VIDEO The Proper Perspective

Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ… —2 Corinthians 2:14

The proper perspective of a servant of God must not simply be as near to the highest as he can get, but it must be the highest. Be careful that you vigorously maintain God’s perspective, and remember that it must be done every day, little by little. Don’t think on a finite level. No outside power can touch the proper perspective.

The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose— to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. We are not on display in God’s showcase— we are here to exhibit only one thing— the “captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). How small all the other perspectives are! For example, the ones that say, “I am standing all alone, battling for Jesus,” or, “I have to maintain the cause of Christ and hold down this fort for Him.” But Paul said, in essence, “I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn’t matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.” Is this idea being worked out practically in us? Paul’s secret joy was that God took him as a blatant rebel against Jesus Christ, and made him a captive— and that became his purpose. It was Paul’s joy to be a captive of the Lord, and he had no other interest in heaven or on earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and “we are more than conquerors through Him…” (Romans 8:37).

“We are to God the fragrance of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 2:15). We are encompassed with the sweet aroma of Jesus, and wherever we go we are a wonderful refreshment to God.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

It is perilously possible to make our conceptions of God like molten lead poured into a specially designed mould, and when it is cold and hard we fling it at the heads of the religious people who don’t agree with us. Disciples Indeed, 388 R


Victory In Christ, 2 Corinthians 2:14 – Pastor Chuck Smith – Topical Bible Study

Talk, Trust, Feel

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear. Romans 8:15

“Don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel was the law we lived by,” says Frederick Buechner in his powerful memoir Telling Secrets, “and woe to the one who broke it.” Buechner is describing his experience of what he calls the “unwritten law of families who for one reason or another have gone out of whack.” In his own family, that “law” meant Buechner was not allowed to talk about or grieve his father’s suicide, leaving him with no one he could trust with his pain.

Can you relate? Many of us in one way or another have learned to live with a warped version of love, one that demands dishonesty or silence about what’s harmed us. That kind of “love” relies on fear for control—and is a kind of slavery.

We can’t afford to forget just how different Jesus’ invitation to love is from the kind of conditional love we often experience—a kind of love we’re always afraid we could lose. As Paul explains, through Christ’s love we can finally understand what it means to not live in fear (Romans 8:15) and start to understand the kind of glorious freedom (v. 21) that’s possible when we know we’re deeply, truly, and unconditionally loved. We’re free to talk, to trust, and to feel once more—to learn what it means to live unafraid.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

Are there any unspoken “rules” you’ve learned as conditions for acceptance and love? How might you live differently if you believed you didn’t have to follow those rules to be loved?

Loving God, at times I’m afraid to live honestly with myself and with others—thinking that by doing so I’ll no longer be loved. Heal my heart, and help me believe in and live for the glory, freedom, and joy Your love makes possible

Sunday Reflection: The Truth About Family

Our families may be damaged this side of heaven, but brokenness in this life is an opportunity for redemption and healing.

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

The fact that humans are born into sin (Rom. 5:12) means families are plagued by sin as well. Sometimes this is evident in something as mundane as fighting between siblings, but for many people, brokenness manifests itself in abandonment, abuse, estrangement, death, divorce, and more.

Yet whatever the case may be, your family isn’t doomed. Instead, brokenness—in your life and in the lives of people you love—is a ripe field that’s ready for redemption and healing. When our family relationships fall short, we get to depend on the Lord’s power and see His love at work. (See 2 Cor. 12:9-10.)

It’s inevitable that we’ll be disappointed by family—we’re descendants of Adam and Eve, after all. When that happens, let’s remember trials are part of a believer’s life (John 16:33) and difficulty with family members can be expected on this side of heaven. Psalm 34:19-20 says, “The afflictions of the righteous are many, but the Lord rescues him from them all.” 

Think about it

  •  When have loved ones disappointed you? When has God strengthened your family? It’s important to acknowledge not only feelings of hurt but also moments when we’ve seen God’s faithfulness. 

