VIDEO Receive and Give Comfort, Preach the Word

For Demas has forsaken me…. Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you. 2 Timothy 4:10-11

“Why?” is one of the most asked—or thought, if not asked—questions in the Christian experience. When we go through difficult circumstances in our lives, we don’t rebel against them as much as we want to know why God has allowed them. What is the purpose behind our pain or our problems?

There is one possible reason for every discomfort we experience: So that we might comfort others in the same way God comforts us. Paul describes God as the “God of all comfort” who comforts us in our troubles “that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). He goes further: “Now if we are afflicted, it is for [our] consolation [or comfort]” (verse 6). God lets us have troubles and receive comfort so we can comfort other people who need comfort.

The next time you are hurting, go to God for comfort. Then ask Him, “Who can I comfort with this same comfort?”

My God, how excellent Thy grace, whence all our hope and comfort spring! Isaac Watts

Alistair Begg | Preach the Word | 2 Timothy 4:1-9

Every Breath

I will put breath in you. Ezekiel 37:6

When Tee Unn came down with a rare autoimmune disease that weakened all his muscles and nearly killed him, he realized that being able to breathe was a gift. For more than a week, a machine had to pump air into his lungs every few seconds, which was a painful part of his treatment. 

Tee Unn made a miraculous recovery, and today he reminds himself not to complain about life’s challenges. “I’ll just take a deep breath,” he says, “and thank God I can.” 

How easy it is to focus on things we need or want, and forget that sometimes the smallest things in life can be the greatest miracles. In Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 37:1–14), God showed the prophet that only He could give life to dry bones. Even after tendons, flesh, and skin had appeared, “there was no breath in them” (v. 8). It was only when God gave them breath that they could live again (v. 10). 

This vision illustrated God’s promise to restore Israel from devastation. It also reminds me that anything I have, big or small, is useless unless God gives me breath. 

How about thanking God for the simplest blessings in life today? Amid the daily struggle, let’s stop occasionally to take a deep breath, and “let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).

By:  Leslie Koh

Reflect & Pray

What will you thank God for right now? How can you remind yourself to thank Him more often today?

Thank You, God, for every breath You’ve given me. Thank You for the smallest things in life and the greatest miracles of life.

Walking by the Spirit

Galatians 5:16-26

Learning to walk takes practice. The more steps a toddler takes, the more proficient he or she becomes, until walking is a normal part of life. This same principle is true spiritually. When we are first saved, our steps are small and uncertain, but as we practice and mature in Christ, walking by the Spirit becomes a normal and essential part of our life.

The first step in walking by the Spirit is to be fully persuaded that we can’t live the Christian life by human effort. Until we grasp this truth, we’ll rely on own strength, repeatedly fail, and find ourselves confessing the same old sins without ever mastering them.

The second step is to recognize that the Holy Spirit is the one who overcomes our sinful desires and gives us victory as we rely on His power. The way to do this is by asking the Spirit to help us understand God’s Word and will. We also pray that He’ll give us a sense of revulsion at sin in our life and infuse us with a desire to know, love, and obey Christ more each day. Our goal should be that when temptation comes our way, we surrender to the Spirit and do what He desires step-by-step.

The Limited Knowledge of Jesus

“But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” (Mark 13:32)

This verse has always been difficult to understand. If Jesus was God, how could He be ignorant of the time of His second coming? Indeed He was, and is, God, but He also was, and is, man. This is a part of the mystery of the divine/human nature of Christ. In the gospel record, we see frequent evidences of His humanity (He grew weary, for example, and suffered pain), but also many evidences of deity (His virgin birth, His resurrection and ascension, as well as His perfect words and deeds).

He had been in glory with the Father from eternity (John 17:24), but when He became man, “in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren” (Hebrews 2:17), except for sin. As a child, He “increased in wisdom and stature” like any other human (Luke 2:52). Through diligent study (as a man), He acquired great wisdom in the Scriptures and the plan of God. After His baptism and the acknowledgment from heaven of His divine Sonship (e.g., Matthew 3:16-17), He increasingly manifested various aspects of His deity, but He still remained fully human.

