Nov 29, 2012
This is a very powerful and motivating message.
Nov 29, 2012
This is a very powerful and motivating message.
You may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith . . . may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7
In the book of Mark we read about a terrible storm. The disciples were with Jesus on a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. When a “furious squall came up,” the disciples—among them some seasoned fishermen—were afraid for their lives (4:37-38). Did God not care? Weren’t they handpicked by Jesus and closest to Him? Weren’t they obeying Jesus who told them to “go over to the other side”? (v. 35). Why, then, were they going through such a turbulent time?
No one is exempt from the storms of life. But just as the disciples who initially feared the storm later came to revere Christ more, so the storms we face can bring us to a deeper knowledge of God. “Who is this,” the disciples pondered, “even the wind and the waves obey him!” (v. 41). Through our trials we can learn that no storm is big enough to prevent God from accomplishing His will (5:1).
While we may not understand why God allows trials to enter our lives, we thank Him that through them we can come to know who He is. We live to serve Him because He has preserved our lives.
Lord, I know I don’t need to fear the storms of life around me. Help me to be calm because I stand secure in You.
The storms of life prove the strength of our anchor.
By Albert Lee
Without faith it is impossible to please Him… —Hebrews 11:6
Faith in active opposition to common sense is mistaken enthusiasm and narrow-mindedness, and common sense in opposition to faith demonstrates a mistaken reliance on reason as the basis for truth. The life of faith brings the two of these into the proper relationship. Common sense and faith are as different from each other as the natural life is from the spiritual, and as impulsiveness is from inspiration. Nothing that Jesus Christ ever said is common sense, but is revelation sense, and is complete, whereas common sense falls short. Yet faith must be tested and tried before it becomes real in your life. “We know that all things work together for good…” (Romans 8:28) so that no matter what happens, the transforming power of God’s providence transforms perfect faith into reality. Faith always works in a personal way, because the purpose of God is to see that perfect faith is made real in His children.
For every detail of common sense in life, there is a truth God has revealed by which we can prove in our practical experience what we believe God to be. Faith is a tremendously active principle that always puts Jesus Christ first. The life of faith says, “Lord, You have said it, it appears to be irrational, but I’m going to step out boldly, trusting in Your Word” (for example, see Matthew 6:33). Turning intellectual faith into our personal possession is always a fight, not just sometimes. God brings us into particular circumstances to educate our faith, because the nature of faith is to make the object of our faith very real to us. Until we know Jesus, God is merely a concept, and we can’t have faith in Him. But once we hear Jesus say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) we immediately have something that is real, and our faith is limitless. Faith is the entire person in the right relationship with God through the power of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
No one could have had a more sensitive love in human relationship than Jesus; and yet He says there are times when love to father and mother must be hatred in comparison to our love for Him. So Send I You, 1301 L
1 John 1:5-9
During a vacation several years ago, I found myself struggling to relax. Instead, condemnation afflicted me: Why aren’t you studying more? Shouldn’t you be witnessing and not just sitting there? Guilt kept me from enjoying life.
There are two types of guilt: biblical and false. The first originates with the violation of a scriptural law. This is not a feeling but a reality: We have sinned and should repent. The second, which includes feeling guilty after confessing a sin, is not based in truth or supported by the Bible. God has forgiven us, so there is no need to linger in shame.
People struggle with false guilt for many reasons. Legalistic teaching, for example, presents life as a series of rules that can never be followed to the letter; its adherents often feel bad about themselves. Next, self-reproach can derive from abuse or verbal putdowns during childhood. Another cause is perfectionism; it can flood a person with self-condemnation. And finally, low self-esteem has the same result.
Satan uses this false sense of shame to paralyze us. Inevitably, guilt leads us to doubt God’s love and salvation, which paves the way for fear and insecurity, and leaves us unable to enjoy life. It can also open the door to physical symptoms like depression.
The Lord wants us to live free from guilt. If you experience shame, ask Him to help you trace its cause. Then affirm these truths: You are special (made in God’s image and redeemed by Him), loved by the Creator of the universe, and forgiven. In the name of Jesus, reject any false shame you have.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:14-15)
The old ordinances have been “blotted out” by Christ, having “broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:14-16).
