VIDEO Help in Trouble

When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. Acts 12:10

When we’re too weak to fight our own battles, the Lord sends His helpers to encourage, deliver, and empower us. Sometimes they are human helpers. Peter had much encouragement and support from his wife who traveled with him (1 Corinthians 9:5) and from his fellow apostles and friends. His brother Andrew must have been a constant support. But none of them could be with Peter when he was imprisoned in Acts 12, facing execution. That’s when the Lord sent a helper from another realm, an angel, to deliver him.

Angels were involved in the Early Church, releasing the apostles from jail (Acts 5:19), directing Philip (Acts 8:26), speaking to Cornelius (Acts 10:3), striking the tyrant Herod dead (Acts 12:23), and encouraging Paul on a sinking ship (Acts 27:23).

The Lord sends us human help as needed, and He gives us more angelic assistance than we know. You can trust Him in the difficult moments of life. You’re not alone.

God has more ways of providing for us…than we can possibly imagine. Thomas Watson


Acts 12 – Skip Heitzig

Choosing to Honor God

To the faithful you show yourself faithful. Psalm 18:25

In the novella Family Happiness by Leo Tolstoy, main characters Sergey and Masha meet when Masha is young and impressionable. Sergey is an older, well-traveled businessman who understands the world beyond the rural setting where Masha lives. Over time, the two fall in love and marry.

They settle in the countryside, but Masha becomes bored with her surroundings. Sergey, who adores her, arranges a trip to St. Petersburg. There, Masha’s beauty and charm bring her instant popularity. Just as the couple is about to return home, a prince arrives in town, wanting to meet her. Sergey knows he can force Masha to leave with him, but he lets her make the decision. She chooses to stay, and her betrayal breaks his heart.

Like Sergey, God will never force us to be faithful to Him. Because He loves us, He lets us choose for or against Him. Our first choice for Him happens when we receive His Son, Jesus Christ, as the sacrifice for our sin (1 John 4:9–10). After that, we have a lifetime of decisions to make.

Will we choose faithfulness to God as His Spirit guides us or let the world entice us? David’s life wasn’t perfect, but he often wrote about keeping “the ways of the Lord” and the good outcomes that came from doing so (Psalm 18:21–24). When our choices honor God, we can experience the blessing David described: to the faithful, God shows Himself faithful.

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

When was the last time you made a difficult decision that honored God? How did it affect your relationship with Him?

Dear God, help me to honor You with the choices I make. Thank You for loving me faithfully throughout my life.

Patience and Trust

Psalm 37:3-8

Trusting in the Lord is easy when life is pleasant and running smoothly. However, when circumstances are not as we desire, our confidence in God can become shaky. Yet even in difficult times, He guides us and helps us through. 

God wants us to cultivate faithfulness to Him in every circumstance. To do this, we must commit to His way instead of getting frustrated or trying to manipulate things to get our desired outcome. While it would be easy for us to become anxious or angry with our situation, God wants His children to rest in Him with a peaceful spirit. That is possible when we confidently believe He’s in control and will arrange things for our good and His glory. 

Then we are to patiently wait for His perfect will to unfold. Even if we cannot see any changes taking place, God is at work in us and in our situation. Our task is to keep our focus on Jesus and faithfully continue doing whatever He has given us to accomplish at present. In the end, delays give us a chance to develop Christlike character and show the world what Jesus’ transforming power can bring about in those who belong to Him.

No Complaints

“And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.” (Numbers 11:1)

The Lord is not pleased when we complain about our circumstances, no matter how grievous they may seem to us. Our example is Christ, always. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).

The children of Israel complained once too much. Forgetting all of God’s blessings in miraculously freeing them from slavery and providing all their needs, they repeatedly complained about their lot, one thing after another. “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted….Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer” (1 Corinthians 10:5-6, 10).

God may not deal with a complaining Christian as severely as He did with His chosen people, Israel, but we can be sure He is displeased when we, who have received the blessing of eternal salvation by His gracious gift through Christ, forget His benefits and complain about His testing. “Do all things without mumurings and disputings,” He has commanded (Philippians 2:14)—that is, without complaining and arguing about our treatment.

We can be confident that He is allowing these difficulties for some good purpose in preparing us for our service for Him in eternity. We should not forget what happened to the complainers in ancient Israel. “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition” (1 Corinthians 10:11). HMM

For She Loved Much

Luke 7:36-50

LUKE alone (7:36-50) records the anointing of our Lord in the house of a Pharisee. This man had perhaps invited Jesus out of curiosity or admiration, and our Lord, who received sinners and ate with them, being a friend of publicans and sinners, accepted the invitation. As He ate, a woman who had been a sinner, doubtless a harlot in the city, came to Him and anointed His feet. She had likely heard Him teach and came in a state of genuine contrition, godly sorrow and repentance. Such a state manifests itself in brokenness. There is much shallow repentance today because men have such a shallow sense of sin.

