VIDEO Presentation – Make Ready the Way

Presentation

So they answered him, “A hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.” And [the king] said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.” 2 Kings 1:8

In many ways, appearance has become a dominant factor in our age. Cosmetic surgery, various physical activities to become thinner, starvation diets, the latest clothes and cars. And smartphones haven’t helped—selfies have become a compulsive way for some people to show themselves to the world.

But from God’s point of view, appearance seems to matter less. Take Elijah, for instance—“a hairy man wearing a leather belt around his waist.” He was known as a troublemaker (1 Kings 18:17) and eccentric. John the Baptist was a type of Elijah and seems to have mirrored his style: “John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey” (Mark 1:6). When looking for the successor to King Saul, Samuel was told by God that appearance didn’t matter (1 Samuel 16:7). And Isaiah the prophet said there would be nothing about the Messiah’s appearance that would make Him stand out (Isaiah 53:2).

We may be described by our personal appearance, but the most important part of our presentation to others is the “fragrance of Christ” as His life radiates through ours (2 Corinthians 2:14-15). What scent is being diffused through you?

Some flowers must be broken or bruised before they emit any fragrance.  Robert Murray M’Cheyne


Matthew 3:1-17 | Make Ready the Way | Matthew Dodd

Hidden Beauty

Hidden Beauty

People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7

Our children needed a little coaxing to believe that it was worth putting on snorkeling gear to peer beneath the surface of the Caribbean Sea off the shore of the island of Tobago. But after they dove in, they resurfaced ecstatic, “There are thousands of fish of all different kinds! It’s so beautiful! I’ve never seen such colorful fish!”

Because the surface of the water looked similar to freshwater lakes near our home, our children could have missed the beauty hidden just below the surface.

When the prophet Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king, Samuel saw the oldest son, Eliab, and was impressed by his appearance. The prophet thought he had found the right man, but the Lord rejected Eliab. God reminded Samuel that He “does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

So Samuel asked if there were more sons. The youngest boy wasn’t present but caring for the family’s sheep. This son, David, was summoned and the Lord directed Samuel to anoint him.

Often we look at people only on a surface level and don’t always take the time to see their inner, sometimes hidden, beauty. We don’t always value what God values. But if we take the time to peer beneath the surface, we may find great treasure.

Heavenly Father, thank You for not valuing people based on outward appearances but instead by looking at our hearts. Help me to take the time to see beyond simply what my eyes can see in order to discover true and lasting beauty.

God can help me to see the inner beauty in others.

By Lisa Samra 

INSIGHT

Who taught you how to think about yourself and others?

Long before Samuel looked for a king among the sons of Jesse, God was teaching His children to see below the surface of our skin. From the days of Eden, He has been showing people like us that what happens in our hearts is more important than our outward appearance.

How has God’s interaction with the men and women of the Bible helped you to think about yourself and Him?

Mart DeHaan

The Signs of Drifting

Hebrews 2:1-3

Regularly gathering in the house of the Lord with brothers and sisters in Christ provides an anchor of support and accountability. But skipping church in order to pursue other interests usually indicates a believer has begun to drift away from God. Less apparent are the men and women who mentally skip the worship service. The act of attending means nothing unless we make a deliberate decision to receive God’s Word and apply it to our life. As the writer of Hebrews warned, if we do not pay attention to what we have heard, we will drift away from it (Heb. 2:1).

However, Sunday morning is not the only time for nourishing our heart and mind with principles and encouragement from the Bible. We should be in its pages every day, reading and meditating for ourselves. When our interest in what God has to say decreases, we are already slipping out into troublesome waters. The only way to keep our way pure is by following His Word (Psalm 119:9).

A fading prayer life often accompanies neglected Bible reading. Prayer is the way believers communicate with the Navigator. If we stop talking with Him, the God who once seemed so close will soon feel far away. That chasm in our spirit is one more sign that we’re far from shore and safety.

I’ve watched many a captain guide his cruise ship through a narrow channel. The crew members are intensely focused on their tasks because drifting means disaster. Life is full of narrow channels to navigate. We cannot afford to drift away from God and His Word. Only He can bring us safely through.

“Light” Equation

“God is light.” (1 John 1:5)

The biblical text is rich with metaphors and similes, one of which often appears in John’s writings. God is said to be “light”—the most constant, clearly observable, and all-pervasive experience in our universe.

God’s life is the light of men (John 1:4).
God’s light is not conquered by darkness (John 1:5).
God’s light attracts men who love truth (John 3:21).
Jesus is the “light of the world” (John 8:12).

John’s emphasis in his epistle is focused on the application of the “light” in our lives. Since God is light (our text; see also 1 Timothy 6:16), we can never be a participant in the life of God apart from the light of God (1 John 1:6). If we claim fellowship with God, we must “walk in the light, as he is in the light” (1 John 1:7). Since God is the “true light” (John 2:8), we are not part of His family if we despise those He loves (1 John 2:9).

