VIDEO No Greater Love

Nov 15, 2012

Isaiah 1:18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.

 

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Perfect Peace

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. John 14:27

A friend shared with me that for years she searched for peace and contentment. She and her husband built up a successful business, so she was able to buy a big house, fancy clothes, and expensive jewelry. But these possessions didn’t satisfy her inner longings for peace, nor did her friendships with influential people. Then one day, when she was feeling low and desperate, a friend told her about the good news of Jesus. There she found the Prince of Peace, and her understanding of true peace and contentment was forever changed.

Jesus spoke words of such peace to His friends after their last supper together (John 14), when He prepared them for the events that would soon follow: His death, resurrection, and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Describing a peace—unlike anything the world can give—He wanted them to learn how to find a sense of well-being even in the midst of hardship.

Jesus came to usher peace into our lives and our world.

Later, when the resurrected Jesus appeared to the frightened disciples after His death, He greeted them, saying, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19). Now He could give them, and us, a new understanding of resting in what He has done for us. As we do, we can find the awareness of a confidence far deeper than our ever-changing feelings.

Heavenly Father, You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are fixed on You. Help us to trust in You forever, for You are our Rock eternal.

Jesus came to usher peace into our lives and our world.

By Amy Boucher Pye 

INSIGHT:Jesus repeatedly talks about peace in John 14, yet He would soon be arrested and His disciples would be hiding in fear. In verse 1 Jesus offered peace by encouraging them not to be troubled by the events that were coming on them. Instead, they were to look forward to reunion with Him and a home in the Father’s house. Then in today’s reading Jesus rooted this peace in the coming of the Holy Spirit—reminding us that, in part, the fruit of the Spirit is peace (Gal. 5:22–23). Jesus concluded His words to them with the promise of peace for everyday living: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). For now and forever, His great gift of peace carries us through all the seasons of life.

How do you see Jesus’s peace present in your life today?

Blessings of Inadequacy

2 Corinthians 3:1-6

Paul never claimed that he was capable of accomplishing all that God called him to do. He simply learned to look beyond his own inadequacy to the sufficiency of Christ. If we’ll adopt the same practice, we too can discover the blessings hidden in our own experiences of inadequacy.

Our insufficiency drives us to God. When we realize that a situation is bigger than we can handle, we must be quick to open the Bible and pray for guidance and power.

Inadequacy relieves us of the burden of self-effort and self-reliance. The Lord has us right where He wants us—at the end of our rope with nothing left to give.

Inability motivates reliance on divine power. God never intended for us to do certain things by ourselves. We’ll never be adequate until we draw from the Holy Spirit’s inexhaustible strength and let Him work in and through us.

By using inadequate people, God demonstrates what great things He can do. He actually delights in choosing unlikely individuals to carry out His plan. There’s no limit to what He can do through someone willing to give Him full control.

Inadequacy challenges our faith. The apostle Paul says, “Our adequacy is from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5). Those who focus on the reliability of this promise and step out in obedience will grow in faith.

Why go through all the fear, pressure, and frustration that accompany feelings of inadequacy when there’s an alternative? Let the Lord make you adequate: Rely upon Him and allow Christ to live in and through you. He will replace your anxiety with a spirit of contentment.

The Family of a Disciple

“Then Peter said, Lo, we have left all, and followed thee. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” (Luke 18:28-30)

Unfortunately, this and parallel passages have been wrongly used all too often to justify the abandonment of responsibilities to family in the name of following Christ.

But Christ is not here advocating repudiation of family. Instead, He insists that our allegiance be to Him and to His will. Nothing must be allowed to usurp His rightful position of supremacy in our lives. While it is true that for some a life unencumbered by family duties may result in more efficient ministry (1 Corinthians 7:1-9, 25-38), family relationships and responsibilities are of great importance to Him (vv. 10-24; see also many other passages).

Consider the case of Elisha. God had instructed Elijah to train Elisha to take his place as prophet (1 Kings 19:16). Finding Elisha plowing in his father’s field (i.e., family duties) with 12 yoke of oxen, “Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him” (v. 19).

Elisha knew immediately that he was facing a dramatic change in his life. He did not refuse, argue with, or try to alter the call, but he did recognize a responsibility to his parents. “Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee” (v. 20). Elijah agreed. To solidify his determination to leave, Elisha immediately sacrificed a pair of oxen, using as fuel the plowing instruments he had been using. He was, in effect, making a clean break with his former life, yet honoring and respecting his parents. “Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him” (v. 21). JDM

“When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee.”

Joshua 3:1-13

Joshua 3:1

He did not serve God and his people in a dilatory manner. He who would accomplish great things, will never do them by lying in bed.

Joshua 3:1

They had a promise that they should pass over, but they knew not how: nevertheless they went forward in faith. If we only know our duty up to a certain point, let us advance, even if we cannot see another inch beyond us. Let us do as we are bidden, and leave events with God.

Joshua 3:3

In former times the ark was in the centre of the host, but now it leads the van, as though the Lord defied his enemies, and went on before, alone and unattended to give them battle.

