VIDEO What Ails You?

Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, “What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is.” Genesis 21:17

What an awful moment! Hagar and her teenage son were stranded in the desert, without water, dying of dehydration. Hagar wept and said to herself, “Let me not see the death of the boy” (Genesis 21:16). She placed him under a shrub and cried. But the boy knew how to pray, and God heard the voice of the lad. In response, an angel spoke from heaven, saying, “What ails you, Hagar?” (verse 17)

If you’re down and out today, listen for the same message. What ails you? Is it too much for God? Are His angels unable to help you? Can the Lord not hear your voice where you are? 

If the Lord can hear the parched voice of a praying teenager, He can certainly hear and respond to your needs. Through His love, we know we have a mighty Protector. He sends His angels to care and watch over us.

The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow, and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering, or He will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Saint Francis de Sales


Chuck Missler -Genesis Session 17 Ch 21, 22, 24 Isaac, Part 1

Growing in God’s Grace

Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge. 2 Peter 1:5

The English preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834–1892) lived life “full throttle.” He became a pastor at age nineteen—and soon was preaching to large crowds. He personally edited all of his sermons, which eventually filled sixty-three volumes, and wrote many commentaries, books on prayer, and other works. And he typically read six books a week! In one of his sermons, Spurgeon said, “The sin of doing nothing is about the biggest of all sins, for it involves most of the others. . . . Horrible idleness! God save us from it!”

Charles Spurgeon lived with diligence, which meant he “[made] every effort” (2 Peter 1:5) to grow in God’s grace and to live for Him. If we’re Christ’s followers, God can instill in us that same desire and capacity to grow more like Jesus, to “make every effort to add to [our] faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge . . . self-control, perseverance . . . godliness” (vv. 5–7).

We each have different motivations, abilities, and energy levels—not all of us can, or should, live at Charles Spurgeon’s pace! But when we understand all Jesus has done for us, we have the greatest motivation for diligent, faithful living. And we find our strength through the resources God has given us to live for and serve Him. God through His Spirit can empower us in our efforts—big and small—to do so.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

How are you making every effort to grow more like Christ? What will help you in this endeavor?

Loving God, help me to be diligent to live for You in all I do and say. Thank You for enabling me to do so through Your Spirit inside me.

Lessons From a Man on the Run

Jonah 1

Have you ever tried to run from God? Most of us won’t try to escape physically by fleeing to another place, the way Jonah did. But we’re experts at ignoring God’s commands, distracting ourselves with busyness, and offering an alternative plan in place of full obedience. No matter how we rationalize and excuse ourselves, rebellion leads only to pain and suffering. 

While running from the Lord, Jonah overlooked some essentials that we should all keep in mind. He incorrectly assumed that fleeing would be a way to avoid obeying God, but the Lord is not deterred by our attempts at manipulation. As David once wrote, He’ll pursue us even to the “remotest part of the sea” (Psalm 139:9).

Jonah also overlooked the fact that disobedience will, figuratively speaking, bring a person down. But notice that the reluctant prophet actually experienced this in a more literal way as well: After initially going down to Joppa, he proceeded down into a ship, and ultimately found himself plunging into the depths of the sea (Jonah 1:15).

Running from God is futile—there’s no hiding place because we are always visible to the Lord. So instead of trying to flee His presence, we should welcome it.

A Mind to Work

“So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Nehemiah 4:6)

The ambitious project of rebuilding Jerusalem’s wall, with all its gates and other structures, was completed in less than two months (Nehemiah 6:15), for all “the people had a mind to work.” This was in spite of the danger from the external enemies who wanted to delay the work if they could.

The third chapter of Nehemiah has a remarkable list of the workmen on the wall. Men of all walks of life participated, each with an assigned portion of the work as organized by Nehemiah. The first verse of the chapter tells of the work done by Eliashib, the high priest, and all the other priests; the last verse lists the contribution of the goldsmiths and the merchants. There were the Nethinims (v. 26), apothecaries (v. 8), rulers (i.e., “mayors,” vv. 9, 12, 14-16), and various others. At least one man even had his daughters working (v. 12). Only the nobles of the Tekoites “put not their necks to the work of their LORD” (v. 5).

This would be a good model for any doctrinally sound, Bible-believing church, school, or other Christian ministry. It’s a lesson we would do well to learn. The mission and its goal are surely more important than the special desires or interests of any individual or group. At the same time, enforced cooperation will only breed resentment and inefficiency. The people themselves must be led to understand it as not just a job to do, but as a divine calling they themselves must have “a mind to the work.” Otherwise they should probably be encouraged to work elsewhere.

The early Christians served “daily with one accord…and singleness of heart,…And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:46-47). That’s the way it should be. HMM

Tempted Like As We

Luke 4:1-13

THE threefold temptation of our Lord corresponds to the temptation of the first Adam in Genesis. John tells us (1 John 2:16) that the threefold appeal is by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. This appeal was used with Eve: “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat” (Gen. 3:6).

Luke, in his account of the Son of Man, follows the Genesis order; but Matthew puts the third appeal second, making the order that which would appeal most to a king, with its offers of a quick way to the throne.

Jesus meets the appeal to the flesh with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. He could have readily provided Himself with a meal, for God can set a table in the wilderness whenever He likes; but our Lord was willing to trust His Father to supply His need without resorting to the suggestion of the devil. He will not selfishly use His power.

