VIDEO Be an Influencer

Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:18

The new era of social networking has given an old word a new meaning: influencer. Traditionally, an influencer was someone who influenced others. That’s the new use of the word as well, but in a new context: social media platforms. Influencers are mostly young people who can sway lifestyle trends by their endorsements, videos, product placements, brands, and appearances. Influencing is a neutral idea—it all depends on the goal of the influence.

The apostle Paul seems to have thought of Christians as influencers. In his description of the Church as the Body of Christ, he viewed all Christians as being connected, as having influence on others. Indeed, 33 times in his epistles (63 times in all the epistles), the phrase “one another” occurs. The New Testament expects believers to (1) be in proximity with one another and (2) to stimulate and influence one another to become spiritually mature. Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts Christians to meet together to “stir up love and good works.”

Are you living in close proximity to other Christians? It’s the only way we can influence one another to strive for spiritual maturity and Christlikeness.

The serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world next to the power of God.  Blaise Pascal


The Rapture – John MacArthur | 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

Windows

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace. Isaiah 55:12

Near the foothills of the Himalayas, a visitor noticed a row of houses without windows. His guide explained that some of the villagers feared that demons might sneak into their homes while they slept, so they built impermeable walls. You could tell when a homeowner began to follow Jesus because he put in windows to let in the light.

A similar dynamic may take place in us, though we might not see it quite that way. We live in scary, polarizing times. Satan and his demons instigate angry divisions that split families and friends. I often feel like hiding behind my walls. But Jesus wants me to cut in a window.

Israel sought refuge in higher walls, but God said their security lay with Him. He reigns from heaven, and His word governs all (Isaiah 55:10–11). If Israel would return to Him, God would “have mercy on them” (v. 7) and restore them as His people to bless the world (Genesis 12:1–3). He would lift them up, ultimately leading them in a triumphal parade. Their celebration “will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever” (Isaiah 55:13).

Sometimes walls are necessary. Walls with windows are best. They show the world that we trust God for the future. Our fears are real. Our God is greater. Windows open us to Jesus—“the light of the world” (John 8:12)—and to others who need Him.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Would you say your life is more wall or window? Why? Is there a person or situation you need to be more open to?

Almighty Father, flood my heart with the confidence of Your love.

Is God in Every Circumstance?

Genesis 50:15-21

As we grow in our Christian faith, we move from the milk of elementary truths to the meatier issues of Scripture that challenge our heart and our thinking. One of those deeper concepts is the question of whether God is involved in every circumstance. Spiritually, it gives us a lot to “chew on” because the answer goes against our natural reasoning.

For example, Joseph was treated cruelly by his brothers, suffering enslavement and imprisonment in Egypt because of their hatred. We tend to wonder, How could a good God have been involved in that painful circumstance? Yet He worked it all for good, eventually moving Joseph to a position of power as Pharaoh’s right-hand man. (See Genesis 37-39). 

When we ponder Scripture’s deeper teachings, it’s important to start with the truths about the Lord’s character, power, and promises. These form a foundation that can help us understand His role in both the triumphs and tragedies of life.

Although we can’t always grasp what God is doing in our circumstances, we can rely on His promise to work all things together for good to those who belong to Him (Rom. 8:28). It’s important to remember that nothing touches us without passing though His loving, sovereign hands.

A Broken and Contrite Heart

“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

God prescribed a system of animal sacrifices for sin in the Old Testament. These sacrifices pointed forward to Jesus, who offered Himself as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin (Hebrews 10:11-12). King David understood the importance of the prescribed animal sacrifices but knew that what God truly wanted is a person’s heart.

In Psalm 51, David, who was described as “a man after [the LORD’s] own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14), demonstrated God’s heart in his attitude toward his own sin. The occasion of writing was David’s transgression with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11). He asked God to forgive his sins, both specifically in the matter of Bathsheba (“this evil,” v. 4) and in general (“blot out all mine iniquities,” v. 9). He recognized that sin was in his heart long before he committed adultery and praised his Creator by repenting of his rebellion against God’s commands.

David had committed two death penalty crimes: adultery (Leviticus 20:10) and murder (Genesis 9:6). No animal sacrifice could atone for David’s sin (Psalm 51:16; cf. Hebrews 10:4), yet God forgave him (2 Samuel 12:13). David’s words show a deep awareness of and contrition for his sin. Only when a person acknowledges his or her sin with “a broken and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17) can that person truly appreciate God’s forgiveness.

