VIDEO Liberty at Risk

What persecutions I endured. 2 Timothy 3:11

As shocking as it seems, a private Christian school in Tampa, Florida, was forbidden from offering an opening prayer during a high school football game last fall—even when playing against other Christian schools in its own stadium. Thanks to a group of Christian attorneys, an appeals court reversed that decision.[1]

The blatant anti-Christian attacks by our secular society have intimidated many Christians in the western world, but God is on our side in this battle for truth!

According to the Bible, every godless culture will view Christians with hostility; and according to Church history, every generation of believers has faced opposition and hatred. The Bible says, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). But Paul also told Timothy to persevere and lean on the “Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (verse 15).

God is at work in our lives, even when we’re being pressured or persecuted for our faith. Don’t be intimidated by the world. Be motivated by the Word!

Religion in the public square is becoming an endangered species. Mathew Staver


A Father’s Triangle – Proverbs 3:11-12 – Skip Heitzig – Skip Heitzig

Spiritual Driving

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15–16

I don’t remember many specifics about my driver’s education class. But for some reason, an acronym we learned, S-I-P-D-E, remains firmly lodged in my memory.

The letters stood for Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute, a process we were taught to practice continually. We were to scan the road, identify hazards, predict what the hazards might do, decide how we’d respond, and then, if necessary, execute that plan. It was a strategy for being intentional to avoid accidents.

I wonder how that idea might translate to our spiritual lives. In Ephesians 5, Paul told Ephesian believers, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise, but as wise” (v. 15). Paul knew certain hazards could derail the Ephesians—old ways of living at odds with their new life in Jesus (vv. 8, 10–11). So he instructed the growing church to pay attention.

The words translated “be very careful, then, how you live” literally mean “see how you walk.” In other words, look around. Notice hazards, and avoid personal pitfalls like drunkenness and wild living (v. 18). Instead, the apostle said, we can seek to learn God’s will for our lives (v. 17), while, with fellow believers, we sing to and give Him thanks (vv. 19–20).

No matter what hazards we face—and even when we stumble—we can experience our new life in Christ as we grow in dependence on His boundless power and grace.

By:  Adam R. Holz

Reflect & Pray

What strategy do you use to recognize what might trip you up spiritually? What role do you think other believers play in identifying and resisting spiritual hazards? How might thanksgiving be an important part of avoiding spiritual pitfalls?

Heavenly Father, as I navigate the spiritual potholes on life’s road, thank You for reminding me to look up to You for help.

God’s Control and Our Prayers

John 14:13-14

Have you ever wondered why we pray if God already knows everything? What do our prayers accomplish?

First, communicating with God connects His Spirit and ours. A relationship can’t survive if the two parties don’t speak with each other.

Second, God communicates His will to His children through prayer. If we’re seeking to please Him, then we will pray with an open heart and mind. In turn, the Lord impresses upon us the desire to ask Him for those things He wants to bring into our life.

Third, communing with God gives us the opportunity to participate in His kingdom on earth. As we learn to trust Him for answers, He gives us greater tasks in prayer. The Lord will burden our heart to pray for the salvation of a friend, people suffering from a natural disaster, or the state of our nation. When we see an answer, whether it’s big or small, we will know He blessed us by including us in the process.

God calls on His children to pray, because He wants us involved in His work. What a privilege for us to freely go before our Father and know that He is interested in what we have to say. In fact, He is pleased when we ask Him to meet our needs or the needs of someone else. And if we are praying according to His will, He answers every time.

King in and at the Flood

“The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever. The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:10-11)

There are quite a few different Hebrew words that are translated “flood” in the Old Testament. The word in this passage (Hebrew mabbul), however, is unique in that it is only used elsewhere in the account of the Noahic Flood, thus indicating conclusively that the dramatic scenes described in this psalm occurred at the time of the great Flood.

There was never in all history such a time as that, when “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). God therefore brought about “the end of all flesh” (v. 13)—no doubt millions, perhaps billions, of ungodly men and women—by the great mabbul.

In spite of the fact that nearly every culture around the globe (made up of descendants of the eight survivors of the Flood) remembers this terrible event in the form of “flood legends,” the very concept of God’s judgment on sin is so offensive to the natural mind that modern scholarship now even denies it as a fact of history.

Nevertheless, the epitaph of the antediluvian world is written in stone in the sedimentary rocks and fossil beds everywhere one looks all over the world. The greatest rebellion ever mounted against the world’s Creator by His creatures (both humans and fallen angels) was put down by God simply by His voice! “The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters” (Psalm 29:3).

