VIDEO Bad Hair Days

For consider what he has done—before the foundation of the world he chose us to become, in Christ, his holy and blameless children living within his constant care. Ephesians 1:4

D. A. Benton checked into a five-star hotel to speak for a business group. The next morning, she went through her exercise routine, then decided to see the meeting room. Benton was dressed in sweats and hadn’t touched her face or hair. To her surprise, someone was already in the room. It was the meeting planner who had contracted Benton. This woman had always been professional and friendly on the phone, but she didn’t recognize Benton. “She brusquely brushed past me in the hallway, almost bumping me aside as though she could barely tolerate this less than acceptable individual in her territory.”[1]

Benton still recalls the slight.

We don’t always look our best, but the Lord never brushes past us, bumps us aside, or acts as though He can barely tolerate us. Whatever state we’re in, He listens. If we feel discouraged, He knows. If we feel guilty, we can tell Him—even on bad hair days.

Jesus knows thy sorrow, knows thine ev’ry care;/ knows thy deep contrition, hears thy feeblest prayer.
William O. Cushing

[1]D. A. Benton, Executive Charisma (New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2005), 52.


Ephesians 1:4-5 – In Depth – Pastor Chuck Smith – Bible Studies

Outside the Camp

Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood. Hebrews 13:12

Friday was market day in the rural town in Ghana where I grew up. After all these years, I still recall one particular vendor. Her fingers and toes eroded by Hansen’s disease (leprosy), she would crouch on her mat and scoop her produce with a hollowed-out gourd. Some avoided her. My mother made it a point to buy from her regularly. I saw her only on market days. Then she would disappear outside the town.

In the time of the ancient Israelites, diseases like leprosy meant living “outside the camp.” It was a forlorn existence. Israelite law said of such people, “They must live alone” (Leviticus 13:46). Outside the camp was also where the carcasses of the sacrificial bulls were burned (4:12). Outside the camp was not where you wanted to be.

This harsh reality breathes life into the statement about Jesus in Hebrews 13: “Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore” (v. 13). Jesus was crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem, a significant point when we study the Hebrew sacrificial system.

We want to be popular, to be honored, to live comfortable lives. But God calls us to go “outside the camp”—where the disgrace is. That’s where we’ll find the vendor with Hansen’s disease. That’s where we’ll find people the world has rejected. That’s where we’ll find Jesus.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

How do you initially react to outsiders and misfits? In what practical way might you go to Jesus “outside the camp”?

Thank You, Jesus, that You don’t show any favoritism. Thank You for going outside the camp for me.

The Power of Your Conscience

1 Timothy 1:18-20

God gave us the gift of a conscience to act as a moral compass, but if we ignore it, we may suffer shipwreck. When writing to Timothy, Paul charged the young man to keep the truths of the faith and a good conscience. Ignoring either piece of advice could have put Timothy in danger.

The conscience is an inner monitor that judges our actions as right or wrong, but it is fallen and in need of redemption. Depending on how it’s been programmed, our moral compass even has the potential to nudge us in the wrong direction.

Paul himself is an illustration of this. His formal education as a Pharisee had taught him that Christians were a threat to God and the Jewish faith. His conscience had been programmed to see killing them as service to the Lord. So he passionately hunted believers down without a twinge of guilt. Only after Christ met him on the way to Damascus was his inner sense of right and wrong transformed and his life’s course altered.

We need the truths of faith to shape our conscience so we can trust it to lead us in the right direction. Take a moment to ask the Lord if anything is clouding your internal signals, and trust in His promise to make your path straight (Prov. 3:5-6).

The God of All Comfort

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3)

The apostle Paul uses two important titles for God in this passage, “the Father of mercies” and “the God of all comfort,” that give us unique insight into the character of our mighty Creator and Redeemer. First, God is noted as the fountainhead of all fatherly mercies that were ultimately expressed in the sacrificial death on our behalf of His perfect sinless Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Then we are introduced to this important theme of “comfort,” which is used a total of 10 times in this section of the epistle as either some form of the noun paraklēsis or the verb parakaleō (vv. 1:4, 6-7). Paul goes on to elaborate on his declaration of God as the source of all true comfort in the next verse as the one “who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” The participle form of the verb “comforteth” (parakaleō) is given in the Greek as a timeless present tense that conveys ongoing encouragement, support, and exhortation in all kinds of affliction and distress. Indeed, Paul goes on to say, “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation [paraklēsis] also aboundeth by Christ” (v. 5).

