VIDEO No Matter the Illness

The Lord will strengthen him on his bed of illness; You will sustain him on his sickbed. Psalm 41:3

After Billy Graham’s death at age 99, his last will and testament was made public. He said, “I ask my children and grandchildren to maintain and defend at all hazards and at any cost of personal sacrifice the blessed doctrine of complete atonement for sin through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ once offered, and through that alone. I urge all of you to walk with the Lord in a life of separation from the world and to keep eternal values in view.”

Then he wrote, “When you read this I will be safely with Jesus in Paradise. I will be awaiting the reunion of our family in Heaven.”[1]

No matter what sickness we may face on earth, we can leave behind a testimony and joyfully look forward to a glorious Paradise. What a reunion, when we meet on the golden streets of the Celestial City! The Lord is preparing a place for us. His Holy Spirit will strengthen and sustain us in illness, and His blessed Word will prepare us for our eternal habitation.

I urge all who shall read this document to read and study the Scriptures daily and to trust only in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

Billy Graham, in his last will and testament

Jay Allmond, “Billy Graham’s Last Will and Testament Revealed,” Baptist Press, May 25, 2018.


Psalm 41 • O LORD, be gracious to me

Accessible to All

Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:14

From a manmade bridge on the small Bahamian island of Eleuthera, visitors can admire the stark contrast between the roiling dark blue waters of the Atlantic and the calm turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. Over time, storms washed away the original strip of land once marked by a natural stone arch. The glass window bridge that now serves as a tourist attraction on Eleuthera is known as “the narrowest place on earth.”

The Bible describes the road that leads to eternal life as narrow “and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). The gate is considered small because God the Son is the only bridge that can reconcile fallen man and God the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 13–14; see John 10:7–9; 16:13). However, Scripture also says that believers from every people, nation, and societal rank can enter heaven and will bow before the King of Kings and worship together around His throne (Revelation 5:9). This phenomenal image of contrast and unity includes all of God’s beautifully diverse people.

Though we’re separated from God by our sin, every person God created is invited to enter eternity in heaven by walking this narrow path of reconciliation through a personal relationship with Christ. His sacrifice on the cross, resurrection from the tomb, and ascension to heaven is the good news, accessible to all and worth sharing today and every day.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

How did you respond after hearing the good news? How can you be more intentional about sharing it with others?

God the Father, please empower me through Your Holy Spirit so I can show others the accessible path that leads to Your approachable Son, Jesus

Spiritual Growth

Romans 5:1-5

The Holy Spirit’s presence is essential for the Christian life. Despite our best efforts, we have no ability to produce Christlike character on our own. Although we’ve been declared righteous through faith in Jesus, we still succumb to sin, pressures of the world, and the deceptions and temptations of the devil.

Thankfully, we have a resource that is greater than any hindrance—God’s omnipotent, indwelling Spirit. He continually works to transform us into Christ’s image by giving us holy desires and ambitions, making us sensitive to His leading, and empowering our obedience and service. When we’re submissive to the Spirit, we grow in our faith and resemble Jesus more and more.

However, this doesn’t mean that we play no part in the process. The practical truth is that we must exercise obedient attitudes even if we’re feeling otherwise. These include loving the unlovable, choosing joy instead of grumbling, being kind when we’d rather respond with harshness, and practicing patience despite frustration or anger. And the great mystery is that when we rely on the Spirit, our heart changes—love takes root, joy fills our heart, kindness feels right, and patience produces a peaceful spirit.

God Loves the Wicked

“And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” (Jonah 4:2)

Jonah understood that God loves wicked people. Indeed, our text verse tells us that this was the very reason he ran away from God! Jonah wanted God to destroy the sinful people of Nineveh and feared that God might forgive them if they repented. Ironically, Jonah acted wickedly by disobeying God’s command to preach to the inhabitants because of his lack of compassion for wicked people (Jonah 1:1-3).

Even after Jonah was swallowed by the “great fish” (1:17) and agreed to preach in Nineveh, he still had no love for the city’s cruel inhabitants. As a prophet, Jonah undoubtedly wished to see God’s sinful people of Israel repent and be spared from God’s judgment, but he did not want God’s mercy extended to their enemies. He was furious when God forgave these repentant sinners (4:1). Jonah apparently failed to realize that he needed God’s mercy as much as the people of Nineveh. Praise God that He “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

The world is full of wicked people who hate God and His people. God created these sinners in His image (Genesis 1:27). Even though they reject Him and His commands, Jesus loves them and wants them to come to Him for salvation. May every Christian be loving enough to tell people the truth: that they have sinned against their holy Creator and incurred His righteous wrath, “but God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). WP

At the Feast

John 7:37-39

THE seventh chapter of John records our Lord’s experience at the Feast of Tabernacles. His brothers, looking at things from an ordinary, businesslike standpoint, urged Him to go up to Judea and get Himself before the people. His answer is striking: “My time is not yet come: but your time is always ready.” Jesus lived in God’s will and awaited His time. Men have no clear sense of time—they follow their own impulses.

But our Lord did go up to the feast, though not in a public manner. He did not court persecution, even as He advised His disciples to flee from it. At the feast He created much discussion, especially among those who thought one should not teach if he had not had the regular training. (Their number still is legion!) He answers that His doctrine is of God and that willingness to do God’s will is the key to spiritual knowledge. Decision leads to precision. Obedience is the path to certainty. They condemned Him for healing on the Sabbath—the healing of the impotent man over a year before—but He replies that they circumcise on the Sabbath, yet censure Him for healing. They were confused also as to how Messiah should issue forth, but He replies that soon He will leave them and they will seek and not find Him.

Verses 37 to 39 contain our Lord’s great invitation to the thirsty—to drink from Him the Living Water of the Spirit. Here we have the five-fold secret of the filling of the Spirit: thirsting, coming, drinking, believing, overflowing. Notice that our Lord keeps the center of the stage, “Let him come unto Me,” “He that believeth on Me,” “they that believe on Him.” The work of the Spirit is to testify to Him; the Spirit must never become the figurehead of any movement. There is a hidden truth in verse 39: that the Spirit was not yet given because Jesus was not yet glorified. It is also true in experience, that the Spirit is not given to us in fullness until Jesus is glorified in our lives. Pentecost must always follow Ascension.

Such mighty teaching produces great confusion among His hearers—some saying one thing and some another. There is something almost comical in the vanity of the Pharisees when they proudly ask, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?” As if that settled it! “But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.” Could conceit be any more stupid than that! How true that He came that those who “saw” should be blinded and that the blind should see!

Nicodemus interposes a word on our Lord’s behalf (v. 51). But it is a lame defense and brings a fierce rejoineder: “Art thou also of Galilee? Search and look, for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” But Jonah and Elijah both came from Galilee.

Truly, they are “blind leaders of the blind.” Poor scribes, looking for a Messiah of place rather than of power. They did err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.

Tyranny of the Oughts

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

The breastplate of righteousness protects us from the feeling that we are not good enough to be saved. We now look at a feeling which Satan delights to whip up in the heart of a Christian—the feeling that we are only accepted by God when we are doing everything perfectly. The feeling gives rise to perfectionism—a condition which afflicts multitudes of Christians.

The chief characteristic of perfectionism is a constant overall feeling of never doing enough to be thought well of by God. Karen Horney describes it as “the tyranny of the oughts.” Here are some typical statements of those who are afflicted in this way: “I ought to do better,” “I ought to have done better,” “I ought to be able to do better.” There is nothing wrong with wanting to do better, but in the twisted thinking of a perfectionist, a person believes that because he or she could or ought to have done better, they will not be accepted or thought well of by God. They come to believe that their acceptance by God depends on their performance. They constantly try to develop a righteousness of their own rather than resting in the righteousness that Christ has provided for them.

If you suffer from this condition, then it’s time to put on your spiritual breastplate. You need to remind yourself that the way you came into the Christian life is the same way you are enabled to go on in it—by depending on Christ and His righteousness, not on yourself and your righteousness. You are not working to be saved; you are working because you are saved.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I see that when I stand in Your righteousness, I stand in God’s smile. But when I stand in my own righteousness, I stand in God’s frown. Help me move over from frown to smile. In Your dear name. Amen.

Further Study

Gl 3; Gn 15:6; Ac 13:39

What was the purpose of the law?

What does it mean to be “justified”?

Our Place in the Son

John 14:13

It was the hottest day on record in Washington, D.C. Few people ventured out on the blistering sidewalks that sent up a nearly visible steamy mist. Factoring in the humidity, the index reached 111 degrees.

Perhaps the weather heightened the odd appearance of the old man dressed in a winter flight jacket with fleece collar. He carried his belongings on his back and shuffled along the street.

Unfortunately, homeless persons are no oddity on our nation’s streets. Although they have always been with us, we are becoming more keenly aware of their plight. Some two million people are homeless over the course of a year, estimates the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

If anyone understands the woundedness, the perplexity, the terror of the homeless, I suppose Jesus does. He left the splendor of heaven. He experienced the coldness, the hardness of life in a fallen world. He knew what it was to suffer loss, to bear rejection.

And how tenderly Jesus dealt with those who were beaten down by a power-conscious, materialistic society. He had nothing but censure for those who abused the poor, who contributed to the discomfort of others.

Close to the end of Jesus’ Galilean ministry, the disciples witnessed Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain. In a moment of passion, one of them said,

“Teacher, I will follow You wherever You go” (Matthew 8:19).

But Jesus knew they had not yet understood His mission or given their complete loyalty. They were not fully aware that discipleship must take precedence over material comforts, social duties, even family relationships. He reminded them that He didn’t even have an earthly home: “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20). He was, essentially, homeless.

Or was He? Is homelessness only a matter of material dislocation or deprivation? “I came from the Father and entered the world” (John 16:28), Jesus declared. He knew exactly who He was and what He was doing. He is the welcoming hearth, the light in the window, the steaming bread prepared to give sustenance and energy to all who come to Him. He is the fixed compass point by which we can steer our lives. As we follow, we are led home to Him.

God is our home. We have only to accept His gracious gift of life, and of home, where we are open to the wind of His eternal Spirit nourishing, sheltering and loving.

Marlene Chase, Pictures from the Word