VIDEO Know By Now

Featured Music: Josh Wilson

Featured Music: Josh Wilson

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The Professor’s Confession

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. 1 John 3:16

Horrified by his students’ poor writing habits, renowned author and college professor David Foster Wallace considered how he might improve their skills. That’s when a startling question confronted him. The professor had to ask himself why a student would listen to someone “as smug, narrow, self-righteous, [and] condescending” as he was. He knew he had a problem with pride.

That professor could and did change, but he could never become one of his students. Yet when Jesus came to Earth, He showed us what humility looks like bybecoming one of us. Stepping across all kinds of boundaries, Jesus made Himself at home everywhere by serving, teaching, and doing the will of His Father.

Jesus loved us by serving.

Even as He was being crucified, Jesus prayed for forgiveness for His executioners (Luke 23:34). Straining for every anguished breath, He still granted eternal life to a criminal dying with Him (vv. 42–43).

Why would Jesus do that? Why would He serve people like us to the very end? The apostle John gets to the point. Out of love! He writes, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” Then he drives that point home. “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters” (1 John 3:16).

Jesus showed us that His love eradicates our pride, our smugness, our condescension. And He did it in the most powerful way possible. He gave His life.

Father, we are so prone to look down on each other. Please forgive us. Give us the heart of love Your Son showed to us.

Jesus loved us by serving.

By Tim Gustafson 

INSIGHT:In today’s reading, John uses the word love six times. He begins his teaching on love by stating the disastrous consequences of not loving each other. It is interesting that John correlates death with hate. His argument seems to go like this: If you don’t love, you hate (and here John means continuing to hate, not just an angry response); if you hate, you’re a murderer; no murderers have eternal life; therefore, if you love, you have life.

What does love look like? Verse 16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” But it’s the practical examples that drive the point home: If we don’t take care of those in need, love is not in us.

People around us have many needs—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. How can you show Christ’s love by serving someone today?

For more on the topic of love read Compassion: Learning to Love Like Jesus at discoveryseries.org/q0208. J.R. Hudberg

God’s Ways: Ordinary and Miraculous

1 Kings 17:2-7

In Isaiah 55:8, God declared, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” And in fact, one of the biggest frustrations of the Christian life stems from a lack of understanding about God’s ways. There are times when we could really use a miracle, but He does not come through for us the way we think He should. Our unmet expectations lead to confusion, disappointment, and even anger. We might think, Why did the Lord let me down?

Some people don’t believe God performs big miracles at all, while others are convinced that if He’s not doing the miraculous every day, then something is wrong with their faith. Neither belief is true. We need a balanced perspective, which we find in the Bible.

God works in both supernatural and ordinary ways, and He determines the method. Elijah ate food miraculously delivered by ravens, but his water supply from a brook was completely natural. When the water dried up, the Lord could have made more spring from the ground, but He didn’t.

Sometimes God uses ordinary means to move us in a new direction. The curtailment of Elijah’s water supply opened the door for his next assignment. When the Lord withholds miraculous intervention and lets your brook dry up, He has something else planned for you.

Seeing the work of God in the miraculous is easy. But He’s just as involved in the everyday aspects of life as He is in any supernatural event. Look for His fingerprint in the day’s mundane activities. He is there, opening and closing doors, drying up one opportunity but initiating another.

In Heavenly Places

“Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 1:20)

This fascinating phrase (actually, the Greek simply says “in the heavenlies”) is found only in the Ephesian epistle, where it occurs five times. That it does mean heavenly places, rather than “heavenly things,” is evident from our text. Christ in His physical resurrection body is now in a particular place, and that place is where He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

In principle now—and ultimately in actuality—we also have been made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (2:6). In the meantime, however, we must also struggle with the demonic powers who still, like Satan, have access to God’s presence to accuse us of sin when we yield to their inducements. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [actually the same phrase, ‘heavenly places’]” (6:12).

And when, by the grace of God and the indwelling presence of God’s Holy Spirit, we are victorious in this conflict, it becomes a glorious demonstration throughout heaven, to fallen and unfallen angels alike, that Christ’s salvation is genuine and truly works in our lives. All of this is “to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (3:10).

No wonder, with all these glorious events taking place in heaven, the apostle Paul introduces this epistle with a doxology! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (1:3). HMM

“My heart rejoiceth in the Lord.”

