promises to Abraham that a son would be provided some day. "I will make you a great nation" (Genesis 12:2). Soon thereafter, the Lord promised that the land He had for Abraham would go to his seed. "Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your descendants I will give this land' " (Genesis 12:7). The years rolled by, and no son had arrived. Eventually, a son was specifically included in God's promises. "And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 'This one (Eliezer, his servant) shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir' " (Genesis 15:4). Still, the years passed by without the arrival of the son.

Now, as Abraham approaches one hundred years of age, God repeats promises that necessitate a son. "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God...I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly… And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you' " (Genesis 17:1-2, 7). More time passes. Once again, the Lord restates His promise of a son. "Sarah your wife shall have a son" (Genesis 18:10). At this point, the scriptures record the natural impossibility of this promise being fulfilled. "Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well-advanced in age; and Sarah had passed the age of childbearing" (Genesis 18:11).

Nevertheless, "He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith." How did he grow in faith? His circumstances gave reason to doubt: "his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Romans 4:19). He focused upon the ability of the God who had promised a son, and he was assured: "being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform."

My Daily Blog August 8th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 8, 2017 at 3:00 AM Comments comments (0)

By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. (Hebrews 11:11)

 

Before we proceed in our consideration of God's promises, let's look at some examples of those who responded properly to His promises. This will assist us in the path of living daily by the grace of God. Remember, living by God's grace and depending upon His promises are two perspectives on the same reality. Both speak of God working in and through the lives of His people.

Sarah responded properly to God's promises. It is true that she tried to fulfill God's promise of a son by her own ingenuity. "So Sarai said to Abram, 'See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her'" (Genesis 16:2). It is true that she later laughed with incredulity, when the promise was repeated. "And He said, 'I will certainly return to you according to the time of life, and behold, Sarah your wife shall have a son.' And Sarah was listening in the tent door which was behind him...Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, 'After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also'?" (Genesis 18:10, 12). Nevertheless, she eventually related appropriately to what God had promised to do. "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed." The proper response to God's promises is to believe them. All who trust in the Lord to do what He has promised experience God at work in their lives. Sarah trusted God's promise of a son, and she was enabled by God to conceive and birth that son. "By faith Sarah herself also received strength to conceive seed, and she bore a child when she was past the age."

Isaac was born in spite of the fact that Sarah did not have the natural capacity to accomplish such any longer. Isaac was born by means of Sarah exercising faith in the promises of God. Note, however, that Sarah's faith was not merely some act of the human will (like "mind over matter" or "power of positive thinking"). Her faith was based upon the faithfulness of God. "She judged Him faithful who had promised." She considered what God had revealed to her about Himself and concluded that He was reliable, so she relied upon Him.

My Daily Blog August 7th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 7, 2017 at 9:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience... And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises... And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. (Hebrews 4:11; 6:11-12, 15)

 

Once again, God's promises and God's rest are in view. In these intriguing verses, two insightful terms are linked with the promises and the rest of God: diligence and patience. Although they sound contradictory, they are actually complimentary.

For those who believe in the Lord Jesus, spiritual rest is promised. This rest begins with a divine rescue from the crushing burden of sin and guilt. Then, it is intended to develop into heavenly relief from the unbearable load of self-generated Christian living. Entering into this daily spiritual rest is neither an optional nor a casual matter. "Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest." The Lord wants to stir and maintain in us an eagerness for this daily rest in Him. He wants us to earnestly and attentively seek Him for the rest that He alone can give. Our God wants to bring us along into a maturing assurance (a comprehensively developing confidence in His promises). "And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end." If we are unwilling to cry out to the Lord for such diligence in seeking His rest daily, we will eventually become spiritually lethargic: "that you do not become sluggish." God's rest is designed to produce spiritual fervency, not laziness: "not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Romans 12:11).

Along with diligence in seeking God for the rest He promises, the Lord also wants to develop in us a patience regarding His promises. "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises...And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise." God does not want our spiritual diligence to deteriorate into anxiety and impatience. Still, how can we grow in diligence and patience at the same time? How is it that the two are not mutually exclusive? Well, diligence concerns what God promises to do. We are to earnestly seek such. Patience concerns when God may desire to fulfill His promises. We are to patiently trust Him for His prefect timing.

My Daily Blog

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 6, 2017 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

 

Included in God's promises is rest for His people. This rest not only begins with rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but it also can grow into rest from carnal striving and vain self-sufficiency. Our verses speak of this latter rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Those who are God's people became such by entering into God's rest from sin and guilt. Yet, having tasted of this, there still "remains...a rest for the people of God."

