Ya’ All

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” (Philippians 1:3-4)

One would suspect from his frequent use of the phrase “you all” that the apostle Paul had come from Alabama or Georgia! But in his writings, “you all” is not a southern idiom but a warm expression of Christian fellowship. His heart was burdened, not just for a few close friends and loved ones (as in most of our own prayers), but for “all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:2).

He assured the Philippian church that he was, in every one of his prayers, praying for “you all.” He told them of his confidence in their continued growth in Christ, that it was altogether fitting for him to believe this of “you all,” thankful that “in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace” (Philippians 1:7).

He wrote in a similar vein to the Thessalonians at the start of his (chronologically) first epistle: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2). Paul had a long prayer list.

To the Roman Christians he wrote: “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:8). Then he wrote his benediction: “Now the God of peace be with you all” (Romans 15:33). He concluded his message to the Christians at Corinth: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Peter and John used the same expression in their writings, for they also were large of heart and concern. Finally, these are the very last words of the Bible: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). HMM

Stay Accountable to God

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.

—Hebrews 9:27

 

It was the belief in the accountability of man to his maker that made America a great nation. Among those earlier leaders was Daniel Webster whose blazing eyes and fiery oratory often held the Senate spellbound. In those days the Congress was composed of strong, noble statesmen who carried the weight of the nation in their hearts and minds.

Someone asked: “Mr. Webster, what do you consider the most serious thought that has ever entered your mind?”

“The most solemn thought that has ever entered my mind is my accountability to my Maker,” he replied.

Men like that cannot be corrupted and bought. They do not have to worry if someone listens to their telephone calls. What they are in character and in deportment results from their belief that they will finally be accountable to God.   EFE130

Lord, help me to live my life today in such a way that, should You call me tonight to stand before You and give account, I would have nothing of which I would need to be ashamed. Amen.

 

A Living History

Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ…written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.

—2 Corinthians 3:3

 

 

In our world there is still the holy witness of the Spirit, who in all things speaks for this Man who sits on the throne….

The Holy Spirit is here now to convince the world, and however we treat the warning of the Holy Spirit is exactly how we treat Jesus Christ Himself.

If faith must depend upon a man knowing enough of the historical evidences to arrive at a scholarly belief in the deity of Jesus, then there could only be a relatively few people saved.

But I do not have to be a scholar, a logician or a lawyer to arrive at belief in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit has taken the deity of Christ out of the hands of the scholars and put it in the consciences of men.

The Spirit of God came to lift it out of the history books and write it on the fleshy tablets of the human heart. EFE030-031

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ…because He brings to us the presence of Jesus and enables us to realize our oneness with Him. WS107

 

My Bible

Psalm 119:11

Josef Korbel endured 10 harsh years in a communist prison camp, where despite severe punishment and constant threats of death, the Brigadier continued his Christian witness.

My poor fellow prisoners all over the forced labor camps and in the prison cells were often downhearted and even desperate, ready to commit suicide. It often happened that a verse from the Word of God, which I quoted to them from memory, was a source of help and encouragement. Then I had an idea, and much later in a forced labor camp I was able to realize it.

At that time we were working on buildings and so it was easy to get brown paper from cement sacks. Taking a clean part from such a sack, I made a little notebook, using a piece of thin wire to pin it together.

Although it was against the rules of the camp to possess a pencil, I had a little stump hidden in my jacket. With this I wrote many beautiful Bible verses I knew by heart. Soon my notebook was full and I started to lend it to fellow prisoners, who were sad and downhearted.

After a while my “Bible” was in such demand, that men had to wait for days until it was their turn to get it. Shabby, mended and worn out from hiding it under ragged jackets, this “Bible” was a source of much blessing.

“Joe, is your Bible back?” they would ask. “Remember it is my turn now to get it.” I was so glad to see the eagerness in their eyes.

Once we got a hint that there would be a search of the camp. On such days the guards inspected every corner of the cells, including the ceiling and the floor boards, looking for knives, pencils, needles, notebooks, family photos and like articles that were strictly forbidden.

What should I do with my Bible? I wondered. At last I took it with me to the working place, hoping that we would have no personal inspection. I managed to get it safely there, and rolling it up I inserted it in one of the hollow bricks which were piled up.

“I shall take it out again tomorrow,” I thought. However the next day the pile of bricks was not there any more. The night shift used them and so my “Bible” was somewhere in the wall of a newly built house and lost. I never had the opportunity of making another one, but the Lord’s Word was kept hidden safely in my heart (Ps. 119:11).

Josef Korbel, When the Gates Were Opened

 

VIDEO The Mystery of Faith – Ears: Listening to the Word of Christ

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17

Life is full of mystery. How the brain becomes the mind is a mystery. Love is often a mystery. How human genes carry out their signaling to the body is a mystery. And in the spiritual realm, how does faith rise up in the human heart?

The apostle Paul says clearly: “So then faith comes by hearing…the word of God.” Most modern interpreters suggest that “the word of God” refers to “the message of/concerning Christ.” When Christ’s Gospel and His teachings are embraced by the human heart, faith is the result. But Paul also says we are saved by grace through faith which is “the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8-9). So faith is a gift from God and it is also the result of embracing the message about Christ and His salvation. But how does the gift of God mix with the human response? The experience of salvation is not a science experiment that can be understood in a laboratory. It is a wonderful mystery that can be experienced though not totally understood.

Have you embraced the Gospel of Christ? And thanked God for His gift of faith? Don’t let the day pass without doing both.