1 Samuel 2:1-11

1 Samuel 2:1

When she had obtained her desire she did not desist from prayer, but the rather she was encouraged to abound in it. Her prayers, however, were no longer salted with sorrow, but were sweetened with the spices of gratitude. She rose from prayer to praise,

Not in my child so much as in my God. God must ever be our exceeding joy

Her name and power were lifted up, but she gave the Lord the glory of it:

She knew herself to be in need of salvation, and her faith found all that she wanted in the Lord her God.

1 Samuel 2:2

Her joy was all in God, in his salvation, in his matchless holiness, and in his eternal strength. Her Samuel did not become her idol, she loved her God better than her boy. Woe unto that mother who permits son or daughter to rival the Lord. God’s people must learn to feel and say, “there is none beside thee, O Lord.”

1 Samuel 2:3

He does not judge by appearances, his judgments call for sincerity of heart, and will not be content without it.

1 Samuel 2:5

Thus is it the Lord’s way to pull down the lofty, and uplift the lowly. Those who are great and full in themselves he regards with scorn; but the poor and the empty he looks upon with pity.

1 Samuel 2:7

It is the method of his grace to humble those whom he means to exalt. None will ever be rich in Christ until they are made to feel that they are bankrupt in themselves.

1 Samuel 2:8

He alone is the Creator, and he does as he wills with his own. Who shall question the exercise of his undoubted prerogative?

1 Samuel 2:9

He will preserve them from wandering or falling. God’s people are too dear to him for him to suffer one of them to perish,

1 Samuel 2:10

This is a right noble song, breathing not only warm devotion, but the true spirit of poetry. Hannah was a great original poetess, and even the Virgin Mary in her sweet hymn of gratitude will be found to have followed in Hannah’s track. Though as yet no Psalms had been written which might serve her as models, her song is exquisitely composed, and has a delightful savour of spiritual religion about it. She is the first who sings of the “anointed” king, and as there was actually no king over Israel in her day, the words would seem to have a prophetic reference to Christ. He is the crown of all the saints’ joys, and their songs reach their highest notes when they sing of “the anointed.”

 

My soul doth magnify the Lord,

My spirit doth rejoice;

To thee, my Saviour and my God,

I lift my joyful voice.

 

My God, I’ll praise thee while I live,

And praise thee when I die,

And praise thee when I rise again,

And to eternity.

 

Whatsoever a Man Sows, That Shall He Also Reap!

Galatians 6:7

It has been my pleasure to stand before my precious Russian congregation many thousands of times over the years and to boldly tell them, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

This principle is so true that Paul begins by telling us not to question its validity! He says, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked….” The word “deceived” comes from the Greek word planao, which means to lead astray; to wander; to stagger; to be led off course; or to be affected by someone’s outside influence and led in a wrong direction. The word planao is usually used in the New Testament to depict the activity of false teachers who deliberately lead people from liberty into teaching that enslaves them in some kind of spiritual bondage.

When Paul wrote this verse, the language he used was a command coupled with a very strong prohibition. This means he was forbidding his readers from participating in something that seemed to have already been initiated. Because he spoke so prohibitively, it could correctly be translated, “Stop being deceived.” He was rebuking a weakness that was already developing among the Galatians and that he wanted to halt! Could it be that false teachers were trying to tell the Galatians that the law of sowing and reaping didn’t really work? It seems so.

We also live in a day and time when the law of sowing and reaping is challenged by those who do not embrace its truth. Many scoff at those who believe that God will multiply their financial seed back to them again; some even try to use their influence to persuade people to abandon their belief in such a doctrine.

Unfortunately, sometimes people who are young and unstable in the Word are caught in the middle of this war of words. A doubt sown here and there makes them question the validity of whether or not the law of sowing and reaping applies to finances. In the end, many of these new believers let go of their grip on this promise and walk away. But those deceivers who blatantly take a stand against the promise of God will one day answer for their actions.

Paul stands firm on the principle of sowing and reaping and lets his voice be heard as he states, “… God is not mocked….” The word “mocked” is the Greek word mukteridzo, and it means to turn up one’s nose at someone, as if mocking or laughing at the person. The idea is of someone who arrogantly says, “Come on, you surely don’t believe this stupid principle of sowing and reaping. How dumb can you be to believe that God will multiply what you sow!”

