VIDEO Around the Corner – The Counsel of the Lord

Around the Corner

There are many plans in a man’s heart, nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand. Proverbs 19:21

On the brink of a New Year, thousands of people become reflective over the past and begin strategizing what they hope to accomplish over the course of the next twelve months. As goals are brainstormed and written down, the most powerful component is often overlooked: God.

God is the genius behind all we do and do not see. Instead of simply surrendering your purposes and plans to God, you can invite Him into the process of defining them. Pause and hold your own priorities loosely. As you take time to be still and ask God to reveal His wisdom, you may be surprised by His thoughts on your past and His vision for your future.

When we remain connected and in conversation with God, our blind spots and challenges no longer worry or frighten us. Regardless of whether our plans are achieved or side-lined, our focus on Him brings courage. God is steadfast and in control. He sees around every corner and brings gifts and restoration from even the darkest of situations. Nothing is lost or wasted with God, who is our security and eternal home.

I have learned that faith means trusting in advance what will only make sense in reverse. Philip Yancey


The Counsel of the Lord, Proverbs 19:21 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Eight Life Lessons So The Coming Year Is Your Best

As a young boy in Cleveland I spent many Saturdays watching wrestling on TV. Bobo Brazil with his thundering drop kicks was my favorite character and you bet I believed everything I watched was real!

Commercials in between rounds often highlighted used cars for $300 and since we grew up without a car I could never understand why we couldn’t just go buy one. Truth was my dad worked as a custodian and my disabled mother scrubbed floors on her knees three days a week so they felt we just couldn’t afford it. It was a hard pill to swallow but it developed in me a sense of gratitude for what we did have plus a sensitivity towards the less fortunate that influences me greatly to this day.

In 1843 England a young man encountered small children digging garbage out of trash cans in the dead of the night scavenging for food. With images seared onto the sensitive photographic plate of his mind, he plunged into a project to communicate creatively the urgency of awakening others to their plight.

He crafted a story highlighting a miserly character that he named Ebenezer Scrooge who’d eventually be transformed. His miraculous metamorphosis would impact not only the English people but eventually the entire world. It became a script, debuting in theaters on Christmas Day and A Christmas Carol continues to influence countless millions to this very day.

What set of circumstances is God currently and providentially using in your life to mold you into the person He destined you to become? As Daniel, Joseph, Moses, David and Job weren’t aware of all God was doing in their time, will you trust Him?

Lessons I’ve Learned

I’m one year shy of my 50th spiritual birthday! I’m almost there so let me share some significant life lessons to hopefully help you.

1. Enjoy Jesus

Eternal life, according to Jesus, focuses not on a place but a Person
(Jn. 17:3). Keep this relationship fresh by spending time daily with Him in His Word and His Presence. As the wife of iconic Christian leader, Arthur Wallis told me on her deathbed, “Enjoy Jesus!”

My departed friend, Steve Hill, with whom I was privileged to co-labor in the Brownsville Revival usually began conversations like this, “Are you still hungry for God?” This we want to cultivate daily to stay fresh and on the cusp of what God is doing in our lives and generation.

2. Pursue Your Destiny

“Your eyes saw me uninformed, yet in Your book all my days were written before any of them came into being” (Ps. 139:16).

In spite of setbacks that are inevitable along the way, let nothing deter you from continuing your pursuit of God’s unique plan for your life. Turn your trials into triumphs, your stumbling blocks into steppingstones, and your tests into testimonies. Destiny is a matter of choice not chance!

3. Cultivate Friendships

Jesus told His disciples, “I no longer call you servants… I have called you friends…” (Jn. 15:15). He had His twelve, His three – Peter, James and John – and even His closest one, John, whom the Living Bible labeled “His best friend.”

John Maxwell cites four categories of friends: JUST friends (social); RUST friends (older ones – some keep and some let go); TRUST friends (confidants and counselors); and, MUST friends (a circle of lifelong gifts from God).

4. Adjust With Seasons

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us, “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.” At different points in our life we need to seek God’s wisdom regarding transitions and Spirit-led adjustments if we’re going to finish well.