Then the devil undertook to pervert the Word of God and lead Jesus to resort to the spectacular to prove God’s care. He quotes a messianic psalm in which God promises to protect the Messiah because He is obedient and trustful. Had Jesus listened to Satan, He would have broken the condition. To ever ask for signs and wonders of God—to demand some sensational proof of His love and care—is to follow this same suggestion of the devil.

Then the adversary offered the Lord the kingdoms of this world. They really were his to offer, for this present world-system is under him. In John 12:31 and 14:30 our Lord speaks of Satan as the “prince of this world,” and in 2 Corinthians 4:4 calls him the “god of this world.” God owns the world, but the devil possesses it in the present age. But Jesus defeated the tempter again with a sword-thrust from Deuteronomy. No wonder the devil has fought Deuteronomy so and has sought to destroy it with higher criticism! The Lord defeated him each time with a verse from that book. If the Lord used only three verses from Deuteronomy to whip the devil, we ought to put up a good fight with the whole Bible!

Mark adds that our Lord was with the wild beasts. The first Adam was tempted in a lovely garden with all creation at peace. The second Adam was tempted in a wilderness typical of the earth spoiled by sin. But one day, by reason of His victory, He shall reign over the earth… redeemed from the curse and with creation at peace (Isa. 11:6-8; Rom. 8:18-25).

After the devil left Him, angels ministered to Jesus. After each victory over evil, we are visited by His strengthening Presence in fresh power, in joy, and in confidence. Luke adds significantly that the devil departed “for a season.” Again and again through His life, our Lord suffered being tempted, and He is even now able to succor them that are tempted (Heb. 2:18).

All Persons Sacred

The Holy Spirit came down on them, just as on us at the beginning.—Acts 11:15

An interesting thing to notice about the upper room is that the Holy Spirit came, not just on the Twelve, but on the one hundred and twenty.

Suppose the Spirit had come on the Twelve and had bypassed the others who were waiting in that room—what would that have done to Christianity? It would have limited the Spirit’s power and presence to special people, called to a specially sacred task. Someone has remarked that the addition of a zero to the twelve, making 120, is one of the greatest additions in history. It is! The coming of the Holy Spirit on the 120 meant that all distinctions based on a special class or group were gone. Some have different gifts, of course, such as are described in Romans 12, 1Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4:11. As far as receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit is concerned, however, all who are redeemed are eligible.

If we think this through carefully, it might enable us to regain a sense of mission in life. Some occupations are considered sacred and some secular. This produces a sag in every so-called secular occupation—the layman is in a secular occupation and so is excused if he lives a second-rate Christian life. This impoverishes life because it removes any sense of divine calling. A minister can be holy and a layman can be holy—all on the same conditions with no special favors. Sacredness is found in character, not in a collar; in values, not in vestments.

Prayer

O Father, I am grateful that I, as a person, can receive the greatest gift of all—the Holy Spirit—and live out my life where You have placed me, with a sense of divine vocation. Thank You, dear Father. Amen.

Further Study

Ac 11:5-10; 16-18

What problem did some of the early Christians have?

How did God overcome this?

Breakfast on the Beach

John 21:12

Is the Christ adventure over for Peter? He is back at his fishing. Could it be that the great dream has evaporated? And now, empty nets and, without his Lord, an empty life.

Through the trailing morning mist something, someone, is dimly visible on the shore. With a strong voice He is calling across the water, asking about the catch. Learning that the night’s work had been futile, He gives advice that immediately results in a harvest so great that the net is strained to the limit.

“It is the Lord!” The exclamation merges with the splash of Peter as he plunges into the water, anxious to reach the shore faster than any boat could take him.

Mercifully, thankfully, the first words of Jesus were not reproachful. Rather, Jesus had shown interest in their occupation; He had sympathized with them in their melancholy, and He had given them amazingly fruitful advice. When they came to shore, they saw a charcoal fire there.

The invitation is cordial and genuine: “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:12). Is not Jesus always calling us to communion with Himself? What He has prepared for us He wants us to share and to enjoy. If, in a spiritual sense, we have “toiled all night and caught nothing,” (Luke 5:5 NKJV) He waits to provide the spiritual nourishment that will help us overcome our disappointment. If we, too, have been guilty of denial, if we, too, have “warmed our hands” at an alien fire, if we, too, have turned aside from a sacred vocation, He bids us “Come.” The Master continually calls to those who spiritually hunger and thirst to “Come and dine.”

The breakfast on the beach becomes a sacramental meal. There had been three denials by Peter. Now, for a triple sin there is a triple forgiveness. “Do you truly love Me more than all these?” (John 21:15). Three probing questions, three penitent avowals, and three binding obligations. The first, “Feed My lambs.” The second commission: “Feed My sheep.” And the third obligation: “Follow Me!” Forgiven, reinstated, commissioned. Once again Peter would be a “fisher of men,” and by the grace of Christ he would follow to life’s end.

“More than all else” love is the kind of love Christ expects in return for His gift of forgiveness. It was this kind of love that changed a denier into a devotee. As we seek to follow Christ, let us be sure that we are motivated by nothing less than “more than all else” love.

Arnold Brown, With Christ at the Table