VIDEO Chain of Grace

Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 5:42, NIV

On the Cru website, Susie Richardson tells the story of a troubled Boston youth named Naseef, who was being drawn into a gang. A school teacher told him, “You don’t want to go down this path, Naseef. …You can do better…. God has a plan for you. Put him first.” 

Naseef joined the wrestling team and tried to focus on academics. Getting through high school, he enrolled in Boston’s Bentley University. That’s where he met a Cru intern named Andrew, who shared the Gospel with him. “I’d prayed, but never read the Bible,” Naseef recalls. “Now I realized why Jesus died on the cross—so I could be forgiven for what I did.” 

Today Naseef actively shares his faith with others. “I explain to my friends how God is growing me, and that it happens in small steps, especially when you’re in rough situations.”[1]

The Good News is the promise of salvation. When we have received Christ, we get to proclaim Him to others. That’s the Good News miracle that forges us into links of a chain stretching from Pentecost to the Second Coming.

Let others report bad news; we’ll share the good news.
Woodrow Kroll

[1]Susie Richardson, “Why Naseef Left His Gang,” Cru, December 9, 2015.


Acts 4:23-5:42 – Skip Heitzig

Truth, Lies, and Vigilantes

Do not spread false reports. Exodus 23:1

During the 2018 baseball season, a Chicago Cubs coach wanted to give a baseball to a young boy sitting by the dugout. But when the coach tossed the ball toward him, a man scooped it up instead. Video of the event went viral. News outlets and social media skewered this “brute” of a man. Except viewers didn’t know the whole story. Earlier, the man had helped the young boy snag a foul ball, and they agreed to share any additional balls that came their way. Unfortunately, it took twenty-four hours before the true story emerged. The mob had already done its damage, demonizing an innocent man.

Too often, we think we have all the facts when we only have fragments. In our modern gotcha culture, with snippets of dramatic video and inflamed tweets, it’s easy to condemn people without hearing the full story. However, Scripture warns us not to “spread false reports” (Exodus 23:1). We must do everything possible to confirm the truth before leveling accusations, making sure not to participate in lies. We should be cautious whenever a vigilante spirit takes hold, whenever passions ignite and waves of judgment swell. We want to safeguard ourselves from “follow[ing] the crowd in doing wrong” (v. 2).

 As believers in Jesus, may God help us not to spread falsehoods. May He provide what we need to exhibit wisdom and to make certain our words are actually true.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Take a moment to recollect a time when someone was falsely accused. What was the damage, and how was the wrong made right?

God, with things moving so fast these days, it’s often hard to know what’s real. Help me to listen, pay attention, and speak only the truth.

The Reward of Relinquishment

Genesis 22:1-18

When God asks us to surrender our will to His, it’s our job to trust He will show us the way (Prov. 3:5-6). I’ve learned that, while it’s a struggle to put everything on the altar, we don’t have to understand how God will accomplish His plans. Telling God “no” because we first want to understand why amounts to getting in our own way. But when we say “yes,” He can pour out His goodness and reward our obedience.

Today’s passage shows a remarkable example of relinquishment. Abraham’s deep faith in God’s trustworthiness allowed him to obey and offer up what was most precious to him: his son Isaac. As a result, the Lord provided a substitutionary sacrifice that day and also promised Abraham countless descendants, one of whom would be Jesus Christ, the Savior of mankind.

God shouldn’t be mistaken for a parent who withholds a treat until the child complies. Rather, obedience positions us to receive what He is already trying to give us—and to accomplish what He has in mind for our life. So, when we fail to trust God enough to do what He says, we could be closing ourselves off from those good things.

What has the Lord told you to do? Have you only partially cooperated, or have you relinquished your need to understand and obeyed completely? If the Lord says to give, know that you too can trust Him to provide.

But God

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

God makes all the difference! There was a time when the whole world was in bondage to sin and death. But God!

But…God sent forth his Son…To redeem them that were under the law.” Because He did, “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). But there was a problem, for every man was still a lost sinner, deserving to die under the righteous, well-deserved wrath of a holy God. But God!

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He died for us, suffering in our place, because He loved us. The issue is not yet settled, however, for how could a dead redeemer complete the work He was sent to do? But God!

But God raised him from the dead” (Acts 13:30). The price for sin was forever settled, so that God, in full righteousness and in mighty power, could raise His beloved Son, alive forevermore. Yes, but we ourselves are still sinful—still dying. Our very nature keeps us in bondage to sin, even though the price for our deliverance has been fully paid. But God!

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ…For by grace are ye saved through faith;…it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:4-5, 8). We cannot fully understand. But God does not require us to understand— only to believe and receive. HMM

Life Versus Death

May the Lord add to [your numbers], both yours and your children’s. May you be blessed by the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. The heavens are the Lord’s, but the earth He has given to the human race. It is not the dead who praise the Lord, nor any of those descending into the silence [of death]. But we will praise the Lord, both now and forever. Hallelujah! (vv. 14-18).

