VIDEO Learning About His Ways

Remember The Lord – a wall art print done with a quote from Proverbs 3: 5-7 as an overlay on an art print I have done using a gothic oil technique of a man on a beach pondering the surf. As a Christian artist, I seek to make sure that the biblical quote I am using is a good marriage with the art print I put it on. In this particular case, when I settled on the verse I wanted to share, I thought of this art print as a match for this verse along with a black and white photograph I had just put it on. The next step was the font style and placement. That always requires a lot of trial and error and ultimately what I think looks like the best fit. I am pleased with the way this print came together.

When Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples…He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. —Matthew 11:1

He comes where He commands us to leave. If you stayed home when God told you to go because you were so concerned about your own people there, then you actually robbed them of the teaching of Jesus Christ Himself. When you obeyed and left all the consequences to God, the Lord went into your city to teach, but as long as you were disobedient, you blocked His way. Watch where you begin to debate with Him and put what you call your duty into competition with His commands. If you say, “I know that He told me to go, but my duty is here,” it simply means that you do not believe that Jesus means what He says.

He teaches where He instructs us not to teach. “Master…let us make three tabernacles…” (Luke 9:33).

Are we playing the part of an amateur providence, trying to play God’s role in the lives of others? Are we so noisy in our instruction of other people that God cannot get near them? We must learn to keep our mouths shut and our spirits alert. God wants to instruct us regarding His Son, and He wants to turn our times of prayer into mounts of transfiguration. When we become certain that God is going to work in a particular way, He will never work in that way again.

He works where He sends us to wait. “…tarry…until…” (Luke 24:49). “Wait on the Lord” and He will work (Psalm 37:34). But don’t wait sulking spiritually and feeling sorry for yourself, just because you can’t see one inch in front of you! Are we detached enough from our own spiritual fits of emotion to “wait patiently for Him”? (Psalm 37:7). Waiting is not sitting with folded hands doing nothing, but it is learning to do what we are told.

These are some of the facets of His ways that we rarely recognize.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

There is no condition of life in which we cannot abide in Jesus. We have to learn to abide in Him wherever we are placed.  Our Brilliant Heritage, 946 R


Believing the Miracle-Making Messiah – Matthew 11:1-6 – Skip Heitzig

Who Needs Your Support?

Ahikam son of Shaphan supported Jeremiah, and so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death. Jeremiah 26:24

Clifford Williams was sentenced to die for a murder he didn’t commit. From death row he vainly filed motions to reconsider the evidence against him. Each petition was denied—for forty-two years. Then attorney Shelley Thibodeau learned of his case. She found that not only was there no evidence to convict Williams, but that another man had confessed to the crime. At the age of seventy-six, Williams was finally exonerated and released.

The prophets Jeremiah and Uriah were also in deep trouble. They had told Judah that God promised to judge His people if they didn’t repent (Jeremiah 26:12–13, 20). This message angered the people and officials of Judah, who sought to kill both prophets. They succeeded with Uriah. He fled to Egypt, but was brought back to face the king, who “had him struck down with a sword” (v. 23). Why didn’t they kill Jeremiah? In part because Ahikam “stood up for Jeremiah” (nlt), “and so he was not handed over to the people to be put to death” (v. 24).

We may not know anyone facing death, but we probably know someone who could use our support. Whose rights are trampled? Whose talents are dismissed? Whose voice isn’t heard? It may be risky to step out like Thibodeau or Ahikam, but it’s so right. Who needs us to stand up for them as God guides us?

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Whom can you stand with? If you voice your support, what do you think might happen to them, to you, and to others?

Loving God, help me to love others as You’ve loved me.

Learn more at DiscoverTheWord.org/series/the-mercy-prayer/.

Sunday Reflection: Truth That Nourishes

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

The Good Life. For each one of us, this phrase conjures up something different. What is it for you? Vast wealth? Sunny days free from responsibility? Perfect health? A powerful position? We all long for whatever we think will make everything just right.

