VIDEO Help From Above

He said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.” John 8:23

A woman was hiking with her dog earlier this year near Horsetail Falls in California’s El Dorado National Forest. This is a deceptively difficult area in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and the woman became trapped. Just at the moment of panic, help came from above. A California Highway Patrol helicopter spotted the woman and her dog. Two search and rescue workers descended by ropes and were soon on the ground beside the pair. The workers helped get them back to safety.[1]

Help always comes from above for God’s children when we become disoriented by life. The Bible says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). The best and most perfect gift ever given was the Lord Jesus Christ, who came from above to stand beside us. The Bible is God’s Word from above. The Holy Spirit also came down to indwell you.

Rest assured that God reaches down to you in your darkest times to be with you and bring you comfort. Today you have help descending down from above!

We can do no good thing at all, except we are aided by help from above.

John Chrysostom

[1]“Hike, K-9 Rescued After Getting Stranded in Desolation Wilderness,”


A Plan for Dying in Your Sins (John 8:21-25)

Walking with Jesus

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. Hebrews 12:1

Lean food rations, waterproof boots, and a map are some of the essentials carried by hikers on the John Muir Trail. The John Muir Trail is a 211-mile path in the western United States that winds across creeks, around lakes and woods, and up and over mountains, encompassing 47,000 feet of elevation gain. Because traversing this trail takes about three weeks, carrying the right amount of supplies is critical. Too much and you will run out of strength to carry it all; too little and you won’t have what you need for the journey. 

Finishing well on our journey as believers in Jesus also requires careful consideration of what we bring. In Hebrews 12, we’re told to “throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” The author compares our lives to a “race marked out for us,” one in which we must “not grow weary and lose heart” (vv. 1, 3). To become overburdened with sin or distracted by things outside of God’s purpose for us is to carry an unnecessary weight.

Just as there are packing lists for the John Muir Trail, God has provided directions for following Jesus in the Bible. We can know what habits, dreams, and desires are worth bringing along by examining them in light of the Scriptures. When we travel light, we’re able to finish well.

By:  Karen Pimpo

Reflect & Pray

What’s hindering you in following Jesus? What would it look like to “throw it off”?

Jesus, help me travel lightly according to Your wisdom and to finish well.

Visit ChristianUniversity.org/SF104 to learn more about strengthening your walk with God.

The Slow Process of Erosion

Romans 12:1-2

When you hear the word erosion, what comes to mind? Most likely, you think about how land or rocks wear away over an extended period of time. In the same manner, erosion in our spiritual lives tends to happen subtly over the course of months or years.

What causes this spiritual stagnation and deterioration? The answer is often conformity to the world’s methods and values, plus compromise with sin. The process of erosion begins in the mind when we let our thoughts, attitudes, and desires be shaped by culture. Before long, we begin to conform to the godless and sinful behavior around us.

Is your spiritual life where you want it to be? Has it been gradually weakened by the pressures of the world? Are you letting social media, other people’s opinions, and the culture shape your reasoning, desires, and ambitions? If so, the way to counteract the erosion is to turn back to the Lord in obedience and let Scripture renew your mind with His truth. As you learn to see life from God’s perspective, your desires and behaviors will conform to His perfect will.

The Infinite Wisdom and Knowledge of God

“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3)

One of the most amazing of the divine attributes is God’s omniscience. He not only understands all the complexities of relativistic science and higher mathematics, He ordained them in the first place! The same applies to every other discipline of study and activity.

And He knows all about each of us! “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off” (Psalm 139:1-2).

As far as human knowledge is concerned, it is vital to know that “the fear of the LORD” is the very foundation of “knowledge” and of “wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). All the greatest scientists of the past acknowledged that they were seeking merely to “think God’s thoughts after Him.”

How foolish it is to ignore or to oppose God! There are only four places in the Bible that speak of God laughing (Psalm 2:4; 37:13; 59:8; Proverbs 1:26), and each of them describes His response to such folly.

Instead, we should marvel at all the wonders of His creation and providence. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33).

Our text verse above (Colossians 2:3) is actually referring explicitly to the Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten and eternal Son of God. It is He who has given us access to the Creator God and therefore access to the divine knowledge and understanding. Part of the still-effective dominion mandate (Genesis 1:26, 28) is to learn what we can about God’s creation, always remembering that Jesus insisted that—no matter what unbelievers say—“the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). HMM

Condemned

John 3:18

“HE that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”—John 3:18.

Someone has said that “whatever has happened to other wages, there has been a reduction in the wages of sin.” Of course, he meant that judgment and hell and the wrath of God are not being preached as once they were. Millions regard hell as a superstition, the judgment as a myth. Thousands of church members do not believe in eternal punishment, or doubt it, to say the least. Such an attitude is not a sign of intelligence but of stupidity. When God has spoken on a subject as plainly as He has on this, then the man who shuts his eyes and stops his ears to it is a fool.

