VIDEO Grace That Is Greater

And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:10

The words discipline and punishment both occur in the New Testament. Discipline is directed toward believers, while punishment refers to actions toward the ungodly. Discipline means “child training”—how God trains us as His children to walk in righteousness.

This “big idea”—the difference between discipline and punishment—is another reason for expecting that God’s people will not go through the seven-year Tribulation at the end of this age. That period is for judgment of the nations, led by the Antichrist, who have rebelled against God. There is no reason for the Church of Jesus Christ to undergo such judgment. By the grace of God, Christ was punished for our sins on the cross. For us to endure the wrath of God for seven years would nullify what Christ has done for us.

Does God discipline His children at times? Yes (Hebrews 12:1-13). But we can be sure that we are not destined for “the wrath to come.” Thank God today for His grace that is greater than all our sins.

Grace, grace, God’s grace, grace that is greater than all our sin! Julia H. Johnston


1 Thessalonians 1:1-12 by Paul Washer

The Bell

I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. Matthew 16:18

Jackson dreamed of becoming a US Navy Seal from early childhood—an ambition that led to years of physical discipline and self-sacrifice. He eventually faced grueling tests of strength and endurance including what’s referred to by trainees as “hell week.”

Jackson was physically unable to complete the exhaustive training, and reluctantly rang a bell to inform the commander and other trainees of his choice to leave the program. For most, this would feel like failure. But in spite of the extreme disappointment, Jackson was later able to see his military failure as preparation for his life’s work.

The apostle Peter experienced his own form of failure. He boldly proclaimed that he would remain loyal to Jesus even to prison or death (Luke 22:33). Yet later he wept bitterly after he denied that he knew Jesus (vv. 60–62). But God had plans beyond his failure. Prior to Peter’s denial, Jesus informed him, “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18; see also Luke 22:31–32).

Are you struggling with a failure causing you to feel unworthy or unqualified to move on? Don’t let the ringing bell of failure cause you to miss God’s greater purposes for you.

By:  Evan Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What did you view as a failure in your life that God used to help you grow in Him? Why is it vital for us to find our identity in how God views us?

God, help me to use every circumstance, even my failures, for Your glory and honor!

A Time to Wait in Prayer

Joshua 7:1-13
Most of us are familiar with the Israelites’ victory at the battle of Jericho, but do you know what happened after that? Joshua attempted to take the city of Ai, and 36 Israelites died in battle before their army retreated in fear. Why, Joshua wondered, would the Lord do this to them (Josh. 7:7-9)?

Apparently, he was unaware of two problems. First, an Israelite disobeyed when he took forbidden plunder after Jericho fell. Second, God did not initiate the battle; Joshua had been persuaded by his own advisors. Because Joshua failed to seek heavenly counsel, he didn’t know about the Israelite’s crime until it was too late. After the wrongdoer was put to death, Joshua waited for God’s cue to take Ai. Then, and only then, was the Hebrew army successful (Josh. 8:1-25).

Can you see yourself making a mistake similar to Joshua’s— that is, trying to handle a situation in your own strength? It’s easier than we think when sin skews our thinking and hinders our communication with the heavenly Father. Let’s each examine our heart earnestly, confess any sin, ask God to lead us, and then wait for Him. Remember, His guidance is always better than our own.

Building A -Vine-Body

“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:3)

There are three wonderful figures in the New Testament that depict the relationship of the individual believer to all other believers and to Christ Himself. Christians are like little branches in the great vine, which is Christ. They are stones in a great building of which He is the foundation and cornerstone. They are all members of the great body of which He is the head. In each case, they have been placed “in Christ,” and they derive all life and meaning from Him.

As a stone lying alone on the ground is useless and ugly, so would be a professing Christian who is not truly in Christ. But we, “as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house” (1 Peter 2:5) as “the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Similarly, a branch without its vine and roots is lifeless. Jesus said: “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).

The members of a body are functionless without the head to direct them. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (1 Corinthians 12:18), and it is intended that we “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together…maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:15-16).