The Word generates faith and regenerates us. Joseph Alleine


Sermon on Romans 10:17: “Ears: Listening to the Word of Christ” | Faith Comes by Hearing

Life to the Full

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

The year was 1918, near the end of World War I, and photographer Eric Enstrom was putting together a portfolio of his work. He wanted to include one that communicated a sense of fullness in a time that felt quite empty to so many people. In his now much-loved photo, a bearded old man sits at a table with his head bowed and his hands clasped in prayer. On the surface before him there is only a book, spectacles, a bowl of gruel, a loaf of bread, and a knife. Nothing more, but also nothing less.

Some might say the photograph reveals scarcity. But Enstrom’s point was quite the opposite: Here is a full life, one lived in gratitude, one you and I can experience as well regardless of our circumstances. Jesus announces the good news in John 10: “life . . . to the full” (v. 10). We do a grave disservice to such good news when we equate full with many things. The fullness Jesus speaks of isn’t measured in worldly categories like riches or real estate, but rather a heart, mind, soul, and strength brimming in gratitude that the Good Shepherd gave “his life for the sheep” (v. 11), and cares for us and our daily needs. This is a full life—enjoying relationship with God—that’s possible for every one of us.

By: John Blase

Reflect & Pray

Would you say that right now you’re living “life to the full”? Why or why not? Have you had a tendency to equate full with many things?

Good Shepherd, thank You for laying down Your life for me, one of the sheep. And thank You for Your promise to provide nothing less than the daily bread I need, both literally and figuratively.

Living Clean in a Tainted World

2 Corinthians 6:14-17; 2 Corinthians 7:1

When Adam and Eve listened to Satan in the garden of Eden, the world was invaded by sin, and we’ve been battling it ever since. Over time, our world has become morally and spiritually contaminated.

We’re born physically alive but spiritually dead and in rebellion against the Lord (Eph. 2:1-2). Yet by trusting Jesus as our Savior, we receive a new nature and the gift of the Holy Spirit. This means believers have the power to say no to wrongdoing and yes to godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

With our new identity as children of God, we no longer share the same nature or purpose of unbelievers. Followers of Jesus are called to serve as His ambassadors, spreading knowledge of the Savior and yearning for righteousness. We exchange our own desires for His, admit when we’ve sinned, and ask for His forgiveness. But these values often make little sense to those who don’t know Christ.

Maintaining a godly focus in the world is difficult, but we can find support and encouragement from others who have received Jesus Christ as their Savior. Intimate friends and trusted advisors will help us stay pointed toward the Son.

Names of God

“And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.” (Genesis 7:16)

Many stirring books have been written on the general subject of the names of God. Most of the names make use of one or two of the three primary names. The first is Elohim, meaning “mighty one.” It is a uni-plural name—plural in form but singular in meaning and verb usage, suggesting the uni-plural nature of the triune Godhead, appearing in most English translations as “God.” It most often is used when worldwide events or attributes are discussed, including creation, judgment, sovereignty, transcendence, and salvation. The second is Jehovah, meaning “the self-existent one,” which appears as “LORD” in English translations. It stresses God’s holiness, nearness, concern for man (especially Israel), hatred of sin, love of sinners, and His revelatory nature and communication. The third is Adonai, a more general term meaning master and used of both men and God. It appears as “Lord” in English Bibles.

For example, the name Elohim, the transcendent, uni-plural Creator God, is appropriately used exclusively in Genesis 1:1–2:4, the account of creation from God’s perspective. Throughout the rest of Genesis 2, the account of creation from man’s perspective, the combination name Jehovah-Elohim is used. Man was at this point without sin, in full accord with his Creator, and experiencing the fullness of His love and communication. The curse, as related in chapter 3, changed things forever, and in chapter 4, Adam and his offspring, painfully aware that their sin has broken God-established relationships, relate better to Jehovah, the Savior. In our text for the day, we see Noah obeying the orders of Elohim, the sovereign judge, to enter the Ark, but Jehovah, the loving Savior, making them secure. JDM

Seek Approval

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

—1 Timothy 5:20

 

I cannot believe in the spirituality of any Christian man who keeps an eye open for the approval of others, whoever they may be. The man after God’s own heart must be dead to the opinion of his friends as well as his enemies. He must be as willing to cross important persons as obscure ones. He must be ready to rebuke his superior as quickly as those who may be beneath him on the ecclesiastical ladder. To reprove one man in order to gain the favor of another is no evidence of moral courage. It is done in the world all the time.

We’ll never be where we should be in our spiritual lives until we are so devoted to Christ that we ask no other approbation than His smile. When we are wholly lost in Him the frantic effort to please men will come to an end. The circle of persons we struggle to please will be narrowed to One. Then we will know true freedom, but not a moment before.   PON141

Lord, does anyone ever really get over the desire to seek the approval of others? That is a battle for which we are totally dependent on You for victory. Help me today to be content with only the smile of Your approval. Amen.

 

A Silent, Holy, Eloquent Witness

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

—Acts 10:44

 

The Holy Spirit is…among us to confirm to the consciences of men the works of Jesus.

There [is] no denying that in His earthly ministry, Jesus was a mighty worker of miracles. He did raise the dead. He did cleanse the leper. He did turn the water into wine. He did feed the multitude with a few pieces of bread.

The Pharisees did not try to deny the miracles He wrought. They could not deny them….You cannot deny a fact that stands and stares you in the face—a fact that you can touch and feel and push around and investigate! The Pharisees simply said: “He does his work in the power of the devil.”

The Holy Spirit came that He might confirm and verify the divine quality of those mighty works of Jesus and prove Him indeed to be the very God who had made the world and who could make it do what He pleased for it to do. EFE028

Let us bear in mind…that the Holy Spirit identifies Himself with the Lord Jesus and that the coming of the Comforter is just the coming of Jesus Himself to the heart. WCC007