VIDEO Slow to Chide

We all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit.  2 Corinthians 3:18

You’re not perfect, are you? Some of those imperfections are hurting those closest to you, but they’re hurting you more. Our faults and failures weigh down our spirit, and we get discouraged about ourselves and ask, “What’s wrong with me?”

God knows what’s wrong with you, and He loves you anyway. He patiently works with us as we grow in Christ. He helps us become wiser, better, stronger. He is longsuffering. Exodus 34:6 says, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth.”

Numbers 14:18 declares, “The Lord is longsuffering and abundant in mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression.” And 2 Peter 3:15 says, “Consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.”

Confess your faults to the Lord, and don’t keep beating yourself up. Let your self-image become swallowed up in the “light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Look at Him, and let Him transform you from glory to glory. He is so patient with us.

Praise Him, still the same forever, slow to chide, and swift to bless.  Henry Francis Lyte


Sermon: The Sweetest Good of the Good News (2 Corinthians 3:17-4:7)

World of Provision

There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number. Psalm 104:25

 

It’s 2 a.m. when Nadia, a farmer of sea cucumbers, walks into a roped-off pen in the ocean shallows near her Madagascar village to harvest her “crop.” The early hour doesn’t bother her. “Life was very hard before I started farming,” she says. “I didn’t have any source of income.” Now, as a member of a marine-protection program called Velondriake, meaning “to live with the sea,” Nadia sees her income growing and stabilizing. “We thank God that this project appeared,” she adds.

It appeared in large part because God’s creation provided what their project needs—a natural supply of sea life. In praise of our providing God, the psalmist wrote, “He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for people to cultivate” (Psalm 104:14). As well, “there is the sea . . . teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small” (v. 25).

It’s a wonder, indeed, how God’s wondrous creation also provides for us. The humble sea cucumber, for example, helps form a healthy marine food chain. Careful harvesting of sea cucumbers, in turn, grants Nadia and her neighbors a living wage.

Nothing is random in God’s creation. He uses it all for His glory and our good. Thus, “I will sing to the Lord all my life,” says the psalmist (v. 33). We too can praise Him today as we ponder all that He provides.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

In what ways does God provide for you through His creation? How can you thank Him for that today?

O Creator God, we’re humbled by Your vast creation and all the ways You provide for our needs.

Relying on God in Times of Trouble

2 Corinthians 1:8-11

It’s easy to think of Paul as a spiritual giant who never became discouraged by the many afflictions he suffered. After all, he tells us to exult not only in the hope of the glory of God but also in our tribulations, since they are a tool the Lord uses to produce perseverance, proven character, and hope in us (Rom. 5:1-4).

Yet in today’s passage, Paul writes with great transparency, saying he was burdened beyond his strength and despaired of life. However, He knew the Lord was not absent in all those afflictions and realized he had to trust God rather than himself. That is a lesson we can learn from as well.

If we give in to self-reliance and fear, we’ll find ourselves going down wrong paths: We may vacillate and become weaker instead of growing stronger in the storm. Oftentimes, in desperation, we’ll ask other people for guidance instead of going to our Father. Our first response should be to seek understanding from Him about what’s happening in our life. This is why time with the Lord in His Word and prayer is top priority. That’s where we discover His purposes and come away emotionally settled.

Elioenai’s Name

“And the sons of Neariah; Elioenai, and Hezekiah, and Azrikam, three.” (1 Chronicles 3:23)

Elioenai’s name is in a long list of names in the book of Chronicles. In fact, it is significant that the Bible contains the proper names of more individuals than can be found in all the other books of antiquity put together—strong evidence of its historical authenticity. These were real names of real people, and each would, no doubt, have a fascinating story to tell if he could. The ancient Israelites were very conscious of their divine calling as God’s chosen people; family relationships and genealogical records were highly valued.

Godly parents were very conscious that “children are an heritage of the LORD” (Psalm 127:3) and commonly gave each of them a name with some special spiritual meaning. Neariah, whose name meant “servant of the LORD,” was a distant descendant of David, and his firstborn son was Elioenai. This was a testimony of parental faith, for it means “turning your eyes to the mighty God.”

