As Below, So Above

You are witnesses of these things. . . . but tarry in the city . . . until you are endued with power from on high. —Luke 24:48-49

The Roman paganism of Jesus’ day taught that the actions of gods in the heavens above affected the earth below. If Zeus got angry, thunderbolts shot out. “As above, so below,” went the ancient formula.

Jesus, though, sometimes inverted that. He taught: As below, so above. A believer prays, and heaven responds. A sinner repents, and the angels rejoice. A mission succeeds, and God is glorified. A believer rebels, and the Holy Spirit is grieved.

I believe these things, yet somehow I keep forgetting them. I forget that my prayers matter to God. I forget that the choices I make today bring delight or grief to the Lord of the universe. I forget that I am helping my neighbors to their eternal destinations.

The good-news message of God’s love that Jesus brought to this earth we can now bring to others. That was the challenge He gave His disciples before ascending to His Father (see Matt. 28:18-20). We who follow Jesus serve as an extension of His incarnation and ministry. It is why He came to earth. Before He left, He told His disciples that He would send His Spirit from above to them below (Luke 24:48). He did not leave us alone. He fills us with His power that we might touch lives here below to affect Philip Yancey

You ascended before our eyes, and we turned back grieving, only to find You in our hearts. —Augustine

Our God of Grace

Ephesians 2:4-5

Grace is God’s favor and love shown to mankind. We cannot earn it or ever be good enough to deserve it. To truly appreciate His grace, we need to comprehend certain truths about Him and ourselves.

First, God is absolutely holy, and sin cannot coexist with the sacred perfection of His presence. When Adam and Eve chose to eat from the forbidden tree, their intimate relationship with Him was broken. Since all future generations inherited their sinful nature, every person is born with a nature bent away from the Lord.

Next, God’s character is just. As a result, He requires payment for sin. The penalty He demands is death (Rom. 6:23), not just physically but also spiritually through eternal separation from Him.

Finally, we have a merciful God who does not treat us as our actions deserve but instead extends His grace toward us. He devised a plan that would affirm His holy nature, meet the requirements of His justice, and enable us to become members of His family: He sent His Son to accomplish our salvation. Born as a human being, Jesus lived a perfect life and fulfilled the Law. He alone was qualified to satisfy divine justice. Christ took our place, bore our sins, and experienced God’s wrath over our rebellion—all so that we could be reconciled to the Father.

God made this provision for our salvation while we were still sinners (Rom. 5:8). Have you acknowledged your sinful state and received His forgiveness through faith in Jesus? If so, are you expressing ongoing thankfulness for His grace?

My Advocate

“Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25)

Remembering that “there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Psalm 53:3), we are relieved to find that Jesus Christ Himself stands before God and declares that He died for our sins, that justice has been served. No more punishment remains.

He has the nail scars in His hands, permanently visible even in His resurrection body. He showed them to doubting Thomas as an encouragement to believe. God needs no reminder, but in God’s courtroom they make a legal point: Our sin penalty has forever been paid. The third verse of the hymn “My Hope Is in the Lord” echoes this blessed truth.

And now for me He stands
Before the Father’s throne,
He shows His wounded hands
And names me as His own.

There are two judgments coming. Those who died without Christ will have no advocate pleading their case. For them, only righteous judgment remains. But Christians have the promise that “their sins and iniquities will I remember no more,” and we have access “into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:17, 19).

The day will come when our “hope” becomes fully realized, and “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away” (Revelation 21:4). We will gather with the saints of all the ages and sing, “Thou art worthy . . . [for thou] hast redeemed us to God by thy blood” (Revelation 5:9). What hope we have! JDM

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving

In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6, 7 (R. V.).

JUST think of having His wonderful peace guarding one’s heart and one’s thoughts all day long. But it is only on condition that we fulfill the sixth verse, “In nothing be anxious,”—this is a distinct Command, and, if we fail to fulfill it, we shall not get the blessing. Sorrow even is anxiety, and should be laid upon our blessed Lord. Then in prayer and supplication we must not forget that thanksgiving is also distinctly commanded; we must praise God for His dealings with us, even though we cannot make them out at times. Pray God to make you cease from anxiety about yourself and your plans; just be willing to do the work our dear Father gives you at the time. John Kenneth Mackenzie.

Oh, how great peace and quietness would he possess who should cut off all vain anxiety and place all his confidence in God. THOMAS Á KEMPIS.

One thing is needful

One thing is needful. Luke 10:42

There be many that say, Who will shew us any good? LORD, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God. — O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.

I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. Lord, evermore give us this bread. — Mary … sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. — One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

Psalm 4:6,7. Psalm 42:1,2. Psalm 63:1. John 6:35,34. Luke 10:39. Psalm 27:4.

Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee

Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Psalm 60:4

Jehovah Nissi (The LORD my banner). — When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.

We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. — The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God. — We are more than conquerors through him that loved us. — Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. — The captain of our salvation.

My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. — Valiant for the truth. — Fight the LORD’s battles. — Be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: fear ye not. — Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. — Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

Exodus 17:15. Isaiah 59:19. Psalm 20:5. Jeremiah 51:10. Romans 8:37. 1 Corinthians 15:57. Hebrews 2:10. Ephesians 6:10. Jeremiah 9:3. 1 Samuel 18:17. Haggai 2:4,5. John 4:35. Hebrews 10:37.