VIDEO Go! Go! Go! and Represent the Kingdom!

[Jesus] sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. Luke 9:2

Most nations send an ambassador to live in the capital of other countries. Ambassadors only have the authority granted to them by their country’s government. But their status is official. When they speak, they speak for their nation. And when they act, they are expected to act as their own government would act.

The apostle Paul said that he, and his co-workers, were “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were [speaking] through [them]” (2 Corinthians 5:20). When Paul spoke, he spoke the Word of God. Christ had commissioned him to go and speak—to represent the Kingdom of God to the world (Acts 9:15; 23:11; 26:15-18). Paul wasn’t the first kingdom ambassador to be sent by Jesus. He had sent the twelve disciples (Matthew 10; Mark 6; Luke 9), and then another group of seventy (Luke 10). He sent them to do the same thing He had been doing: preach about the kingdom and heal the sick.

Like Paul, we are ambassadors, sent to represent King and kingdom in this world. And He is with us, until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).

God never said that the journey would be easy, but He did say that the arrival would be worthwhile. Max Lucado

Luke 9:1-9 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Sticks, Bricks, and God

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. Job 1:21

After praying about what God was calling them to do in the next phase of their lives, Mark and Nina determined that moving to the urban core of the city was what they needed to do. They purchased a vacant house and renovation was well underway—then came the storm. Mark wrote in a text message to me: “We had a surprise this morning. The tornado that came through Jefferson City, took out our renovation—down to sticks and bricks. God is up to something.”

Uncontrollable storms are not the only things that surprise us and create confusion in our lives. Not losing sight of God in the midst of misfortune, however, is one of the keys of survival.

The weather catastrophe in Job’s life that resulted in his loss of property and the death of his children (Job 1:19) was but one of the shocking surprises he faced. Prior to that, three messengers had come bearing bad news (vv. 13–17).

On any given day, we can go from feasting to mourning, from celebrating life to processing death, or some other life challenge. Our lives can swiftly be reduced to “sticks and bricks”—financially, relationally, physically, emotionally, spiritually. But God is mightier than any storm. Surviving life’s trials requires faith that’s focused on Him—faith that enables us to say with Job and others, “May the name of the Lord be praised” (v. 21).

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What has helped to clear your vision when you’ve lost sight of God? What can you learn from Job that will help you when the storms of life come?

Father, forgive me for the times I lose sight of You in the midst of life’s difficulties. Help me to see You with fresh eyes.

God Sure Is Good to All

Psalm 118:1-4

God is good. We see evidence of this everywhere we look. We might wonder why good things happen to bad people, or why bad things happen to Christ followers. However, no matter how great our service to God, we are no more deserving of God’s goodness than anyone else. Only God can judge what is truly “good,” and He bases this on His knowledge of our hearts.

Too much of a good thing can have negative effects. For instance, a $10 tithe may not seem like much to a young person, even though he earns just $100 a week. But later that same person, now successful and wealthy, may struggle to give $1000, even though the amount represents the same percentage of his paycheck. God knows this about us and will bless us accordingly so we are not tempted to turn away from Him and worship the gift instead of the Giver.

When we are not wise stewards, the Lord may withdraw some of His benefits from our lives. Instead, let’s follow in the thanksgiving and praise of today’s psalm. Remember, “no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). 

Every good thing comes from God (James 1:17). Walk according to His will, follow His ways, and He will shower His goodness upon you.

For Whom to Pray

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” (1 Timothy 2:1)

Let no one ever say that he has nothing to pray about, or that he doesn’t know how to pray in God’s will, for it is always in the will of God to pray for other people! This is a great gift that any Christian can give, even if he is penniless or bedridden. There are none so poor as to be unable to afford such a gift, nor can even the wealthiest give a finer gift.

Note just a few of the relevant commandments to believers. First, we are to pray for all fellow Christians: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18). We should also pray for the lost. Jesus commanded, “The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2).

There is a special command to pray for sick disciples. “Pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (James 5:16). We are even told to pray for our enemies. “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you” (Luke 6:28).

We are told to pray for Christian brethren who “sin a sin which is not unto death” (1 John 5:16), though if the sin has already led to physical death (as in 1 Corinthians 11:30), there is no warrant for further prayer in that case. Finally, we are especially admonished to pray “for kings, and for all that are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2), and for the ministries of those who proclaim the gospel (Colossians 4:2-4). In short, in the words of our text, we should offer up supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving for all people everywhere, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). HMM

I Just Refuse to Compete

So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. —1 Corinthians 3:7-8

Dear Lord, I refuse henceforth to compete with any of Thy servants. They have congregations larger than mine. So be it. I rejoice in their success. They have greater gifts. Very well. That is not in their power nor in mine. I am humbly grateful for their greater gifts and my smaller ones. I only pray that I may use to Thy glory such modest gifts as I possess. I will not compare myself with any, nor try to build up my self-esteem by noting where I may excel one or another in Thy holy work. I herewith make a blanket disavowal of all intrinsic worth. I am but an unprofitable servant. I gladly go to the foot of the class and own myself the least of Thy people. If I err in my self judgment and actually underestimate myself I do not want to know it. I purpose to pray for others and to rejoice in their prosperity as if it were my own. And indeed it is my own if it is Thine own, for what is Thine is mine, and while one plants and another waters it is Thou alone that giveth the increase.”   PON104-105


God’s Kind of Power

I am the vine, ye are the branches…without me ye can do nothing. —John 15:5

“Ye shall receive power.” This was and is a unique afflatus, an enduement of supernatural energy affecting every department of the believer’s life and remaining with him forever. It is not physical power nor even mental power though it may touch everything both mental and physical in its benign outworking.

