VIDEO Vested Interest – “Stand Fast”

Vested Interest

Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Who needs body armor? Not just military personnel and police officers. An organization called Vested Interest in K9s is suiting up America’s 30,000 police dogs in protective gear. Each ballistic suit can cost up to $2,000, and the charity has cloaked more than 2,900 four-legged warriors since 2009.

As believers, we too have a vested interest protecting ourselves from Satan’s ballistic attacks. One unguarded moment can ruin our testimonies, damage our relationships, diminish our influence, steal our joy, and reverse our spiritual progress.

We have power available to be overcomers in life, with God’s armor and the Holy Spirit to protect and guide us. In the final verses of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul told us to keep alert for spiritual danger (watch); to hold our convictions tightly (stand fast in the faith); to exercise courage (be brave); and to draw energy from God for our daily battles with the world, the flesh, and the devil (be strong).

Anything else and you’re barking up the wrong tree.

For us to access [Christ’s] victory, we must stand firm under His headship in our thoughts, in our actions, in our hearts, in our decisions, on our job, in our homes, and throughout our lives. Tony Evans, in Victory in Spiritual Warfare


1 Corinthians 16:13-25 “Stand Fast”

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For Our Friends

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

In Emily Bronte’s novel Wuthering Heights, a cantankerous man who often quotes the Bible to criticize others is memorably described as “the wearisomest self-righteous Pharisee that ever ransacked a Bible to rake [apply] the promises to himself and fling the curses to his neighbours.”

It’s a funny line; and it may even bring particular people to mind. But aren’t we alla bit like this—prone to condemn others’ failures while excusing our own?

In Scripture some people amazingly did the exact opposite; they were willing to give up God’s promises for them and even be cursed if it would save others. Consider Moses, who said he’d rather be blotted out of God’s book than see the Israelites unforgiven (Exodus 32:32). Or Paul, who said he’d choose to be “cut off from Christ” if it meant his people would find Him (Romans 9:3).

As self-righteous as we naturally are, Scripture highlights those who love others more than themselves.

Because ultimately such love points to Jesus. “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus taught, than “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Even before we knew Him, Jesus loved us “to the end” (13:1)—choosing death to give us life.

Now we are invited into the family of God, to love and be loved like this (15:9–12). And as we pour into others Christ’s unimaginable love, the world will catch a glimpse of Him.

Lord, thank You for showing us what it means to love. Help us to love like You.

When we love Christ, we love others.

By Monica Brands 

INSIGHT

The important idea of love for one another found in John 15:12–14 is rooted in one of Jesus’s most enduring teaching images—the vine and the branches (vv. 1–8). Our life so completely flows from being connected to Christ that everything we do, including our ability to love one another, is drawn from His life and power.

Bill Crowder

The Foundation of Forgiveness

Matthew 18:21-35

For followers of Christ, the goal is to become increasingly like Him, and one of the best ways to reflect His character is through forgiveness. Yet sometimes this is a quality we are reluctant to demonstrate because it seems so unfair, especially if the wrong done to us is ongoing or particularly painful. To forgive appears to diminish the offense and counteract justice.

Let’s correct several misperceptions about this aspect of our faith:

The foundation for our forgiveness of others is God’s forgiveness of us. Today’s passage contains a parable in which a man is forgiven a sum too exorbitant to repay. Yet he turns around and demands immediate payment from someone who owes him a small amount. That’s what we are like when we think others’ wrongs against us must be avenged even though God has forgiven us.

Unforgiveness torments us, not the wrongdoer. It’s a caustic poison within us that corrupts our emotions, stunts us spiritually, and stresses our bodies. When we don’t release the offender, we end up imprisoned in bitterness, resentment, and hostility—and that is sin.

Forgiveness doesn’t negate the wrong done to us. It doesn’t deny the offense or the resulting pain but lets go of the right to get even. Vengeance is God’s responsibility, not ours (Romans 12:19). We don’t have all the facts, nor can we know the offender’s true motive. Only God can judge accurately and fairly.

When Jesus suffered the ultimate injustice of the cross, He entrusted Himself to the Father (1 Peter 2:21-24). Can you follow His example and trust God with wrongs done to you?

Ministry of Reconciliation

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18)

The great work of reconciling lost men to a holy God has been accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ, yet He “hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation,” through which we, as His ministers (i.e., “servants”), urge men, “Be ye reconciled to God” (vv. 19-20).

