Aug 26, 2013
Aug 26, 2013
The heart knows its own bitterness, and a stranger does not share its joy. Proverbs 14:10
Your close friends know what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. They have seen your face break into a smile with laughter bubbling forth. They have seen your face heavy with sadness, and perhaps even seen your tears. Just as each person is unique, each person’s story is one-of-a-kind as well. There are the parts of our stories we love and then there are the parts of our stories we wish we could delete: “I don’t want this!
Like a close friend delights in listening to your unedited self and making you smile, God delights in being with you, loving you, and giving you good gifts. However, His gifts can be missed in our bustling busyness. Our tendency to compare and focus on our lack instead of our bounty does not help either. The practice of gratitude shifts our soul’s attention to the gifts we have been given. Gratitude does not fix problems or negate life’s difficulties, but it does open our eyes to blessings. This is why gratitude journaling remains popular. Try it! The very act of pausing, reflecting, and giving our gratitude space—both in your mind and on paper—will change your perspective and the landscape of your soul.
God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.Augustine
Our loving Father is the God of second chances. His grace is so extensive that He offers countless opportunities to hear the gospel and receive His Son Jesus Christ as Savior. What’s more, He reaches into the muck of mankind’s sinful nature, rebellious spirit, perversity, and unclean language in order to save His beloved creation.
If you think that the Lord takes second chances lightly, read today’s passage carefully—it is a look at humanity through divine eyes. On our own, no matter how much we try to be good, we are foolish, useless, and evil. Thankfully, God’s grace is immeasurably greater than our sin.
Of course, the heavenly Father is a righteous judge who cannot ignore transgressions. If He did, He would not be the holy and just deity described in the Scriptures. While humanity might count passivity as kindness, the Lord considers grace an action word. As a result, He implemented a simple rescue plan for each person on earth: Whoever believes in Jesus Christ as Savior is forgiven. We are justified by faith and at peace with God (Rom. 5:1). The rebellious war we carried out against Him is over. Sins are washed off our heart. In fact, from God’s perspective, His children look as if they have never done wrong.
Jesus is our second chance. Apart from Him, there is no salvation, no justification, and no grace. Look again at the passage from Romans 3. It’s not possible to clean up one’s own heart—each man or woman must take advantage of the purity Christ purchased with His sacrifice on the cross.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” (Revelation 14:13)
This promise applies specifically to those recent believers who will suffer martyrdom during the last half of the awful tribulation period (“henceforth,” in context). But dealing as it does with the state of the believing dead, in principle, it surely likewise applies to all who die “in the Lord.”
How are they blessed? In numerous ways, according to this verse.
First, they are blessed in that they “rest from their labors.” In this life we earn our physical sustenance by “the sweat of [our] face” (Genesis 3:19). Here we must work hard to train our minds (Ecclesiastes 12:12). Now we constantly battle our inward, fallen nature: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). Even as we attempt to serve our fellow man, our efforts are spurned and rejected. Not so for the dead! There all these labors will cease, and joyous, eternal service to the Lamb will commence (Revelation 22:3).
Secondly, they are blessed in that their labors continue to bear fruit even after they have gone. Perhaps even a previous word or act of testimony will be the eventual tool God uses to bring someone to Himself, and the reward will be properly distributed. No act done to the glory of God will pass unnoticed.
Thirdly, what a blessing to know that this state is promised by the very Spirit of God Himself. One’s worth at death is not measured by the content and sincerity of the opinions of friends at his funeral.
This doctrine should produce both great courage for the Christian and great comfort for the bereaved. JDM
There was light before the appearance of sun or moon; but God made these the bearers thereof, that they might declare his glory. He could have done without them, but he did not please so to do. He could enlighten men’s minds without his ministers or his church; but, if he chooses to use them as lights in the world, let us be thankful for them, and pray for them.
Thus a chaos of light was reduced to order. Order is a law of God. Families are unhappy without it.
The delightful alternation of the day so suitable for labour, and the night so proper for rest, is certainly “good” for us in many ways, and we ought to adore the goodness of God therein.
Thus the Lord’s work of creation advanced to higher stages each day, and we shall find it so in grace; he will yet reveal choicer mercies to us.
The inconceivable numbers of fish and fowl in the earth show how potent was this primeval blessing. Let but the Lord bless his church in the same manner, and her converts shall be as the stars of heaven for multitude. Such wonders of creation ought not to be rehearsed without a song of praise: let us therefore turn to—
All this day let us praise God with our hearts, words, and actions; for he has dealt very kindly with us as a family. Blessed be his name.
Praise him, ye gladdening smiles of morn;
Praise him, O silent night;
Tell forth his glory all the earth;
Praise him, ye stars of light!
Praise him, ye stormy winds, that rise
Obedient to his word;
Mountains, and hills, and fruitful trees,
Join ye and praise the Lord!
Praise him, ye heavenly hosts, for ye
With purer lips, can sing—
Glory and honour, praise and power
To him, the Eternal King!
2 Timothy 1:6
Have you ever experienced the delivering and rescuing power of God? I’m talking about those moments when your situation looks completely hopeless—but suddenly God’s amazing grace intervenes and your situation is miraculously changed! Can you think of moments like this in your past?
