VIDEO Roles of a Lifetime

We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children…. Brethren…. We exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father. 1 Thessalonians 1:7-11

In the movie, Kind Hearts and Coronets, legendary actor Alec Guinness played eight different characters, all members of the D’Ascoyne family. They were being murdered one after the other, and movie fans still marvel at how Guinness managed to play so many roles.

We have one life to live on earth, but we have many different roles. It helps to think of our relationships in this way. In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul compared himself to: (1) a nursing mother who cherished the Thessalonian Christians like his own children; (2) a brother who labored day and night for his church family; (3) and a father who encouraged, comforted, and urged his children toward godliness. 

Relationships are complex, but they are the connections that allow us to minister to others. By understanding our multiple roles in someone’s life, we can help the hurting, lift the discouraged, and be the blessing God intends. Think of someone near you today. How can you be a blessing?

The followers of Jesus are children of God and they should manifest the family likeness by doing good to all. F. F. Bruce


1 Thessalonians 1 lesson by Dr. Bob Utley

A Living Document

Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. Psalm 1:1–2

In memorializing his grandfather’s work, Peter Croft wrote, “It is my deepest desire for the person who picks up their Bible, whatever version they use, to not only understand but experience the scriptures as living documents, just as relevant, dangerous, and exciting now as they were those thousands of years ago.” Peter’s grandfather was J.B. Phillips, a youth minister who undertook a new paraphrase of the Bible in English during World War II in order to make it come alive to students at his church.

Like Phillips’ students, we face barriers to reading and experiencing Scripture, and not necessarily because of our Bible translation. We may lack time, discipline, or the right tools for understanding. But Psalm 1 tells us that “Blessed is the one . . . whose delight is in the law of the Lord” (vv. 1–2). Meditating on Scripture daily allows us to “prosper” in all seasons, no matter what hardship we’re facing.

How do you view your Bible? It’s still relevant with insight for living today, still dangerous in its call to believe and follow Jesus, still exciting in the intimate knowledge of God and humanity that it imparts. It’s like a stream of water (v. 3) that provides the sustenance we need daily. Today, let’s lean in—make time, get the right tools, and ask God to help us experience Scripture as a living document.

By:  Karen Pimpo

Reflect & Pray

What barriers do you face when reading the Bible? How can you make space to listen to God’s voice?

God, help me experience Scripture as a living document today

Life’s Greatest Investment

Acts 9:10-18

What is the most worthwhile investment a person can make? It isn’t a retirement account, a lucrative career, or a fine house, though these are all good. There is no better way to invest time, energy, or resources than to help someone come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

When we first trusted in the Savior, God transferred us from the realm of darkness into the kingdom of His Son (Col. 1:13). As a result, we became an instrument in His hands, useful for reaching others for Christ. When others turn from sin and receive the Lord’s salvation, their eternal destiny is altered. Not only that, but Satan also receives a devastating blow—all his plans for those individuals are thwarted. And as each new believer begins to live in God’s will, there’s no telling how far the Lord will extend His kingdom through them.

Furthermore, whenever you tell someone about the Savior, you’re carrying out the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20). This gigantic task is accomplished one person at a time, as we each do our part to share the gospel.

God’s plan for enlarging His kingdom is so simple—one person telling another about Jesus. Just think about being in heaven and seeing someone you introduced to Jesus. Your joy will far exceed any discomfort you may have felt in sharing the gospel.

The Gate of Praise

“But thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.” (Isaiah 60:18)

Walled cities were standard measures in the time of the Old Testament to protect the inhabitants from attack by enemy forces. In this Scripture in Isaiah, the city wall represents the protective salvation of God available to those who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Concerning city walls, there were two types of openings in them. One was a breach in the wall that allowed enemy forces to come in and wreak havoc on the city. In this respect, the apostle Paul warned us in Ephesians 4:27, “Neither give place to the devil,” and in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” The other type of opening was a controlled gate that could be opened or closed at the will of the ruler of the city. Isaiah likens these gates as “Praise.”

It’s interesting that in regard to the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21:21, we are told, “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls.” As most people know, pearls are formed by irritation in which a foreign particle becomes lodged inside the shell of an oyster, and over time a beautiful pearl is formed by the secretion of minerals accumulating around the particle. Indeed, Acts 14:22 says, “That we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”

Giving praise to God in the difficult trials and irritating circumstances of a sin-cursed world is one thing you can’t do in heaven but is highly needful for the sojourning believer in this present life. Hebrews 13:15 says, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” And David says, “Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem…to give thanks unto the name of the LORD” (Psalm 122:2, 4). JPT

Because Of Who He Is-Psalm 111

Hallelujah! I will praise the Lord with all my heart in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation. The Lord’s works are great, studied by all who delight in them. All that He does is splendid and majestic; His righteousness endures forever. He has caused His wonderful works to be remembered. The Lord is gracious and compassionate (vv. 1-4).

