VIDEO Authentic Spiritual Growth

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Think about what the average adult would like to accomplish in the morning: showering/grooming, exercising, tending to pets, checking online traffic/weather reports, checking the morning news, dressing for work, eating breakfast. And if there are children involved, well…!

So, if that’s a typical morning, how does the average Christian squeeze in rejoicing and being glad in the day the Lord has made? There’s only one, long-term way—by prioritizing the item missing from the list above: a daily quiet time. Christians who grow to maturity, who reflect authentic discipleship, are Christians who prioritize spending time with God in prayer, worship, and Bible study. Yes, it’s a challenge. Who can find the time? Somehow, we find the time for all the other items on our morning to-do list, so it really comes down to choices and priorities.

It’s not that God is keeping a checklist in heaven to see if we have our quiet time. It’s more that, over time, the best things in life require good choices and good work. And being an authentic follower of Jesus is surely one of life’s best things.

Ten minutes spent in the presence of Christ every day, aye, two minutes, will make the whole day different. Henry Drummond


This is the Day, Psalm 118 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Waiting in Hope

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Rogelio served as our waiter during our weeklong vacation. In one conversation, he credited Jesus for blessing him with Kaly, a compassionate wife with strong faith. After they had their first baby, God gave them the opportunity to help care for their niece who had Down syndrome. Soon after, Rogelio’s mother-in-law needed live-in care.

Rogelio works with joy, often taking on double shifts to ensure his wife can stay home to care for the people God entrusted to them. When I shared how the couple inspired me to love better because of the way they opened their hearts and home to serve their family members, he said, “It is my pleasure to serve them . . . and you.”

Rogelio’s life affirms the power of living with generosity and trusting God to provide as we serve one another selflessly. The apostle Paul urged God’s people to be “devoted to one another in love . . . joyful in hope, patient in affliction, [and] faithful in prayer” as we “share with the Lord’s people who are in need [and] practice hospitality” (Romans 12:10–13).

Our life can change in an instant, leaving us or those we love in circumstances that feel impossible to bear. But when we’re willing to share all God has given us while we wait on Him, we can cling to His enduring love . . . together.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How can you prayerfully and physically support someone in need today? How has God used someone to offer you tangible support while you waited for Him?

God, please help me love others while I wait for You to work in and through my circumstances.

Investing Your Time

Ephesians 5:7-17

Time is a most valuable commodity. Since it’s irreversible and irreplaceable, we ought to give careful consideration to how we spend our days—and even our minutes. Time is a gift from God, which means we aren’t owners but stewards who will one day give an account for how we used what was entrusted to us.

Those who realize their days belong to God are careful how they live. They want to understand the Lord’s will and seek His guidance each day through intimate fellowship with Him in the Word and prayer.  

But those who are foolish do not give adequate thought to the way they live. Some become unproductive and lazy, living for their own pleasures. But even those who are busy and successful by worldly standards may be wasting their time if their schedules aren’t aligned with God’s will.  

To make the most of your opportunities, try beginning each day with the Lord, asking Him to direct your activities. None of us want to arrive in heaven and discover that although we’ve been busy spending our time, we’ve failed to invest it for eternity.

The Holy One of Israel

“So will I make my holy name known in the midst of my people Israel; and I will not let them pollute my holy name any more: and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, the Holy One in Israel.” (Ezekiel 39:7)

This wonderful name of God, “the Holy One of Israel,” was often used during the days of the later kings of Judah. It occurs three times in the book of Psalms (Psalm 71:22; 78:41; 89:18) and then no less than 27 times in Isaiah. The name then occurs three more times (Jeremiah 50:29; 51:5; Ezekiel 39:7), with the final one being our text above (where the preposition is translated “in”). This unusual pattern can be written sequentially as 3 + 33 + 3 = 33, perhaps reflecting a divinely ordained design to suggest the Holy Trinity.

The strong emphasis on this particular name during the later period of Judah’s kingdom probably was because of the prevalent unholiness of the nation during those years, finally culminating in the captivity of Judah itself. God stressed again and again that He was the Holy One and that “ye shall be holy; for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44).

This theme is prominent in most of the 33 passages where this majestic name is used, but it is especially emphasized in its final occurrence, as recorded in our text. The context of this latter passage is the prophesied invasion of Israel by “Gog, the land of Magog” who will “come up against my people of Israel…in the latter days” (Ezekiel 38:2, 16). At that time, says the Lord, “there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;…and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezekiel 38:19, 23). Then at last, His people will never pollute His holy name any more and “the house of Israel shall know that I am the LORD their God from that day and forward….for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 39:22, 29). HMM

The Last Supper

Matthew 25:1-30; John 13

IN the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, our Lord, following His prophecy in the twenty-fourth, gives us the parable of the ten virgins. The five foolish virgins were unprepared—had only a superficial experience that soon gave out. The wise ones cannot divide at the last day with the unprepared. Many fanciful and overdrawn interpretations of this parable overlook its simple lesson of proper preparation for the Lord’s return.

This is followed by the parable of the talents. These sums of money represent the various degrees of endowments and abilities which God gives us with which we are to occupy till He comes. The first two men made a short report of their accomplishment; the man who had gained nothing made the longest speech! He had not squandered his gift, mind you, but neither had he used it. “I was afraid” is the secret of many lost lives.

