VIDEO Mirrors and Hearers – Redemption Out of the Dust

Mirrors and Hearers

Whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it . . . will be blessed in what they do. James 1:25

When I emerged from my hotel in Kampala, Uganda, my hostess, who had come to pick me up for our seminar, looked at me with an amused grin. “What’s so funny?” I inquired. She laughed and asked, “Did you comb your hair?” It was my turn to laugh, for I had indeed forgotten to comb my hair. I’d looked at my reflection in the hotel mirror. How come I took no notice of what I saw?

In a practical analogy, James gives us a useful dimension to make our study of Scripture more beneficial. We look in the mirror to examine ourselves to see if anything needs correction—hair combed, face washed, shirt properly buttoned. Like a mirror, the Bible helps us to examine our character, attitude, thoughts, and behavior (James 1:23–24). This enables us to align our lives according to the principles of what God has revealed. We will “keep a tight rein” on our tongues (v. 26) and “look after orphans and widows” (v. 27). We will pay heed to God’s Holy Spirit within us and keep ourselves “from being polluted by the world” (v. 27).

When we look attentively into “the perfect law that gives freedom” and apply it to our lives, we will be blessed in what we do (v. 25). As we look into the mirror of Scripture, we can “humbly accept the word planted in [us]” (v. 21).

Heavenly Father, “open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). Help me to order my life according to what You show me in Scripture.

As a mirror reflects our image, the Bible reveals our inner being.

By Lawrence Darmani 

INSIGHT

What’s interesting about James’s definitions of good and bad religion is that they’re not simply opposites. James says bad religion is summarized by not controlling one’s speech (v. 26). Following that, we would expect James to say that good religion has something to do with taming our tongue. Instead, good religion is defined by looking after the helpless and needy and not being influenced by the ways of the world.

J.R. Hudberg


Redemption: Chris & Stephanie Teague’s Story – Out of the Dust

Jun 13, 2017
Chris and Stephanie experienced profound brokenness as their life together was shattered by divorce. But God is the God of redemption, and He transformed their hurts into hope and healing. And He can do the same for you.

 

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Of Shepherds, Sheep and Me

At this most glorious time of year, we are confronted with numerous strange and wonderful images that are unique to the season. Among them are facts and stories about shepherds and sheep that are foreign to those of us who do not live near farmlands.

Christmas sermons often remind us of the lowly status of shepherds in the Middle Eastern culture. Even today, the “three kings” or wise men are injected into nativity scenes while the shepherds are often relegated to the background. Invariably, portraits of the shepherds are not complimentary. How often do we miss the profound amidst the profane!

Shepherds are habitually described as dirty, smelly and crude; as ignorant, crass and dull. We are told that they were looked down upon by the more dignified and genteel people of Israel’s cities and towns. In the context of the Christmas story, the keepers of sheep were the first witnesses to the birth of Christ Jesus, and on the story goes…

The brutal misjudgment of men is readily acknowledged but rarely challenged. This seemingly insignificant detail of the birth of Christ is often seen as an oddity of God’s grace rather than a purposeful arrangement of divine sovereignty. Perhaps it should serve as a reminder that our natural perception is usually distorted.

Often neglected at this time of year, is the fact that Israel’s most famous and celebrated King David, began his career as a shepherd. He too, was misjudged by the people of his day, by his brothers and even by his father. But God saw in him something that no one else could know. Buried in the chest of this young shepherd boy, beat the heart of a tender psalmist, a courageous national hero and a wise and noble king.

If our thoughts of shepherds are offensive, descriptions of sheep are usually repulsive. Sheep, we are told, are helpless, weak and stupid. They have no defense against deadly predators other than to bleat out pathetic cries for help. If sheep fall into water or mud, they often drown. They must be constantly watched and diligently defended.

Many dignified and genteel people of our time are offended by biblical comparisons between modern humans and sheep. Pride in the heart of the natural man despises bovid characteristics. But hating a thing does nothing to affect its veracity.