Using an artistically controlled art form—the acrostic—the psalmist celebrates the nature of God. Each line begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, extolling God’s glory and majesty, his righteousness, his grace and compassion.

Volumes have been written on knowing about God. We can know all aboutsomeone yet never come to know that person intimately.

We can read about God, study about him, sing to him, even pray to him— without really knowing him. But when we recognize him for who he is—our Creator and Redeemer—then our spirits cry out, “Abba, Father!”

Personal Prayer

I praise you, Lord, not just for the wonderful things you have done in my life but because of who you are!

A Contemporary Lyric

Because of Who You Are

You spoke the word and all the worlds came into order,

You waved Your hands and planets filled the empty skies,

You placed the woman and the man inside the garden

And tho they fell they found compassion in your eyes;

One holy night You brought Your promise from a virgin,

And Promise grew as He revealed to us Your heart;

Enduring love displayed throughout His crucifixion,

And in the dark You tore the grave and death apart.

Lord, I stand amazed at the wonder οf Your deeds,

And yet a greater wonder brings me to my knees.

Lord, I praise You because of who You are,

Not just for all the mighty things that You have done;

And Lord, I worship You because of who You are,

You’re all the reason that I need to voice my praise—

Because of who your are … Because of who You are!

Words and music by Bob Farrell and Billy Smiley.

© 1982 by Paragon Music Corp.

Deep Trauma

So the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first.—Job 42:12

There are many “walking wounded” in the Christian church who have experienced some deep horror, such as physical beating, sexual abuse, or serious injury. The Holy Spirit yearns to heal you of these hurts, but He can only do so when you let Him.

For the Holy Spirit to be able to heal our deep hurts, we must be willing to part with the resentment that is often mixed up in them. When something traumatic happens to us, more often than not, we respond to it with a measure of self-pity and say, “Why should that have happened to me?” In whatever way you might justify the bitterness at the time, there must be a willingness to abandon all resentment before there can be a deep healing.

This is what I mean when I say that the Holy Spirit will heal your hurts—if you let Him. He can’t bring healing where there is bitterness. That would be like healing over a boil. When you truly part with the bitterness, however, then I assure you, a deep healing will begin.

Have you heard the story of Joni Eareckson Tada? Young, beautiful, vivacious, she had a diving accident that resulted in paralysis. She is now a quadriplegic. She paints pictures with a brush held between her teeth. Her witness has become worldwide. At first she was angry and bitter, but one day she let go of the bitterness and experienced inner healing. Outside she remained the same, but inside she was made anew.

Prayer

Blessed Holy Spirit, I see that when I hold onto bitterness and resentment, I succeed only in blocking Your healing power. I surrender every resentment, every ounce of self-pity, into Your hands, and receive in its place complete healing. Amen.

Further Study

Gn 41:51; Jb 42; Heb 12:15; Eph 4:31; Dt 32:32; Ac 8:23

What was Job’s confession?

When did God bring good out of Job’s calamity?

The Conquest of Worry

Matthew 6:34

It would seem that in these words—”Do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34)—there is an exception to the rule; for is it not most improvident not to think about the future and prepare for it? This principle applied literally would mean the end of provident societies and insurance corporations. Bankers and brokers would go out of business. In this hard and brittle world one must look to the future, for the man who retires without having prepared for it will find that God is on the side of the provident.

We know that our Lord did not ignore the principle of preparing for the future, for His whole ministry was related to it. He urged salvation in the present to determine where we will spend eternity. On the cross He thought of His mother’s future, and committed her to the care of John.

Deep in our Lord’s injunction is advice against undue anxiety and worry. Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount was advocating a living trust in the present that would make the future secure.

Worry is imagination run wild! We allow our thoughts to anticipate the worst, to build in our minds fearful images and situations which rarely come to reality. We cross our bridges before we come to them. We must be prepared to accept the worst if it comes, but must calmly devote all the thought and energy possible to improving the worst as it is now. If we reconcile ourselves to the worst we often find the worst never comes. Tomorrow will depend upon what we are today.

Victories can be won or lost in the mind. We rush to the chemist for tranquilizers when all we need is a right mental adjustment to life. Our Lord refused the sponge saturated with an appeaser on that day, showing that He would not die drugged. There is no external answer to the internal state of mind with which we face our troubles and tragedies.

When tire manufacturers found solid tires were cut to pieces by flinty roads, they invented pneumatic tires which absorbed the shocks of the roads. We need to learn that spiritual art which helps us to bend to resistant forces. The prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr is worth saying every day:

God grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

The courage to change the things I can;

And the wisdom to know the difference.

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man