VIDEO Little Ricky

For the love of Christ compels us. 2 Corinthians 5:14

Child actor Keith Thibodeaux became an overnight sensation as Little Ricky on the TV show, I Love Lucy, and later as Opie’s friend, Johnny Paul, on The Andy Griffith Show. After his youthful acting career ended, he joined a rock band and, in the 1970s, battled depression and drug abuse. “My mother invited me to a church meeting in Louisiana,” he said. “It was in this meeting that I became a Christian, that Jesus Christ came into my life.” Today, Keith and his wife lead a fine arts ministry aimed at sharing the Gospel through ballet.[1]

Overnight sensations often awaken the next morning to find the glamor tarnished and the success fleeting. But when we’re filled with God’s compassionate love, we’re happier, stronger, and useful. True success isn’t overnight; it’s eternal. Fame and fortune may be God’s will for a few. It’s the devil’s trap for many. Only the love of Jesus satisfies us forever.

There is no fullness of joy anywhere except in Christ. God has made the human heart so only He Himself can fill it. All the pleasures of the world, all the riches of earth, though they may bring a temporary thrill, leave unsatisfied the longing of the heart. Bob Jones, Jr.

The Reconciling Gospel (2 Corinthians 5:11-20)

Through Thick and Thin

The cloud of the Lord was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels. Exodus 40:38

On January 28, 1986, the US Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart seventy-three seconds after takeoff. In a speech of comfort to the nation, President Reagan quoted from the poem “High Flight” in which John Gillespie Magee, a World War II pilot, had written of “the high untrespassed sanctity of space” and the sense of putting out his hand to touch “the face of God.”

Although we can’t literally touch God’s face, we sometimes experience a stunning sunset or a place of meditation in nature that gives us an overwhelming sense that He’s near. Some people call these moments “thin places.” The barrier separating heaven and earth seems to grow a little thinner. God feels a little closer.

The Israelites may have experienced a “thin place” as they sensed the nearness of God in the desert wilderness. God provided a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night to lead them through the desert (Exodus 40:34–38). When they were staying in the camp, “the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (v. 35). Throughout all their travels, they knew God was with them.

As we enjoy the incredible beauty of God’s creation, we grow conscious that He’s present everywhere. As we talk with Him in prayer, listen to Him, and read the Scriptures, we can enjoy fellowship with Him anytime and anywhere.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What places in nature make you feel especially close to God? How can you seek Him anytime and anywhere?

Father, help me to seek and find You even when I’m lost in a desert wilderness.

Pursuing God

Psalm 63:1-8

If I were to ask whether you’d like a deeper relationship with God, you would probably say yes. But are you willing to do what is necessary to achieve it? Many Christians today are trying to find a shortcut to a closer relationship with the Father. But intimacy takes times and effort; knowing God better is a lifelong pursuit. Here’s how we discover the depths of His character through His Word: 

Meditation involves reading a Bible passage several times and thoughtfully considering what it says about God. Today’s psalm, for example, encourages us to ponder the Lord’s power, glory, and lovingkindness.  

Study allows us to draw from several Bible passages to gain a greater understanding of the Lord. We benefit by considering the context and writing style of the verses and then asking ourselves what they reveal about God.

Prayer is our response to meditation and study of the Word. What we discover about God overflows into praise, gratitude, and petitions that align with His will.

We can’t cut corners if we want to walk closely with the Lord. But the rewards of a deep relationship with Him are worth the wait and effort—only through intimacy with Him will we know true satisfaction and joy.

On Being Faithful

“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Titus 1:9)

It is important to note that the adjective “faithful” can be applied both to people and to things if they are believable and trustworthy. Our text above refers to the Word of God as being faithful. Obviously, if any teacher of the Word is to hold fast the faithful Word and teach sound doctrine, he too must be faithful. Paul also teaches that church leaders should have “faithful children” (Titus 1:6) and that their wives should be “faithful in all things” (1 Timothy 3:11).

