VIDEO A Good Word

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad. Proverbs 12:25

No one in history has your exact personality. Just as God created billions of stars and each is different, He does the same with people. Each of our personalities has its own qualities. Some of us are naturally cheerful; others are prone to melancholy. For the latter, the anxieties of life take an added toll. We sometimes battle depression and despondency. 

Our Lord Jesus Christ, however, gives us a good word. He says, “Son, be of good cheer” (Matthew 9:2). He says, “Be of good cheer, daughter” (Matthew 9:22). He says to us, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

If you’re battling depression today, talk to a friend and seek all the help you need. God uses friends, doctors, and Christian counselors to help us navigate our inner worlds. But the presence and words of Jesus Christ are foundational to mental health and emotional well-being.

Our depression is no match for the steadfastness we find in Christ!

I find myself frequently depressed—perhaps more so than any other person here. And I find no better cure for that depression than to trust in the Lord with all my heart. Charles Spurgeon


WiseUp – One Minute Proverbs 12:25

The Beauty of Adoption

In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. Galatians 3:26

The 2009 film The Blind Side depicts the true story of Michael Oher, a homeless teenager. A family takes him in and helps him overcome learning difficulties and achieve excellence in American football. In one scene, the family talks with Michael about the possibility of adopting him after he’d been living with them for several months. In a sweet and tender reply, Michael exclaims that he thought he already was a part of the family!  

It’s a beautiful moment, just as adoption is a beautiful thing. Love is extended and full inclusion is offered as a family opens its arms to a new member. Adoption changes lives, just as it profoundly changed Michael’s life.

In Jesus, believers are made “children of God” through faith in Him (Galatians 3:26). We’re adopted by God and become His sons and daughters (4:5). As God’s adopted children, we receive the Spirit of His Son, we call God “Father” (v. 6), and we become His heirs (v. 7) and coheirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). We become full members of His family.

When Michael Oher was adopted, it changed his life, his identity, and his future. How much more for us who are adopted by God! Our life changes as we know Him as Father. Our identity changes as we belong to Him. And our future changes as we’re promised a glorious, eternal inheritance.

By:  Con Campbell

Reflect & Pray

How does being a child of God affect your self-identity? In what ways does this change the way you view yourself?

Thank You, Father, for making me Yours. Help me to understand my identity as Your child.

Because He Came, We Must Go

Luke 2:40-52

It’s a growing trend among businesses and organizations to compose a mission statement in order to keep focused on what matters most. But the idea isn’t new—we can see that Jesus had a clear focus on the mission His Father gave Him. At the age of 12, He was able to identify His purpose by telling His parents that He had to be in His Father’s house (Luke 2:49).

Do you have a clear understanding of what God’s mission is for you? The Great Commission’s global mandate is so vast that we sometimes lose sight of how to implement it locally. People are saved one at a time whether at home or abroad, and God uses ordinary Christians as His messengers of the gospel.

We shouldn’t neglect the opportunities God provides in our own neighborhoods and workplaces. Ina D. Ogdon’s old hymn “Brighten the Corner Where You Are” reminds us of this truth: 


Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do;
Do not wait to shed your light afar.
To the many duties ever near you now be true.
Brighten the corner where you are.

“For God so Loved the World”

John 3:16

FOR God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Here, indeed, is the “little Bible” that contains the whole gospel. And it begins with God, as the Bible begins. There is much talk nowadays about “Christocentric” (Christ-centered) preaching—much of which falls short of the mark. The plan of salvation begins not with Christ but with God and His holiness, then sin and man’s lost state. There is much superficial “believing in Jesus” that has never faced sin, that professes but never possesses eternal life.

David cried to God, “Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinned.” There must first be conviction of sin: that we face a holy and just God who demands a fixed standard of righteousness which we cannot reach. Then we are ready to look to Jesus, who became sin for us that we might have this righteousness which is Christ Himself. But we must start with God.

“For God so loved the world.” He hates sin, but loves the sinner. Do not think of Calvary in this light: that God was angry at the human race and Jesus had to die to put Him in a good humor. (I have heard preaching that amounts to that.) Rather, it was God Himself who so loved us that He sent His Son. While we make much of Calvary as Christ’s suffering—and we cannot make too much of that—let us think of God’s own suffering heart. Calvary was not only a revelation of the love of the Son but of the Father’s love. In His earthly life, our Lord kept giving God the glory, lest men forget God and see only Jesus.

“For God so loved the world.” That word “so” is one of the mightiest in all speech. God had sent His servants the prophets, and then He said of us worldlings, “Maybe they will reverence My Son.” If you love your son—as you do—think of how much the heart of God must have loved His only Son. And He just “gave” Him; there were no “strings” to it.

