VIDEO What Do You More Than Others?

For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  Matthew 5:46

The story of the tax collector Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), along with tax collectors frequently being mentioned in the same breath as “sinners” in the Gospels, gives a clear  indication of their despised role in first-century Jerusalem. They were Jews, agents of Rome, who made a good living by overcharging their fellow Jews for their taxes.

Jesus mentioned in His exhortation not to love only those who love you in return—like the tax collectors do. But wait: Who loved tax collectors that they loved in return? Perhaps their mothers and other tax collectors, as one commentator has wryly observed. Jesus’ point: Even tax collectors love those who love them, and we should do better. We should love those who don’t love us. Jesus wasn’t referring to enemies or those who actively hate us. It just means we should love even those with whom we have no special relationship.

Think of acquaintances in your life who don’t necessarily love you—a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, a stranger. Take the leap and love them with an act of kindness, generosity, or service during the coming week.

Man’s greatest sin is not hatred, but indifference to one’s brothers. Mother Teresa


What Do You More Than Others? Matthew 5:46-48 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Ancient Promises

The Lord bless you and keep you. Numbers 6:24

In 1979, Dr. Gabriel Barkay and his team discovered two silver scrolls in a burial ground outside the Old City of Jerusalem. In 2004, after twenty-five years of careful research, scholars confirmed that the scrolls were the oldest biblical text in existence, having been buried in 600 bc. What I find particularly moving is what the scrolls contain—the priestly blessing that God wanted spoken over His people: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you” (Numbers 6:24–25).

In giving this benediction, God showed Aaron and his sons (through Moses) how to bless the people on His behalf. The leaders were to memorize the words in the form God gave so they would speak to them just as God desired. Note how these words emphasize that God is the one who blesses, for three times they say, “the Lord.” And six times He says, “you,” reflecting just how much God wants His people to receive His love and favor.

Ponder for a moment that the oldest existing fragments of the Bible tell of God’s desire to bless. What a reminder of God’s boundless love and how He wants to be in a relationship with us. If you feel far from God today, hold tightly to the promise in these ancient words. May the Lord bless you; may the Lord keep you.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

What does it mean to you that God desires to bless you? How can you share His love with others?

Father God, I give thanks for the many blessings You give to me. Help me to notice the ways You bring me joy and peace, that I might praise You.

Ways and Works of God

“He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.” (Psalm 103:7)

We have a distinct privilege, as believers, to know something of the “acts” of God. Scripture records many instances where He performed even miraculous deeds on behalf of His children.

There is perhaps a greater privilege—that of reflecting on His “ways,” as well. “Ways,” in this context, may be understood as God’s actions and behaviors that reflect His underlying character, resulting in His “acts.” Understanding His “ways” may not always be possible, “for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9), but nevertheless we are admonished to try and even pattern our own ways after His.

The people of Israel who had special knowledge of the “acts” of God were told to “walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you” (Deuteronomy 5:33). But, “oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!” (Psalm 81:13). “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

The New Testament echoes this same teaching: “Your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest” (Hebrews 3:9-11).

Moses, an eyewitness to the many magnificent works of God on behalf of Israel, went beyond and discerned the “ways” of God, as our text teaches. Surely, he chose the better way. JDM

Praying In and Though a Crisis

James 5:13-18

The New King James Version of James 5:16 says “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Effective—that is exactly what we want our prayers to be, especially in crisis. Let’s look more closely at two things God looks for when we communicate with Him:

Fervency. Ardent prayers are motivated by a burdened heart and a strong sense of personal helplessness. They usually focus on something specific that we care about deeply. The Bible refers to this type of prayer as “laboring earnestly” (Col. 4:12).

Righteousness. When we trust in the Son of God, we’re declared righteous because of our position in Him. In other words, through the Savior, we have been reconciled to God and adopted as His children. But the word righteous can also be used of a believer’s conduct—that is, it describes the person who is found in Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:9) and obeys God. If we willingly and knowingly engage in sin, then we are not living righteously.

We don’t always pray fervently, do we? Take a moment to reflect on areas in your life that might show patterns of unrighteousness, and earnestly present them to God. Your concerns matter to your heavenly Father, and He will listen.

Ability to Do From Him

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

—John 15:5

 

A definition of the word “power” means the ability to do. You know, because it is the Greek word from which our English word “dynamite” comes, some of the brethren try to make out that the Holy Spirit is dynamite, forgetting that they have the thing upside down. Dynamite was named after that Greek word, and the Holy Spirit and the power of God were not named after dynamite. Dynamite was discovered less than 200 years ago, but this Greek word from which we get our word “power” goes back to the time of Christ. It means “ability to do”—that is all, just “ability to do.”…

One man steps into the prize ring and can’t even lift his hands. The other fellow walks in and he has power to do, and soon the fellow who did not have the ability to do is sleeping peacefully on the floor.

It is the man with the ability to do who wins. It means the dynamic ability to be able to do what you are given to do. You will receive ability to do. It will come on you.   COU061-062

Lord, help us to not be afraid of this vital manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Come on our churches in power as we rely upon the Spirit for “the ability to do” whatever You have called us to do. Amen.

 

Inactivity—the Highest Activity

Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

—Psalm 27:14

 

There is an inactivity that, paradoxically, is the highest possible activity. There can be a suspension of the activity of the body, as when our Lord told His disciples to “tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). They waited. And the Holy Spirit came on them in power.

In the Old Testament, to wait on God meant coming before His presence with expectation and waiting there with physical and mental inactivity.

“Cease thy thinking, troubled Christian,” one of the old poets wrote. There is a place where the mind quits trying to figure out its own way and throws itself wide open to God. And the shining glory of God comes down into the waiting life and imparts an activity.

Do you understand what I mean when I say that we can go to God with an activity that is inactive? We go to God with a heart that is not acting in the flesh or in the natural—trying to do something. We go to God in an attitude of waiting. FBR131-132

Hearing, I am receptive; seeing, I am active. Yet our bliss does not consist in being active but in being receptive to God. BME018

 

The Call Is to Holiness

Ephesians 5:25-27

In the upper room our Lord prayed that His disciples should be sanctified. The next day He went to Calvary and died that it should be so. “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant Church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

We cannot enter heaven with any sin in our hearts, for “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). Somewhere, and some time, our sinful nature must be completely destroyed. This may take place on our deathbed, or at the coming of our Lord, but God is able and willing to sanctify us now.

“But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1). We dare not preach sinless perfection, for it is not taught in the Word of God. We can have an experience where it is possible not to sin, but we shall not, in this life, reach a state where it is not possible to sin.

To the sanctified man defeat will not be the rule, but the exception. He will show his holiness by humbly admitting his fault, and by putting things right with God at once, and if need be, with man also. We do not lose the blessing of sanctification by one act of sin or disobedience, provided we confess it at once and seek God’s forgiveness.

A sanctified believer is always learning new lessons, growing in grace, and bringing forth more and better fruit. Perfection will be progressive. Thus a perfect bud may become a perfect flower, and then a perfect fruit. Even when the fruit is fully grown it will need to become perfectly ripe and sweet. Sanctified Christians too should become riper and sweeter as the years go by.

A cup of water can be perfectly filled, but it will not hold as much as a jug. A sanctified Christian should be always filled with the Spirit, but his capacity should increase, as it were, from that of a cup to that of a jug, then to that of a bucket, a tank, a reservoir. There is always more to follow.

We must ever be climbing higher up the mount of holiness, though we cannot reach the summit in this life.

Allister Smith, Made Whole