VIDEO What an Adventure!

And having come in, the angel [Gabriel] said to [Mary], “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” Luke 1:28

Life in some families is a continual adventure. On the way to school on a normal morning, Mom may turn at the last minute and head for a local farm and petting zoo for a one-day field trip. Or Dad comes home early from work on a Friday and piles everyone into the car and heads for a weekend in a mountain cabin. Adventures are all the more exciting when they are completely unexpected.

God is a God of adventure as well. A lowly farmer named Gideon was thrust into the role of military commander (Judges 6–7). Saul of Tarsus was called by Jesus to become the apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 9:1-19). And there was a young teenager named Mary whose life was completely turned around by God. When the angel Gabriel announced that she would become the earthly mother of the Son of God…talk about an adventure! She started down a path she couldn’t have imagined.

It doesn’t matter where Jesus leads us, following Him will always be an adventure. Whenever He says, “Follow Me,” do what Mary did: Just say, “Let it be” (Luke 1:38)—say “Yes.”

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Luke 1:26-38 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Relentless Love

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Heidi and Jeff came home from an overseas work assignment in a hot climate and settled for several months near family in the state of Michigan—just in time for winter. This would be the first time many of their ten children had seen the natural beauty of snow.

But winter weather in Michigan requires a lot of warm outerwear, including coats, mittens, and boots. For a large family, it would be quite an expensive undertaking just to outfit them for the bitterly cold months ahead. But God provided. First, a neighbor brought over footwear, then snow pants, then hats and gloves. Then, a friend urged others at her church to collect a variety of warm clothes in all twelve sizes for each member of the family. By the time the snow arrived, the family had exactly what they needed.

One of the ways we serve God is by serving those in need. First John 3:16–18 encourages us to help others from the abundance of our own possessions. Serving helps us to be more like Jesus as we begin to love and see people as He does.

God often uses His children to fulfill needs and to answer prayers. And as we serve others, our own hearts are encouraged as we encourage those we serve. As a result, our own faith will grow as God equips us for service in new ways (v. 18).

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

As you notice the numerous needs of people around you, how can you show God’s love in a practical way? How does serving God help your faith to grow?

Father, fill my heart with the willingness to help when I see a need. Help me to give joyfully and serve You with gratitude.

Read Compassion: Learning to Love Like Jesus at DiscoverySeries.org/Q0208.

Rejecting the Darkness

Ephesians 5:1-17

The culture in which we live is characterized by spiritual darkness. Sadly, even those of us who are believers become so accustomed to the dark that we feel neither shocked nor shamed by much of what goes on around us. Perhaps we see the sin but don’t acknowledge it as wrong, or maybe we just don’t notice it anymore.

One of those sins is sexual immorality. Throughout the Bible, we are warned of its dangers and told to abstain from impure behavior, lustful passions, and evil desires (Col. 3:5). Though we don’t feel comfortable talking about it, we must consider what sexual immorality might look like today—whether it’s adultery, pornography, or relations outside of marriage—and be prepared to confront it.

While we cannot escape our dark society, God has provided everything we need to live in the light of our all-sufficient Savior, Jesus Christ. Through His indwelling Spirit, we are adequate to face every temptation and choose what is good and pleasing to Him.

If you have become comfortable in the darkness around you, ask the Lord to shed His light on your life to reveal any compromises or hidden sinful desires. Then receive His forgiveness and the power to walk in His ways.

Just Continue

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” (2 Timothy 3:14)

This encouraging exhortation by Paul is in the midst of a discouraging prophetic warning of things to come. “In the last days,” he said, “perilous times shall come” (v. 1). We may very well be entering those times, and, in any case, we do well to be alert for the signs of those times. The doleful description that follows seems to be a very accurate picture of the beliefs and practices of modern secular humanists, including those religionists who have “a form of godliness” but deny “the power thereof” (v. 5 ).

Moreover, there is little prospect that the situation will get better, for “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived,” and “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (vv. 13, 12). Should we, therefore, tremble and flee, or perhaps compromise, or even surrender to such powerful and persuasive deceivers?

