In His Grip
Pray: Ask God to refresh you and to give you a new sense of confidence in His love for you and commitment to you.
Text: John 10:27–30
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one."
The past two Sundays, we’ve considered texts from the book of Mark. In both, we have been confronted with the complete failure of the disciples to remain faithful to Jesus in the days leading up to His crucifixion. Each one of them, to a man, betrayed or deserted Him in the hour of His greatest need. However, He persisted in the garden for us, He endured a sham of a trial for us, and as we will see in the coming weeks, He was faithful as our Savior to (and through) death.
The contrast between human failure and Christ’s faithfulness begs a question: Will we persevere to the end? Asked another way, Will we fall away or will we remain faithful to Him? Behind these questions lies a more challenging, personal question: Given my weakness and sinful tendencies, when confronted with life’s challenges, how on earth can I expect to make it?
We all have certain weaknesses and sins which tend to dog us from time to time. We can each imagine a circumstance that we may face in the future that could “own us”. When you picture that situation in your mind, odds are it is daunting. Perhaps you’re in the middle of one of those right now.
If we are honest, when we turn our gaze inward, to our own resources and limited gifting, the situation doesn’t normally look very good! We usually experience anxiety and fear. If we’re the “go get ‘em” type, we strive in the flesh, anxiously turning over different scenarios and plans in our minds. If we aren’t wired that way, then we may slink away in despondency or look for a diversion like sex, drugs, entertainment, sleep, and the like.
The situation seems very big. Much bigger than us, and well beyond our “figuring out”. At the end of the day, we realize that our resources are limited and our grip is pretty weak. If our hope of persevering, of “hanging on”, is “me” and “my grip” and “my strength”, the truth is we are in a pitiable state.
Our Hope and Confidence
So, if we are to abandon confidence in ourselves, what is our hope for resisting temptation, loving God for a lifetime, and remaining faithful when times are hard?
He is our Hope! God’s unbreakable grip and His eternal commitment to us are a solid foundation on which we can stand! He is our confidence. He has us. He will not let us perish. He will not let anything snatch us out of His hand. It’s not about how well we can hang on to Him, it’s about how well He hangs on to us! It’s not about how strong our faith is, it’s about the strength of the One in whom we place our faith! He is the Good Shepherd. He gives His sheep eternal life. He is greater than all.
Get To Work!
So, what does this mean? Who is responsible for our perseverance? Who does the work, is it us or is it Him? The answer is “Yes”. It’s both. His work and faithfulness is the foundation for and empowers our work. The only hope that we have that any of our efforts will make a difference and “work” is that He has secured favor for us and is at work in us, by His Spirit.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. - Philippians 2:12–13
We aren’t a bunch of white-knucklers. And we don’t just sit around and wait for God to make things happen, either. We work knowing that He is working, and His work will make our work effective.
We are confident that we will make it to the end because He is faithful. He is trustworthy. He doesn’t falter or run away when the chips are down. We are held secure in His grip. Even if we find ourselves faltering in a specific season or in the face of a certain temptation, He will keep us and restore us. The more we see and understand His power, faithfulness, and commitment to us, the stronger our faith will be, and the more fully we will trust Him as we walk through life’s challenges.
Take time to meditate on John 10:27-30. What about these verses encourage your faith? What other passages of scripture communicate similar realities?
Think of a time where, in your weakness, you were unfaithful to follow Christ. How would living in light of these verses encourage faithfulness in such circumstances? Have you processed that situation in light of God’s word? Have you repented and received forgiveness, where needed?
When faced with temptation or trials, are you given to self-sufficiency and “white-knuckling” life or are you more given to passivity and seeking ways to escape? Why do you think that is the case? How does John 10, Philippians 2, and similar passages help balance or correct your tendencies?
In the next two weeks, encourage someone with these truths.
Pray: Thank God for His faithfulness. Thank Him for specific ways He has demonstrated His goodness and commitment to you. Ask Him to give you grace to persevere whatever adversity you are currently facing.