VIDEO The Unsurpassed Intimacy of Tested Faith

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” —John 11:40

Every time you venture out in your life of faith, you will find something in your circumstances that, from a commonsense standpoint, will flatly contradict your faith. But common sense is not faith, and faith is not common sense. In fact, they are as different as the natural life and the spiritual. Can you trust Jesus Christ where your common sense cannot trust Him? Can you venture out with courage on the words of Jesus Christ, while the realities of your commonsense life continue to shout, “It’s all a lie”? When you are on the mountaintop, it’s easy to say, “Oh yes, I believe God can do it,” but you have to come down from the mountain to the demon-possessed valley and face the realities that scoff at your Mount-of-Transfiguration belief (see Luke 9:28-42). Every time my theology becomes clear to my own mind, I encounter something that contradicts it. As soon as I say, “I believe ‘God shall supply all [my] need,’ ” the testing of my faith begins (Philippians 4:19). When my strength runs dry and my vision is blinded, will I endure this trial of my faith victoriously or will I turn back in defeat?

Faith must be tested, because it can only become your intimate possession through conflict. What is challenging your faith right now? The test will either prove your faith right, or it will kill it. Jesus said, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” Matthew 11:6). The ultimate thing is confidence in Jesus. “We have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…” (Hebrews 3:14). Believe steadfastly on Him and everything that challenges you will strengthen your faith. There is continual testing in the life of faith up to the point of our physical death, which is the last great test. Faith is absolute trust in God— trust that could never imagine that He would forsake us (see Hebrews 13:5-6).

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

Defenders of the faith are inclined to be bitter until they learn to walk in the light of the Lord. When you have learned to walk in the light of the Lord, bitterness and contention are impossible. Biblical Psychology, 199 R


I Am the Resurrection and the Life, Part 2 (John 11:37–46)

The Power of the Gospel

I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome. Romans 1:15

Ancient Rome had its own version of “the gospel”—the good news. According to the poet Virgil, Zeus, king of the gods, had decreed for the Romans a kingdom without end or boundaries. The gods had chosen Augustus as divine son and savior of the world by ushering in a golden age of peace and prosperity.

This, however, wasn’t everyone’s idea of good news. For many it was an unwelcome reality enforced by the heavy hand of the emperor’s army and executioners. The glory of the empire was built on the backs of enslaved people who served without legal personhood or property at the pleasure of masters who ruled over them.

This was the world in which Paul introduced himself as a servant of Christ (Romans 1:1). Jesus—how Paul had once hated that name. And how Jesus Himself had suffered for admitting to being the king of the Jews and Savior of the world.

This was the good news Paul would explain in the rest of his letter to the Romans. This gospel was “the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (v. 16). Oh, how it was needed by those who suffered under Caesar! Here was the news of a crucified and resurrected Savior—the liberator who conquered His enemies by showing how much He loved them.

By:  Mart DeHaan

Reflect & Pray

As you read Paul’s opening words to the Romans, what phrases describe the good news to you? (1:1–7). Why would Paul, who had once hated Jesus so much, now want everyone to believe in Him? (see Acts 26).

Loving God, thank You for the good news. Give me the boldness to share the gospel with those around me.

Sunday Reflection: Whole and Free

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

So often, we are hindered by failures, which leave us feeling deficient and incomplete. But God’s Word tells a different story. Take the Greek word holokléros, for instance. It is used only twice in Scripture (1 Thess. 5:23 and James 1:4), and it means “complete in every part, sound, perfect, entire.”

But its more literal definition is even more encouraging. According to Strong’s Concordance, the word means “all that is included (apportioned) through divine lot.” So, though we might feel completion is lacking, that is far from the truth. It’s our portion, our share. Freely given. That is freedom.

There’s no final component to be found, no striving required. The peace that comes with redemption is already ours. All we need to do is rest in the knowledge that we are whole and, better still, deeply loved by the One who attained the victory for us.

Think about it
• Christian philosopher Dallas Willard wrote, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.” What does this mean to you? Have you been trying to “earn” the blessings that are already yours?

The Weight of the Wind

“For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.” (Job 28:24-25)

It was only discovered by scientists in modern times that the air actually has weight. This passage in Job, however, written 35 or more centuries ago, indicated that the two great terrestrial fluids of air and water forming Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere are both “weighed” by God’s careful “measure” to provide the right worldwide balance of forces for life on Earth.

Another remarkable “weighing” act of God is noted in Job 37:16: “Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?” Clouds are composed of liquid drops of water, not water vapor, and water is heavier than air, so how are they “balanced” in the sky? “For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly” (Job 36:27-28).

Meteorologists know that the weight of the small water droplets in the clouds is “balanced” by the “weight of the winds”—air rushing upward in response to temperature changes. Eventually, however, the droplets coalesce to form larger drops that overcome these updrafts and fall as rain. “By watering he wearieth the thick cloud” (Job 37:11). The coalescence is probably triggered electrically in the clouds themselves, “when he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder” (Job 28:26).

