VIDEO Set Apart for a Purpose

And when forty years had passed, an Angel of the Lord appeared to [Moses] in a flame of fire in a bush, in the wilderness of Mount Sinai. Acts 7:30

Readers of the four Gospels, the accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth, are familiar with the time He spent alone. It was apparently not unusual for Him to withdraw from the crowds, even from His own disciples, to spend time alone with the Father (Luke 5:16). The interesting thing is that this practice of isolation was not uncommon among those learning from and about God.

The apostle Paul is a good example. After his conversion to Christ, he immediately withdrew into the wilderness of Arabia before returning to Damascus (Galatians 1:17). In total, he ministered some fourteen years in relative obscurity before being embraced by the leaders of the Jerusalem church (Galatians 1:21–2:2). An even longer period of obscurity was endured by Moses—forty years as a shepherd in Midian before God called him to go back to Egypt to lead the Hebrews out of captivity.

Sometimes God sets us apart in order to prepare us for what is coming next. There is always a purpose in His plans.

The more any man loves Christ, the more he delights to be with Christ alone.  Thomas Brooks 

Acts 7 – Skip Heitzig

Breaking the Cycle

If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

David’s first beating came at the hands of his father on his seventh birthday, after he accidentally broke a window. “He kicked me and punched me,” David said. “Afterward, he apologized. He was an abusive alcoholic, and it’s a cycle I’m doing my best to end now.” 

But it took a long time for David to get to this point. Most of his teen years and twenties were spent in jail or on probation, and in and out of addiction treatment centers. When it felt like his dreams were entirely dashed, he found hope in a Christ-centered treatment center through a relationship with Jesus. 

“I used to be filled with nothing but despair,” David says. “Now I’m pushing myself in the other direction. When I get up in the morning, the first thing I tell God is that I’m surrendering my will over to Him.” 

When we come to God with lives shattered, whether by others’ wrongdoing or by our own, God takes our broken hearts and makes us new: “If anyone is in Christ, . . . the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christ’s love and life breaks into the cycles of our past, giving us a new future (vv. 14–15). And it doesn’t end there! Throughout our lives, we can find hope and strength in what God has done and continues to do in us—each and every moment.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

Where were you headed when you received Jesus as your Savior? How does it help to know that God continues to shape your life to increasingly resemble His?   

Dear God, thank You for interrupting the downward trajectory of my life and making me a new creation! Make me ever more like You.

God’s Message to His Children

1 John 4:7-14

Sometimes we hear so much about love in books, songs, and conversations that we begin to lose sight of its spiritual dimensions. Believers must remember that God’s love is of a much higher caliber—it is the starting point of our salvation. If He had not loved us first, we’d be destined for eternal condemnation rather than eternal life.

God revealed the extent of His love by sending His Son to die in our place. Jesus Christ became our substitute and bore God’s wrath for our sins so we could be forgiven and receive life everlasting.

But divine love extends even further. Not only are we pardoned forever, but God has also adopted us into His family (Eph. 1:5). As His children we are loved, accepted, and cared for by our heavenly Father. Yet even this is not the full extent of His love. God has also made us co-heirs with His Son (Rom. 8:17). Our inheritance is reserved for us in heaven, and one day when He returns to earth as King, we will one day rule with Christ in His kingdom.

Never let the world’s shallow concept of love rob you of the wonder of being a recipient of God’s divine love, which transforms us from enemies to heirs.

A Mighty Man

“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valor.” (Judges 6:12)

Gideon was not a very promising leader to all outward appearances. He was of the undistinguished and divided tribe of Manasseh, and “my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (v. 15).

But that’s exactly the kind of man God knows He can use, for “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty” (1 Corinthians 1:27). God, therefore, greeted him thus: “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valor” (text verse).

As a matter of fact, there were other qualities in Gideon that must have commended him to God. He was already busy threshing “wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites” (v. 11). He was not sitting idly but was already doing what he could for his people. Furthermore, even though he lived in a time of great apostasy when even his own father kept an altar for the god Baal, he still worshipped the true God and was greatly exercised that “the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites” (v. 13). He was burdened for his people, but all he had been able to do was to try to feed them, hiding his wheat from the invaders. Before the Lord could use him further, however, he had to destroy the family idol and offer his own sacrifice to the true God, even though he knew his family and neighbors might try to kill him (vv. 25-32). God, then, did indeed “save Israel from the hand of the Midianites” through Gideon (v. 14).

