VIDEO In Times of Distress

And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. Mark 1:13

Angels take on various roles in Scripture. They bring messages from God, they comfort, they fight, they deliver, and more. But when it comes to individuals being ministered to by angels, a common theme seems to be times of distress or temptation. That was certainly the case, at least twice, in the life of Jesus—at the beginning of His ministry and near the end.

At the beginning of His ministry, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the Judean wilderness where He was tempted by the devil after forty days of fasting. After such a trying experience “angels came and ministered to Him” (Matthew 4:11). Presumably, the Spirit was with Him during His wilderness sojourn, but angels helped lead Him out of the wilderness and back to strength. Again, near the end of His earthly ministry, when Jesus was agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane over the cross that loomed in His future, “an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him” (Luke 22:43).

When you are weak, in distress, or undergoing temptation, God may well send an angel(s) to strengthen and deliver you.

The sons of Adam in distress fly to the shadow of Thy wing. Isaac Watts

The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus ( Mark 1:9–13) — A Sermon by R.C. Sproul

Blooming for Jesus

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34

I wasn’t truthful about the tulips. A gift from my younger daughter, the packaged bulbs traveled home with her to the US from Amsterdam after she visited there. So I made a show of accepting the bulbs with great excitement, as excited as I was to reunite with her. But tulips are my least favorite flower. Many bloom early and fade fast. The July weather, meantime, made it too hot to plant them.

Finally, however, in late September, I planted “my daughter’s” bulbs—thinking of her and thus planting them with love. With each turn of the rocky soil, my concern for the bulbs grew. Giving their plant bed a final pat, I offered the bulbs a blessing, “sleep well,” hoping to see blooming tulips in the spring.

My little project became a humble reminder of God’s call for us to love one another, even if we’re not each other’s “favorites.” Looking past each other’s faulty “weeds,” we’re enabled by God to extend love to others, even in temperamental seasons. Then, over time, mutual love blooms in spite of ourselves. “By this,” Jesus said, “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). Pruned by Him, we’re blessed then to bloom, as my tulips did the next spring—on the same weekend my daughter arrived for a short visit. “Look what’s blooming!” I said. Finally, me.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

Whom is God asking you to love, even if that person isn’t your “favorite”? What can you do to show that person more of the love of Christ?

Dear Jesus, prune my heart so I can learn to love others in Christ

Can People Get Away With Sin?

Psalm 73

Doesn’t it sometimes seem that certain people never face consequences for their sin? Perhaps you know folks whose ungodly choices have caused them great trouble and suffering, yet there are also those who are prosperous and apparently happy despite their sinful lifestyle. Like the writer of today’s psalm, have you wondered why it looks as if some people get away with wrongdoing? Why doesn’t God intervene?

There are certain things we’ll never understand, because the Lord’s knowledge is higher than ours. But we do know God’s character—He is slow to anger, longsuffering, and patient. We also know He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished (Num. 14:18). The consequences for sin are rarely immediate or visible, but they will come—if not now, then in eternity. 1 Timothy 5:24 says, “The sins of some people are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.”

The only way to be rescued from righteous divine judgment is to run to the Judge for refuge—something no criminal would ever do in a human court. God’s judgment for your sins has been poured out on the Savior, who took the punishment in your place. If you will by faith trust in Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on your behalf, you can be declared “not guilty.”

His Precious Blood

“But the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them….Then Samuel took a stone…and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:10-12)

The Philistines had stolen the Ark of the Covenant, given to Israel by God. In a battle to take it back, the Lord miraculously intervened, routed the Philistines, and retrieved the Ark. Samuel, the spiritual leader of Israel, ordered the people to erect a lasting “stone of remembrance” called Ebenezer to commemorate God’s deliverance of them from their enemies, a scene reflected in the hymn “Come Thou Fount.”

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come;
And I hope by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.

The great “Hall of Fame” of faith in Hebrews 11 extols many biblical heroes for their great works of faith and then mentions those who would overcome after Bible times, persevering through deadly trials. Some survived, some were killed, some wandered to find their dwelling place, but all needed rescue through the shed blood of God’s own Son. For you “know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold….but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-19), “which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:6). Please come quickly, Thou Fount. JDM

Lessons for Disciples

Luke 17:1-10

IN Luke 17:1-10 our Lord gives us certain precious truths along several different lines—capsules of consecrated teaching. He declares that offenses must come, “but woe to him by whom they come! Better that a millstone be hanged about his neck and he be cast into the sea.” Here we have Divine sovereignty and human free will. The fact that offenses must come does not absolve us from blame if we cause offense.

Next, Jesus declared that forgiveness must be unlimited and oft repeated without weariness. It often may be overlooked that He said, “If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him” first of all, then, “if he repent, forgive him.” We should tell our brother wherein he has offended us, and thereby ground may be reached for an understanding. That is better than to hide our resentment in the heart.

