VIDEO Do You Really Love Him? – Heavenly Promises

She has done a good work for Me. —Mark 14:6

If what we call love doesn’t take us beyond ourselves, it is not really love. If we have the idea that love is characterized as cautious, wise, sensible, shrewd, and never taken to extremes, we have missed the true meaning. This may describe affection and it may bring us a warm feeling, but it is not a true and accurate description of love.

Have you ever been driven to do something for God not because you felt that it was useful or your duty to do so, or that there was anything in it for you, but simply because you love Him? Have you ever realized that you can give things to God that are of value to Him? Or are you just sitting around daydreaming about the greatness of His redemption, while neglecting all the things you could be doing for Him? I’m not referring to works which could be regarded as divine and miraculous, but ordinary, simple human things— things which would be evidence to God that you are totally surrendered to Him. Have you ever created what Mary of Bethany created in the heart of the Lord Jesus? “She has done a good work for Me.”

There are times when it seems as if God watches to see if we will give Him even small gifts of surrender, just to show how genuine our love is for Him. To be surrendered to God is of more value than our personal holiness. Concern over our personal holiness causes us to focus our eyes on ourselves, and we become overly concerned about the way we walk and talk and look, out of fear of offending God. “…but perfect love casts out fear…” once we are surrendered to God (1 John 4:18). We should quit asking ourselves, “Am I of any use?” and accept the truth that we really are not of much use to Him. The issue is never of being of use, but of being of value to God Himself. Once we are totally surrendered to God, He will work through us all the time.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

The Bible is a relation of facts, the truth of which must be tested. Life may go on all right for a while, when suddenly a bereavement comes, or some crisis; unrequited love or a new love, a disaster, a business collapse, or a shocking sin, and we turn up our Bibles again and God’s word comes straight home, and we say, “Why, I never saw that there before.” Shade of His Hand, 1223 L


Heavenly Promises (John 14:1–6)

Unimaginable Promises

He has given us his very great and precious promises. 2 Peter 1:4

In our moments of greatest failure, it can be easy to believe it’s too late for us, that we’ve lost our chance at a life of purpose and worth. That’s how Elias, a former inmate at a maximum-security prison in New York, described feeling as a prisoner. “I had broken . . . promises, the promise of my own future, the promise of what I could be.”

It was Bard College’s “Prison Initiative” college degree program that began to transform Elias’ life. While in the program, he participated on a debate team, which in 2015 debated a team from Harvard—and won. For Elias, being “part of the team . . . [was] a way of proving that these promises weren’t completely lost.”

A similar transformation happens in our hearts when we begin to understand that the good news of God’s love in Jesus is good news for us too. It’s not too late, we begin to realize with wonder. God still has a future for me.

And it’s a future that can neither be earned nor forfeited, dependent only on God’s extravagant grace and power (2 Peter 1:2–3). A future where we’re set free from the despair in the world and in our hearts into one filled with His “glory and goodness” (v. 3). A future secure in Christ’s unimaginable promises (v. 4); and a future transformed into the “freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

Why can it be difficult for us to accept “unearned” grace and love? How does it touch your heart to consider that in God’s eyes you have a future filled with unimaginable beauty?

Jesus, some days all I can see is the ways I’ve disappointed myself and others, the ways I’ve broken the future I’ve dreamed of. Help me to see the unchanging beauty of the future I find in You. 

Sunday Reflection: Trust in the Lord

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

In looking back at your Christian journey so far, when did you experience the most spiritual growth? For many of us, it was during seasons of great discomfort. Jesus tells us we will encounter difficulties in the world (John 16:33), but that doesn’t mean we should just go about our life with resignation, waiting for something awful to happen.

Instead, we should try to think of waiting as an act of endurance—something that makes us more like Christ. And yet endurance looks different for each of us. Some people may become more active in serving their community, while others need to shift their focus inward—increasing in prayer, seeking wise counsel, and more consciously creating practices of giving thanks. Whatever it is, let us be encouraged to “run … the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Heb. 12:1-2).

THINK ABOUT IT
• Think about your seasons of greatest spiritual growth— or even the experience of coming to faith in Jesus. Was there a specific change or important occurrence in your life? Reflecting like this might help you identify the way God works—and perhaps see your circumstances differently, too.

Not This Man

“Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.” (John 18:40)

Unfortunately, this is the attitude of every generation toward its Creator and Redeemer. Jesus Christ “was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:10-11).