The entrance into this additional spiritual rest necessitates a cessation from one's own works. "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works." To rest in the Lord for a growing life of godliness, service, and fruitfulness, one must be willing to renounce himself as the source or cause of the working. Previously, we saw that the Apostle Paul walked with and lived unto God in this manner. "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul worked harder than any other leader in the early church. Yet, he acknowledged that the enabling reality was the grace of God, not himself. This fits perfectly with another confession from Paul that we have also considered in previous devotions. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5). Ultimately, such a life is explained as Christ Himself expressing His life in and through our lives. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

This cessation from our works is to be as complete as God's ceasing from His work at creation. "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works...For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:4, 10). God rested on the seventh day, because his "creation-work" was finished. We are to rest from our works, because we cannot add to the finished work of Christ for us. He completed our redemption upon the cross. "He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:30). He has also fully prepared the works that He wants us to now enter into by faith. "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)

MY Daily Blog August 6th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 6, 2017 at 2:45 AM Comments comments (0)

There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. (Hebrews 4:9-10)

 

Included in God's promises is rest for His people. This rest not only begins with rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin, but it also can grow into rest from carnal striving and vain self-sufficiency. Our verses speak of this latter rest. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Those who are God's people became such by entering into God's rest from sin and guilt. Yet, having tasted of this, there still "remains...a rest for the people of God."

The entrance into this additional spiritual rest necessitates a cessation from one's own works. "For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works." To rest in the Lord for a growing life of godliness, service, and fruitfulness, one must be willing to renounce himself as the source or cause of the working. Previously, we saw that the Apostle Paul walked with and lived unto God in this manner. "I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul worked harder than any other leader in the early church. Yet, he acknowledged that the enabling reality was the grace of God, not himself. This fits perfectly with another confession from Paul that we have also considered in previous devotions. "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God" (2 Corinthians 3:5). Ultimately, such a life is explained as Christ Himself expressing His life in and through our lives. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

This cessation from our works is to be as complete as God's ceasing from His work at creation. "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works...For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His (Hebrews 4:4, 10). God rested on the seventh day, because his "creation-work" was finished. We are to rest from our works, because we cannot add to the finished work of Christ for us. He completed our redemption upon the cross. "He said, 'It is finished!' And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit" (John 19:30). He has also fully prepared the works that He wants us to now enter into by faith. "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)

My Daily Blog August 5th

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 5, 2017 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest. (Hebrews 4:1-3)

 

Through the promises of God, spiritual rest can be experienced by all who believe. Initially, those who believe enjoy rest from the guilt and condemnation of sin. Additionally, those whose faith embraces more of the promises of God can enjoy rest from carnal striving and worldly indulgence.

When the children of Israel were delivered from Egypt, they had rest from the bondage they had known there. This pictures our rest from sin and guilt. Yet, the Lord had more rest to share with His people. He wanted to give them rest from the barrenness of wilderness striving that lay between Egypt and the Promised Land, the land flowing with milk and honey. This pictures our rest from fleshly striving in doubt and disobedience by drawing upon the riches that are ours in Christ.

The Israelites wandered through the wilderness in hardness of heart for forty years. All of that generation (except Joshua and Caleb) missed the additional rest that God wanted them to experience. "Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.' So I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest' " (Hebrews 3:10-11). They were out of Egypt, but they would not enter into the Promised Land.

Are we entering into the additional rest that God has for us? "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it." The Promised Land is a picture of the abundant spiritual life (not a picture of heaven—no battles or failures in heaven). This additional rest is what Jesus offers to all who believe in Him. "I have come that they may have life (eternal life, forgiven of sin), and that they may have it more abundantly (richness of life, growing in practical righteousness)" (John 10:10). This abundant life is enjoyed by faith in the word of God, as it describes the riches that are ours in Christ. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). Will we take the Lord at His word and believe that we might enter in? "For we who have believed do enter that rest." Israel did not believe, so they did not enter in. "The word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."

My Daily Blog August 2nd

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 2, 2017 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect. (Romans 4:13-14)

 

These words from the book of Romans continue our consideration of God's promises and God's law. Abraham is again the person around whom the insights unfold.

God promised Abraham blessings beyond measure. "Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 28:14). These promises were not contingent upon Abraham's ability to perform up to the level God's holy law. "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law." When God made these promises to Abraham, the law was still hundreds of years from being revealed. Likewise, these promises were not contingent upon circumcision (the sign of this covenant with Abraham). "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe" (Romans 4:11). Circumcision was added after Abraham heard the promises and believed.