The Greek word translated “faithful” is closely related to the words “faith” and “believe.” The same relationships are even stronger in the corresponding Hebrew words used in the Old Testament. It is vital to believe God’s faithful Word, for indeed “faith cometh by…the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

But genuine faith and faithfulness are not common commodities. “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (Proverbs 20:6). The one man who is absolutely believable and trustworthy, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ. “If we believe not [that is, are unfaithful], yet he abideth faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). In the Bible’s climactic book, He is even introduced as “the faithful witness” (Revelation 1:5). Among His closing words, He promises that “these sayings are faithful and true” (Revelation 22:6).

We can have absolute confidence that all His promises will be fulfilled, and all His warnings must be heeded. May God help each of us also to be—like Christ and like His Word—faithful and true. Remember also that they that are truly “with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Revelation 17:14). HMM

Just Meditate for a Month

But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. —Psalm 1:2

Let the old saints be our example. They came to the Word of God and meditated. They laid the Bible on the old-fashioned, handmade chair, got down on the old, scrubbed, board floor and meditated on the Word. As they waited, faith mounted. The Spirit and faith illuminated. They had only a Bible with fine print, narrow margins and poor paper, but they knew their Bible better than some of us do with all of our helps.

Let’s practice the art of Bible meditation…. Let us open our Bibles, spread them out on a chair and meditate on the Word of God. It will open itself to us, and the Spirit of God will come and brood over it.

I do challenge you to meditate, quietly, reverently, prayerfully, for a month. Put away questions and answers and the filling in of the blank lines in the portions you haven’t been able to understand. Put all of the cheap trash away and take the Bible, get on your knees, and in faith, say, “Father, here I am. Begin to teach me!”   COU136-137

Guide me, Lord, as I take time to meditate on You. Tozer is stimulating me, but my real desire is to hear from You. I’ll get on my knees this morning Lord, in quiet expectation. Amen.

The Cross on the Hill—and in My Heart

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. —Galatians 5:24

One time a young man came to an old saint…and said to him, “Father, what does it mean to be crucified?” The old man thought for a moment and said, “Well, to be crucified means three things. First, the man who is crucified is facing only one direction.” I like that—facing only one direction…and that is the direction of God and Christ and the Holy Ghost…the direction of sanctification and the direction of the Spirit-filled life.

And the old man scratched his scraggly gray hair and said, “One thing more, son, about a man on a cross—he’s not going back.” The fellow going out to die on the cross doesn’t say to his wife, “Good-bye, honey. I’ll be back shortly after five.”

When you go out to die on the cross you bid good-bye—you’re not going back!…Get a man converted who knows that if he joins Jesus Christ he’s finished,…he’s not going back—then you have a real Christian indeed. TCC012-013

In every Christian’s heart there is a cross and a throne, and the Christian is on the throne till he puts himself on the cross. ROR066

The Magnetism of the Cross

John 1:12

John records in his Gospel that before yielding up His Spirit, Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). In the Greek this is one word, “accomplished.”

This is perhaps the boldest exclamation mark in all of Scripture. Nothing more to do—finished! Nothing more we can do—accomplished!

Feel the earthquake. See the splitting of the rocks. Notice the darkness. Witness the separation of the veil of the Temple so all may come directly into the presence of God through Jesus. Finished! Accomplished! His task completed. Philip Bliss has penned it eloquently:

Lifted up was He to die;

It is finished! Was his cry!

Now in Heav’n exalted high;

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Magnetic forces are all around us in these days—drugs, alcohol, sexual permissiveness, power plays, the clamor for material things. But the magnetism of the cross pulls men and women from the abyss of sin. This power is triggered by our free will and the surrender of our hearts. He does not violate our freedom to choose.

Jesus speaks of the parish of the cross when He says, “I… will draw all men”

(John 12:32). No geographical limits. No ethnic, racial or socioeconomic barriers. No degree of depravity is beyond Calvary’s drawing power. “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

We too can be His children in this special way. God says, “I created you, but I want to come into your heart and forgive you, and make you a new creature in Christ so that you can know that promise as your personal experience.” Such indescribable suffering and unconditional love requires a response from us. Failure to accept this free and full salvation is like making a visit as nothing but a disinterested tourist to that hill in Jerusalem, allowing all the distractions to claim our attention, thus missing the real purpose of the cross.

At the center of The Salvation Army’s crest is the cross, pointing people to the Savior who died upon it. It also symbolizes that all of our service rendered around the world is done in the name and servanthood of Christ.

Robert A. Watson, The War Cry