VIDEO Words to Change By

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes. Psalm 19:8

A well-known Christian scholar told about sitting with a Jewish rabbi he met and listening to the rabbi recite passages from the Old Testament. Following along in the Hebrew text, the Christian scholar listened as the Jewish rabbi recited, from memory, the entire book of Psalms.

Yet the Jewish rabbi was not a Christian. He knew the Old Testament but did not know the Messiah of whom the Old Testament speaks. God’s Word was given for more than rote learning and study. It was given to rejoice the heart and enlighten the eyes. It was given so the one who meditates on it day and night will become like a tree that yields its fruit in season and whose leaves never wither. It was given so that the one who embraces it will prosper in all things (Psalm 1:1-3). Both the written Word of God and the living Word of God are given that we might have life—even abundant life (John 10:10)!

Studying and meditating on Scripture is the beginning point. Then, letting it change our life as needed will be the result.

The Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our lives. D. L. Moody


An Exposition of Psalm 19, Part One

Jesus Is Our Peace

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility. Ephesians 2:14

A monk named Telemachus lived a quiet life, but his death at the end of the fourth century changed the world. Visiting Rome from the East, Telemachus intervened in the blood sport of the gladiatorial arena. He jumped over the stadium wall and tried to stop the gladiators from killing each other. But the outraged crowd stoned the monk to death. The emperor Honorius, however, was moved by Telemachus’ act and decreed the end of the 500-year practice of gladiator games.

When Paul calls Jesus “our peace,” he refers to the end of hostility between Jews and gentiles (Ephesians 2:14). God’s chosen people Israel were distinct from the nations and enjoyed certain privileges. For instance, while gentiles were allowed to worship at the Jerusalem temple, a dividing wall restricted them to the outer court—on punishment of death. Jews regarded gentiles unclean, and they experienced mutual hostility. But now, because of Jesus’ death and resurrection for all, both Jew and gentile can worship God freely through faith in Him (vv. 18–22). There’s no dividing wall. There’s no privilege of one group over the other. Both are equal in their standing before God.

Just as Telemachus brought peace to warriors through his death, so Jesus makes peace and reconciliation possible for all who believe in Him through His death and resurrection. So, if Jesus is our peace, let’s not let our differences divide us. He’s made us one by His blood.

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

How do you reveal you’re at peace with all people? What issues—such as race, status, or privilege—sometimes get in the way? Why?

Dear God of peace, You’ve made us one in Jesus. Help me to know it and live it

Developing Faith Through Adversity

2 Corinthians 11:23-30

Paul spent years serving Christ, yet he experienced continual suffering. It doesn’t seem fair, does it? Why would God let him go through so much pain? It’s a question many of us ask today about ourselves. We think the Lord should protect us from hardships, but He doesn’t always do so.

Maybe our reasoning is backward. We think faithful Christians don’t deserve to suffer, but from God’s perspective, suffering is part of being a Christian. If we all had lives of ease without pain, we’d never really know God, because we would never need Him. Like it or not, adversity teaches us things that simply reading the Bible never will.

I’m not saying we don’t need to know Scripture; that’s our foundation for faith. But if what we believe is never tested, it remains head knowledge. How will we ever know the Lord can be trusted in the midst of trouble if we’ve never experienced hardships? God gives us opportunities to apply scriptural truths to the difficulties facing us, and in the process, we find Him faithful.

Trials can be a means of building faith or an avenue to discouragement and self-pity—it’s up to you. But if you’ll apply God’s Word to your situation, your trust in Him and your faith will be strengthened through adversity.

From Prayer to Praise

“Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.” (Psalm 28:6-7)

The story of David facing fears of surrounding enemies and impending death seems to be on repeat in the Psalms. But before we allow it to become redundant, consider your own life. How often do you face trials that strain your heart with fear, worry, and doubt? Perhaps David’s life isn’t too far from your own, just with fewer spears and battle cries.

In today’s psalm, David spends the first portion crying out to the Lord for help. But for our encouragement and edification, pay special attention to the close of this installment of Scripture. David goes from heart-wrenching prayer to heartfelt praise!

Consider practicing praise throughout your daily prayer pattern. Here are several reasons why you should bless the Lord.

  • He hears your prayers (Psalm 66:17-20; Matthew 21:22; 1 John 5:14-15).
  • He is your strength (Exodus 15:2; Isaiah 40:29; Philippians 4:13).
  • He is your shield (Psalm 18:2; 33:20; Proverbs 30:5).
  • He is trustworthy (Psalm 9:10; 56:3; Proverbs 3:5-6; Jeremiah 17:7).
  • He is your helper (Psalm 54:4; Isaiah 41:10; Hebrews 13:6).
  • He gives you reason to rejoice (Isaiah 61:10; Romans 15:13; Philippians 4:4).
  • He is worthy of praise and worship (2 Samuel 22:4; Psalm 96:4; Revelation 4:11).

Join your heart today with the psalmist. Rejoice greatly and sing praises to the Lord! MH

Christ the Opener

Luke 24:13-35

THE twenty-fourth chapter of Luke tells the sweet story of the appearance of our Lord to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus. They were trudging along, half-believing, half-doubting, communing together and reasoning—which never amounts to anything without our Lord’s Presence. He draws near and begins to talk with them, drawing them out first, then showing them how He was fulfilling the Scriptures.

