VIDEO Crisis Time Compassion

The Lord is very compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

When COVID-19 spread across the world and kept people apart from each other, Girl Scouts in hard-hit New Rochelle, New York, made a huge banner. It said, “We Support Our Neighbors: #NewRoStrong.” A woman in Cornwall in the U.K. created a postcard that said, “Hello! If you are self-isolating, I can help.” An entire street in Italy erupted in song as quarantined neighbors stuck their heads from their windows and sang together. In Australia, Woolworths created special hours for elderly and disabled shoppers to restock their supplies. A church in Alabama administered testing kits for their community. And in China, Christian volunteers handed out facemasks.

All around the world, countless acts of compassion brought people together even when they couldn’t literally come together. National and global catastrophes have a way of bringing out the best in people, for our Creator is a God of compassion—and a bit of that remains even in fallen humanity.

Those of us who are His children have the Spirit of compassion living in us, so let’s lead the way. Who can you encourage today.

You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you. John Bunyan


James 5 Expositional by Chuck Smith

Trusting God in Times of Sorrow

I know whom I have believed. 2 Timothy 1:12

When a man known as “Papa John” learned he had terminal cancer, he and his wife, Carol, sensed God calling them to share their illness journey online. Believing that God would minister through their vulnerability, they posted their moments of joy and their sorrow and pain for two years.

When Carol wrote that her husband “went into the outstretched arms of Jesus,” hundreds of people responded, with many thanking Carol for their openness. One person remarked that hearing about dying from a Christian point of view was healthy, for “we all have to die” someday. Another said that although she’d never met the couple personally, she couldn’t express how much encouragement she’d received through their witness of trusting God.

Although Papa John sometimes felt excruciating pain, he and Carol shared their story so they could demonstrate how God upheld them. They knew their testimony would bear fruit for God, echoing what Paul wrote to Timothy when he suffered: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

God can use even the death of a loved one to strengthen our faith in Him (and the faith of others) through the grace we receive in Christ Jesus (v. 9). If you’re experiencing anguish and difficulty, know that He can bring comfort and peace.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced God’s joy even in times of deep sorrow? How do you explain this? How could you share what you learned with others?

Heavenly Father, fan into flame the gift of faith in me, that I might share with love and power my testimony of how You work in my life.

Courage to Face Life’s Trials

2 Timothy 4:6-18

Scripture details the courageous way Paul handled trials. He was opposed by religious leaders, manhandled by magistrates, and mobbed by crowds. Yet through it all, he stood firm. How did he do this?

Let’s look at Paul’s own testimony. He said he came to the Corinthians in weakness, and he spoke with fear and trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3). He claimed that he had been pushed beyond his ability to endure (2 Corinthians 1:8). In fact, once his fear was so strong that an angel exhorted him not to be afraid (Acts 27:24). He was human, just as we are.

What did Paul know that would also help us? Wherever the apostle was, God was personally present. He trusted in the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit, and he also took heart from the Lord’s reassurance of His nearness (Acts 18:9). Although it appeared that Paul stood alone before his accusers, he recognized he was actually in the Lord’s company. With almighty God standing beside him, he didn’t have to be afraid.

Because we belong to Jesus Christ, we can know that God is always with us. We, too, have the Savior’s unending pledge of nearness and the Holy Spirit as our permanent companion. As we embrace these truths, we will discover the courage to face life’s trials.  I feel braver already. What about you?

Day of Visitation

“Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12)

This unique expression, “in the day of visitation,” based on a surprising use of the Greek word episkope, occurs one other time in such a way, when Christ wept over Jerusalem and pronounced its coming judgment. “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.…because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation” (Luke 19:42-44).

Now this word, episkope, and its derivatives are usually translated as “bishop,” “office of a bishop,” or “bishopric,” and it seems strange at first that it could also mean “visitation.” However, its basic meaning is “overseer” or “oversight,” and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself is really the “Shepherd and Bishop of [our] souls” (1 Peter 2:25), as well as that of nations and, indeed, every aspect of every life.

