VIDEO Priority of Truth

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth. Ephesians 6:14

In recent years, concussions have dominated discussions of safety in American football. As a result, football helmets have become the most important part of a player’s “armor.” While all parts of the football uniform are critically important, the helmet’s protection of the brain may be the most critical.

What about spiritual armor? Is there a most-important piece? Theologically, no, since to put on God’s spiritual armor is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14). And it’s impossible to divide Christ into “parts.” But it is interesting that in Paul’s description of the believer’s spiritual armor the girdle (belt) of truth gets first mention. In reality, a Roman belt was not really considered armor at all; most Roman men wore a belt of some kind to cinch up their robes. It was part of basic Roman dress; no one—civilian or soldier—would dress without a belt. Perhaps that’s why Paul compared the belt to truth. We can’t go anywhere without God’s truth. It is truth that informs us about all the rest of the spiritual armor.

Jesus is the living truth (John 14:6). God’s Word is the written truth (Psalm 119:160; John 17:17). Truth is foundational to victory in the spiritual life.

The truth of Scripture demolishes speculation.  R. C. Sproul


Divine Rescue

I have come down to rescue them. Exodus 3:8

After being informed of a 911 call from a concerned citizen, a police officer drove alongside the train tracks, shining his floodlight into the dark until he spotted the vehicle straddling the iron rails. The trooper’s dashboard camera captured the harrowing scene as a train barreled toward the car. “That train was coming fast,” the officer said, “Fifty to eighty miles per hour.” Acting without hesitation, he pulled an unconscious man from the car mere seconds before the train slammed into it.

Scripture reveals God as the One who rescues—often precisely when all seems lost. Trapped in Egypt and withering under suffocating oppression, the Israelites imagined no possibility for escape. In Exodus, however, we find God offering them words resounding with hope: “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt,” He said. “I have heard them crying out . . . and I am concerned about their suffering” (3:7). And God not only saw—God acted. “I have come down to rescue them” (v. 8). God led Israel out of bondage. This was a divine rescue.

God’s rescue of Israel reveals God’s heart—and His power—to help all of us who are in need. He assists those of us who are destined for ruin unless God arrives to save us. Though our situation may be dire or impossible, we can lift our eyes and heart and watch for the One who loves to rescue.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Where does all seem lost and where do you need God’s rescue? How can you turn your hope to Him in this dire place?

God, I’m in real trouble, and if You don’t help me, I don’t see a good ending. Will You help me? Will You rescue me?

Read Why? Seeing God in Our Pain at DiscoverySeries.org/CB151

Obedience From a Soft Heart

Jonah 4

What most people know about Jonah is that he was swallowed by a big fish while trying to run from God. But the portion of the story that’s often overlooked is what happened after the prophet obeyed. He eventually went to Nineveh to warn the people of divine wrath, and they responded by turning away from wickedness. Their response should have made Jonah ecstatic, but because Nineveh and Israel were enemies, he became angry over their repentance and God’s mercy on them.

Being trapped inside a fish may have convinced Jonah to obey God’s command, but his heart had not changed. He still desired the Ninevites’ destruction, and his bitterness and reluctance showed through in spite of his righteous actions.

God is not fooled by good behavior that springs from a hard heart. Obeying Him with an unwilling spirit may achieve His purpose, but we lose the joy of our reward. Perhaps the Lord has called you to serve Him in a way that is personally challenging. As you commit to following His will, pray also for a soft heart. You will find peace and blessing in doing the work when you follow Him with a humble spirit.

Israel’s Confession of Faith

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

As stated in the law, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 was to be recited by all Jews both morning and evening, for it contains God’s basic plan for passing on the message of God from generation to generation.

The primary teaching is contained in verse 4. There is only one God, indivisible, although in three persons. His divine uniqueness precludes the worship of any other deity. The response to this message is that we should love that God with our entire being. Jesus Christ recognized this as the first and greatest commandment (Mark 12:30), teaching that obedience to it fulfilled one’s duty to the entire law.

The message was so important that God even gave the mechanics for passing it on. In verse 6, we see that “these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart.” Each person, particularly parents (v. 7), needed a heart commitment to God’s commandments, statutes, and judgments (vv. 1-2).

Next, they had to commit themselves to raising up a godly heritage. “Thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children” (v. 7). This teaching was to be first of all oral teaching. They were also to dress in such a way that it reflected their commitment to the law of God (v. 8), and they were to place visual reminders of the law of God all around their homes so that the children were constantly reminded of the things of God (v. 9).

Christians need to discover the truth of this passage. We must not merely assume the godly teaching of our children but also actively cultivate it. At stake is not only the personal walk of our children but also the eternal message of God. JDM

“He Is Risen”

Matthew 28:1-10

THE appearances of our Lord as given in the different accounts have been arranged in many ways. First, the women came to the tomb and saw the angel (Matt. 28:1-2). They announced the resurrection to the disciples. Peter and John came to the tomb and saw the linen clothes there. Our Lord appeared to Mary in the garden (John 20:11-18) and then to the other women (Matt. 28:9-10).

Precious is the story of the walk to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). These disciples were half-believing and half-doubting, for “their eyes were holden” in more ways than one. Is Christ a veiled figure with you? Must He say, “Have I been so long time with you, yet hast thou not known Me?” They were “slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken.” Better slow of head to understand than slow of heart to believe! They did not understand about His first coming; today men do not believe concerning His return.

