Mar 12, 2009
Mar 12, 2009
Remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison. Hebrews 13:3
Put on the R70i Age Suit and you immediately feel forty years older as you experience impaired vision, hearing loss, and reduced mobility. The Age Suit was designed to help caregivers better understand their patients. Wall Street Journalcorrespondent Geoffrey Fowler wore one and wrote, “The unforgettable, and at times distressing, experience shed light not just on aging, but also how virtual reality equipment can teach empathy and shape our perceptions of the world around us.”
Empathy is the power to understand and share the feelings of another. During a time of severe persecution against the followers of Jesus, the writer of Hebrews urged fellow believers to “continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (13:3).
This is exactly what our Savior has done for us. Jesus was made like us, “fully human in every way . . . that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted” (2:17–18).
Christ the Lord, who became like us, calls us to stand with others “as if [we] were together with them” during their time of need.
Lord Jesus, we marvel at Your willingness to share our flesh and blood in order to purchase our salvation. Give us grace to stand with others who are in need today.
Jesus calls us to stand with others as if we were in their place.
Hebrews 2:17–18 tell us that Jesus had to take all human suffering and sin upon Himself to both understand and heal humanity. But is it possible for each of us to truly empathize and help believers who are suffering? Hebrews suggests “yes,” noting that the church is the family of God (2:10–14; 13:1). In a loving family, emotional ties are so strong that when another family member suffers, everyone suffers right with them (13:3). Similarly, Paul argues that because believers are united in Christ as one body through His Spirit, when anyone suffers, everyone is affected (1 Cor. 12:26). Yet the church’s uniquely powerful love should also be extended to “strangers” outside the church (Heb. 13:2), for each believer was loved by God while still an outsider (Rom. 5:8).
How does strengthening relationships within the church enable more effective outreach to those outside the faith?
One day I posed a question to the waitress at a restaurant: “If you could ask God for anything, what would your request be?” Her answer was immediate. “I want to feel at peace.” She tearfully explained that her grandmother had died and emotional turmoil resulted.
Many in our world are like this woman, in that they desire inner calmness but have no relationship with the Lord. People often seek contentment by trying to improve their appearance, physical fitness, financial situation, or social status—or by abusing substances. But such things can’t bring tranquility of heart or mind. Only a relationship with Jesus leads to true peace.
Prior to salvation, we were slaves to sin and living in opposition to God (Col. 1:21). Our transgressions had formed a barrier of hostility between Him and us, and on our own, we were helpless to cross it. Without God’s intervention, we could not have found the way of peace. But our heavenly Father provided the perfect solution to our sin problem. He sent His Son to pay for our iniquities and remove the separation that existed between us and Him.
When we trusted Jesus as our Savior, we were reconciled to the Lord and no longer at odds with Him (Rom. 5:10). In Christ, we have peace with the Father.
Our triune God has provided everything we need for inner tranquility. The Father opened the way for us to be in His family. Jesus continually offers His peace so we can experience serenity of mind and heart (John 14:27). And the Holy Spirit cultivates the fruit of peace in our lives (Gal. 5:22).
“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (Philippians 2:16)
There is such beautiful correlation between the Living Word (Christ) and the written Word (the Bible) that certain Scriptures could well apply to either one. Such is the case with our text. The Philippians were exhorted to hold forth the Word of life, which presumably could mean either Christ, the Living Word, or else the Scriptures, which speak of eternal life.
The same dual meaning can be discerned in such texts as 2 Timothy 4:2 (“Preach the word”) and Hebrews 4:12 (“The word of God is quick, and powerful”). In fact, there are many beautiful figures of speech that are applied in the Bible to the ministries of both Christ and the Scriptures in a believer’s life.
For example, Christ is “the light of the world” (John 8:12), but also “the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light” (Proverbs 6:23). Similarly Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), but He also said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4).
The Lord Jesus Christ said, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). God also promised that “as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, . . . So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth” (Isaiah 55:10-11).
