VIDEO New Year, New You Looking Forward

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8

The word year in the Bible typically describes a period of time which, for us, seems to pass quickly. We’re often amazed at how fast our birthdays approach, and we shake our heads at how quickly our children grow up. The older we grow, the more we realize the brevity of life.

It’s helpful to remember that our God does not experience time as we do. His eternal nature is never flustered by how slowly or how quickly time is passing. To Him, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day.

For us, His children, that means the brevity of our earthly life is countered by the endless nature of our eternal life. If you’re missing a loved one in heaven, don’t brood over your memories of past happiness. Look forward to future fellowship! If you’re feeling poorly, don’t give up; look up. Nothing will help you be fresher or newer than focusing your attention on the Almighty God who resides in the eternal realms. Let this new year bring a new you.

Life is hard—but God is good, and Heaven is real. Billy Graham


2 Peter 3:8-9

Wearing Our Courage

If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven. 2 Kings 1:10

Andrew lives in a country that’s closed to the gospel. When I asked how he keeps his faith a secret, he said he doesn’t. He wears a button that advertises his church, and whenever he’s arrested he tells the police that “they need Jesus too.” Andrew has courage because he knows who’s on his side.

Elijah refused to be intimidated, even when the king of Israel sent fifty soldiers to arrest him (2 Kings 1:9). The prophet knew God was with him, and he called down fire that consumed the platoon. The king sent more soldiers, and Elijah did it again (v. 12). The king sent more, but the third platoon had heard about the others. The captain begged Elijah to spare his soldiers’ lives. They were more afraid of him than he’d ever been of them, so the angel of the Lord told Elijah it was safe to go with them (vv. 13–15).

Jesus doesn’t want us to call down fire on our enemies. When the disciples asked if they could call down fire on a Samaritan village, Jesus rebuked them (Luke 9:51–55). We’re living in a different time. But Jesus does want us to have Elijah’s boldness—to be ready to tell everyone about the Savior who died for them. It may seem like one person taking on fifty, but it’s actually One on fifty. Jesus provides what we need to courageously love and reach out to others.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

How does Jesus provide what you need to be courageous? What does God want you to know and do?

Holy Spirit, thank You for living in me. Fill me with courage as I tell others about Jesus.

The Danger of Error in the Church

2 Timothy 2:16-21

Ever since the beginning of church history, believers have been in a battle for the truth. That’s why, in today’s reading, Paul admonished Timothy to be faithful—not only in preaching God’s Word but also in refuting false doctrines. Both types of instruction are necessary for the health of a local congregation. False teaching …

• Leads to further ungodliness (2 Timothy 2:16). A false teacher’s words may sound religious, but something counterfeit can never make a person righteous. Apart from the true Word of God (John 17:17), no one can grow in holiness.

• Spreads like gangrene (2 Timothy 2:17). Once deceitful ideas infiltrate a church and are accepted by a few, contagion can ultimately make the entire congregation spiritually sick and prone to ignore the Spirit’s power.

• Overthrows the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:18-19). The church as a whole loses effectiveness when individual members turn away from Christ to embrace error.

If we’re firmly grounded in the Scriptures, we can more easily recognize and flee from seductive ideas that would lead us astray. Accurate knowledge of God’s Word is our best protection.

Treasure in Heaven

“Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” (Luke 12:33)

The Lord Jesus frequently warned us against trying to accumulate wealth here on Earth. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” He said. Rather, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20). In our text above, He even says to sell what we have and give it away. To the rich young ruler, He said: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven” (Matthew 19:21).

God’s Word cannot contradict itself, however, so this teaching must also be balanced against a man’s responsibility to “provide…for his own, and specially for those of his own house” (1 Timothy 5:8). Similarly, “the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children” (2 Corinthians 12:14).

