VIDEO The Impoverished Ministry of Jesus

The Impoverished Ministry of Jesus

Where then do You get that living water? —John 4:11

“The well is deep” — and even a great deal deeper than the Samaritan woman knew! (John 4:11). Think of the depths of human nature and human life; think of the depth of the “wells” in you. Have you been limiting, or impoverishing, the ministry of Jesus to the point that He is unable to work in your life? Suppose that you have a deep “well” of hurt and trouble inside your heart, and Jesus comes and says to you, “Let not your heart be troubled…” (John 14:1). Would your response be to shrug your shoulders and say, “But, Lord, the well is too deep, and even You can’t draw up quietness and comfort out of it.” Actually, that is correct. Jesus doesn’t bring anything up from the wells of human nature— He brings them down from above. We limit the Holy One of Israel by remembering only what we have allowed Him to do for us in the past, and also by saying, “Of course, I cannot expect God to do this particular thing.” The thing that approaches the very limits of His power is the very thing we as disciples of Jesus ought to believe He will do. We impoverish and weaken His ministry in us the moment we forget He is almighty. The impoverishment is in us, not in Him. We will come to Jesus for Him to be our comforter or our sympathizer, but we refrain from approaching Him as our Almighty God.

The reason some of us are such poor examples of Christianity is that we have failed to recognize that Christ is almighty. We have Christian attributes and experiences, but there is no abandonment or surrender to Jesus Christ. When we get into difficult circumstances, we impoverish His ministry by saying, “Of course, He can’t do anything about this.” We struggle to reach the bottom of our own well, trying to get water for ourselves. Beware of sitting back, and saying, “It can’t be done.” You will know it can be done if you will look to Jesus. The well of your incompleteness runs deep, but make the effort to look away from yourself and to look toward Him.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

It is impossible to read too much, but always keep before you why you read. Remember that “the need to receive, recognize, and rely on the Holy Spirit” is before all else. Approved Unto God, 11 L


John 4 (Part 1) :1-26 – Living Water

No Longer Yourself

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

In the summer of 1859, Monsieur Charles Blondin became the first person to cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope—something he would go on to do hundreds of times. Once he did it with his manager Harry Colcord on his back. Blondin gave Colcord these instructions: “Look up, Harry . . . you are no longer Colcord, you are Blondin. . . . If I sway, sway with me. Do not attempt to do any balancing yourself. If you do, we will both go to our death.”

Paul, in essence, said to the Galatian believers: You can’t walk the line of living a life that is pleasing to God apart from faith in Christ. But here’s the good news—you don’t have to! No amount of attempting to earn our way to God will ever cut it. So are we passive in our salvation? No! Our invitation is to cling to Christ. Clinging to Jesus means putting to death an old, independent way of living; it’s as if we ourselves have died. Yet, we go on living. But “the life [we] now live in the body, [we] live by faith in the Son of God, who loved [us] and gave himself for [us]” (Galatians 2:20).

Where are we trying to walk the tightrope today? God hasn’t called us to walk out on the rope to Him; He’s called us to cling to Him and walk this life with Him.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

How can you stop trying to please God on your own? Where do you need to cling to Jesus today, trusting His righteousness?

Dear Jesus, thank You for doing for me what I could never do for myself. I turn away from trying to please You on my own. I’m so glad I don’t need to earn Your love.

Resurrection: Our New Body

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Scripture uses beautiful imagery to describe the return of Christ. Today’s passage, for example, says at the Lord’s shout and the sounding of a trumpet, the “dead in Christ” will emerge from their resting places and soar into the sky (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Close behind them will be believers who haven’t yet departed this life. They’ll be changed as they are “caught up … to meet the Lord in the air” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

Earthly flesh and bones age, lose vitality, and succumb to sin. So God promised that the body of every believer would be transformed into a glorious one like Christ’s after His resurrection. In heaven, we will no longer have to deal with temptations or limitations of our present time-bound existence. Perhaps we won’t even be restricted by space, since John 20:19 indicates that the resurrected Jesus didn’t bother with doors! Our new bodies will be suited for the environment where we are to dwell forever—an ageless eternity in which all of our needs are perfectly met.

Each believer will still be him- or herself. Friends and family long separated will recognize one another; our personalities will be unchanged, except that we’ll be sinless. And from then on, we will each be who God intends for us to be.

