#AConfidentHeart: The difference between salvation and satisfaction in Christ

Today’s Truth

Eph 3 - 17,19

Exploration

Today’s truth comes from Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. This particular verse is embedded in his prayer for spiritual blessings.

One of the questions that arose in the course of my current bible study is: “What is the difference between salvation and satisfaction in Christ (Swope, p. 64)?”

Because I often struggle with my journey toward satisfaction — I decided to explore this further for this post today, and in brief, some of the conclusions I reached were:

Renee’s statement on p. 61, “Salvation is a one-time decision, but finding satisfaction in Christ and living in the security of his promises is a daily process,” resonated deeply with me.

Very simply put, salvation in Christ is the Father’s ultimate promise, and only required that I be baptized in order to benefit by it; while satisfaction in Christ requires me to commit daily to living my life in accordance with His Will, in compliance with His Word, and in the arms of His love.

Affirmation

The affirmation of my very simple conclusion above comes from my reflection on the Word:

Salvation

  • Salvation is a gift that comes through His grace, and not through anything that I or anyone else do/does; For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NRSV)
  • the sign of this gift was the passion of Christ; But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NRSV)
  • this sacrifice represents the unfathomable depth of His love and magnitude of His promise; For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:16, NRSV)
  • and He has guaranteed that I cannot lose this gift; I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:28, NRSV)
  • The acceptance of this gift requires the one-time decision Renee talks about – a declaration of faith and true contrition for my sins; because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved. (Romans 10:9-10, NRSV). This was done for me through Baptism, which I have affirmed.

Satisfaction

Satisfaction in Christ requires a commitment on my part to demonstrate my gratitude for the gift of salvation. It is carried out daily in actively seeking to develop a fuller understanding of the full dimensions of His love: to become “rooted and grounded” in His love, to trust in His promises, and to live according to His Word (Ephesians 3:17-19).

In practice, this is far more difficult, but I am starting to develop a framework to keep me on track – some of the steps I take include:

  • (1) remembering the “Why?” and the “Who?”– Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6, NRSV)
  • (2) taking Paul’s prayer for spiritual blessings seriously and seeking guidance from the Spirit on the “How?” – I ask for the gift of the seven graces (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear) so that I may
    • act daily in accordance with His will; Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, NRSV);
    • and have the ability to deal with trials and adversity as they come with the knowledge that nothing can compromise His love for me; For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NRSV);
    • and the assurance that He will see me through anything: I will be with [her] in trouble, I will deliver [her], and honor [her]. (Psalms 91:15).
  • (3) always reminding myself that even when I falter, I can move forward – because he will never let me fail completely; though [she] stumbles, [she] shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds [her] by the hand. (Psalms 37:24, NRSV)

Inspiration

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Prayer

Lord, even when I stumble, You never let me fall headlong; rather You are always with me, always deliver me, and always honor me. Please know that knowing this truth gives me confidence and a desire to seek my full satisfaction in You. Almighty Father, I am grateful for the gift of my salvation, which I recognize as an expression of the unfathomable depth of Your love for me. Let me always remember that this gift was afforded through Your grace and the ultimate sacrifice of Your Son, Jesus. Let me remain cognizant of its enormous promise – that of eternal life. Let me reaffirm my acceptance of, and gratitude for this gift daily – by allowing Christ to dwell in my heart through faith; through seeking the counsel of the Holy Spirit to further my knowledge and understanding of the Divine Truth; and by striving to comprehend the dimensions of the love of Christ – knowing that nothing will be able to separate me from Your love. In Jesus’ name, I pray, AMEN 

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#priceless love: motivation to pray

Today’s Truth

I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. (Ephesians 3:16-17, NRSV)

Exploration

This prayer for spiritual blessings comes from Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. In this segment, his hope is that they will develop the capacity to pray in meaningful ways and to develop a strong relationship with Christ.