Despite their apparent disadvantages, in some ways, sheep are wiser than men and women of today. Sheep are able to recognize the voice of their shepherd among the voices of many others. They are able to discern the call of the one who cares for them, provides them with nourishment and protects them from hostile deadly enemies. One flock of sheep can be called out of a mixed multitude with a word or a shout.

Scripture often contrasts the sacred with the profane. As unappealing as our impressions of shepherds may be, Jesus chose to identify himself as one of these. Just as David’s family saw nothing worthy of celebrity status in him, the Jews of Jesus’ time could not recognize the heart of God that beat within the Savior.

In the same way, faithful Christians are mocked, ridiculed and despised by godless hordes of people who crow and roar and celebrate themselves. But like wild beasts, the ungodly devour one another only to die violent and tragic deaths, lost and alone.

All of human history proclaims that the perception of man is backward and flawed. Our progress has led us into a new dark age of conflict, perversity and chaos. Information abounds, but wisdom and knowledge are lacking. Free-thinking has become bitter bondage. Every new law generates more grievous injustice. Efforts to alleviate suffering have multiplied it. But at least the natural man can console himself with the proclamation, “I did it my way!”

Since Christ the Lord embraced for Himself, the metaphor of the Good Shepherd, how can I object to being called one of His sheep?  After all, regardless of the judgment of men, it’s better to be a live sheep than a dead goat, and that’s no humbug.

By Timothy Buchanan

God-Pleasing Generosity

2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church praises the Macedonian believers for their generosity. Despite deep poverty and great troubles, they desired to bless others materially. From their example, we know that our Father is pleased when we give …

According to divine instruction. The Lord has revealed in Scripture how we are to live. He wants us to base our decisions on biblical principles rather than on our own natural, self-centered thinking. Looking solely at a paycheck or bank balance to determine the size of a donation is not trusting God.

Despite our own need. The Macedonians were poor, but they didn’t let that keep them from contributing. They gave out of the little they had. The book of Mark tells of a widow who gave her last two copper coins and was praised for her offering to the Lord (Mark 12:42-44). We don’t need to have extra money in order to give; we can trust that God is faithful to provide.

To those who spiritually nourish us. The Bible tells us to bring our gifts to the local church, where they can be used to further God’s work. The apostle Paul and others were able to evangelize because of the support provided by the church in Jerusalem. Recognizing that they owed those believers a debt, the Macedonian Christians desired to give something back.

Human reasoning tells us that we cannot part with our funds when debt seems too large or income too small. But the Bible tells us to trust the Lord to provide for our needs (Phil. 4:19) and to give generously. Are you living according to these principles?

O Yes Praise the Lord

“O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.” (Psalm 117:1-2) 

Psalm 117 is especially noteworthy for two reasons: First, it is the middle chapter of the Bible, and, secondly, it is the shortest chapter in the Bible, consisting of only the two verses cited above. Thus, it is significant and appropriate that its theme be that of universal and everlasting praise. The very purpose of human language is that God might communicate His word to us and that we might respond in praise to Him.

The word “nations” in verse 1 refers specifically to Gentiles, while “people” seems to refer to all tribes of people. Two different Hebrew words for praise are used, so that the verse could be read: “Praise the LORD, all ye Gentile nations; extol him all ye peoples of every tribe.” In any case, the sense of the exhortation is to urge everyone to praise His name.

The Hebrew word translated “merciful kindness” is also rendered as “loving kindness,” or simply “mercy” or “kindness.” Whichever is preferred, the significant point is that it has been great toward us. This word (Hebrew gabar) is not the usual word for “great” but is a very strong word meaning to “triumph” or “prevail.” An example of its use is in the story of the great Flood. “And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth” (Genesis 7:19). In fact, it is used four times in this account of the “overwhelmingly mighty” waters of the Flood (Genesis 7:18-20, 24).

In other words, God’s merciful kindness has prevailed over our sin and the awful judgment we deserve in a manner and degree analogous to the way in which the deluge waters prevailed over the ancient evil world. God’s mercy and truth are eternal, and this will be the great theme of our praise throughout all the ages to come. HMM

He that doeth good is of God

3 John

Old Master Trapp says John wrote this letter “to a rich Corinthian, rich in this world and rich in good works, a rare bird anywhere, but especially at Corinth, where Paul found them far behind the poor Macedonians in works of charity.”

