VIDEO The Angel of Strength

And the Angel of the Lord appeared to [Gideon], and said to him, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor!” Judges 6:12

When the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, he had few resources. Then the Philippian church sent gifts to sustain him and he expressed his thanks in a letter (Philippians 4:10-20). He summarized his perspective in verse 13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Even in the Old Testament, saints were strengthened through Christ. Most theologians believe that the “Angel of the Lord” in the Old Testament was a “theophany”—a revelation of Christ. It has always been Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity, who has manifested the Godhead bodily on earth. Certainly that was true in the New Testament, and it appears it was true in the Old Testament as well—as it happened to Gideon who was called to deliver Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6). Gideon was a “nobody” in Israel, but he learned, like Paul, he could do all things through Christ (the Angel of the Lord) who strengthened him.

Just as Christ strengthened Gideon, Paul, and many others, He will strengthen you as well if you call on Him.

The work which his goodness began, the arm of his strength will complete. Augustus M. Toplady


Judges 6-7 – Skip Heitzig

Authentic Christianity

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. Matthew 5:12

I applied for a position in a Christian organization years ago and was presented with a list of legalistic rules having to do with the use of alcohol, tobacco, and certain forms of entertainment. “We expect Christian behavior from our employees” was the explanation. I could agree with this list because I, for reasons mostly unrelated to my faith, didn’t do those things. But my argumentative side thought, Why don’t they have a list about not being arrogant, insensitive, harsh, spiritually indifferent, and critical? None of these were addressed.

Following Jesus can’t be defined by a list of rules. It’s a subtle quality of life that’s difficult to quantify but can best be described as “beautiful.”

The Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3–10 sum up that beauty: Those who are indwelt by and dependent on the Spirit of Jesus are humble and self-effacing. They’re deeply touched by the suffering of others. They’re gentle and kind. They long for goodness in themselves and in others. They’re merciful to those who struggle and fail. They’re single-minded in their love for Jesus. They’re peaceful and leave behind a legacy of peace. They’re kind to those who misuse them, returning good for evil. And they’re blessed, a word that means “happy” in the deepest sense.

This kind of life attracts the attention of others and belongs to those who come to Jesus and ask Him for it.

By:  David H. Roper

Reflect & Pray

Which of the attributes from Matthew 5 do you especially need in your life? How can you grow in this?

Spirit of God, please produce these characteristics from the Beatitudes in my life.

Saved by Grace

Ephesians 2:4-10

Many people believe that piling up good works makes them right with the Lord. Yet the only payment for sin that can satisfy divine justice is death (Rom. 6:23). This is why God sent His Son Jesus to die in our place. Jesus’ death satisfied God’s justice and brought us …

• New Life. Our spirit is made alive in Christ the moment we acknowledge that we are sinners, turn from our rebelliousness, and believe that His death paid for our sin debt in full.

• Freedom. At salvation, sin’s power over us is broken, and we are set free from its hold. Jesus raised us from the pit of disobedience, and now we can exercise our newfound freedom and follow Him.

• Security. When we accept our Savior’s sacrifice as payment for our sins, we are permanently adopted into the heavenly Father’s family. Our status changes instantly: Once objects of wrath, we are now children of God. And someday we will be seated in the heavenly realms with Christ to enjoy life everlasting.

God, the very one against whom we rebelled, substituted His Son Jesus to receive the punishment that was rightfully ours. How will you show your gratitude to the Father for His saving grace?

Our Natural and Spiritual Bodies

“It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:43-44)

In this portion of this great chapter on the resurrection—first that of Christ, then the future resurrection of the redeemed—death and resurrection are compared to seed-sowing and harvest. When a seed is planted in the ground, it is as though it had died and is buried. For a long time after its “death,” the seed cannot be seen, but finally it rises again as a beautiful flowering plant, or sheaf of grain, or even a lovely tree.

Jesus made this same analogy. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24; note also Mark 4:26-29). Our human bodies, because of sin and the Curse, eventually die and are buried; but one day (like the planted seed) they will appear again, but now immortal and glorified, far greater than they were before—that is, of course, if their real inhabitants (their eternal created spirits) have been born again through faith in their already-resurrected Savior.

Our new spiritual bodies rising from the grave will be real physical bodies (like that of Jesus after He was raised) but will no longer be under bondage to gravitational and electromagnetic forces as at present, but only to spiritual forces of which we have as yet very little knowledge.

We do know, however, that our spiritual bodies will be “fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Although “it doth not yet appear what we shall be….when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). Then in our glorious, powerful, spiritual bodies, we as “his servants shall serve him” in love and joy forever (Revelation 22:3). HMM

The Healing

Luke 13:10-17

ONE of those colorful pictures from our Lord’s ministry that carries many human-interest elements is found in Luke 13:10-17. The Lord was teaching on the Sabbath in one of the synagogues. The day of worship found Him at the house of the Lord. He was not one of those whose manner is to forsake the assembling of themselves together with other believers on a pretext of “worshiping in the great outdoors.”

He found in His audience a woman afflicted with a spirit of infirmity, bent over for 18 years. I am struck with the phrase “spirit of infirmity.” Our Lord went on to say later that it was Satan who had crippled her. There are thousands today shackled with a spirit of infirmity, bound by Satan. Some are not really sick, organically, but bound in mind by fears and obscure mental conditions. They think they are sick, and they need the liberating touch of the Lord.