Given the definition of some of the key words and phrases: Paul’s hope appears to be based on God’s strong desire that through a combination of faith, prayer, belief in and understanding of the divine truth, and the love of Christ, each person’s status as a follower, or one of the chosen will be solidified.

Rephrased, with these definitions: I pray that, God, in His Divine Wisdom, may grant that your belief be fortified, through prayer and the counsel of the Holy Spirit, and that Christ inhabits your core through faith, as you become entrenched and secure in His love.

  • Riches of His glory = the most precious realities of the spiritual realm
  • Strengthened = fortified; made stronger
  • Inner being = the heart of a believer
  • Power = capacity to do something
  • Dwell = live; inhabit
  • Heart = the core; source and center of all emotion, where the deepest and most sincere feelings are located
  • Faith = confidence/belief, even in the absence of logical proof
  • Rooted = well-established, entrenched
  • Grounded = secure

Application

I pray, in fact, I pray a lot. Once I found out that He wanted me to bring all of my concerns to Him, I flooded the airwaves. Some issues appear to be taken care of right away, while others seem to linger, unresolved, or perhaps, are resolved in a way that I never asked for or imagined.

While Paul affirms that the underlying motivation for prayer should generally be spiritual growth, James words really struck a chord with me — there are right and wrong ways to pray — all based on an appropriate motivation — love:

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. (James 4:3, NRSV)

I wish I could say that I had never prayed a “wrong” prayer, but it wouldn’t be true. I have asked for specific self-motivated outcomes — that people be changed in order to make my life easier, and for situations to change so that my own needs are met at the expense of others. The reality is that I find it easier to pray “appropriately,” when all is going well, or in light of evidence that a prayer has been answered in my favor. It’s much more difficult to formulate an appropriate prayer when I am feeling beaten down, insecure, unloved, anxious, weak, overwhelmed, or defeated. (Of course, these are the times that my motivation should strictly follow Paul’s wishes — yet, easier said than done sometimes.)

In reflecting, I know that the motivation behind my prayer should be to strengthen my understanding and my relationship with God so that I can reap all of the rewards of his priceless and unfailing love. It should thus always be guided by the Spirit, rooted in love, and cognizant of the promises held in the Scriptures.

Inspiration

What do I truly long for?

Every [wo]man longs for love that never fails. (Proverbs 19:22a, NIV)

What are some of the particular promises that I can count on when I am faced with impossible circumstances, or life becomes too difficult?

Jesus replied, “Things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27, NRSV)

 [She] will call out to me, and I will answer [her]. I will be with [her] in times of trouble. I will save [her] and honor [her]. (Psalms 91:15, NRSV)

All of which are exactly what I need and can only be found through Him — with the aid of right-motivated prayer. 

Reflection and Prayer

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. (Romans 8:26, NIV)

Lord, let the Holy Spirit guide my prayer. When I pray, let it always be with the proper motivation, rooted and grounded in love. Let me remember that every person longs for a love that never fails, and I am no exception. Through Your priceless love, I can have full confidence that when I call out with proper motivation, You will answer. You will be with me in my times of trouble. You will save me and honor me. For what is impossible with people is possible with You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. AMEN (See Ephesians 3:16-17; James 4:3; Luke 18:27; Proverbs 19:22a; and Psalms 91:15, NRSV)

#priceless love: it quenches thirst and satisfies hunger

Today’s Truth

Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always. (1 Chronicles 16:11; from Psalms 105:4)

Exploration

Today’s truth is lifted directly from Psalms 105:4 and lies in the chapters of the Chronicles dealing with the reign of King David. In chapter 16, the Chronicler is recounting the establishment of David’s kingdom.

The Chronicler, provides idealized versions of both David and Solomon in the first Chronicles. He is recounting history through interpreting the writings of others — drawing from the Books of Samuel, Kings, Judges, Ruth, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, and others, including the Psalms. It is, some say, almost as though he wanted to paint a vivid picture of the Messianic ideal that he sought.