Joshua 3:4

The distance set was intended to enable the people to see the ark, and also as it were to shew that the Lord met his foes alone, keeping the armed ranks behind, and advancing unarmed against his foes. This day let us reflect that we shall tread a new road, but let us rejoice that our gracious covenant God goes before.

Joshua 3:5

God always does wonders among a sanctified people. Our sins may put a restraint upon him, but we are not straitened in him.

Joshua 3:7

God would have his ministers honoured, and therefore works by them.

Joshua 3:11

Thus the ark’s passage of the Jordan was both a token of the Lord’s presence, and a pledge of the conquest of Canaan. Every display of grace to us is a fresh assurance of our ultimate victory over all sin, and our entrance into the promised rest.

Joshua 3:13

This the Lord who was the Alpha of his people’s deliverance at the Red Sea, became the Omega of it, by a repetition of the miracle at Jordan. Fear not, for the Lord will also for us do as great things at the close of our days, as he did when he brought us out of the Egyptian bondage of our sins.

 

One army of the living God,

To His command we bow;

Part of His host have cross’d the flood,

And part are crossing now.

 

Ten thousand to their endless home

This solemn moment fly;

And we are to the margin come,

And soon expect to die.

 

God Isn’t Looking for Aristocrats, Cultured, or High-Born People

1 Corinthians 1:26, 27

Through the ages, God has always delighted in choosing normal people to do His business. If you consider yourself to be a normal, average kind of person, that means you are just the kind of person God is looking to use!

First Corinthians 1:26 says, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble….” Do you see the word “noble” in this verse? It comes from the Greek compound word eugenes. The first part of the word is the Greek prefix eu, which means well or good. The second part of the word is the Greek word genes, from which we get our English word for the human gene. When these two words are compounded together, the new word portrays people who are well-born or who have excellent genes.

In ancient Greece, the word eugenes meant men of high descent, such as sons of kings, politicians, or others from the upper crust of society. It referred to individuals whose ancestors had been powerful, wealthy, rich, or famous. These were high-born, blue-blooded, cultured, refined, courtly, pedigreed, aristocratic people who sustained their lofty positions in society based on their birth.

Examples of this class of people would be members of royalty who held their exalted positions in society whether or not they personally merited those positions. They were born into the upper crust and stayed there simply because of their family name or relations.

Modern examples of eugenes are sons and daughters of kings and queens who retain their royal posts simply because of the blood that runs in their veins. Other examples would be the sons and daughters of famous and beloved politicians. Although the offspring themselves may not have accomplished anything significant, their famous last name has sealed their fame and place in society. They were born with a “name” that gives them lifetime guarantees and access to privileges that are not available to common people with unknown names.

But the word eugenes can also refer to people who carry the seed of genius as a result of the good genes with which they were born. An example of this category of eugenes would be the family of Albert Einstein.

Some years ago, I was visiting a pastor in New York City who told me an interesting story about a visit he had with the niece of Albert Einstein. He was amazed to discover she had five earned doctorates and held several prominent positions in universities in New York City. Like her uncle Albert, she was endowed with genius in her genes, and it carried her all the way to the top of every field in which she became involved.

Let me give you another example of “good genes” as portrayed by the Greek word eugenes. Before the Russian revolution, noble families owned the lands and controlled the territory of Russia. In 1917 when the Red Army seized power, all of Russia’s rich decoration and regal royalty came to an abrupt end. The nobility was killed or fled to foreign countries. It looked as if history had buried them forever.

Thank God, today the communist regime is gone. In its place, a brand-new rich Russian class is emerging. People often ask, “Who are these new super-rich Russians?” It is interesting to note that many of them have the same family names of the old ruling class that dominated Russia before the 1917 revolution. The nobility that runs in their veins is too strong to be held down. Once again, it is taking them to the top of society.

The Russian nobility were endowed with powerful genes. These genes have been passed down to the present generation. Now the offspring of the Russian nobles are reassuming positions of power that were once occupied by their grandparents. This tendency to rule and reign is in their genes.

The word eugenes describes both kinds of people—those born into famous families who enjoy the inherent privileges of their last name, and those who carry a streak of genius, talent, or superiority in their genes. These are “the upper crust”—the ruling class or aristocracy of the world.

However, Paul says that God hasn’t specialized in calling this category of people. Take a look at world history, and you’ll see that God hasn’t primarily specialized in using kings, queens, royalty, politicians, scientists, philosophers, writers, movie stars, or celebrities to advance His Kingdom. From the onset of time, God has reached into the hearts of ordinary men and women. These are the ones who most often accomplish mighty feats through His grace and power.

So if God isn’t looking for the upper crust of society, He must be looking to “the lower crust”—in other words, to the ordinary, usual, regular, routine, run-of-the-mill, standard, typical kind of people. This means that if you come from a normal, average background, you are possibly the very one God wants to use!

Yes, God has called the rich and famous as well, but it is the regular folks who most often find themselves chosen by God to carry out His will in the earth. He specializes in using ordinary people, just like you and me. That is why Paul goes on to say, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise….”