In this chapter, Jesus opens the Scriptures, opens their eyes, opens their understanding. Always it must begin with the Word, for “faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” When the Scriptures truly are opened, the Spirit will produce holy heartburn as He did here. And nothing is more needed today than a heartburn that all the dopes of sin and sedatives of Satan cannot relieve.

These disciples asked the Lord to abide with them—and He made Himself known in the breaking of bread. Often we look for some spectacular revelation, but He chooses to manifest Himself in a simple and humble way. They rushed back the seven miles to Jerusalem to tell of their experience. Our feet are not tired when we have seen the Lord! And as they testified He appeared again! Even today, Jesus reappears in testimony.

Our Lord appeared also to Peter (Luke 24:34). Peter had collapsed miserably, and our Lord doubtless was preparing him for the great meeting at Tiberias. Meanwhile, He appeared to the ten disciples (Luke 24:36), then to the eleven (Mark 16:14), and ultimately to the disciples with Thomas present (John 20:26-29). Here is a precious lesson for us: We often wish we might see the Lord as did Thomas, but to ask that would be asking a smaller blessing than to believe without seeing!

In John 21 our Lord appears to the disciples at Tiberias. Their own fishing expedition was futile until Christ appeared and gave orders. He then deals with Peter, who has been reduced to his right size. Notice that our Lord does not call him Cephas or Peter but only “Simon, son of Jonas.” There is nothing of the rock about him now. He is broken in self, and now he is commissioned to feed others. It is only when we have been recentered that we can strengthen the brethren (Luke 22:32).

Then the Lord appears to the eleven on the mountain with the great commission (Matt. 28:16-20). We are not only to teach the things commanded but to teach others to observe the things commanded. The “go” carries the “lo” of His presence.

Mark, Luke and Acts all record the ascension. He who went away is to return in like manner. It is tragic that this clear promise (Acts 1:11) has been ignored or so mistaught that few today are moved with the eager expectation of His personal return. If this fired us instead of the impossible dream of “world conversion,” things would be different.

Meanwhile, we are to occupy till He comes. He is not a mere memory but is living still, and the Spirit within makes Him real to the believer as He is allowed to have His way.

The Cross’s Magnetism

As for Me, if I am lifted up from the earth I will draw all people to Myself.—John 12:32

The love for God that burns in our hearts must never be seen as the fruit of our labor, as if it is something we manufacture. Seeing the love of God for us, our own hearts respond with love. We give love for love. We cannot help it. Let’s be done with the idea that love for God is something we work at. It issues forth in good works, of course, but it begins in contemplation of how much we are loved.

I often tell my students that they cannot love until they have been loved. By this I mean that love is a response. Our souls must receive love before we can give out love. Those who did not receive much love from their parents complain at this stage: “I can’t love God because my soul was never properly prepared to love; my parents didn’t love me.”

This is a problem, I agree, but it must never be seen as an insoluble problem. No one who stands at Calvary and sees God dying for them on that tree can ever argue that because they were not loved by their parents, they cannot now receive God’s love. If they really believe that, then they are saying that God’s love is balked by the adverse influence of human conditioning.

God’s love will only flow into us if we let it and if we really want it. To desire it is like the touch of the hand on a spring blind: the blind is released and the sunlight flows in. Just to want His love is enough; He will do the rest.

Prayer

O God, forgive me if I have used excuses to barricade my heart against Your love. I gaze once more on Calvary and open my heart to allow its mighty magnetism to draw my soul toward You in a way it has never been drawn before. Amen.

Further Study

2Th 3:1-5; Jd 21; Eph 3:17-19

What was Paul’s desire for the Thessalonians?

What was Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians?

Earthen Vessels

2 Corinthians 4:7

Indeed, as the Apostle Paul declares, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves” (2 Corinthians 4:7 KJV). God is exhibiting His greatness within our weakness. The result of being Spirit-possessed is a series of contrasts and, to many, conflicts. It is well, then, for the believer to learn to recognize these tension points, their cause and their cure.

There are Christians who suppose that to be Spirit-filled is to be free from temptation. How manifestly untrue. Fresh from the creative genius of God and created in the image and likeness of that God, Adam was tempted. Retaining the divinity of the godhead, but clothed with vulnerable humanity, Jesus was tempted “in every way… just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). And this immediately after His anointing with the Holy Spirit. The most holy of God’s children face temptation.

“Earthen vessels” means physical limitations. Whether they mean merely physical weariness, fatigue, even exhaustion or failing health, a physical handicap—they all come to the Spirit-filled Christian.

And what about the emotions of a Spirit-filled man? Should they not be obviously spiritual? The answer is yes and no. Man is a creature of emotions. Love is one emotion. Love can be self-centered, grasping for attention, even judgmental. The unselfish, compassionate love of Christ is a hallmark of the Spirit-filled man. Anger is carnal when it is self-defensive. It is spiritual when it defends God, His purity and righteousness.

Man is also a creature of moods. It is when the moods get beyond bounds that they are distressing. But sorrow, joy, even ecstasy may come and go within the God-ordered life. And it is the Spirit who will keep these moods within bounds.

Possibly one of the most provocative tension points is that of Christian perfection. Jesus commanded, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 KJV). Now, perfection is that state which cannot be improved. Then how can the Spirit-filled man, who indeed is yet human, be perfect? Man’s perfection lies not in accomplishment, but in spirit; not in performance, but in purpose. It is to Christian perfection that God calls us, not to sinless perfection. Sinless perfection says that one is not able to sin. Christian perfection declares that he is able not to sin. And therein lies a world of difference.

Milton S. Agnew, The Holy Spirit: Friend and Counselor