VIDEO Greater Is He

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1 John 4:4

All parents want their children to learn that inner strength can overcome life’s external obstacles. With perseverance, determination, faith, and patience, life’s challenges can be overcome. It is a truism rather than an absolute truth: What is on the inside is more powerful than what is on the outside.

But when it comes to spiritual challenges, we have an absolute truth at work: God in us is greater than Satan who is in the world. The apostle John tells us something that sometimes surprises Christians when they read it: “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19)—meaning Satan influences and has a measure of power over the world. But John also tells us, “[God] who is in you is greater than [Satan] who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). We have read the final chapter; we are on the winning side in all things.

Never forget: Our God is greater than the one who pretends to be the ruler of this world.

What greater encouragement can a man have to fight against his enemy, than when he is sure of the victory before he fights, of final victory! Richard Sibbes


62 1 John 4 – Pastor Chuck Smith – C2000 Series

Listen and Learn

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

On one side of the street a homeowner displays in his yard a giant blow-up bald eagle draped in a US flag. A big truck sits in the driveway. Its side window features a painted flag and the back bumper is covered with patriotic stickers. Directly across the street in a neighbor’s yard are signs that highlight the slogans for current social justice issues in the news.

Are the people in these homes feuding or friends? we might wonder. Is it possible that both families are believers in Jesus? God calls us to live out the words of James 1:19: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Too often we stubbornly hold on to our opinions and aren’t willing to consider what others are thinking. Matthew Henry’s Commentary has this to say: “We should be swift to hear reason and truth on all sides, and be slow to speak . . . and, when we do speak, there should be nothing of wrath.”

Someone has said, “Learning requires listening.” The practical words from God in the book of James can only be accomplished if we’re filled with God’s loving Spirit and choose to respect others. He’s willing to help us make changes in our hearts and attitudes. Are we open to listen and learn?

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

How does God want you to put James 1 into practice? Whom might you need to listen to and hear?

You know me, God. I can be opinionated sometimes. Help me to be quick to listen and slow to speak.

Satisfaction With God’s Word

2 Timothy 4:1-4

Spiritually, we’ve all had dry seasons, so you probably understand the desire for renewed vitality in your relationship with Christ. Perhaps you tried the latest devotional book people rave about, sought an emotional experience through worship music, tried to gain momentum by attending a conference, or looked online for a message that assured growth.

Although these methods all seem promising, they’re not infallible. On their own, some might afford short-lived solutions, but others could actually be ear ticklers that lead away from genuine intimacy with Christ. To be strengthened spiritually, it’s essential to start with the Bible—the only source of absolute truth. While other Christian resources can be helpful, they become far more valuable when used as building blocks on the trustworthy foundation of God’s Word. All other avenues have potential for human slant. Even seeking the Lord in prayer is not foolproof without the Word, which provides the basis for our requests and fellowship with Him.

Some believers see the Bible as a big book that takes too much time and effort to understand, so they look elsewhere for answers. They want a shortcut to sanctification and intimacy with the Lord, but there really isn’t one. God’s Word is His love letter to you. As you spend time with this gift and lean on the Holy Spirit for guidance, your appreciation of it will grow.

His Kingdom Is Forever

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith: who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

The final verse of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” describes our tools and comportment while in the battle, and the final victory.

That word above all earthly powers,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Thro’ Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.


As the King’s soldiers, we have God-given abilities and possessions, most notably the indwelling God’s Spirit and empowering gifts. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9). “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4). We should “fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28) and focus on Him, “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts” (even goods and kindred [Luke 9:60-62] if need be). “We should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12-13).

As of yet the battle continues. “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne” (Revelation 3:21), “and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17). JDM

Three Gospel Snapshots

Luke 9:51-62

IN Luke 9:51-62 we find our Lord steadfastly setting His face toward Jerusalem, the cross and the consummation of His ministry. The Samaritans refused to receive Him because He headed for Jerusalem. It was quite a different attitude from that of the Samaritans in John 4. The disciples James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven upon them as Elijah had done in 2 Kings 1:10-12. Swift was the reply of our Lord: “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of Man is not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.”

Christians today would do well to ponder these words. Often we have shown a disposition to call down fire upon others, not knowing what manner of spirit we are of. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord.”

The rest of this passage sets forth three Gospel snapshots. Three men appear suddenly upon the stage, and as suddenly they are gone. The tantalizing brevity of it all leaves us wondering what became of them. They illustrate three perils of Christian discipleship: the peril of the uncounted cost, the peril of the unburied corpse, and the peril of the unforsaken circle.

The first man, a scribe according to Matthew, was a quick-on-the-trigger enthusiast who simply had not counted the cost. In Luke 14:25-33 our Lord deals thoroughly with this matter in the parables of the tower and of the king going to battle. He would have us know what we are doing and count the cost of obedience and following Him.

