VIDEO Fire Creek 2010

Jan 14, 2016

Spared by a God he didn’t believe in, Jason Malek comes home with shrapnel wounds in his legs and the memory of his best friend dying in combat. As Jason struggles with the question of why he heard a voice that saved his life, he meets new neighbors who have challenges of their own. As he grows closer to them he discovers they have needs he is uniquely prepared to meet. He also learns more about his relationship to his father, who had been killed in a tragic accident when Jason was a young boy. In the end, he finds that coming home meant much more than what he had thought.

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Timeless Savior

“Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” John 8:58

Jeralean Talley died in June 2015 as the world’s oldest living person—116 years of age. In 1995, the city of Jerusalem celebrated its 3,000th birthday. One hundred sixteen is old for a person, and 3,000 is old for a city, but there are trees that grow even older. A bristlecone pine in California’s White Mountains has been determined to be older than 4,800 years. That precedes the patriarch Abraham by 800 years!

Jesus, when challenged by the Jewish religious leaders about His identity, also claimed to pre-date Abraham. “Very truly I tell you,” He said, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58). His bold assertion shocked those who were confronting Him, and they sought to stone Him. They knew He wasn’t referring to a chronological age but was actually claiming to be eternal by taking the ancient name of God, “I am” (see Ex. 3:14). But as a member of the Trinity, He could make that claim legitimately.

Because of His sacrifice, we will spend eternity with Him.

In John 17:3, Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” The timeless One entered into time so we could live forever. He accomplished that mission by dying in our place and rising again. Because of His sacrifice, we anticipate a future not bound by time, where we will spend eternity with Him. He is the timeless one.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine; but God, who called me here below, will be forever mine.  John Newton

Learn more about the life to come at discoveryseries.org/q1205.

Christ holds all things together. Colossians 1:17

INSIGHT:When the Lord Jesus declared, “Before Abraham was born, I am,” in John 8:58, He was merely borrowing the unique title used of God in Exodus 3:14 (I am). What is meant by the title “I Am”? God is the self-existent and only supreme Being. If God is perpetually and permanently present, He can definitively declare, “I will be with you” (Ex. 3:12). God is not a deist—a do-nothing deity who is retired from all activity. He did not “wind up” the world like a huge watch only to let it run on its own. God is sovereign over all creation and lovingly cares for all He has made.

 

Moments That Sustain Each of Us

Psalm 145:1-5

Does peace come naturally for you, or does it feel like a constant struggle? Sometimes it seems as if so many things are actively working against our peace that our spirit may never know a moment’s rest. How can we quiet distractions long enough to hear God’s voice?

The key is found within a word that may make you uncomfortable: meditation. Perhaps you’re thinking, All that meditation stuff is what other religions call “finding yourself.” I’m not going to waste my time with that. What a horrible misconception. My friend, meditation is not about listening to yourself; on the contrary, it is about quieting your own mind and listening for the gentle whispers of the Lord.

Think about your prayer life. Whose voice is more prominent—yours or the Father’s? For most people, the vast majority of prayer time is spent talking to God, thanking Him for what He’s done, and asking for help. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but if you never give Him time to answer, how will you know what He wants to communicate to you?

The time we spend listening is a good indication of how much we respect and enjoy the relationship. If we dominate the conversation, then we may be showing God by our actions that His opinions are not as important as our own—we’d never say those words so plainly, but our actions may be proclaiming that very message.

Are you listening to God? Commit to listen quietly for what He wants to share with you.

Lovingkindness and Tender Mercy

“Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.” (Psalm 25:6)

These beautiful words, “tender mercies” and “lovingkindness,” may sound somewhat old-fashioned in today’s sophisticated jargon, but the divine attributes they represent have been “ever of old” and will continue to characterize our tender and merciful, kind and loving God of all grace forever. Dropping them from our conversation (even in most newer translations of the Bible) is a sad loss that, to some degree, has impoverished our speech and, perhaps, our souls.

Note some of the rich scriptural testimonies associated with them: “[The LORD] redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:4). “Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:11). “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). “Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good; turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies” (Psalm 69:16).

