VIDEO The Only Book

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

Numerous anecdotal examples have been recorded of pairs of individuals—twins, spouses, best friends—being able to “finish one another’s sentences.” That is, they know each other so well that one person knows what the other is going to say or is thinking.

Even more remarkable is the existence of a Book that is able to discern “the thoughts and intents of the heart.” That book being the Bible, of course. How is the Bible able to speak to the deepest parts of our being? Because it is a living Book. Not the pages or ink, but the words and messages of the Bible as the Holy Spirit applies them to our heart. That’s why it is so important to prayerfully read the Bible, asking the Spirit of God to show us how to conform our life to God’s righteous and holy character.

Reading the Bible is not like reading any other book in the world. It’s the only Book able to conform us to the image of its Author.

The Bible was the only book Jesus ever quoted. Leon Morris


The Power of the Word Part 1, Hebrews 4:12 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Flight of Ichabod

The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured. 1 Samuel 4:22

In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving tells of Ichabod Crane, a schoolteacher who seeks to marry a beautiful young woman named Katrina. Key to the story is a headless horseman who haunts the colonial countryside. One night, Ichabod encounters a ghostly apparition on horseback and flees the region in terror. It’s clear to the reader that this “horseman” is actually a rival suitor for Katrina, who then marries her.

Ichabod is a name first seen in the Bible, and it too has a gloomy backstory. While at war with the Philistines, Israel carried the sacred ark of the covenant into battle. Bad move. Israel’s army was routed and the ark captured. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of the high priest Eli, were killed (1 Samuel 4:17). Eli too would die (v. 18). When the pregnant wife of Phinehas heard the news, “she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains” (v. 19). With her last words she named her son Ichabod (literally, “no glory”). “The Glory has departed from Israel,” she gasped (v. 22).  

Thankfully, God was unfolding a much larger story. His glory would ultimately be revealed in Jesus, who said of His disciples, “I have given them the glory that you [the Father] gave me” (John 17:22).

No one knows where the ark is today, but no matter. Ichabod has fled. Through Jesus, God has given us His very glory!

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

What do you think it means for God to give us His glory? How have you experienced it?

Dear Father, thank You for revealing Your glory through Jesus. Make me mindful of Your presence throughout this day.

The Burden of Inadequacy

Deuteronomy 1:26-36

Because we’re human, at some point we will all experience inadequacy. So the real issue you and I face is not whether we are sufficient for a task but how we respond when a challenge is beyond our capabilities. Oftentimes as an obstacle grows in our mind, we want to run in the opposite direction, away from the challenge and toward safety. However, avoiding a task that God has given us will lead to bondage. The more we feed our fear, the more we’ll be controlled by feelings of inadequacy, which can impact decisions we make and, ultimately, our future.

Look at the Israelites in today’s passage. Standing on the edge of the Promised Land, they were overcome by fear. The size and strength of the enemy was overwhelming. As a result of their refusal to trust the Lord and move forward to conquer the local inhabitants, those Israelites never saw the land that He wanted to give them. Opportunities are often lost when we let fear overrule our faith.

When God calls you to a task beyond your abilities, acknowledge your feelings of inadequacy and then choose to rely on Him and His promises. By moving forward in faith despite your fear, you will discover the Lord’s faithfulness. He always empowers us for the works He assigns

The Unintentional Prophet

“And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation.” (John 11:51)

Even after seeing the miracle of Lazarus restored to life, high priest Caiaphas refused to believe Jesus was the Messiah and was more firmly resolved than ever to have Him put to death. He used the excuse that Jesus might cause the Romans to destroy the Jews’ religious system. So he said, “It is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:50).

Like Balaam, forced to prophesy what he did not intend (Numbers 24:10-13), Caiaphas was made to predict the true significance of Christ’s coming death. Instead of His death being “expedient for us”—for Caiaphas and his system—it was indeed “expedient that one man should die for the people” (John 18:14).

This is a remarkable divine irony. Caiaphas, the chief religious representative of God to the people of Israel, should have known the Old Testament prophecies and gladly welcomed Jesus as the promised Messiah. Instead, he organized His trial and condemnation. Yet he was divinely inspired (without knowing or intending it) to point out the real mission of Christ to the Jews and the whole world—that of substitutionary sacrifice for their sins. It is also interesting that in 1992 the bones of this same Caiaphas were discovered in a tomb underneath the modern city.

So far as we know, Caiaphas died still rejecting Christ. Nevertheless, following Christ’s substitutionary death, the evidence for His glorious resurrection (eternal, not temporary like that of Lazarus) became so clear and compelling that “a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). Caiaphas did, indeed, manage to get Jesus crucified, but the result was salvation for multitudes. HMM

Anticipating The Coming Kingdom

Open the gates of righteousness for me; I will enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous will enter through it. I will give thanks to You because You have answered me and have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This came from the Lord; it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118 vv. 19-24).

