VIDEO ‘Walk by Faith, Not by Sight’

Dec 24, 2013

SHORTLY before his death in 33 C.E., Jesus called Jerusalem “the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her.” The city as a whole followed the pattern of its past and rejected the Son of God.—Mt 23:37.

Jesus foretold what would happen: “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes.” (Luke 19:41-44) He also said: “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then . . . let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains.”—Luke 21:20, 21.

In 66 C.E., following a Jewish revolt, Roman armies under Cestius Gallus came against Jerusalem. But, as Josephus notes, Gallus “suddenly recalled his troops, . . . and, contrary to all calculation, retired from the city.” This afforded Christians the opportunity to flee from Jerusalem, which they did. Soon the Roman armies under Titus returned. This time they built “a fortification with pointed stakes,” an encircling fence 7.2 km (4.5 mi) long. After a siege of about five months, the city was thoroughly destroyed and the temple reduced to ruins. Three years later, in 73 C.E., the Roman armies captured the last Jewish stronghold, the mountaintop fortress of Masada.

Jerusalem’s destruction emphasizes the importance of paying attention to Bible prophecy.

Behind the Scenes

Your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. Daniel 10:12

My daughter sent a text message to a friend, in hopes of having a question answered quickly. Her phone’s messaging service showed that the recipient had read the message, so she waited anxiously for a reply. Mere moments passed, yet she grew frustrated, groaning her annoyance at the delay. Irritation eroded into worry; she wondered whether the lack of response meant there was a problem between them. Eventually a reply came and my daughter was relieved to see their relationship was fine. Her friend had simply been sorting out the details needed to answer the question.

The Old Testament prophet Daniel also anxiously awaited a reply. After receiving a frightening vision of great war, Daniel fasted and sought God through humble prayer (10:3, 12). For three weeks, he received no reply (vv. 2, 13). Finally, an angel arrived and assured Daniel his prayers had been heard “since the first day.” In the meantime, the angel had been battling on behalf of those prayers. Though Daniel didn’t know it at first, God was at work during each of the twenty-one days that elapsed between his first prayer and the angel’s coming.

God is always at work on behalf of His people.

The confidence that God hears our prayers can cause us to become anxious when His reply doesn’t come when we want it to. We are prone to wonder whether He cares. Yet Daniel’s experience reminds us that God is at work on behalf of those He loves even when it isn’t obvious to us.

Lord, help me to trust Your care for me even when I can’t see it.

Read more at Why Doesn’t God Answer Me? discoveryseries.org/hp112.

God is always at work on behalf of His people.

Heart for God

Acts 13:16-22

God’s assessment of David’s heart is one of the highest praises that anyone has ever received from the Lord. And this commendation is not reserved exclusively for Israel’s beloved king; in fact, our Father longs for every one of His children to have a heart for Him.

In Acts 13:22, the Lord called David “a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” In other words, the chief characteristic of a heart for God is a passion to obey Him. Not every act of King David’s life was as the Lord would have desired, but his pattern was to follow after God. And David also knew what to do when he sinned. His prayer was that the Lord would search out any wicked way in him, clean it up, and help him to get back on track to become the kind of person his heavenly Father wanted him to be (Psalm 139:23-24).

David’s highest priority was his relationship with the Lord. He delighted in both reading God’s Word and having intimate conversations with the Father, many of which are recorded for us in the book of Psalms. In addition, the Scriptures reveal many examples of how David trusted the Lord in all the challenges of his life. This humble servant recognized that any greatness he achieved as king was actually due to God alone.

Becoming a man or woman with a heart for the Lord is a valuable goal. Our aim is not perfection but a consistent, growing relationship with Him. In the process, we will discover that our desires and interests increasingly align with God’s, and obeying Him will be our great delight.

Health and Wealth

“If thou wert pure and upright; surely now he would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous. Though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.” (Job 8:6-7)

Bildad was reflecting the half truths and logic Satan used with Eve (2 Corinthians 11:3). When theology or philosophy differ from Scripture, the choice is either one or the other. Attempting to amalgamate the differences always leads to error. The prosperity gospel often taught today is an extension of that error.

Satan refused to understand that some of the human race were “perfect and upright” like Job (Job 1:1) and loved and trusted God for their eternal destiny. Such godly people cannot be bought by possessions or circumstances. As Job later said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).

Satan’s original lie to Adam and Eve was that they could obtain the power of God by grasping the “secret” of evil. As the human race grew more despicable, embracing Satan’s lie, Satan began using the duplicity of angelic power and human procreation (Genesis 6:1-4) to attempt his coveted coup (Isaiah 14:13). That was destroyed by God with the great Flood.

