VIDEO Be Sure Before It Is Too Late!

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. John 20:31

Most biblically-based preachers and teachers avail themselves of insights gained from the original languages of the Bible. But one preacher, known for his facility with Greek and Hebrew, told his congregation, “My greatest concern is not that you don’t understand Greek or Hebrew, it’s that you don’t understand English!”

When the Bible says something over and over, in plain English, and is still not believed, there is a problem deeper than language. For instance, the Bible says in many verses and in many ways, that those who place their faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can be assured of eternal life. The apostle John said explicitly that he wrote in order that his readers might know that they can have eternal life through faith in Christ (John 3:16; 20:31; 1 John 5:13). Apparently, some still doubted their salvation. Can a Christian be assured of his or her salvation? Yes!

If you have doubts about your salvation, continue to read and meditate on the verses written to assure you. They were written that you might know and be sure!

Let us not seek any other ground of assurance than God’s own testimony.  John Calvin


43 John 20 -21 – Pastor Chuck Smith – C2000 Series

Jesus’ Unpopular Ideas

Give to the one who asks you. Matthew 5:42

For fifteen years, Mike Burden held hate-filled meetings in the memorabilia shop he ran in his small town. But in 2012 when his wife began to question his involvement, his heart softened. He realized how wrong his racist views were and didn’t want to be that person any longer. The militant group retaliated by kicking his family out of the apartment they’d been renting from one of the members.

Where did he turn for help? Surprisingly, he went to a local black pastor with whom he’d clashed. The pastor and his church provided housing and groceries for Mike’s family for some time. When asked why he agreed to help, Pastor Kennedy explained, “Jesus Christ did some very unpopular things. When it’s time to help, you do what God wants you to do.” Later Mike spoke at Kennedy’s church and apologized to the black community for his part in spreading hatred.

Jesus taught some unpopular ideas in the Sermon on the Mount: “Give to the one who asks you . . . . Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:42, 44). That’s the upside-down way of thinking God calls us to follow. Though it looks like weakness, it’s actually acting out of God’s strength.

The One who teaches us is the One who gives the power to live out this upside-down life in whatever way He asks of us.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

How are you living out Jesus’ words of giving to those who ask and loving your enemies? What would you like to change?

God, help me to love others as You love me. Show me how to do that today.

Faith Is Assurance

Hebrews 11:1-6

I’ve had the privilege of flying in several single-engine airplanes, but never once have I asked the pilot about his qualifications or the trustworthiness of the plane. I simply expected him and his aircraft to carry me safely to my destination. We usually don’t have trouble relying on planes or automobiles without question, yet we sometimes fail to trust the Lord.

Our faith in God is like spiritual glasses through which we view the world around us. Our physical eyesight may not detect His almighty hand working in the events and situations of life, but faith looks beyond the externals to the truth and promises of Scripture.

Our foundation of assurance is built upon God’s Word and our experiences of His trustworthiness. We have no cause for worry or uncertainty because the Lord of the universe is sovereign over every event under heaven, and that includes the details of our lives. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us not to be anxious; instead, we’re to bring our concerns and requests to God with thanksgiving, trusting Him to work it all out according to His will. Then His peace will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

God Is Love

“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love.” (1 John 4:16)

It is said that the most quoted verse in all the Bible is the passage in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Surely that is a magnificent testimony to the love God has for us, and without it none of us would know God. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

But God “loved righteousness, and hated iniquity” (Hebrews 1:9). How is it that God “commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8)? “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Human love is usually reciprocal. That is, we love if and when we are loved in return. Yet, those of us who are twice-born are commanded to love each other, and the godly husband is expected to love his wife like the Lord Jesus unilaterally loved the church. But that kind of love is not normal—it is God’s love in us. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (1 John 4:7).

The English word “love” in its various forms appears over 700 times in the Bible. The vast majority of those references do not attempt to describe God’s love. They focus either on our responsibility to “love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5) or “to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God” (Micah 6:8).

Evidently, we experience God’s love when we are saved and are under obligation to show it as we “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). HMM III

How Are You Building?

Matthew 7:24-27

OUR Lord pointed out in Matthew 7:24-27 the contrast between persons building on the sand and on the rock. The same storm came to both because in the world the believer is promised tribulation (John 16:33), but he who heard his Lord’s words and practiced them stood the test.

In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 we have set before us the solemn responsibility of the believer to be careful about his building. Christ is the only sure foundation, for He is the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), the tried stone, the sure foundation (Isa. 28:16). But the building must not only be on the Lord but must be built by Him, for except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it (Ps. 127:1).

God works, however, through consecrated apprentices, and here Paul tells us that a man may build upon the true foundation with gold, silver and precious stones or with wood, hay or stubble. The fire of judgment will test the life; and, although the believer himself shall be saved, if he has built of wood, hay or stubble his lifework shall be destroyed.