It is equally obvious that since God is holy (Psalm 99:9) and righteous (Daniel 9:14), the light that we are to “shine” (Matthew 5:16) must be a “radiant” righteousness visible to all who come in contact with us (Proverbs 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:5).

Our breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14) should “blind” the ungodly with the brilliance of our lifestyle of holiness—so much so that even if we are spoken against by those who hate God, they will be forced to glorify God (“adorn with luster”) because of our good works (1 Peter 2:12).

Because the God of our salvation is “the light of the world” (John 9:5) and we have been made “the children of light” (Ephesians 5:8), “ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). HMM III

Behold, I come quickly

Matthew 24:36-51

The apostles had asked the Lord concerning the day of his coming, “When shall these things be?” He made answer as follows:—Matthew 24:36-51.

Matthew 24:36

Let us not therefore be troubled by idle prophecies as to the end of the world, even if they claim to be interpretations of Scripture, for what angels do not know has certainly not been revealed to hair-brained fanatics. “The veil which covers the face of futurity is woven by the hand of mercy;” let us not countenance those who attempt to tear it away. Augustine has well said, “God will not suffer man to have the knowledge of things to come; for if he had foresight of his prosperity he would be careless, and if he foreknew his adversity he would be hopeless.” The day of the Lord will find many unprepared, and will make a final division in our race.

Matthew 24:40

Comrades in labour will not therefore be companions in eternity: the workman who loved the Lord will dwell in glory while his fellow-servant who lived and died an unbeliever will perish for ever.

Matthew 24:41

Servants in the same family must be parted as wide asunder as heaven is from hell, unless their hearts have been renewed by grace.

Matthew 24:42-44

Mr. Wesley was once asked by a lady, “Suppose that you knew that you were to die at twelve o’clock to-morrow night, how would you spend the intervening time?” “How, madam?” he replied, “why just as I intend to spend it now. I should preach this night at Gloucester, and again at five to-morrow morning. After that I should ride to Tewkesbury, preach in the afternoon, and meet the societies in the evening. I should then repair to friend Martins house, who expects to entertain me, converse and pray with the family as usual, retire to my room at ten o’clock, commend myself to my heavenly Father, lie down to rest, and wake up in glory.” To be prepared for the coming of Jesus we need not leave our daily callings, and stand gazing upward into heaven; but with grace in our hearts we shall do well to continue in the path of service with steadfast souls.

Matthew 24:48-51

When professors neglect their own work they often pass hard judgments and cruel criticisms upon Christians. They would not do this if they remembered that the Lord is close at hand, and will visit such evils with the severest punishment.

 

Man may disbelieve the tidings,

Or in anger turn away;

‘Tis foretold there shall be scoffers

Rising in the latter day:

 

Yet he’ll come, the Lord from heaven,

Not to suffer, or to die;

But to take his waiting people

To their glorious rest on high.

 

Yet in mercy still he lingers,

Lengthening out the day of grace;

Till he comes, inviting sinners

To his welcome, fond embrace.

 

God’s Will Is: “Obey!”

If ye will not obey… then shall the hand of the Lord be against you. (1 Samuel 12:18)

Independence is a strong human trait, so men and women everywhere bristle when anyone says, “You owe obedience!” In the natural sense, we do not take kindly to the prospect of yielding obedience to anyone.

Both Old and New Testaments of the Bible make it plain that sin is disobedience to the Law of God. Paul’s picture of sinners in Ephesians concludes that the wrath of God will come upon those who are “the children of disobedience.”

So, we live in a generation of men and women alienated from God, and who make a great case for individualism and “the right of self-determination.” The individual’s strong statement is this: “I belong to myself. No one has the authority to require my obedience!”

Now, if God had made us to be mere machines, we would not have the power of self-determination. He made us in His image, to be moral creatures with the power, but not the right, to choose evil. We have the right to be good. We never have the right to be bad because God, the Creator, is good. If we choose to be unholy, we are using a right that is not ours!

 

His Love; His Gift; His Son

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Of all the stars in the sky the polestar is the most useful to the mariner. This text is a polestar, for it has guided more souls to salvation than any other Scripture. It is among promises what the Great Bear is among constellations.

Several words in it shine with peculiar brilliance. Here we have God’s love, with a “so” to it, which marks its measureless greatness. Then we have God’s gift in all its freeness and greatness. This also is God’s Son, that unique and priceless gift of a love which could never fully show itself till Heaven’s Only-begotten had been sent to live and die for men. These three points are full of light.

Then there is the simple requirement of believing, which graciously points to a way of salvation suitable for guilty men. This is backed by a wide description — “whosoever believeth in him.” Many have found room in “whosoever” who would have felt themselves shut out by a narrower word. Then comes the great promise, that believers in Jesus shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This is cheering to every man who feels that he is ready to perish, and that he cannot save himself. We believe in the Lord Jesus, and we have eternal life.

 

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