Can You Help?

Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. —James 2:17

The administrators of the high school in Barrow, Alaska, were tired of seeing students get into trouble and drop out at a rate of 50 percent. To keep students interested, they started a football team, which offered them a chance to develop personal skills, teamwork, and learn life lessons. The problem with football in Barrow, which is farther north than Iceland, is that it’s hard to plant a grass field. So they competed on a gravel and dirt field.

Four thousand miles away in Florida, a woman named Cathy Parker heard about the football team and their dangerous field. Feeling that God was prompting her to help, and impressed by the positive changes she saw in the students, she went to work. About a year later, they dedicated their new field, complete with a beautiful artificial-turf playing surface. She had raised thousands of dollars to help some kids she didn’t even know.

This is not about football—or money. It is about remembering “to do good and to share” (Heb. 13:16). The apostle James reminds us that we demonstrate our faith by our actions (2:18). The needs in our world are varied and overwhelming but when we love our neighbor as ourselves, as Jesus said (Mark 12:31), we reach people with God’s love. By Dave Branon

Open our eyes, dear Father, to those in need. Allow
us to find ways—monetarily and otherwise—to
help meet those needs. Help us to take the focus off
ourselves and place it on those who can use our assistance.

Open your heart to God to learn compassion and open your hand to give help.

The Purpose of Conviction

Hebrews 12:4-11

Have you ever seen a parent firmly grip a naughty child and lead him to where he ought to be? Sometimes our heavenly Father must employ a strong directing hand with us. Even as believers, we’re a wayward people who are prone to wander. But when we go too far, God helps us back to the path of righteousness.

The Father’s guiding hand is always on His children. And when believers fall into sin and rebellion, He holds tighter. We call that pressure on our hearts and minds conviction. By saying, “This action/attitude/thought is not in keeping with who you are in Christ,” the Holy Spirit works to make us aware of wrongdoing. Conviction has the purpose of awakening believers to where they are in their relationship with God. If you’ve gotten off course, don’t you want to know about it so you can get back in the center of His will as fast as possible?

Sometimes the Lord uses discipline to lovingly redirect us toward the path that we abandoned. Discipline can be painful and costly, particularly when we have resisted the pressure of conviction. However, as any wise parent will tell you, living with the consequences of foolish behavior teaches a child valuable lessons about keeping to the straight and narrow.

Left to his own devices, man will destroy himself chasing after fleeting pleasures and egocentric desires. God has a better journey in mind for us: to travel toward perfect freedom in Christ, guided by His loving hand. When we stray, He tightens His grip and draws us back to the way of righteousness.

God’s Story

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand.” (1 Corinthians 15:1)

The word “gospel” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “godspel,” meaning “God-story.” The Greek word is euaggelion, from which we get our word “evangel,” and it means literally “a good message” or “good messenger.” The prefix eu or ev means “good,” and aggelion means “messenger.” Thus, the gospel is the great story of God that is to be preached as by an angel dispatched from God. The word normally is used in the sense of “good news” or “glad tidings,” but this good message is specifically God’s story, sent to lost men from a loving, caring, and saving God.

As our text says, it is a message to be “declared” by its messenger, then “received” (literally “once and for all”) by its hearers. It is the message “by which also ye are saved” (v. 2) and “wherein ye stand.” Then, verses 3 and 4 declare the very heart of what is to be received and believed—the substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is a dynamic gospel—“the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16) for every true believer.

It is a “glorious gospel” (2 Corinthians 4:4) through which Christ “hath brought life and immortality to light” (2 Timothy 1:10). It is the “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15) and brings “the fullness of the blessing” (Romans 15:29).

Its duration is “everlasting” (Revelation 14:6), and its foundation is the primeval making of “heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters” (Revelation 14:7) by Christ Himself (Colossians 1:16). The apostle Paul gravely warns against “any other gospel” than this gospel which he had preached (Galatians 1:8-9). This gospel, this glad story of God’s grace in creation and salvation, is to be preached “to every creature” (Mark 16:15). HMM

Upon whom doth not His light arise?

The Lord will lighten my darkness.—2 Samuel 22:29.
Upon whom doth not His light arise?—Job 25:3.

HOPE, then, though woes be doubled,
Hope, and be undismayed,
Let not thy heart be troubled,
Nor let it be afraid.
This prison where thou art,
Thy God will break it soon,
And flood with light thy heart
In His own blessed noon.
PAUL GERHARDT.

A CHRISTIAN may for many days together see neither sun nor star, neither light in God’s countenance, nor light in his own heart, though even at that time God darts some beams through those clouds upon the soul; the soul again by a spirit of faith sees some light through those thickest clouds, enough to keep it from utter despair, though not to settle it in peace. In this dark condition, if they
do as St. Paul and his company did, cast anchor even in the dark night of temptation, and pray still for day, God will appear, and all shall clear up, we shall see light without and light within, the day-star will arise in their hearts. RICHARD SIBBES.

One God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus

One God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. — A mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.

We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt; they remembered not the multitude of thy mercies … Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Deuteronomy 6:4. Galatians 3:20. Psalm 106:6,7,23. Hebrews 3:13. Hebrews 8:6,12.

When I sit in darkness, the Lord is a light unto me

When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me. Micah 7:8

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. —I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. — What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me. — The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Isaiah 43:2,3. Isaiah 42:16. Psalm 23:4. Psalm 56:3,4. Psalm 27:1.