The apostles, no doubt seeing that this teaching on forgiveness called for more faith than they had, said, “Lord, increase our faith.” I want you to notice Jesus’ reply. He did not say He would increase their faith. What He did say was almost a reproof: “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamore tree, Be thou plucked up by the root and be thou planted in the sea, and it would obey you.” In other words: “It is not the quantity of faith that matters most. If you had even a little, you could be working wonders.” We want more faith when even the exercises of a little will do the impossible.

Then our Lord moved on to point out a lesson on duty. He illustrates it by the reference to servants who have worked all day and have done their duty, yet are asked to perform extra tasks outside their regular schedule. It is the principle of the “second mile” all over again. The first mile is obligation, the second is privilege. Some of us pride ourselves upon doing our duty, but here the Lord gives us this startling word: “We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” Has it ever occurred to you that you could do your duty and still be an unprofitable servant? How many pride themselves on duty and still are only like the Pharisees—servants, but knowing nothing of that “exceeding righteousness” which is Christ Himself.

It is that extra mile of doing things we don’t have to do that reveals the Christian spirit. How many are “one-mile” Christians at prayer, at Bible reading, in their giving, in church-going, in forgiving others? How many in trouble only bear and endure it and go not the second mile of victory? How many in temptation merely suppress and do not surpass? How many will not go the way of consecration and separation? Some will give money but will not give self. We have unduly gloried duty and have failed to see that only Christ within us is true righteousness—that all else is but legalism, though it may profess His name.

Children of the Dawn

But I call to You for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer meets You.—Psalm 88:13

Those who do not provide for a set-aside time during the day—preferably in the morning, when they can replenish their spiritual resources—may find that they have to provide a time at the end of the day for regret, for repentance, and for eating humble pie.

A traveler in the Himalayas told how he arose very early one morning to watch the sun rise on the towering peaks. He said: “There, as the day began to dawn, we saw arise before our enraptured gaze, within a complete semicircle, twenty peaks each above twenty thousand feet in height, snow-capped with virgin snow. For half an hour the curtain was lifted and we inwardly worshiped. Then the mists began to fill the valleys between, and the view was gone. Gone? No, not really—it was forever laid up in our green and grateful memories.”

That is what a quiet time in the early part of the day does for you. Before the mists of worldly happenings blot out your view of God, you can take a time-exposure of Him which is indelibly imprinted on your mind. Then, after the mists close in, the vision is still there within. You live in two worlds at once—drawing physical strength from the world around you while drawing spiritual sustenance from the world above you.

Pascal, the great French philosopher and Christian, once said: “Nearly all the ills of life spring from this simple source: that we are not able to sit still in a room.” But what if in the stillness, we were to meet with God? How healing that would be! We would arise with what Stevenson calls “happy morning faces.” We would become children of the dawn.


Heavenly Father, give me the wisdom to be able to take “the pause that refreshes,” to drink every day from the living Fountain, the Eternal spring. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Further Study

Lm 3:22-26; Ps 40:1; Isa 26:8; 33:2

What was the psalmist’s testimony?

What did the psalmist say he would do?

The Sacrifice of Stewardship

Romans 12:1

Stewardship, we have said, is a privilege more than a duty. Now I am saying that stewardship is sacrifice. Most people think of sacrifice as something done out of a sense of obligation or oughtness. Few think of it as a privilege. When is it a privilege? It is a privilege when we give up the old self-centered existence for the God-centered existence—when we deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Christ (Mark 8:34)—when we put to death our self-absorption (Galatians 5:24). Sacrifice is a privilege when it opens the door to new life, when it takes us out of ourselves as we leave behind the lesser selves created by our sin.

Stewardship is the day by day living out of Christian privilege through the process of self-denial. The self-denial is essential because seeking that which is worthy requires the abandonment of that which is unworthy.

Stewardship is a sacrifice in two ways. First it is sacrifice in the sense of something given up. Second, it is sacrifice in the sense of something given.

The Apostle Paul appeals to the Roman Christians: “In view of God’s mercy… offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). This presentation of ourselves is a twofold sacrifice. Yes, we become masters of dispossession in contrast to being bent on mastering the art of acquisition. But this “giving up” is an empty exercise if it is not the reflection of the “living sacrifice” of which Paul speaks. The all-important sacrifice is giving ourselves to God. This complete sacrifice triggers a life-offering of reflexive sacrifices as the offering of ourselves to God works itself out in daily offerings.

Our stewardship is the substance of our commitment. It is the sacrificial lifestyle of those who have sacrificed themselves to a God who sacrificed everything. It is the joyful practice of self-denial. The crazy thing about stewardship is that sacrifice is profoundly rewarding.

What is the one enduring treasure? It is the kingdom of God. Those who take this Kingdom seriously look at their own material treasures in an entirely different light. They cease being treasures and become resources. They become expendable for the kingdom.

Philip D. Needham, The War Cry