VIDEO Encouraged

They encouraged them. Acts 16:40

Scottish pastor John McNeill told a story from his childhood about walking home one night. “It was nearly midnight when I started to tramp six or seven miles down through the lonely glen to get home. The road had a bad name. This particular night was very black, and two miles outside our little village the road gets blacker than ever. I was just entering the dark defile when, about one hundred yards ahead, in the densest of the darkness, there suddenly rang out a great, strong, cheery voice, ‘Is that you, Johnny?’ It was my father—the bravest, strongest man I ever knew.”[1]

We often need someone to call our name in the darkness to encourage us. Our God is the God of encouragement, and He uses various means to accomplish this goal. He uses His Word. He uses His Spirit. He uses the writings of others. But He also uses people.

In Acts 16, Paul gathered his young converts during a very dark time and encouraged them.

Someone is on a gloomy road today. Can you call their name in the dark? Can you be an encouragement?

Many a time since, when things have been getting black and gloomy about me, I have heard a Voice greater than that of my earthly parent cry: “Fear not, for I am with thee.”  John McNeill


Divinely Aligned

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Romans 11:33

I was deeply troubled and woke in the night to pace the floor and pray. Frankly, my attitude was not one of prayerful submission to God, but one of questioning and anger. Finding no release, I sat and stared out a large window at the night sky. I was unexpectedly drawn to focus on Orion’s Belt—those three perfectly arranged stars often visible on clear nights. I knew just enough about astronomy to understand that those three stars were hundreds of light years apart.

I realized the closer I could be to those stars, the less they would appear to be aligned. Yet from my distant perspective, they looked carefully configured in the heavens. At that moment, I realized I was too close to my life to see what God sees. In His big picture, everything is in perfect alignment.

The apostle Paul, as he completes a summary of the ultimate purposes of God, breaks into a hymn of praise (Romans 11:33–36). His words lift our gaze to our sovereign God, whose ways are beyond our limited ability to understand or trace (v. 33). Yet the One who holds all things together in the heavens and on earth is intimately and lovingly involved with every detail of our lives (Matthew 6:25–34; Colossians 1:16).

Even when things seem confusing, God’s divine plans are unfolding for our good and for God’s honor and glory.

By:  Evan Morgan

Reflect & Pray

What questions do you long for God to answer? How can you find rest and release through faith that His perspective of our lives is in perfect alignment with His ultimate purposes?

Dear God, remind me that Your purposes and plans for my life are beyond my understanding, and help me rest in You.

When Adversity Hits, Look Up

Psalm 27:1-14

Where do you go for help when storms come into your life? Trouble has a way of drawing our focus downward to the immediate situation rather than upward to the Lord, who reigns over every event in our life. Therefore, our first response to trials should be to open the Bible and find out what God has said.

When we focus our attention on the Lord and His promises, it’s like throwing wood on the fire of our spiritual life, which helps us face whatever challenges come our way. However, because we have a tendency to let worry and fear slip back in, we must continue to add fuel to the fire by repeatedly filling our minds with truths from God’s Word.

Although storms have many origins, there is only one answer for all of them. When everything around us comes unglued and falls apart, we must go to our knees, trusting the Lord to give us a sense of assurance and boldness to stand firm in obedience. A yielded life that’s settled in God’s Word, open to His work within us, and made adequate in the Holy Spirit’s love and power is immovable in the tempests of life.

Who Shall Let It Be?

“Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?” (Isaiah 43:13)

This is one of the classic “archaisms” of the King James Version, where the English word “let” does not mean “allow” (as we now use the word) but almost the exact opposite. This particular English word was originally written and pronounced “lat” and was from the same Teutonic root as the word “late.” Thus, to our Old English ancestors, it meant essentially “make late,” or “hinder.” Note its similar use in the King James in Romans 1:13 and 2 Thessalonians 2:7.

However, the Hebrew word (shub) from which it is translated in the verse of our text is extremely flexible, being rendered no less than 115 different ways in the Old Testament, occurring about 1,150 times altogether, with the context controlling its meaning in any given case.

