The Unseen World

girl microscope
The Angel of the Lord [was] standing in the way. —Numbers 22:23

Did you know that the microbes on just one of your hands outnumber all of the people on the earth? Or that millions of microbes could fit into the eye of a needle? These one-celled, living organisms are too small for us to see without a microscope, yet they live in the air, soil, water, and even in our bodies. We constantly interact with them, even though their world is completely beyond our senses.

The realities of the spiritual world are also often not visible to us humans, as the prophet Balaam discovered. He was trudging along the road with his two servants when his donkey “saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand” (Num. 22:23). To avoid the angel, the animal walked into a field, crushed Balaam’s foot against a wall, and lay down with Balaam still on her back. Balaam was angry and struck the donkey. He didn’t realize something supernatural was going on—until God opened his eyes (v.31).

The Bible tells us that a spiritual world does exist, and we may sometimes encounter realities from that realm—both good and bad (Heb. 13:2; Eph. 6:12). Because of this, we are encouraged to be watchful, prayerful, and prepared. Just as God rules the world we see, He also rules the unseen world. By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Heavenly Father, help us to be strong in You
and in the power of Your might. Open our
eyes so that we may see the spiritual
realities You have for us.

All that is seen and unseen is under God’s sovereign power.

Victory in Our Trials

1 Peter 1:3-9

Obviously, we don’t enjoy times of trial or conflict. Despite the assurance we have that God will always be by our side through any and every circumstance (Heb. 13:5), it is still natural to fear and bemoan such occurrences.

In hardships, however, we often forget the very words Christ spoke in John 16:33. We hear and certainly relate to the first part of His instruction: “In the world you have tribulation.” We’ve all faced enough problems to know that it is not possible to avoid them altogether. In fact, Jesus takes it a step further by asserting that our faith in Him will actually lead to even more attacks and criticism (15:18-20). Truly it is impossible for a devoted Christian to live trouble-free in a world that is hostile toward God.

What we tend to miss in Jesus’ statement, however, is the second half of the verse. After delivering the “bad” news that we would have tribulation in our life, He offers a word of hope: “But take courage! I have overcome the world.” Notice that He didn’t say, “I will overcome,” but rather, “I have overcome.” In Christ, the victory has already been won. He has victory over all things. Even the world’s greatest threat, death itself, has already been defeated by Jesus Christ.

Life certainly isn’t easy. However, we have a loving God who not only understands our suffering but also chose to experience it Himself. Because He did, we can now claim participation in the ultimate victory over every trial of life.

World Without End

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” (Isaiah 64:4)

This beautiful Old Testament promise has been appropriated by Paul (1 Corinthians 2:9) and applied to the New Testament believer guided by the indwelling Spirit of God. It looks forward to the ages to come when all those “things which God hath prepared for them that love him” will be given in their fullness.

It is noteworthy that both “the beginning of the world” in our text (Isaiah 64:4) and “world without end” (45:17) are translations of the same Hebrew word, olam, which means essentially “indefinitely long ago” or even “eternity.” Thus, the wonderful plan God has prepared for His people, to be implemented and enjoyed in eternity future, was formulated by Him in eternity past.

We were then chosen “in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4). He had even planned our redemption from sin through His Son, “with the precious blood of Christ, . . . Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:19-20).

We may not, in this life, really comprehend with our minds such marvelous things, but we who “wait for him” can believe them with rejoicing in our hearts, for “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Thus we can unite with thankful and understanding hearts in Paul’s great doxology: “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21). HMM

Ungifted Hands

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. —Philippians 2:13

The important thing is that the Holy Spirit desires to take us and control us and use us as instruments and organs through whom He can express Himself in the body of Christ. Perhaps I can use my hands as a further illustration of this truth.

My hands are about average, I suppose—perhaps a little large for the size of my body, probably because I had to do a lot of farm work when I was a boy. But there is something I must tell you about these hands. They cannot play a violin. They cannot play the organ or the piano. They cannot paint a picture. They can barely hold a screwdriver to do a small repair job to keep things from falling apart at home. I have ungifted hands….

You will agree that it would be foolish for me to try to bring forth any delightful organ music using such ungifted hands. Is it not appalling, then, to think that we allow this very thing to happen in the body of Christ? We enlist people and tell them to get busy doing God’s work, failing to realize the necessity of the Spirit’s control and functioning if there is to be a spiritual result.

Move in our midst, Holy Spirit, that everyone in the Body might actively serve, each one using the gift they have been given for Your service. Amen.

Keys to Greatness: Submission and Service

. Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Matthew 20:26, 27

The essence of Christ’s teaching concerning greatness was this: true greatness among humans must be found in character, not in ability or position.

While a few philosophers and religionists of pre-Christian times had noted the fallacy in man’s ideas of dominion and status, it was Christ who defined and demonstrated true greatness.

“Let him be your minister: let him be your servant.” It is that simple and that easy—and that difficult!

We have but to follow Christ in service to the human race, a selfless service that seeks only to serve, and greatness will be ours! That is all, but it is too much, for it runs counter to all that is Adam in us. Adam still feels the instinct for dominion; he hears deep within him the command, “Replenish the earth and subdue it.” Therefore he does not take kindly to the command to serve!

Sin must go and Adam must give way to Christ: so says our Lord in effect. By sin men have lost dominion, even their very right to it, until they win it back by humble service.

Though redeemed from death and hell by the vicarious labor of Christ on the cross, still the right to have dominion must be won by each man separately. Each must fulfill a long apprenticeship as a servant before he is fit to rule.

After Christ had served (and His service included death) God highly exalted Him and gave Him a name above every name. As a man He served and won His right to have dominion. He knew where true greatness lay—and we do not.

The Spirit Illuminates

Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 CORINTHIANS 2:5

When we study the New Testament record, we see plainly that Christ’s conflict was with the theological rationalists of His day.

John’s gospel record is actually a long, inspired, passionately outpoured account trying to save us from evangelical rationalism—the doctrine that says the text is enough.

Divine revelation is the ground upon which we stand. The Bible is the book of God, and I stand for it with all my heart; but before I can be saved, there must be illumination, penitence, renewal, inward deliverance.

In our Christendom, we have tried to ease many people into the kingdom but they have never been renewed within their own beings. The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians that their faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God! There is a difference.

We must insist that conversion to Christ is a miraculous act of God by the Holy Spirit—it must be wrought in the Spirit. There must be an inward illumination!

Lord, I pray for my family, neighbors, and friends who do not yet know You. Illumine their hearts and minds by Your Holy Spirit.