Salvation Belongs to the LORD

God is sovereign over salvation. He uses means, such as gospel preaching but also works directly opening the hearts of His own so they hear and believe.

Today’s Reading

Psalms 1-3; Acts 16:1-15

Selected Verses

Salvation belongs to the Lord; your blessing be on your people! Psalm 3:8

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.  Acts 16:14-15

Reflections

The Psalmist was in dire straits. According to the title of Psalm 3, David wrote this during his exile from Jerusalem while his son, Absalom, briefly overthrew his father’s kingdom. David turned to God in the crisis, recognizing that only the Lord could save him. “Salvation belongs to the LORD,” he affirms. Absalom had skillfully won over the people of Israel to support him. David fled Jerusalem. But it seemed inevitable that David would be assassinated and Absalom would take firm control of the kingdom.

Yet, “salvation belongs to the LORD.” David held to that truth, and, against all odds, Absalom listened to David’s planted advisor, Hushai who purposely gave him bad advice. Absalom followed it, and died in the ensuing battle (2 Samuel 17-18). God saved David’s life and kingdom. The odds set by probability cannot limit God.

Lydia was a worshiper of God, a Gentile woman who believed in the God of Israel and the moral law of Moses without adopting the dietary and ceremonial laws. Luke tells us that the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul said. Without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, neither a Lydia nor anyone else is able to hear and believe the gospel (Jeremiah 13:23; John 6:44, 65; Romans 9:16; 1 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; 2 Timothy 1:9-10).  God saved Lydia spiritually. [1]

Think about it

God saves kings and Gentile women, like David and Lydia. How does the truth that “salvation belongs to the Lord” affect your prayer life and your daily confidence in Him? Can you lie down and sleep, knowing the Lord will sustain you? Trust Him when in danger for He saves.  Proclaim the gospel to others knowing that God opens hearts as He wills and saves lost people.

[1] The Reformation Study Bible notes p. 1945

Authority and Faith

Those who hold significant authority in this world need God’s help and mercy, but some find it hard to believe in Him. We can learn from two examples below.

Today’s Reading

Second Kings 6-8; John 4:31-54

Selected Verses

And the king rose in the night and said to his servants, “I will tell you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore they have gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the open country, thinking, ‘When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive and get into the city.’”  I Kings 7:12

The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household.  John 4:53

Reflections

The king of Israel heard that the Syrian army had fled, leaving their equipment and food behind.  Even though Elisha had already prophesied that there would be abundance of food within a day, the king suspected a trick.  He assumed that Elisha was wrong, so he was not expecting some kind of miraculous intervention.  But the prophet was right and the king was wrong.  Did his position as king cause him to be more self-confident and less willing to believe God’s word through His prophet?  It seems that those who have the most power and wealth sense the least need for divine assistance.

But this is not always the case.  When Jesus arrived at Cana, an official of King Herod the Tetrarch went to Jesus requesting healing for his son.  The official hoped that Jesus would come to his home and heal the boy, but Jesus rebuked him for seeking signs and wonders as a basis for faith.  The man implored him again and Jesus sent him on his way with a promise that his son would be well.  The healing occurred at the hour Jesus had spoken. Jesus was being constantly tested by the people who requested signs, but, in the case of the official, Jesus tested him to see if he believed enough to return home with only the assurance of the Lord’s word. He passed the test and believed, as did his whole household.

Think about it

Having power and wealth does not help a person to believe the truth.  It may even hinder faith.  What makes a person believe is the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in his or her heart.  No one comes to Christ without the drawing of the Father (John 6:44).

If you believe God, it is not because you have some inherent wisdom to do so.  It is His doing completely.  You believe because He drew you.  He drew you because He wanted to.  You responded because He gave you a heart to believe.   For that He deserves all your praise.

A Different Kind of Shepherd

Today’s reading: I Chronicles 17-19; John 10:1-21

7 Now, therefore, thus shall you say to my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, to be prince over my people Israel, 8 and I have been with you wherever you have gone and have cut off all your enemies from before you. And I will make for you a name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. I Chronicles 17:7-8

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

God sees His people as sheep that need a shepherd, but only He can be the kind of shepherd that they need.

David’s life started out very simply. He was the youngest son of his family. He was assigned the unenviable task of taking care of the sheep, dirty, dumb sheep, who could not take care of themselves, nor be left alone. His work meant hot days and cold nights. We wouldn’t have imagined that he would one day sit on the throne of Israel. Much less, would we have imagined that his dynasty would be guaranteed by God Himself through the prophet Nathan. The Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be of David’s lineage.

As Jesus revealed Who He is through His teaching, He presented Himself as the Good Shepherd. He is good because, unlike mere hired shepherds or even sheep stealers, He would pay the ultimate price of death to save His sheep. The relationship He has with His sheep is intimate and unique. He knows His sheep and they know Him. They flee from a stranger. They do not recognize the stranger’s voice.

Sure enough, the people who heard Him make these claims and promises revealed their identity as either trusting Him or doubting Him. You could tell who His sheep were by their response to His voice.

God who is gracious to His elect people raised up a lowly shepherd boy to be king over Israel and to establish a throne upon which His Son would sit as King of kings and Lord of lords, but also as the only truly Good Shepherd of His people.

Be amazed at the beauty and intricacy of God’s plan. He painted a picture in the Old Testament through the history of Israel, and He fulfilled it in the advent of the Son of David, Jesus Christ, who will reign forever and ever. Flee other voices. Trust Him, my fellow sheep. We need Him who died and rose for us, dirty, dumb, and unworthy as we are.