The requirements of the Law were our “adversary” and must be eliminated before we could be “circumcised” by Christ (Colossians 2:11). The omnipotent Lord Jesus was the only One who could accomplish this. The arche (first ones) and the exousia (authorities) were “disarmed.” Jesus Christ has “gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22). He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
There is not much direct information in the Scriptures about the events in the heavenlies at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion. Bracketed by the agonizing plea of abandonment “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) and the three hours of darkness (Luke 23:44), there are a few insights that help us grasp the wonder of His victory cry “It is finished!”
“When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive . . . he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth” (Ephesians 4:8-9). Whatever took place in those awful hours, all of heaven now knows that Jesus now sits “on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Hebrews 10:12-13). HMM III
But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses… as unknown, and yet well known. —2 Corinthians 6:4, 9
Unsung but singing: this is the short and simple story of many today whose names are not known beyond the small circle of their own small company. Their gifts are not many nor great, but their song is sweet and clear….
Well, the world is big and tangled and dark, and we are never sure where a true Christian may be found. One thing we do know: the more like Christ he is the less likely it will be that a newspaper reporter will be seeking him out. However much he may value the esteem of his fellowmen, he may for the time be forced to stand under the shadow of their displeasure. Or the busy world may actually not even know he is there—except that they hear him singing.
Father, may my song today be a sweet sound in Your ears—even if in Yours alone. Amen.
…Which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3
A belief in magic and superstition was thought by the late Sir James G. Frazer to be the only truly universal faith, being accepted as it is in some form by all the peoples of the world.
The temptation to attribute supernatural powers, or at least moral qualities, to inanimate objects is one almost impossible to resist. It is as if the human mind wanted to have it so, and I am not sure but it does. Sin has done strange things to us!
Let it be said, then, that true Christian experience is direct knowledge of God. It is intimate fellowship between two personalities, God and the individual believer. The grounds of fellowship are mental, moral and spiritual, and these are precisely what material objects do not and cannot possess.
The union of the human soul with God in Christ establishes a personal relationship which cannot in any way be affected by material substances. The Church by pronouncing certain objects sacred, and attributing power to them, has turned from the pure freedom of the gospel to a kind of educated magic, far from New Testament truth and gravely injurious to the souls of men.
Our Lord swept aside material objects as having no spiritual significance, and placed the worship of God in the spirit, where it properly belongs. Our responsibility is to God and our fellowship is with Him. The Christian can simply have nothing to do with magic or superstition!
These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them. REVELATION 17:14
The human race has always been quick to blame the world’s disasters, floods, famines, plagues on natural causes. But in the end of the age, when the final judgments of God begin to fall, how long will it be until people confess that there is another real, though invisible, force in operation?
Truly the wrath of God will leave no hiding place for sinning, alienated men and women!
John, in the Revelation, speaks of the mighty trumpets that will sound and the woes that will descend upon the earth. In my own view, I link these events to the dramatic period throughout the earth when the antichrist has prevailed by deception and force.
When God is finally ready to refine and restore the earth, everyone in heaven and on earth and in hell will know that no human laboratory could compound the fire that will be poured out on the earth. God has promised that He will not hide His wrath forever. He is prepared to speak in supernatural manifestations in that coming Day of the Lord!
Lord, it is no consolation that in the final judgment the wrath of God will be poured out upon unsaved men and women. That the Day of Judgment will surely take place should motivate us to be relentless in sharing the gospel with lost people.
Oct 19, 2015
Erin felt lingering pain and emptiness after her parents’ divorce, which led to an eating disorder and tendency to cut herself. She eventually learned that God’s love was the only thing that could fill the void in her life and take those broken pieces to create something beautiful. God gave Erin a heart for Haiti, where she is serving as an elementary education teacher. Erin finds little victories every day and says, “I want to bring to them the same healing and hope that I found in Christ.”
Don’t Touch the Fence!