After decades of planting churches and training leaders, God re-directed me into writing projects and cultural commentating. I entrusted our local church into our son’s hands. I transitioned from jogging to mall-walking and powerlifting to dumbbells.

What might God be saying to you about “pruning” for greater fruitfulness and peace in your personal life, family and ministry? Trust and obey for longevity and legacy!

5. Guard Your Health

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, even as your soul is well” (3 Jn.2). We’re all aging but are we aging well?

Don’t wait for a wake-up call! Follow God’s rhythms of life for rest, recreation and relaxation. Eat wisely; sleep soundly; minimize stress; exercise consistently.

The previous pope, even in his twilight years, woke before dawn for his daily exercise. A famous bodybuilding actor related that when he was tempted to skip his fitness routine he’d ponder the pontiff cranking out crunches and push-ups in the Vatican while leading the Catholics of the world and he quickly got off his duff!

6. Love by Humbly Serving

When Jesus finished washing His disciples’ feet He said of His example, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (Jn. 13:17). The world says, “sacrifice others and serve self” but He reversed it to “serve others and sacrifice self.”

My personal mantra is a simple acrostic: H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Everyday). A plaque hanging in my study reads: “I will pass through this world but once. Therefore any good I can do, any kindness I can show, let me do it now and not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

7. Remember the Brevity of Life

David prayed:

“Lord make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how transient I am. Selah” (Ps. 39:4-5).

King Belshazzar’s knees knocked in terror as God wrote on the wall, “MENE” (days numbered). “TEKEL” (weighed and wanting). “PERES”(divided).

May we remember the “handwriting on the wall” – that we have a finite amount of time, a limited number of days so we live each day with an undivided heart, evidenced by a sense of purpose.

“What’ve I learned turning 70? How quickly it all goes by.” – Billy Graham

8. Share the Gospel Consistently

Jesus said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk.19:10). He said this after passing through a city where He was intentional in noticing a man, taking time to stop and engage with him, then went to his home. Finally, the man repented and was converted.

Many opportunities for sharing Christ come disguised as unwelcome interruptions! This is lifestyle evangelism. Join with me in the adventure and get equipped by the free YouTube videos “Loving Lifestyle Evangelism”.

Here’s the deal: As we prepare to launch into a new year, may we make whatever changes God directs for this to be our best year yet! “For I know the plans that I have for you, says the Lord, plans for peace and not for evil, to give you a future and hope” (Jer. 29:11).

By Larry Tomczak

The Real Heaven

Matthew 25:14-30

Trying to picture life in eternity, many people imagine lying around on clouds, strumming harps. I’m not sure how this misconception about heaven got started, but I can assure you that is unlikely. We have been gifted, equipped, and enabled to fulfill God’s purpose in this life. And He will still have a purpose for us in the life to come.

In today’s passage, Jesus described the kingdom of heaven in the context of a man giving his servants money to invest. The men who served their master faithfully were heartily congratulated and given greater responsibility. When we reach Christ’s judgment seat, our foremost reward will be to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matt. 25:23 NIV). I can’t imagine words that could please me more than a commendation from the Savior I love above all.

We will also receive our new assignment in God’s heavenly kingdom. This is the part of the reward that corresponds to the words, “You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things” (v. 23). There will be no lazing about for us! We will have a renewed heaven and earth to live in and enjoy (2 Peter 3:13). In our perfected bodies, with hearts and souls attuned to the Lord, we will serve Him and each other.

God has a plan for every believer to pursue, and He has gifted each of His children specifically for that purpose. That plan requires our passion and motivation—on earth or in heaven. This world is our training ground for the greater life to come, so let’s prepare like good and faithful servants.

The Real Gospel and Health

“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.” (Matthew 4:23) 

This is the first mention of “the gospel” in the New Testament, and it is significant that Christ was emphasizing, first of all, the long-range future aspect of the gospel, the Kingdom. In that great day, all manner of sickness and even death itself will be eternally healed, when the earth’s age-long curse, pronounced originally because of man’s sin (Genesis 3:17), is finally removed (Revelation 22:3). As a token of this future deliverance, He demonstrated His power by supernaturally healing great numbers of needy people.

