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For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:19

A fifth century A.D. Jewish commentary on some of the Old Testament books (Leviticus Rabbah), said this: “The Holy Spirit rested on the prophets by measure.” Contrast that observation with the words of the prophet John the Baptist in John 3:34: “For God does not give the Spirit by measure.” John the Baptist ministered at a time of transition between the Old and New Testaments, a transition illustrated by a change in the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

For Christians, the Holy Spirit is given as a permanent, indwelling reality. He is there to guide, comfort, and counsel us in our daily lives—especially in times of adversity. The Greek word for the Spirit is parakletos, or Paraclete (John 14:16, 26)—one who is called alongside. The Spirit does for us what He did for Paul in Asia Minor—comes alongside to clear up confusion and provides direction when needed (Acts 16:6-10). He will come alongside us as well when we need counsel and comfort.

Be filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and depend on Him to come alongside you. There is no limit to His loving presence.

Great Comforter, descend, and bring some tokens of Thy grace. Isaac Watts


Philippians 1:19-30

Practice What We Preach

Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. 1 John 2:9

 

Pastor and writer Eugene Peterson had the opportunity to hear a lecture by Swiss physician and highly respected pastoral counselor Paul Tournier. Peterson had read the doctor’s works, and admired his approach to healing. The lecture left a deep impression on Peterson. As he listened, he had the feeling that Tournier lived what he spoke and spoke what he lived. Peterson chose this word to describe his experience: “Congruence. It is the best word I can come up with.”

Congruence—it’s what some refer to as “practicing what you preach” or “walking your talk.” The apostle John stresses that if any of us “claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister,” then we’re “still in the darkness” (1 John 2:9). In essence, our lives and our words simply don’t match up. John goes further to say such people “do not know where they are going” (v. 11). The word he chose to describe how incongruence leaves us? Blind.

Living closely aligned to God by allowing the light of His Word to illuminate our paths keeps us from living blind. The result is a godly vision that gives clarity and focus to our days—our words and actions match up. When others observe this, the impression is not necessarily that of someone who knows everywhere they’re going, but of someone who clearly knows who they’re following.

By John Blase

Reflect & Pray

In what ways does the word congruence describe you? How can you grow to live a more consistent life?

Jesus, I want my words and actions to match up. There are times I fall short, but my desire is to grow more consistent each day. Help me, please, so that everyone listening and watching my life will be drawn to You.

God’s Perspective on War

Romans 13:1-4

War is a very controversial subject in both the world and the church. Considering the broad spectrum of views and opinions, those who follow Christ would do well to search the Scriptures and ask, What does the Lord think about war?

In order to gain a proper understanding, we must first consider the condition of our fallen world. War is a natural consequence of sin. Some conflicts are fueled by evil intentions and desires, but others are a battle between right and wrong. God hates bloodshed, but if evil is not forcefully resisted, the wicked will prevail.

The Lord established government as a means of promoting good and restraining evil, and national authority comes directly from Him. But some rulers abuse their power and must be stopped. In such cases, God allows war for the sake of the innocent.

The Old Testament also includes instances when God used war for the sake of achieving His purposes. He commanded the Israelites to fight for possession of the land He’d promised them and to kill the inhabitants, who were extremely evil (Deut. 20:1; Deut. 20:17-18). In addition, He used war to judge and punish wicked nations (Jer. 25:12-14) and even to discipline His own people (Jer. 5:15-17).

As you think about this difficult subject, remember that God’s goal is the destruction of wickedness, not people. In the final battle, Jesus will defeat sin and death, wars will cease, and righteousness will reign (Revelation 19:11-16). Until that day, we are left on earth to do our part in overcoming evil.

Nature of Our Calling

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.” (2 Timothy 1:9)

Our “calling” (Greek klesis) to follow Christ was not a matter of human decision, and certainly not one based on human works, for it was issued in Christ before He had even created us. In some inscrutable way, we were a part of His eternal purpose, and it was altogether by His grace. We were “chosen . . . before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love” (Ephesians 1:4).