The Pharisee reasoned within himself that if Jesus were a prophet He would not have allowed such a contact and defilement. But our Lord, reading his thoughts, gave him the parable of the two debtors, one owing five hundred pence and the other fifty. Both were forgiven: now which loved his creditor most? The plain application, as He Himself gave it, was that those who are forgiven most love most; and this woman, being a grievous sinner and realizing it, was full of gratitude because much was forgiven. While all are sinners—and it is not the amount of sins committed that condemns the sinner—yet those who have offended most grievously in degree, though all offend in kind, usually are most grateful. That explains why men converted from terrible careers of vicious sin often are most exuberant in their testimony, and why those saved early and not conscious of years of vile transgression do not generally manifest the same sense of deliverance.

“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” is not to be taken to mean that the woman was forgiven because she loved. She loved much because she was forgiven much. Her love was the expression of gratitude for sins already forgiven. Some think she had already been forgiven before this incident; others, that Jesus, perceiving in her genuine repentance, forgave her at the outset and announced it at the close of the incident.

Our smug and pale Christianity today shows little of that broken and humble gratitude for sins forgiven that marked this woman. Few alabaster boxes are broken in tearful joy over forgiveness. Sin has been glossed over; men do not regard themselves sinners and consequently feel no burden of guilt and, of course, no relief in His pardon. We bring Him verbal tribute, wordy compliments on Sunday, but few kneel weeping at His feet.

“Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” It is faith that saves, so far as our part goes. Of course, Christ the object of our faith, saves us, but faith looks unto Him and appropriates His pardon. And because we are forgiven and saved, we may go in peace—peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and the peace of God that passeth all understanding.

Good Temper

Patience is better than power, and controlling one’s temper, than capturing a city.—Proverbs 16:32

One of the fruits of the Spirit is patience. The central meaning of this word (Greek: makrothumia) is “good temper.” It denotes a person who does not easily “fly off the handle.” He maintains good temper amid the flux and flow of human events.

One commentator says of this word: “This … fruit of the Spirit expresses the attitude to people which never loses patience with them, however unlovely and unteachable they may be.” Archbishop Trench defined the word as “a long holding out of the mind before it gives room to action or to passion, the self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong.” And Moffatt describes it as “the tenacity with which faith holds out.”

Good temper must not, however, be confused with apathy. In the days of the early church, the group called the Stoics made indifference a virtue. They said: “Nothing is worth suffering for, so build a wall around your heart and keep out all sense of feeling.” The early Christians did not share that view, however, for Christians care—and because they care, they suffered. Through the ministry of the Spirit in their lives, they found poise and good temper amidst their sufferings. The more we care, the more sensitive we will be to things that tend to block our goal of caring—that is why the quality of patience is so essential. An evangelist addressing a meeting was subjected to persistent heckling. Unfortunately, he lost his temper—and also his audience. They saw he had little to offer except words.

Prayer

O Father, help me to become a person of good temper. Dwell deep in me so that I shall be the peaceful exception amid the disturbed surroundings that I encounter day by day. Amen.

Further Study

Eccl 7:1-12; Nm 20:1-13; Lk 21:19; Rm 12:12

What was the result of Moses’ impatience?

What will be the result of our impatience?

Under His Wings

Matthew 23:37

One of the most vivid scenes in my memory occurred one lazy summer on my uncle’s one-hundred-acre farm in Michigan. My brother and I were in luck because my aunt, who cared for the farm’s poultry concerns, had just purchased 50 baby chicks to raise. These soft little balls of yellow seemed like dandelion fluff blown across the prairie in the summer wind.

By the hour we watched the tiny creatures peck grain and draw at the water tubes. On warm days they were confined in a chicken run where they could hop about and forage in the gentle sunshine.

Aunt Dina decided to leave the chicks in the run one afternoon when we went to town. While there, the clouds gathered with startling suddenness. Thunder rumbled down the valley, and the sky exploded with a vehement rain such as we had never seen before.

Aunt Dina drove home, her face drawn and grim. We knew she was dreadfully worried about the chicks. And her worry was not without cause, for when we pulled up the drive and raced to the chicken run, we saw the tiny yellow things in grotesque contortions, some struggling to get up, others still as death under burial sheets of rain. Two of the three hens nestled on the ground with glassy eyes and bulging sides—bulging because of the chicks gathered beneath their rain-soaked wings.

Aunt Dina lost 25 of the 50 chicks. Most of those sheltered beneath mamma’s wings were still alive. We nursed them back to health under heat lamps in the living room.

The sight of the one desperate hen, her eyes wide and glassy with fright, wings scraping the ground as she chased the scattering chicks, is a memory as vivid today as it was then. For it is so like the scene Jesus described as He wept over Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37).

Like my Aunt Dina’s chicks, the people of Jerusalem who heard Jesus speak had no idea of the storm that was coming. They didn’t believe that they needed Him, that their lives depended on Him in spite of the warnings of Jesus and the prophets before Him.

God does not offer us merely a shelter in the midst of turmoil. Revealed in the potent image of the hen with her chicks is the possibility of taking part in the very life of God.

Marlene Chase, Pictures from the Word