GOD’S GREAT GIFTS

Thanks be to God for his gift that is too wonderful for words. 2 CORINTHIANS 9:15

Why did he do it? A shack would have sufficed, but he gave us a mansion. Did he have to give the birds a song and the mountains a peak? Was he required to put stripes on the zebra and the hump on the camel? … Why wrap creation in such splendor? Why go to such trouble to give such gifts?

Why do you? You do the same. I’ve seen you searching for a gift. I’ve seen you stalking the malls and walking the aisles. I’m not talking about the obligatory gifts … I’m talking about that extra-special person and that extra-special gift … Why do you do it? … You do it so the heart will stop. You do it so the jaw will drop. You do it to hear those words of disbelief, “You did this for me?”

That’s why you do it. And that is why God did it. Next time a sunrise steals your breath or a meadow of flowers leaves you speechless, remain that way. Say nothing and listen as heaven whispers, “Do you like it? I did it just for you.”

from THE GREAT HOUSE OF GOD

Satan’s Strategy

John 8:42-47

We who follow Jesus Christ have an enemy, and his name is Satan (Mark 1:13). A created being, Satan is loose in the world but limited in what he can carry out against us (Job 1:12). Many people consider him nothing more than a figment of the imagination, which allows him to work undetected. While he is a defeated foe (John 16:11), he pretends otherwise.

Let’s look at some of Satan’s objectives:

1. To draw us away from God through both direct and subtle means.

2. To thwart God’s purpose in our lives by getting us out of our Father’s
will.

3. To deny God His rightful glory and honor, which results from our choosing to live obedient lives.

4. To destroy us in this world.

The Father of Lies (John 8:44) uses falsehood, deceit, and temptation as tools for achieving his goals—and he has chosen our minds as a battleground. Why? Because faulty thinking leads to disobedient behavior, which impedes God’s purposes for us. Erroneous ideas produce vulnerabilities like worry or fearfulness, which Satan can exploit to hinder our spiritual progress.

Although setbacks may occur, believers will not be overcome, because “greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Scripture says, “Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5 niv). Offer a prayer of surrender: “Lord, I offer You complete control over my mind. Reveal any thinking that does not agree with Your Word, and teach me Your truth. Amen.”

The Name above Every Name

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9)

There are three primary names for God used in the Old Testament: Elohim, Jehovah, and Adonai. In the New Testament, both Jehovah and Adonai are translated as “Lord” (Greek kurios) and applied to Christ. This word is also applied occasionally to human “lords,” but is specifically used as a name or title of God or Christ no less than 663 times.

His human name, of course, was Jesus (“Jehovah is Savior”), but this name is used by itself only 22 times in the epistles—always with special emphasis on His humanity. Although it was the common name used repeatedly in the gospel narratives, it is significant that the disciples and other believers almost always addressed Him personally as “Lord,” never simply as “Jesus.” Unbelievers and demons, on the other hand, never addressed Him as “Lord.”

The name “Christ” means “anointed one” and is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Messiah. Thus, “Christ” is His divine title as God’s “anointed” prophet, priest, and king; “Jesus” is His human name, as our example and Savior; “Lord” is His title of spiritual relationship to those whom He has saved. All three names are of paramount importance; thus, Peter said: “God hath made that same Jesus . . . both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). His “full name,” so to speak, is therefore “the Lord Jesus Christ.” This complete name is used over 100 times; “Christ” and “Lord” are used even more.

In the great testimony of His coming exaltation, Paul says He has been given “the name” (the definite article is in the original) above every name. At this “name of Jesus” (with the “of” indicating the possessive—that is, “the name now belonging to the man Jesus who died on the cross”), every knee must bow, and every tongue must someday confess “that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11). HMM

It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good

“It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good.” (1 Sam. 3:18.)

SEE God in everything, and God will calm and color all that thou dost see!” It may be that the circumstances of our sorrows will not be removed, their condition will remain unchanged; but if Christ, as Lord and Master of our life, is brought into our grief and gloom, “HE will compass us about with songs of deliverance.” To see HIM, and to be sure that His wisdom cannot err, His power cannot fail, His love can never change; to know that even His direst dealings with us are for our deepest spiritual gain, is to be able to say, in the midst of bereavement, sorrow, pain, and loss, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Nothing else but seeing God in everything will make us loving and patient with those who annoy and trouble us. They will be to us then only instruments for accomplishing His tender and wise purposes toward us, and we shall even find ourselves at last inwardly thanking them for the blessings they bring us. Nothing else will completely put an end to all murmuring or rebelling thoughts.—H. W. Smith.

Encourage him

“Encourage him.” Deuteronomy 1:38

God employs His people to encourage one another. He did not say to an angel, “Gabriel, my servant Joshua is about to lead my people into Canaan—go, encourage him.” God never works needless miracles; if His purposes can be accomplished by ordinary means, He will not use miraculous agency. Gabriel would not have been half so well fitted for the work as Moses. A brother’s sympathy is more precious than an angel’s embassy. The angel, swift of wing, had better known the Master’s bidding than the people’s temper. An angel had never experienced the hardness of the road, nor seen the fiery serpents, nor had he led the stiff-necked multitude in the wilderness as Moses had done.

We should be glad that God usually works for man by man. It forms a bond of brotherhood, and being mutually dependent on one another, we are fused more completely into one family. Brethren, take the text as God’s message to you. Labour to help others, and especially strive to encourage them. Talk cheerily to the young and anxious enquirer, lovingly try to remove stumblingblocks out of his way. When you find a spark of grace in the heart, kneel down and blow it into a flame. Leave the young believer to discover the roughness of the road by degrees, but tell him of the strength which dwells in God, of the sureness of the promise, and of the charms of communion with Christ.

Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. Speak a word in season to him that is weary, and encourage those who are fearful to go on their way with gladness. God encourages you by His promises; Christ encourages you as He points to the heaven He has won for you, and the spirit encourages you as He works in you to will and to do of His own will and pleasure. Imitate divine wisdom, and encourage others, according to the word of this evening.

Bring him unto me

“Bring him unto me.” Mark 9:19

Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed, but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus’ word, “Bring him unto me.” Children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes with them. They may be a great joy or a great bitterness to their parents; they may be filled with the Spirit of God, or possessed with the spirit of evil.

In all cases, the Word of God gives us one receipt for the curing of all their ills, “Bring him unto me.” O for more agonizing prayer on their behalf while they are yet babes! Sin is there, let our prayers begin to attack it. Our cries for our offspring should precede those cries which betoken their actual advent into a world of sin. In the days of their youth we shall see sad tokens of that dumb and deaf spirit which will neither pray aright, nor hear the voice of God in the soul, but Jesus still commands, “Bring them unto me.” When they are grown up they may wallow in sin and foam with enmity against God; then when our hearts are breaking we should remember the great Physician’s words, “Bring them unto me.” Never must we cease to pray until they cease to breathe.

No case is hopeless while Jesus lives. The Lord sometimes suffers His people to be driven into a corner that they may experimentally know how necessary He is to them. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts, drive us to flee to the strong for strength, and this is a great blessing to us. Whatever our morning’s need may be, let it like a strong current bear us to the ocean of divine love. Jesus can soon remove our sorrow, He delights to comfort us. Let us hasten to Him while He waits to meet us.