The Lord’s account of the judgment in this same chapter is held by some to be the judgment of nations for their treatment of Israel, by others to be the judgment of professing Christians whose faith does not issue in works. Notice that though the wicked are cursed, it is not “of My Father” (as the righteous were blessed: vv. 34, 41); and though hell is prepared for the devil and his angels, those humans who prefer Satan’s company here must keep it hereafter.

Judas, the son of perdition, begins his work of betrayal. Although it was part of God’s plan, still Judas was personally responsible. It is interesting to note how our Lord told them to follow the man with the pitcher of water. It seems strange guidance, but shows that the tiniest detail is known ahead and all fits together in His plan.

The supper is an ordinance setting forth our Lord’s death till He come. It shows Him as the Passover Lamb whose blood must be applied to our hearts, but it also shows Him as the Bread of Life. This truth is often overlooked. The Passover must be followed by the feast of Unleavened Bread. We see the blood, but easily forget the bread. The life which begins with the blood applied must be continued by the Bread appropriated. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53).

Following the supper, our Lord set forth a very practical lesson in humility (John 13:1-38). What a wonderful contrast here: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God… washed feet.” He could come down from magnificence to meniality! Some of us want to stay on the mountaintop; we do not know the technique of the towel. Peter must have had this incident in mind when later he wrote, “Put on the apron of humility” (1 Pet. 5:5, Williams).

We read that Judas went out “and it was night” (verse 30). It is always night when a soul goes away from Jesus. Then our Lord gives His commandment of love. This is the mark of discipleship, that we love one another.

Simon Peter wanted to follow Jesus now, but was told he should follow afterwards. That “afterwards” is very significant. Peter followed first from Galilee in much self-sufficiency; he had to come to the end of himself before, at Tiberias, he reached the second “follow Me” (John 21:19). The first time he forsook his nets; the second time he forsook himself. We cannot truly follow our Lord until “afterwards”—after we have been broken in self and have come to Tiberias

Worship—Expected of All

The prayer of the upright is His delight.—Proverbs 15:8

When you can stop in the midst of life’s most pressing problems and give yourself eagerly to worshiping God, then you are moving along the road to knowing God more intimately. Sometimes when I have had the occasion to talk face to face with people who were going through difficult circumstances, I have asked them: “How does all this affect your ability to worship God?” Most have responded something like this: “I find it very difficult to give my heart in worship as I struggle with these problems.” And some have said: “I find it utterly impossible.”

Are we justified in refusing to worship God because life has dealt us some hard blows? Those who are at a standstill spiritually might react like this: “Yes, how can God expect me to worship Him when He has allowed these troubles to weigh me down?” Those moving slowly along the road of discipleship might say: “I know I should worship Him, but my preoccupation with my problems makes it almost impossible to do so.” The spiritually mature will affirm: “Nothing is more important than the worship of the One who holds my life in His hands. Because He is God then I know that no matter how things might look to the contrary, all will be well. Thus my heart delights to worship Him.”

Christian counseling ought to be seen (though in some parts of the church it isn’t) as restoring people to worship. This may be hard for some to accept, but it is true nevertheless—nothing that ever happens to us can justify a Christian’s refusal to worship God.

Prayer

My Father and my God, may this emphasis on worship remain undiminished as I turn to other things. I see it is so central. Help me not only to remember it but to apply it. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

1Co 1:1-17; Ac 3:11-16; 14:11-15

What was a problem in the early church?

How did Peter and John deal with this problem?

Celebrating Pentecost

Acts 1:8, 2:1

The Feast of Pentecost marked the summer harvest, the second of the year. It concluded the growing season that had ceremoniously commenced seven weeks earlier on the Feast of Firstfruits.

While Pentecost was initially a joyful celebration of Israel’s grain harvest, the festival also commemorated the giving of the law to Moses on Mount Sinai.

Passover falls in late March to mid-April, and Pentecost comes 50 days later in late May or early June. As many people attended the Feast of Pentecost as Passover. This accounts for the extraordinary list of countries represented at the Feast of Pentecost recorded in the second chapter of Acts.

For Christians, the most celebrated Pentecost in history was the one following the resurrection and ascension of Christ, when the Holy Spirit descended on 120 believers gathered in an upper room. During this extraordinary Pentecost, the Holy Spirit breathed transforming life into the followers of Jesus. At that distinct, divine moment, the church was born!

The fledgling church experienced staggering growth during and immediately following this festival of harvest. The Feast of Pentecost was truly a time of exceptional spiritual harvest. Within the first four chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, the church increased from the 120 gathered in the Upper Room to 5,000 throughout Jerusalem—an astonishing growth rate.

God’s revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai was certainly in the minds of the disciples, when “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). This time, the turbulent elements were not heralding the Law, but the long awaited Lawyer—the Paraclete—the One who would serve as every believer’s Advocate (1 John 2:1). The divine Advocate poured out at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit Himself, bestowed strength, comfort and victory to those who have been “set free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).

The experience of Pentecost continues to be the great need of the church today. With prophetic discernment, Billy Graham laments: “The church today is powerless. We have no power because we do not have the Spirit of God in power and in fullness, in our lives.”

Pentecost is a feast and an experience, a reminder of the past and an annual summons to fulfill the Great Commission: “Wait for the gift My Father promised. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be My witnesses to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

William Francis, Celebrate the Feasts of the Lord