But that joy is ersatz—a word that means “synthetic” or “artificial.” Think of a child’s kitchen playset, the kind with plastic pork chops and foam bread. When little ones bring us a heaping plate of “food,” we only pretend to eat. The same is true of our misplaced desires—they look enticing but will leave us empty. Instead, we must seek out the life Christ presents and feast on His truth.

In 1 Timothy 6, Paul tells his pupil, “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to set their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). Only through Him can we “take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:19).

Think about it
• Consider the ways you may have settled for ersatz joy. How can you begin to let those things go and take hold of God’s best?

Scripture Says/God Says

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Among the many evidences for verbal inspiration, both within and without Scripture, is the frequent interchange of God recognized as the author of a particular passage with the human author who actually penned it. This can be true only if the very words recorded by the various authors are “God breathed” (the meaning of “inspiration”).

For example, the early Christians exclaimed, “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?” (Acts 4:24-25), thereby recognizing that God spoke through David, who wrote God’s words in Psalm 2:1-2.

Likewise, Paul, in his masterful dissertation on God’s sovereignty, claimed “the scripture saith unto Pharaoh” (Romans 9:17) that which God Himself had spoken unto Moses (Exodus 9:13). In other words, what Scripture says, God says.

Even Christ Jesus, who Himself had written with His finger “honour thy father and thy mother” (Exodus 20:12) on tables of stone, personally ascribed the authorship of the passage to Moses (Mark 7:10). Evidently to Christ, there was no difference. That which Moses had written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and in this case what he had copied from the stone tablet, was fully the Word of God.

We can be sure that what Scripture says, God says. “That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:17). We can trust our lives on Earth, our view of history, and our eternal destiny to what is written on the pages of Scripture. JDM

Three “Musts” of John 3

John 3:7,14,30

THE word “must” is surely unpopular nowadays. Neither children nor adults like to be told what they must do. Yet there are certain compulsions in God’s Word, and there is no way around them. They must be met if we are going to obey God!

Three of these “musts” occur in John 3. There is one for the sinner, one for the Savior, and one for the saint.

There is first the compulsion of conversion: “Ye must be born again” (v. 7). There must be a new life if we are to be saved, for the old life ends in physical and—worst case—spiritual death. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh” and “they that are in the flesh cannot please God,” for “the carnal mind is enmity against God.” The only way to get into the kingdom of God is to be born into it. One cannot merely take naturalization papers and get in! One may learn French, live in France, speak French and still not be a Frenchman. So one may know doctrine and even work in the church, but not be a Christian! It takes more than knowing the Constitution to make one an American, and it takes more than knowing theology to be a Christian.

The new birth is mysterious (John 3:7-8); it is the work of the Holy Spirit using the Word (Tit. 3:5; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). On our part, the means is faith (Gal. 3:26). The new birth is manifested in a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17); in love (1 John 3:14; 4:7); in victory over sin (1 John 3:9; 5:18); in righteous living (1 John 2:29); in overcoming the world (1 John 5:4).

Then there is the compulsion of Calvary: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up” (v. 14). If we must be born again, there must be a way provided by which to receive eternal life. So God sent His only begotten Son. If there could have been salvation some other way, God would have been cruel to choose the way of the cross. But it behooved Christ to suffer, and He Himself said, “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things?” (Luke 24:26). If it was so important that Christ had to die, then woe unto us if we disregard it!

Finally, there is the compulsion of consecration: John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (v. 30). The believer must die to self, reckon himself dead indeed unto sin, deny himself, count himself crucified with Christ that Christ may fill his life and be all in all. The Christian is only the friend of the Bridegroom, and his delight is in hearing the Bridegrooms voice. This means more than the mere giving up of amusements, money, time: it means renouncing one’s own will and self. Peter forsook his nets and boat on his first call; it was quite a while before he gave up himself.

