VIDEO The Gift of God

For I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that. 1 Corinthians 7:7

In the 1980s, the Buckeye Singles Council (in Ohio) started National Singles Week to celebrate singles’ contribution to society. The celebration spread and now the third full week of September is celebrated across America as Unmarried and Single Americans Week. It’s evidence of a general trend: Around the world, the number of marriages is declining, and the number of singles is rising.

A century ago, young-adult men and women were considered to have a problem if they weren’t married. Today, the single life is celebrated. In fact, the Bible celebrates both marriage and the single life. While Genesis establishes marriage as the norm by which societies can be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), singles—like the apostle Paul and Jesus of Nazareth—can bear rich fruit for the Kingdom of God. The Message translation of 1 Corinthians 7:7 says it well: “God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others.”

If you are married, praise God! If you are single, praise God! In either case, celebrate the gift of God for His glory.

Knowing God is your single greatest privilege as a Christian. Sinclair Ferguson


Getting Smart about Remarriage – 1 Corinthians 7 – Skip Heitzig

Active Faith

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress. James 1:27

Sam’s father had to flee for his life during a military coup. With the sudden loss of income, the family could no longer afford the crucial medicine that kept Sam’s brother alive. Seething at God, Sam thought, What have we done to deserve this?

A believer in Jesus heard about the family’s troubles. Finding he had enough money to cover the medicine, he bought a supply and took it to them. The life-saving gift from a stranger had a profound impact. “This Sunday, we will go to this man’s church,” his mother declared. Sam’s anger began to subside. And eventually, one by one, each member of the family put their faith in Jesus.

When James wrote about the necessity of a lifestyle of integrity accompanying a profession of faith in Christ, he singled out the need to care for others. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food,” James wrote. “If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” (2:15–16).

Our actions demonstrate the genuineness of our faith. Significantly, those actions can influence the faith-choices of others. In Sam’s case, he became a pastor and church-planter. Eventually he would call the man who helped his family “Papa Mapes.” He now knew him as his spiritual father—the one who showed them the love of Jesus.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

How have you experienced the love of Jesus extended to you? What can you do to help someone in need?

Faithful God, help me to live out my faith in You. I want the way I serve others to honor You

The Obstacle of Discouragement

Psalm 42:1-5

We all have expectations, and if our hopes fail to materialize, we feel disappointed. There’s nothing wrong with this emotion as long as we don’t let it become all-consuming despair. In such a state of mind, we might find our circumstances dominate us, which can lead to sinful responses.

For example, we may become angry at God because we think He has let us down. When that’s the case, we’re essentially saying we know better and the Lord should have worked the situation out according to our desires. Can you see the pride in such thinking? Certainly He doesn’t expect us to be happy about our adversity. But as difficult as it is, we need to humble ourselves under His sovereign hand and accept that He has jurisdiction over both our joys and our trials. This attitude becomes possible once we realize everything that happens is designed for our good so that we can become more like Christ.

When life deals you a painful blow and your soul is in despair, turn your eyes away from your situation and place them on the Lord. Put your hope in Him, knowing that difficulties and suffering are temporary. Hopefully there will soon come a time when you again joyfully praise Him here on earth, as all His children will do eternally in heaven

Fearing God for Nothing?

“Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?” (Job 1:9)

Satan’s challenge brings up an important question: Why should a person serve God? His question suggests that Job had no real love for God; his righteous behavior was motivated purely by a desire to receive material blessings.

Job’s friend Eliphaz apparently had precisely the outlook on life that Satan wrongly accused Job of. Eliphaz believed God took no pleasure in human righteousness. He believed a person should serve God purely out of self-interest, a desire that God would reward him with material prosperity (Job 22:2-3, 23-30). God has created the world such that wrongful behavior normally leads to unpleasant consequences while upright behavior normally brings good results (Proverbs 12:21). However, Eliphaz was fundamentally wrong; God did take pleasure in Job’s righteousness (Job 1:8; 42:7).

Death and suffering are results of sin (Romans 5:12). The first people God created rebelled against Him and brought death and suffering into the world (Genesis 3). However, suffering is not necessarily occasioned by a specific sin in the life of the sufferer, as Eliphaz and his two friends seemed to believe.

A person who truly loves God will serve Him in good times and bad times. In this sin-cursed world, sometimes wicked people prosper and righteous people suffer, but Job recognized that perfect justice awaits the day when the Creator returns to Earth (Job 19:25-27). This is probably the reason Job maintained his faith even when God allowed Satan to take everything—including his children and his health.

Job often spoke rashly from his pain (Job 6:1-5; 7:11). Yet his declaration of faith in God is a wonderful example for all believers: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15). WP

Christ the Door

John 10:9

“I AM the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Our Lord is the Door, the Door to the fold of God’s elect—to the Church. He is the Way to God, the Truth, the Life. He is the Door to all that is of God, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. There is no other entrance, and He alone has the right to say, “I am the Door.”

