Ponder the Love of God

I pray that you … will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ’s love—how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. EPHESIANS 3:18

There is no way our little minds can comprehend the love of God. But that didn’t keep him from coming.…

From the cradle in Bethlehem to the cross in Jerusalem we’ve pondered the love of our Father. What can you say to that kind of emotion? Upon learning that God would rather die than live without you, how do you react? How can you begin to explain such passion?

In the Grip of Grace

Caution with Spiritual Gifts

1 Corinthians 12:14-30

Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians addressed a problem in the church. People valued only certain gifts and were focused on who had which ones. Believers with the “better” gifts were esteemed above others, while those with “lesser” abilities weren’t considered as important. Spiritual pride was rampant, which is a problem that can still occur in the church today. We should remember:

Caution #1—God doesn’t give every person the same gift. Each believer receives at least one endowment according to the Spirit’s purposes and choosing. While we are all called to be merciful, some are given the gift of mercy. Their remarkable ability to minister to the hurting and outcasts of society can be explained only through the Holy Spirit.

Caution #2—We can’t tell others, “You should have this gift.” It is God’s business to decide who has which ability. Consider, for example, the gift of faith. When we encounter believers struggling with doubt, we should not criticize them for what they lack. Rather, we should encourage them toward greater faith.

Caution #3—We must not place undue value on certain gifts. All of them are important and necessary to the body. We are to discover which gifts the Holy Spirit has given us and should be content with His decision.

In our zeal to follow Christ, we sometimes view giftedness as a way to assess one’s salvation, spiritual maturity, or importance in the church. We should let go of false ideas about the value of divinely given abilities and celebrate the unique gifting of each individual believer.

The Penalty of Unbelief

“I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” (Jude 1:5)

This is the first example Jude provides of those who refused to respond to God’s leading and gracious provision. Israel had witnessed stunning miracles, and a few very public judgments, before the 12 spies were sent out to investigate the Promised Land.

For example, the institution of the Passover was a wonderful and fearful event. God showed His hand both in salvation of those who obeyed and in swift judgment on those who refused.

The exodus of Israel from Egypt was unique. Not only did God enrich the nation in one day, but demonstrated His awesome power at the parting of the Red Sea and the destruction of the army of Pharaoh. Everyone in Israel observed this. They all experienced God’s power firsthand.

On the way to Mount Sinai, the bitter water of Meribah was made sweet for them to drink even after they complained—bitterly. The daily miracle of the manna was given to feed the nation, and water was provided out of the rock for them to drink. God’s grace and mercy were just about everywhere they could imagine.

Even after the nation had arrived at the holy mountain and the fearful giving of the Law was accomplished in their sight, Israel rebelled with the celebration of the golden calf. God’s judgment was swift, and thousands died.

Apparently, the nation did not learn their lesson even though they had a revival while giving, building, and dedicating the tabernacle for worship. After all of that, Moses sent out the 12 men to “spy out the land.” When the nation refused to trust God, He condemned everyone over 20 to die in the wilderness, except for faithful Caleb and Joshua (Numbers 14:29-30). “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). HMM III

And seekest thou great things for thyself?

“And seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord: but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.” (Jer. 45:5.)

A PROMISE given for hard places, and a promise of safety and life in the midst of tremendous pressure, a life “for a prey.” It may well adjust itself to our own times, which are growing harder as we near the end of the age, and the Tribulation times.

What is the meaning of “a life for a prey”? It means a life snatched out of the jaws of the destroyer, as David snatched the lamb from the lion. It means not removal from the noise of the battle and the presence of our foes; but it means a table in the midst of our enemies, a shelter from the storm, a fortress amid the foe, a life preserved in the face of continual pressure: Paul’s healing when pressed out of measure so that he despaired of life; Paul’s Divine help when the thorn remained, but the power of Christ rested upon him and the grace of Christ was sufficient. Lord, give me my life for a prey, and in the hardest places help me today to be victorious.—Days of Heaven upon Earth.