In this chapter, our Lord starts out as the Great Opener. First, He opened to them the Scriptures, and their hearts burned within them (v. 32). God’s Word, rightly interpreted, will produce spiritual heartburn. It penetrates, for it is sharper than a two-edged sword (Heb. 4:12). Believers do not hunger and thirst after righteousness because they do not read God’s Word. They fill up with the lollipops of this world and have no appetite for spiritual things. They do not read their Bibles nor go to a church where the Scriptures are really opened, and they are not smitten with spiritual heartburn and a yearning for a deeper life. If we will give Christ an opportunity to open to us His Word, our hearts will burn and we will cry, “Abide with us, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent.” To be sure, He dwells in every believer’s heart after regeneration, but we need to cry out, “Abide with me in a deeper consciousness of Thy Presence.”

We observe next that, while Jesus sat at the table with them, “their eyes were opened and they knew Him” (v. 31). Up until then, their eyes were restrained (v. 16) and they did not know Him. So many believers walk with a veiled Christ, for their eyes are not focused. They need that their eyes shall be fully opened to know Him, and while they may be seeking some spectacular experience, they need to remember that He was revealed here in the very lowliest way, “in breaking of bread” (v. 35). Perhaps you want Him to dazzle you with a mighty vision, while He wants you to know Him as the other member of your family in the kitchen and as your partner in the office.

Finally, we notice in verse 45 that “He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures.” First, Jesus opened the Scriptures, then their eyes, and then their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures for themselves. It is the Divine order. It is fellowship with the Lord, and not scholarship, that opens to us the Word. Colleges cannot do it, seminaries cannot do it, He must do it. There are clever theologians who can divide the Word, but they cannot rightly divide it until He has opened their eyes to the knowledge of Himself. This explains why so many scholars are dry and why some simple souls have such a grasp of the Bible. There is a key to it that hangs low, and only the lowly stoop to find it.

Many read the Bible but need to be asked, as was the eunuch, “Understandeth thou what thou readest?” The best way—the only way—to know the Bible is first to know its Christ. The Scriptures may be opened to bring conviction and heartburn as here, but until the eyes have been opened, teaching deep things of the Word to those with deadened eyes is casting pearls before swine! “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God”; there must be a miracle.

“Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Ps. 119:18) is the only true approach to understanding the Scriptures.

Satan—Angel of Light?

My faithfulness and love will be with him.—Psalm 89:24

A feeling that the Devil delights to arouse in an unguarded heart is the feeling that God does not love us. He usually times his attack to coincide with those moments when everything is going wrong and we are beset by all kinds of difficulties. Then he whispers in our ear: “Do you still believe that God is love?”

When you respond by saying that you do, he transforms himself into an angel of light and tries another of his deceitful tactics. “Well,” he says, “it is obvious that He does not love you, for if He did, then He would not allow you to go through these difficult situations.”

There is only one protection against such an assault; it is to put firmly in place the “armor of righteousness.” Nothing else will avail at this point. You must point him to the truth of Romans 8:28: “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God.” Paul does not say “we understand,” but “we know.”

This brings you directly to the theme of justification by faith, which is in fact the righteousness of Christ. You rest on this established truth, and that is all you need. You must say to yourself: “He would never have clothed me with His righteousness if He had not also set His love upon me and saved me. I will have courage. I do not know what is happening to me now. I cannot fathom it. But if He has begun His work in me, then I know He will go on to complete it.”

Prayer

O God, what wondrous power there is in Your Word. I can feel it doing me good even as I read and ponder it. Give me a greater knowledge of Your Word, for only through its truth can I maintain an advantage over the Devil. Amen.

Further Study

Jr 31:1-3; Eph 2:1-7; 3:16-19; Php 1:6; Rm 5:8

How has God demonstrated His love?

What was Paul’s desire for the Ephesians?

Discovering Your Gifts

1 Corinthians 12:7

There is a trend today for questionnaires which are designed to help you discover which gift or gifts of the Spirit have been given to you. I sometimes wonder how we ever managed to know what God was up to before these questionnaires hit the market!

It takes time to realize what abilities God is placing within you. Remember that you have natural talents and abilities which will be enormously enhanced when used for God’s purposes and the benefit of others. In addition, the Holy Spirit will gift you supernaturally with at least one spiritual gift. Be patient. Remain open. Stay humble.

Do not rush to conclude that a particular gift is yours. Allow yourself time and opportunity to realize with a steadily growing conviction that God has granted you something specific. Doors will open to you presenting situations in which you can be of service and calling for some ability or another. Take these opportunities and assess your progress for yourself. Did it go well? Did you feel at ease? How costly to you in nervous energy was the experience? Did anyone seem helped? Has anyone told you they were helped or encouraged by what you did or said? A sensible and prayerful consideration of questions like these will help you to know the direction in which the Lord is working in you. You would be wise also, once you have been able to experiment a bit, to talk things over with a mature Christian friend or leader.

Later years may bring a discovery of still further gifts and abilities. The Lord is always ready to surprise us and to do a new thing! He is also ready to remove from us that which has been received from Him but which has been selfishly used, for example, for personal glory or boasting. That is why, once we know the gift He has bestowed, we ought never to cease to thank Him for it and to plead with Him for grace to use it properly and in a spirit of Christlike love.

Shaw Clifton, Never the Same Again