VIDEO Nor Be Discouraged

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58

John Calvin left a mark on the world that has endured for centuries, yet during his lifetime he often battled discouragement. He once said, “I am entangled in so many troublesome affairs that I am almost beside myself.” On another occasion, he said, “Today hardly one in a hundred considers how difficult and arduous it is to faithfully discharge the office of pastor.” And again he said, “In addition to the immense troubles by which I am so sorely consumed, there is almost no day on which some new pain or anxiety does not come.”

John Stott called discouragement the “occupational hazard of Christian ministry.” 

Yet the Bible repeatedly tells us to eschew discouragement, to treat it like a sin, to resist and refuse it. “Do not fear or be discouraged,” says Deuteronomy 1:21. The Lord is never discouraged, and in His service there is victory. Our life, love, and labor in the Lord is never in vain. Today take God’s promise in 1 Corinthians 15:58 and use it like a broom to sweep discouragement out of your heart.

God would never discourage me. He would always point me to Himself to trust Him. Charles Stanley

The Mystery of Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:50-58)

Laundry Day

Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples.Matthew 28:19 gnt

Driving through a low-income area near his church, Colorado pastor Chad Graham started praying for his “neighbors.” When he noticed a small laundromat, he stopped to take a look inside and found it filled with customers. One asked Graham for a spare coin to operate the clothes dryer. That small request inspired a weekly “Laundry Day” sponsored by Graham’s church. Members donate coins and soap to the laundromat, pray with customers, and support the owner of the laundry facility.

Their neighborhood outreach, which dares to include a laundromat, reflects Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples. As He said, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18–19 gnt).

His Holy Spirit’s powerful presence enables “everywhere” outreach, including even a laundromat. Indeed, we don’t go alone. As Jesus promised, “I will be with you always, to the end of the age” (v. 20 gnt).

Pastor Chad experienced that truth after praying at the laundromat for a customer named Jeff who is battling cancer. As Chad reported, “When we opened our eyes, every customer in the room was praying with us, hands stretched out toward Jeff. It was one of the most sacred moments I have experienced as a pastor.”

The lesson? Let’s go everywhere to proclaim Christ.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

Where can you go in your neighborhood today to proclaim Christ? How could His powerful presence enable you?

Jesus, enable me to proclaim Your good news today—everywhere.

Reassurance About Judgment

2 Corinthians 5:6-10

The Bible describes two kinds of judgments—one for those who don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ and one for those who do. For believers, judgment is an evaluation of the person’s life. While that may sound alarming, we can find comfort in these truths about our judge:

Identity. According to John 5:22, our judge will be Jesus. We can trust the One who laid down His life for our sake, brought us into God’s family, speaks to the Father on our behalf, and intercedes for us faithfully.

Character. Christ’s holy nature ensures that He will be fair. His omniscience means He can’t make decisions based on inadequate or faulty information. And His character is perfect, so He won’t make mistakes or treat certain people more favorably than others.

Purpose. Jesus will evaluate our life according to what we’ve done on earth (2 Corinthians 5:10). But because He already bore the punishment for our sin at the cross, our judgment has to do with rewards, not chastisement (1 Peter 2:24).

Christians can look forward to a new body that will never experience pain or death. What’s more, we will enjoy Jesus’ presence forever (Psalm 16:11; John 14:3). We do not have to fear judgment, because we can trust our Judge and His intentions

Don’t Be Beguiled and Enticed

“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.” (Colossians 2:4)

Any man can beguile us with words that are designed to capture our reason. The unusual word chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe the process is paralogizomai. The basic meaning is “alongside of reason.” It is used only one other time, in James 1:22: “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

That self-deception is accomplished through “enticing words” (Greek pithanologia), used only here in Colossians. It couples the term for “reason” with “persuasion” and contains the foundation for the English word “analogy,” a very similar process of using familiar words to transfer a known idea to something else. It is deception accomplished by transferring truth onto an untruth.