Outside of Christ, we are useless, and lifeless, and without direction. In Him, we become a beautiful temple, a fruitful vine, and a strong body. HMM

Divine Attributes

For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.

—Romans 1:20

 

The doctrine of the divine unity means not only that there is but one God; it means also that God is simple, uncomplex, one with Himself. The harmony of His being is the result not of a perfect balance of parts but of the absence of parts. Between His attributes no contradiction can exist. He need not suspend one to exercise another, for in Him all His attributes are one. All of God does all that God does; He does not divide Himself to perform a work, but works in the total unity of His being.

An attribute, then, is not a part of God. It is how God is, and as far as the reasoning mind can go, we may say that it is what God is, though, as I have tried to explain, exactly what He is He cannot tell us…. “The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Only to an equal could God communicate the mystery of His Godhead; and to think of God as having an equal is to fall into an intellectual absurdity.

The divine attributes are what we know to be true of God. He does not possess them as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures. KOH025

I can’t comprehend You entirely, God, but I thank You for what You have revealed. Help me to learn all I can about You through an understanding of Your attributes. Amen.

 

The Holy Spirit is Gracious

And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him.

—Luke 3:22

 

 

Another hindrance [to receiving power from the Holy Spirit] is fear of fanaticism. Instinctive revulsion from fleshly excesses and foolish undisciplined conduct on the part of some who profess lofty spiritual attainments has closed the door to a life of power for many of God’s true children….

They have made the mistake of putting all teaching concerning the Holy Spirit in the same category, and consequently will have nothing to do with any of it. This is as much to be regretted as it is easy to understand.

Such victims must be taught that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus, and is as gracious and beautiful as the Saviour Himself. Paul’s words should be kept in mind, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

The Holy Spirit is the cure for fanaticism, not the cause of it. PTP054-055

The heart in which the Holy Spirit lives will always be characterized by gentleness, lowliness, quietness, meekness and forbearance. HS007

 

A Resurrection Religion

1 Corinthians 15:51-56

I drove my jeep out of the empty camp and onto the main road that led into the city of Da Nang, South Vietnam. I happily anticipated the events of the day with Seabees, who comprised the scattered 800-man battalion I served as a Navy chaplain, coming together to celebrate Easter.

The sun had already risen over the South China Sea, and the temperature promised to soar above 100 degrees. The hot road was unpaved.

Halfway between my camp and Da Nang, I saw her—a small Vietnamese woman kneeling at the side of the road. As I drew closer I could see that she was convulsed with sobbing. Her head rested on a little red wooden box.

I pulled the jeep off the road, stopped and walked toward her. Wanting to help but not knowing how, I knelt beside her. “Can I help you?” I asked. She turned her tear-streaked face toward me, and noticing the cross on my lapel, she lifted the lid of the box and invited me to look inside. There lay the body of a small child.

Exercising my sparse knowledge of Vietnamese, I discovered that she was trying to make her way to her ancestral village where her child would be entombed. But the day was too hot, and the box too heavy for her. I was glad when she accepted my offer of help. After overseeing my placing of the box on the jeep’s back seat, she climbed into the vehicle and directed me to the tomb where the body of her child would rest beside her ancestors.

While I had witnessed the horror of violent death before and would again, no experience during my tour of duty was sadder than that. It was a moment of death, defeat and utter sadness.

During that same tour of duty, a Roman Catholic priest and fellow chaplain joined me in conducting an Easter sunrise service for our Seabees and Marines who had slogged across the rice paddies to join us for worship. Following the celebration of Mass, I led the group in singing songs of Easter and preaching its message of the empty tomb.

I am still gripped by the contrast between the Vietnamese woman who grieved for her dead child and that of the servicemen who celebrated the risen Lord. The first experience was one of death and defeat, the second, of life and victory. “Christianity,” writes John Stott, “is in its very essence a resurrection religion.” Resurrection—Christ’s and, through Him, our own—is the living center of Christian faith. Having made that discovery, we may leave death and defeat, and embrace eternal life and victory.

Kenneth L. Hodder, The War Cry