It’s amazing that when we are confronted with a new challenge, we often fail to remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Our perspective gets blurry because of the problems we are currently facing, and we forget that we’ve gone through similar or worse circumstances before. The looming mountain of problems before us looks so big that we momentarily fail to remember all the other mountains we’ve already faced and overcome with the help of God.
When Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, the younger man was facing the biggest mountain of his life. Nero had become the emperor of the Roman Empire. Because of his tyrannical rule, believers were being persecuted and were even dying for their faith. In the midst of all the panic, Timothy was tempted to fear for his life and his future. He must have wondered, Is God going to be faithful to me in this terrible hour?
So in Second Timothy 1:5, Paul tells Timothy, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also.” Paul wanted to remind Timothy about something very important!
God’s faithfulness was a part of Timothy’s family heritage. His grandmother trusted the Lord—and the Lord had never failed her or let her down. His mother trusted the Lord—and the Lord had never failed her or let her down either. Because Timothy was dealing with great stress and difficulty, Paul took the opportunity to remind him that just as God had never failed his grandmother or mother, neither would He abandon Timothy in his difficult hour.
Then Paul told him, “… I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). I want you to particularly focus on the phrase, “I put thee in remembrance.” It is taken from the Greek word anamimnesko, a compound of the words ana and mimnesko. Pay close attention, because this is very important! The word ana means again or to repeat something. The second part of the word mimnesko means to be reminded of something, such as memories.
When these two words are joined together as in this verse, it means to regather or to recollect memories. The little prefix ana carries the idea of replaying these memories over and over again in your mind, the way you would hit the rewind button on your video player so you can back up and watch one part of a movie over and over again.
This means there are some memories we should never forget! For example, we should constantly hit the rewind button in our minds and “replay” the times that God has been faithful to us in the past—delivering us, healing us, and rescuing us time and time again. We should “replay” those scenes in our minds until we never forget His faithfulness to us!
You could translate Second Timothy 1:6 in the following way:
“I am putting you in memory of all these things, so that by your remembering them, you might stir up the gift of God that is in you….”
Paul reminds Timothy (and us) to take our eyes off these times of trouble or the present crisis and to remember God’s delivering and rescuing power in the past. If we really looked at our past, we’d find that we have faced other moments more severe than the one we’re facing right now—and God never failed us or let us down. In fact, He delivered us and turned those situations around!
Don’t ever forget what God has already done for you, for those memories will stir you up and encourage you to face your present dilemma with faith. Just as God has always been faithful to you in the past, He will be faithful to you right now.
Never forget how:
These kinds of memories are powerful and will stir up your faith today!
So the next time the devil tells you there is no way you’ll survive what you’re facing, take the time to get alone with the Lord. Then hit the rewind button, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you regather and recollect all those past events when God came through for you! As you replay those memories over and over in your mind, your faith will rise to a new level of confidence. You’ll be able to look your problems right in the face and say, “God’s record with me has always been faithfulness, and I know He’ll be faithful to me now as well!”
Lord, You have always been faithful. I thank You that even in my present situation, You are going to be faithful again. Please help me recall all the times in the past when You delivered and rescued me from other situations that also looked hopeless. Thank You for helping me keep those awesome experiences alive and fresh in my mind and heart. I thank You for always being faithful to me!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that God has never failed me or let me down. He has always delivered me from difficult times, and He will rescue and deliver me now as well. Today I will dwell on those past moments when God did for me what everyone thought was impossible! Just as He intervened on my behalf in the past, He will intervene on my behalf again! I will not succumb to fear, doubt, or failure. With God’s help, I will conquer what the enemy meant for my downfall and defeat!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Nothing in the Bible remotely suggests the idea that we should seek “happiness.”
But there is plenty written about seeking holiness: “Pursue holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord… like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves in all your behavior.” (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15)
While many blithely pursue the life depicted on “Fantasy Island,” a battle is raging between the forces of heaven and hell — between good and evil. It is here that Satan seeks to destroy us while God is preparing us for eternity. It is here that either godly character is being forged, or souls are in the process of destruction. Hardly a place for “happiness.”
“The whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth… waiting eagerly for our adoption… the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:22, 23)
The pursuit of “happiness” is centered in self and has about it a kind of Disneyesque surrealism. Surrounded as we are by struggling humanity in the abyss of misery and devastation, chatting about “happiness” seems a tad trite. Consider King Solomon’s poignant observation:
“It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting… to listen to the rebuke of a wise man than… to listen to the song of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2, 5)
Paradoxically, it is only out of a life of holiness and service centered on glorifying God that we experience purpose, meaning, and fulfillment. Note Isaiah 58:10, 11:
“And if you give yourself to the hungry, and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then your light will rise in darkness, and your gloom will become like midday. And the Lord will… satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.”
If “happiness” were achievable in the wealthiest nation on earth, why then are we plagued by boredom, crime, drugs, the murder of the unborn, teenage pregnancy, and divorce? It is my suspicion that Satan has been less than truthful to us in holding out the carrot of “happiness.” What do you think?