Given the thought of a Messianic ideal — I looked for and found theological interpretations of the words strength, seek, and face.

Force/power (strength) = a source, something that we can draw on to gain the physical capacity or emotional toughnness required to endure and carry out demanding tasks or to deal with stressful or painful situations.

Pursue (seek) = suggests a commitment to actively seeking solace and relief in Him

Manifestation = rather than defining “face” as countenance, which suggests seeing Him as we would a human, this references the mercy and divine or perfect love of God (agape) that is unconditional, unfailing and can only come from Him

On this basis, I rewrite the verse as follows:  Look to the LORD and his force; pursue His manifestation (mercy, divine love) always.

Application

In dealing with inevitable trials that come along, I  often succumb to self-pity, begin to find ways of laying the blame on others rather than understanding that I am in the midst of a learning experience. I then feel parched, and as though there is nothing that will quench my thirst.

The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. (Isaiah 41:17a)

I can get the same feeling as I stumble on my walk with Him. Not only am I thirsty, but there is also often a hunger that needs to be fed.

O God, You are my God, earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalms 63:1)

Yet, He assures me there is hope. He will never forsake me, and I can take action accordingly, I can learn what each experience is trying to teach me. I can strengthen my relationship with him. I can quench my thirst and satisfy my hunger.

But I the LORD will answer them; the God of Israel, will not forsake them. (Isaiah 41:17b)

I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (Matthew 6:35)

Inspiration/Affirmation

Through review of all of the blessings which have been bestowed on me — I know the capacity of His love and mercy. Thus, I just need to develop a habit of mind that will allow me to be more consistent in applying the strategy of active pursuit of his force and its manifestations.

I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory. (Psalms 63:2)

The same holds true for reaching a goal of living a life that will ensure sharing in His promised rewards.

Blessed are those who thirst for righteousness; they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Prayer

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer. (Psalms 4:1, NIV)

LORD, Let me remember that my quest for righteousness will yield tremendous rewards. If I actively employ a strategy of pursuing your force in all its manifestations — I will never go hungry, and if I believe, I will never go thirsty.  Let me always remember that in my many blessings, I have seen You first as my refuge in the sanctuary and then have beheld Your power and Your glory, so this reminds me that there a ray of hope in any situation. When I am feeling insecure or lacking in confidence, let me attain the emotional toughness needed to deal with stressful or painful circumstances through Your force. When I am feeling defeated because of my doubt or impatience, let me remember that You will never forsake me, and let me seek Your mercy and love so that I can keep going until I understand what I am supposed to learn and am able to apply it. . In Jesus’ name, I pray, AMEN. (See Matthew 5:6; Matthew 6:35; 1 Chronicles 16:11; Psalms 63:1-2; Isaiah 41:17)

#priceless love: its results must be acknowledged

Today’s Truth(s)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. (Psalms 28:7)

Because Your love is better than my life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalms 63:3-4)

Exploration

I find that the Psalms hold a great deal of wisdom. I have combined these two truths, analyzing the meaning of key words and phrases to form one that serves as a very personal wake-up call for me:

The LORD is the source of my emotional support and my buffer; I trust Him, and I am comforted, and protected. Through His unconditional love and willing intervention I find relief — and I seek to express my gratitude in prayers of thanksgiving , singing his praises, and in encouraging others to do so as well.

Application

One of the things that I tend to have difficulty with is being consistent in expressing my gratitude when I am blessed. I do recognize when my prayers have been answered, and I revel in the feeling of peace and well-being. Then, as quickly as that recognition and euphoria occurs, my focus can shift back to all of the other petitions I have that are as yet unresolved.

When this happens, I am glad that in moments of self-reflection, I am struck by the realization (or perhaps by the hand of the Holy Spirit) that prayer is not merely a transactional exercise — wherein I ask, He gives; but rather it must be part of an ongoing process of building a deep and trusting relationship with God — one where, based on his capacity for love and in light of the desired fulfillment of his promises, I can feel confident that I am moving along the path he intends.

