VIDEO Tell Me Are You Discouraged or Devoted

Have you ever heard the Master say something very difficult to you? If you haven’t, I question whether you have ever heard Him say anything at all. Jesus says a tremendous amount to us that we listen to, but do not actually hear. And once we do hear Him, His words are harsh and unyielding.

Jesus did not show the least concern that this rich young ruler should do what He told him, nor did Jesus make any attempt to keep this man with Him. He simply said to him, “Sell all that you have…and come, follow Me.” Our Lord never pleaded with him; He never tried to lure him— He simply spoke the strictest words that human ears have ever heard, and then left him alone.

Have I ever heard Jesus say something difficult and unyielding to me? Has He said something personally to me to which I have deliberately listened— not something I can explain for the sake of others, but something I have heard Him say directly to me? This man understood what Jesus said. He heard it clearly, realizing the full impact of its meaning, and it broke his heart. He did not go away as a defiant person, but as one who was sorrowful and discouraged. He had come to Jesus on fire with zeal and determination, but the words of Jesus simply froze him. Instead of producing enthusiastic devotion to Jesus, they produced heartbreaking discouragement. And Jesus did not go after him, but let him go. Our Lord knows perfectly well that once His word is truly heard, it will bear fruit sooner or later. What is so terrible is that some of us prevent His words from bearing fruit in our present life. I wonder what we will say when we finally make up our minds to be devoted to Him on that particular point? One thing is certain— He will never throw our past failures back in our faces.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

The root of faith is the knowledge of a Person, and one of the biggest snares is the idea that God is sure to lead us to success. My Utmost for His Highest, March 19, 761 L


The Impossibility of Salvation, Part 1 (Luke 18:18-27)

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Created for Relationship

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18

There’s a growing “rent-a-family” industry in many countries to meet the needs of lonely people. Some use the service to maintain appearances, so that at a social event they can appear to have a happy family. Some hire actors to impersonate estranged relatives, so that they can feel, if briefly, a familial connection they long for.

This trend reflects a basic truth: Humans are created for relationship. In the creation story found in Genesis, God looks at each thing He has made and sees that it’s “very good” (1:31). But when God considers Adam, He says, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (2:18). The human needed another human.

The Bible doesn’t just tell us about our need for connection. It also tells us where to find relationships: among Jesus’s followers. Jesus, at His death, told His friend John to consider Christ’s mother as his own. They would be family to each other even after Jesus was gone (John 19:26–27). And Paul instructed believers to treat others like parents and siblings (1 Timothy 5:1–2). The psalmist tells us that part of God’s redemptive work in the world is to put “the lonely in families” (Psalm 68:6), and God designed the church as one of the best places to do this.

Thanks be to God, who has made us for relationship and given us His people to be our family!

By:  Amy Peterson

Reflect & Pray

Who are the lonely people in your life who need you to be their family? How have your relationships with fellow believers sustained you through periods of loneliness?

God, help me to depend on others and to be a dependable friend as well.

Trouble and Transformation

2 Corinthians 4

There’s one thing all humanity has in common—trouble. Job 5:7 puts it this way: “For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward.” It’s inescapable this side of heaven, but we don’t have to bitterly resign ourselves to the pain and sorrow of life. Our suffering need not be in vain, because it can “[produce] for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).

In this very well-known chapter on affliction, Paul uses contrast to describe his physical, emotional, and spiritual sufferings. For instance, in his body he is carrying about “the dying of Jesus” while at the same time manifesting “the life of Jesus” (v. 10). In other words, the constant dying to self and even persecution were ways in which Jesus Christ’s life was displayed in the apostle’s.

The same is true for every believer. There are two realities at work in our life. The afflictions and trials which are externally visible seem at odds with the good that Christ is doing within us. Yet we are not to lose heart, because “our inner man is being renewed day by day” (v. 16). It’s through our suffering that this transformation becomes most visible to others as they see Christ’s supernatural peace and joy displayed in us.

Are you letting Christ sanctify you through your pain and trouble, or are you hanging on to disappointment, anger, and bitterness? The key to contentment in every situation is a willingness to look below the surface of your pain and see both the good that Christ is working in you and the glory that is guaranteed to follow.

