Word Alive! © 2021 Winter Series
You Can Begin Again!
Concord Baptist Church of Boston in Milton
Conley Hughes, Jr., Senior Pastor
Tuesday, 6 April, 2021
Max Lucado, “Begin Again” Lesson 11, (Chap. 11)
Devotional Time: “Begin Again” (pp. 87-92)
Trust the Promises of God – Our human tendency is to trust our instincts and feelings. Often what we think and the way we feel, will not determine the final outcome with life’s challenges. The scriptures are filled with instances where the motives of people ended in disappointment or irrevocable losses. The citizens of the ancient city of Babel sought to build a great tower, which involved the signature accomplishment of reaching the heavens. This great act of ancient innovation ended in failure, causing the proud builders to become confused and dispersed to other regions. The Babel story is a constant reminder of what tragedies can occur, when God is not consulted in our plans and life ambitions (cf. Genesis 11:1-9, NLT). The Christian world-view, and its antecedents in the Old Testament, is that we believe in a God of promise (cf. Hebrews 10:23-24, NLT). We are a covenant people; we believe and hold to the promises of God! The fulfillment of God’s promises comes through our faith in the reconciling ministry of Jesus Christ. As Christians we boldly affirm God’s promises through the work Christ has done” (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:20, NLT). The confidence we have in God’s control of our lives, is also expressed by saints living in earlier times (cf. Psalm 34:18-20, NLT). The testimonies of God’s people do not change in their essence; for each is grounded in the God we affirm and trust. In ancient times a synonym for the “godly,” was the term “poor.” It was a descriptive term meaning that when God’s people are in trouble or crisis, their extremity became God’s opportunity beneficial for healing (cf. Palm 41:1-3, NLT). In his devotional book, Begin Again, Max Lucado says, “Our God is a promise-keeping God. others may make a promise and forget it. But if God makes a promise, he keeps it.” Life does not guarantee us that we won’t have some difficulties. This does not mean that we must constantly anticipate trouble or a crisis. What we should all realize is the we don’t live in a perfect world. Because God knows this, He has always made provisions for our safety and well-being. God is concerned about our welfare well in advance of any event we could encounter in life. The prophet Isaiah predicted the Babylonian exile two centuries before it occurred. Aware of the atrocities and the toll such an event would have on the nation; he also reminded the people, God would be with them (cf. Isaiah 43:2a, NLT).
Exercise Your Faith - Although the scriptures assure us of God’s promises, we must be neither idle nor indifferent to the challenges we face. We must “choose” to exercise our faith. Faith is both a matter of belief and of action. Faith is not merely what we believe, but how we “act” on what we believe. Paul and James have explained faith in a compelling manner. Paul stresses the fact that “faith alone” brings us into a right relationship with God. This is our Christian concept of justification. Paul says: “For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood (Romans 3:25a, NLT). James who also believes as Paul, helps us understand that our faith must work in tandem with actions which are motivated by our beliefs (cf. James 2:14; 17, NLT). This principle in the Epistle of James reminds us of the failure of the disciples of Jesus, when they could not heal the chronically ill boy. Jesus criticized the disciples for the impotence of their faith (cf. Matthew 17:15-16; 19, NLT). Jesus told the disciples that an effective faith would allow them to do extraordinary things! Our failures are not always for lack of belief or conviction; rather, our inability to “act” according to what our faith teaches us about God’s promises. We should avoid retreating into doubt or despair when we’re faced with a challenge. No one knew this better than the Apostle Paul. The Apostle spoke candidly of a physical infirmity he had, which was debilitating. On three occasions Paul approached God seeking relief from the chronic illness. Instead of removing the infirmity, God assured Paul that he would be sustained and comforted through God’s grace. Paul said he found new strength through his trial, which did not hinder his mission (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7b-10, NLT). Max Lucado offers this encouragement: “New-beginning people choose to trust God’s promises. They choose to believe that God is up to something good even though all we see looks bad.” Paul says we are works-in- progress, according to God’s plans (cf. Ephesians 3:10, NLT).
What We Believe
Our faith in God assures us of His promises.
1. Our God is a promise-keeping God!
2. We must choose to use our faith in accepting God’s promises!
Hebrews 10:23-24, NLT
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep His promise.”
2 Corinthians 1:20, NLT
“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!”And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for His glory.”
Psalm 34:18-20, NLT
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles,but the Lord comes to the rescue each time. For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous; not one of them is broken.”
Psalm 41:1-3, NLT
“Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. The Lord protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity in the land and rescues them from their enemies. The Lord nurses them when they are sick and restores them to health.”
Isaiah 43:2a, NLT
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.”
James 2:14;17, NLT
“What good is it dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but you don’t show it by your actions. Can that kind of faith save you?”So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
Matthew 17:15-16; 19, NLT
“Lord have mercy on my son. He has seizures and suffers terribly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. So I brought him to your disciples,but they couldn’t heal him.” Afterward the disciples asked Jesus privately, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon?” “You don’t have enough faith,”Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from hereto there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
2 Cor. 12:7b-10, NLT
“So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time He said,“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weaknesses, and in the insults,hardships, persecutions,and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak,then I am strong.”
Ephesians 2:10, NLT
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”