One noted scholar has commented that this type of attitude usually comes from a person who had a sour experience when he tried to apply the law of sowing and reaping to his finances. For some reason, he didn’t get the results he expected, so now he acts as though this principle isn’t true or applicable to anyone. Thus, he turns up his nose at the law of God, challenging the validity of it and asserting that whatsoever a man soweth is not always what he reaps.

Paul doesn’t want this negativism and unbelief to worm its way into the thinking of the Galatian church, so he speaks loudly, firmly, and prohibitively, commanding the Galatian believers to disassociate themselves with anyone who dares to turn up his nose at the law of sowing and reaping.

Then Paul boldly declares what he believes: “… Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” The word “soweth” is the word speiro, which refers to any seed that is sown. Notice the emphasis on any seed that is sown. This immediately alerts us to the fact that this law is not applicable only to finances, but to anything in life. It applies to love, to work, to time, to patience, to kindness, to forgiveness, to bitterness, to selfishness—and, of course, to money. All of these are potential “seeds” that we sow.

Making the definition of “soweth” even broader is the word “whatsoever,” which in Greek is the word ean. This word literally throws open the door, for it means whatever; whatever thing; or no matter what a man sows. Again, Paul lets us know that this is a law of God that applies to every sphere of life with no exceptions. It is simply a fact: Whatever you sow, regardless of what it is, you will reap it.

The Greek tense does not denote a single, one-time sowing; rather, it pictures a person who continually, habitually sows. Therefore, it could be translated, “… Whatsoever a man sows, sows, sows, and sows—and keeps on habitually sowing and sowing and sowing…” In other words, this describes a constant, steady, perpetual sowing of seed. And if you sow this seed steadily and faithfully, God’s promise is that you will reap a harvest. The word for “reap” is in the same Greek tense, meaning that it could be translated, “You will reap, reap, reap, and reap—and keep on habitually reaping and reaping and reaping.”

The reason most people walked away disgusted and scoffing at this promise is that they never really put it to the test! They sowed once and waited for a harvest. When nothing happened, they threw up their arms and said it didn’t work. But those who keep on habitually sowing and sowing and sowing as a manner of lifestyle are the ones who eventually reap and reap and reap as the manifold blessings of God come pouring back into their lives.

The level at which you sow determines the level you will reap. Sow a little, and you’ll reap a little. Sow a lot, and you’ll reap a lot. Sow inconsistently, and you’ll reap inconsistently. Sow regularly, and you will reap regularly.

 

Galatians 6:7 could be translated:

“Stop letting people lead you astray from the truth! You might try to turn up your nose at the law of God, but it won’t change the law! It remains true that whatever you regularly and habitually sow—regardless of what it is—that is exactly what you will regularly and habitually reap.”

Then in Galatians 6:9, Paul takes just a moment to encourage those of us who are waiting for our harvests. He says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Notice that Paul mentions a “due season.” Even today, harvest times come at varying times for different areas, depending on the temperature, altitude, and climate of each region. For example, in one low-lying district of Israel, harvest may be in full swing while districts at higher altitudes are still weeks, or even a full month, away from their harvest time.

This principle holds true in every other realm as well. For instance, if the seed you are sowing is financial seed, remember to bathe it in prayer as it leaves your pocketbook and enters the Kingdom of God. Pray for the Holy Spirit to create a right atmosphere or climate for that seed to take root and grow. And if it takes awhile for the harvest to come back to you, remember that no farmer plants seed one day and expects to have a full wheat or corn field the next day! It takes time for seed to grow in the natural. In the same way, time may be required for the seed you have sown to spiritually mature so it can come back into your life as a multiplied blessing.

In the meantime, don’t be weary in “well doing.” That simply means keep it up; don’t stop what you are doing; be regular; be consistent; be faithful; or be “well doing” in the sowing of your seed! The last thing you should do is “faint”!

That word “faint” comes from the Greek word ekluo, which means to loosen up; to relax; to faint; and to lose altogether. The devil will say, “This doesn’t work. You’ve tried long enough. It won’t hurt if you cut back on your giving. Loosen up a little. Relax from giving so much!”