The Lord . . . sent word to them . . . again and again, because he had pity on his people. 2 Chronicles 36:15
As a young girl I went with my parents to visit my great-grandmother, who lived near a farm. Her yard was enclosed by an electric fence, which prevented cows from grazing on her grass. When I asked my parents if I could play outside, they consented, but explained that touching the fence would result in an electric shock.
Unfortunately I ignored their warning, put a finger to the barbed wire, and was zapped by an electrical current strong enough to teach a cow a lesson. I knew then that my parents had warned me because they loved me and didn’t want me to get hurt.
God’s warnings are proof of His #compassion for us.
When God saw the ancient Israelites in Jerusalem crafting and worshiping idols, He “sent word to them . . . again and again, because he had pity on his people” (2 Chron. 36:15). God spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, but the people said, “We will continue with our own plans” (Jer. 18:12). Because of this, God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem and capture most of its inhabitants.
Maybe God is warning you today about some sin in your life. If so, be encouraged. That is proof of His compassion for us (Heb. 12:5-6). He sees what’s ahead and wants us to avoid the problems that will come.
Lord, give me the ability to hear not just Your words but also Your heart. Help me to learn from the mistakes of those whose stories You have given us. Help me to honor You with my life.
God’s warnings are to protect us, not to punish us.
By Jennifer Benson Schuldt
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. —2 Corinthians 5:21
The modern view of the death of Jesus is that He died for our sins out of sympathy for us. Yet the New Testament view is that He took our sin on Himself not because of sympathy, but because of His identification with us. He was “made…to be sin….” Our sins are removed because of the death of Jesus, and the only explanation for His death is His obedience to His Father, not His sympathy for us. We are acceptable to God not because we have obeyed, nor because we have promised to give up things, but because of the death of Christ, and for no other reason. We say that Jesus Christ came to reveal the fatherhood and the lovingkindness of God, but the New Testament says that He came to take “away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). And the revealing of the fatherhood of God is only to those to whom Jesus has been introduced as Savior. In speaking to the world, Jesus Christ never referred to Himself as One who revealed the Father, but He spoke instead of being a stumbling block (see John 15:22-24). John 14:9, where Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” was spoken to His disciples.
That Christ died for me, and therefore I am completely free from penalty, is never taught in the New Testament. What is taught in the New Testament is that “He died for all” (2 Corinthians 5:15)— not, “He died my death”— and that through identification with His death I can be freed from sin, and have His very righteousness imparted as a gift to me. The substitution which is taught in the New Testament is twofold— “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” The teaching is not Christ for me unless I am determined to have Christ formed in me (see Galatians 4:19).
The truth is we have nothing to fear and nothing to overcome because He is all in all and we are more than conquerors through Him. The recognition of this truth is not flattering to the worker’s sense of heroics, but it is amazingly glorifying to the work of Christ. Approved Unto God, 4 R
1 Peter 2:22-25
Guilt can be defined as anxiety in one’s spirit over a deliberate, willful sin. We can trace this emotion all the way back to the Garden of Eden. After Adam and Eve tasted the forbidden fruit, they felt ashamed of their nakedness and hid themselves.
During Old Testament times, people would bring a special offering to the temple in order to “pay” for their wrong. Today, we no longer have such a tangible way to release our guilt.
Actually, we have something better. The heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus—who was fully God as well as fully man—to live a sinless life. He took upon Himself the penalty for all of our wrongs by dying a criminal’s death through crucifixion. Praise God, Jesus rose to life again, conquering death and sin. Ephesians 1:7 states, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”
The truth is, every one of us has sinned and therefore deserves to be separated from God (Rom. 3:23). However, we can be liberated from death and guilt by accepting Jesus’ free gift and committing our lives to Him. Of course, in our imperfect human state, we will continue to sin. But our loving heavenly Father will continue to forgive His children (Luke 11:3-4).
Jesus’ sacrifice gives us freedom from shame and death—plus the promise of eternity with God. But that in no way means we have license to sin knowingly. Though we are promised forgiveness, our gratitude and love for our Savior should spur us on to obey and serve the Lord. And, surely, to live a life free from guilt.
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