VIDEO The Apostles’ Creed, Animation

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth;

and in Jesus Christ, His only Son Our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.

He descended into Hell; the third day He rose again from the dead;

He ascended into Heaven, and sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic (meaning the Church as a whole, not the Denomination) Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Amen.

The Go-Between

Lightening in the Sky
The people stood afar off, but Moses drew near . . . where God was. —Exodus 20:21

Imagine standing at the bottom of a mountain, elbow-to-elbow with everyone in your community. Thunder and lightning flash; you hear an earsplitting trumpet blast. Amid flames, God descends on the mountaintop. The summit is enveloped in smoke; the entire mountain begins to shake, and so do you (Ex. 19:16-20).

When the Israelites had this terrifying experience near Mount Sinai, they begged Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die” (20:19). The Israelites were asking Moses to mediate between them and the Almighty. “So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was” (v.21). After meeting with God, Moses brought God’s messages back down the mountain to the people below.

Today, we worship the same God who displayed His staggering greatness on Mount Sinai. Because God is perfectly holy and we are desperately sinful, we cannot relate to Him. Left to ourselves we too would (and should) shake in terror. But Jesus made it possible for us to know God when He took our sins on Himself, died, and rose again (1 Cor. 15:3-4). Even now, Jesus is the go-between for us to a holy and perfect God (Rom. 8:34; 1 Tim. 2:5). By Jennifer Benson Schuldt

On Mount Sinai, God manifested His presence loudly and visibly through thunder, lightning, the sound of a trumpet, and a smoking mountain (v. 18). Moses explained that this display of power and majesty was to demonstrate God’s incomparable holiness. His power and glory were displayed so that the Israelites would revere and worship Him (v. 20).

Dear Jesus, thank You for laying down Your life so that I could know God. I worship You as the only one who bridges the gap between God and me.

Jesus bridges the gap between God and us.

Simplify!

Matthew 7:7-11

“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father” (James 1:17 NLT).

It’s a beautiful truth. Every good thing in our lives comes from God—every single thing. Promotions and pancakes. Rain showers and relationships. Songs and sunsets. The astounding blessings God gives, and also the things He does so faithfully that we take them for granted.

And since all good things are from the Father’s hand, it is also true that our very existence depends on hearts that pump at a God-guided rhythm, lungs that breathe a recipe of air He created, brains that think thoughts through channels He wired. We can no more will our hearts to beat than we can move the moon. And we live, every second, because of this orchestrated ordinariness. Every single day.

That’s not to say life is or even should be without adversity or problems. But amid the highs and lows, it is good to remember God’s sustaining provision: He commanded rain to fall, guided sunbeams, and designed vegetation to replenish. All of this happens on a planet He holds in infinite space, in perfect position for each of these things to occur. And on this held planet, He endowed talents, granted mental aptitude, and bestowed physical abilities, according to His purposes.

The word from in James 1:17 makes this truth very personal: It implies a Giver of these good things. They are not simply of God, mere overspills of His goodness. They’re from Him—invented, given, and sent from your Father in heaven to you. And, good Father that He is, His gifts are always thoughtful, meaningful, purposeful. He gave you each provision, each ability, each heartbeat with beautiful intent.

When we start to see every good thing for the gracious gift it truly is, we will loosen our grip on life. There is no need to hoard money or belongings. They’re all bestowed by a gracious Father who can provide more if we were to give them away. Every ability and talent we have is a God-sent blessing. There’s no room for arrogance; we can rest in who the Lord made us to be. And we can enjoy the “little things”—the sunshine, the rain, those pancakes on Saturday morning. Because all things, even the “minor” ones, come from Him. And that means we are deeply loved, down to the most minute detail, with our lives resting on a foundation of God’s goodness.

As you unclench your hands on your possessions and talents and increasingly use them to glorify their Giver, you will discover the beauty and freedom that come with simplicity. Pressures will fade; joy will remain. So respond in kind, and let your life be read simply as a thank-You note to the Author of generosity.

—Laurin Greco

Settled in Heaven

“For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89)

There are yet quite a number of unsettled controversies among Bible scholars as to the original text of certain passages in both Old and New Testaments. In fact, a frequent objection raised to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is that, since all the original “autographs” have been lost, we can never really be sure of any passage.

