Dec 13, 2010
A short and inspiring mini-movie perfect for your Christmas holiday services.
Dec 13, 2010
A short and inspiring mini-movie perfect for your Christmas holiday services.
So here I am today, eighty-five years old! . . . I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Joshua 14:10–11
As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed more joint pain, especially when cold weather hits. Some days, I feel less like a conqueror and more like someone conquered by the challenges of becoming a senior citizen.
That’s why my hero is an older man named Caleb—the former spy sent by Moses to scout out Canaan, the Promised Land (Num. 13–14). After the other spies gave an unfavorable report, Caleb and Joshua were the only spies out of the twelve whom God favored to enter Canaan. Now, in Joshua 14, the time for Caleb to receive his portion of land had come. But there were enemies still to drive out. Not content to retire and leave the battle to the younger generation, Caleb declared, “You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” (Josh. 14:12).
“The Lord helping me.” That’s the kind of mindset that kept Caleb battle-ready. He focused on God’s power, not his own, nor on his advanced age. God would help him do whatever needed to be done.
Most of us don’t think of taking on anything monumental when we reach a certain age. But we can still do great things for God, no matter how old we are. When Caleb-sized opportunities come our way, we don’t have to shy away from them. With the Lord helping us, we can conquer!
Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me the strength to get through each day. Help me to do Your will.
I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Caleb had grown up in the slavery of Egypt. He’d seen God rescue His people from the grip of Pharaoh and provide for them for forty years in a hot and barren wilderness. He’d seen giantlike people make his fellow spies feel like insects (Num. 13:33), yet even in his old age he relied on God’s help to conquer the land.
Are you faced with an impossible situation? The same God who helped Caleb can help you too.
Jesus taught many things about prayer and its central role in a believer’s life. He also promised that our petitions will be answered when we meet certain requirements.
One condition is mentioned in John 14:14: After receiving Christ as our personal Savior, we have the right to present requests in Jesus’ name, which means praying something that the Lord Himself might pray. To exercise this privilege, we must come to the Father, depending not on our own good works or character but on the merits of Christ alone. Jesus’ atoning death on the cross is the only basis for approaching God and being assured of receiving an answer to our petitions.
A second requirement is separation from all known sin. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.” This refers to ungodly behaviors and thought patterns that we know are wrong but refuse to give up. Remember, God looks at our heart attitude. If we struggle against our sinful ways, grieve over them, and ask for forgiveness, He will hear our cries and respond. But when He sees a hard heart, He is not obligated to listen.
Next time you pray, start with words of praise to God for His sacrificial love and gratitude to Jesus for dying in your place (1 John 4:10). Express that you understand why your prayers are heard—because you have a relationship with the Father through Christ, and not because of anything you have done. Confess all known sin and ask for forgiveness. Then present your requests to God with anticipation, and trust His answers.
“And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (1 Corinthians 8:2)
There are many things that none of us can know—not even the apostle Paul. Yet even with his realistic modesty, there are certain key truths that Paul could affirm with certainty, and so can we on the same grounds as he.
One essential thing each of us should know first of all is this: “I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). A person needs to know that he is a lost and hopeless sinner before he will ever really come to Christ for salvation.
Once a lost sinner does receive Christ as Savior, however, he then should be able to declare with Paul the certainty of his own salvation. “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
The Christian life, once begun, is not necessarily easy. With Paul, in fact, it involved “labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, . . . In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (2 Corinthians 11:23, 27). Yet he could say with confidence, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
Because of such an assurance, he could also say, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound” (Philippians 4:11-12). Whatever life might bring, it could never shake his certainty of the life to come. “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). HMM
He who prepared the storm prepared the fish. It was expressly prepared for his divine purpose. What species it belonged to it is idle to enquire.