Here, then, is indeed a most serious matter, and surely every Christian should take heed how he builds thereon. Consider in our sermon preparation how many times we preachers fill our discourses with wood, hay and stubble when with more prayer and study we might have built a message of gold! Every sermon ought to be our very best under God’s direction. And how often have you, Sunday school teacher, hurriedly woven in some stubble of your own interpretation, a block of wood where there might have been silver?

In conversation with the ungodly, how often have we talked weather and politics and laughed over trivialities and missed a chance to redeem the time with a word fitly spoken, which is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Prov. 25:11). One day judgment-fire will burn through our conversations, and so much will go up in smoke!

Think of how we waste spare time, filling it with unenduring materials when we could make it a permanent blessing. We build unworthily, cheaply, because we will not pay the price for the best materials. God offers us gold already tried in fire (Rev. 3:18), but there are no bargain rates and reduced prices. It takes hours of prayer and Bible study and obedience and self-denial. If our lifework is to be fireproof, it will not be so built by sentence prayers and one-minute Bible readings before breakfast. But it costs, so we slip in a block of wood here and fill in with hay there and get by with stubble yonder.

One day we shall thank God we built with enduring material. That time you waited in intercessory prayer when the devil said, “Go to bed”; that time you called on a certain person to lead him to Christ though you were ever so nervous; that time you were reconciled to an offended brother; that time you gave ten dollars when Satan suggested fifty cents; that time you gave up that job because it was doubtful in a spiritual way—at such times we build for eternity and the day shall declare it. It is so easy to let up here and there and work in a little wood or stubble, but blessed is the man who will not substitute even the good for the best.

How are you building? With gold, silver and precious stones or with wood, hay and stubble?

The Secret of Survival

The diligent hand will rule, but laziness will lead to forced labor.—Proverbs 12:24

We need to make clear the difference between diligence and obstinacy. I know people who have experienced spiritual shipwreck because they didn’t know the difference between these two things. When asked to clarify the difference between perseverance and obstinacy, a student wrote: “One is a strong will and the other is a strong won’t.” Diligence is dogged perseverance; obstinacy is dogged inflexibility and self-will.

A man whose life was full of promise as far as the Christian ministry was concerned now spends his days in depression because he did not know the difference between these two things. He set out on a project that he thought was God’s will for him, and when things started to go wrong, instead of checking his guidance, he continued to press on and ended up in failure. Those who loved him, and were more objective, urged him to give up as what he was doing was clearly not the will of God. However, he did not have the wisdom to realize that what he was doing was not being diligent but obstinate. Now he lives in perpetual disillusionment.

When Jesus came to Calvary, He said, “I have glorified You on the earth by completing the work You gave Me to do” (Jn 17:4). Note the word “You.” There were many who would have liked Jesus to do this and that, to go here and go there, but He did only what the Father required Him to do. Saying “yes” to God’s will and pursuing it is diligence. Saying “yes” to a thing that is not God’s will and pursuing that is obstinacy. We had better learn the difference.

Prayer

Father, I see how important it is to be clear about these two issues. Help me differentiate between diligence and obstinacy so that at the end of my time here on earth I, too, will be able to say, “I have finished the work which You have given me to do.” Amen.

Further Study

Mt 25:14-30; 7:26; Jms 2:14

What was Jesus’ teaching in the parable of the talents?

Why were the two who multiplied the talents successful?

Footprints in the Morning

Mark 1:32-37

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. (Mark 1:32-34).

Early morning in Capernaum the earth around Peter’s house was marked by many sandals. Last night’s events could be read in the footprints. The trail of a single shoe dragged along. The distinct imprint of a stick accompanying each footstep. The uneven markings of a blind person, indicating a groping movement toward one spot. Hundreds of sandal marks, some in patterns of four where men had carried a stretcher. Some bare footprints. All were the footprints of those searching hard for a miracle, for deliverance. Last night in this very spot around Peter the fisherman’s cottage, they found what they were looking for.

That morning Peter gazed at one distinctive pair of footprints cutting across the patterned terrain. A long time before daybreak Jesus had made these footprints as He moved toward some chosen spot of quiet rendezvous with His Father. Perhaps He was now in the crevice of a rock on the seashore, the constant rhythm of the sea on the beach accentuating His communal words.

It was this morning as it would be throughout the next three crowded years. People would follow Him with such anxious yearning, such intense needs, that He would have few undisturbed hours for meditation or reflection. The footprints of Jesus were those of a man who had much to do, and not much time in which to do it as He constantly crossed and crisscrossed the crowded ways of life.

He also walks across our crowded ways. If only people knew of His availability. The lonely soul in some spiritual Sahara would discover a relationship that would transform loneliness into shared companionship. Out of the crowded corridors of life would emerge one who would be there, not always to silence the turmoil of our despair, but to breathe tranquility into our sound-soaked settings.

When Peter found Him that morning, he said, “Everyone is looking for You”

(Mark 1:37) Jesus knew then, and knows now, that the strength He had already gathered before sunrise would be shared with that waiting world, available to all who need and call upon Him.

Arthur R. Pitcher, The War Cry