God has said that the unbeliever is condemned. He shows that he is condemned—as John 3:19 declares—because he loves darkness rather than light. If you dislike plain preaching, it is likely because you are living in darkness and you don’t like the gospel searchlight. When the straight, undiluted gospel is being preached, and some fellow winces and squirms and twists and goes out to criticize, nine times out of ten he is living in condemnation and dreads the light. On the other hand, a righteous man seeks the light and wants to know the truth, and desires that God should search him and know his heart and try him and know his thoughts.

What is this condemnation? It is God’s sentence upon sin: the second death, eternal separation from God in hell. God is love, but He is also a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Who is condemned? He who does not believe. I care not what street he lives on, what car he drives or the size of his salary. He may belong to “Who’s Who” and “What’s What,” but God has only one yardstick, and he who does not believe on Christ with a living, saving faith—whether rich man, poor man, beggar man or thief—is condemned already. He may be an upstanding and outstanding citizen, active in church-work and belonging to all the idealistic clubs in town and have a high moral character and a spotless reputation, but if he believes not of the saving of the soul he is in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity, and the wrath of God abides upon him.

When is he condemned?Already: not tomorrow, not at death or the judgment; not maybe, possibly, but he is condemned now and is merely waiting to begin serving his sentence.

Why is he condemned? It is stated twice in our text. He that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God. Not because he robbed a bank or killed somebody but because he has not believed! When we think of condemned people we think of gangsters and kidnappers, but any man who does not believe is condemned. How shall we escape condemnation? By believing, of course, and receiving the Lord Jesus as Savior. He who hears and believes shall not come into condemnation (John 5:24); there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). Believe Him and rest upon His finished work, and as surely as once you were condemned, so surely will you be saved.

Joy—More Than Pleasure

Satisfy us in the morning with Your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.—Psalm 90:14

One of the reasons why so many Christians do not experience the delights of spiritual joy is that they do not expect to. A woman who came into the experience of Christian conversion said: “Strange, but I never associated joy with God before.” How sad that many do not expect their faith to make them basically and fully joyful now. They think that joy is reserved for the hereafter. Our Lord pointed out to the disciples that it was for the present.

We can better understand this supernatural joy if we distinguish it from the pleasures of life with which it is sometimes confused. Spiritual or supernatural joy is quite different from pleasure or happiness. A worldling can experience pleasure and happiness, but he cannot experience supernatural joy. Indeed, worldly people often pride themselves in knowing how to experience pleasure.

Yet pleasure and Christian joy cannot be equated. Look with me at some of the differences. Pleasure depends on circumstances. It requires a measure of health and wealth. It demands that the life conditions be kindly, and thus it can be stolen from us by things like lack of money—or even a toothache. Christian joy is completely independent of circumstances. It is there in the believer even when “strength and health and friends” are gone; when circumstances are not only unkind but savage. Out of all the miracles I have witnessed in my life, none is more wonderful than the miracle of seeing Christ’s exuberant joy burst forth in those who are caught up in pain or persecution. The springs of Christian joy are deep within and can exist, no matter what the circumstances.

Prayer

O Father, how can I thank You enough for imparting into my sadness Your unconquerable gladness? No matter what happens—all is well with my soul. I am so grateful. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 16:17-33; Ac 5:12-42; 15:23-25; 2Co 6:10

How did the apostles respond to persecution?

How did Paul express it?

When Tragedy Strikes

Job 13:15

The Book of Job lives because the heart of the world beats in it. Within its pages are enshrined some of the deepest questionings and yearnings of the human spirit. Time has not altered these, for the book could be written in thousands of homes today.

When a young wife dies leaving motherless children, or a husband is killed, robbing the home of the breadwinner, or disaster overtakes a business which took years to build, the same cries are wrung from the heart.

Added to life’s tragedies are floods that drown, cold which freezes, earthquakes which smash cities to ruin, volcanoes which pour their boiling lava into homes. So Job seems to be right when he cries: “Yet man is born to trouble, as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).

Job was a chieftain of immense wealth. He was wise and the spiritual father of his tribe. His creed was that God prospers and blesses those who trust in Him. But when calamity came to him, everything he believed about God was contradicted and his creed went to the winds.

In the story of Job, God accepted the challenge of the devil, and soon Job’s life was turned into desperate havoc. Calamity after calamity befell Job. The Sabeans and Chaldeans slew his servants and cattle; lightning wrecked his house and slew his children. He became affected with a dreadful disease. Job did not understand what God was doing, yet he clung to the certainty that God would see him through. When Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in him,”

(Job 13:15 KJV) it was one of the most sublime utterances in the Old Testament.

Here lies the answer to the problem of suffering. Job moved from a belief in a creed to a trust in a Person. There is a difference in belief in God with the head and trust in God with the heart. Job won through, proving to the world that God is loved and trusted for His own sake alone.

Have the events of life made us cynical? Has suffering been too much for our faith? Our faith is that no ultimate harm can come to him who trusts in God. When the end comes the trumpets sounding on the other side will mean the final vindication of God.

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man