Be An Approved Workman

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Teaching God’s Word of truth properly and effectively is not play; it is hard work! The command to “study” means, literally, to “labor earnestly.” There are far too many unprepared teachers of the Bible today, not even to mention false teachers. “My brethren, be not many masters [that is, ‘don’t many of you try to be teachers’], knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation” (James 3:1).

A workman who has presented himself for testing, and has then passed the test, is an “approved” workman, and he will certainly have spent much time training in his profession before presuming to make application for a job. In this most important of all vocations, it is vital that the Word be “rightly divided,” for if, when the test comes, he cannot do this, he will “be ashamed” for having the presumption to engage in such a vital occupation without the necessary calling and training, or dedication.

The Lord had to train His disciples for three years before they were ready to start teaching the Word on their own. The apostle Paul also, even though he had already received the finest schooling in Israel, still had to be specially prepared for three years after becoming a Christian before he was ready (Galatians 1:15-24). The equivalent of three years’ full-time study still seems a good minimum before one should presume to take on a regular ministry of teaching or preaching the holy Scriptures.

Every Christian should seek to win people to Christ, of course, as soon as he himself meets Christ. He should also begin immediately to search the Scriptures (e.g., the Bereans, in Acts 17). But an “approved workman” needs to be thoroughly taught and to have studied in the Word himself. HMM

Can You Say?: I Gave It All Up!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.

—Ephesians 1:3

I have been asked more than once what I gave up when I was converted and became a believing child of God. I was a young man, and I well remember that I gave up the hot and smelly rubber factory. I was making tires for an hourly wage, and I gave that up to follow Christ’s call into Christian ministry and service.

As a youth I was scared of life and I was scared of death—and I gave that up. I was miserable and glum and unfulfilled—and I gave that up. I had selfish earthly and material ambitions that I could never have achieved—and I gave them up.

That forms the outline of the worthless things that I gave up. And I soon discovered that in Jesus Christ, God had given me everything that is worthwhile.

If God takes away from us the old, wrinkled, beat-up dollar bill we have clutched so desperately, it is only because He wants to exchange it for the whole Federal mint, the entire treasury! He is saying to us, “I have in store for you all the resources of heaven. Help yourself!”   JAF049-050

Thank You for all we gain through our new life in Christin exchange for all the junk we give up! Amen.

 

Always bearing the body the dying of the Lord Jesus

Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.—2 Corinthians 4:10.

 

But we as in a glass espy

The glory of His countenance,

Not in a whirlwind hurrying by

The too presumptuous glance,

But with mild radiance every hour,

From our dear Savior’s face benign

Bent on us with transforming power

Till we, too, faintly shine.

John Keble.

 

If we be faithful and humble, God will increase our faith by enabling us to obey more faithfully, and will strengthen our sight by enabling us to do what we now see. As in our daily walk we come nearer towards heaven, He will open to us more of heaven. And so the veil which sin laid upon our sight being taken away, “we all, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord,” studying His countenance, watching His looks, seeking to have His gracious and compassionate look cast upon us in the midst of our frailties and infirmities, may catch some faint reflections of its brightness, and be changed into the image whereon we gaze, which we love, which, in our weakness, we would long to copy and transfuse into ourselves; we too may be “changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Edward B. Pusey.

 

Who Does Has the Majority?

“And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” 2Kings 6:16

Horses and chariots, and a great host, shut up the prophet in Dothan. His young servant was alarmed. How could they escape from such a body of armed men? But the prophet had eyes which his servant had not, and he could see a greater host with far superior weapons guarding him from all harm. Horses of fire are mightier than horses of flesh, and chariots of fire are far preferable to chariots of iron.

Even so is it at this hour. The adversaries of truth are many, influential, learned, and crafty; and truth fares ill at their hands; and yet the man of God has no cause for trepidation. Agencies, seen and unseen, of the most potent kind, are on the side of righteousness. God has armies in ambush which will reveal themselves in the hour of need. The forces which are on the side of the good and the true far outweigh the powers of evil. Therefore, let us keep our spirits up, and walk with the gait of men who possess a cheering secret, which has lifted them above all fear. We are on the winning side. The battle may be sharp, but we know how it will end. Faith, having God with her, is in a clear majority: “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.”

 

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