Praise God that Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, became a man and died to pay the penalty for sin, offering salvation to all who turn from sin to Jesus and trust in Him alone for salvation (John 1:14; 3:16; Romans 3:25; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Thanks to Jesus’ atoning work, “if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). WP

The File-Card Mentality

My soul breaketh for the longing that it hath unto thy judgments at all times…. Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. —Psalm 119:20,24

When religion loses its sovereign character and becomes mere form, this spontaneity is lost also, and in its place come precedent, propriety, system—and the file-card mentality….

The slave to the file card soon finds that his prayers lose their freedom and become less spontaneous, less effective. He finds himself concerned over matters that should give him no concern whatever—how much time he spent in prayer yesterday, whether he did or did not cover his prayer list for the day, whether he gets up as early as he used to do or stays up in prayer as late at night. Inevitably the calendar crowds out the Spirit and the face of the clock hides the face of God. Prayer ceases to be the free breath of a ransomed soul and becomes a duty to be fulfilled. And even if under such circumstances he succeeds in making his prayer amount to something, still he is suffering tragic losses and binding upon his soul a yoke from which Christ died to set him free.   OGM079, 081

Oh, Father, I pray that prayer might never become for me “a duty to be fulfilled.” Fill me with freedom in my times with You. Amen.

Tozer on Christian Leadership

A Sound, then a Voice, then a Word

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. —Psalm 91:1

It is important that we get still to wait on God. And it is best that we get alone, preferably with our Bible outspread before us. Then if we will we may draw near to God and begin to hear Him speak to us in our hearts.

I think for the average person the progression will be something like this: First a sound as of a Presence walking in the garden. Then a voice, more intelligible, but still far from clear.

Then the happy moment when the Spirit begins to illuminate the Scriptures, and that which had been only a sound, or at best a voice, now becomes an intelligible word, warm and intimate and clear as the word of a dear friend.

Then will come life and light, and best of all, ability to see and rest in and embrace Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and All. POG074

O God and Father, I repent of my sinful preoccupation with visible things. The world has been too much with me. Thou hast been here and I knew it not. I have been blind to Thy presence. Open my eyes that I may behold Thee in and around me. For Christ’s sake. Amen. POG064

Tozer on the Holy Spirit.

The Christian Armor

Ephesians 6:10-18

Paul’s passion heats up in the closing chapter of Ephesians. He is about to end his letter and must make one last strong attempt to convey his message. What image will best explain the Christian’s duty in God’s divine plan?

The chain that binds Paul to the guard is cumbersome, allowing the prisoner to take only a few short strides in either direction. Perhaps he pauses at the end of the chain’s reach and gives the soldier a penetrating glance. There it is, the metaphor that will clinch his argument: “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11).

Paul describes two distinct spheres: first, the dark world, malevolent forces on the attack from within. These could include the temptations of money, sex and power. The second realm is a heavenly one. Paul implies that Satan himself would war against the Christian. He alludes to the devil’s ability to dwell beyond the confines of this world. Either sphere portends danger and calls for the Christian’s full protection. The full armor of God is not for special occasions only; it is an everyday necessity.

“Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,” (Ephesians 6:14) Paul writes. He likely lists it first to underscore that we need the truth because our enemy is a liar and the “father of lies” (John 8:44).

The breastplate reminds us that Christ’s righteousness can guard our hearts from all evil. Paul’s metaphor leaves out any protective gear for the soldier’s back. There can be no retreating from the war, only steady advance, shielded by faith. “Take the shield of faith,” writes Paul, “with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

Training his gaze on the soldier’s gear, Paul calls his readers to stand firm “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace”

(Ephesians 6:15). The “helmet of salvation” (Ephesians 6:17) referred to reminds us that salvation provides not only forgiveness for past sins but also strength to deal with all future attacks of sin.

Now Paul comes to the greatest weapon of all, prayer. Paul makes it clear that the twin disciplines of prayer and Bible study will enable the Christian to advance into the battle for righteousness and to be protected in enemy attack.

“Take the… sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions” (Ephesians 6:17-18). Let God’s armor protect you in the fight!

Marlene Chase, The War Cry