During His training of the disciples, Jesus often warned that it was possible for His followers to be deceived by those who would come and make attempts to claim some role with His authority. “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5). “Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:11). “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).

The stated purpose for gifted leaders in churches was to prevent the immaturity of disciples who would be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14). Although God has made provision for our stability in “wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3), we are warned that we can be beguiled by listening to the “enticing words” of those who deny Christ. HMM III

Our God Is Too Small

O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together. —Psalm 34:3

I am positively sure after many years of observation and prayer that the basis of all of our trouble today, in religious circles, is that our God is too small.

When [the psalmist] says magnify the Lord, he doesn’t mean that you are to make God big, but you are to see Him big. When we take a telescope and look at a star, we don’t make the star bigger, we only see it big. Likewise you cannot make God bigger, but you are only to see Him bigger….

My brethren, God calls us to magnify Him, to see Him big. A meeting is not big because a lot of people are present. A meeting is big because a number of people see a big God in the meeting. And the bigger God is seen, the greater the meeting. A friend of mine has a little saying, “I would rather have a big, little meeting than a little, big meeting.” There are a lot of big meetings that are little because the God in them is a small God. And there are a lot of little meetings that are big because God is big in the midst of them….

That is the first thing—magnify God. Your ministry will be little, and you will live and die little unless you have a bigger God.   SAT036-037, 040-042

Lord, help me always to not only be satisfied with, but in fact to strive for, that “big, little meeting” rather than a “little, big meeting.” Amen.

Have Time to Repent?

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord. —Isaiah 55:7

It is time for us to repent, for our transgressions against the blessed Third Person have been many and much aggravated. We have bitterly mistreated Him in the house of His friends. We have crucified Him in His own temple as they crucified the Eternal Son on the hill above Jerusalem. And the nails we used were not of iron, but of finer and more precious stuff of which human life is made.

Out of our hearts we took the refined metals of will and feeling and thought, and from them we fashioned the nails of suspicion and rebellion and neglect.

By unworthy thoughts about Him and unfriendly attitudes toward Him we grieved and quenched Him days without end.

The truest and most acceptable repentance is to reverse the acts and attitudes of which we repent. POM071-072

Worship rises or falls…depending upon the attitude we take toward God, whether we see God big or whether we see Him little….[I]f there is one terrible disease in the Church of Christ, it is that…[w]e’re too familiar with God. WMJ021

Confession of Sin

1 John 1:9

The nature of man was not constructed to harbor evil. Sin is an intruder. Conscience, the fear of God, the capacity of memory, all want to acknowledge what is wrong, to expel it and to get rid of its sting. But men knowingly violate all this. They hide their sin. Thus they make untold misery for those about them and bring final ruin upon themselves.

The teaching of the Bible is perfectly clear on this matter. Confession is a good thing. It makes for pardon. It helps toward resisting temptation. It gives humility and vigor to the soul. And it is good, also, because it is the condition on which God grants forgiveness. “If we confess our sins,” says the Apostle, “He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Confession is important if only because, in the nature of things, unconfessed sin tends with terrible swiftness to destroy the soul. Evil grows worse by being hidden. Hidden fire—what a peril it is! Undiscovered disease—how awful! If the fire had only been uncovered, it might have been extinguished. If the sickness had been pointed out, a remedy might have been found in time. It is so with sin.

Without confession there is no salvation. The mercy of God is infinite toward men, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has provided a way of purity. But we must plead “guilty” before God if He is to pronounce us innocent.

And without confession there can be no peace of mind. The soul with unconfessed guilt upon it is like the troubled sea, it can never rest. The conscience with unconfessed sin upon it has a burden which nothing can take away.

Confession is an essential part of repentance; not merely the confession of sin in general, but the confession of particular sins. God will be no party to the covering-up business. Without confession there is no road to heaven. Without confession, no hope in Christ.

The solemn message of the ancient teacher is still sounding out its great warning: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

Bramwell Booth, Life and Religion