Our calling is therefore a most “holy calling,” that is, a sacred calling to be consecrated and separated unto God.

It is, moreover, a “heavenly calling,” one originated in heaven, by our heavenly Father, centered in His divine will and purpose. In the Father’s sight, in Christ Jesus, we are nothing less than “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling” (Hebrews 3:1).

We should therefore be able to say with Paul: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). The high calling is not quite the same as the holy calling or the heavenly calling, though all are components of one great whole.

The word translated “high” is only so translated this one time. It is the usual word for “up” or “above.” Thus, the prize toward which we press is the “up calling.” It is the same word as in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, where we are promised that one day all who are in Christ Jesus, dead or living, will be “caught up together,” thereafter to “ever be with the Lord.”

He has called us before the world began, He is calling us daily to a heavenly walk with the Lord, and He will call us up to His eternal presence some day soon. HMM

Stay in the First Grade, No

…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 3:13-14

There are Christians who grow up and have no relish for anything spiritually advanced. They’re preoccupied with their first lessons. The average church is a school with only one grade and that is the first one. These Christians never expect to get beyond that and they don’t want to hear a man very long who wants to take them beyond that. If their pastor insists they do their homework and get ready for the next grade, they begin to pray that the Lord will call “our dear brother” somewhere else…. All he’s trying to do is prepare them for another grade, but that church is dedicated to the first grade, and the first grade is where it’s going to remain.

Paul said some of them went up into the second grade and gave it up, and said, “It’s too hard here,” and they went back to the first.

“How long have you been in the first grade, Junior?” “Twelve years.”…

Paul said, “forgetting those things which are behind… I press toward the mark” (Philippians 3:13-14). There was a man not satisfied with the first grade.   SAT004-005

Father, I do pray that our church might not get stuck in the first grade. Help us not to shrink from the hard lessons that bring us to spiritual maturity. Amen.

 

All things are possible to him that believes

All things are possible to him that believeth.—Mark 9:23.

My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.—2 Corinthians 12:9.

 

It is possible, I dare to say, for those who will indeed draw on their Lord’s power for deliverance and victory, to live a life in which His promises are taken as they stand, and found to be true. It is possible to cast every care on Him, daily, and to be at peace amidst the pressure. It is possible to see the will of God in everything, and to find it, as one has said, no longer a sigh, but a song. It is possible, in the world of inner act and motion, to put away, to get put away, all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and evil speaking, daily and hourly. It is possible, by unreserved resort to divine power, under divine conditions, to become strongest, through and through, at our weakest point; to find the thing which yesterday upset all our obligations to patience, or to purity, or to humility, an occasion today, through Him who loveth us, and worketh in us, for a joyful consent to His will, and a delightful sense of His presence and sin-annulling power. These are things divinely possible.

Hanley C. G. Moule.

 

Just Complete Deliverance

“But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord; and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid.” Jer. 39:17

When the Lord’s faithful ones are suffering for Him, they shall have sweet messages of love from Himself, and sometimes they shall have glad tidings for those who sympathize with them and help them. Ebed-melech was only a despised Ethiopian, but he was kind to Jeremiah, and so the Lord sent him this special promise by the mouth of his prophet. Let us be ever mindful of God’s persecuted servants, and He will reward us.

Ebed-melech was to be delivered from the men whose vengeance he feared. He was a humble black man, but Jehovah would take care of him. Thousands were slain by the Chaldeans, but this lowly man could not be hurt. We, too, may be fearful of some great ones who are bitter against us; but if we have been faithful to the Lord’s cause in the hour of persecution, He will be faithful to us. After all, what can a man do without the Lord’s permission? He puts a bit into the mouth of rage, and a bridle upon the head of power. Let us fear the Lord, and we shall have no one else to fear. No cup of cold water given to a despised prophet of God shall be without its reward; and if we stand up for Jesus, Jesus will stand up for us.