VIDEO A Waterfall in Reverse

Hold fast. 2 Timothy 1:13

A recent hiker along the Irish Cliffs of Moher saw an amazing sight. The wind was blowing so fiercely it caused a waterfall on the Doolin side of the cliff to flow backward. The man captured the scene with his phone and posted the video online. The water was spraying upward, blown by powerful gusts, literally making it a waterfall in reverse.

Similarly, If we aren’t careful, the gusts and gales of cultural pressure can reverse the Godward course of our morals, our behavior, our thoughts, and our habits. When the prophet Daniel was a young man he purposed in his heart to remain undefiled. As an old man, he was pressured to compromise his habits of prayer, but he refused to be bullied into disobedience.

Obedience to God’s principles is the highest commitment we can make. Our biblical beliefs and behaviors may be offensive to the world, but we’ve got to go with the flow—the flow of the truth of God that issues from the pages of His Book. The Bible says, “Hold fast the pattern of sound words…. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us” (2 Timothy 1:13-14).

The swift wind of compromise is a lot more devastating than the sudden jolt of misfortune. Charles Swindoll


Sermon: I Know Whom I Have Believed | 2 Timothy 1:1-14

Two Are Better

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.  Ecclesiastes 4:9

In the 1997 Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, two women fought to stay on their feet as they hobbled toward the finish line. Exhausted, the runners persevered on wobbly legs, until Sian Welch bumped into Wendy Ingraham. They both dropped to the ground. Struggling to stand, they stumbled forward, only to fall again about twenty meters from the finish line. When Ingraham began to crawl, the crowd applauded. When her competitor followed suit, they cheered louder. Ingraham crossed the finish line in fourth place, and she slumped into the outstretched arms of her supporters. Then she turned and reached out to her fallen sister. Welch lunged her body forward, stretching her weary arm toward Ingraham’s hand and across the finish line. As she completed the race in fifth place, the crowd roared their approval.

This pair’s completion of the 140-mile swimming, biking, and running race inspired many. But the image of the weary competitors persevering together remains ingrained in my mind, affirming the life-empowering truth in Ecclesiastes 4:9–11.

There’s no shame in admitting we require assistance in life (v. 9), especially since we can’t honestly deny our needs or hide them from our all-knowing God. At one time or another, we’ll all fall, whether physically or emotionally. Knowing we’re not alone can comfort us as we persevere. As our loving Father helps us, He empowers us to reach out to others in need, affirming they too aren’t alone.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How has someone helped you? How can you encourage others this week?

All-powerful God, thank You for reassuring us of Your constant presence as You help us and give us opportunities to reach out and help others.

Sanctification Isn’t Passive

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

 

Did you know that the purpose of God’s salvation isn’t just to save you from hell and get you into heaven? His priority is to shape you into the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). But God doesn’t do everything for us—we have to participate in the process with Him. Sadly, however, a lot of Christians have a passive attitude that tolerates sin and makes excuses.

When you got saved, you began your walk with Jesus, but you also stepped into spiritual warfare with Satan. The last thing our enemy wants is someone who loves the Lord and tells others about Him.

Yet many believers don’t live a holy life. In fact, some of them look and act just like the unbelieving world. In today’s passage, sexual immorality is one area of compromise that the apostle Paul addressed specifically. But in truth, we should abstain from anything that interferes with godly living.

Have you allowed something in your life that shouldn’t be there? If so, distance yourself from it now. You don’t want a thread of sin to become a rope, then a chain, and finally a cable that traps you in a stronghold. Turn back to the Lord, and let your sanctification continue.

Our Holidays

“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.” (Colossians 2:16)

This is the only verse in the New Testament that has any reference to holidays (at one time considered “holy days”). However, the Greek word so translated does occur there quite often, being rendered elsewhere always by its correct meaning of “feasts.”

Such “holy days” in the Old Testament economy normally required “no servile work” to be done on those days and were usually associated with a special “feast” of some deep spiritual significance. They certainly were not holidays in the modern sense, devoted mostly to pleasure.

In fact, it is perhaps significant that neither holidays nor vacations are mentioned in the Bible at all. The weekly Sabbath “rest” day is, of course, frequently emphasized. One day in seven has always been observed as a day to rest from labor and to remember our Creator. However, the other six days were to be spent working. Many can still remember when the norm was a six-day workweek.

