VIDEO I Look to You

Aug 1, 2011

“I was moved to tears upon hearing this song for the first time. The melody is gorgeous, and the lyrics perfectly describe feelings that we all have experienced — loss, regret, exhaustion, pain. But in the beautiful chorus, the lyrics also point us to the source of our hope in troubled times : “… after all my strength is gone, in You I can be strong…… when melodies are gone, in You I hear a song….”. I hope you can hear and sense God’s comfort in this beautiful song.”

Be Encouraged!

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace. 2 Thessalonians 2:16

America has been given no promise of redemption or deliverance by God. By contrast, Israel had the promise of a Messiah-King who would come as Deliverer. In the days before Jesus’ birth, one godly Israelite was said to be “waiting for the Consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25). What did that “Consolation” mean?

That phrase referred to the Comfort of Israel—that is, the comfort that the coming Messiah would bring. The Greek word used is paraklesis—it is translated as consolation, comfort, or encouragement in modern English Bibles. You may recognize that Greek word. It is based on the same word parakletos Jesus used to describe the Holy Spirit He would send to comfort, guide, and encourage the disciples after He (Jesus) left the earth. So Jesus is the Comfort or Encouragement for all who need deliverance from sin, and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter-Encourager who applies the comfort of Christ to our lives.

Do you need encouragement today? Then you need Christ by the power of His Holy Spirit. Because you are loved and empowered, be encouraged!

Only engrossment with God can maintain perpetual spiritual enthusiasm. A. W. Tozer

New Birth: God’s Part

John 3:9-13

Ever since the original transgression of Adam and Eve in Genesis, all of mankind has been born with a sinful nature, and our sin creates a chasm separating us from our holy, perfect God. To be able to commune with Him, we must be born again, which is the way we receive a new nature, a new spirit, and a new eternal destiny.

Spiritual rebirth is a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit—He doesn’t simply freshen up our old nature but instead brings about a radical transformation, creating a brand-new spirit and life. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature” (emphasis added). As a result, believers can worship, praise, and serve the living God out of genuine love and devotion to Him.

God’s part in this rebirth involves forgiving us of our sins, and to do that, He sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross as our substitute. In that way, Jesus paid our sin debt in full. He is our sacrifice—that is, He is the one who suffered vicariously on our behalf.

Our Savior’s substitutionary atonement is the means by which a holy and righteous God forgives sin and makes us holy like Himself. Our cleansing doesn’t come from being religious, or even from confession of sin and repentance. Rather, it comes from the blood that Jesus shed on the cross at Calvary. When we believe that He died to pay the penalty we owed and then accept His sacrifice on our behalf, we are forgiven of our sins and God wipes them away (Eph. 1:7).

The Danger of Willful Sin

“Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.” (Numbers 15:31)

Under the Mosaic law, there was ample provision for forgiveness of sins committed unintentionally. “If any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering. And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, . . . and it shall be forgiven him” (Numbers 15:27-28). However, as in our text, it was altogether different for one who deliberately disobeyed God’s law. One who would so despise God’s commandment was to be put to death.

In this Christian dispensation, many would say that this harshness of God’s law has been replaced by His love. There is abundant pardon for all, since Jesus died for all our sins. Now, all we need is to confess our sins, and He will forgive us (1 John 1:9). But, “if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, . . . He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God?” (Hebrews 10:26, 28-29).

Even assuming this warning applies specifically only to those who have wilfully renounced faith in Christ, the question still remains whether one with true saving faith will wilfully sin against the known will of God, as revealed in His Word. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:4). Only God knows the heart, but those “Christians” who deliberately reject and disobey His Word should at least “examine [them]selves, whether [they] be in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). HMM

A Worshiper First

Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.
—Matthew 9:38

The work of Christ in redemption, for all its mystery, has a simple and understandable end: it is to restore men to the position from which they fell and bring them around again to be admirers and lovers of the Triune God. God saves men to make them worshipers.

This great central fact has been largely forgotten today, not by the liberals and the cults only, but by evangelical Christians as well. By direct teaching, by story, by example, by psychological pressure we force our new converts to “go to work for the Lord.” Ignoring the fact that God has redeemed them to make worshipers out of them, we thrust them out into “service,” quite as if the Lord were recruiting laborers for a project instead of seeking to restore moral beings to a condition where they can glorify God and enjoy Him forever….

Our Lord commands us to pray the Lord of the harvest that He will send forth laborers into His harvest field. What we are overlooking is that no one can be a worker who is not first a worshiper. Labor that does not spring out of worship is futile and can only be wood, hay and stubble in the day that shall try every man’s works.

Make me a fervent, passionate worshiper, Lord, that I may become a worthy and effective worker. Amen.

Getting And Keeping God in Focus

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God. (Acts 7:55)

While many are busy trying to set forth satisfactory definitions of the word “faith,” we do well to simply consider that believing is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus!

It is lifting the mind to “behold the Lamb of God,” and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives. At first this may be difficult, but it becomes easier as we look steadily at His wondrous Person, quietly and without strain.

Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window.

I would emphasize this one great volitional act which establishes the heart intention to gaze forever upon Jesus. God takes this intention for our choice and makes what allowances He must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world. So, faith is a redirecting of our sight, getting God in our focus, and when we lift our inward eyes upon God, we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us!

God employs his people to encourage one another

God employs his people to encourage one another. We should be glad that God usually works for man by man. It forms a bond of brotherhood, and being mutually dependent on one another, we are fused more completely into one family. Brethren, take the text as God’s message to you Aim to comfort the sorrowful, and to animate the desponding. Speak a word in season to him that is weary, and encourage those who are fearful to go on their way with gladness. God encourages you by his promises; Christ encourages you as he points to the heaven he has won for you, and the Spirit encourages you as he works in you to will and to do of His own will and pleasure.