We are also encouraged to “give to him that needeth” (Ephesians 4:28) and to sow “bountifully” as “a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). Such instructions imply that by faithful labor in the vocations God has given us, we shall have the wherewithal to do such things. Ananias and Sapphira were punished not for retaining part of their possessions for their own needs, but rather because they lied about it (Acts 5:1-10). Our giving should be done “with simplicity”—that is, with “singleness” of heart (Romans 12:8).

All we have is of the Lord and should be used in ways that honor Him, in accord with His Word and His providential leading. We should provide judiciously for the needs of those dependent on us, but our own personal needs and wants should be kept minimal so that more can be used in His service and to meet the needs of others. HMM

The First Step Down

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. —Ephesians 3:20-21

So necessary to the Church is a lofty concept of God that when that concept in any measure declines, the Church with her worship and her moral standards declines along with it. The first step down for any church is taken when it surrenders its high opinion of God.

Before the Christian Church goes into eclipse anywhere there must first be a corrupting of her simple basic theology. She simply gets a wrong answer to the question, “What is God like?” and goes from there. Though she may continue to cling to a sound nominal creed, her practical working creed has become false. The masses of her adherents come to believe that God is different from what He actually is; and that is heresy of the most insidious and deadly kind.

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him—and of her. KOH006

Restore to Your Church, Lord, a concept of Your majesty that is worthy of You. Protect us from taking that first step downor restore us if we are already there. Amen.

A Living History

Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ…written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. —2 Corinthians 3:3

In our world there is still the holy witness of the Spirit, who in all things speaks for this Man who sits on the throne….

The Holy Spirit is here now to convince the world, and however we treat the warning of the Holy Spirit is exactly how we treat Jesus Christ Himself.

If faith must depend upon a man knowing enough of the historical evidences to arrive at a scholarly belief in the deity of Jesus, then there could only be a relatively few people saved.

But I do not have to be a scholar, a logician or a lawyer to arrive at belief in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, for the Holy Spirit has taken the deity of Christ out of the hands of the scholars and put it in the consciences of men.

The Spirit of God came to lift it out of the history books and write it on the fleshy tablets of the human heart. EFE030-031

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ…because He brings to us the presence of Jesus and enables us to realize our oneness with Him. WS107

My Bible

Psalm 119:11

Josef Korbel endured 10 harsh years in a communist prison camp, where despite severe punishment and constant threats of death, the Brigadier continued his Christian witness.

My poor fellow prisoners all over the forced labor camps and in the prison cells were often downhearted and even desperate, ready to commit suicide. It often happened that a verse from the Word of God, which I quoted to them from memory, was a source of help and encouragement. Then I had an idea, and much later in a forced labor camp I was able to realize it.

At that time we were working on buildings and so it was easy to get brown paper from cement sacks. Taking a clean part from such a sack, I made a little notebook, using a piece of thin wire to pin it together.

Although it was against the rules of the camp to possess a pencil, I had a little stump hidden in my jacket. With this I wrote many beautiful Bible verses I knew by heart. Soon my notebook was full and I started to lend it to fellow prisoners, who were sad and downhearted.

After a while my “Bible” was in such demand, that men had to wait for days until it was their turn to get it. Shabby, mended and worn out from hiding it under ragged jackets, this “Bible” was a source of much blessing.

“Joe, is your Bible back?” they would ask. “Remember it is my turn now to get it.” I was so glad to see the eagerness in their eyes.

Once we got a hint that there would be a search of the camp. On such days the guards inspected every corner of the cells, including the ceiling and the floor boards, looking for knives, pencils, needles, notebooks, family photos and like articles that were strictly forbidden.

What should I do with my Bible? I wondered. At last I took it with me to the working place, hoping that we would have no personal inspection. I managed to get it safely there, and rolling it up I inserted it in one of the hollow bricks which were piled up.

“I shall take it out again tomorrow,” I thought. However the next day the pile of bricks was not there any more. The night shift used them and so my “Bible” was somewhere in the wall of a newly built house and lost. I never had the opportunity of making another one, but the Lord’s Word was kept hidden safely in my heart (Ps. 119:11).

Josef Korbel, When the Gates Were Opened