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Winter of our Lives1
Today you will be with me in paradise. Luke 23:43
Have you ever felt that your life was ruined as a result of having done something embarrassing, shameful, or even criminal—only to wake up and realize it was just a dream? But what if it wasn’t just a nightmare? What if the situation was all too real—either for yourself or someone you love?
This is the situation confronted in George MacDonald’s 19th-century novel The Curate’s Awakening. It’s the story of a parish minister who discovers that he’s been speaking for a God he’s not even sure he believes in. Later, he is called to the bedside of a young man who is losing his mind and dying, haunted by a murder he has committed.
God’s #forgiveness is as real as the price Jesus paid for our rescue.
In the heart-rending struggle that follows, the minister discovers what we all need to see. The relief of waking up from a bad dream is nothing compared to waking to the reality of God’s forgiveness, which we once thought was too good to be true.
Where will we find the mercy we need? It is found in Jesus, who, from His own cross said to a dying criminal who turned to Him for help, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Father in heaven, please help us to believe that our forgiveness is as real as the price You paid for our rescue.
We are saved by God’s mercy, not by our merit.
He said to them, “This kind [of unclean spirit] can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” —Mark 9:29
“His disciples asked Him privately, ‘Why could we not cast it out?’ ” (Mark 9:28). The answer lies in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “This kind can come out by nothing but” concentrating on Him, and then doubling and redoubling that concentration on Him. We can remain powerless forever, as the disciples were in this situation, by trying to do God’s work without concentrating on His power, and by following instead the ideas that we draw from our own nature. We actually slander and dishonor God by our very eagerness to serve Him without knowing Him.
When you are brought face to face with a difficult situation and nothing happens externally, you can still know that freedom and release will be given because of your continued concentration on Jesus Christ. Your duty in service and ministry is to see that there is nothing between Jesus and yourself. Is there anything between you and Jesus even now? If there is, you must get through it, not by ignoring it as an irritation, or by going up and over it, but by facing it and getting through it into the presence of Jesus Christ. Then that very problem itself, and all that you have been through in connection with it, will glorify Jesus Christ in a way that you will never know until you see Him face to face.
We must be able to “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isaiah 40:31), but we must also know how to come down. The power of the saint lies in the coming down and in the living that is done in the valley. Paul said, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13) and what he was referring to were mostly humiliating things. And yet it is in our power to refuse to be humiliated and to say, “No, thank you, I much prefer to be on the mountaintop with God.” Can I face things as they actually are in the light of the reality of Jesus Christ, or do things as they really are destroy my faith in Him, and put me into a panic?
The great word of Jesus to His disciples is Abandon. When God has brought us into the relationship of disciples, we have to venture on His word; trust entirely to Him and watch that when He brings us to the venture, we take it. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, 1459 R
1 Samuel 18:1-3
We all long to be in genuine relationships. God created us with this need, as we were not meant to live in isolation.
Our world is so driven by technology that many people today try to ease their loneliness through computer interactions. However, we cannot deny that if a friendship relies solely on social media, it doesn’t compare to the human fellowship. But healthy friendships don’t just happen. They require intentional effort.
Yesterday, in looking to Jonathan and David for a biblical model of godly companions, we saw how mutual respect is vital in a healthy friendship. Now, let’s look at two more aspects of their relationship. These men had an emotional love for one another; their hearts were knit together (1 Sam. 18:1). When one man experienced joy or sadness, the other man felt it too.
They also had genuine devotion to each other, which is a type of commitment that involves giving: To show loyalty, Jonathan gave his friend material items—his robe and weapon. But both of these men selflessly offered more. Jonathan even risked his life and future kingship in order to save David from execution. Notice, too, that Jonathan was often the initiator and the one who gave more. He was a prince, whereas David was a lowly shepherd. Social status shouldn’t interfere with cultivating a true friendship.
We were designed for true companionship based on mutual respect, genuine love, and commitment. This requires time, selfless devotion, and transparency—which means being real, even about our faults. Taking such a risk requires trust, but genuine relationships are well worth the effort.