Jesus healed this woman, and immediately she was made straight and glorified God. It must have been an exciting time. The man who finds himself released from a spirit of infirmity has a right to praise God; and though he may be a disturbing nuisance to the dignified, God is pleased with the praise of His creatures.

It seems almost incredible that anyone should have complained at such an occurrence, but the ruler of the synagogue was angry because Jesus had healed her on the Sabbath. Imagine a soul so warped that it can overlook the loosing of a body bound 18 years and see only the breaking of a custom. But these are still among us. If a revival should break out in the average church today and the “hallelujahs” of souls set free resounded through the house of God, the Pharisees would still object and be more concerned about the infraction of a custom than the freeing of a soul.

Our Lord answered this man by calling him a hypocrite and citing that the Law allowed the loosing of an ox or ass on the Sabbath to lead it to water. Surely then this poor woman could be loosed from her infirmity on the Sabbath day. Jesus looked over everything else to see human need. He was interested in helping souls, not in observing customs. The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath—and He used the less to serve the greater.

The adversaries were ashamed, we read, and all the people rejoiced. There has never been a great spiritual movement that did not stir up the opposition of the rulers of the synagogue. The great reformers and preachers of the past had to contend with the contemporary preachers of their day, the established customs of their times. Finney was reviled because of his new measures. Wesley and Whitefield met the scorn of established religion. Spurgeon was ridiculed as a wild sensationalist. But the common people have heard them gladly and have rejoiced at the power of God shown through them. Anyone who would walk in the steps of the Lord and give himself to loosening the spirit of infirmity in men and women must expect to displease the rulers of the synagogue, but he will find the poor and weak and despised praising God for him!

Having Your Own Way

I will listen to what God will say; surely the Lord will … not let them go back to foolish ways.—Psalm 85:8

Although our divine Shepherd seeks to lead us in the paths that are right, often we are so stubborn and self-centered that we decline to follow. We prefer our own way even though it may lead us straight into trouble.

When challenged about this issue, many of us, of course, strongly deny it. Yet in actual fact, comparatively few of God’s people follow continually in His path. We say: “I want to do God’s will and be led by Him in all that I do”—and then promptly proceed to follow our own self-determined desires. We sing beautiful hymns and choruses that contain such words as: “The Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow”—then take the path that we think is best.

This is an issue that we must come to grips with right now, for unless we learn how to give up our self-centeredness, we will fall into serious trouble—no matter how loving and concerned is our Shepherd. I recognize that this is a difficult issue for many Christians, for our civilization teaches us self-interest as the primary motivating force in life—”every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost.” Actually if self-interest is primary, then the result is self-destruction, for the self-centered soon become the self-disrupted. They are making themselves God, and they are not God, so the universe won’t back their way of life.

Prayer

Blessed Lord Jesus, You show me how to truly live—help me to live Your way. I want to abound, not drag leaden feet to dead tasks. Purge me of self and make me a committed follower of Your Way. For Your own name’s sake. Amen.

Further Study

Pr 14:12; Col 3; Gl 2:20; Rm 6:11

What was Paul’s confession?

List some characteristics of the unselfish life.

The Bright Morning Star

Revelation 22:16

Immanuel Kant wrote: “Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing wonder and awe—the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me.” My favorite sight in nature is the spectacle of a star-bejeweled sky on a dark night. It fills the soul with reverence to contemplate not only their beauty but their fathomless distance and titanic size.

Enshrined in our archives of family memories is one evening when camping in northern Canada, after our evening campfire had died away we took our children down by the lakeside where we could view the open sky. It was one of those dark clear nights, and free of artificial lights the star-spangled sky sparkled in breathtaking majesty. Our son, then about seven years of age, looked up, and in a tone of awe and reverence said, “I never knew there were so many stars.” It was a moment of prized discovery.

Every person of Christ’s day had a picture in mind when Christ said, “I am the Bright Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16). The stars figured prominently in their lives.

The morning star heralds the dawn of a new day. Christ ushered in a new age. His life gave promise of a new and bright future.

At dawn, the stars gradually give way to the light until finally there is only one star shining. All other stars fade from view except for the morning star. Christ, as the Bright Morning Star, shines brightly when all other stars of our life fade away. Those things which now shine so brightly on the horizon of our lives will someday fade and vanish away. The stars of prestige, position, possessions and persons dear to us will one by one grow dim and fade away. But after everything else has vanished, Christ will still shine brightly and will radiantly beam over the horizon of life when the dawn breaks and the shadows flee away.

As the morning star is the brightest star in the sky, so is Christ the most radiant light ever to shine in our world. All other luminaries pale compared to the brilliance of His life. He is the peerless one of all history.

For many centuries man charted his journeys by the stars. Sailors navigated the seas with their eyes on the stars. The stars were the road maps, the directional signs for their times.

From Christ alone can we take bearings for our journey on the sea of life. Our compass needle will cease its oscillations when its directional point is turned toward the One who is the Bright Morning Star. Like a mariner, we may reckon all our decisions and directions from that Star.

Henry Gariepy, Portraits of Christ