Thomas Jones, in his “Jonah’s Portrait,” well observes, “He must be a preacher whether he will or no. When he was sent to preach to one city only, he refused; and now the Lord compels him to preach, not to one city, but to the whole world, by making him a type of Christ in his death, burial, and resurrection. ‘As Jonah was three days and three nights in the whales belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ When the servants of God run away from an easy service, their Master frequently appoints them a harder task. If Jonah will not preach up and down the streets of Nineveh, he shall preach from the bottom of the sea. Man’s highest wisdom is to obey his God, whatever work he appoints for him to do. If they who are sent to preach will not preach willingly, storms and tempests shall prepare them for their work. Many have fallen into dismal darkness and the deep, for want of more zeal and fidelity in their Master’s service; when they are tried they come forth as gold. Let those who desert God and his service learn how necessary it is to return; and let those who repent see that ‘with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.'”
He had lost all heart for prayer on board ship, but he began anew when plunged in sore distress.
Out of the centre of the unseen world which the belly of the fish resembled, Jonah sent up his plaintive cry and was heard. Prayer can reach the ear of God from the depths of the sea.
Jonah 2:3, 4
If thou wilt not look on me, yet will I keep mine eyes upon thee, if peradventure grace should yet be shelved me.
He felt as if the seaweeds had become his winding-sheet.
Low as he went, he might have gone far lower had not divine power and mercy intervened. He lived on still, and this made him glad. Even in the belly of the fish he uttered his thankfulness.
He anticipates his deliverance, and commences to rejoice in it.
This is a summary of sound theology, and perhaps if more Christians had felt the depth of soul trouble, there would be more of such solid divinity preached and believed.
A word was enough, the fish was glad to be rid of his burden; and at the word of the Lord the enemies of his people shall be glad to let them go, that they may escape the judgments which else would come upon them.
Salvation! oh, the joyful sound!
‘Tis pleasure to our ears;
A sovereign balm for every wound,
A cordial for our fears.
Buried in sorrow and in sin,
At hell’s dark door we lay;
But we arise, by grace divine,
To see a heavenly day.
Salvation! let the echo fly
The spacious earth around,
While all the armies of the sky
Conspire to raise the sound.
When my family and I first moved to the former Soviet Union, God connected us to some of the most wonderful people we’ve ever known. Although these people were from a completely different culture and background, they genuinely became a part of our family. This was especially wonderful for our sons, who now lived so far from their own natural relatives. It was also wonderful for me, for I discovered a level of relationship I had never before known in the Christian community. Although no one could ever possibly replace our natural families, we were thankful to God for these brothers and sisters who truly became “family” to us on the other side of the world.
Unfortunately, in many parts of the Christian community, this level of relationship I am describing is sadly missing. It is unfortunate that people attend church week after week and hardly know the people they regularly sit next to in the church services. Life has become so busy with natural concerns that most believers suffer from a severe deficiency of relationships with their fellow believers. This was never God’s plan for the local church, for He designed it to be a place where people’s lives could be built together as living stones. His plan was and still is to have a people who demonstrate His covenant nature in their relationships with one another.
The apostle Paul talks about these types of covenant relationships in Romans 12:10 when he says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” When I read these words of Paul, I can’t help but think of the spiritual family and the genuine brothers in Christ whom I love so much in the former Soviet Union. We love them so profoundly that we have literally laid down our lives for them—and they likewise love us and have laid down their lives for us.
The phrases “be kindly affectioned” and “brotherly love” are key to understanding the level of relationship that God intends for us to have with our Christian brothers and sisters. The phrase “be kindly affectioned” is from the Greek word philostorgos, which expresses the idea of a love between friends that is authentic, sincere, tender, and warm. This word philostorgos is a compound of the words phileo and stergo. The word phileo is the Greek word for friendship, and the word stergo is the Greek word that depicts the tender love that should exist between the members of a family. But because the words phileo and stergo are joined to form the word philostorgos, it represents two or more friends who love each other just as deeply as if they were members of the same family.