Said George Müller: “There was a day when I died—utterly died to George Müller, his opinions, preferences, will; died to the world, its approval or censure.” Luther used to smite his breast and say, “Martin Luther does not live here: Jesus Christ lives here.”

These are God’s compulsions. Between conversion and consecration stands Christ, and He is the key to both. We are saved by simply believing and receiving Him; we are consecrated as we yield to Him and are able to say, “Not I, but Christ.”

No Need for Dead Reckoning

In fact, I myself supposed it was necessary to do many things in opposition to the name of Jesus the Nazarene.—Acts 26:9

The place where we can see life as a whole is in the sanctuary of God, or, if you prefer, in the presence of God. There we are reminded of things we have forgotten or ignored. See how the Good News Bible translates Acts 26:9: “I myself thought that I should do everything I could against the cause of Jesus of Nazareth.” Here you see the root of Paul’s problem: “I myself thought.” And is not that the underlying cause of many of our problems too? We say, “I myself thought …” instead of asking: “What does God think?”

Sometimes sailors will attempt to establish the position of their ships by estimating the distance and direction they have traveled, rather than by astronomical observation. This is called “dead reckoning.” It is sometimes necessary in foul weather, but it is fraught with peril. One mariner has said: “Undue trust in the dead reckoning has produced more disastrous shipwrecks of seaworthy ships than all other causes put together.”

There are people who attempt the voyage of life by dead reckoning, but there is no need. God has charted the map for us with loving care in the Scriptures, and our plain duty is to study the chart so that we might become better acquainted with His purposes and His ways. For the better we know the Scriptures, the better we will know God. We cannot ignore the facts of history or science—they help—but if our perspective is not drawn from the Scriptures it will lead us astray. We must not rely on dead reckoning but on divine reckoning.

Prayer

O Father, just as the art of navigation requires definite and fixed points from which to take a bearing, so does my voyage through life. I am grateful, dear Father, that in You I have all the fixed points I need. Amen.

Further Study

Jdg 17:1-6; 21:25

What was said of the children of Israel?

Can the same be said of us?

First Things First

1 Timothy 1:5

Holiness was a passion with Paul. Reading what he wrote about it in epistle after epistle, it is impossible to miss the note of intensity. Addressing Timothy, the apostle impressed upon the young pastor that he ought to enjoy the blessing himself, and lead the Ephesian believers to the life of holiness: “The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5).

Paul challenged Timothy to lead the Church toward God’s ideal. That ideal is love. It is powerful, making an immensely effective impact because it is the essence of holiness.

The divine love for the world—so immense, so unconditional, continuing to pour out its undeserved care even when rejected and answered by human hate—is to be reflected, and in some measure to be repeated, in Christian people.

Love like that glows through an evangelist of whom Billy Graham tells. At a university he had tried to reach the students with the gospel, but their reaction was hostile. One girl told him she didn’t believe the things he had said. So the evangelist asked if he could pray with her. She replied, “Nobody ever prayed for me before, I guess it won’t do any harm.” He prayed, while she sat with her eyes open. But then she noticed something that amazed her. His tears were flowing as he prayed. She began to cry, too. “No one in my entire life has shed a tear for me,” she sobbed, and then that young woman accepted Christ.

Anyone who imagines that sanctification sets you apart from sinners, aloof in your isolation, needs to take another look at the loving, approachable, healing Son of God. There is holiness incarnate.

To make His people caring and compassionate, resolutely willing to be Christlike in all their relationships, is the end toward which God’s Spirit is always working. Only when a person lives lovingly does he or she demonstrate genuine Christianity.

Love and holiness, standing together in our text, are inseparable. Love, purity, a good conscience, sincere faith. Simple qualities all, but utterly indispensable components of the character of any who would serve in Christ’s name. These are the elements of holiness, and that is surely first among first things.

Edward Read, Timothy, My Son