Not so now. Many complain about even a five-day week, and “T.G.I.F.” is a common feeling as the “weekend” approaches. “Labor” Day is now a day mainly for fun, but it might be a good day for Christians to thank God for the privilege of work and doing that work “heartily, as to the Lord” (Colossians 3:23). Our work, whatever it may be, can become a real testimony for (or, sadly, against) the Lord whom we profess to serve.

In the ages to come, there will still be work to do for the Lord. In that day, it is promised that “his servants shall serve him” (Revelation 22:3). Therefore, we should be “abounding in the work of the Lord” right now. It will not be “in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). HMM

The Good Husbandman

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me be—fore the foundation of the world.

—John 17:24

I believe that a pastor who is content with a vineyard that is not at its best is not a good husbandman. It is my prayer that we may be a healthy and fruitful vineyard and that we may be an honor to the Well Beloved, Jesus Christ the Lord, that He might go before the Father and say, “These are mine for whom I pray, and they have heard the Word and have believed on Me.” I pray that we might fit into the high priestly prayer of John 17, that we would be a church after Christ’s own heart so that in us He might see the travail of His soul and be satisfied….

The church should be a healthy, fruitful vineyard that will bring honor to Christ, a church after Christ’s own heart where He can look at the travail of His soul and be satisfied.   RRR112, 119

Lord, I long that Jesus Christ might indeed be satisfied with my own life and the lives of those whom He has called me to lead. Help me to be a faithful husbandman in whatever vineyard You place me. Amen.

 

The Instant Obligation

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

—Hebrews 5:8

 

The life of God in the soul of a man is wholly independent of the social status of that man. In the early church the Spirit leaped across all artificial lines that separate men from each other and made of all believers a spiritual brotherhood. Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, Greek and barbarian were all baptized into one body, of which Christ was and is the Head.

Along with the gift of eternal life, the entrance of the Holy Spirit into the believer’s heart and the induction of the newborn soul into the Body of Christ comes instant obligation to obey the teachings of the New Testament.

These teachings are so plain and so detailed that it is difficult to understand how they could appear different to persons living under different political systems or on different cultural levels. That they have so appeared cannot be denied; but always the reasons lie in the imperfect state of the believers composing the different groups. GTM045-046

Since I am God’s temple, I am not to serve my own ends with my body, but the cause of Jesus Christ as His devoted disciple….Do I regard His temple, my body, as more mine than His? PRL68

 

The Bread of Life

John 6:35

Fight times during His final year of earthly life, Jesus startled His listeners by

using a mysterious phrase beginning with the words “I Am.” Only the

Apostle John records these cryptic, self-revealing declarations in his Gospel.

John sets the stage for Jesus’ first declaration by recounting the only miracle recorded in all four Gospels: the feeding of the 5,000. After Jesus fed and addressed the multitude, He retreated to the nearby hills known today as the Golan Heights. His disciples sailed back to Capernaum.

By foot and by boat the people followed Jesus to Capernaum, where they cornered Him in the synagogue. Jesus ignored their shallow questions and bluntly challenged their motivation: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:26-27). With these piercing words Jesus moved the conversation from their desire for physical nourishment to their need for spiritual sustenance. After Jesus described the spiritual bread that He offered, the crowd pleaded, “Sir… give us this bread” (John 6:34).

The throng’s approval plummeted when Jesus declared that He alone was the Bread they were seeking. Jesus proclaimed: “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). It did not take long for the fickle crowd to turn their backs on Jesus. The Jewish leaders “began to grumble because He said, ‘I am the Bread that came down from heaven'” (John 6:41).

The crowd came looking for bread, and Jesus offered them Himself—the Bread of Life. The cost of discipleship was simply too high for many to pay. Jesus illustrated the sacrificial cost with an unforgettable, startling metaphor: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven… This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

Sadly this discourse ended with many followers leaving Jesus. “‘this,’ they concluded, ‘is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him” (John 6:60, 66).

Thankfully, this is not the end of the story: “‘You do not want to leave, do you?’ Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life'” (John 6:67-68).

Jesus’ penetrating question resounds throughout the ages. His faithful disciples must ever follow Peter’s example and response.

William Francis, The War Cry