“Who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.” (Hebrews 6:18-19)
The noun “hope,” when used in the New Testament, does not imply a wishful attitude but rather a joyous and confident expectation in something promised which will certainly come to pass—in most cases, something good. Note especially the few times it is used with a descriptive adjective.
First, in a stirring benediction, Paul tells us that our good hope comes from both “our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father” (2 Thessalonians 2:16). Furthermore, such hope is given to us along with “everlasting consolation,” or comfort, which shall last forever. The Father and Son have done this “through grace” which brings eternal salvation.
Next, we are taught to be “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). This blessed hope can be none other than “our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1). He will certainly return, and this return will be glorious.
Furthermore, we have a hope which is actively alive. “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3). We have been (past tense) born again from the dead just as surely as Christ has been raised from the dead, for His resurrection accomplished it.
Our hope, under grace, is guaranteed by Jesus Christ: “A better hope . . . by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Hebrews 7:19) than that which was possible under law. In fact, it is a glorious hope (2 Corinthians 3:11-12) by comparison. This kind of hope can be “an anchor of the soul.” JDM
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. —Psalm 103:13-14
For some of us last year was one in which we did not acquit ourselves very nobly as Christians, considering the infinite power available to us through the indwelling Spirit.
But through the goodness of God we may go to school to our failures. The man of illuminated mind will learn from his mistakes, yes even from his sins. If his heart is trusting and penitent, he can be a better man next year for last year’s fault—but let him not return again to folly. Repentance should be radical and thorough, and the best repentance for a wrong act, as Fenelon said, is not to do it again….
Brother Lawrence expressed the highest moral wisdom when he testified that if he stumbled and fell he turned at once to God and said, “O Lord, this is what You may expect of me if You leave me to myself.” He then accepted forgiveness, thanked God and gave himself no further concern about the matter.
Oh Lord, some of us have graduate degrees from this school! Help us to learn well from our failures, to accept Christ’s forgiveness and to move on. Give victory for today, I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel. Romans 2:16
What is your concept of Jesus Christ as Saviour and Judge?
If the “ten-cent-store Jesus” that is being preached by a lot of men, the plastic, painted Christ who has no spine and no justice and is pictured as a soft and pliable friend to everybody—if He is the only Christ there is, then we might as well close our books and bar our doors, and make a bakery or garage out of the church!
But that Christ that is being preached and pictured is not the Christ of God, nor the Christ of the Bible, nor the Christ we must deal with.
The Christ we must deal with will be the judge of mankind—and this is one of the neglected Bible doctrines in our day!
The Father judges no man. When the Lord, the Son of Man, shall come in the clouds of glory, then shall be gathered unto Him the nations, and He shall separate them.
God has given Him judgment, authority to judge mankind, so that He is both the Judge and Saviour of men.
That makes me both love Him and fear Him! I love Him because He is my Saviour and I fear Him because He is my Judge.
God Almighty is never going to judge the race of mankind and allow a mistake to enter. The judge must be one who has all wisdom. Therefore, I appeal away from St. Paul; I appeal away from Moses and Elijah; I appeal away from all men because no man knows me well enough to judge me, finally! Only Jesus Christ qualifies as one who is able to be the judge of all mankind.
Let brotherly love continue. HEBREWS 13:1
I am being very frank about this and I hope I am being helpful: Do not ever say you are not right with God because you like some people better than others!
I believe you can be right with God and still not like the way some people behave. It is easy to love those who are friendly; others rub us the wrong way or perhaps they cut us down.
The writer to the Hebrews has appealed to us as Christian believers to “let brotherly love continue”—in other words, “never stop loving one another in the Lord.”
Here is what I have found: It is possible to love people in the Lord even though you may not like their boorish or distasteful human traits. We still love them for Jesus’ sake!
Yes, I believe you can be right with God and still not like the way some people behave.
Our admonition is to love them in a larger and more comprehensive way because we are all one in Christ Jesus. This kind of love is indeed a Christian virtue!
Father, help me to love people for Jesus’ sake even when they do or say things that annoy or hurt me.