Satan tried again with Nimrod at Babel and was defeated when God confounded human language. Lucifer then attempted to “trick” God into taking away His blessing on Job so Satan would have an example to show of God’s capricious care. All Satan got for his efforts was the testimony of this great man enshrined in Scripture to encourage the rest of humanity. “Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy” (James 5:11). HMM III

Adapted from The Book of Beginnings  by Dr. Henry M. Morris III.

“God be merciful to me a sinner.”

Exodus 20:1-17

We are now about to read that solemn epitome of the law of God, which is contained in Exodus 20:1-17; but, before we read a line, let us beseech the Lord to forgive our offences against his holy name, and to accept us in the Son of his love, by whom this law has been magnified and made honourable. We are now to read a code of law in which there is no omission and no redundancy. It is the only perfect law in the universe. None of us have kept it, and therefore it were folly to look for salvation by it, since nothing but perfect obedience can be accepted by the justice of God.

Exodus 20:1-3

There is but one God, and we must not dare to worship or obey another. Beware of making gold or your self, or your dearest relation into a god. “Little children keep yourselves from idols.”

Exodus 20:4-6

We are in the second commandment forbidden to worship God under any visible symbol, or after any other fashion than he has commanded. How great are the crimes of those who worship crosses, pictures, and bread, and even attach the idea of holiness to enclosures and buildings.

Exodus 20:7

Any unhallowed use of the divine name is exceedingly sinful. Beware of flippantly saying, “O Lord,” and such like irreverent speeches.

Exodus 20:8-11

One day in seven is the Lord’s, and to rob him of it is to injure ourselves as well as to disobey our Maker. Rest and worship are two of our sweetest blessings, and to them the day should be sacredly given.

Exodus 20:12

Respect, love, and obedience are our parents’ due. This is the first commandment with promise.

Exodus 20:13

Anger, and the doing of anything injurious to the health of ourselves or others, are here forbidden.

Exodus 20:14

This forbids lust of heart, thought, and look, as well as actual uncleanness.

Exodus 20:15

This forbids pilfering, cheating, and every kind of wrong.

Exodus 20:16

All lying is herein condemned.

Exodus 20:17

This touches a heart sin, and shews that the precept is exceeding broad, and reaches thoughts and imaginations. Who can read it and then hope to be saved by his own doings? Lord have mercy upon us, and forgive us our transgressions of this thy holy law.

 

Lord, make me understand thy law;

Show what my faults have been;

And from thy gospel let me draw

The pardon of my sin.

 

Not one can e’er be just with God

By works his hands have wrought;

For thy command’s exceeding broad,

And reaches every thought.

 

My God, ’tis through thy Son I wait

For thy salvation still;

While thy whole law is my delight,

And I revere thy will.

 

Have You Ever Felt ‘Agony’ Over Situations You Have Faced in Life?

Luke 22:43, 44

Have you ever wondered where all your friends were at a time when you really needed them? They pledged they would be faithful, but when you needed them, they were nowhere to be found! Did you feel abandoned in that moment of need? Jesus Himself was confronted with that same situation when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before His crucifixion.

After Jesus was finished serving Communion to His disciples in the upper room, the Bible tells us that He went to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples. Knowing the Cross and the grave was before Him, Jesus felt a need to spend time in intercession so He might have the strength needed to face what lay before Him. He also requested that Peter, James, and John come apart to pray with Him.

Rarely, if ever, did Jesus need His friends’ assistance; most of the time, they needed His! But in this intense moment, Jesus really felt a need to have the three disciples who were closest to Him pray with Him. Jesus asked these disciples to pray for just one hour. But instead of faithfully praying when Jesus desperately needed their support, they kept falling asleep!

The mental and spiritual battle Jesus was experiencing that night in the Garden of Gethsemane was intense. In fact, Luke 22:44 says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

Today I want you to especially notice the word “agony” in this verse. It comes from the Greek word agonidzo, a word that refers to a struggle, a fight, great exertion, or effort. It is where we get the word agony— a word often used in the New Testament to convey the ideas of anguish, pain, distress, and conflict. The word agonidzo itself comes from the word agon, which is the word that depicted the athletic conflicts and competitions that were so famous in the ancient world.

The Holy Spirit used this word to picture Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal. This tells us that Jesus was thrown into a great struggle and fight that night. Knowing that the Cross and the grave were before Him, He cried out, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me…” (Luke 22:42).

The spiritual pressure that bore down upon Jesus’ soul was so overwhelming that the Bible says it was agonidzo, or agony. It was so strenuous that it involved all of Jesus’ spirit, soul, and body. He was in the greatest fight He had ever known up to that moment.

