VIDEO Intimacy with God and Our Careful Unbelief

Jesus summed up commonsense carefulness in the life of a disciple as unbelief. If we have received the Spirit of God, He will squeeze right through our lives, as if to ask, “Now where do I come into this relationship, this vacation you have planned, or these new books you want to read?” And He always presses the point until we learn to make Him our first consideration. Whenever we put other things first, there is confusion.

“…do not worry about your life….” Don’t take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. It is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief; worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives, and it is never anything but those details that worry us. Have you ever noticed what Jesus said would choke the Word He puts in us? Is it the devil? No— “the cares of this world” (Matthew 13:22). It is always our little worries. We say, “I will not trust when I cannot see”— and that is where unbelief begins. The only cure for unbelief is obedience to the Spirit.

The greatest word of Jesus to His disciples is abandon.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Is He going to help Himself to your life, or are you taken up with your conception of what you are going to do? God is responsible for our lives, and the one great keynote is reckless reliance upon Him. Approved Unto God, 10 R


Oct 13, 2015

In this 5-part series, I begin the teaching with the Top 10 natural things on most people’s Bucket Lists. I then highlight the Top 10 on a Believer’s Bucket List with the focus on the most important of the ten–to become more one with the Lord. This should be every Believer’s goal. There are points to help Believers achieve this goal, and also a list of some distractions we encounter.

Sight Unseen

If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. Luke 16:31

After Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, he parachuted into the Russian countryside. A farm woman spotted the orange-clad cosmonaut, still wearing his helmet and dragging two parachutes. “Can it be that you have come from outer space?” she asked in surprise. “As a matter of fact, I have,” he said.

Soviet leaders sadly turned the historic flight into antireligious propaganda. “Gagarin went into space, but he didn’t see any god there,” their premier declared. (Gagarin himself never said such a thing.) As C. S. Lewis observed, “Those who do not find [God] on earth are unlikely to find Him in space.”

Jesus warned us about ignoring God in this life. He told a story of two men who died—a rich man who had no time for God, and Lazarus, a destitute man rich in faith (Luke 16:19–31). In torment, the rich man pleaded with Abraham for his brothers still on earth. “Send Lazarus,” he begged Abraham. “If someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent” (vv. 27, 30). Abraham got to the heart of the problem: “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (v. 31).

“Seeing is never believing,” wrote Oswald Chambers. “We interpret what we see in the light of what we believe.”

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

What do you believe about the existence of God and the reality of Christ’s resurrection? How do your beliefs affect your day-to-day choices?

Father, I pray today for those who don’t yet believe in You. Draw them by the gentle power and love of Your Holy Spirit.

Sunday Reflection: The Body of Christ

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

The apostle Paul writes, “For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12). He explains that though one part of the body can’t accomplish what another part can, this doesn’t mean it is any less important.

So it is with us. We are each different, and every difference represents a unique contribution we can make in serving the Lord. Whether we are young or old, speak English as a first or second language, completed schooling or dropped out, our individual experiences and perspectives enrich the body of Christ. Or, as Paul says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).

We need one another in order to become our true selves, and to bring God glory through the church. “By this all people will know that you are My disciples,” Jesus said, “if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). We’re a family, after all—one that spans the entire earth.       

Think about it
• Consider the unique qualities that make you who you are. How can those be used to further God’s kingdom?

How Can Things Invisible Be Seen?

“For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

This powerful verse introduces Paul’s burning description of the descent of ancient human societies that once “knew God” (Romans 1:21) into evolutionary paganism, idolatry, and wickedness. This deterioration was willful and inexcusable, for they had abundant evidence of God’s nature and power in the very creation that they had chosen to worship instead of the Creator (Romans 1:25).

Even though God Himself was invisible (being omnipresent), they could easily see the evidence of His existence and His grace in creating and sustaining all things, “for God hath shewed it unto them” (Romans 1:19). “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).

Since these things were “clearly seen” and “understood” by men “from the creation of the world” (that is, from the time the world was created), it is obvious that there have been men and women there to see and understand these things ever since the world was created. This assures us that the creation did not take place billions of years before men appeared on Earth, as theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists would like to believe. Men and women have been on Earth ever since its very beginning (see also Mark 10:6; Acts 3:21), and all should have recognized and worshiped the true Creator God.

That being true, how much more inexcusable are our modern evolutionists—whether atheistic, pantheistic, or polytheistic—who not only reject the testimony of God in creation but also His far more complete testimony in Scripture and in the person and work of Jesus Christ. HMM

Walking the Waves to Jesus

Matthew 14:22-33

AFTER feeding the five thousand, our Lord got away from the multitude eager to make Him king and retired to a mountain to pray alone. He knew the danger of the superficial enthusiasm of crowds. Again and again in His ministry, we see such a reaction to the threat of popularity (John 2:23-25; Luke 14:25-33; Mark 1:37-38; John 6:22-26). Today we measure men by the approval of the multitude; but Jesus only had compassion upon them, as sheep without a shepherd.

