VIDEO Sea Change

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12

When you stand on the beach admiring the flashing, splashing water, the golden hues of the sunset can take your breath away. But if you don a snorkel mask and go beneath the surface, a new world suddenly appears as if by magic. You may see schools of fish, clouds of sand, bright colors, strange formations of barnacles and coral! One inch above the water and these things are hard to see. One inch below the water, and it’s another world.

Bible study is like that. Many people only gaze at the surface and study the Word superficially. But plunge in a little deeper, and you’ll find a fathomless ocean of truth.

The best thing is having the Holy Spirit as a snorkeling partner. He is our tutor, our trainer, our guide. Before opening the Bible, let’s ask God to reveal His will to us. Pray with the psalmist, “Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18). Say with Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:9).

Open my eyes that I may see, glimpses of truth Thou hast for me.
Clara H. Scott, “Open My Eyes, That I May See”


God’s True and Complete Revelation (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)

Unlimited

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary. Isaiah 40:28

There I am, sitting in the shopping mall food court, my body tense and my stomach knotted over looming work deadlines. As I unwrap my burger and take a bite, people rush around me, fretting over their own tasks. How limited we all are, I think to myself, limited in time, energy, and capacity.

I consider writing a new to-do list and prioritizing the urgent tasks, but as I pull out a pen another thought enters my mind: a thought of One who is infinite and unlimited, who effortlessly accomplishes all that He desires.

This God, Isaiah says, can measure the oceans in the hollow of His hand and collect the dust of the earth in a basket (Isaiah 40:12). He names the stars of the heavens and directs their path (v. 26), knows the rulers of the world and oversees their careers (v. 23), considers islands mere specks of dust and the nations like drops in the sea (v. 15). “To whom will you compare me?” He asks (v. 25). “The Lord is the everlasting God,” Isaiah replies. “He will not grow tired or weary” (v. 28).

Stress and strain are never good for us, but on this day they deliver a powerful lesson. The unlimited God is not like me. He accomplishes everything He wishes. I finish my burger, and then pause once more. And silently worship.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

How will you draw on God’s unlimited strength today? (vv. 29–31). In the midst of your tasks and deadlines, how will you pause to worship the infinite One?

Loving God, You’re the unlimited One who’ll accomplish all You’ve promised.

Our Dependence Upon God

2 Kings 19:10-20

Unlike King Hezekiah, you are probably not facing an invading army. But if you’re like most of us, your life is nonetheless full of obstacles, problems, and everyday needs that threaten your sense of peace and security. What do you do about that? Do you rely on your own strength and ingenuity to find a way through, or do you call out to God for help? 

One of the purposes of prayer is to make us aware of our own dependence upon the Lord. No concern is too small to bring to Him, and nothing is too big for Him to handle. In fact, we are told to worry about nothing and to pray about everything (Phil. 4:6). The outcome of prayerful dependence is inexplicable peace, even in the midst of unchanged circumstances (Phil. 4:7).

Sometimes we forget that we are creatures who are completely dependent on the Creator for our next breath. Prayer is a privilege God has given His children—it lets us humbly lay our cares before our Father, trusting Him to direct our path and provide for our needs. We have nothing to lose—except our pride and self-sufficiency, along with the resultant fear and anxiety.

The New Creation

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)

In the original Greek text of the New Testament, the word translated “creature” is the same as “creation,” so Paul, in our text, is stressing the vital importance of being a “new creation” in Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is nothing less than the mighty Creator of heaven and Earth (Colossians 1:16), and the very same creative power that called the universe into existence must be exerted on each lost sinner to create in him a new nature, capable of having the eternal fellowship with God for which man and woman were created in the beginning.

This new creation is not only for the purpose of saving their souls, but also for transforming their lives. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Although good works can never bring salvation, salvation must inevitably bring good works, for we are thereby “created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). Paul exhorts us to continually “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

Adam and Eve were originally created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27), but that image has been grievously damaged by unbelief and overt sin. Although still resident in man—in fact, distinguishing him from the animals—this divine image must be renewed through saving faith in our Creator/Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Therefore, the Scripture reminds all true believers that they “have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Colossians 3:9-10). HMM

Exulting In Confidence, Triumph, And Joy-Psalm 118

You pushed me hard to make me fall, but the Lord helped me. The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. There are shouts of joy and victory in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand strikes with power! The Lord’s right hand is raised! The Lord’s right hand strikes with power!” (vv. 13—16).