Jesus’ intense level of agony is depicted in the phrase, “… he prayed more earnestly….” The word “earnestly” is the Greek word ektenes, a Greek word that means to be extended or to be stretched out. A person in this kind of agony might drop to the ground, writhing in pain and rolling this way and that way. This word ektenes presents the picture of a person who is pushed to the limit and can’t be stretched much more. He is on the brink of all he can possibly endure.

Jesus’ emotional state was so intense that it says “… his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” The “sweat” is the Greek word idros. The word “drops” is the Greek word thrombos, a medical word that points to blood that is unusually thickly clotted. When these two words are joined, they depict a medical condition called hematidrosis— a condition that occurs only in individuals who are in a highly emotional state.

Because the mind is under such great mental and emotional pressure, it sends signals of stress throughout the human body. These signals become so strong that the body reacts as if it were under actual physical pressure. As a result, the first and second layer of skin separate, causing a vacuum to form between them. Thickly clotted blood seeps from this vacuum, oozing through the pores of the skin. Once the blood seeps through, it mingles with the sufferer’s sweat that pours from his skin as a result of his intense inner struggle. In the end, the blood and sweat mix together and flow down the victim’s face like droplets to the ground.

This was the worst spiritual combat Jesus had ever endured up to this time. Where were His disciples when He needed them? They were sleeping. He needed His closest friends—yet they couldn’t even pray for one hour! So God provided strength for Jesus in another way, which we will see in tomorrow’s Sparkling Gem.

Have you ever felt a need for help but found your friends couldn’t be counted on? Did you find your friends sleeping on the job when you felt a deep need for help and support? Were you in a situation that caused you to feel intense agony or pushed to the limit? Are you in that kind of situation right now?

Maybe you’ve never sweat blood and tears. But more than likely, you have struggled in your soul at one time or another because of problems with your marriage, your children, your relationships, your ministry, or your finances. If you’ve ever felt like you were constantly living in a “pressure cooker,” you know that continuous pressure is hard to deal with—especially if you have no one to lean on for strength, encouragement, and help.

If you are experiencing one of those times right now, Jesus understands because He faced the same situation in the Garden of Gethsemane. Hebrews 2:18 says, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” Because of what Jesus experienced, He is able to understand everything you are thinking and feeling today. So take a few minutes to pray, and talk to Jesus about the situations you are facing. He empathizes completely, and He will give you the strength you need to make it today!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I need a little relief from the stress and pressure I’ve been under lately. I’m so thankful You understand what I’m feeling and going through in my life right now. Sometimes I feel so lonely in my situation. Even when my friends want to help, I don’t know how to express myself. But I know that You understand me, even when I can’t get the right words out of my mouth. So, Lord, today I am asking You to come alongside me in a special way. Undergird me with Your strength, power, and wisdom. Thank You for understanding me and for helping me today!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I boldly confess that Jesus Christ understands and empathizes with me and the situations I am facing right now. Because He understands, I go to Him and talk to Him, knowing that He hears me when I pray. And not only does He listen to me, but He also answers the prayers and the cries of my heart. I do not have to face my challenges today alone because Jesus is with me, empowering me to stand tall, to stand firm, and to hold my head high! With Him as my Helper, I will not only survive but will thrive and prosper in spite of what the devil has tried to do to me.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you were pushed to the limit of what you thought you could endure?
  2. In that situation, did you turn to the Lord for strength and comfort and talk to Him about it?
  3. In what way did the Lord bring strength and comfort to your soul when there may not have been another person there to help you?

 

Ever Feel Abandoned By God?

  • Your prayers seem to go unanswered.
  • Evidence of God’s working is scarce.
  • You and fellow-believers languish while the godless appear to flourish.

Is this God’s cruel joke? Or could there be a Divine reason behind our sense of abandonment?

 

Is it possible that God, who is intent on teaching us to live by faith, purposely removes evidence of Himself from us in order to strengthen our faith? What quality of belief is required when His documentation is everywhere present?

 

Our faith is in its purest form when, amidst scant evidence for the existence of God, we still choose to believe.

 

This was precisely Job’s experience: Seemingly abandoned by God, and having sustained great personal loss, he exclaims,

 

Though He slay me, yet will I trust HimI go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him. But He knows the way I take and when He has tried me I shall come forth as goldHe performs what is appointed for me… ” (Job 13:15; 23:8, 10, 14a)

 

A person who elects to walk with God in those bleak periods of spiritual desolation is indeed a lethal instrument in the hand of God.

 

Consider C. S. Lewis’ perspective from his writings in “The Screwtape Letters”. In the following monologue Satan is coaching his protégé Wormwood:

 

“Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human looks (around)… a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

 

As a fellow pilgrim, may I ask you: “Have you resolved in your soul to follow the Master, whether there is evidence or not? Whether He blesses you or not?

 

Of such a person God is well-pleased! (Hebrews 11:6)

 

 

%d bloggers like this: