VIDEO Forget Me Not: In the Face of Responsibilities

No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5

Moses had led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt and oversaw their forty years of wilderness wanderings. But now Moses was dead (Deuteronomy 34), and it was time for Joshua to assume leadership. Joshua had watched Moses lead for four decades, but he was faced with new responsibilities.

How often in life do we have new responsibilities thrust upon us, often with little or no experience? We become a spouse, a parent, an employee promoted into a new position, the chairman of a committee in our church or neighborhood—life is filled with new responsibilities. God says to us the same thing He said to Joshua: Don’t be afraid. Be strong and courageous. I will not leave you nor forsake you (Joshua 1:5-9).

Are you facing new responsibilities in your life? Or helping a child or friend get ready for a new task? God is with those who need His help.

Pray, and let God worry. Martin Luther


Joshua 1-2 – Skip Heitzig

First Forgive

Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him. Genesis 33:4

We called ourselves “sisters in Christ,” but my White friend and I had begun to act like enemies. Over a café breakfast one morning, we argued unkindly over our differing racial views. Then we parted, with me vowing not to see her again. One year later, however, we were hired by the same ministry—working in the same department, unable not to reconnect. Awkwardly at first, we talked over conflicts. Then, over time, God helped us to apologize to each other and to heal and to give the ministry our best.

God also healed the bitter division between Esau and his twin brother, Jacob, and blessed both their lives. A onetime schemer, Jacob had robbed Esau of their father’s blessing. But twenty years later, God called Jacob to return to their homeland. So, Jacob sent ahead bountiful gifts to appease Esau. “But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

Their reunion stands as a classic example of God’s urging to settle anger with a brother or sister before offering our gifts—talents or treasures—to Him (Matthew 5:23–24). Instead, “first go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift” (v. 24). Jacob obeyed God by reconciling with Esau, and later setting up an altar to God (Genesis 33:20). What a beautiful order: First, strive for forgiveness and reconciliation. Then, at His altar, He receives us.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Increasing Faith

1 Kings 17

We’d all like to have great faith that stands firm in the face of challenges and difficulties. But God doesn’t enlarge our faith instantly; it’s a slow process that happens over our lifetime and often involves trials. Each time we choose to believe the Lord and step out in obedience, we gain greater confidence to trust Him the next time.

Elijah shows us what increasing faith looks like. He relied on the Lord to provide food and water at the brook, and he did so again in Zarephath—the miracle this time providing for a widow and her son as well. Then, we read about an even greater demonstration of faith, when he prayed that the Lord would raise the widow’s son to life. On each of these occasions, Elijah stepped out in obedience and experienced the reliability of God. As a result, his faith grew stronger. 

 There will be opportunities for you to believe in the Lord and respond with obedience. These situations are what we often call “problems.” Try looking at each difficulty as an opportunity designed by God specifically for the purpose of increasing your faith as you see His dependability in action. With each step of obedience, your trust in Him will strengthen.

He Knows Our Hearts

“Then hear thou from heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive, and render unto every man according unto all his ways, whose heart thou knowest; (for thou only knowest the hearts of the children of men).” (2 Chronicles 6:30)

Eight times in Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple, he beseeches God to “hear from heaven” (vv. 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 33, 35, 39) when His people confess their sins and pray for deliverance. It is marvelous that God, whose “dwelling place” is in heaven (vv. 21, 30, 33, 39) can actually hear the prayers of people here on Earth, but we remember that He is omnipresent through His Holy Spirit.

Even more marvelous, if possible, is the fact that He can hear prayers uttered only in our hearts. But He is also omniscient and thus knows the very thoughts of our hearts.

Then, as we read of Jesus’ wrath at the desecration of the temple by those who would commercialize their religion there, it was said that He “needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man” (John 2:25). This is direct confirmation that Jesus is God, for only God knows the thoughts of our hearts.

It is a wonderful day when we realize that God knows our hearts. It can be frightening, of course, if our hearts are not right with God, but it can also be of great comfort and exhilaration— it all depends on the thoughts and motivations of our hearts. As David wrote long ago: “Thou understandest my thought afar off” (Psalm 139:2).

We need, therefore, to guard our thought life just as much as our social life, “for he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21). May God help us to be “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). It is a good thing if our thoughts please Him. HMM

“Go Thy Way”

John 4:43-54

THE healing of the nobleman’s son (John 4:43-54) brings to us certain precious truths that apply along the entire range of experience. Our Lord was a prophet without honor in His own country (a statement declared in each of the Gospels), so we may take heart if we fare similarly.

So He comes into Galilee, and a nobleman besought Him for the healing of his son. Our Lord tests him by saying: “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” It is a mark of most of us today that we are “from Missouri” and still demand visible evidences before we believe. How much more blessed, our Lord told Thomas, are they who have not seen, yet believe (John 20:29). The man continues to plead for help, and Jesus tells him, “Go thy way; thy son liveth.” That probably was not the way the man expected it to be done, but he believed and went his way—and the miracle took place at that moment. There are times when we do not see our prayer answered as we expected, visibly, right before our eyes. We are merely told to go our way and trust God for the rest, like the lepers who, as they went, were cleansed (Luke 17:14). We wanted things to happen at once, but our orders are to go trusting and leave the rest with God. Can you so trust Him, going on when to all appearances nothing has changed, “yet believing”?

The nobleman reaches home and finds the wonder wrought—and wrought at the same moment that the Lord said, “Go thy way.” Observe that we read twice that the nobleman believed—once in verse 50, when our Lord sent him on his way, and again in verse 53, when he reached home and found the boy healed. He believed first because of Christ’s word, as we are plainly told, and the second time because of Christ’s work. There is a faith that takes God at His word before we see any wonder wrought; then there is a deeper faith, a surety, that comes when we behold His work. The first faith depends upon promise; the second grows out of performance. If we have enough faith to do His will, we shall know of the doctrine. We shall be as the Samaritans who first believed the word of the woman, then believed upon their own experience (John 4:42).

I have thought of that nobleman on his way home. What doubts may have assailed him! How he might have said: “Suppose I am mistaken? How do I know this will take place: I certainly do not feel any different!” It seems hard that our Lord did not go along with this troubled man, but He was teaching him to know that to believe is to see.

Many times we wish the Lord would “go along” with us when we are in trouble—in some visible sign of His love and care—but, as with Martha and Mary, He tarries in the same place where He is. Ah, it is only that we might know that His word is enough to go our way upon… and that when He gives us His word, He surely will follow it with His work. Do you believe Him enough to “go your way” though no sign is given, trusting the evidence to await you at the end of the venture of faith rather than at the beginning? Mind you, the miracle was performed when the man believed, and so it ever is, but the visible evidence often lies further on. Believe God’s Word, and you will believe again in the certainty of His work.

Too Close to the Ground

But You, Lord, are exalted forever.—Psalm 92:8

The reason our personal problems and difficulties seem so large and ominous is due mainly to the fact that we have not brought God into proper focus. When we are able to see Him as He really is—”high and lofty”—then all our troubles and anxieties are reduced to their proper proportions.

A minister looked through his study window one day into the garden next door. He saw a little boy there, holding in his hand two pieces of wood, each about eighteen inches long. He heard him ask his mother if he could make a weathercock. After getting her permission, he proceeded to nail one piece of wood upright on the low garden wall, then nailed the other piece loosely on top. Soon the loosely nailed piece of wood turned and twisted, first this way and then that, and the little boy danced with delight. He thought he had made a weathercock that registered the winds, but all it did was register the draughts. “It turned half a circle,” said the minister, “when the back door banged.”

From where the minister sat in his study, he could see a real weathercock on the church steeple. It was as steady as a rock in the constant winds that blew in from the sea. There are many Christians, however, who are like the little boy’s weathercock, always living at the mercy of every gust of circumstance, their thoughts of God fluctuating with their personal experiences. They take their direction from a weathercock that is too close to the ground.

Prayer

O God, my Father, forgive me that my life is taken up more with the immediate than the ultimate. I have been glancing at You and gazing at my circumstances. From today it will be different—I will glance at my circumstances and gaze at You. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 8:1-9; 1Co 13:12; 2Co 3:18

How did the psalmist focus his gaze on God?

How did Paul describe it?

Christian Perfection

1 John 3:6

Spiritual health, or daily victory over temptation, should be taken as the Christian norm. In one sense “normal” is a totally inadequate word. It is “super-normal,” one of the wonders of divine grace, that we should triumph at all over the sins which do so easily beset us. Yet we should not think of this life of daily victory as if it were reserved for the few who, by reason of disposition, could be described as naturally religious. The victorious life is not beyond the normal believer.

This does not mean that perfection in the final sense—nothing to learn, no further progress to be made—is for this life. To quote John Wesley: “There is no perfection which does not admit of continual increase.” As the Army Mother used to say: “Sanctification is not final growth.” It is not the same as complete attainment.

Glory will be required fully to crown what grace has begun below. But that does not mean that we cannot step out here and now on the highway of holiness.

With the Apostle Paul we do not think of ourselves as having already attained perfection or as being already perfect. It is no contradiction to say that part of the experience of Christian perfection is an awareness of one’s own imperfections. So the Apostle Paul could describe himself as the chief of sinners. This is why our Founder could confess: “My great sorrow is that I have served the Lord so imperfectly.”

The closer a believer’s communion with his Savior the more keenly does he realize how far he falls short of resembling that same Lord. His self-reproaches arise from his nearness to the Master. Were he not so aware of the beauty of Jesus the less conscious would he be of his own shortcomings.

The first word in the Christian vocabulary is not struggle—but surrender; not one more try—but to yield to the divine will; not one more effort and this time you will make it—but to submit to Another.

Frederick Coutts, The Splendor of Holiness