With respect to the time of the end, this depends in some degree on human activity. For example, He said that “the gospel must first be published among all nations” (Mark 13:10), and only God the Father could foresee just when men will have accomplished this. Although the glorified Son presumably now shares this knowledge, in His self-imposed human limitations He did not.

In no way does this compromise His deity. In our own finite humanity, we cannot comprehend fully the mystery of the divine/human nature of Christ, but He has given us more than sufficient reason to believe His Word! HMM

Bowing to the Givers

But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:19

Remember, my giving will be rewarded not by how much I gave but by how much I had left. Ministers are sometimes tempted to shy away from such doctrine as this lest they offend the important givers in their congregation. But it is better to offend men than to grieve the blessed Spirit of God which dwells in the church. No man ever yet killed a true church by withdrawing his gifts from it because of a personal pique. The Church of the First-born is not dependent upon the patronage of men. No man has ever been able really to harm a church by boycotting it financially. The moment we admit that we fear the displeasure of the carnal givers in our congregations we admit also that our congregations are not of heaven but of the earth. A heavenly church will enjoy a heavenly and supernatural prosperity. She cannot be starved out. The Lord will supply her needs.   GTM183

Thank You, heavenly Father, for Your incredibly generous provision and faithfulnessboth to us as individuals and to the churches we lead. Amen.

Only One Source of Power

Every man’s work shall be made manifest…and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. —1 Corinthians 3:13

The only power God recognizes in His Church is the power of His Spirit whereas the only power actually recognized today by the majority of evangelicals is the power of man. God does His work by the operation of the Spirit, while Christian leaders attempt to do theirs by the power of trained and devoted intellect. Bright personality has taken the place of the divine afflatus.

Everything that men do in their own strength and by means of their own abilities is done for time alone; the quality of eternity is not in it. Only what is done through the Eternal Spirit will abide eternally; all else is wood, hay, stubble.

It is a solemn thought that some of us who fancy ourselves to be important evangelical leaders may find at last we have been but busy harvesters of stubble. GTM111-112

[Jesus] has left us the same power which He possessed. He has bequeathed to the Church the very Holy Spirit that lived and worked in Him. Let us accept this mighty gift. Let us believe in Him and His all-sufficiency. Let us receive Him and give Him room. HS314

The Splendor of Holiness

Psalm 29:2

The Psalmist has provided an appropriate matching word for “holiness.” John Morley used to say that holiness was a word which defied definition. If splendor is used for a magnificence that beggars description, then the two are not unequally yoked in this four-word phrase.

Splendor is a poet’s word which Wordsworth employed to convey the wonder of the sunrise on the Thames as seen from Westminster Bridge. But splendor is also a word which Christian hymn writers have applied both to the person of God and His handiwork. Robert Grant described Him as “pavilioned in splendor,” and our own Will Brand wrote of “the splendor of the clear unfolding” of the name of Jesus. With good cause splendor may be joined in divine matrimony to holiness—and this for three reasons.

First of all, the phrase restores to the experience of holiness that breath-catching sense of wonder, that gasp of the heart’s astonishment, as if this possibility was almost too good to be true.

Further, the union of splendor with holiness demonstrates afresh the appeal of the experience. True goodness both looks good and is good. We must not forget that our vocation is so to practice virtue that men are won to it.

Finally, this phrase about “the splendor of holiness” reawakens in our hearts a sense of the desirability of the experience. I must have given many hours to a consideration of this subject—to my own confused thinking on the matter, to listening to speakers on Salvation Army platforms, not to mention my own earlier and mixed-up dissertations on the same level. But it was a long time before I realized that any seeker was not so much to be argued into the experience as convinced by its inherent attractiveness.

Some Sunday mornings I was urged to remember that the experience was biblically based, with chapter and verse quoted in support. This could not but be agreed. On other occasions I was reminded that there was a divine command, binding on all God’s children. Again, this could not be denied. Yet rarely did these approaches raise the pulse beat of desire because, “the beauty of holiness” was veiled from sight.

Now beauty in any form at once captures our attention. In the language of the New Testament, what is holiness but to be conformed to the image of the Son? This is surely desirable. More than that, it is gloriously possible. Thanks be to God!

Frederick Coutts, The Splendor of Holiness