3 John 1:1, 2

It would not be safe to wish this for many, for if their bodies only prospered as their souls do, many would die, and most professors would be weak and withered, sick and sorry.

3 John 1:3, 4

John loved his converts as his children, and was glad when he found them sound in doctrine and in practice. What would he say to “modern doubt”? It would break the good mans heart. God’s people should hold the truth more firmly than ever, for the professing church is idolising clever scepticism.

3 John 1:5-7

Gaius kept open house for travelling preachers and poor saints. One of the greatest honours we can have is to entertain a servant of the Lord. The Master sets it down as done to himself.

3 John 1:8

Gaius could not preach, but he lodged those who did, and so he obtained a prophet’s reward.

3 John 1:10

What! Did men speak against the beloved John? Then none of us can hope to escape opposition if we be faithful. We wonder at such a poor creature as Diotrephes impudently setting himself up against the great apostle. We must take heed that we do not imitate him by grieving any of the Lord’s ministers.

3 John 1:11-12

John censured one but commended another. Where there is a Diotrephes there is generally a Demetrius; the Lord neutralises the evil of one by the good of another, or churches could not exist.

3 John 1:14

Say little and write less. Speaking is better than writing, especially from preachers, who would do well to put away ink and paper and preach as the Lord gives them utterance.

3 John 1:14

Our religion is social and courteous. Let us not fail in kindly words and deeds.

 

Peace be to this favour’d dwelling,

Peace to every soul therein;

Peace of heavenly joy foretelling,

Peace the fruit of conquer’d sin.

 

Peace that speaks its heavenly giver;

Peace to worldly minds unknown;

Peace divine that flows for ever

From its source, the Lord alone.

 


To God the only wise,

Our Saviour and our King,

Let all the saints below the skies

Their humble praises bring.

 

He will present our souls,

Unblemish’d and complete,

Before the glory of his face

With joys divinely great.

 

To our Redeemer God

Wisdom and power belong,

Immortal crowns of majesty,

And everlasting song.

 

Secret Workings of God

That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:7)

I do believe in the secret and mysterious working of God in the human breast. I must believe it after finding the forgiving and converting grace of God in the Savior, Jesus Christ.

My father and mother held high human standards, but completely without any thought of God. My parents appeared to be without any spark of desire after God; attitudes that were cold, earthy, profane.

Can you tell me why, then, at the age of 17, as a boy surrounded by unbelief—100 percent—I could find my way to my mother’s attic, kneel on my knees, and give my heart and life in committal to Jesus Christ?

I cannot tell you why. I can only say that I know there is such a thing as the secret workings of God within the human being who has a sensitivity to hear the call of God. In my own case, I do have the testimony that my conversion to Jesus Christ was as real as any man’s conversion has ever been!

My fellow man, if the Spirit of God is still tugging at your heart, thank God—and follow the light!

 

Divine Expulsion

“Thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” Joshua 17:18

It is a great encouragement to valor to be assured of victory, for then a man goes forth to war in confidence, and ventures where else he had been afraid to go. Our warfare is with evil within us and around us, and we ought to be persuaded that we are able to get the victory, and that we shall do so in the name of the Lord Jesus. We are not riding for a fall, but to win; and win we shall. The grace of God in its Omnipotence is put forth for the overthrow of evil in every form: hence the certainty of triumph.

Certain of our sins find chariots of iron in our constitution, our former habits, our associations, and our occupations. Nevertheless we must overcome them. They are very strong, and in reference to them we are very weak; yet in the name of God we must master them, and we will. If one sin has dominion of us we are not the Lord’s free men. A man who is held by Only one chain is still a captive. There is no going to Heaven with one sin ruling within us, for of the saints it is said, “Sin shall not have dominion over you.” Up, then, and slay every Canaanite, and break to shivers every chariot of iron! The Lord of hosts is with us, and who shall resist His sin-destroying power?

 

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