Karen and I experienced the excitement that is Israel on our trip to the Holy Land. We were deeply moved to see Gethsemane, Golgotha, the Lords tomb, and so many other biblical settings and scenes. One of the greatest thrills of the trip was entering Jerusalem through one of the many gates in the wall surrounding the ancient city. In fact, we even walked on the walls. While the present wall and buildings were erected in the sixteenth century AD, the pilgrim feels a sense of expectancy upon seeing those gates!

The topmost stone of each Gothic or Romanesque arch is called the cornerstone”—a vital piece of architecture that knits the rest of the stones together. In this psalm the “stone” takes on a symbolic meaning. “The stone that the builders rejected [Jesus Christ, the Messiah] has become the cornerstone” (v. 22). The builders symbolize the Jewish leaders who not only rejected him but schemed to have him put to death (Matt. 26:3-5). The psalmist, overjoyed with this new development, bursts into song: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (v. 24).

Most of us try to fill the crowning point of our lives with people or things, but it can only be adequately fulfilled by one Person and that is Jesus Christ. Things, in time, prove to be worthless. Relationships often are broken or grow routine. Achievement may seem meaningless. Only Jesus, our cornerstone, can hold our lives together and give them eternal significance.

Personal Prayer

Lord, you are the Stone which the builders rejected, but I want you to be the cornerstone of my life.

“Imagineering”

You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace.—Isaiah 26:3

How many times, when making an approach to God in prayer, have we gone immediately into a series of petitions that have to do with our problems, our difficulties, our circumstances? And so, by focusing our attention on what is troubling us, we end up wondering whether or not God is big enough or strong enough to help us.

In the first six words of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus shows us a better way. He tells us to take a slow, calm, reassuring gaze at God—at His tenderness, His eagerness to give, His unwearying patience, and untiring love. The result of this, of course, is that we develop a calmness and tranquility in our spirit which means we will find it no longer necessary to plunge into a panicky flood of words.

In some parts of the world one can enroll in courses called “Imagineering”—courses that are designed to stimulate creative imagination. Most of our problems begin in the imagination—hence the instruction in the words of our text for today. “One can never become proficient in prayer,” said one great writer, “until the imagination has been redeemed.” He meant that when the imagination is redeemed from self-concentration, sex-concentration, and sin-concentration, and makes God its primary focus, then it becomes creative-conscious, since its attention is concentrated on the Creator and the Re-Creator. And when the imagination is redeemed, all the doors of the personality fly open.

Prayer

O God, how can I be calm and tranquil when my imagination is more self-centered than God-centered? Help me to be a God-focused person, not only at prayer times, but at all times. Amen.

Further Study

1Co 2:1-16; Gn 6:5; Rm 1:21; 2Co 10:5

How can we “cast down imaginations”?

What has God given to us?

The Abiding Holy Spirit

John 14:17

Jesus said to His disciples concerning the Holy Spirit that, “You know Him; for He lives in you” (John 14:7). The Holy Spirit had begun to work in them, but there was more to follow, for Jesus said, “and [He] will be in you” (John 14:7).

When a man is building a house, he is in and out of it and round about it. But when the house is finished, the owner sweeps out all the chips and sawdust, scrubs the floor, lays down his carpets, hangs up his pictures, arranges his furniture and moves in with his family. Then he is in the fullest sense within it. He abides there. Now, it is in that sense that Jesus meant the Holy Spirit should be in them.

The disciples had forsaken all to follow Christ. They had been commissioned to preach the gospel, to heal the sick, to cleanse the lepers, to raise the dead, to cast out devils. Their names were written in heaven. They were not of the world, even as Jesus was not of the world. They knew the Holy Spirit, for He was with them, working in them, but not yet living in them, for they were yet carnal, each seeking the best place for himself. They were fearful, timid and false to Him when the testing time came.

This experience of theirs before Pentecost is the common experience of all true converts. Every child of God knows that the Holy Spirit is with him; he realizes that He is working within, striving to set the house in order.

But often this work is slow, for He can only work effectually as we work with Him, practicing intelligent and obedient faith. Some days the work prospers and seems almost complete, and then peace and joy and comfort abound in the heart. At other times the work is hindered—and often almost or quite undone—

by the strivings and stirrings of inbred sin, by fits of temper, by lightness and frivolity, by neglect of watchfulness and prayer, and the patient, attentive study of His Word, by worldliness, by unholy ambitions, by jealousies and envyings, by harsh judgments, selfish indulgences and slowness to believe.

The Spirit seeks to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, to lead the soul to that point of glad, wholehearted consecration to its Lord, and that simple, perfect faith in the merits of His Blood which will enable him to enthrone Christ within.

Samuel Logan Brengle, The War Cry