VIDEO Gift Giving and the Unspeakable Gift

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15

One thing that parents often struggle with is giving their children gifts that not only give joy but will also last beyond a short season in their lives. Even something worthwhile, like a book, is designed for a specific reading level and age, so it will soon lose its value in the life of a child. Along with the desire to give something that will last, part of the joy is seeing the delight of their children when they receive the gift—and that is true of the gift God has given us as well. And His gift is “indescribable”!

The Bible says that our Heavenly Father gives us the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23); the gift of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8); and the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Romans 4:17 says, He “gives life to the dead,” and Romans 8:11 promises life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells within us.

We serve a kind and gracious God who gives us good gifts, and the most indescribable is Jesus Christ Himself!

We can bring our little vessels to the spring and take them away filled to overflowing, and the exceeding abundance remains.

J. H. Jowett


The Unspeakable Gift 2 Corinthians 9:15

Never Give Up

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips. Joshua 1:8

“Time went by. War came in.” That’s how Bishop Semi Nigo of the Keliko people of South Sudan described delays in his church’s long struggle to get the Bible in their own language. Not one word, in fact, had ever been printed in the Keliko language. Decades earlier, Bishop Nigo’s grandfather had courageously started a Bible translation project, but war and unrest kept halting the effort. Yet, despite repeated attacks on their refugee camps in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the bishop and fellow believers kept the project alive.

Their persistence paid off. After nearly three decades, the New Testament Bible in Keliko was delivered to the refugees in a rousing celebration. “The motivation of the Keliko is beyond words,” said one project consultant.

The commitment of the Keliko reflects the perseverance God asked of Joshua. As God told him, “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8). With equal persistence, the Keliko pursued the translation of Scripture. Now, “when you see them in the camps, they are smiling,” said one translator. Hearing and understanding the Bible “gives them hope.” Like the Keliko people, may we never give up seeking the power and wisdom of Scripture.

Reflect & Pray

What will help you persist in reading Scripture? How could another person help you better understand it?

Loving God, stir up in me a greater hunger to seek, study, and know the Bible, never giving up my quest to understand Your wisdom.

To learn more about how to study the Bible, visit ChristianUniversity.org/SF106.

God’s Shaping Tools

Romans 12:1-5

God’s kindness is demonstrated by the fact that He doesn’t leave us in the condition we were in before salvation. Throughout our life, the Lord uses certain tools to shape us into the image of His Son.

God’s Word. We grow in Christ when we spend time reading the Bible, because Scripture is like food that nourishes our soul (Matt. 4:4). Yet sadly, some Christians rely only on the Sunday dinner of the Word served up by a pastor. 

Prayer. We learn to depend on the Lord by coming to Him with our needs and concerns as well as our praise and gratitude. As we regularly draw near, our intimacy and love for Him grows. Instead of seeing prayer as a duty, we’ll realize our time with the Lord has become a delight. 

The Church. The body of believers is another important factor in our transformation because that’s where we learn to love one another.  It’s also where we find encouragement, receive biblical instruction, and experience accountability.

Our culture has no shortage of worldly voices and pressures that fill minds and influence behavior. But when we intentionally schedule time for God, His Word, and His people, He does His transforming work in our life.

The Daily Cross

“And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

This same conversation and challenge is also recorded in Matthew 16:24 and Mark 8:34, except that only Luke included the term “daily.” Except for one brief reference in Matthew 10:38, this conversation marks the first explicit reference in the Bible to the practice of crucifixion, and it apparently assumes that the disciples were already well aware of this typically Roman method of execution.

“Taking up the cross” referred to the usual requirement that each condemned man haul his own cross to the place of execution. Jesus knew that He would soon have to be doing this Himself (John 19:16-17).

Christians sometimes use this phrase without appreciation of its true meaning, thinking of some burden (such as sickness or poverty) as “the cross” they must bear. Such things can be serious problems, but they are not instruments of execution, such as a cross. In effect, the Lord was telling His disciples that following Him must mean nothing less than a daily willingness to die for Him if need be. As Paul would say: “I am crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20); “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).

Many disciples have indeed suffered martyrdom for Christ’s sake, but all should at least be willing to deny themselves daily. “Taking up the cross” does not necessarily mean dying as Christ did, but it does mean consciously dying each day to the world and living unto Him. For “they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Galatians 5:24) and gladly affirm this testimony: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). HMM

A Different Man in the Pulpit

Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe. —1 Thessalonians 2:10

I am afraid of the pastor that is another man when he enters the pulpit from what he was before. Reverend, you should never think a thought or do a deed or be caught in any situation that you couldn’t carry into the pulpit with you without embarrassment. You should never have to be a different man or get a new voice and a new sense of solemnity when you enter the pulpit. You should be able to enter the pulpit with the same spirit and the same sense of reverence that you had just before when you were talking to someone about the common affairs of life.   WMJ025

Lord, help me to be a man of impeccable integrity. Give me the grace to be the same man, whether in the pulpit, in a board meeting, caught in rush hour traffic or at dinner with my wife. Amen.

Cells of the Same Body

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands. —Acts 17:24

Church members may by necessity be scattered over the surface of the earth and separated…but in every true member of the Church is the homing instinct and the longing of the sheep for the fold and the Shepherd.

Give a few real Christians half a chance and they will get together and organize and plan regular meetings for prayer and worship….[T]hey will hear the Scriptures expounded, break bread together in one form or another according to their light, and try as far as possible to spread the saving gospel to the lost world.

Such groups are cells in the Body of Christ, and each one is a true Church, a real part of the greater Church. It is in and through these cells that the Spirit does His work on earth. Whoever scorns the local church scorns the Body of Christ. GTM025-026

The Holy Spirit’s presence with the Church is better than the continued physical presence of the Lord Jesus would have been. For…it is an internal and not an external presence…[and] equally accessible to all God’s people. CTBC, Vol. 4/499

Go and Do Something!

Matthew 25:35

One picture among the many that I cherish of my father explains a certain development in the history of the Army, and gives a glimpse of the deep fires that burned in the personality of William Booth. One morning, away back in the eighties, I was an early caller at his house. Here I found him in his dressing room. No “good morning how do you do” here!

“Bramwell,” he cried, when he caught sight of me, “did you know that men slept out all night on the bridges?”

He had arrived in London very late the night before and had to cross the city to reach his home. What he had seen on that midnight return accounted for this morning tornado. Did I know that men slept out all night on the bridges?

“Well, yes,” I replied, “a lot of poor fellows, I suppose, do that.”

“Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself to have known it and to have done nothing for them,” he went on, vehemently.

I began to speak of the difficulties, burdened as we were already, of taking up all sort of work, and so forth. My father stopped me with a peremptory wave.

“Go and do something!” he said. “We must do something.”

“What can we do?”

“Get them a shelter!”

“That will cost money.”

“Well, that is your affair! Something must be done. Get hold of a warehouse and warm it, and find something to cover them.”

That was the beginning of The Salvation Army shelters, the earliest and most typical institutions connected with our now worldwide social work. But it also throws a ray of light on the characteristic benevolence of the Army’s Founder. The governing influence of his life was goodwill to his fellows. His heart was a bottomless well of compassion, and it was for this reason principally that, although perhaps more widely and persistently abused than any other figure of his time, he was even more widely and tenaciously loved.

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in” (Matt. 25:35).

Bramwell Booth, Echoes and Memories