But this comfort and consolation in the midst of our trials is not just for our own benefit but that we might also be agents of “the God of all comfort” to His church and a lost and hurting world. Paul emphasizes this in verse 6: “And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.” JPT

Because Of What He Does …Psalm 111

He has provided food for those who fear Him; He remembers His covenant forever. He has shown His people the power of His works by giving them the inheritance of the nations. The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His instructions are trust worthy. They are established forever and ever, enacted in truth and uprightness. He has sent redemption to His people. He has ordained His covenant forever. His name is holy and awe-inspiring. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow His instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever (vv. 5-10).

The psalmist develops his theme specifically here. Our compassionate and gracious Lord has expressed himself by helping his people—by providing a daily supply of food, by remembering his covenant and keeping his promises to make them victorious in conquest, by bequeathing to them the heathen lands around them, by revealing his power. And wonder of wonders, when they continued to grumble and complain against him, he provided a way back to him— a plan of redemption and forgiveness!

My Lord is no less active in my life today. He provides for my basic needs— food, shelter, clothing—by allowing me to serve him through meaningful and fulfilling work. He has blessed me with rich personal relationships with my family and intimate friends. To guide me in facing the hassles of daily living, he has sent his Holy Spirit, and I find myself clinging to him every day.

The conclusion of this psalm reminds me of Proverbs 1:7: “The fear [awesome respect] of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” It seems that following his precepts in obedience should be the obvious outcome of my gratitude for all he’s done for me!

Personal Prayer

I pray that you will find me with an awesome respect for you, Lord, so that it will be the most natural thing in the world to obey your rules for right living!

The Irreducible Minimum

For every one of God’s promises is “Yes” in Him.—2 Corinthians 1:20

It is time to face some very personal and pointed questions. Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God, divinely and uniquely inspired and reliable in all it affirms? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, born of a virgin, and the only way to God? Do you believe that He was crucified for your sins, raised again on the third day, and is now sitting on the right hand of God?

I could go on raising more questions, but the ones I have mentioned are what I consider to be the irreducible minimum of Christianity. In other words, these are the basic truths of the gospel, and if you don’t take your stand on these truths, then you cannot call yourself a Christian.

This is what is meant by having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace—that you are ready to stand for the authority of Scripture, the deity of Christ, His substitutionary death, His resurrection from the dead, and His return to earth in power and glory.

Do you know where you stand on these matters? Are you sure of your spiritual position? How can you fight the enemy if you do not know what you believe? As I write, some of the daily newspapers here in Britain are calling on church leaders to give a spiritual lead. But many of our leaders do not have a high view of Scripture. How can they give a lead when they don’t know where they are going? They don’t know where they stand, and no one else knows either.

Prayer

O Father, Your Word promises to be a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. Bring those whose feet are slipping and sliding in the faith back to an unshakable confidence in Your gospel. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

Further Study

2Pt 1; Col 2:7; 1Co 3:11

Why are we given so many great and precious promises?

What should our foundation be?

The Book

2 Timothy 3:16

The Bible is a very wonderful book. Its very name signifies this. It is The Book, the book which, above every other, a man should know, treasure and obey. It is valuable for many reasons.

God is its Author. He caused it to be written under His own special direction. The Holy Spirit put the thoughts into the hearts of holy men. They wrote them down. That is the reason we speak of it as the Word of God.

It tells us of God. We might have expected that our heavenly Father would not leave us in ignorance about Himself, that He would want to tell us of His power and love, and to declare what His feelings are towards us. And that is just what He has done in the Bible.

From it we learn all that we know about the birth and life and death, the resurrection and ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The Bible tells us about the future state: of the resurrection of the dead, the Great White Throne, the heaven of delight, and the hell of misery.

It is the Bible that tells us of the merits of the precious Blood of our Savior, the possibilities of the forgiveness of sins, the purification of our hearts, the protection of God and the triumph of a dying hour.

Now, my comrade, what ought you to do with the Bible? I will tell you.

The very least that you can do is to read it. Read a few verses at a time; read them on your knees, when you rise in the morning, when you retire at night, in your spare moments. Read it in your families. See that you experience in your heart the blessings it offers. Fulfill the duties it commands. Publish the salvation of the Bible wherever you go.

Oh, my comrade, do not let the Bible rise up in judgment against you, as it surely will if you either neglect it, or if knowing about the salvation and victory of which it tells, you do not enjoy that salvation and experience that victory.

William Booth, Religion for Every Day