VIDEO The Value of Prophecy

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.  Isaiah 55:11

The Spanish philosopher George Santayana said it in 1905: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Winston Churchill updated Santayana’s words in 1948: “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

We understand what it means to learn from history: Don’t make the same mistake twice. But there is something else to learn from history: God is in control of it. The prophetic visions given to Daniel, all of which came true in history, give us assurance that God sees the beginning from the end and that His Word can be trusted. Daniel’s vision in chapter seven outlines the four kingdoms that were seen in other visions of the book: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. Some scholars consider Daniel 7 to be among the greatest chapters in the Old Testament because of its prophetic accuracy.

We study prophecy not just to know the past and the future, but to know the trustworthiness of the God who keeps His promises.

Faith cannot stand, unless it be founded on the promises of God.  John Calvin


Isaiah 55:11

He Knows All About It

His understanding has no limit.  Psalm 147:5

Finn, a Siamese fighting fish, lived at our house for two years. My young daughter would often bend down to talk with him after dropping food into his tank. When the topic of pets came up in kindergarten, she proudly claimed him as her own. Eventually, Finn passed away, and my daughter was heartbroken.

My mother advised me to listen closely to my daughter’s feelings and tell her, “God knows all about it.” I agreed that God knows everything, yet wondered, How will that be comforting? Then it occurred to me that God isn’t simply aware of the events in our lives—He compassionately sees into our souls and knows how they affect us. He understands that “little things” can feel like big things depending on our age, past wounds, or lack of resources.

Jesus saw the real size of a widow’s gift—and heart—as she dropped two coins into a temple collection box. He described what it meant for her as He said, “This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. . . . [She put in] all she had to live on” (Mark 12:43–44).

The widow kept quiet about her situation but Jesus recognized that what others considered a tiny donation was a sacrifice to her. He sees our lives in the same way. May we find comfort in His limitless understanding.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

How might you show compassion to someone who is upset about a “small” problem? How does God respond when you tell Him about your problems?

God, thank You for knowing me completely and loving me. Help me to feel Your comfort when I consider Your infinite knowledge of my life.

When Others Do Fail Us

Isaiah 43:1-7

As humans, we all sin. Every one of us has frailties and periods of suffering. Often when difficulties arise, we turn to loved ones for comfort. But these people are human, too, and they’re subject to their own weaknesses and failures. So, even if they don’t mean to, they might fail us.

One reason people let others down is self-centeredness, which can prevent empathy. Another involves feeling overwhelmed by someone’s stressful situation or inadequate to help. A third possibility is that a person who’s made a mistake might be abandoned by friends who don’t want to be associated with the sin. In God’s eyes, repentance clears away the stain of sin, but we humans aren’t always so quick to forgive.

We can have a judgmental spirit, can’t we? At times we withhold emotional support because we’ve made assumptions about what caused a situation, such as when a friend loses a job or the bank forecloses on his home. A healthier approach is to realize trials are often beyond a person’s control—for instance, a company’s financial troubles can necessitate layoffs, or a poor harvest can mean losing the farm.

Understanding the reasons others fail us—and why we fail others—does offer a small consolation, but God provides a source of perfect comfort no human can provide. He’s the believer’s strength, encouragement, and constant companion.

Everlasting Arms

“The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)

The third verse of “I Am His, and He Is Mine” recalls former times of alarm, fear, and doubt, but testifies of the rest and peace in His love, cradled in the “everlasting arms” of the Savior.

Things that once were wild alarms Cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, Pillowed on the loving breast!
O to lie forever here, Doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear—I am His and He is mine.

This verse reminds us of the evening when Jesus and His disciples were in a boat and a violent storm arose. They awoke Jesus from His sleep and cried, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38). Of course Jesus cared, for He loved them. So “he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still” (v. 39). To His disciples, He said, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (v. 40). The time would come when they would need that faith and peace. They would learn to rest in His loving care.