Both are described as the very personification of truth. Jesus said, “I am . . . the truth,” and He prayed to the Father, “Thy word is truth” (John 14:6; 17:17). Finally, both must be received: “Receive . . . the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21), for “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12). HMM
2 Kings 2:2
And Elijah said unto Elisha, Tarry here, I pray thee; for the Lord hath sent me to Bethel.
Elijah made the visitation of the schools of the prophets his last earthly work. No one can over-estimate the importance of our theological colleges being filled with holy men. Do we pray for students as we ought?
2 Kings 2:2
Elijah, in prospect of departure, wished for solitude that he might pour out his soul before the Lord; and moreover he was a man of humble spirit, and did not desire others to see his glorious departure, lest they should think too much of him: Elisha, however, was appointed to be a witness of his translation. Those believers who most desire to escape observation are nevertheless known and read, for the Lord does not design that his choicest works should be hidden.
2 Kings 2:6
Elisha could not be shaken off: he felt that he must see the last of his master, and must obtain from him a parting blessing.
2 Kings 2:7, 8
That river had aforetime been swollen or dried up, according as the prophet had opened or shut up heaven, and now it opened to give him a dry passage. In this, as in many other respects, Elijah resembled Moses, who divided the waters of the Red Sea.
2 Kings 2:9
He felt the difficulty of succeeding such a man as Elijah, and reckoned that he would need a double measure of grace to follow in his footsteps. His request shows that his heart was in his life-work, and that he had abandoned every selfish desire: his sole ambition was to serve his God.
2 Kings 2:10
It was not in Elijah’s power to give the Spirit; he could but ask it for his friend, and give him a parting sign that the petition was granted.
2 Kings 2:11
A fit departure for one whose fiery spirit and whirlwind force had made all Israel tremble. None beside of mortal men were thus carried in visible state to heaven. Singular fidelity was honoured by a singular translation.
2 Kings 2:12-14
Elijah had been the protector of Israel, the chariot and horseman of the nation, and when he is gone, what will Israel do? This was Elisha’s uppermost thought.
2 Thessalonians 2:8
When Jesus comes at the end of the age, He will come in great power and glory In fact, when He comes, His glory will be so brilliant that it will totally annihilate the antichrist! This is why Paul told the Thessalonians, “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
After time runs out for the antichrist to do his work on the earth, Jesus will come. And Paul declares that when the Lord comes, He will “consume” this evil leader “with the spirit of his mouth.” The Greek word translated “consume” is anairo, which means to kill, to murder, to slay, to slaughter, to do away with, or to abolish. The meaning here is clear: When the Lord comes, He will obliterate the antichrist. He will wipe him out and permanently do away with him.
How will the Lord do this? Paul says that “… the Lord shall consume [the antichrist] with the spirit of his mouth….” The word translated “spirit” is actually from the Greek word pneuma, which is normally translated spirit. Thus, the verse could be translated, “BY the spirit of his mouth.” This means that even though Satan energizes the antichrist with all the power he possesses, this evil leader doesn’t stand a chance in the Presence of Jesus. Paul lets us know that this demonized leader doesn’t even have enough strength to withstand one puff from the mouth of the Lord!
The Greek word stomos describes the mouth of the Lord from which this obliterating power will come. You see, on that day the Lord will open his mouth and speak—and when He does, so much power will be released that it will permanently remove the antichrist from the world scene.
In fact, Paul says this final encounter with the Lord will “destroy” this evil leader. The word “destroy” is the Greek word katargeo. Paul uses this word twenty-five times in his New Testament writings, so we know exactly what he intends by using it. This word means to bring to nothing; to reduce to waste; to render inactive; to abolish; or to put out of commission. There is no doubt that when Jesus Christ comes, He will permanently put the antichrist out of commission! The rule of evil will come to an abrupt end when Jesus returns at the end of the age.