We often pray to be delivered from calamities; we even trust that we shall be; but we do not pray to be made what we should be, in the very presence of the calamities; to live amid them, as long as they last, in the consciousness that we are held and sheltered by the Lord, and can therefore remain in the midst of them, so long as they continue, without any hurt. For forty days and nights, the Saviour was kept in the presence of Satan in the wilderness, and that, under circumstances of special trial, His human nature being weakened by want of food and rest.

The furnace was heated seven times more than it was wont to be heated, but the three Hebrew children were kept a season amid its flames as calm and composed in the presence of the tyrant’s last appliances of torture, as they were in the presence of himself before their time of deliverance came. And the livelong night did Daniel sit among the lions, and when he was taken up out of the den, “no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God.” They dwelt in the presence of the enemy, because they dwelt in the presence of God.

Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels

“Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels.” Revelation 12:7

War always will rage between the two great sovereignties until one or other be crushed. Peace between good and evil is an impossibility; the very pretence of it would, in fact, be the triumph of the powers of darkness. Michael will always fight; his holy soul is vexed with sin, and will not endure it. Jesus will always be the dragon’s foe, and that not in a quiet sense, but actively, vigorously, with full determination to exterminate evil. All His servants, whether angels in heaven or messengers on earth, will and must fight; they are born to be warriors—at the cross they enter into covenant never to make truce with evil; they are a warlike company, firm in defence and fierce in attack. The duty of every soldier in the army of the Lord is daily, with all his heart, and soul, and strength, to fight against the dragon.

The dragon and his angels will not decline the affray; they are incessant in their onslaughts,
sparing no weapon, fair or foul. We are foolish to expect to serve God without opposition: the more zealous we are, the more sure are we to be assailed by the myrmidons of hell. The church may become slothful, but not so her great antagonist; his restless spirit never suffers the war to pause; he hates the woman’s seed,and would fain devour the church if he could. The servants of Satan partake much of the old dragon’s energy, and are usually an active race. War rages all around, and to dream of peace is dangerous and futile.

Glory be to God, we know the end of the war. The great dragon shall be cast out and for ever destroyed, while Jesus and they who are with Him shall receive the crown. Let us sharpen our swords tonight, and pray the Holy Spirit to nerve our arms for the conflict. Never battle so important, never crown so glorious. Every man to his post, ye warriors of the cross, and may the Lord tread Satan under your feet shortly!

The Lord is able to give thee much more than this is

“And Amaziah said to the man of God, But what shall we do for the hundred talents which I have given to the army of Israel? And the man of God answered, The Lord is able to give thee much more than this.” 2 Chronicles 25:9

A very important question this seemed to be to the king of Judah, and possibly it is of even more weight with the tried and tempted O Christian. To lose money is at no times pleasant, and when principle involves it, the flesh is not always ready to make the sacrifice. “Why lose that which may be so usefully employed? May not the truth itself be bought too dear? What shall we do without it? Remember the children, and our small income!” All these things and a thousand more would tempt the Christian to put forth his hand to unrighteous gain, or stay himself from carrying out his conscientious convictions, when they involve serious loss. All men cannot view these matters in the light of faith; and even with the followers of Jesus, the doctrine of “we must live” has quite sufficient weight.

The Lord is able to give thee much more than this is a very satisfactory answer to the anxious question. Our Father holds the purse-strings, and what we lose for His sake He can repay a thousandfold. It is ours to obey His will, and we may rest assured that He will provide for us. The Lord will be no man’s debtor at the last. Saints know that a grain of heart’s-ease is of more value than a ton of gold. He who wraps a threadbare coat about a good conscience has gained a spiritual wealth far more desirable than any he has lost. God’s smile and a dungeon are enough for a true heart; His frown and a palace would be hell to a gracious spirit. Let the worst come to the worst, let all the talents go, we have not lost our treasure, for that is above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Meanwhile, even now, the Lord maketh the meek to inherit the earth, and no good thing doth He withhold from them that walk uprightly.