This wonderful “ministry of reconciliation” is outlined in 6:1-10, under three subcategories, totaling 28 characteristics. First, there is a tenfold ministry of suffering. “In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings” (vv. 4-5). On the other hand, it also encompasses a ninefold ministry of godliness: “By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left” (vv. 6-7).

These attributes of suffering, combined with the characteristics of godliness, produce what might be called the ninefold paradox of the ministry. “By honor and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (vv. 8-10).

The central paradox of these nine is the great central theme of the Christian life, centered in Christ: “As dying, and, behold, we live!” This is the ministry of reconciliation, for “they which live should . . . henceforth live . . . unto him which died for them, and rose again” (5:15). HMM

If children, then heirs

Romans 8:1-18

He who comprehends the struggle of the seventh chapter is the man to enjoy the blessed elevation of the eighth. It is well to experience in due order the truths which God reveals, indeed they cannot be rightly known except in their relation the one to the other.

Romans 8:1

They are not condemned and cannot be, They struggle, they mourn, they weep, but condemned they are not. These happy men are known by their character, the old nature does not rule them, the Holy Spirit guides their lives, both in their secret walk with God and in their public conversation among men.

Romans 8:3

in that it was weak through the flesh, God has done by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh

Romans 8:4

The principle of law produced no holiness in us, but Jesus has condemned sin and created a new life in our hearts, and thus he has brought forth in our lives the conformity to God which legal terrors never produced.

Romans 8:7, 8

Since their mind is enmity to him, their acts cannot please him; renewed men are at peace with God, and their persons are acceptable to him, and hence their lives please him.

Romans 8:9, 10

Though our inner nature is transformed, the body still suffers and tempts us to sin; but even the body is the Lord’s and is yet to be changed.

Romans 8:15

A noble cry, with far more true eloquence in it than all the orations of Cicero and Demosthenes. Can we look up to God and cry “Abba, Father”? Then are we miracles of divine grace.

Romans 8:16

Our new nature claims kinship with God, the Holy Ghost confirms the claim, and hence comes our full assurance.

Romans 8:17

This is a chain made of diamond links. It leads us from the cradle of regeneration to the perfection of glory, by sure steps, each one firm as the throne of God. Are we children? Then we shall be glorified with Christ.

Romans 8:18

Here the rule of proportion is calmly applied, and by heavenly arithmetic it is shown that our present griefs are hardly worth a thought, for eternal glory so infinitely transcends them. Blessed be the Lord God of our salvation for ever and ever. Amen.

 

If in my Father’s love

I share a filial part,

Send down thy Spirit, like a dove,

To rest upon my heart.

 

I Sure Will Arise and Go

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned. (Luke 15:18)

When Jesus told the story of the Prodigal Son, He was giving our lost society a graphic picture of more than a willful son or a backslidden man.

Years ago I spent time alone with God, in prayer and supplication, asking the Spirit of God to aid me in the comprehension of the parable of the Prodigal Son. I have relied upon the understanding which I believe God gave me.

I believe the Prodigal Son is God’s clear-cut picture to us of the entire human race that went out to the pig-sty in Adam—and came back to the Father in Christ!

The most telling part of the parable is the fact that the errant son “came to himself”—and that speaks to us of the reality and necessity of repentance. He could repent and turn and seek forgiveness because he knew that his Father had not changed. He knew the character of his Father. Except for that knowledge, he could never have said: “I will arise and go to my Father!”

Brethren, all of us who have come back to God by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ have found, as did the prodigal, that the Father in heaven has not changed at all!

 

A Covenant He Remembers

“He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant.” Ps. 111:5

Those who fear God need not fear want. Through all these long years the Lord has always found meat for His own children, whether they have been in the wilderness, or by the brook Cherith, or in captivity, or in the midst of famine. Hitherto the Lord has given us day by day our daily bread, and we doubt not that He will continue to feed us till we want no more.

As to the higher and greater blessings of the covenant of grace, He will never cease to supply them as our case demands. He is mindful that He made the covenant, and never acts as if He regretted it. He is mindful of it when we provoke Him to destroy us. He is mindful to love us, keep us, and comfort us, even as He engaged to do. He is mindful of every jot and tittle of His engagements, never suffering one of His words to fall to the ground.

We are sadly unmindful of our God, but He is graciously mindful of us. He cannot forget His Son who is the Surety of the Covenant, nor His Holy Spirit who actively carries out the covenant, nor His own honor, which is bound up with the covenant. Hence the foundation of God standeth sure, and no believer shall lose his divine inheritance, which is his by a covenant of salt.

 

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