The Firstborn of Every Creature

“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” (Colossians 1:15)

A widespread cult heresy based on this verse claims that Jesus Christ was not eternal but merely the first being created—perhaps an angel—before becoming a man. Note, however, that the verse does not say He was the “first created of every creature” but the “first born of every creature,” and there is a big difference. In fact, the very next verse says that “by him were all things created” (v. 16). He was never created, for He Himself is the Creator. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3).

He is “born” of God, not “made,” the “only begotten Son” of God (John 3:16). “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John 1:18). The eternal Father is omnipresent, and therefore invisible, inaudible, inaccessible to the physical senses. The eternally existing Son is the “image” of the invisible Father, the One who declares, reveals, embodies His essence. Although He is always “in the bosom of the Father,” yet He is eternally also “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person” (Hebrews 1:3). He is the eternal, living Word, which was “in the beginning with God” (John 1:2), and which “was God” (John 1:1).

Thus, the phrase “firstborn of every creature” in our text can be translated literally as “begotten before all creation.” The eternal inter-relationship of the Persons of the Godhead is beyond human comprehension in its fullness, and the terms “Son” and “begotten” are the best human language can do to describe it. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, is the only begotten, eternally generated Son of the Father, forever shining forth as the image of the otherwise invisible God. HMM

Desire to Be Filled

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with me Spirit. —Ephesians 5:18

Again, before you can be filled with the Spirit you must desire to be filled. Here I meet with a certain amount of puzzlement. Somebody will say, “How is it that you say to us that we must desire to be filled, because you know we desire to be? Haven’t we talked to you in person? Haven’t we called you on the phone? Aren’t we out here tonight to hear the sermon on the Holy Spirit? Isn’t this all a comforting indication to you that we are desirous of being filled with the Holy Spirit?”

Not necessarily, and I will explain why. For instance, are you sure that you want to be possessed by a spirit other than your own? even though that spirit be the pure Spirit of God? even though He be the very gentle essence of the gentle Jesus? even though He be sane and pure and free? even though He be wisdom personified, wisdom Himself, even though He have a healing, precious ointment to distill? even though He be loving as the heart of God? That Spirit, if He ever possesses you, will be the Lord of your Life!   HTB042-043

Even so come, Holy Spirit! Amen.

The Holy Spirit in Creation

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. —Genesis 1:26

God is creative. He has not relinquished His place as Creator, even though the specific work of forming the first heaven and earth has long been completed.

The Holy Spirit as one of the blessed Godhead is also creative. He is forever bringing new things into being, forever giving out and setting in motion, forever making “all things new.” Wherever He is at work, the effects will be creative rather than conservative, though we should know that He also conserves whatever He creates. To create and not conserve would be to waste the creative act. But the whole psychology of the Spirit is toward the creation of new things rather than toward the cautious preservation of what has been created.

It should be said that the Holy Spirit always creates in accord with His character as very God of very God. He stamps whatever He does with the mark of eternity. It has upon it the quality of everlastingness—the dignity and holiness of the Deity set it apart. TWP036

Christ makes the difference between death and life, always and everywhere. He is the Prince of Life, and whatever He touches lives. TET060

Love and Hate

Romans 3:23

Stephen spoke. The council swore. Stephen preached. The council plotted. Stephen seized the opportunity. The council seized Stephen.

The high priest begins the interrogation saying, “Are these charges true?”

(Acts 7:1). Instead of pleading the fifth amendment, Stephen takes the next 50 verses to remind them from whence they came. He preaches expositorily from their scriptures to set the record straight. Without mincing words, he methodically addresses the sins of “our fathers.”

How did the Council react to these honest accusations? How would you react? Be honest. With rage? Fury? Hate?

And Stephen, being full of the Holy Spirit, surprised them again by gazing heavenward and saying, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” (Acts 7:56).

That was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, salt rubbed into an open wound, a modern day “in your face.” With one accord, they cried out and cast him outside where they began to stone him.

Then Stephen did something amazing. The one who had “told it like it is” surprised them again by crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:60).

He had learned his lesson well. He was imitating the Master. This was the consummate example of love in action. Jesus taught him to hate the sin and love the sinner. Hating the sin is a sign of strength. Loving the sinner is an act of gentleness and greatness.