The psalmist is down for the count! Heathen nations swarm around him like bees, ready to crush and destroy. They have pushed him back until he is ready to fall.

The mighty conjunction but signals a dramatic change. “But the Lord helped me” (v. 13). Three times this psalmist has called on the name of the Lord. The Lord’s response is to “cut them off.” The Hebrew terminology is pretty graphic here. “Cut them off” means to “circumcise them” (vv. 10-12). Our Lord is not namby-pamby nor squeamish in dealing with evil. Now the shouts of victory can resound throughout the “tents of the righteous” (v. 15).

A hard-won battle isn’t something you can keep to yourself! It’s natural to exclaim and exult when a victory is won. This ancient colleague grows eloquent in his praise: “The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation” (v. 14). I felt much the same way when I wrote “Jesus Is My Music!”

Personal Prayer

Lord, help me to go forth in your name. You are my strength, my salvation and my song!

A Contemporary Lyric

Jesus Is My Music

My life was out of tune and happiness eluded me,

My life was dissonant and missing inner harmony;

But then I met the Savior and received His gift of grace,

And now my heart sings melody.

Jesus is my music, Jesus is my song,

Jesus is my music, I want to sing His praises all day long.

Words and music by Don Wytzen © 1978 by Singspiration.

Balanced Christianity

After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?—Galatians 3:3

The Christian church has always struggled to get the balance right between faith and works. Romans is the great book on “faith,” while James is the great book on “works.” I know some Christians who never read the book of James, taking sides with Martin Luther who called it a “book of straw.” Martin Luther may have been right about many things, but he was wrong when he referred to the Epistle of James in this way. We need to study both Romans and James if we want to be properly balanced Christians.

The difficulty with faith and works is this: we come into the Christian life by depending on Jesus’ innocent sufferings on Calvary as sufficient ground for our acceptance with God, and then when we learn the principles of Christian living, we turn from dependency on Christ to dependency on them. This was the great problem in the Galatian churches, and it is still a problem here in the church of the current century. Bringing forth the fruit of repentance by good works is terribly important, but we are not to depend on works for our salvation.

We tend to focus more on works than faith because it is something visible and tangible. We can see what we are doing and assess it or measure it. Faith is different. It requires of us a degree of helplessness (something the carnal nature detests), but if we are to know God better and avoid falling into the trap of pursuing godliness more keenly than pursuing God, then faith must be seen as the primary virtue.

Prayer

O Father, help me get this right. I am saved to good works, but I am not saved by good works. Prevent me from falling into the trap of being more preoccupied with Your principles than with You Yourself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Eph 2:1-9; Gl 2:16: Rm 9:32

What did Paul remind the Ephesians?

What did he emphasize to the Galatians?

Man’s Continual Cry

Psalm 51:10

The remorse expressed in this penitential psalm is attributed to David after he had planned the murder of Uriah in order to posses his wife. Life compels men to acknowledge the existence of those inner self-contradictions which, apart from the grace of God, can be their ruin.

Because of these character flaws, it is man’s nature to be dissatisfied with his nature, but how to shape it nearer to his heart’s desire is beyond him. The Apostle Paul summed up man’s continuing plight in the well-worn phrase: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing… what a wretched man I am!” (Romans 7:19, 24).

The Christian diagnosis of human need is the truth also to which our children are introduced in their study of English literature, with the play The Tragedy of Macbeth, or The Tragedy of Hamlet, or The Tragedy of King Lear. That was how Shakespeare thought of these fated men—the essence of the tragedy in each instance that of a man of undoubted promise ruined by some flaw in his nature. Macbeth, for all his unquestioned physical courage, allowed ambition to become his master instead of his servant. Hamlet, of princely stock and of a thoughtful cast of mind, was the victim of his inner indecisiveness. And Lear’s genuine affection, affronted by seeming gracelessness, exploded into wrath.

Nor are modern instances lacking of this interior civil war—as when a Dylan Thomas could say that “I hold a beast, an angel and a madman in me, and my problem is their subjugation.”

What has the Christian faith to say to this? First of all, it recognizes that these are the facts of life. In the second place, it offers a remedy.

To Paul’s plea “Who on earth can set me free from the clutches of my own sinful nature?” there is but one answer: God alone, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Despair of ourselves is not a bad thing if it leads us to cast ourselves without reserve upon the saving power of God. The witness of the Christian gospel is that God waits to help the man who cannot help himself.

Frederick Coutts, Essentials of Christian Experience