Feb 19, 2016
Our plan is not always God’s plan. He may ask us to walk a path that we wouldn’t willingly choose. But we know that His ways are the right ways. And even if we walk through darkness and uncertainty, He makes our steps light because He is our strength.
Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Revelation 2:4
Sometimes relationships between people, even between nations, end suddenly because of a single overt act. But most of the time they end slowly. A gradual series of disappointments and unmet expectations produces a downward spiral. Or, as the saying goes, “Death by a thousand paper cuts.” What had been tolerated before now becomes inescapable: The original priorities that led to peace have changed.
When Christ sent His words of evaluation to the church in Ephesus, He commended them for some good things. But more important than His commendations was this searing condemnation: “You have left your first love.” He meant their love for God through their intimacy with Christ Himself. When and how did the Ephesian Christians’ love for Christ begin to grow cold? We can’t say, but we know it did.
What can rekindle love gone cold? Look back to the beginning. Reestablish the practices that created passion for Christ in the beginning: prayer, fellowship, worship, obedience. Love can grow cold almost unconsciously, but it can be rebuilt by conscious choices and practices. Remember, repent, and return to your first love (Revelation 2:5).
True love for Christ will mean hatred of sin. John Benton
2 Timothy 2:23-26, 3:1-5
Gossip is often regarded as a relatively harmless pastime, particularly when compared to “bigger” wrongs like murder or adultery. Satan has painted idle talk as innocuous, but if we peel away that deception, we discover the ugly truth. In the Bible,
God lists gossip among the most depraved sins (Rom. 1:28-31).
Nothing about gossip is harmless. Whether the talk is intentionally cruel or simply some idle musing, the target of the comments can be embarrassed or hurt. A friend of mine decided to trace a damaging story ab out himself back to the original source. He asked one man after another, “Where did you hear this?” Seventeen pastors later, he finally found the person who had originated the tale. This fellow admitted he had speculated aloud regarding a situation about which he knew little. A destructive chain reaction began with just one man jumping to a false conclusion while chatting with a friend.
Even if the victim never learns of the chitchat going on behind his or her back, gossip still has consequences. The people who spread a tale reveal their inner thinking: “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart,” (Matt. 12:34). A poisonous tongue flows with the jealousy, resentment, or pride that resides in the heart of the person.
Gossip has the power to hurt feelings, destroy reputations and friendships, and divide churches. We do not have the right to bring such damage into anyone’s life. In fact, God is the only one we should turn to when we hear a story about somebody. Those facing trials need prayer and love rather than tongues wagging over their struggles and misfortunes (Gal. 6:2).
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)
People often think they are being practical when they place material values ahead of spiritual, emphasizing that we have to “live in the real world.” The fact is, however, that we are not living in the real world at all but in a world that is dying and will soon be gone. “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:17). This is not even the world that God created, for that world was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Because “sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12), therefore, “the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22). In fact, this world is not even as it was soon after God’s curse, for “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:6).
The present, post-Flood world is now under the dominion of Satan, who is “the prince of this world” (John 12:31) and of “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matthew 4:8). The Lord Jesus Christ came to “deliver us from this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). As our text says, this world shall not even “be remembered, nor come into mind.” It “shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
Therefore, we must “be not conformed to this world” (Romans 12:2). We must “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13). In the meantime, our true citizenship, if we have been born again in Christ, is in the real world to come, and we are His ambassadors to an alien land (2 Corinthians 5:20). HMM
Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. —Exodus 3:6
In olden days men of faith were said to “walk in the fear of God” and to “serve the Lord with fear.” However intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the base of their religious life was the conception of God as awesome and dreadful. This idea of God transcendent runs through the whole Bible and gives color and tone to the character of the saints. This fear of God was more than a natural apprehension of danger; it was a nonrational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty.
Wherever God appeared to men in Bible times the results were the same—an overwhelming sense of terror and dismay, a wrenching sensation of sinfulness and guilt. When God spoke, Abram stretched himself upon the ground to listen. When Moses saw the Lord in the burning bush, he hid his face in fear to look upon God. Isaiah’s vision of God wrung from him the cry, “Woe is me!” and the confession, “I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips” [Isaiah 6:5].
Lord, when do I ever get that sense of sinfulness and guilt, fear and dismay in my encounters with You? Forgive me for my casual approach to You and renew in me a fear and wonder in Your presence. Amen.
Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. (1 John 5:7)
The more I read my Bible, the more I believe in the triune God!
With the prophet Isaiah, I am stirred by the vision of the heavenly creatures, the seraphim around the throne of God, engrossed in their worship and praise.
I have often wondered why the rabbis and saints and hymnists of the olden times did not come to the knowledge of the Trinity just from the seraphims’ chorus: “Holy! Holy! Holy!”
I am a trinitarian—I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, begotten of Him before all ages. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified.
Isaiah was an astonished man. He could only manage this witness: “Mine eyes have seen the King!” Only the King of glory can reveal Himself to the willing spirit of a man, so that an Isaiah or any other man or woman, can say with humility but with assurance, “I know Him!”
The saints in Jesus, when their bodies sleep in peace, have perpetual fellowship with him, better fellowship than we can enjoy. We have but the transitory glimpse of his face; they gaze upon it every moment. We see him “in a glass, darkly;” they behold him “face to face.” We sip of the brook by the way; they plunge into the very ocean of unbounded love. We look up sometimes, and see our Father smile; look whenever they may, his face is always full of smiles for them. We get some drops of comfort, but they get the honeycomb itself. They are full of peace, full of joy for ever. They “sleep in Jesus.”