The second man was invited to discipleship by the Lord Himself, but he wanted first to go home and bury his father. The real trouble was in that word “first.” Something else came before following the Lord. He was ready to follow, but not just yet. Our Lord sternly replied, “Let the dead bury their dead; but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.” It is better that the dead should be unburied than that we fail to follow Him. Let the unbelieving relatives bury their dead. Let the dead in trespasses and in sins bury their kind. Whatever interpretation we put upon these words, we gather that our Lord will have no fondling of the carcasses of earth. No obligation of earth, no ties of sentiment should be allowed to hinder our discipleship to Him. Too many Christians sing hymns on Sunday but all week they are out in the world helping the dead to bury their dead.

The third man went further than the second. “I will follow Thee,” he said, but “first” he would tell his people goodbye. “I will follow Thee but…”—there is the weakness of many a prospective disciple. Our Lord uses a familiar figure from farm life to declare the peril of looking back. His kingdom is no place for a man with his feet pointed one way and his head the other. We are to forget the things behind. There is no place in discipleship for divided allegiance. “Fix your eyes upon Jesus” and run the race looking unto Him. Count the cost, let the dead bury the corpse and forsake the circle of those who are at home in this world.

No Reason to Smile

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.—Proverbs 17:22

A surprising thing takes place in those whose temper is tempered by the Holy Spirit—bad temper is replaced by a growing sense of humor. God has given us the power of humor, not only to laugh at things, but to laugh off things. I am not suggesting that we ought to use laughter to deny realities, but humor often reduces things to their proper size.

I once heard a preacher say: “There is no good in a movement or a person where there is no good humor, for goodness has laughter as a corollary.” There is something basically wrong with a person who, at appropriate times, cannot break out into hearty laughter. I heard recently of a member of the Irish Republican Army who was wonderfully converted. He spent the first month after his conversion in the home of a minister who said of him: “It was two weeks before I saw him smile, and when I spoke to him about this, he said: ‘I have been in a grim business, plotting against people—and the way I was living, there was just no reason to smile.'” How tragic—”just no reason to smile.” Depend on it, where you cannot smile, you cannot live—you just exist.

Over the years, I have watched many groups come to the CWS Institutes in Christian Counseling. Many are tied up with fears, guilt, and apprehension. We invite them to share their fears and get them up and out. They do. Then the laughter begins. They grow progressively happier as the week goes on. By the end of the week, they are ready to laugh at anything—themselves included.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, it is said of You that You were anointed “more than your companions, with the oil of joy.” Let that same anointing rest and remain upon me today—and every day. For Your own dear name’s sake. Amen.

Further Study

Pr 15:1-15; Jms 5:13; Ps 126:2

What does a happy heart enjoy?

How is this expressed?

Impossible!

Acts 2:24

Death is final. Who has ever gone beyond the limits of life into the domain of death to return with word of what lies beyond?

Jesus died. There can be no question about that, in spite of current attempts to concoct tales of His swooning so convincingly as to persuade His practiced executioners that He was truly dead. The centurion detailed to hasten His death on the cross by breaking His limbs certified His decease before breaking a single bone. The greater miracle would have been the possibility that He might have still survived under such conditions. But it was not so. He died.

The executioners knew it. His mother knew it. His beloved friend and disciple John knew it. Joseph of Arimathea, member of the high court of Judaism, knew it, for it was he who laid His lifeless body in His own tomb. And for three days His corpse lay there, sealed under guard, lest friends, thinking Him less than dead, should try to revive Him or even to steal away His body in order to proclaim Him yet alive.

How can reasonable people conceive of the possibility of the dead coming to life again? Unless, of course Jesus knew what He was saying when He declared, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). Could it be true? Was Jesus who He claimed to be?

Look closely at the man: His miraculous birth, the precise correlation of ancient prophecy with the unfolding drama of His life. Listen closely to His words of grace and truth, of hope and salvation. Hear the note of authority in His voice as it grips the hearts of His hearers. Watch Him still the storm, release the possessed, heal the sick, feed the hungry. Stand with the cynical crowd and see Him call His friend Lazarus to life, still bound in grave clothes. Hear from His lips as he hangs upon a Roman cross whispered words of forgiveness for His tormentors. This is the Jesus who says, “I lay down my life—only to take it up again” (John 10:17).

God raised Him from the dead. And in raising Him, He released life-giving, resurrection power into the life of our jaded world. The living Christ strikes off the chains of addiction, binds up the wounds of the abused and lightens the darkness of the despairing. He forgives the sinner and restores us to fellowship with the welcoming Father.

Impossible? “God raised Him from the dead… because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him” (Acts 2:24). He is able to share that life with you and me. And with it, the possibility of a new and abundant life of fellowship with God. “The promise is for you!” (Acts 2:39)

Paul A. Rader, The War Cry