No, we should continue! Just keep on believing and obeying God’s Word. Even in the dark last days, the “Holy Scriptures” are still able to make a man “wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 15). Since they are all “given by inspiration of God,” they are still just as powerful and just as profitable for every need, “that the man of God may be perfect” (that is, ready for whatever comes) and fully equipped “unto all good works” (vv. 16-17).

Paul himself set an inspiring example of “patient continuance in well doing” (Romans 2:7) under conditions of great trial. Awaiting execution in a Roman dungeon even as he wrote, he still requested his books and parchments (2 Timothy 4:13) that he might continue to study and prepare himself. May God enable us also to continue, to remain, to abide, and to stand in His truth in these last days. HMM

To Be Good in Thy Sight

And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good. —1 Samuel 3:18

A determination to know what cannot be known always works harm to the Christian heart.

Ignorance in matters on our human level is never to be excused if there has been opportunity to correct it. But there are matters which are obviously “too high for us.” These we should meet in trusting faith and say as Jesus said, “Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight” (Matthew 11:26)….

Human curiosity and pride often combine to drive us to try to understand acts of God which are plainly outside the field of human understanding. We dislike to admit that we do not know what is going on, so we torture our minds trying to fathom the mysterious ways of the Omniscient One. It’s hard to conceive of a more fruitless task….

A blind confidence which trusts without seeing is far dearer to God than any fancied knowledge that can explain everything….

To the adoring heart, the best and most satisfying explanation for anything always will be, “It seemed good in thy sight.”   NCA054-055

Lord, help me today, no matter what difficult circumstances I may face, to pray with Jesus, “for so it seemed good in Thy sight.” Amen.

The Trinity is Present

But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send…even the Spirit of truth…he shall testify of me. —John 15:26

Who is the Spirit? The Spirit is God, existing in another mode of being than ourselves. He exists as a spirit and not as matter, for He is not matter, but He is God.

He is a Person. It was so believed by the whole Church of Christ down through the years. It was so sung by the hymnists back in the days of the first hymn writers. It is so taught in the Book, all through the Old Testament and the New….

Now what follows from all this? Ah, there is an unseen Deity present, a knowing, feeling Personality, and He is indivisible from the Father and the Son, so that if you were to be suddenly transferred to heaven itself you wouldn’t be any closer to God than you are now, for God is already here.

Changing your geographical location would not bring you any nearer to God nor God any nearer to you, because the indivisible Trinity is present. HTB019-020

People grow on us, and the Holy Spirit, being a Person, can grow on us. HTB039

It is certainly not speculative that God is able to manifest Himself most in the lives of those who passionately love Him. ROL091

We Ought to Pray

Luke 18:1

Jesus said “[Men] ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1 KJV). Commenting on that, Samuel Logan Brengle wrote, “That little ‘ought’ is emphatic. It implies obligation and is inescapable. Men ought to pray. They ought to pray always, and they ought not to faint or grow fainthearted and cease praying.”

Why pray? Pray because you are a Christian. It is the very essence of a believer’s being. Pray because your need drives you to your knees.

What evidence do we have that prayer is worthwhile? The only evidence that you need is that God commands it. Obedience is the hallmark of the disciple. To pray is simply to obey orders—and since our orders are urgent and unequivocal, it follows that failure to pray is inexcusable. Our prayerlessness is perhaps our greatest sin.

How does one learn the pursuit of God? Of all disciplines this must surely be the most demanding. And can we pray suitably, just because we are commanded to do so? It may seem a little like being ordered to fall in love! Should we not come to prayer eagerly, voluntarily, our hearts alight with longing for God? And like other disciplines it can become a delight. So much so that one comes to look forward to that little calm in the midst of much turbulence.

Praying is wide in its scope. It is broad in its caring, reflecting the fact that God loves every man, woman and child, all five billion of us. “If we have God-given compassion and concern for others,” wrote Richard Foster, “our faith will grow and strengthen as we pray. In fact, if we genuinely love people, we desire for them far more than it is within our power to give, and that will cause us to pray.”

“I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer” (1 Timothy 2:8). Pray then, because the Lord commands it. Pray, too, because you love the people for whom you intercede. Brothers and sisters, to prayer!

Edward Read, Timothy, My Son