The next verse elaborates further on the ubiquity of His healing ministry—“all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy” (Matthew 4:24). No one was omitted. It was not a matter of only those who had faith, or those with psychosomatic ailments, or any other distinction. Everyone was healed of every infirmity of every kind!

Nothing was too hard for the Lord to cure—not even psychiatric disorders or demon possession. However, it was not that way later on in His ministry (e.g., Mark 6:5) nor in that of the apostle Paul (e.g., 2 Timothy 4:20) or the other apostles (e.g., Matthew 17:14-16). Evidently the tremendous scope of this initial healing ministry of the Lord was intended to serve as a type and promise of what will occur worldwide and eternally when His kingdom comes and His will is done on Earth as it is in heaven. In the meantime, this record serves to assure us all that He who came preaching the gospel of the Kingdom should indeed be received by faith right now as the great King of all creation! HMM

Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection

Revelation 20

Revelation 20:1-3

Does not this foretell that there shall come an age in which the agency of Satan in the world shall be suspended by divine power? This will go far to make that period of a thousand years, which is commonly called the millennium, a time of peace and holiness. Glory be to God, the Prince of Darkness is under the power of the Prince of Light. He shall not always triumph.

Revelation 20:5, 6

Surely this is a literal resurrection, and it is clear that the blessed dead will rise before the wicked. Let us strive to attain unto this resurrection.

Revelation 20:7-10

Satan will come out of his prison unchanged; hell is not a reformatory; but his determined pride will not avail him, he must feel the terror of divine wrath. Vain will be the last furious struggle of the hosts of evil.

Revelation 20:13

Good works will be cited as evidences of grace, and evil works as tokens of unbelief. This makes our daily conduct a solemn thing. How shall we bear to be thus weighed in the balances?

 

When, shrivelling like a parched scroll,

The flaming heavens together roll,

When louder yet and yet more dread

Sounds the high trump that wakes the dead;

 

Oh, on that day, that wrathful day,

When man to judgment wakes from clay,

Be thou, O Christ, the sinner’s stay,

Though earth and heaven shall pass away.

 


Lo! what a glorious sight appears

To our admiring eyes!

The former seas have pass’d away,

The former earth and skies.

 

From heav’n the New Jerus’lem comes,

All worthy of its Lord;

See all things now at length renew’d,

And paradise restor’d!

 

Attending angels shout for joy,

And the bright armies sing;

Mortals! behold the sacred seat

Of your descending King!

 

Christ’s Picture Really Is Everywhere

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive honor and glory and power. (Revelation 4:11)

We try to sympathize with the writer John as he attempts to describe heavenly creatures in human terms in the book of Revelation. He knew and we know that it was impossible for God to fully reveal Himself and the heavenly glories to a man.

John tries to describe for us the four “living creatures” in Revelation 4. The first was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had the face of a man; the fourth was like a soaring eagle. Did you know that for centuries Christians have seen those same “faces” in the four gospels of the New Testament?

God has put Jesus Christ’s picture everywhere! Matthew’s is the gospel of the King. Mark’s, the gospel of the suffering Servant. Luke’s, the gospel of the Son of Man. John’s, the gospel of the Son of God. Four loving, adoring, worshiping beings, faithfully and forever devoted to praising God!

Make no mistake about it: the imagery is plainly the gospel of Christ. He is what Christianity is all about!

 

Absolute Assurance

“He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Heb. 13:5

Several times in the Scriptures the Lord hath said this. He has often repeated it, to make our assurance doubly sure. Let us never harbor a doubt of it. In itself the promise is specially emphatic. In the Greek it has five negatives, each one definitely shutting out the possibility of the Lord’s ever leaving one of His people so that he can justly feel forsaken of his God. This priceless Scripture does not promise us exemption from trouble, but it does secure us against desertion. We may be called to traverse strange ways, but we shall always have our Lord’s company, assistance, and provision. We need not covet money, for we shall always have our God, and God is better than gold, His favor is better than fortune.

We ought surely to be content with such things as we have, for he who has God has more than all the world besides. What can we have beyond the Infinite? What more can we desire than Almighty Goodness.

Come, my heart; if God says He will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, be thou much in prayer for grace, that thou mayest never leave thy Lord, nor even for a moment forsake His ways.