VIDEO His Love for You: God Loves Us by Giving!

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

O. Henry’s short story, “The Gift of the Magi,” tells of a young couple who lacked money to buy each other a Christmas gift. The young wife sold her beautiful hair to a hairdresser to buy her husband a platinum chain for his pocket watch. But the husband had sold his watch to buy a beautiful comb for his wife’s long hair. The moral? Giving is the purest expression of love.

February—the “month of love”—is the perfect month to realize that God loved us so much that He gave His only Son so that all who receive His gift would receive eternal life. God’s gift of Jesus Christ is not the only gift He has given. Creation itself is evidence of God’s giving heart (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:20). Every ray of sunshine, every breath we take, every good and perfect gift we have comes from our loving God (James 1:17).

Purpose to be like God this month by showing love through giving. Even the smallest unexpected gift is a beautiful way to say, “I love you.”

God does not give us power to imitate Him: He gives us His very self. Oswald Chambers

The John 3:16 Story | Tim Tebow

What’s Your Reputation?

Now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Ephesians 5:8

At local high school sporting events, Ted was the largest and loudest cheerleader in the stands. Before a degenerative condition took its toll on him, he stood six feet six inches tall and weighed 290 pounds. Ted’s crowd-stirring chants of “Blue!” (the school’s color) and candy-tossing at school events were legendary, earning him the name “Big Blue.”

But Ted’s reputation in his community wasn’t just for cheerleading. Neither was it for the alcohol addiction he experienced as a younger man. No, he will be remembered for his love for God and family, for his generosity and kindness. At a four-hour “home-going service” that celebrated his life, person after person came forward to testify about the vibrant Christlike ways of a man who’d been rescued from darkness by the power of Jesus through the gospel.

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul reminded believers that they “were once darkness” but quickly noted, “but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Such is the call for every believer in Jesus. Children of light, like Ted, have much to offer those engulfed in this world’s darkness. “Fruitless deeds of darkness” are to be avoided (see vv. 3–4, 11). Those in our communities and throughout the world need the brilliant, distinctive witness of those upon whom Jesus has shined (v. 14). How distinctive? As different as light is from darkness.

By:  Arthur Jackson

Reflect & Pray

What are some reasons you hesitate to more intentionally spread Christ’s light in this world? Where are the places around you that need His light?

Father, forgive me for my passivity about being light. Lead me and use me as light in the dark spaces of this world.

Dealing With Persecution

1 Peter 1:3-9

Harsh persecution for faith isn’t something most of us have been subjected to here in the United States. Perhaps we’ve been rejected, ridiculed, or treated unfairly, but at this point in history, physical suffering, imprisonment, or death haven’t been a typical experience. However, in other places around the globe, believers are severely oppressed for their faith.

But whatever negative treatment we may encounter, the Bible consistently recommends a response of patient endurance and joy in the Lord. Jesus said anyone mistreated for His sake is actually blessed (Luke 6:22-23), and Peter points out that from God’s point of view, such oppression is designed to prove our faith genuine (1 Peter 1:6-7). Whenever the church is persecuted, it is purified because those who remain are dedicated followers of Jesus.

Persecution can have a similar purifying effect on our personal life: Having comforts, pleasures, and idols of this world stripped away can drive us to the Lord for strength and grace. Then pride, self-centeredness, and self-confidence lose their grip, and in our weakness, we recognize God and His eternal inheritance as our only hope. Though oppression is certainly nothing you or I would want, we can take heart knowing that even in such extreme situations, there are blessings that lead to rejoicing in Christ.

Neither Wine nor Strong Drink

“For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” (Luke 1:15)

Whether or not the Bible clearly commands total abstinence from alcohol for Christians, it is increasingly being recognized that alcohol is the most widely abused and dangerous drug of all—causing more fatal accidents and injuries, more broken homes, more sexual promiscuity, more job absenteeism, and more disease than cocaine or any other drug. Yet it is widely promoted socially and increasingly is being accepted even among evangelical Christians.

But the example of John the Baptist is worth considering. The angel Gabriel testified that he would be “great in the sight of the Lord” and then added that he would “drink neither wine nor strong drink,” implying a connection between the two. Indeed, Christ called John the greatest man who had ever lived up to that time (Matthew 11:11)—that is, greater than even Abraham, Moses, or Daniel!