If Paul had stopped here, it would have already been enough to let us know that the members of the local church should be like family to us. But to further confirm this truth, Paul tells us that we are to have “brotherly love” between ourselves. The words “brotherly love” are translated from the Greek word Philadelphia, a compound of phileo, which, as noted above, means to love like a friend. The second part of the word is adelphos, the Greek word for a brother. When compounded together, it becomes the word Philadelphia, which means to love dearly like a brother.
By using both of these phrases, Paul is telling us that our relationships in the Body of Christ should carry the authenticity of family. We should indeed love each other as if we were genuinely blood brothers and sisters. In fact, our love for one another should be so profound that we hold one another in honor. This is precisely what Paul says next when he tells us, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”
The words “in honour” in Greek express the idea of being appraised very highly or considered as very valuable or very precious. It gives the idea of an appreciation so great that you would prefer to see the person you love succeed even more than you want to see your own success. You truly desire the very best for this person because you love him so deeply.
When the King James Version uses the word “preferring,” it is the Greek word proegeomai, which means to esteem, to admire, to highly respect, to consider, and to value very highly. It represents the attitude of a person who values a friend so highly that he deeply desires the very best to come to pass for his friend—even if it means that his friend is blessed at his own expense. This means there is no room for jealousy or competition where this kind of love abounds.
A fuller interpretive translation of Romans 12:10 could read:
“Love each other with the same love you have for your family. In fact, you should love each other with the same love that is shared between two brothers. The value you place on each other should be so high that it makes you desire to see those you love excel and achieve much in life, even if it means that they excel and achieve more than you do.”
Do you have these kinds of relationships in the Christian community? I’m talking about precious relationships that you hold to be as dear to you as family. If so, you should count yourself very blessed, for the lives of many believers are vacant of such relationships. This is all the more reason to make sure you take the time to really express to these people whom you love as family just how deeply you love them!
God planned for the local church to be a place of covenant relationship. If you have such relationships, be careful to always treat them as a special gift from Heaven. And if your life lacks this blessing, ask the Holy Spirit to birth a God-given relationship that will bring a touch of Heaven into your life.
Lord, I thank You for the incredible friendships You have placed in my life. I am immeasurably blessed to have such loving, faithful, and true relationships. When I think of all the people who live such lonely lives, it makes me want to stop and express my gratefulness to You for placing such precious people in my life. Lord, I also ask You to please help me see those who need to be loved so I can include them as a part of my life. I want to give to others the love and support that I have received. Holy Spirit, help me to start doing this today.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
I confess that God has given me a host of godly relationships. I am blessed with genuine friends who love me like family; who treat me like a brother (or sister); and who will walk in covenant with me for many years to come. This is God’s will for my life. I will not be isolated or live in a way that is disconnected from God’s family; rather, I will continually look for ways to grow closer and closer to His family. Also, just as God is blessing me with precious friends, I believe He is teaching me how to be a better friend to those who are near me.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
1. IS IT PERMISSIBLE? (If there is a clear Biblical command against it, then it is not permissible.)
“The man who says, ‘I know him,‘ but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him .… You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love… ” (1 John 2:4; Gal 5:13)
2. WILL IT LEAD TO PEACE AND MUTUAL EDIFICATION?
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification… If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 14:19; 12:18)
3. WILL IT BUILD UP OTHER PEOPLE?
“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others… Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” (1 Corinthians 10:24; Romans 15:2)
4. IS IT PROFITABLE (BENEFICIAL)?
“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.” (1 Corinthians 10:23 – nasb)
5. IS IT CONSTRUCTIVE?
“Love… looks for a way of being constructive… Love builds up.” (1 Corinthians 13:4b – Phillips; 1 Corinthians 8:1b)
6. DOES IT HAVE THE GOOD OF OTHERS AT HEART?
“Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others… Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:3, 4)
7. WILL IT CAUSE OTHERS TO STUMBLE?
“Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved… ” (1 Corinthians 10:32, 33) (See 1 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 14:13)
8. DOES IT GLORIFY GOD?
“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God… ” (1 Corinthians 10:31)