VIDEO Magnus’ Story: Violence Was a Way of Life

Jun 17, 2015

Fighting and foul language was the norm for Magnus. One night when he was just about to pummel a man for walking away from him, Magnus realized he needed to change. His brother took him to church where Magnus felt he heard a voice telling him to get right with God. After hearing the voice again on the bus, when he got home he dropped to his knees to pray and experienced true peace. A few years later, Magnus became a preacher and has shared the gospel with people in churches, prisons, marketplaces and street corners all over the United Kingdom.

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Be Near – The Doorway to the Kingdom

Be Near
two women

The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart.
—Psalm 34:18

My friend was going through some difficult challenges in her life and family. I didn’t know what to say or do, and I told her so. She looked at me and said, “Just be near.” That’s what I did, and later on we started talking about God’s love.

Many times we don’t know how to respond when others are grieving, and words may do more harm than good. Serving others requires that we understand them and find out what they need. Often we can help by meeting practical needs. But one of the best ways to encourage those who are suffering is to be near—to sit beside them and listen.

God is near to us when we call out to Him. “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles,” the psalmist says. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit” (Ps. 34:17-18).

By putting ourselves in the shoes of others and allowing our hearts to feel compassion, we can help those who are hurting. We can be near them as God is with us and sit close to them. At the right time, the Holy Spirit will give us the words to say, if they are needed.

Who needs my help or for me to sit alongside them this week?

The best way to encourage others may be to just be near.

By Keila Ochoa

The Doorway to the Kingdom

Blessed are the poor in spirit… —Matthew 5:3

Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher. If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain. What is the point of presenting me with such a lofty ideal if I cannot possibly come close to reaching it? I would be happier if I never knew it. What good is there in telling me to be what I can never be— to be “pure in heart” (Matthew 5:8), to do more than my duty, or to be completely devoted to God? I must know Jesus Christ as my Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me other than that of a lofty ideal which only leads to despair. But when I am born again by the Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach— He came to make me what He teaches I should be. The redemption means that Jesus Christ can place within anyone the same nature that ruled His own life, and all the standards God gives us are based on that nature.

The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces a sense of despair in the natural man— exactly what Jesus means for it to do. As long as we have some self-righteous idea that we can carry out our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to continue until we expose our own ignorance by stumbling over some obstacle in our way. Only then are we willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. “Blessed are the poor in spirit….” This is the first principle in the kingdom of God. The underlying foundation of Jesus Christ’s kingdom is poverty, not possessions; not making decisions for Jesus, but having such a sense of absolute futility that we finally admit, “Lord, I cannot even begin to do it.” Then Jesus says, “Blessed are you…” (Matthew 5:11). This is the doorway to the kingdom, and yet it takes us so long to believe that we are actually poor! The knowledge of our own poverty is what brings us to the proper place where Jesus Christ accomplishes His work.

by Oswald Chambers

Friendship: A Help to Holiness

John 15:12-15

In all of God’s creation, just one thing did not meet with His approval. He beheld Adam, who was the only being of his kind, and said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). The Creator designed people for emotional, mental, and physical intimacy so they’d be able to share their innermost selves with one another.

Jesus explained this to His disciples, saying they should love each other as He had loved them. In a God-honoring friendship, two people build each other up and spur one another toward Christlikeness. Many people, however, fall far short of making and maintaining relationships that sharpen their faith (Proverbs 27:17). They instead welcome the trivial talk of casual acquaintances: The weather, tough bosses, and world affairs are safe topics. Sadly, believers often shy away from the penetrating conversations about sin, accountability, and biblical living that would serve to enrich their faith.

Strong relationships begin with men and women who decide to risk their pride and comfort in order to love as Jesus does. They recognize that one of the reasons we have friends is so we can motivate one another toward holiness. In a friendship of mutual trust and submission, two people will confess sin, offer gentle reproof, and share burdens.

The walls we build to keep people at a distance are often defenses against God as well: We don’t want Him too close to our most personal business. But as believers learn to share openly and freely with a brother or sister in Christ, they develop the capacity to be more honest with God.

His Head, His Hands, His Feet

“Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side….And Thomas answered and said unto Him, My LORD and my God.” (John 20:27-28)

Perhaps no other means of execution ever inflicted more physical pain than Roman crucifixion. Today as we ponder verse three of the precious hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” we reflect on the facts that when Christ was crucified a cruel crown of thorns was mashed down upon His head and His body was held suspended in place by painful Roman spikes nailed through His hands and feet. He knew what awaited Him, for a description of the dying process had been written long beforehand (Psalm 22). Yet He endured it all out of love for us.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

We get some perspective of His love from these verses: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

He has done it all for us. We cannot earn salvation, but we have an obligation to conform our lives to His example, even His death. Scripture informs us that we can “know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10). His death on the cross and His resurrection pave the way for us to follow. JDM

Higher Expectations

Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily. —Colossians 1:28-29

The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes “lord” in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday’s service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what will be.

That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody expects a cemetery to do anything but conform…. But the church is not a cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler to tell us what will be. God’s people are supposed to grow.

Lord, use me today to help some people to really grow in You. Amen.

Christian Experience: Encounter with God

Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father… and Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. Exodus 3:6

True Christian experience must always include a genuine encounter with God. Without this, religion is but a shadow, a reflection of reality, a cheap copy of the original once enjoyed by someone else of whom we have heard.

It cannot but be a major tragedy in the life of any man to live in a church from childhood to old age and know nothing more real than some synthetic god compounded of theology and logic, but having no eyes to see, nor ears to hear, and no heart to love.

The spiritual giants of old were men who at some time became acutely conscious of the real Presence of God and maintained that consciousness for the rest of their lives.

The first encounter may have been one of terror, as when a “horror of great darkness” fell upon Abram, or as when Moses at the bush hid his face because he was afraid to look upon God. Usually this fear soon lost its content of terror and changed after a while to delight some awe, to level off finally into a reverent sense of complete nearness to God. The essential point is this: these were men who experienced God!

How otherwise can the saints and prophets be explained? How otherwise can we account for the amazing power for good they have exercised over countless generations? Is it not that they walked in conscious communion with the real Presence and addressed their prayers to God with the artless conviction that they were addressing Someone actually there?

Is Your Line Busy?

I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send…Then said I, Here am I; send me. ISAIAH 6:8

The gospel invitation is offered freely to one and all, but many are too preoccupied to hear or heed. They never allow God’s call to become a reason for decision. As a result, they live out their entire lives insisting that they never heard any call from God!

The answer to that is plain. God has been trying to get through to them, but engrossed in a host of worldly pursuits, their line is always busy.

The world around us wants to put us in the same strait-jacket that would have kept Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees.

“We will talk to you about religion” is the seemingly kindly offer people give us today. But then they add the disclaimer: “Just do not make religion personal.” Most people seem to have come to terms with an acceptance of religion if it does not have the cross of Christ within it!

But when God calls men and women to the belief that Christ has given us the only way to God through His death and atonement, their faith will be an offense to the world. It was so in Abraham’s day, and it is so in our day!

Lord, I want to keep my channels of communication open so I will be ready to hear Your voice speaking to me.