In these encounters with God, Abraham was being asked to put his trust and confidence in the Lord. "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." When Abraham believed in the promises of God, at that moment, God declared him righteous in His sight. "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness" (Romans 4:3). What gave Abraham a right standing with God and allowed him to enter into God's promises was his trusting in the Lord.

The only other option to "God-dependent faith" would be "self-dependent law performance." Such an approach to God would be totally unacceptable. "For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect." Attempting to merit God's promises by law performance says we view faith in Him as meaningless. Striving to earn what God has pledged to provide says we consider His promises as ineffectual.

My Daily Blog August 1st.

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 1, 2017 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions... Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:19, 21-22)

 

 God implements His plan of salvation by making and fulfilling promises. His plan is not contingent upon man's ability to perform acceptably before His holy law. To put it another way, the law of God (given hundreds of years after the promises to Abraham) does not replace those promises.

This raises a very important question: "What purpose then does the law serve?" If God's law did not cancel or rearrange His promises to Abraham, then, why was it added? "It was added because of transgressions." God wanted people to know that they had a major problem: sin. Man's sin needed to be clearly defined. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). The extent of sin would never be fully known apart from the law. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Romans 7:7). Also, God wanted everyone in this world to know that they were accountable to Him for their transgressions. Thus, the law convicts the sinfulness of man, that "all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19).

This raises another important question. "Is the law then against the promises of God?" The law does not replace God's promises, but does it work against His promises? "Certainly not! " The law of God and the promises of God simply have different purposes (just as it is with law and grace). The law of God reveals the holiness that is inherent to the very character of God. At the same time, it describes the holy life that God wants His people to live. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). The promises of God become the means by which man deals with his unholiness and accesses God's holiness. This is what true spiritual life is about: forgiveness of sin and a life of righteousness in Christ. This cannot come by law performance. "For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law." Rather, the promise of life is entered into only by faith. "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."

My Daily Blog August 1st.

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on August 1, 2017 at 3:10 AM Comments comments (0)

What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions... Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law. But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. (Galatians 3:19, 21-22)

 

God implements His plan of salvation by making and fulfilling promises. His plan is not contingent upon man's ability to perform acceptably before His holy law. To put it another way, the law of God (given hundreds of years after the promises to Abraham) does not replace those promises.

This raises a very important question: "What purpose then does the law serve?" If God's law did not cancel or rearrange His promises to Abraham, then, why was it added? "It was added because of transgressions." God wanted people to know that they had a major problem: sin. Man's sin needed to be clearly defined. "For by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Romans 3:20). The extent of sin would never be fully known apart from the law. "I would not have known sin except through the law" (Romans 7:7). Also, God wanted everyone in this world to know that they were accountable to Him for their transgressions. Thus, the law convicts the sinfulness of man, that "all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19).

This raises another important question. "Is the law then against the promises of God?" The law does not replace God's promises, but does it work against His promises? "Certainly not! " The law of God and the promises of God simply have different purposes (just as it is with law and grace). The law of God reveals the holiness that is inherent to the very character of God. At the same time, it describes the holy life that God wants His people to live. "You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy" (Leviticus 19:2). The promises of God become the means by which man deals with his unholiness and accesses God's holiness. This is what true spiritual life is about: forgiveness of sin and a life of righteousness in Christ. This cannot come by law performance. "For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law." Rather, the promise of life is entered into only by faith. "But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe."

My Daily Blog July 31st.

Posted by Rev. Jeff Ferguson on July 31, 2017 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that it should make the promise of no effect. For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise. (Galatians 3:16-18)


Again, we are reminded of God's fundamental use of promises in bringing forth His will among mankind. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made." God made far-reaching promises to Abraham and his descendants, promises that included the coming of the Messiah, the anointed King, the Savior. Although these promises guaranteed an innumerable posterity to Abraham, this statement specifies one descendant in particular. "He does not say, 'And to seeds,' as of many, but as of one, 'And to your Seed,' who is Christ." The Lord Jesus Christ is in view here. The promises that were the root of the new covenant of grace were made by the Father to Abraham and to the Son of God. "Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made." Added assurance is provided here. The Father's commitment was to His Son!

Now, what about the law of God, which was added hundreds of years later? Could the law possibly have replaced the promises to Abraham and to the Son of God? "And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant that was confirmed before by God in Christ." The promises of God to Abraham and to His Son were not taken out of operation by the giving of the law of God ("that it should make the promise of no effect" ). People, through their own law performance, cannot become heirs of all that God promised to His children. If they could, then, God's blessings are no longer based on God fulfilling His promises. "For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise." This cannot be, because "God gave it to Abraham by promise." God's work among men stands on His ability to fulfill His promises. It does not depend on our ability to live up to the perfect law of God


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