“That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” There are two alternatives: live or perish. Eternal decay is here declared—that eternal decay of the soul in the lake of fire which is prefigured by the valley of Hinnom, where worms work in putrefying carcasses and the smoke of burning ever rises. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” But there is also eternal life, not merely in the matter of length and duration but because it is the very life of God: God’s life offered to us through His Son. And it is available to whoever believes, regardless of color or standing. The only requirement is faith—active faith that receives the Son into the heart. Some time ago, a man objected that he could not believe. “Why,” said the minister who was dealing with him, “I understand that some time ago you believed the prospectus of a wildcat oil company, and you lost plenty of money.” Men will believe the most ridiculous things, but they reject God’s own word. “He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already”—not because he has robbed a bank or done some other terrible crime, but “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” You use your will against Him… and you can use it for Him. “Whosoever will, let him come.”

I Am

“And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62)

After His arrest, “the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none” (Mark 14:55). Then they got their sought-after witness from Jesus Himself when the high priest asked Him: “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” (v. 61), and it only took two words from Him. “I Am!”

As a matter of fact, this was not the first time He had thus identified Himself as the self-existent, eternal God. On an earlier occasion in Jerusalem, He had told the Pharisees: “I am the light of the world,” and then, “I am from above:..I am not of this world….If ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins” (John 8:12, 23-24; the “he” in verse 24 is not in the Greek original).

He made this especially clear a few minutes later when He asserted: “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). But when He finally made this wonderfully truthful claim in the presence of the council, “they all condemned him to be guilty of death” (Mark 14:64). He had committed the capital crime of blasphemy in their opinion, by claiming to be God.

“I am” is, in fact, the very name of God. When Moses, at the burning bush, was called by God to deliver the Israelites from slavery, God said His name was “I Am That I Am” (Exodus 3:14). The name Jehovah (or Yahweh), the most frequently used name of the Lord in the Old Testament, is essentially this name.

One can count at least 196 “I am” claims of God in Christ (“I am the way, the truth, and the life,” for example—John 14:6) in the Bible. Truly, our Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal, self-existent God, “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13). HMM

Not a Private Fight

Do not be afraid or discouraged … for the battle is not yours, but God’s.—2 Chronicles 20:15

The spiritual application of the helmet of salvation is not so much the enjoyment of our present salvation (though it includes that) as it is the assurance that a sure salvation is coming—and is even now at work.

This is what we need to know if we are to prevent the Devil from bringing us into a state of mental distress—not merely that things will finally end right, but that God’s plan is being worked out now. “History,” writes Ray Stedman, an American Bible teacher, “is not a meaningless jumble but a controlled pattern, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the one who is directing these events.”

The attack of Satan on the mind proceeds differently. He says to us: “Just look around you at the state of the world. God seems powerless to put things right. He has given lots of promises that things will one day get better, but none has come to pass. Hadn’t you better give up this foolish idea that it’s all going to work out right?”

If you were to let your mind dwell on that kind of satanic argument, you would soon find yourself in distress. The answer is to put on the helmet, the hope of salvation. You must remind yourself that things are not as they appear. The battle is not ours, but the Lord’s. We may be individual soldiers fighting in the army of God, but the ultimate cause is sure and the end is certain. We need not be unduly troubled by what is happening in the world, for our commander is not just winning—He has already won!

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I am grateful that the Cross is the guarantee that neither sin nor Satan will ever defeat You. Your victory at Calvary has settled forever the question of who has the final word in the universe. I am so deeply, deeply thankful. Amen.

Further Study

Lk 21:10-28; Jn 14:1-4; 16:33

How did Jesus describe the world?

What did He say to His disciples?

I Believe God!

Acts 27:25

Paul was a passenger on a ship about to be wrecked when he said, “I believe God!” Many of his shipmates had already given up hope of surviving the ordeal. But Paul told them of his faith in God and his certainty that, in spite of winds and waves, all on board would get to land safely. Said Paul, “I believe God!” (Acts 27:25 NLT).

This is a declaration of faith. Others stared in numbed despair at the fury of the elements, their voices muted in fear. Paul spoke, not to cry in terror, but to testify to his faith in God and God’s promised deliverance.

Our world needs this kind of Christian witness. Fearful things may be happening; even more terrifying things may be forecast. The world that now is may be heading for certain shipwreck. But God and righteousness and truth will endure. Witness to this in the midst of personal turmoil or world confusion. Give voice to your faith and say, “I believe God!”

This is an attitude of expectation. Paul’s reaction to varying situations was automatic and consistent because his dominant mood was faith. Attitude is much more important than circumstances. Real environment is created by the state or quality of our feelings. Situations are faced with faith or fear, thankfulness or complaints, cheerfulness or dejection, according to our prevailing attitude. Paul stood on the deck of that doomed vessel among a group of men who had already given up. They saw only dark danger. Paul saw God and bright expectation when he said, “I believe God!”

This is a realized experience. It was experiential—it reached back into the past. Active faith in God soon acquires personal precedents. Paul had “memory markers,” and when he stood on that quivering deck and said, “I believe God,” he was making a statement grounded in part in his own previous encounters and observations.

His experience was also experimental—it reached forward into the future. Paul had faith in God for the present and the coming emergency. His complete statement was, “I believe God, it will be just as He said.”

Your private world may be shipwrecked. You may face discouraging, fearful prospects. Have faith in God. Say, “I believe God!” Make it an expression of an inner attitude, and it will become the declaration of a daily experience.

Bramwell Tripp, To the Point