In all the great turmoil of the Flood, Noah and the righteous remnant in the Ark were safe through it all. In every age, even in times of stress and danger, “the LORD will bless his people with peace.” HMM

Your Sovereign Calling

But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

—John 1:12-13

 

There is another and worse evil which springs from this basic failure to grasp the radical difference between the natures of the two worlds. It is the habit of languidly “accepting” salvation as if it were a small matter and one wholly in our hands. Men are exhorted to think things over and “decide” for Christ, and in some places one day each year is set aside as “Decision Day,” at which time people are expected to condescend to grant Christ the right to save them, a right which they have obviously refused Him up to that time. Christ is thus made to stand again before men’s judgment seat; He is made to wait upon the pleasure of the individual, and after long and humble waiting is either turned away or patronizingly admitted. By a complete misunderstanding of the noble and true doctrine of the freedom of the human will, salvation is made to depend perilously upon the will of man instead of upon the will of God.

However deep the mystery, however many the paradoxes involved, it is still true that men become saints not at their own whim but by sovereign calling.   POM037-038

Sovereign God, I’m Your servant. I’ll share the message, I’ll pray for response, but only You can draw an unsaved person to faith in Christ. Thank You for the privilege of having even a small part in Your sovereign work. Amen.

 

Faith in Which Jesus?

Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful.

—Psalm 119:137-138

 

To manipulate the Scriptures so as to make them excuse us, compliment us and console us is to do despite to the written Word and to reject the Living Word. To believe savingly in Jesus Christ is to believe all He has said about Himself and all that the prophets and apostles have said about Him. Let us beware that the Jesus we “accept” is not one we have created out of the dust of our imagination and formed after our own likeness.

True faith commits us to obedience. “[W]e have received grace and apostleship,” says Paul, “for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name” (Romans 1:5). That dreamy, sentimental faith which ignores the judgments of God against us and listens to the affirmations of the soul is as deadly as cyanide.

That faith which passively accepts all the pleasant texts of the Scriptures while it overlooks or rejects the stern warnings and commandments of those same Scriptures is not the faith of which Christ and His apostles spoke. OGM062

[F]aith is simply that which takes hold of the promise and the fullness of Christ. SI123

 

All Nature Speaks

Job 12:7

In Job’s rebuttal to Zophar, he told him to look to nature and it will teach him of God. He cited three categories of fauna and the earth itself as a source of instruction about God (12:7-9).

First, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you” (Job 12:7). Ask a chipmunk, with a body barely six inches long, who made it able to carry and hide more than a bushel of acorns in just three days so he will be prepared for the long winter. Ask the snowshoe hare who turns its fur white only in the winter and the fawn who gave its spots to camouflage them from predators. Ask the sleek cheetah, the fastest land animal, who made it able to reach speeds of 70 miles an hour. Let the animals teach us of the marvelous endowments and providence of their Creator.

Job went on: “Ask… the birds of the air, and they will tell you” (Job 12:7). Ask the millions of birds who endowed them with the marvel of migration as their feathered power takes them incredible distances, with the champion migrant—

the small arctic tern—making an annual round trip of over 20,000 miles. Ask the ruby-throated hummingbird, weighing only an eighth of an ounce, who made it able to fly 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico, its wings beating 50 times a second. Ask the birds and they will tell you who teaches them their solar and stellar migration, who planted their inbuilt compasses enabling them to span continents and oceans. Far more than Job ever knew in his day, the birds are able to tell us about the marvels of God’s creative handiwork.

“Or speak to the earth,” Job went on, “and it will teach you” (Job 12:8). What eloquence is spoken by creation in the miracle of seedtime and harvest, of the tapestry and wonder of a tree, the exquisite beauty of a flower, the spectacle of a sunrise that causes all the earth to blush at the extravagant beauty it is about to unveil.

“Or let the fish of the sea inform you,” (Job 12:8) added Job. The infinite variety, the incredible fecundity, and the exotic creations of marine life testify to a God of unlimited imagination and creativity.

Annie Dillard, in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, writes, “The extravagant gesture is the very stuff of creation. The Creator will stop at nothing. The Creator loves pizzazz.”

May we pray to be kept open and aware to the wonder and beauty of God’s creation and its untold blessings to us.

Henry Gariepy, Portraits of Perseverance