It is interesting to speculate on what happened to those manuscripts directly inspired by God and penned by Moses, John, Paul, and the others. It is strange that they all simply disappeared, with not a hint as to their history. If they had been preserved in a church or monastery somewhere, they would soon have become idolatrous objects of worship, so it is probably best they are gone.

But where did they go? The famous “ark of the covenant” similarly vanished at the time of the Babylonian invasion, and many fruitless searches have been conducted for it even in modern times. In this case, however, we do have a remarkable revelation. “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament” (Revelation 11:19). Evidently, the ark has been translated into heaven! We must realize that heaven is a real place in this eternal physical cosmos. Enoch and Elijah were translated there in their earthly bodies, and Christ is there in His physical resurrection body.

If, perhaps, angels somehow carried the original manuscripts of God’s Word to heaven after enough copies had been made to assure its faithful transmission on Earth, placing them there in the ark, like the tablets of the law when it was still on the earth, this would surely give added meaning to our wonderful text verse: “For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven!” HMM

Sheep Are Led

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. —Psalm 95:6-7

Cattle are driven; sheep are led; and our Lord compares His people to sheep, not to cattle.

It is especially important that Christian ministers know the law of the leader— that he can lead others only as far as he himself has gone….

The minister must experience what he would teach or he will find himself in the impossible position of trying to drive sheep. For this reason he should seek to cultivate his own heart before he attempts to preach to the hearts of others….

If he tries to bring them into a heart knowledge of truth which he has not actually experienced he will surely fail. In his frustration he may attempt to drive them; and scarcely anything is so disheartening as the sight of a vexed and confused shepherd using the lash on his bewildered flock in a vain attempt to persuade them to go on beyond the point to which he himself has attained….

The law of the leader tells us who are preachers that it is better to cultivate our souls than our voices…. We cannot take our people beyond where we ourselves have been, and it thus becomes vitally important that we be men of God in the last and highest sense of that term.

Lord help me to listen to You and be spiritually nurtured, to have my soul cultivated by You in silence and solitude. Amen.

Men Will Not Praise You for Genuine Spirituality

But as we are allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God…. 1 Thessalonians 2:4

What we do for God must be done in the power of the Holy Spirit and we know and accept the fact that we may have little praise from men.

But what we do accomplish for Him as true spiritual work done with eternity in view will have His praise written across it!

Most of us have never heard, or do not remember, the name of the humble sixteen-year-old girl whose singing ministry brought such spiritual results in the Welsh revivals with Evan Roberts.

This quiet, humble girl would sing the gospel songs and much has been said about her spiritual gift—the Spirit-given ability to glorify Jesus Christ as Saviour when she sang. Not too much has ever been said about her voice, but the record is clear that she was a gifted soul—that the Holy Spirit seemed to be singing and moving through her yielded expression.

Evan Roberts would then rise to preach and there was little left for him to do. He said that he would quote from the Scriptures and add an exhortation and the people were ready to come to Christ. She had melted them with the warmth and the power of the Spirit!

Oh, what we would be tempted to do with her ministry in this day! We would put her on the coast-to-coast network and show off her talent—and spoil her! Thank God that they knew better than to start writing her life story.

She was a beautiful example of the humble use of our spiritual gifts for the glory of Jesus Christ—a simple Welsh girl willingly controlled by the Holy Spirit of God!

Worship—and Word

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men. 1 THESSALONIANS 3:12

I must take issue with those in the churches who insist that the worshiping saints do not get anything done but worship! Such an attitude reveals that they have not done their homework. The beautiful part of worship is that it prepares you and enables you to zero in on the important things that must be done for God.

Listen to me! Practically every great deed done in the church of Christ all the way back to the apostles was done by people blazing with the radiant worship of their God!

The great hospitals and the mental institutions have grown out of the hearts of worshiping and compassionate disciples. It is true, also, that wherever the church has come out of her lethargy and into the tides of revival and spiritual renewal, always the worshipers were back of it.

A survey of church history will prove that it was those who were the yearning worshipers who also became the great workers and the selfless servants. If we give ourselves to God’s call for worship, everyone will do more for the Savior than they are doing now!

Lord, I worship You this morning. I praise You for Your faithfulness and goodness. Glorify Yourself today in the lives of every true worshiper around the globe.