I Will Sing of My Redeemer with Lyrics by Fernando Ortega
Don’t Give Up
Now when neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small tempest beat on us, all hope that we would be saved was finally given up. Acts 27:20
One morning last year—it was 3:20 a.m.—actor Chris Pratt was riding through Atlanta following eighty hours of exhaustive filming on a movie. Looking over the darkened streets, he felt burdened for the downtrodden. Pratt, who professes Christ, wrote a note on Instagram. He recalled the many years when he had to “hustle hard and go hungry. I had to eat sardines and figure out how to get gas money,” he said. “Don’t give up.” Pratt credits his inspiration to an encounter outside a liquor store when he was 19. A stranger stopped him, told him about Christ, and gave him a message that changed his life.
When you’re eating sardines and seeing meager results, and when neither sun nor stars appear for many days, it’s easy to give up. In the story of the storm in Acts 27, even the seasoned sailors—even the writer, Luke!—gave up. But God had not given up, and He was stronger than the storm.
When discouragement begins to creep into your life, look to Christ and don’t give up. He will keep you from sinking.
His we are by creation, for He made us; by preservation, for He maintains us; by redemption, for He bought us. We are more His than our own. Matthew Henry
Are You Obsessed by Something?
Who is the man that fears the Lord? —Psalm 25:12
Are you obsessed by something? You will probably say, “No, by nothing,” but all of us are obsessed by something— usually by ourselves, or, if we are Christians, by our own experience of the Christian life. But the psalmist says that we are to be obsessed by God. The abiding awareness of the Christian life is to be God Himself, not just thoughts about Him. The total being of our life inside and out is to be absolutely obsessed by the presence of God. A child’s awareness is so absorbed in his mother that although he is not consciously thinking of her, when a problem arises, the abiding relationship is that with the mother. In that same way, we are to “live and move and have our being” in God (Acts 17:28), looking at everything in relation to Him, because our abiding awareness of Him continually pushes itself to the forefront of our lives.
If we are obsessed by God, nothing else can get into our lives— not concerns, nor tribulation, nor worries. And now we understand why our Lord so emphasized the sin of worrying. How can we dare to be so absolutely unbelieving when God totally surrounds us? To be obsessed by God is to have an effective barricade against all the assaults of the enemy.
“He himself shall dwell in prosperity…” (Psalm 25:13). God will cause us to “dwell in prosperity,” keeping us at ease, even in the midst of tribulation, misunderstanding, and slander, if our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). We rob ourselves of the miraculous, revealed truth of this abiding companionship with God. “God is our refuge…” (Psalm 46:1). Nothing can break through His shelter of protection.
A fanatic is one who entrenches himself in invincible ignorance. Baffled to Fight Better, 59 R
As believers, we should constantly strive to grow closer to God (Eph. 4: 15). When He is the Lord of our life, certain characteristics will be evident in us. I’ve compiled a brief inventory of spiritual benchmarks to help you evaluate your progress. But remember, the items below are just a place to start; see the Bible for a complete growth chart!
We know we’re growing spiritually when we become increasingly aware of our sinfulness and weakness. Biographies of godly saints show they don’t “get better” with age and spiritual maturity. Instead, they become ever more sensitive to their dependence upon the Lord. Also, progress is apparent when we respond to sin with quick repentance. Failure to deal with sin is rebellion against God. Growing believers turn away from wrongdoing and embrace righteousness. As we live with the good results of dependence and repentance, our desire to obey God intensifies, and the attraction of sin lessens.
Spiritual growth is also marked by an increase in two things—joy and struggle. Faith is often developed through hardship because living out the principles of trust and endurance helps us see the connection and grasp how it works. So our relationship with God will deepen when we view trials and temptations as opportunities for us to mature.
Paul, David, and Daniel prove that adversity can help form spiritual giants. These men recognized sovereign God as the gatekeeper of their lives. We are maturing when we perceive whatever comes our way as being from Him, which also means that He’s working it for good (Rom. 8:28).
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” (1 Corinthians 3:1-2)
The apostle Paul here makes a clear distinction between “spiritual” Christians, controlled and led by the Holy Spirit, and “carnal” Christians, still controlled by the desires of the flesh. A carnal Christian is a baby Christian. Baby Christians are a cause of great rejoicing when they are newborn believers, just like baby people. But if they remain babies indefinitely, they become an annoyance to hear and a tragedy to behold.
Each born-again believer needs urgently to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That spiritual growth comes only through study of the Word, accompanied by belief and obedience. First there must be “the sincere [or ‘logical’] milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2), but that is good only for the first stages of growth. “For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14). Scripture encourages us to grow to maturity and then to continue growing.
Carnal Christians are not necessarily pseudo-Christians, although they should examine themselves to determine whether their profession of faith in Christ is genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5), but they should not be content to remain spiritual babes. Every Christian should be able to say with the prophet Jeremiah: “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). HMM
Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. —1 Peter 5:7
And to us who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope that is set before us in the gospel, how unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us, no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He knew us utterly before we knew Him and called us to Himself in the
full knowledge of everything that was against us. “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee” (Isaiah 54:10).
Our Father in heaven knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He knew our inborn treachery, and for His own sake engaged to save us (48:8-11). His only begotten Son, when He walked among us, felt our pains in their naked intensity of anguish. His knowledge of our afflictions and adversities is more than theoretic; it is personal, warm and compassionate. Whatever may befall us, God knows and cares as no one else can.
Lord, as David said, “such knowledge is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6). Thank You for Your intimate knowledge and Your infinite care. Amen.
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. (Matthew 10:24)
To take Jesus Christ into your life without reservation is to accept His friends as your friends and to know that His enemies will be your enemies! It means that we accept His rejection as our rejection. We knowingly accept His cross as our cross.
If you then find yourself in an area where Christ has no friends, you will be friendless—except for the one Friend who will stick closer than a brother. I made up my mind a long time ago. Those who declare themselves enemies of Jesus Christ must look upon me as their enemy, and I ask no quarter from them! And if they are friends of Christ they are my friends—and I do not care what color they are or what denomination they belong to.
If the preachers would faithfully tell the people what it actually means to receive Christ and obey Him and live for Him, we would have fewer converts backsliding and foundering.
Preachers who are not faithful one day will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and answer to a faithful Savior why they betrayed His people in this way!
It has been well said, “Nothing is easier than to doubt. A man of moderate ability or learning can doubt more than the wisest men believe.” Faith demands knowledge, for it is an intelligent grace, able and anxious to justify itself; but infidelity is not required to give a reason for the doubt that is in it; a defiant mien and a blustering tone answer its purpose. The acme of unbelief is to know nothing. What is this but the apotheosis of ignorance? A man may glide into agnosticism insensibly, and remain in it languidly; but to believe is to be alive. Those who think faith to be a childish business will have to make considerable advance toward manliness before they are able to test their own theory.