Other than Proverbs 12:10 (“the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel”), all the occurrences of these two terms, either alone or together, are applied by the translators only to the Lord, never to men (the Hebrew words are rendered by other words in the King James when applied to people). This is beautifully appropriate, for our gracious God is uniquely the God of love and mercy. In spite of the fact that none of us deserve His lovingkindness or tender mercy, “the LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:8-9). HMM

“I have prayed for thee.”

Luke 13:1-9

We must not suffer the intercession of Abraham to pass away from our thoughts till it has reminded us of the yet more powerful advocacy of our Blessed Lord Jesus. We see him in one of his own parables describing himself as preserving the sinful by his pleadings, and the passage is a fit sequel to our yesterday’s reading.

Luke 13:3

See the need of repentance. Philip Henry once said, “Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it so necessary that if I were to die in the pulpit, I should desire to die preaching repentance, and if I should die out of the pulpit I hope to die practising it.”

Luke 13:4-5

When we hear or read of terrible judgments upon sinners, such as these here recorded, and that which befell Sodom of old, we ought not to congratulate ourselves as though we were exempted because of our innocence, but rather we should regard these events as warnings to ourselves; since, if we fall into the same sins, sooner or later a doom equally overwhelming will come upon us. If any enquire why it has not come already, let them pay special attention to the parable which follows. There has been an intercessor at work, or we should have perished long ere this.

Luke 13:6

It was in good soil, and under the gardener’s care; it would therefore yield fruit, or prove itself to be good for nothing.

Luke 13:7

Three years was long enough for a test: there might have been two bad seasons to account for the absence of fruit, but when a third time the tree was fruitless the fault must be in the tree itself. God gives us time enough for trial. All of us have been borne with quite long enough to prove us, and perhaps at this moment the Lord is saying, “Cut it down.” How very like are some of us to the barren tree! In itself it is of no use, it fills the place of a good tree, it draws the goodness from the soil, and hurts others near it. It is thus that men live useless lives, and meanwhile are occupying wastefully positions in which others would bring glory to God.

Luke 13:8

It is the voice of Jesus the Intercessor. He is unwilling to see the axe uplifted, for he is full of compassion. See how unconverted men owe their lives to Jesus. They are not preserved by their own worth or worthiness, but they live upon sufferance, and will die as soon as the voice of Jesus ceases to plead for them.

Luke 13:9

May we who have been without grace till now hear the word of God at this hour and live; for this may be our last year of grace, and when it is over we may be cast into the fire of hell. Jesus has pleaded that we may be tried once more; but there is a limit to his pleadings. Note the two ifs, “And if,” “and if not.” Upon these two ifs hang eternity. The Lord grant that none of us may be cut down and cast into the eternal burnings.

 

See how the fruitless fig-tree stands,

Beneath its owner’s frown:

The axe is lifted in his hands,

To cut the cumberer down.

 

“Year after year, I come,” he cries,

“And still no fruit is shown;

Nothing but empty leaves arise,

Then cut the cumberer down.”

 

Sinner, beware! the axe of death

Is rais’d and aimed at thee:

Awhile thy Maker spares thy breath,

Beware, O barren tree!

 

Royal Ambassadors For Christ

2 Corinthians 5:20

Did you know that you have a high-ranking, esteemed, celebrated, impressive, and influential job in the Kingdom of God? It’s true! You are so important to the Kingdom of God that all of Heaven is standing behind you, just waiting to back you up, defend you, provide for you, help and assist you, and join forces with your actions of faith! In short, Heaven is just waiting to act on your behalf. Why? Because you are an ambassador for Christ to this world!

In Second Corinthians 5:20, Paul wrote, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ….” The word “ambassador” comes from the Greek word presbeuo. It describes an ambassador or one who fulfills the duties of an ambassador. How wonderful that Paul would use this word to describe you and me!

In New Testament times and in today’s world, the word “ambassador” has the same meaning. An “ambassador” can be defined as:

  • An envoy sent to represent a nation to a foreign land.
  • A diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or king.
  • A representative temporarily sent to a foreign country to represent the king or country that sent him.
  • An authorized messenger who has the power to make decisions and to represent the will of the government, nation, or king he represents.
  • An official representative who is authorized to speak on behalf of his sender.