While He was at prayer, the disciples were caught in a furious storm out on the sea. It must have been fearful to alarm seasoned fishermen! Our Lord once again proved His mastery over nature by an act which cannot possibly be explained away. He went to them walking on the waves. The storm-beset disciples, already terrified by the tempest, took Him to be a ghost. His answer, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid,” carries the answer to fear. Notice the negative, “Be not afraid,” and the positive, “Be of good cheer”—and between the two observe our Lord Himself, “It is I.” He always changes negative to positive!

Impetuous Peter would walk to Jesus on the waves. He did not walk far, but at least he walked farther than any other man has gone! However, he took his eyes off Jesus and fixed them on circumstances, saw the wind boisterous and was afraid, and he sank. It is always so when we fail to look unto Jesus.

But the Lord rescued him. Are you afraid by faith to walk the waves, first this foot, then that, to Jesus? We will not have the boat of self-security if we commit ourselves to the walk of faith. We may be afraid that we will sink, but we should remember that even though we should sink, we will not drown! Peter sank, but he did not drown. We have no business getting our eyes off Jesus and going down, but if we do, let us remember that He is out there with us and will rescue us.

Our Lord rebuked Peter’s weak faith: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” We are not believing when we are doubting. What must He say to us today, afraid to walk to Him in the smallest matters!

When He was received into the ship the wind ceased. Matthew tells us that they worshiped Him and Luke that they willingly received Him, but Mark adds they were “sore amazed” and “wondered” (6:51), for they considered not the miracle of the loaves, and their hearts were hardened. If they had rightly valued and appreciated the feeding of the five thousand they would have expected no less than His walking on the sea! We forget today what Christ has done, and it lessens our expectation of what He can and will do. Our hearts are hardened! We have no right to censure these stupid disciples, for we are even as they.

Coming to Gennesaret, our Lord at once began to heal throngs again. “As many as touched Him were made perfectly whole.” If only we believed, might not a touch of Him who bore our sicknesses and infirmities still work its wonders?

Two Opposite Pairs

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.—Proverbs 14:12

I have met many people who have experienced such deep hurt in their early relationships that they cannot rid themselves of negative ideas about having God as their Father, and by God’s grace I have been able to help some of them. But the route to healing is not an easy one and involves walking a path that is quite different from the one a secular counselor might suggest.

The route which the world usually advises victims of parental abuse to take consists of three steps: self-discovery, self-expression, and self-protection. Self-discovery is where the victim is encouraged to get in touch with his or her repressed emotions. Self-expression is the release and expression of those emotions. Self-protection is the establishment of boundaries around one’s life so that one will never have to endure or experience serious hurt again.

The biblical route to healing, while recognizing some truth in these ideas, starts from a different base and leads to a different goal. It begins with the question: Do I believe that a God who allowed me to be as deeply hurt as I was is good? And it ends with the question: Am I willing to give myself to those I am called to love and to be more interested in loving well than in protecting myself against hurt?

Which sounds like the easier path of these two? Undoubtedly, the way of the world. The way of Christ may seem as if it is the route to death, but really it is the route to life. To live we must be willing to die; to find we must be willing to lose.

Prayer

Father, help me take Your way in everything I pray. I don’t want symptom relief; I want a complete cure. And if I don’t need help on this particular issue, help me learn how to be of help to others. Amen.

Further Study

Mt 5:43-48; 7:13-14; 16:24-25; Jn 12:24-25

What is the biblical way to life?

What makes the narrow way narrow?

What Holiness Is Not and Is

Hebrews 12:10

First of all, holiness is not necessarily a state in which there is perpetual, rapturous joy. Isaiah 53:3 tells us that Jesus was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” and Paul tells us that he, too, had continual sorrow and great heaviness.

Joy is the normal state of a holy man, but it may be mingled with sorrow and grief and perplexities and heaviness on account of manifold temptations. The low-water mark, however, in the experience of a holy person is one of perfect peace; the high-water mark is up in the third heaven somewhere; however, this third heaven experience is not likely to be constantly maintained.

Holiness is not a state of freedom from temptation. This is a world of trial and conflict with principalities and powers, darkness and terrible evils, and the holy soul who is in the forefront of the conflict may expect the fiercest assaults of the devil. Our blessed Lord was tried and tempted for forty days and forty nights by the devil, and the servant must not be surprised if he is as his Master was.

Holiness is not a state of freedom from infirmities. It does not produce a perfect head, but rather a perfect heart.

Holiness is not a state of freedom from affliction. The saints of all ages have been chosen “in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10). It is not God’s purpose to take us to heaven on flowery beds of ease. That would not develop strength of character.

Holiness is not a state in which there is no further development. When the heart is purified it develops more rapidly than ever before.

Holiness is not a state from which we cannot fall. It is only those who endure to the end who shall be saved. But while we may fall, thank God holiness is a state from which we need not fall.

Finally, holiness is a state of conformity to the divine nature. He [the believer] is like God, not in God’s natural perfection of power and wisdom and omnipresence, but in patience, humility, self-control, purity of heart and love. As the drop out of the ocean is like the ocean, not in its bigness, but in its essence, so is the holy soul like God.

Samuel Logan Brengle, Heart Talks on Holiness

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