Although these verses are not couched in the jargon of modern science, they are thoroughly scientific and up to date. “Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14). HMM

The Glory Of His Creation – Psalm 104

How countless are Your works, Lord! In wisdom You have made them all; the earth is full of Your creatures. Here is the sea, vast and wide, teeming with creatures beyond number—living things both large and small. There the ships move about, and Leviathan, which You formed to play there. All of them wait for You to give them their food at the right time…. I will sing to the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God while I live. May my meditation be pleasing to Him; I will rejoice in the Lord. May sinners vanish from the earth and the wicked be no more. My soul, praise the Lord! Hallelujah! (vv. 24-27, 33-35).

The psalmist bursts into passionate praise, celebrating God’s creation. An earth full of creatures, teeming seas, and overarching heavens were brought into being where nothing had existed before! Only God can do that.

Dr. Harold Best, former dean of Wheaton College Conservatory, says, “Creativity is the ability both to imagine (think up) something and to execute it.” He feels that creativity, craftsmanship, technique, and skill often are confused. The special quality of creativity “lies in the thinking up, the imagining.”

Man takes raw materials that God has made and fashions them into useful items (i.e., trees become lumber; lumber becomes houses or furniture). In the same way a Christian musician uses the laws of nature (i.e., the harmonic series) to produce music. The composer must fashion the building blocks of music into ideas, themes, and melodies that become vehicles of praise.

The psalmist is so stirred by these lofty thoughts that he vows to sing praise to the Lord as long as he lives, in a manner pleasing to the Lord. I too want to please God—not my colleagues or my audience—through the works of my mind and my hands. Though I have written approximately four hundred anthems and songs, only those will endure that have been inspired by the heart of God.

I echo the psalmist who concludes with a mighty “Hallelujah!”

Personal Prayer

I praise you, Lord, for your creativity and your artistic control over creation. I, like every other living creature of earth, am totally vulnerable and dependent on you for inspiration and for life itself! Hallelujah!

He Burns Me Up

Therefore, let us observe the feast, not with … malice and evil but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.—1 Corinthians 5:8

Is it true that nursing a grudge can cause physical illness? A man I knew became enraged over something another Christian had done to him. I advised him to forgive and forget. He replied: “But every time I see him, he burns me up.” I said: “That’s because you want to burn him up, and all you succeed in doing is burning yourself up.” I told him about the sadistic farmer who tied a stick of dynamite to a hawk, lit the fuse, and then turned the bird loose, expecting it to blow itself up in mid-air. Instead, the hawk flew into the man’s barn, and the explosion wrecked not only the barn but part of his house also.

He listened, but I could see my words had not gone in. He could think and talk of nothing else but getting even with his fellow Christian. His wife told me that his breath became foul, his appetite left him, his digestion became bad, he suffered loss of sleep and, after a few months, he dropped down dead.

In case someone says, “But there could have been other reasons for his death,” I can tell you that I talked to his doctor, who was a close personal friend of mine, and he told me that the man had died of an “undrained grudge.” Of course, you can’t put that on a death certificate, but many doctors know that “undrained grudges” play a major role in creating physical disorders. A missionary suffered a breakdown because of a grudge he had held against his ministry organization for not supplying him with enough money. Apparently, grudges are just as deadly in the godly as the ungodly.

Prayer

Father, I see so clearly that my hurts harm me even more when I harbor them. Help me not to hold on stubbornly to my wounded pride, but consent for You to lance my inner boils, no matter how much it may hurt. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

1Jn 2:1-11; Pr 10:12; Isa 59:9-10

What brings us back into darkness?

What is the result of walking in darkness?

Evil Speaking

James 4:11

Evil speaking, or slander, is a very great evil and does an immense amount of harm. It is not necessary to say what is false in order to slander a comrade.

Saying something about him in his absence, whether it be true or false, calculated to lower him in the estimation of others, can damage his influence with them.

Evil speaking does a very great deal of harm. To begin with it hurts the individual guilty of the act. We are so made that when we cherish a kind feeling, or do a loving action, we are benefitted thereby. On the other hand, we cannot indulge in bad feelings toward anyone, or perform any unlovable actions, without suffering ourselves in consequence. So that when a man slanders his neighbor, he injures himself as well. Bear that in mind; you cannot speak evil of anyone without having to suffer in your own soul.

Evil speaking grieves the Spirit of God, because it is contrary to the law of love. You are to love your neighbor as yourself. That is the standard of your love for your neighbor. But Christ said we are to love our comrades as He loved us, and He loved us better than He loved Himself. Now, if you love your comrades after Jesus Christ’s pattern, you won’t go about setting forth their faults and shortcomings to anybody who will listen to you.

Evil speaking hurts the feelings of the comrade slandered. It does, if ever he hears the story, and if he never hears about it, it is worse still because he never has a chance of defending himself.

By all that is sacred, my dear comrade, let us make a covenant with our tongues that we will not speak evil of any comrade, no, not even if we think that they have wronged us. Let us remember the example of our Lord, who prayed for the men who were gambling at His feet for His garments while their hands were clotted with His blood. Let us love one another.

William Booth, The Warrior’s Daily Portion