According to Paul’s words in Second Corinthians 5:20, we are heavenly delegates—”ambassadors” who have been sent forth as Heaven’s representatives to planet earth! As ambassadors for Christ, we are the voice of Heaven. As His representatives, we are authorized to speak and act on behalf of the Lord. And as Heaven’s ambassadors, we are fully backed, fully funded, fully defended, and fully assisted by the authority and resources of Heaven!

 

Paul’s words in Second Corinthians 5:20 therefore mean:

“We are sent forth and temporarily stationed here as the fully authorized representatives of Jesus Christ! As His ambassadors, we are here to be His voice and His willa true representation of who He really is. As His official representatives sent here to do His business, we are fully backed up by all the power and resources of Heaven….”

Don’t ever think that you are unimportant to the plan of God. You are an ambassador! You represent Jesus Christ to your family, to your place of employment, and to your neighborhood. You have been invested with royal powers, including the name of Jesus and the authority of His blood, and you may call upon Heaven to assist you at any given moment! All angelic powers and all the vast resources stored in the treasury of Heaven are available for your use when you are representing Heaven to this world!

So wherever you go today and whatever you do, remember the One you are representing. If you need special help from above in order to represent the Lord in a positive way, remember that as an ambassador of Christ, all of Heaven is standing by to fully support you!

As your day gets started, stop for a moment and think about who you really are in Jesus Christ. You are a royal ambassador for the King of Kings Himself!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I thank You for the tremendous privilege of representing You on this earth! Please forgive me for the times I have overlooked the honor of being a child of God. I am sorry for the moments when I’ve been negative about myself talked badly about myself and did not acknowledge who You have made me to be in Jesus Christ. Today I am asking the Holy Spirit to help me see and truly perceive that You have made me to be an ambassador in this world!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am important to the plan of God. I am an ambassador! I represent Jesus Christ to my family, to my place of employment, and to my neighborhood. I have been invested with royal powers, including the name of Jesus and the authority of the blood, and I may call upon Heaven to assist me at any given moment! All angelic powers and all the vast resources stored in the treasury of Heaven are available for my use when I am representing Jesus to this world!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have you ever viewed yourself as an ambassador of Jesus Christ?
  2. Have you asked the Father to give you a revelation of your rightful place as an ambassador for Jesus Christ?
  3. In what ways can you act as an ambassador for Jesus where you live and work?

You have been invested with royal powers, including the name of Jesus and the authority of His blood, and you may call upon Heaven to assist you at any given moment! All angelic powers and all the vast resources stored in the treasury of Heaven are available for your use when you are representing Heaven to this world!

 

Personal Peace And Prosperity

According to Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer, peace and prosperity are the two preeminent values of American Christians. As believers many of us seem to believe God to be the “Omniscient Bellhop” Who roams heaven, anxiously waiting to respond to our every whim.

 

If you doubt your concern over personal peace and prosperity, analyze the content of your prayers these past two weeks. What percentage of them focused on your personal well-being and what percentage were spent agonizing over the winning of the lost or the maturing of the saved?

 

But did not Jesus promise us PEACE? “My peace I give to youThese things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace… ” (John 14:27; 16:33)

 

How then do Jesus’ (and Paul’s) other statements fit in with our near obsession for personal well-being:

 

Do not think that I came to bring peace on earthbut a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)

 

We are afflicted in every wayperplexedstruck downalways carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus… ” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10)

 

Following Jesus means entering Satan’s territory and attacking his strongholds. And that may spell the sacrificing of our personal comfort: Running the risk of trauma over peace; poverty over prosperity.

 

If you question this to be true:

  • Stand up for morality in your neighborhood or at the office. Openly question the rightness of soft porn or abortion.
  • Speak out at the office for ethical business practices that if implemented, introduce the real possibility of cutting into personal and corporate profits.

Could it be that at the moment we become openly identified with Christ and His values, we will begin to understand Paul’s unsettling statement, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12). Hardly a recipe for personal peace and prosperity!

 

 

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