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.

All Blotted Out

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” (Colossians 2:14-15)

The old ordinances have been “blotted out” by Christ, having “broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby” (Ephesians 2:14-16).

The requirements of the Law were our “adversary” and must be eliminated before we could be “circumcised” by Christ (Colossians 2:11). The omnipotent Lord Jesus was the only One who could accomplish this. The arche (first ones) and the exousia (authorities) were “disarmed.” Jesus Christ has “gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22). He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

There is not much direct information in the Scriptures about the events in the heavenlies at the time of the Lord’s crucifixion. Bracketed by the agonizing plea of abandonment “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) and the three hours of darkness (Luke 23:44), there are a few insights that help us grasp the wonder of His victory cry “It is finished!”

“When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive…he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth” (Ephesians 4:8-9). Whatever took place in those awful hours, all of heaven now knows that Jesus now sits “on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Hebrews 10:12-13). HMM III

Unsung but still Singing

But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses… as unknown, and yet well known. —2 Corinthians 6:4, 9

Unsung but singing: this is the short and simple story of many today whose names are not known beyond the small circle of their own small company. Their gifts are not many nor great, but their song is sweet and clear….

Well, the world is big and tangled and dark, and we are never sure where a true Christian may be found. One thing we do know: the more like Christ he is the less likely it will be that a newspaper reporter will be seeking him out. However much he may value the esteem of his fellowmen, he may for the time be forced to stand under the shadow of their displeasure. Or the busy world may actually not even know he is there—except that they hear him singing.   BAM054-055

Father, may my song today be a sweet sound in Your earseven if in Yours alone. Amen.

Not a Self-help Religion

He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. —Galatians 6:8

Christianity takes for granted the absence of any self-help and offers a power which is nothing less than the power of God. This power is to come upon powerless men as a gentle but resistless invasion from another world, bringing a moral potency infinitely beyond anything that might be stirred up from within. This power is sufficient…for it is the Holy Spirit of God come where the weakness lay to supply power and grace to meet the moral need.

Set over against such a mighty provision as this ethical Christianity (if I may be allowed the term) is…[a]n infantile copying of Christ’s “ideals,” a pitiable effort to carry out the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount! All this is but religious child’s play and is not the faith of Christ and the New Testament. POM088-089

You cannot know whether your self-denial is genuine or whether it is spurious, without knowing whether it is founded upon a supreme attachment to the glory of God. To deny yourself from a supreme regard to a higher interest than your own, is to possess the spirit of the gospel. DTC149

God’s Word To A Fallen World

John 1:14

The 1999 International Spiritual Life Commission of The Salvation Army stated: “We call Salvationists worldwide to a renewed and relevant proclamation of and close attention to the Word of God, and to a quick and steady obedience to the radical demands of the Word upon Salvationists personally, and upon our movement corporately.” We need to affirm that the Word of God must be central in the life of every believer.

What is this book about? It is not a record of people desperately clinging to God by their fingertips. The Bible is, rather, the story of God’s search for us. And as Christians we affirm that the heart of that search-story is the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the center of the Bible. The lasting value of the written Word is that it points to the enfleshed Word. The final Word is Jesus Christ. The true Word is Jesus Christ, He of whom the text itself bears witness: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

What impact is the Bible meant to have on us as Christians? The sure mark of the Christian is not spirituality—there are many people who appear outwardly spiritual, but who are not the children of God by grace. The clear sign that we are Christians is that we obey the Word of God.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said: “Only he who believes obeys, and only he who obeys believes.” God wants His book translated into the lives of His people.

But how do we ensure that translation will happen? Only by placing the Bible at the center of our common life through study, worship and preaching. Without this we languish and cannot be the people of God we are intended to be.

The Bible is indeed God’s Word to a fallen world. It is His Word because of His work in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. The centrality of this Word made flesh comes alive as the Word is faithfully proclaimed, accepted by faith by sinner and saint alike, and acted upon in obedience to the Christ.

It is in this Word that we rejoice.

Roger J. Green, The War Cry