To me, as I seek to build the type of relationship that I desire with Him — while I can feel free to express all of my needs and emotions, I have to remember that my trials and circumstance are intended often to teach me something valuable. I have to be open to accept His help and His grace in dealing with my situation with the understanding that his plan unfolds only as I am able to understand and implement it. When I am blessed, I have to recognize it as a result of His Hand, and give thanks. Then, I have to focus my prayers on building the fortitude to continue to endure any trial or framing the appropriate plea for resolution of any outstanding issues until such time as I have developed the requisite mindset and behavior to accept the intervention and/or carry out the next steps.

Inspiration/Affirmation

The LORD gives strength to his people; the LORD blesses his people with peace. (Psalms 29:11)

This verse serves as a reinforcement of the truth highlighted from Psalms 28, and also reminds me that this is where my sense of peace is coming from when I am blessed. This is all the more reason to follow through on meeting my goal — working to develop a habit of mind that allows me to balance giving praise when it is due with making additional pleas for understanding, fortitude, and relief.

Prayer

Lord, in giving me strength, you bring me peace; in answering my pleas, you show me your infinite mercy and love.  Through Your intervention I always attain comfort, relief, and protection, and often receive grace in the form of bolstered fortitude and ability to endure.  Let me remember that Your plan unfolds as I am able to understand the lessons inherent in the trials and adversity that I face, and as am capable of applying what I learn as You intend. Let me never forget that Your priceless love deserves my song of praise and thanksgiving. Please help me to always balance my pleas with my praise. In Jesus’ name, I pray, AMEN.

#Priceless Love: love that delivers

Today’s Truth

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 36:7)

Exploration

This psalm in its entirety highlights the magnanimity of God’s response to man. It notes that despite human fallibility as manifested in our behavior. He metes out justice tempered by his abiding and unconditional/non-partial love, and there is every opportunity for redemption, once we understand and accept that.

Mapping the verse, through contextualization and defining key words and phrases, I have personalized it as follows:

How impossible it is to put value on your limitless and inexhaustible love toward me, O God! I can take sanctuary and respite from distress in the the cover of Your all-powerful existence, in order to rise above challenges and overcome adversity.

The term love here represents agape, because it derives from God — this love is unconditional, non-partial/non-discriminatory, and sacrificial when contrasted with “phileo” or brotherly love, or the common definition of love between humans.

Reflection/Application

As I have throughout my life, I’ve had my share of trial this past couple of years. With the intervention of God, and the collective prayers of myself and others, I have experienced many bright spots, and certainly have a greater appreciation of those blessings because often they have been hard-won.

I really struggle to learn to balance praise and thanksgiving for the blessings that come, with calls for fortitude and grace when the storms supplant the sunlight.

Inspiration/Affirmation

Mostly, I feel that I am making great strides in my journey of faith, yet there are days that offer challenges that throw me off-stride. These are the times when I know I need to regroup and seek solace in Him. Now, when I stumble, I first ask the Spirit and look to the Scriptures for inspiration for my prayers.

The beauty of seeking “refuge in the shadow of His wings,” is that His protection can be extended in its scope through the intervention of others as well:

For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. They will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. (Psalms 91:12, NIV)

Further, there are distinct personal benefits to be derived by weathering the storms:

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:3-5, NIV)

The promises of these truths, and putting them into practice allows us to better weather the storms of the future.

Prayer

Lord, let me not despair in my misery. Rather, let me always remember me that Your abiding love ensures that I will not repeatedly strike my foot against a rock, and that this priceless love allows me to persist in faith during times of trial. Ultimately, let me remember that the ability to endure will reinforce itself through building the necessary disposition in me that retains optimism in a love that always delivers. In Jesus’ name, I pray, AMEN.