“Not this man!” they cried, and still cry today. “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). Even in a nation founded as a Christian nation, the name of Jesus Christ is banished from the schools, ignored in the halls of government, and blasphemed on the streets.

And whom did they choose instead of “this man”? They preferred Barabbas, who was not only a robber, but also a revolutionary and murderer (Luke 23:19). Today, they idolize the atheist Darwin, or the robber Lenin, or the revolutionary Mao, or the murderer Hitler, or any one of a thousand antichrists; but they will not have Christ.

What, then, will they do with Christ? “Away with him, away with him, crucify him” (John 19:15) was the cry even of the religious leaders during His life here on Earth, and it is little different today. “Ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you,” proclaimed Peter (Acts 3:14). “The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ” (Acts 4:26).

The rejection of Christ today is often more subtle, but it is just as real. Rulers, industrialists, scientists, educators, and commentators all say in deed, if not in word, that “[they] will not have this man to reign over [them]” (Luke 19:14). “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). HMM

Spiritual Gifts

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. —1 Corinthians 12:4-6

The time is more than ripe for a rethinking of the whole matter of spiritual gifts within the church of Christ. The subject has fallen into the hands of people for the most part extreme and irresponsible and has become associated with fanaticism in its various forms. This is a huge misfortune and is causing tremendous loss to the work of spiritual Christianity in our times.

Prejudices pro and con make the consideration of this subject extremely difficult, but its neglect is costing us more than we should be willing to pay. A revival of true New Testament Christianity must surely bring with it a manifestation of spiritual gifts. Anything short of it will create a just suspicion that the revival is something short of scriptural.   NCA080-081

Thank You, Lord, that since Tozer’s time there has in fact been this rethinking about spiritual gifts. May we continue to see their proper functioning and renewed manifestation. Amen.

Getting Alone with God

In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. —Isaiah 30:15

There are some things that you and I will never learn when others are present. I believe in church and I love the fellowship of the assembly. There is much we can learn when we come together on Sundays and sit among the saints. But there are certain things that you and I will never learn in the presence of other people.

Unquestionably, part of our failure today is religious activity that is not preceded by aloneness, by inactivity. I mean getting alone with God and waiting in silence and quietness until we are charged with God’s Spirit. Then, when we act, our activity really amounts to something because we have been prepared by God for it. FBR130

You do not need to seek Him here or there, He is no further off than the door of your heart. There He stands lingering, waiting for whoever is ready to open and let Him in. You do not need to call to Him in the distance. He is waiting much more impatiently than you, for you to open to Him. He is longing for you a thousand times more urgently than you are for Him. It is instantaneous: the opening and the entering. BME034

Lent is for Now

Romans 12:2

Has Lent gone the way of rotary telephones and black-and-white television? Is it among the relics of a bygone era? If so, the Church will have lost part of her soul to the intrusion of secular values.

Early Lenten preaching taught mutual forgiveness and forbearance among church members. It encouraged prayer, biblical instruction in giving and strict abstention from food. Lenten disciplines reminded both the careless Christian and the devout: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

Foregoing some pleasure as a voluntary act of self-denial symbolic of repentance was a standard expectation. “What are you giving up for Lent?” became a common conversation starter. It was the same spirit of sacrifice as a spiritual discipline that led the Salvation Army’s Founder William Booth in 1886 to announce his plan to give what he would have spent on plum pudding toward the Army’s mission around the world. Older Salvationists still refer to the now year-round world services effort to raise funds for world missions as “self-denial.”

Is it too late to urge a renewed emphasis upon the spiritual disciplines of Lent? For the Roman Catholic, the ashes on the forehead, like the sackcloth and ashes of old, symbolize sorrow. Sorrow for sin characterizes the penitential nature of Lent. The 40-day period of reflection and repentance recalls the fasts of Moses, Elijah and Jesus. Lent calls us to reflect upon our guilt for which Christ’s sacrifice atoned. The name “Lent,” an Anglo-Saxon word for spring, reminds us of the regenerative nature of the spiritual disciplines encouraged during this season even as spring on the annual calendar is a season of rebirth and fresh growth.

If Christians are to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, we must declare the significance of humility, penitence, sacrifice, devotion, righteousness, confession, prayer, reflection, piety, forgiveness and discipline in the face of winds that blow the other way.

More than words alone, that declaration must be a lifestyle of Christlikeness not limited to 40 days every spring. But we should be able to carve out a mere five-and-a-half weeks each year to give special emphasis to these disciplines through which God’s grace flows to conform us to His likeness.

Donald Hostetler, The War Cry