A Heavenly Affirmation

I will be your father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty. 2 CORINTHIANS 6:18

Each of us has a fantasy that our family will be like the Waltons, an expectation that our dearest friends will be our next of kin. Jesus didn’t have that expectation. Look how he defined his family: “My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants” (Mark 3:35).

When Jesus’ brother didn’t share his convictions, he didn’t try to force them. He recognized that his spiritual family could provide what his physical family didn’t.…

We can’t control the way our family responds to us. When it comes to the behavior of others toward us, our hands are tied. We have to move beyond the naive expectation that if we do good, people will treat us right. The fact is they may and they may not—we cannot control how people respond to us.…

Let God give you what your family doesn’t. If your earthly father doesn’t affirm you, then let your heavenly Father take his place.…

[And] don’t lose heart. God still changes families.

He Still Moves Stones

Strengthening God’s Church

1 Corinthians 16:13-14

We all want the church to be strong, but false doctrine, apathy, and a lack of discipline work together to diminish the local congregation’s influence in the community and beyond. Paul reveals three ways to strengthen the church.

• Be alert to false doctrine. Nothing will water down a church’s effectiveness more than wrong spiritual beliefs. The world largely approves of immorality and iniquity, and we are bombarded by philosophies that mix truth with a bit of falsehood. Unless firmly planted in God’s Word, believers are susceptible to those lies. Standing firm requires that undiluted Scripture be preached from the pulpit and studied by the flock.

• Appreciate God’s servants. Too often church members criticize their leaders more than encourage them. Pastors and others in authority can certainly make mistakes or fall into sin—they’re human. But they have devoted themselves to helping people hear and understand the Word. The congregation is responsible to show support and love. Those who know God most deeply will appreciate His chosen servant. Likewise, caring for the pastor opens a believer to experience the Lord more and thereby know Him better.

• Accept one another. As a fellowship of believers, we’re to develop a spirit of acceptance and oneness. This principle has nothing to do with performance; rather, it’s based on the fact that God has given each of His children a unique role.

Every local body has great potential because of the believers and gifts God has put together. What step can you take now to start strengthening your church?

Before the World Began

“In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” (Titus 1:2)

There are some things that God, even in His omnipotence, cannot do. He cannot fail in His ultimate purpose in creation, for one thing. He cannot do wrong or be wrong, for what He does is right and what He says is true, by definition. And God cannot lie, so whatever He has promised, He will perform.

One of His most glorious promises is that of eternal life, for this promise was made even before He made the world, including space and time. But how could anything take place before time began? The same word is used in 2 Timothy 1:9: “. . . his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” Similarly, Romans 16:25 speaks of “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began.”

Our very minds are locked in space and time, and therefore we cannot even conceive of anything “beyond” space or “before” time. Nevertheless, God is the Creator, and even “the worlds [that is, the ‘aeons,’ the space/times] were framed by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). He created time and space and all the phenomena that exist in time and space, and the fact that we cannot comprehend this simply confirms the Scriptures. “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?” (Isaiah 40:13). “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it” (Psalm 139:6).

But what we cannot understand, we simply believe, for God cannot lie. Even though the worlds had a beginning, and our lives each had a beginning, the world will never end, and our lives will never end, for God will never end! We receive, by faith, His immutable promise of everlasting life, given us in Christ Jesus, according to His own purpose and infinite grace, before the world began. HMM

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown

“Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” (Rev. 3:11.)

GEORGE MUELLER bears this testimony, “When it pleased God in July, 1829, to reveal to my heart the truth of the personal return of the Lord Jesus, and to show me that I had made a great mistake in looking for the conversion of the world, the effect that it produced upon me was this: From my inmost soul I was stirred up to feel compassion for perishing sinners, and for the slumbering world around me lying in the wicked one, and considered, ‘Ought I not to do what I can for the Lord Jesus while He tarries, and to rouse a slumbering church?'”