Why don’t we sing? The Maker of heaven and earth has given us everything to delight us, but so many people move through the measure of their days like marionettes, with painted smiles and no music in their hearts.

Why don’t we sing? There are three primary reasons.

First, the pressures and complexities of modern life can take the song right

out of the heart. Contemporary lifestyles often destroy intimacy, the soil in which artistry grows.

Next, we are overexposed to music, especially’elevator music.” Second-rate sounds flood the airwaves at home, in the car, in the office, in restaurants. It’s like musical wallpaper, so we become spectators rather than participants.

Third, “it is not the dead [person’s without the Lord]” who praise him. The psalmist tells us that they go to a place of silence (v. 17). There is no singing there!

Against the backdrop of pagan idolatry, the psalmist pleads with the house of Israel, the house of Aaron, and all who fear the Lord, to place their trust in the Lord and to lift their voices in praise. “We will praise the Lord, both now and forever” (v. 18).

Personal Prayer

O Lord, help me to trust and praise you endlessly. May I personally and with full selfawareness experience your blessing.

A Contemporary Lyric

Endless Praise

I sing the wonder of Your power,

I give the glory due Your name;

I see the splendor of Your holiness,

I marvel that forever You’re the same.

I praise You for You alone are worthy,

I bless You for Your love and grace;

My soul finds refuge in Your mercy

And for endless days I’ll sing Your endless praise!

Words and music by Phil and Lynne Brower © 1985 Singspiration.

Quality Par Excellence

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts.—Isaiah 6:3

Even the most casual reader of the Scriptures cannot help but notice that God is portrayed in the Bible as uniquely and awesomely holy. In fact, there are more references to the holiness of God in Scripture than to any other aspect of His character. This ought to give us some indication of how important it is.

But what do we mean when we say God is “holy”? There are three thoughts underlying the word “holy.”

First, the idea of separation, being withdrawn or apart.

Second, brightness or brilliance.

Third, moral majesty, purity, or cleanliness.

It is interesting that those who came into direct contact with the Almighty in the Old Testament were inevitably overwhelmed by His moral majesty.

Isaiah went into the temple to pray at a time when his people were in grave difficulties. Uzziah, the king who had ruled for half a century, was dying, and Assyria, a terrible and evil force, stood threateningly to the north. Whatever answer Isaiah thought he would get as he opened up his heart to God, it was not the one he received. He was given instead a vision of a holy God that shook him to the core of his being.

Why should this be? I think it was because the concept of God’s holiness is the main lesson in His school, the divine prerequisite for admission to the inner heart of God, the most important qualification for learning from the Lord.

Prayer

Father, I must search my heart this day and ask myself: Do I know what it is to serve a holy God? Have I ever received a vision of the moral majesty and purity of the divine? Deepen my understanding of all this I pray. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ex 15:1-11; Ps 99:9

What question did Moses pose?

What did the psalmist affirm?

Songs in the Night

Psalm 77:6

Ultimately, a “night season” will come to each life. It is easy to sing in the sunshine when life flows along like a song. But at night the song must emerge from the shadows and come from the melody that the Lord puts within one’s life.

But the night has its songs as well. The song of the nightingale is sweeter because it comes in the stillness of the night. The noises of the day are hushed and her notes float as sweet music through the night air.

God is the great Composer of the night songs. When darkness overtakes us, God gives a song. The Psalmist testified, “At night His song is with me” (42:8), and “I remembered my songs in the night” (77:6). In the midst of a crisis in Israel, God promised His people, “You shall have a song as in the night” (Isaiah 30:29 NKJV). Out of the tragic story of Job’s trials comes the radiant truth that “God… gives songs in the night” (Job 35:10). Sorrow becomes the expositor of the mysteries of God that joy leaves unexplained.

This radiant truth has been confirmed in the experience of innumerable people who, when going through the dark valleys, have been encouraged and sustained by the song God gave to them. Many of our best-loved hymns were forged in the crucible of sorrow and suffering. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” was written by the young Joseph Scriven when not long before his wedding day his fiancee was drowned. Fanny Crosby was blind and yet wrote over 6,000 hymns, many of them among all-time favorites.

In 1871 the ship Ville du Havre, halfway across the Atlantic, was rammed by a sailing vessel and cut in two. Mrs. Spafford saw her four daughters swept away to their deaths. When she and a few other survivors reached Wales, she cabled two words to her husband: “Saved alone.”

Taking the earliest ship, he hastened to his wife’s side, all the ache of his heart going out to her and to his Father God. When his boat reached the approximate spot where the Ville du Havre had met with disaster, God gave him the inspiration and courage to write the hymn that affirms: When sorrows like sea billows roll,/Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say:/It is well, it is well with my soul.

There is a grace and strength from God that is not given in the everyday routine of life. But when trials come upon us, we may know His added grace, His increased strength, and His multiplied peace.

Henry Gariepy, Songs in the Night