VIDEO Step Off, Step On – How to Become Evergreen

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. Psalm 1:1

An ancient Chinese proverb says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a 

single step.” Even long and difficult undertakings have a starting point; you can’t begin a long journey at the halfway point. You must begin at the beginning.

The Bible speaks of journeys and paths, referring to the journey of life. It also speaks of first steps: “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked” (Proverbs 4:14, NIV). The point here is that the path of wickedness will not mysteriously turn into the path of righteousness. We must start by never setting foot on the path of wickedness. Or if we are already on that path, we must step off it. Stepping off that path is what the Bible calls repentance and faith—the choice on our part to not stand in or step onto the path of unrighteousness. The journey of life with God begins by stepping off one path and stepping onto another.

Repentance means to change one’s mind, to turn and go in another direction. Such a choice is a step of faith—the first step on a lifelong journey.

Repentance, as we know, is basically not moaning and remorse, but turning and change. J. I. Packer

How to Become Evergreen – Psalm 1 Meditation by Tim Keller

Free at Last

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Twenty long years passed before British journalist John McCarthy—a five-year hostage during Lebanon’s grueling civil war—met the man who negotiated his release. When McCarthy finally met U.N. envoy Giandomenico Picco, McCarthy simply said, “Thank you for my freedom!” His heartfelt words carried great weight because Picco had risked his own life during dangerous negotiations to secure freedom for McCarthy and others.

We as believers can relate to such hard-won freedom. Jesus gave up His life—enduring death on a Roman cross—to secure spiritual freedom for all people, including each of us. Now as His children, we know “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free,” the apostle Paul boldly declared (Galatians 5:1).

The gospel of John also teaches of freedom in Christ, noting, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36).

But free in what ways? In Jesus, we experience freedom not only from sin and its hold on us but also from guilt, shame, worry, Satan’s lies, superstitions, false teaching, and eternal death. No longer hostages, we have freedom to show love to enemies, walk in kindness, live with hope, and love our neighbors. As we follow the Holy Spirit’s leading, we can forgive as we’ve been forgiven.

For all of this, let’s thank God today. Then let’s love so others will know the power of His freedom too.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What spiritual chains still hold you hostage? As you release those chains to God, what words can you use to thank Him for setting you free?

Dear liberating God, thank You for my freedom—for setting me free from spiritual death and releasing me to love.

Vision Without Boundaries

Matthew 28:16-20

Before ascending to heaven, Jesus told His followers to tell all nations about Him. However, many of us aren’t working to fulfill this Great Commission—at least not fervently and purposefully. What might be holding us back? 

Sometimes self-preserving barriers, such as fear, are the reason. For instance, if evangelizing means traveling overseas, we might be concerned about safety or how family and friends will react to our decision. We also might worry about how people will respond to our message.

Another hindrance might be conditional obedience—in other words, when we respond to God’s call but with our own modifications. Instead of being willing to serve where God wants for as long as He wants, we might think, That’s too much money or That’s too much time. We end up settling for something less than what God intended and fail to fully carry out our role in the Great Commission. 

There are many obstacles that can keep us from telling people the good news of the gospel. But when we’re willing to tear those barriers down, we’ll be amazed at what God can accomplish through us. Are you passionately sharing the gospel? If not, ask God to show you what stands in your way. Then pray for forgiveness, and refocus on your part in the mission Jesus gave us all.

Delivered by the Word

“Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law. Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word.” (Psalm 119:153-154)

Much of the Old Testament records God’s intervention into the affairs of men, often in huge victories on the battlefield. The great military king David wrote frequently of his deliverance amid slaughter, and certainly there is an overtone of physical deliverance felt in these verses.

The key to this prayer, however, is in verse 158: “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word.” Although the psalmist spoke of his many “persecutors and…enemies” (v. 157), his desire was fixed directly on the faithfulness of God’s promises. Note the constant reliance on the truth of what God has said:

  • “I do not forget thy law” (v. 153). God spoke of the opposite condition through Hosea: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
  • “Quicken me according to thy word” (v. 154), for the “wicked…seek not thy statutes” (v. 155).
  • Even though there are many enemies who persecuted him “without cause” (Psalm 35:7), this godly man would not “decline from thy testimonies” (Psalm 119:157).
  • “I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word” (v. 158). Jesus felt the same righteous emotion when He “looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts” (Mark 3:5).