The word “foolish” is from the Greek word moraino. The word “moron” also comes from this Greek word. My thesaurus gives these other synonyms for a “moron”: idiot, imbecile, halfwit, numskull, dimwit, dunce, blockhead, dope, ignoramus, lamebrain, jerk, or twerp!

The truth is, no one is an idiot in God’s view. But the world often views people whom God chooses as being nitwits, lamebrains, and idiots. It is worth noting that the word moraino was used in Paul’s time to depict people whom the world scorned, made fun of, and treated with contempt.

Because much of the Early Church was comprised of servants and slaves, most of the people in the local congregations were very uneducated, uncultured, clumsy, crude, awkward, and unpolished. It wasn’t that they were stupid. They had simply never been exposed to or taught about manners, culture, and refined behavior. Reared and treated as servants since birth, they’d never had a need to know these skills.

However, the early Christians’ lack of polish made them look stupid in the world’s eyes. In fact, the Roman Empire at first looked upon Christianity as the religion of stupid, poor people because it grew so rapidly among the lower slave classes.

Yet Paul says, “… God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise….” The word “confound” is the Greek word kataishuno. It means to put to shame, to embarrass, to confuse, to frustrate, to baffle. The word “wise” is again the word sophos, referring to those who are naturally brilliant, intellectually sharp, or especially enlightened. Paul is saying that God calls people whom the world considers morons in order to put to shame, embarrass, confuse, frustrate, and baffle those who think they’re so smart!

So if anyone has ever called you an idiot—if you’ve ever been called a stupid imbecile, a jerk, or a twerp—it’s time for you to rejoice! This makes you a candidate to be used for God’s glory!

 

The following expanded version of First Corinthians 1:26, 27 gives a fuller picture of the Greek words used in this verse:

“For you see your calling brothers, how not many of you were especially bright, educated, or enlightened according to the world’s standards; not many of you were impressive; not many came from high-ranking families or from the upper crust of society. Instead, God selected people who are idiots in the world’s view; in fact, the world sees them as imbeciles, jerks, real twerps. Yet God is using them to utterly confound those who seem smart in the world’s eyes….”

Therefore, even though you may not have any genius residing in your genes nor any nobility running in your blood, that isn’t a strike against you! You can’t lay claim to these factors as excuses for not being used by God! God isn’t looking for people who are geniuses or well-born, high-class blue bloods. He’s looking for anyone who will say yes to His call! So if you consider yourself to be just a regular ol’ person, it’s time for you to start rejoicing again! You are exactly the kind of person God wants to use!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, help me stop making excuses for why I think God shouldn’t use me! It’s time for me to stop ignoring the call of God and to accept the fact that He has laid His hand upon me and wants to use me in this world. Forgive me for putting this off for so long, but today I accept Your call. I reject all excuses for any further delay, and I gladly embrace what You are telling me to do!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I boldly confess that I am exactly the kind of person Jesus Christ wants to use! I may not have the blue blood of nobility flowing through my veins, but I have been touched, cleansed, and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. That blood qualifies me! With the Word as my guide and the Holy Spirit as my Teacher, I have everything I need to do anything Jesus ever requires of me. I am quick to obey; I do not hesitate; and I am faithful to carry out every assignment that He gives me!

I boldly declare this in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Thinking back on those who were most mightily used by God throughout the ages, do you know from which class of society most of them came?
  2. Now think about those whom God is greatly using to touch the world and confound society today. What class of society do most of these people come from? What kind of education did most of them have when God first started using them in a notable way? How many of them have blue blood running in their veins or would be deemed geniuses by the great universities of the world?
  3. What does this tell you about God’s ability to use you?

 

Looking For Brokenness

Brokenness is the one quality God looks for in visiting and enabling the needy:

 

The Lord has anointed me (Christ) to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1b)

 

PROUD, UNBROKEN PEOPLE

 

 

BROKEN PEOPLE
Work to maintain an image/protect their reputation

 

 

Die to their own reputation
Find it difficult to share their spiritual needs with others Are willing to be open/transparent with others

 

 

Want to be sure nobody finds out about their sin Are willing to be exposed (once broken, you don’t care who knows as you have nothing to lose)

 

 

Have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you forgive me?”

 

 

Are quick to admit failure and to seek forgiveness
Deal in generalities when confessing

 

 

Deal in specifics their sin

 

Are concerned about the consequences of their sins

 

 

Are grieved over the cause/root of their sins
Are remorseful over their sin; over the fact that they got caught/found out

 

 

Are repentant over their sin (forsake it)
Wait for others to come and ask for forgiveness

 

 

Take the initiative to be reconciled
Compare themselves with others and feel deserving of honor Compare themselves to the holiness of God and feel a desperate need for mercy

 

 

Are blind to their true heart condition

 

 

Walk in the light
Don’t think they have anything to repent of Have a continual heart attitude of repentance

 

 

Don’t think they need revival (but everybody else does!)

 

 

Continually sense their need for a fresh encounter with the filling of His Spirit!

 

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