“By Me”: “No man cometh to the Father but by Me.”

The world has its philosophies, its modern gospels, its syncretisms of many faiths, but the only gospel that is the power of God unto salvation is the gospel of “no other name” (Acts 4:12). He is not merely one of the doors. The world wants us to be “broad-minded,” but strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life. He who climbs over any other way is a thief and a robber.

“If any man enter in.” Thank God for the universality of the gospel: “Whosoever will may come.” Don’t freeze up on predestination. It is all right to talk predestination to Christians who are already among the elect, but to the sinner say, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ.”

“He shall be saved.” Not “maybe” or “probably,” but “he shall be saved.” Don’t say you have a “hope.” If you are in Him, you have a certainty. You don’t just hope that you are married; you know that you either are or you aren’t—and your salvation ought to be just as definite.

“And shall go in and out.” The liberty of a Christian! If the Son makes us free, we are free indeed. The world thinks of us as restricted and bound, but we are free to do all that is good. We are freed from sin and from the world, and from doubt and from fear. We have not the spirit of bondage again to fear, but the spirit of adoption whereby we cry “Abba, Father.” We are truly free as we continue in the Word! A true disciple is one who grows and follows the Lord from one grade to another. We can become perfect for that grade, but there are always more grades ahead. And we are to continue both to read and to heed the Word, for if we know these things, happy are we if we do them.

“And find pasture.” Sin fills, but it does not satisfy. The Lord fills our mouths with good things. If we are willing and obedient, we shall eat of the good of the land. Some people are dyspeptic and won’t eat or exercise. Others have stuffed themselves on the devil’s sweetmeats and have no appetite. But Christ is the Door to the promised land of a satisfying Christian life, and it is a land flowing with milk and honey—plus the figs and pomegranates and grapes of Eschol! It is not necessary to leave Canaan for any satisfaction outside. If we trust in the Lord and do good, we shall dwell in the land and be fed. All else is sawdust and shavings. He is the Door. There is no other way. Anyone may enter… and to enter is to be saved.

The Conscience Corrected

Even a young man is known by his actions—if his behavior is pure and upright.—Proverbs 20:11

One way that the Holy Spirit exercises His convincing ministry in our lives is by addressing our consciences, prevailing upon them to take the way of Christ in every issue. Romans 9:1 brings together the objective standard, “the truth in Christ,” and the subjective standard, “my conscience is testifying to me with the Holy Spirit.”

Some people say, “I’m living in accordance with my conscience—isn’t that enough?” No, for conscience by itself is not a safe guide. Conscience is the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong—according to the standards you uphold. It can be taught to approve directly opposite things.

For example, a missionary intervened to stop an Indian woman from throwing her child into the Ganges River as a human sacrifice. “But my conscience tells me to do it,” she said. “Yes,” said the missionary, “and my conscience tells me to stop you from doing it.”

Conscience is not an infallible guide unless it has in it the highest content possible—the Holy Spirit. He can be relied upon to act as Jesus would act in every situation, for the Spirit is a Christlike Spirit. I am bold to say that there is not one of you reading these lines (if you are a Christian) who, by the mercy of God, doesn’t know something in your conscience of the work of the Holy Spirit as Convincer. He pleads in you and with you to bring your conscience to the highest place possible, “a clear conscience toward God and men” (Ac 24:16).

Prayer

O Father, I surrender myself and my standards to You for cleansing and correction. Teach me the standards of Christ so that my conscience may bear a true witness. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Rm 14; 15:1-13; Ac 24:16; 2Co 1:12; 1Tm 1:5

What is Paul teaching about our conscience?

How does he relate it to the ministry of the Holy Spirit?

Fellowship With Thee

Luke 24:32

Spirit of Eternal Love,

Guide me, or I blindly rove;

Set my heart on things above,

Draw me after Thee.

Earthly things are paltry show,

Phantom charms, they come and go;

Give me constantly to know

Fellowship with Thee.

Fellowship with Thee,

Fellowship with Thee,

Give me constantly to know

Fellowship with Thee.

Come, O Spirit, take control

Where the fires of passion roll;

Let the yearnings of my soul

Center all in Thee.

Call into Thy fold of peace

Thoughts that seek forbidden ways;

Calm and order all my days,

Hide my life in Thee.

Thus supported, even I,

Knowing Thee forever nigh,

Shall attain that deepest joy,

Living unto Thee.

No distracting thoughts within,

No surviving hidden sin,

Thus shall heaven indeed begin

Here and now in me.

Albert Orsborn, The Beauty of Jesus