How does one distinguish between the sin and the sinner? Sometimes, as parents, we face the same dilemma. As parents of two active boys, my wife and I were often guilty of not being able to separate the soot from the son. Now you’re supposed to hate the soot and love your son. You’re supposed to separate your feelings toward the soot from your feelings toward your son.

It’s a very thin and delicate line that separates the soot from the son. It is that same line that separates the alcoholic from the burned-out businessman, the sin from the sinner, you from yourself.

All of us have been guilty of “falling short” and missing the line. It is humanly impossible to separate the sin from the sinner, but it is heavenly possible to hate the sin and love the sinner. Christ recognized the difference when He spoke to the thief on the cross. Stephen understood it when he prayed within earshot of a young man named Saul. And with a little help from the Spirit, you too can keep on keeping on!

Joe Noland, A Little Greatness

VIDEO What Jesus Continues to Do – Continuing Christ’s Work

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach. Acts 1:1

The biblical writer, Luke, wrote his Gospel (“the former account”), telling us of all Jesus began to do and teach. Then Luke wrote the book of Acts to tell us what Jesus continued to do and teach through His people by His Spirit. The Lord Jesus indwells His people by His Spirit, working and speaking through them.

Each of us is different—utterly unique. There’s no other person on earth like you, nor has there ever been, nor will there ever be! Of the billions of people on the world’s stage from Creation to the return of Christ, only one person is like you—and it’s you. Jesus wants to use your strengths and weaknesses, your idiosyncrasies and quirks, your gifts and talents, your abilities and disabilities. 

We are uniquely created by God to serve Him, and we should never bemoan the way we are. Let Him have control over every part of your life and ask Him to work through you to His glory today!

“Good works” are those that have their origin in Jesus Christ—whose activity is released through your body, presented to Him as a living sacrifice by a faith that expresses total dependence. Major Ian Thomas


Continuing Christ’s Work, Part 1 (Acts 1:1-3)

Facing Fear

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3

Warren moved to a small town to pastor a church. After his ministry had some initial success, one of the locals turned on him. Concocting a story accusing Warren of horrendous acts, the man took the story to the local newspaper and even printed his accusations on pamphlets to distribute to local residents by mail. Warren and his wife started praying hard. If the lie was believed, their lives would be upended.

King David once experienced something similar. He faced an attack of slander by an enemy. “All day long they twist my words,” he said, “all their schemes are for my ruin” (Psalm 56:5). This sustained assault left him fearful and tearful (v. 8). But in the midst of the battle, he prayed this powerful prayer: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. . . . What can mere mortals do to me?” (vv. 3–4).

David’s prayer can be a model for us today. When I am afraid—in times of fear or accusation, we turn to God. I put my trust in you—we place our battle in God’s powerful hands. What can mere mortals do to me?—facing the situation with Him, we remember how limited the powers against us really are.

The newspaper ignored the story about Warren. For some reason, the pamphlets were never distributed. What battle do you fear today? Talk to God. He’s willing to fight it with you.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

What real fears do you face? How can David’s prayer help you deal with them?

Loving God, I’m afraid—and so today I put my trust in You. What can mere mortals do to me when You’re fighting for me? Thank You for the coming victory.

For help in choosing hope instead of fear, read DiscoverySeries.org/Q0733.

The Good News About Death

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

The Bible teaches that death is only the beginning for believers. God has prepared an eternal home for us, and the condition for entry is clear: Believe that Jesus died for your sins, and receive His forgiveness. Some people consider this narrow-minded and unfair. But God set up that condition for a reason.

Way back in the garden of Eden, the Lord established a rule to protect His creation: Do not disobey Me. Sin was such a serious matter in His eyes that He determined it deserved the death penalty. Yet ever since Adam and Eve’s transgression, we’ve been bound to slip up because we’re flawed human beings. And God knew that. So, to save us from the consequence of sin, He sent His Son to die in our place. Jesus fulfilled the law while taking our punishment. And three days later He rose again.

God promised in His Word that those who receive Jesus as Savior share in His resurrection. When a believer dies, the heavenly gates open, and he or she has the same triumph over death that Jesus did. In other words, when we leave this world, we do not simply disappear. We continue to worship the Lord in heaven.