Hearts not stirred with the Holy Spirit’s indignation at the wicked culture and flagrant violators of God’s Word should “give diligence to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). Those who love God’s holiness also love God’s Word. HMM III

The Habit of Holy Thought

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. —2 Corinthians 10:5

What we think about when we are free to think about what we will—that is what we are or will soon become….

Anyone who wishes to check on his true spiritual condition may do so by noting what his voluntary thoughts have been over the last hours or days. What has he thought about when free to think of what he pleased? Toward what has his inner heart turned when it was free to turn where it would? When the bird of thought was let go did it fly out like the raven to settle upon floating carcasses or did it like the dove circle and return again to the ark of God? Such a test is easy to run, and if we are honest with ourselves we can discover not only what we are but what we are going to become. We’ll soon be the sum of our voluntary thoughts….

The best way to control our thoughts is to offer the mind to God in complete surrender. The Holy Spirit will accept it and take control of it immediately. Then it will be relatively easy to think on spiritual things, especially if we train our thoughts by long periods of daily prayer. Long practice in the art of mental prayer (that is, talking to God inwardly as we work or travel) will help to form the habit of holy thought.   BAM044, 046-047

Take control of my thoughts and move me along in the development of the habit of holy thought. Amen.

Not Here to Fool Around

And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement. —John 16:8

The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also called the Spirit of Truth, has not come into this world to fool around. He will be found wherever the Lord’s people meet, and in confirming the Word and the Person of Jesus Christ, He will demand moral action!

It is for that reason that when a man goes to a gospel meeting he never knows when the last shred of excuse will be stripped from his naked, trembling conscience forever. Men may joke and play—even about sacred and spiritual matters—but the Spirit of God is in dead earnest!

God is still speaking in this lost world and one of His voices is the presence of the Holy Spirit, convicting a lost human race of such weighty matters as sin, righteousness and judgment. While the Holy Spirit continues in His ministries, we know that this lost world is not yet a forsaken world. EFE025-026

The very fact that the Holy Spirit has left the love and joy of heaven and made His residence for nearly 2,000 years in this uncongenial world, places His sacrifice alongside that of Jesus Christ in His incarnation and redemption. WCC019

The Spirit-Filled Life

Galatians 5:22

What is a normal Christian? What picture comes to your mind? Perhaps you picture a person who attends church, gives to charity every now and again, lives a respectable life, and goes about his business no different from the average man in the street. Sad to say, our society equates the nominal Christian with a normal Christian. But in fact, the nominal Christian lives a sub-normal Christian life.

What then is a normal Christian? A normal Christian is one who is filled with the Holy Spirit. The normal Christian, the Spirit-filled Christian, is one in whom the Spirit takes complete control.

At Pentecost, when the disciples received an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they gave vent to this power in them. Onlookers were amazed and mistakenly thought the disciples were drunk. Peter had to repudiate that charge, saying they were exuberant because they were filled with the Spirit.

The Spirit-filled life overflows with joy. It characterized the early disciples; it was a hallmark of the early-day Salvationists. The Spirit of God enables us to have joy and give thanks always and in all circumstances.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). This ninefold fruit of the Spirit expresses the Spirit-filled life. These qualities are found in the life of our Lord, so to be Spirit-filled is to live the life of Christ. A Spirit-filled person is a reproduction of, or a manifestation of, the life of Christ.

We value the fellowship with believers in the place of worship, but if our faith is to mean anything at all it has to be expressed in life’s relationships outside the church as well. The effects of the Spirit-filled life are felt in our homes and in the society in which we live. It has its effects on the relationships of husband and wife, parent and children. Spirit-filled Christians apply Christian principles in the home, the office, the school, at work, in society.

For the Spirit to fill us, there first needs to be a self-emptying of self, sin and pride. Fullness comes at the point of full surrender. The Spirit of God, when He takes full control, revolutionizes us and the society in which we live.

Ah Ang Lim, The Salvationist Pulpit