Isaiah 40:12

Isaiah 40:12…”Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens.” The answer is God only. This verse is a powerful illustration, showing both God’s bigness and his power. His hand controls all things, and nothing is outside of his reach. This should bring us great joy with our current circumstances. God’s hand is on every last detail of our lives. If we consider this truth about God, and actually believe it, we’re left with a very hard reality about our complaints, both big and small. We’re complaining about God. We think we know better. We think we deserve better. However, if we were given what we truly deserve, we would all be in hell right now, under God’s eternal judgement. Thankfully, we have a Father who is also abundantly gracious and merciful, and has provided a rescue plan for us in Christ.

God in His own words explains it best in Ephesians 2:1-10:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

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Titus 1:1

Titus 1:1…”Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness.” Sharpening other believers with the truth should be our goal as well. What is the truth that leads to godliness? That we have been rescued by the Father, through the Son’s atoning sacrifice, by the Holy Spirit being placed in us supernaturally. We were spiritually dead, and needed rescued. It’s not that we were floating helplessly, and God threw out a rope, and faith is the hand that grabbed the rope and we were rescued. No, that analogy implies that we had some capacity to save ourselves, which is false. We were dead at the bottom of the ocean, and Jesus dove down and brought us back up and breathed life into us without our doing anything to save ourselves. If we’ve responded with faith and repentance to the gospel, it had nothing to do with our choosing God, and everything to do with God choosing to elect us, out of His abundant grace and mercy. This is the truth that leads to godliness, and any other version of the “truth” does not come from scripture.

Ephesians 2:1-8

1 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

Malachi 4:5

Malachi 4:5…”See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” John the Baptist preached repentance and faith, as Elijah had done. The turning of souls to God is the only preparation for the great and dreadful day of the Lord. On this day, the only way we can stand is with Christ’s righteousness imputed to us. The gospel we believe needs to include an understanding of the massive chasm between us (because of our sin) and God (because of His holiness), otherwise it’s not the gospel. The more clearly we understand this, the greater our faith, because we’ll esteem Jesus for the right reason. A weak, lukewarm, casual faith often comes from believing that we’re generally OK outside of Christ, or that following Christ will bring perfect health and abundant wealth.

God knows authentic faith and recognizes the fruit, particularly evidenced by concern for the spiritual well-being of others (John 13:35). Two practical litmus tests are discipling and evangelism. If we really believe the gospel, and if we think God’s word is authoritative, then those two things will mark our lives because of love for others. If we are unfruitful, and don’t do those things, we may not really believe, and the day of the Lord will be dreadful for us. Let us not be like the seed Jesus referenced in Matthew 13:22:

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful.

Malachi 1:8

Malachi 1:8…”‘When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?’ says the Lord Almighty.” God’s people have always been saved by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, so the sacrifices were not for that purpose. As it is today, God wants our heart, and He wants all of it. The Old Testament sacrifices were God’s plan for a particular people to be set apart from the world in the way they lived. His church today is to be that way, growing in holiness. The Lord’s problem with Israel in this verse, is that they were holding back their best for themselves. We are no different, and it is mainly our time that we keep as “our own” today. Our time does not belong to us though, and when we make an idol of it, we rob God of what rightfully belongs to Him as our Creator and Lord. Our priorities are exposed when we treat our work time, or TV time, or hobby time as if they were more important than time with God and His people. The way you spent your time in this life will be scrutinized by the Lord when you die, and those who are in Christ will have a harvest to show the Lord. They will be rewarded with eternal life. For those who do not produce fruit, there will be eternal punishment:

The axe has been laid to the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. ~ Matthew 3:10