If we would be mighty for God, like Gideon, we must begin like him: poor yet faithful, burdened for the Lord’s truth, and doing what we can—putting away every idol of the mind, and acknowledging our Savior’s sacrifice for us. HMM

To Think God’s Thoughts

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. —Joshua 1:8

To think God’s thoughts requires much prayer. If you do not pray much, you are not thinking God’s thoughts. If you do not read your Bible much and often and reverently, you are not thinking God’s thoughts….

There also has to be a lot of meditation. We ought to learn to live in our Bibles. Get one with print big enough to read so it does not punish your eyes. Look around until you find a good one, and then learn to love it. Begin with the Gospel of John, then read the Psalms. Isaiah is another great book to help you and lift you. When you feel you want to do it, go on to Romans and Hebrews and some of the deeper theological books. But get into the Bible. Do not just read the little passages you like, but in the course of a year or two see that you read it through. Your thoughts will one day come up before God’s judgment. We are responsible for our premeditative thoughts. They make our mind a temple where God can dwell with pleasure, or they make our mind a stable where Christ is angry, ties a rope and drives out the cattle. It is all up to us.   RRR042

Lord, help us to lead Your people wisely, despite the barrage of outside influences we face every day. Amen.

The Godhead Never Works Separately

We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.—John 14:23

What we have in the Christian doctrine of the Holy Spirit is Deity present among us. He is not God’s messenger only; He is God. He is God in contact with His creatures, doing in them and among them a saving and renewing work.

The Persons of the Godhead never work separately. We dare not think of them in such a way as to “divide the substance.” Every act of God is done by all three Persons. God is never anywhere present in one Person without the other two. He cannot divide Himself.

Where the Spirit is, there also is the Father and the Son. “We will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23). For the accomplishment of some specific work one Person may for the time be more prominent than the others are, but never is He alone. God is altogether present wherever He is present at all. POM070

[Jesus] is the epitome of love, kindliness, geniality, warm attractiveness and sweetness. And that is exactly what the Holy Ghost is, for He is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. HTB021

The Mind of Christ (cont.)

Romans 12:2

In response to Paul’s challenge in Philippians 2:5, we address the question,

“What is the mind of Christ?”

To have the mind of Christ is to love as He loved and serve as He served. Brigadier Josef Korbel was for ten years imprisoned in the communist labor camp in Czechoslovakia. He and the other prisoners were near starvation and issued but one piece of bread each day. When other prisoners devoured their food, Korbel divided his into three pieces. One he ate slowly and the other two he kept in his pocket. Later in the day as he ate his second piece, a fellow prisoner would eye him jealously and say, “Where did you get extra bread?” Korbel would reply, “Nowhere. I have kept some of my own back. Have a share of mine.” Then, starving himself, he would give his last piece to the ravenous fellow prisoner. No wonder his selfless love made such an impression on others that many of his fellow prisoners came to accept the Christ whom Korbel loved and served.

Finally, the mind of Christ had an awareness of evil. Jesus saw the world as a battleground between the forces of good and evil. The more holy the life, the more alert is the mind to the approach of sin and wrong.

Besides the Lord’s testing in the wilderness, Christ faced temptation throughout the whole of His life, right up to those agonizing moments when He hung on the cross, and the mocking Jews tempted Him to come down and prove Himself the Son of God.

As the power of the Holy Spirit enabled Him to resist every clever enticement of the devil, so the Holy Spirit will give us a conscience quick to feel the approach of evil, sensitive to the danger of rationalization, sensitive to the easy acceptance of the world’s standards and to those sins which so easily beset us and trip us up, sensitive to wrong relationships, self-indulgence, pettiness, greed and pride.

Let us ask ourselves, am I as sensitive to evil as I should be? Do I have the mind of Christ to resist every approach of wrong? Let this sensitive mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

We ask, how can I live like that? How can I have the mind of Christ—obedient to God, concerned for others, sensitive to sin? The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:2: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It is the Holy Spirit’s work to shape our thoughts to the thoughts of Christ, to align our will to His will, to shed abroad His love in our hearts. The Holy Spirit transforms our attitudes to those of Christ.

Eva Burrows, The Salvationist Pulpit