It is, too, another kind of power than that seen in nature, in the lunar attraction that creates the tides or the angry flash that splits the great oak during a storm.

This power from God operates on another level and affects another department of His wide creation. It is spiritual power. It is the kind of power that God is.

It is the ability to achieve spiritual and moral ends. Its long-range result is to produce Godlike character in men and women who were once wholly evil by nature and by choice. POM089-090

[The] renovation of character and conduct is only in and through Christ Himself….The cleansed temple must be possessed and occupied by the Lord of the temple. unknown

Heard This Before: Judge Not!

Matthew 7:1-5

How often we are blind to our own faults while we are keenly aware of the faults of others. The “beam” in our own eye blinds us to our own failings. The critical people of Christ’s day, so full of faults themselves, called Jesus “a gluttonous man and a wine bibber” (Matthew 11:19 KJV). What pain is caused by poisonous whispering. It is the besetting sin of many religious people and one of the crudest sins in the world.

Gossip can be dynamite. Gossip is the uttered judgment upon another and, when unkind, is malignant, growing slanderous tissues which destroy members of “the body of Christ.”

No human being can presume to judge another, because when we do we put ourselves in God’s place. To judge another is to assume superiority. We all need to beware of the superior person who wants to tell us something about ourselves “for our own good.” Robert Louis Stevenson reminds us: “There is so much good in the worst of us, And so much bad in the best of us; That it ill becomes any of us, To talk about the rest of us!”

Abraham Lincoln gave a fine word on this idea: “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for the widow and the orphan, to do all that may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace for ourselves and all mankind.”

The world sees only the time a man falls; it takes little notice of the hundred times he may have conquered before he fell. Man who “looks on the outward appearance” cannot see the secret battle going on, the hidden struggle. We cannot know the causes of the faults we condemn. Many have secret sorrows that press upon them.

A man traveling in a railway car with another man nursing a crying baby said irascibly, “I wish to God you would take the whimpering child to its mother.” The man burst into tears and said, “I wish to God I could, sir, but she’s lying in a coffin in the luggage van.”

The Christian’s duty is to help men and women to rise out of their faults. Our attitude is like a boomerang; what we are to others rebounds again to ourselves. Said the quaint old Samuel Johnson, “Even the great God Himself does not presume to judge a man until he is dead.”

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man

VIDEO Be Assured

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Hebrews 11:13

Is anything harder in life than keeping promises? Making promises is easy; keeping them is another matter. Sadly, everyone has broken a promise—or at least not kept a promise as well as they would have intended. And our experience of breaking promises makes us wonder about God and His promises: If we don’t always keep ours, does He?

The first 12 verses of Hebrews 11 list ordinary people who received promises from God but never experienced their fulfillment before they died: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, and others. But they didn’t doubt God. They were “assured” by the promises and “embraced” the promises and died believing the promises as “strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” We are like them. We have been given “great and precious promises” (2 Peter 1:4), some of which may not be fulfilled in our lifetime. That is why we are called to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Be assured by God’s promises. Embrace God’s promises. Live and, if need be, die, believing God’s promises. God is true, so are His promises.

The whole covenant… is a bundle of promises.  Thomas Brooks

Abraham: An Exemplary Faith (Hebrews 11:8-19)

Everyone Needs a Mentor

To Titus, my true son in our common faith. Titus 1:4

As I walked into my new supervisor’s office, I was feeling wary and emotionally raw. My old supervisor had run our department with harshness and condescension, often leaving me (and others) in tears. Now I wondered, What would my new boss be like? Soon after I stepped into my new boss’ office, I felt my fears dissipate as he welcomed me warmly and asked me to share about myself and my frustrations. He listened intently, and I knew by his kind expression and gentle words that he truly cared. A believer in Jesus, he became my work mentor, encourager, and friend.

The apostle Paul was a spiritual mentor to Titus, his “true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4). In his letter to Titus, Paul offered him helpful instructions and guidelines for his role in the church. He not only taught but modeled how to “teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine” (2:1), set “an example by doing what is good,” and “show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech” (vv. 7–8). As a result, Titus became his partner, brother, and coworker (2 Corinthians 2:13; 8:23)—and a mentor of others.

Many of us have benefited from a mentor—a teacher, coach, grandparent, youth leader, or pastor—who guided us with their knowledge, wisdom, encouragement, and faith in God. Who could benefit from the spiritual lessons you’ve learned in your journey with Jesus?

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

Who’s been a spiritual mentor to you? For whom have you been a mentor? And whom might you mentor?

Father, I’m thankful for all those who mentored me when I needed them most. Guide me to someone who might need my encouragement today.

Listening Through Restlessness

Esther 6:1-11

When we’re too preoccupied to hear God’s voice, He may get our attention by giving us a restless spirit. The book of Esther gives us a wonderful example of this.

In the sixth chapter, we see that King Ahasuerus “could not sleep so he gave an order to bring the book of records, the chronicles, and they were read before the king” (Est. 6:1). As a result, Ahasuerus became aware of an assassination plot that had been foiled by a man named Mordecai. Filled with gratitude for this act of service, he made plans to honor him.

What Ahasuerus could not have known, though, is that Haman, one of the royal advisors, was plotting to hang Mordecai and exterminate the Jewish population (Est. 5:14). As a result of the king’s intervention, Mordecai and the rest of the Jews were saved.

Now, what started this process? A restless night. The king didn’t know why he couldn’t sleep, but we know: God was trying to get his attention. 

How often has this happened to you? You go about your life, but a restlessness seems to hang over you. In such moments, ask, “Lord, what is it You want to tell me?” You’ll discover that God can speak to you in your unrest.