I want you to know what Paul is talking about when he uses the phrase “the brightness of his [Jesus’] coming.” The word “brightness” is the Greek word epiphaneia. This word was used in classical Greece to describe the sudden and occasional surprise appearance of the Greek gods. When the fabled gods suddenly appeared, they were glorious and mighty in appearance. Now Paul reaches into classical literature and borrows a word that clearly means Jesus’ coming will take many by surprise and will be accompanied by great splendor and glory.
The world, entrenched in evil, will think it has won the victory and is secure in its plans. But then the Lord will come and take them all by surprise! Before anyone realizes what is happening, God’s glory will fill the sky, and Jesus will mightily appear in the sky overhead. His “coming” (from the word parousia, which describes the Lord’s strong Presence) will take the world by surprise, overwhelming everyone as every evil system set in place by unregenerate man is suddenly obliterated!
An interpretive translation of Second Thessalonians 2:8 could read:
“When the Wicked One steps onto the stage and makes his presence known, it won’t be too long afterward that the Lord will come. And when He comes, His coming will be so grand, so glorious, and so overwhelming that He will totally obliterate the Lawless One by the mere breath of His mouth. Just one puff from the Lord, and this evil person will be incinerated! The very Presence of the Lord will eradicate him, permanently putting him out of commission.”
You see, when you serve Jesus Christ, you have joined the greatest Champion in the universe. There is no power that can equal or surpass His power. There is no might on planet earth to compare with His awesome might. And just think—when you become a child of God, you become a joint heir with Him! Everything He possesses—including His power and His victory—becomes yours!
You should rejoice in the knowledge of what Jesus will do by His mighty power when He returns at the end of the age. However, don’t overlook the fact that this same power is available to you today. Jesus has given you His power so you can use it in this life.
So if evil is resisting you in some area of your life right now, open your mouth and let the power of God be released to obliterate that attack! Shock the devil with a sudden manifestation of God’s power that permanently immobilizes him in every area of your life!
Lord, I thank You for Your awesome power that You have chosen to share with Your children. I don’t ever have to let the devil run freely in my life. By opening my mouth and speaking the Word of God to my situation, Your power can be released to obliterate the enemy’s work in my life. Thank You for making me Your joint heir and for investing Your great power in my life!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I boldly declare that God’s power resides in me. There is enough power inside me to obliterate any attack the devil would attempt to bring against my life. Rather than sit in fear and fret about what is happening to me, I will open my mouth, speak the Word of truth, and watch the power of God attack, overwhelm, and overcome the strategies that the devil has tried to use against me!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
After hours of driving in torrid heat, the air conditioner on our vehicle gave out. Wheeling into an automotive repair shop, “Cliff,” a burley, seasoned expert on things mechanical, breathed life back into our ailing carriage. Half way through the repair work, in an attempt to share Christ, I asked, “Cliff, do you have any kids?” “Yeah, I got five.” “How‘s it going, raising them ‘an all,“ I inquired? “Better now,” he offered. “How‘s that?” “Well, for 20 years I boozed and chased my way through two marriages. Four years ago, my wife took me to church, and I met Christ. Then, things began to change.”
“Cliff,” I asked, “do you know how to get into God‘s Word?” “No, I don‘t.” “Would you like a couple of simple, practical suggestions?” “Sure would,” came his reply. After a few minutes of explanation, I asked Cliff, “Would you mind if I prayed for you and your family, that God would give you the wisdom you need to keep your marriage and family together in this tough world?” “Yeah, I‘d like that.”
Upon the completion of the repair job, Cliff and I parted with a hug, and his insistent, “There‘s no charge, Mr. Hill.” As I turned to walk toward my car, I detected just a trace of a tear in his eye, hidden behind his sweat soaked face.
This morning, while meditating in 2 Timothy, chapter 2 – with my encounter with Cliff on my mind – I came across several principles of evangelism that will be of help to me in the future: