VIDEO What Troubles Reveal

And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” Genesis 41:38

It has been said that difficulties don’t determine who we are. Rather, they reveal who we are. Said another way, the same heat that softens butter can make mud hard as a brick. It all depends on how the thing being heated responds. The same with the human heart. Difficulties can soften one heart and harden another.

Joseph, in Egypt, and Daniel, in Babylon, both revealed their character to their pagan masters. Their difficulties caused the presence of God to be manifested through them. In the New Testament, no one endured more difficulties over a longer time than the apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 6:3-10; 11:23-29). He described his difficulties as being “hard-pressed,” “perplexed,” “persecuted,” and “struck down.” But never “crushed,” “in despair,” “forsaken,” or “destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). He called his troubles “the dying of the Lord Jesus” so that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in [his] body” (verse 10). His troubles revealed the “treasure” of Christ within (verse 7).

Troubles in life are normal (Job 5:7). Our response will manifest Christ to the world—or not.

To become Christlike is the only thing in the whole world worth caring for. Henry Drummond


Genesis 41 – Joseph Rises to Power

Facing the Darkness

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. Isaiah 9:2

In the mid-1960s, two people participated in research on the effects of darkness on the human psyche. They entered separate caves, while researchers tracked their eating and sleeping habits. One remained in total darkness for 88 days, the other 126 days. Each guessed how long they could remain in darkness and were off by months. One took what he thought was a short nap only to discover he’d slept for 30 hours. Darkness is disorienting.

The people of God found themselves in the darkness of impending exile. They waited, unsure of what would take place. The prophet Isaiah used darkness as a metaphor for their disorientation and as a way of speaking about God’s judgment (Isaiah 8:22). Previously, the Egyptians had been visited with darkness as a plague (Exodus 10:21–29). Now Israel found herself in darkness.

But a light would come. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2). Oppression would be broken, disorientation would end. A Child would come to change everything and bring about a new day—a day of forgiveness and freedom (v. 6).

Jesus did come! And although the darkness of the world can be disorienting, may we experience the comfort of the forgiveness, freedom, and light found in Christ.

By:  Glenn Packiam

Reflect & Pray

What would it look like to embrace a new day of freedom and forgiveness? How can you welcome the light of Christ today?

Dear Jesus, shine Your light into my life. Bring forgiveness and freedom. Help me to live in the light of Your arrival

A Haven from Loneliness

Ephesians 4:1-6

God created humanity with a need for companionship with Himself and one another. When we don’t experience it, we suffer the emotional turmoil of loneliness. But in His Word, God assures us of His constant presence. He wants all believers to know that He is near and will never leave them (Deut. 31:6).

Another way God meets our need for companionship is through the church. When we trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior, we become one not only with Him but also with every other believer. The church is called the body of Christ, and one of its purposes is to meet our need for person-to-person connection. A spiritual body works much like a human one—parts are both independent and interdependent, each needing others in order to function well.

To be spiritually and emotionally healthy, we all need support from our brothers and sisters in Christ. In his letter to the Ephesian church, Paul emphasizes Christlike character qualities that make this possible: humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, and love. He also admonishes believers to accept one another (Rom. 15:7) and bear each other’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).

If you’re feeling lonely, draw near to God and His people to receive the comfort He gladly supplies.

The Message of the Old Testament

“Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:22)

Ever since sin entered into God’s created world, His message to all people of all ages has been the same. At the time of the curse, God prophesied that there soon would be a coming Redeemer—the seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent, although the Redeemer Himself would be made to suffer in order to do away with the effects of sin (Genesis 3:15). “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).

God repeatedly warned the people of His hatred of sin and wickedness (see, for example, Psalm 5:4-6; Proverbs 6:16-19), but He recognized that humankind was totally incapable of measuring up to His standard of perfection. That great statement of righteous requirements, the Ten Commandments, demonstrated the utter impossibility of complete compliance (Exodus 20; Psalm 14; etc.). Conversely, God repeatedly extended His invitation to be rescued from sin and its effects and its necessary judgment by confidence in His plan for mankind. In our text, we see that “all the ends of the earth” have the opportunity to be “saved.” “Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come” (Isaiah 45:24).

This plan of God focuses on the promised Redeemer who would come to buy back humanity from its enslavement to sin. “A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:…and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:5-6). JDM

“An Enemy Hath Done This”

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

THE parable of the tares throws clear light on a number of issues. Interpreted by our Lord Himself, it plainly declares that the world will not be converted in this age: good and evil shall exist together until the end. Thus it destroys that dream of men who imagine a world brotherhood to be created by the preaching of the gospel which shall set up in this age the reign of universal righteousness. This parable declares the distinct personality of the devil. Sin is not imperfect goodness, biological growing pains; “An enemy hath done this.” Moreover, there is to be a fixed and final separation of good from evil, the wicked being gathered for burning, the righteous to shine as the sun in the Father’s kingdom—as Daniel long before had seen (Dan. 12:3). The seed here is not the Word, as in the parable of the sower, but rather what the Word produces, the children of the kingdom; and the tares are the children of evil. They may get into the churches and look like Christians, but they have another nature.

The sowing of tares was done “while men slept.” The devil gets his works done today while ministers are asleep; he sows evil in the churches while they are taken up with their own ease. He sows in homes while parents sleep, careless of their children’s welfare. He sows abroad in the land while rulers, who should have an eye to the public welfare, look to their own comfort. Then, we read, the evil sower “went his way.” So goes the devil stealthily about, gliding in and out and on his way.

Mind you, this is not a description of the world in general but of Satan’s work in the professing church. The field indeed is the world, but the sphere of action here is the professing kingdom. We cannot separate the false and true for we cannot read men’s hearts. Some who appear righteous are but hypocrites, and some who appear wicked are truly saved but not walking in the Spirit. God will attend to the final dividing; vengeance is His.

It is possible in church discipline to overstep our boundaries and attempt a separation beyond our right. However, there is little danger of that today, for few churches exert as much authority as is their right. But we must be careful lest, in ridding ourselves of offenders, we root up the good also.

The old emphasis upon a final gathering has disappeared from much of our preaching. But our Lord will gather His wheat (Matt. 3:12) when He takes up His Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18). His reapers, the angels, shall also gather out all that offend and the wicked. Mind you, it is our Lord Himself who declares the judgment of the wicked to be a furnace of fire (Matt. 13:42) with wailing and gnashing of teeth. He said more about hell than anyone else in the Bible.

“A Time Exposure to God”

I have heard this twice: strength belongs to God.—Psalm 62:11

It is futile to present our requests to God before pausing to reflect on His unchanging adequacy and sufficiency. One reason why Jesus directed us to use the words “Our Father in heaven” was to encourage us to focus our gaze on a God who is unaffected by the restrictions and limitations of earth and who dwells in a place where the resources never run dry. Those who plunge into the areas of petition and intercession before reflecting on the abundant resources that lie in God will find their praying ineffective. They are praying contrary to God’s pattern. As the poet says:

What a frail soul he gave me, and a heart

Lame, and unlikely for the large events.

However, I wonder if, more often than not, we haven’t given ourselves “a heart lame, and unlikely for the large events” because we rush into God’s presence to present our petitions before taking stock of our spiritual resources.

God offers us infinite resources for the asking and the taking—Himself. The first moments of prayer, therefore, should be contemplative, reflective, meditative. As we gaze upon God and His infinite resources, we take, as someone put it, “a time exposure to God.” His adequacy and sufficiency are printed indelibly upon us. No matter, then, what difficulties and problems face us—He is more than a match for them. The vision of His greatness puts the whole of life into its proper perspective. “We kneel, how weak—we rise, how full of power.”

Prayer

O Father, I am so thankful that Your resources are so near at hand. I reflect on Your greatness and Your wonder in the depths of my heart, and my praying takes on new strength and power. I am so grateful. Amen.

Further Study

Eph 1; Ps 5:3; 65:5-7; 1Ch 29:12

What was Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians?

Ask God to enlarge your vision in this way.

While on the Way Home

Luke 24:32

Two disciples from Emmaus were on the road home, having been in

Jerusalem for the Passover celebration. They had been with their fellow believers who, with them, had their hopes in Christ as the Messiah crushed by His arrest, trial and crucifixion. It all had happened so quickly and with such finality. What remained there to do but to go home?

The long walk gave Cleopas and his companion time to discuss their disappointment. They had hoped that their Lord would redeem Israel and usher in a new golden age, only to see the might of Rome march Him to Golgotha and nail Him to the cross.

As they walked, a stranger suddenly drew near and walked with them. He discerned their state of mind but still solicited their story, which they related in detail. The stranger reminded them of their prophets who had foretold that Christ would suffer but also enter into eternal glory. He opened to their understanding the teachings of the Scripture and how they were fulfilled by the events of recent days. The word of the prophets of old were illumined by a new light, and that dusty road to Emmaus became as a royal road to life’s deepest meaning.

Wanting to hear more, and with evening fast approaching, the disciples invited the unknown traveler to stay with them. Then at their evening meal, in the simple act of the stranger breaking bread, there was a flash of discovery. It was the Lord, risen and alive! Their burning desire on the walk to Emmaus was now fulfilled by the wonderful realization that Christ had triumphed over death.

Their new-found hope sped them back to Jerusalem to share the glorious news with the other believers. Disappointment and discouragement were replaced by joy and a now unshakable faith.

The good news is that it can be the same for us. We are all on our journey home. We are only passing through on this earthly pilgrimage. And we can discover the reality of our Lord and Savior as we travel toward our eternal home. May His presence and power, as with those disciples of old, cause “our hearts to burn within us,” (Luke 24:32) as the risen Lord deigns to walk and talk with us on our road of life.

Edward Fritz, Salvationist