There may be many hard years of hard work before the consummation, but the signs are to me so encouraging that I would not be unbelieving if I saw the wing of the apocalyptic angel spread for its last triumphal flight in this day’s sunset; or if tomorrow morning the ocean cables should thrill us with the news that Christ the Lord had alighted on Mount Olivet or Mount Calvary to proclaim universal dominion. O you dead churches wake up! O Christ, descend! Scarred temple, take the crown! Bruised hand, take the sceptre! Wounded foot, step the throne! Thine is the kingdom. —Rev. T. DeWitt Talmage, D. D.

“It may be in the evening,
When the work of the day is done,
And you have time to sit in the twilight,
And watch the sinking sun,
While the long bright day dies slowly
Over the sea,
And the hours grow quiet and holy
With thoughts of Me;
While you hear the village children
Passing along the street—
Among those passing footsteps
May come the sound of My Feet.
Therefore I tell you, Watch!
By the light of the evening star
When the room is growing dusky
As the clouds afar,
Let the door be on the latch
In your home,
For it may be through the gloaming
I will come.”

Girt about the paps with a golden girdle

“Girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” Revelation 1:13

One like unto the Son of Man” appeared to John in Patmos, and the beloved disciple marked that He wore a girdle of gold. A girdle, for Jesus never was ungirt while upon earth, but stood always ready for service, and now before the eternal throne He stays not is holy ministry, but as a priest is girt about with “the curious girdle of the ephod.” Well it is for us that He has not ceased to fulfil His offices of love for us, since this is one of our choicest safeguards that He ever liveth to make intercession for us. Jesus is never an idler; His garments are never loose as though His offices were ended; He diligently carries on the cause of His people. A golden girdle, to manifest the superiority of His service, the royalty of His person, the dignity of His state, the glory of His reward. No longer does He cry out of the dust, but He pleads with authority, a King as well as a Priest. Safe enough is our cause in the hands of our enthroned Melchisedek.

Our Lord presents all His people with an example. We must never unbind our girdles. This is not the time for lying down at ease, it is the season of service and warfare. We need to bind the girdle of truth more and more tightly around our loins. It is a golden girdle, and so will be our richest ornament, and we greatly need it, for a heart that is not well braced up with the truth as it is in Jesus, and with the fidelity which is wrought of the Spirit, will be easily entangled with the things of this life, and tripped up by the snares of temptation. It is in vain that we possess the Scriptures unless we bind them around us like a girdle, surrounding our entire nature, keeping each part of our character in order, and giving compactness to our whole man. If in heaven Jesus unbinds not the girdle, much less may we upon earth. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.

As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly

“As is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” 1 Corinthians 15:48

The head and members are of one nature, and not like that monstrous image which Nebuchadnezzar saw in his dream. The head was of fine gold, but the belly and thighs were of brass, the legs of iron, and the feet, part of iron and part of clay. Christ’s mystical body is no absurd combination of opposites; the members were mortal, and therefore Jesus died; the glorified head is immortal, and therefore the body is immortal too, for thus the record stands, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” As is our loving Head, such is the body, and every member in particular. A chosen Head and chosen members; an accepted Head, and accepted members; a living Head, and living members.

If the head be pure gold, all the parts of the body are of pure gold also. Thus is there a double union of nature as a basis for the closest communion. Pause here, devout reader, and see if thou canst without ecstatic amazement, contemplate the infinite condescension of the Son of God in thus exalting thy wretchedness into blessed union with His glory. Thou art so mean that in remembrance of thy mortality, thou mayest say to corruption, “Thou art my father,” and to the worm, “Thou art my sister”; and yet in Christ thou art so honoured that thou canst say to the Almighty, “Abba, Father,” and to the Incarnate God, “Thou art my brother and my husband.”

Surely if relationships to ancient and noble families make men think highly of themselves, we have whereof to glory over the heads of them all. Let the poorest and most despised believer lay hold upon this privilege; let not a senseless indolence make him negligent to trace his pedigree, and let him suffer no foolish attachment to present vanities to occupy his thoughts to the exclusion of this glorious, this heavenly honour of union with Christ.