Then the very same verse says that John would “be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb,” and he is the only man of whom that was ever said. Again there seems to be a connection, for no one could simultaneously drink wine or strong drink and also be filled with the Spirit. The apostle Paul also warned concerning this conflict when he said: “Be not drunk [literally, ‘begin to be drunk’] with wine…but be filled [that is, ‘be continually being filled’] with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18).

Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation may or may not be permissible, but that does not make it right. “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient” (1 Corinthians 6:12). At least in John’s case, being great in God’s sight and being filled with the Spirit were closely associated with abstinence from alcohol. HMM

Just Turning the Crank

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. —Zechariah 4:6

It is possible to run a church and all of its activity without the Holy Spirit. You can organize it, get a board together, call a pastor, form a choir, launch a Sunday school and a ladies’ aid society. You get it all organized—and the organization part is not bad. I’m for it. But I’m warning about getting organized, getting a pastor and turning the crank—some people think that’s all there is to it, you know.

The Holy Spirit can be absent and the pastor goes on turning the crank, and nobody finds it out for years and years. What a tragedy, my brethren, what a tragedy that this can happen in a Christian church! But it doesn’t have to be that way! “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:22)….

If you could increase the attendance of your church until there is no more room, if you could provide everything they have in churches that men want and love and value, and yet you didn’t have the Holy Spirit, you might as well have nothing at all. For it is “‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ saith the LORD of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6)…. [I]t is by the Spirit that God works His mighty works.   COU038-039

Oh, Lord, in whatever ministry I am involved, I pray that Your Holy Spirit would be present with His controlling power. Amen.

God’s Word Is Powerful

For the word of God is quick, and powerful…and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. —Hebrews 4:12

God Almighty does not bellow to the wide universe and have it come back as an empty echo through His holy ears. He has told us that His word going forth from His mouth does not ever return void and without results. God’s word is always powerful and it needs no one to run around apologizing for it and thinking up clever ways to defend it.

The gospel ship, the ark of God, is not a ghost ship floating idly on the sea. [It is] fully manned with a faithful crew, the winds of the Holy Spirit in her sail, passengers who are…free men and women, bound for a free port in a holy land!

Throughout this troubled old world, God has His saints and He knows them. They are washed in His blood, born of His Spirit. They are begotten of the Word of Truth, saved by the miracle of redemption. He will call them all home when the time comes. EFE106-107

What comforts me is the thought that we are being shaped here below into stones for the heavenly templethat to be made like Him is the object of our earthly existence. JAS055

Jesus Is Lord

1 Corinthians 12:

The New Testament word for “Lord”—kurios—is a word which carried deep significance. It is now almost commonplace to speak of the Lord Jesus Christ, but this title did not come to Jesus easily.

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus is referred to as Lord in the full theological sense on only two occasions. The same is true of Matthew’s Gospel, while Luke utilizes the term some 17 times. It was, however, a favorite with Paul, who refers to Jesus as Lord 130 times in his epistles. It ultimately became the first Christian creed: “Jesus Is Lord.”

Kurios was the word used to describe the Roman Emperor, who was considered supreme. The one demand the Romans made upon the people they conquered was that they must acknowledge Caesar as Lord—supreme or without rival. It was at this point the clash came between the Christians and the Romans, for the Christian would acknowledge no one but God as supreme.

Thus, to refer to Jesus as Lord means that He is without a rival. After hearing a minister preach on the coming again of our Lord, Queen Victoria said, “I wish He would come during my lifetime so that I could take my crown and lay it at His feet.”

To acknowledge Jesus as Lord is a mark of the Spirit-filled life, “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). We personalize this truth, when we exclaim with Thomas, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28).

This submission will enable us to be effective witnesses in the field where God has called us to live and to work. We need to be reminded that the power of the Holy Spirit is not stored up in our little batteries; it flows in and through us as we maintain contact with God. We are transmitters of spiritual power, and need to be reminded of the truth declared by Edward Hale:

I am only one,

But still I am one.

I cannot do everything,

But still I can do something.

And because I cannot do everything

I will not refuse to do the something that I can.

Bramwell H. Tillsley, Life in the Spirit