Very little else is known about Elioenai (except the names of his two brothers and seven sons), but the lengthy genealogies break off in the generation of his sons, indicating probably that his parents were in the generation taken captive to Babylon. It is fascinating to wonder why they gave Elioenai his name and to imagine how it may have influenced the life and spiritual growth of Elioenai himself.

In any case, it is a beautiful and meaningful name, and we can hope that his character developed accordingly. For, if so, believers will be able to meet him in heaven someday.

His name still bears an urgent message to us today: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus; turn to the mighty God, your Creator and Savior!” We should also remember the example of the godly parents in ancient times, in giving our children names that will inspire them and be a testimony to others. HMM

A Whole Life Prayer

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

—John 15:7

 

Prayer at its best is the expression of the total life….

All things else being equal, our prayers are only as powerful as our lives. In the long pull we pray only as well as we live….

Most of us in moments of stress have wished that we had lived so that prayer would not be so unnatural to us and have regretted that we had not cultivated prayer to the point where it would be as easy and as natural as breathing….

Undoubtedly the redemption in Christ Jesus has sufficient moral power to enable us to live in a state of purity and love where our whole life will be a prayer. Individual acts of prayer that spring out of that kind of total living will have about them a wondrous power not known to the careless or the worldly Christian.   ROR081-083

Lord, the real key here is that there is “sufficient moral power” available. In my own strength I fail, but thank You for Your enabling power. Amen.

 

Worship—a Spirit-given

O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth.

Psalm 96:9

 

How thankful we should be to discover that it is God’s desire to lead every willing heart into depths and heights of divine knowledge and communion. As soon as God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts we say “Abba”—and we are worshiping, but probably not in the full New Testament sense of the word.

God desires to take us deeper into Himself. We will have much to learn in the school of the Spirit. He wants to lead us on in our love for Him who first loved us.

He wants to cultivate within us the adoration and admiration of which He is worthy. He wants to reveal to each of us the blessed element of spiritual fascination in true worship. He wants to teach us the wonder of being filled with moral excitement in our worship, entranced with the knowledge of who God is. He wants us to be astonished at the inconceivable elevation and magnitude and splendor of Almighty God!

There can be no human substitute for this kind of worship and for this kind of Spirit-given response to the God who is our Creator and Redeemer and Lord. WHT026

The man who has not been humbled in the presence of God will never be a worshiper of God at all. QTB197

 

Divine Fire-Power

Acts 2:3

We learn to have a healthy respect for fire from an early age, recognizing just how powerful it is. Primitive people regarded it with awe and reverence. Perhaps this underlies the fact that in Scripture fire is used as a symbol of God the Holy Spirit.

The first occasion we read of God’s making His presence known through fire is when He appears to Moses as a flame coming from the middle of a burning bush (Exodus 3). As a shepherd, Moses had perhaps seen tinder-dry brushwood burst into spontaneous combustion in the blazing heat. But this bush was different because it did not burn up.

Having used this unusual fire to make Moses aware of Him, God revealed His plan for the children of Israel under Moses’ leadership. Then, as they traveled through the wilderness, God announced His presence with them each night by a pillar of fire.

Further in Israelite history, when their loyalty to God was under test, He revealed Himself on Mount Carmel as the true God. As he did so, flames burnt up the water-drenched sacrifice that Elijah had prepared.

So when John the Baptist announced that one was coming who would “baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire,” Jewish listeners would have understood the symbolism.

It is from the Greek word for fire that the English word “pure” is derived. In industry fire can be used in the refining and purifying processes. Anyone who has had a splinter in his finger knows that it needs a little persuasion to come out. So it’s into the sewing box and out with the needle! But first the needle should be sterilized, purified—by holding it in a flame.

When Isaiah had his vision of God in the Temple, he soon realized that he was sinful and that his life needed purifying. Burning coals were lifted from the altar and placed on his lips to symbolize the purification of his life. As with Isaiah, God wants to use us as His messengers, to bring others into His kingdom. But first of all we need to be purified.

The quality of our spiritual life depends on the fire of the Holy Spirit within us. At Pentecost, what looked like tongues of fire rested on each of the disciples’ heads. This divine fire-power cleansed them and clothed them. It gave those ordinary men and women extraordinary power.

Quite simply, there is no power other than the Holy Spirit’s which can turn men inside out and the world upside down!

Nigel Bovey, Salvationist