VIDEO His Love for You: God Loves Us by Making Us Alive!

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us … made us alive together with Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5

Most everyone is familiar with the expression, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” It means we have become so focused on the details of a project that we have lost sight of the big picture. At such times, it is helpful to step back from “the trees” and remind ourselves of what “the forest” is like.

Here is the Christian Big Picture: We were dead in sin; we were without hope; we were without God in the world. Even though we were dead, we have been made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5). A cemetery is a picture of humanity apart from God—no life and no hope. That’s the big picture. It was God’s love “with which He loved us” that “made us alive together with Christ.”

There are many people physically alive today who are without God and without hope in this world. Consider ways to give them hope during this “month of love”—a gift, an encouraging word, an act of service, or the Gospel. Because of your love, you might see them come alive in Christ.

The gospel is not a doctrine of the tongue, but of life. John Calvin

Ephesians 2:4-7 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Strengthened by Grace

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1

During the American Civil War, the penalty for desertion was execution. But the Union armies rarely executed deserters because their commander-in-chief, Abraham Lincoln, pardoned nearly all of them. This infuriated Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, who believed that Lincoln’s leniency only enticed would-be deserters. But Lincoln empathized with soldiers who had lost their nerve and who had given in to their fear in the heat of battle. And his empathy endeared him to his soldiers. They loved their “Father Abraham,” and their affection led the soldiers to want to serve Lincoln all the more.

When Paul calls Timothy to join him in “suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:3), he calls him to a tough job description. A soldier is to be completely dedicated, hard-working, and selfless. He’s to serve his commanding officer, Jesus, wholeheartedly. But in reality, we sometimes fail to be His good soldiers. We don’t always serve Him faithfully. And so Paul’s opening phrase is important: “be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (v. 1). Our Savior is full of grace. He empathizes with our weaknesses and forgives our failures (Hebrews 4:15). And just as the Union soldiers were encouraged by Lincoln’s compassion, so believers are strengthened by the grace of Jesus. We want to serve Him all the more because we know He loves us.

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

How can the grace of Christ become a source of strength for you to serve Him? What does it mean for you to suffer for Jesus?

Dear God, please strengthen me in the grace of Christ that I may serve Him faithfully.

Bigger God, Smaller Problems

Jeremiah 32:17-22

No one enjoys illness, conflicts, or difficulties. Such stressors tend to demand attention and drain energy, narrowing our focus until our troubles become larger and all else is pushed to the side. What we need at such times is a glimpse of the greatness and majesty of the Lord. Looking at Him helps us see our problems from the proper perspective.

During the captivity, when Jeremiah was confined in the guard house and Jerusalem was about to fall into enemy hands, the Lord’s promised restoration of the land seemed far away, if not impossible. But Jeremiah turned his eyes to God. He remembered the Lord’s great power, unfailing love, assurances to Israel, and omniscience about everything taking place.

The good news is that the words of Jeremiah’s prayer to the Lord—“Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jer. 32:17)—are still true today. Although we may want our difficulties resolved immediately, what we really need is a bigger vision of God, not fewer problems. The larger and more accurate our understanding of the Lord is, the smaller our troubles will seem. Even better, our confidence in His ability to handle our trials will increase.

Fear of Witnessing

“And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:18)

Every Christian knows that he or she should witness for Christ, but most are very reluctant to speak in His name very often. The most obvious reason for this hesitancy is fear. Sometimes we may be actually forbidden, as were the apostles, to teach of Him, but their courageous answer was: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), and so they prayed: “Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29).

More common than fear of physical persecution or personal harm, however, is fear of ridicule, or loss of prestige or position. Such fear is out of character for real Christians, “for God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). If we love the Lord and those for whom He died, we must learn to conquer our fear of men.

One of the saddest rebukes that could come to a Christian is the indictment lodged against those believers who, because of their high position, refused to take an open stand for Christ: “Among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42-43). How often do modern professional and business men—even theologians—compromise their stand for Christ and His inerrant Word because of fear of peer pressure in what should be their spheres of influence and testimony?

May God give us the courage of Paul. “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ,” he wrote, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16). HMM

We Need Him More and More

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. —John 14:26

I have reason to suspect that many people are trying to give leadership in Christian churches today without ever having yielded to the wise and effective leading of the Holy Spirit. He truly is the Spirit of wisdom, understanding and counsel. He alone can bring the gracious presence of the living God into our lives and ministries.

You may think it out of place for me to say so, but in our churches today we are leaning too heavily upon human talents and educated abilities. We forget that the illumination of the Holy Spirit of God is a necessity, not only in our ministerial preparation, but in the administrative and leadership functions of our churches.

We need an enduement of the Spirit of God! We sorely need more of His wisdom, His counsel, His power, His knowledge….

If we knew the full provision and the spiritual anointing that Jesus promised through the Holy Spirit, we would be far less dependent on so many other things…. I have said it before, and I say it now: We need the Holy Spirit more and more, and we need human helps less and less!   JIV048

Lord, I fear that we are indeed lacking the enduement of the Spirit of God. Send us to our knees, Lord, that we might be reminded that we need Him more and more. Amen.

Responding to the Voice

That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more. —Job 34:32

It can be fatal to silence the inner voice, the voice of human conscience. Some silence it, for instance, when that voice speaks in outraged protest at the human habit of lying. It may plead eloquently against the habit of dishonesty, or take a person to task for jealousy or for some other sin.

It is always perilous to resist conscience, to ignore the inner voice. Let the Lord talk to your inner spirit, to your innermost being. Within you is a conscience that cannot lean on anybody, that cannot share the blame with anybody—a conscience that singles you out, isolates you and says, “You are the man!” “You are the woman!” It is the voice that makes you want to lower your head and tiptoe away while no one is watching.

I am grateful for the human conscience. If there was no conscience and no voice of God in the world, we would all become beasts in very short order….If that voice is speaking to you—that inner preacher who does not preach to a crowd but only to the lone individual soul—respond! FBR082-083

The chief thing is not to listen to yourself, but silently to listen to God. JAS171

Can Anybody Live a Holy Life?

1 Peter 1:15-16

Nearly everybody means to get to heaven, and all who know what Christ teaches, as to the way there, believe that there is no admission for any who are not holy. And yet for anyone to profess to have attained holiness here and now is simply outrageous! Why?

Chiefly on account of that view of holiness almost universally prevalent, which confuses holiness with the perfection attained only by saints in their glorified state. God’s people are required to be holy, and yet they are told that “If any man think himself to be anything… he is nothing” (Galatians 6:3). How can these things be?

Children of God, shall we do less in these days of shame, than live a holy life? But what does holiness imply?

We all admit the reasonableness of presenting to God ourselves and all we have; but we generally fail to realize that a sacrifice must pass out of the possession of him who offers it.

One Being in the world’s history is “the Holy One.” This is the One who was always entirely God’s from His mother’s womb.

From all I conclude, to be holy is simply to be given up to God, and a man cannot become holy in any other way than by giving himself up, and not only wishing to become, but becoming wholly the Lord’s.

Believer in Jesus, what does this blood that has washed away your guilt say as it streams from His side for you? Does it not cry, with the voice of God, “You are not your own… you are bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). You can be nothing higher, better than God’s—dare you be anything less?

To be holy: that is how to glorify God. How glorious the life, the character, the destiny, the work, of every branch that abides in Jesus! Holy living is divine living, that is all.

Nobody can lead a holy life of himself, but Christ can live a holy life in anybody. Shall He live such a life in us?

George Scott Railton, The Christian Mission Magazine