As a bishop or pastor (“shepherd”) is responsible for the “oversight” of his local church, or flock, so Christ is “that great Shepherd of the sheep,” the true “Bishop of [our] souls,” the overseer of all people in every age. In His great plan of the ages, the Jews, and then the Gentiles, each have been entrusted with a time of “visitation,” or “oversight,” of God’s witness to the world. Sadly, Jerusalem “knewest not the time of [her] visitation” (Luke 19:44) and, as for Judas, the Lord had to say, “his bishoprick let another take” (Acts 1:20).

Now in God’s providence, it is the time of Gentile oversight, and it is eternally important that we who know His salvation today glorify God by our good works, with our “conversation [i.e., lifestyle] honest among the Gentiles” in our own “day of visitation.” HMM

Have You Been To The Perfect Church?

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

—1 Peter 4:8

 

Our lofty idealism would argue that all Christians should be perfect, but a blunt realism forces us to admit that perfection is rare even among the saints. The part of wisdom is to accept our Christian brothers and sisters for what they are rather than for what they should be….

There is much that is imperfect about us, and it is fitting that we recognize it and call upon God for charity to put up with one another. The perfect church is not on this earth. The most spiritual church is sure to have in it some who are still bothered by the flesh.

An old Italian proverb says, “He that will have none but a perfect brother must resign himself to remain brotherless.” However earnestly we may desire that our Christian brother go on toward perfection, we must accept him as he is and learn to get along with him. To treat an imperfect brother impatiently is to advertise our own imperfections.   WTA055

Give me patience and grace today in dealing with others’ imperfections. And give them the same grace in dealing with mine! Amen.

 

Correct Doctrine Plus…

Who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

—1 Corinthians 2:16

 

When we see God with the eyes of our hearts, God is fulfilling His purpose to appear to us. To those who ask how this can be, I answer that He can appear to us because we were made in God’s image.

In the Old Testament, the writer of the Proverbs taught that true spiritual knowledge is the result of a visitation of heavenly wisdom. It is a kind of baptism of the Spirit of Truth that comes to God-fearing men. This wisdom always is associated with righteousness and humility. It is never found apart from godliness and true holiness of life.

We need to learn and to declare again the mystery of wisdom from above. Truth consists not merely in correct doctrine but in correct doctrine to which is added the inward enlightenment of the Holy Spirit. MMG124

[T]ruth, to be understood, must be lived;…Bible doctrine is wholly ineffective until it has been digested and assimilated by the total life. TIC109

 

The God Who Hides Himself

Isaiah 45:15

Elizabeth Browning, with a poet’s insight, said that every common bush was afire with God, but that the fact was unnoticed by the people who sat by it and just picked blackberries. In his poem The Kingdom of God, Francis Thompson says to the folk who think of God as dwelling “above the bright blue sky,” that this world is so full of spiritual truth and heavenly beings that if we turned over a stone or looked behind a tree we might start an angel flying.

God never openly advertises Himself in His works. An attitude of reverence and effort of mind are necessary if we are to become aware of God in the things He has made. Unlike ourselves, who wait for applause when we have done something well, God does not bow about upon the stage where His works are shown, waiting for us to praise Him. He paints the wayside flower and lights the evening star and leaves them to be His silent witnesses. He places His song in the throats of singing birds, in the sound of waterfalls and streams, and in the crash of heavy seas against cliffs and hides behind them all.

If only He would do something dramatic and make us all see Him! When Jesus Christ was here in human form He said “No” to the temptation to win the people to His side by casting Himself down from the top of the temple, to be rescued by a company of angels, or by making stones into bread or by defying the strength of the spikes that fastened Him to His cross on Calvary and coming down from it. He does not work that way.

Men have always wanted a spectacular revelation of God. Even the prophet Isaiah seemed troubled about the apparent unwillingness of God to reveal Himself. “Truly you are a God who hides Himself,” (Isaiah 45:15) he said. In that expression, he brought out one of the deep mysteries of the Christian faith—a God who hides Himself.

Then came Jesus Christ, quietly, not in a great demonstration of power or majesty. Those with spiritual insight saw His glory. But a few years later He went away and was seen no more in physical form. Why does He conceal Himself? Because the Christian life is essentially one of faith, with lessons of trust to be learned which could not be gained in any other way.

When it is necessary God, standing within the shadows, will reveal His presence. Though unseen, all through life’s journey He is near us.

James Morgan, Nature Speaks