But according to Galatians 6:9 and the Greek word ekluo, if you loosen up and relax in your giving, you will eventually “faint”—in other words, you’ll stop giving completely. And if you do that, you will lose everything! So don’t ever let the devil or anyone else ever talk you into backing out of sowing financial seeds into the Kingdom of God.

As I said earlier, the sowing of seeds applies to every area of life. If you constantly and habitually:

  • Sow love, you will reap love.
  • Sow patience, you will reap patience.
  • Sow kindness, you will reap kindness.
  • Sow forgiveness, you will reap forgiveness.
  • Sow money, you will reap money.
  • Sow bitterness, you will reap bitterness.
  • Sow strife, you will reap strife.

Friend, like it or not, this is just the way it is! It is the law of God, and there is not one thing you can do to change it. So rather than challenge the system and fail, don’t you think it’s time that you wise up and get with the program? If you’re going to reap what you sow, maybe you ought to figure out what you want to reap. Then you can start planting those same kinds of seeds to assure that you’ll get the harvest of your dreams!

MY PRAYER FOR TODAY

Lord, I want to be a faithful, consistent giver! I don’t want to be on-again, off again in the sowing of my financial seed. I know that this is a spiritual law that always works and will never change, so please help me renew my thinking to the truth of this law and come into a place of conformity with it. I want to habitually sow, and I want to habitually reap. Help me plant the right seeds into the right soil. Then I ask You to provide the right temperature, climate, and atmosphere to make my harvest grow!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY

I confess that I am NOT a one-time sower. I continually, habitually sow my seed into the Kingdom of God. God’s Word promises that “whatsoever a man sows, sows, sows, and sows, and keeps on habitually sowing and sowing and sowing, that shall he also reap, reap, reap, and reap, and keep on habitually reaping and reaping and reaping.” Because I am a habitual sower, I will be a habitual reaper! The level at which I sow determines the level at which I will reap. If I sow a little, I will reap a little. If I sow a lot, I will reap a lot. If I sow inconsistently, I will reap inconsistently. If I sow regularly, I will reap regularly. Knowing this to be true, I choose to make my giving one of the most important and consistent things I do in my life!

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER

  1. Have you been consistent with your giving, or have you been on-again, off-again in the way you give your tithes and offerings? If you are irregularly blessed, do you think the reason may be that you irregularly sow seed? At least it’s something for you to think about!
  2. Do you faithfully give a full tithe to the work of the Lord? If yes, you can praise God for this victory in your life, for it will bless your future. If your answer is no, why are you being disobedient in this crucial area of your life?
  3. In what other areas of your life are you reaping a harvest from seeds you wish you had never sown?

The level at which you sow determines the level you will reap. Sow a little, and you’ll reap a little. Sow a lot, and you’ll reap a lot. Sow inconsistently, and you’ll reap inconsistently. Sow regularly, and you will reap regularly.

 

Of Fish, Radar Detectors, And Caches

  • “Yeah, we came out of the Ozarks with 900 fish. Stashed ’em in sleeping bags and under the floorboards of the trucks. The game authorities never had a clue that we over-fished the lakes’ limits by the hundreds!”

The next day this same fellow took great care to get his tithe to the church on time.

  • A friend darts in and out of traffic, pushing the speed limit with the help of a radar detector. All a game, it seems, to beat the police’s effort at enforcing the law.

In a couple of days he will lead a couples’ Bible study on “Biblical Principles of Marriage.

  • Another associate stashes thousands of dollars away in an attempt to outsmart the IRS in paying back taxes.

He is renown in his church circles for helping fund numerous missionary projects abroad.

 

This morning in my devotions, while pondering these conflicting patterns of life, I was arrested by Proverbs 20:7:

 

The righteous man leads a blameless life… ”

 

Isn’t it intriguing that there are, at best, only a handful of references in the New Testament urging believers toward church attendance? Yet there are hundreds of Scriptural calls to righteous living. Professionally religious people love the pious church atmosphere but demonstrate little appetite for uncompromising obedience to God’s Word:

 

I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before meWhat right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mothers son” (Psalm 50:8, 16-20)

 

Can there be anything more displeasing to God than religiously-minded people who exhibit little correlation between their profession and their practice? Is there any greater stumbling block to the lost?

 

QUESTION: Do your associates outside of Christ view you as religious and hypocritical? Or as blameless?

 

 

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