In this context, the great theme is that of God as omnipotent Creator and only Savior. The first occurrence of shub, however, is at the time of the primeval curse on the creation, implanted in the very dust of the earth because of Adam’s sin. To Adam, God had said: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:19). Here, shub is twice rendered “return,” and this is the way it is most often translated in its later occurrences.

God therefore challenges every man: “When I work, who can return anything [or anyone] to its [or his] prior condition?” Though none can deliver out of His hand, or “make late” His work, He has promised to be our Savior, “and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:11, 25). When it is time for God to do His work—whether of creation or judgment or salvation—there is no one in all His creation who can “make it late”! HMM

Faith Does Grow with Use

Yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

—James 4:2

 

It was a saying of George Mueller that faith grows with use. If we would have great faith we must begin to use the little faith we already have. Put it to work by reverent and faithful praying, and it will grow and become stronger day by day. Dare today to trust God for something small and ordinary and next week or next year you may be able to trust Him for answers bordering on the miraculous. Everyone has some faith, said Mueller; the difference among us is one of degree only, and the man of small faith may be simply the one who has not dared to exercise the little faith he has.

According to the Bible, we have because we ask, or we have not because we ask not. It does not take much wisdom to discover our next move. Is it not to pray, and pray again and again till the answer comes? God waits to be invited to display His power on behalf of His people. The world situation is such that nothing less than God can straighten it out. Let us not fail the world and disappoint God by failing to pray.   SOS033-034

Lord, I know my faith needs to grow, so please help me to exercise what faith I have and anticipate that growth and stretching. Amen.

 

A Disturbing Verse

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

—Hebrews 12:14

 

 

The word holy is used to describe the character of angels, the nature of heaven and the character of God. It is written that angels are holy and those angels who gaze down upon the scenes of mankind are called the watchers and holy ones.

It is said that heaven is a holy place where no unclean thing can enter in.

God Himself is described by the adjective holy—Holy Ghost, Holy Lord and Holy Lord God Almighty. These words are used of God throughout the Bible, showing that the highest adjective that can be ascribed to God, the highest attribute that can be ascribed to God is that of holiness, and, in a relative sense, even the angels in heaven partake of the holiness of God.

We note in the Bible, too, that the absence of holiness is given as a reason for not seeing God….This text does have a meaning and it ought to disturb us until we have discovered what it means and how we may meet its conditions. ICH064-065

The divine antidote for the satanic poison of sin is holiness….Holiness is an attribute of God and a requirement of the people of God. CDL059

 

A Prayer of Turning

Isaiah 52:7

Father of mercies, God of peace, You have sent me, as my Lord was sent, into a world sick with hate. He proclaimed peace. He put hostility to death through the cross. I too would dare to be a peacemaker. Forgive me of my indifference.

The subtle savagery of racism is consuming my brothers and sisters. I have been silent at their suffering, the inequities, the humiliations, the murder of their children’s dreams.

You have ever stood by me, but I have not stood by them. I have not fought against their exclusion and exploitation. I have not struggled to my own hurt. Nor have I embraced the underclass of strangers: the mentally infirm, the disabled, the AIDS afflicted, the incarcerated, those I tend to distrust, to disdain or ignore.

Father of mercies, faltering and weak my labor has been. Have mercy.

Jesus, Son of God, Savior, You came into our neighborhood to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken, to proclaim liberty and favor with God. I too would be a mender of broken things. By your wounds we are healed, and by them we heal.

Jesus, You know the torment of the sinned-against. The refugees of our cursed wards, the famished, the maimed, the dispossessed, the 25,000 who die daily for want of clean drinking water, the one hundred million street children. You keep company with the defenseless among the poorest, the lowliest and the lost.

And I? Faltering and weak my labor has been. Jesus, forgive.

Holy Spirit, Pursuer of the prodigal, insistent Friend, I too would be a winner of souls. Blow into a flame the gift of God within me.

Missionary Spirit, faltering and weak my labors have been. Forgive.

Fit me for soldiership in an Army fully alive in Christ, pure in heart, united in purpose, aflame with a passion for God and souls, ready to take a stand for truth and justice, empowered by the Spirit.

Lyell M. Rader, Jr., The War Cry