The song also reminds us of the special loving relationship between Jesus and the disciple John. “Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23). A deep intimacy with Him was John’s, and can be ours, if we will only pillow our head on Him. No passage expresses that intimacy as well as the Song of Solomon, using the analogy of husband and wife to reflect the self-sacrificing love between our Lord and His children. “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). The affairs of this life interrupt our times of intimacy with Him, but there will be a day when we will “ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). JDM

An Economic Squeeze

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

—2 Timothy 4:5

 

A number of factors contribute to bad spiritual leadership….

The economic squeeze. The Protestant ministry is notoriously underpaid and the pastor’s family is often large. Put these two facts together and you have a situation ready-made to bring trouble and temptation to the man of God. The ability of the congregation to turn off the flow of money to the church when the man in the pulpit gets on their toes is well known. The average pastor lives from year to year barely making ends meet. To give vigorous moral leadership to the church is often to invite economic strangulation, so such leadership is withheld. But the evil thing is that leadership withheld is in fact a kind of inverted leadership. The man who will not lead his flock up the mountainside leads it down without knowing it.   GTM061-062

Lord, again I pray for any pastor who may be facing this “economic squeeze” today. Help him to be faithful and give strong leadership no matter the cost. Then, Lord, I pray that even today You would grant one of Your special, generous provisions as a powerful reminder of Your great faithfulness. Amen.

 

If Christ, then Us

God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good…for God was with him.

—Acts 10:38

 

According to the Scriptures everything God did in creation and redemption He did by His Spirit. The Spirit was found brooding over the world at the moment God called it into being. His presence there was necessary.

The life-giving work of the Spirit is seen throughout the entire Bible; and it is precisely because He is the Lord and giver of life that the mystery of the Incarnation could occur. “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

It is highly significant that our Lord, though He was very God of very God, did not work until He had been anointed with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38). The Son did His work of love as a Spirit-anointed Man; His power derived from the Spirit of power. GTM110-111

How little some Christians accomplish for God!…Get filled with the Spirit, and you will neither be idle or unfruitful. CTBC, Vol. 6/311

 

The Easy Yoke

Matthew 11:30

Farmers in Jesus’ day knew that a good working team of oxen often stood between starvation and well-being.

My uncle had a team of horses that pulled the hay wagon and helped him clear heavily wooded areas. During our summer visits to the farm we loved to watch him work with Champ and Casper—sinewy, thick-haunched animals with amazing stamina. They were incredibly strong creatures, their muscles rolling and turning with the demands of their task. Often after a particularly difficult task was done, my uncle would jump down from the box and affectionately slap the horses’ sweaty flanks. And they in turn would nuzzle his pockets for the treats he invariably carried for them.

Uncle Bill took special care with the wooden crosspiece and harness that bound Casper and Champ together. He’d sand away any rough spots in the wood and oil the leather parts until they were soft and pliable. And at the end of each day he checked the animals’ flesh for sore or chafed spots. Casper and Champ were inseparable yokefellows, seeming almost to understand their common task and revel in it.

Paul used the word “yokefellow” to characterize people whose lives were bound together for a common mission (Phil 4:3). The Christian life was meant to be lived in community. Empowered by the same Spirit, it is the Christian’s duty to labor not to develop private empires but to harvest souls for God’s kingdom.

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me… For My yoke is easy and My burden light” (Matt. 11:30) said Jesus. He never said the work would not be difficult, the nights long, the sun’s heat intense and our energies tested. For some the hazards of being joined to Him would mean death.

What our Lord did mean to tell us is that His presence would make our service not only bearable but joyful and provide rest from our labors. “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest… For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:28-29).

With remarkable tenderness Jesus pours the ointment of His love and blessing upon us. He enables us to work for Him through gifts chosen especially for us, through the fellowship and sustaining of brothers and sisters. When pressed down with the weight of our toil or wounded in some desperate battle, He comes with His healing, with His presence, with His rest.

Marlene Chase, Pictures from the Word