Our Glorious Bodies

“We look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:20-21)

Two vivid contrasts are highlighted in this text: We now have a vile body that will be changed into a glorious body. Our Lord Jesus will fashion us after the pattern of His own body.

There is ample evidence, both in Scripture and in our own experience, that our present physical bodies are “vile.” The English word seems more intense than the Greek, which simply means “lowly” or “humble.” Christ humbled Himself when He took on our flesh (Philippians 2:8). The Virgin Mary saw herself in a “low estate” as she compared herself to the wonder of what was happening to her (Luke 1:48).

But one glorious day, the Lord Jesus will change our humble bodies into that which is reflective of His own. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). What a marvelous thought! Even “after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:26).

The exciting description of those absolute changes are encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15:42-58. We have a mortal body now, but then it will be imperishable. There is no honor to our bodies now, but then they will be glorious. Weakness is our burden now, but in eternity we will be endued with power. Thank You, heavenly Father, for this majestic promise. HMM III

Development: Helping In All Eventualities

He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side. The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night. The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. The Lord will protect your coming and going both now and forever (Psalm 121 vv. 3-8).

The divine Watchman! This psalm of assurance gives me a fresh glimpse of God as the One who keeps watch over his children night and day. In the words of the old spiritual, “He never sleeps, he never slumbers.”

Perhaps a Levite priest, accompanying the pilgrim on his journey, is speaking here. Note the change in pronouns from I and my to you. He reassures the traveler of the Lords divine protection as he walks the rugged terrain. The priest also suggests that God—unlike the Canaanite fertility gods—never goes off duty or takes a nap on the job.

The Lord himself guards us—not some common soldier on night watch! He “watches over” every aspect of our lives—our “comings and goings,” our times of rest and recreation. He whose eye is on the sparrow promises to keep an eye on me!

Personal Prayer

Precious Lord, thank you for your watch care in all circumstances at all times. I can rest, knowing you neither slumber nor sleep.

A Song of God’s Care

His Eye Is on the Sparrow

Why should I feel discouraged?

Why should the shadows come?

Why should my heart be lonely

And long for heav’n and home

When Jesus is my portion?

My constant friend is He:

His eye is on the sparrow.

And I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,

I sing because I’m free;

His eye is on the sparrow,

And I know He watches me.

Words by Mrs. C. D. Martin. Music by Charles H. Gabriel.

The Burden of Revival

But no longer refer to the burden of the Lord, for each man’s word becomes his burden.—Jeremiah 23:36

God loves His children to be involved with Him in bringing about His purposes, and it is not in God’s nature to ignore the great principle of prayer which He himself has established in the universe. Although revival begins in the sovereign purposes of God, it comes into the world through the doorway of believing prayer.

John Wallace, principal of the Bible college I attended prior to entering the ministry, used to say: “Before somebody can experience a blessing, somebody has to bear a burden.” He used to illustrate the point in this way: “Before deliverance came to the nation of Israel when they were in Egypt, Moses had to bear a burden. Before the great Temple of God could be built in Jerusalem, Solomon was called to bear a burden. Before the sins of the world could be removed Christ had to bear a burden. Before somebody can experience a blessing, somebody has to bear a burden.”

This is a principle that can be traced throughout the whole of the Bible—from Genesis to Revelation. It can be seen at work, too, in the history of all religious revivals. Before God comes from heaven to work in extraordinary ways He places the burden of revival on the hearts of His people. And who does He choose to carry this burden? You can be sure that they will be men and women who are drawn to prayer and understand something of its power and potential. Would you, I wonder, be one?

Prayer

Gracious Father, You know how my heart shrinks from such a great challenge as this. All I can say is—I am willing to be made willing. Help me, dear Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 21:1-13; 38:9; 73:25; Isa 26:9; Mk 11:24

What will God grant to us?

How can a desire become a burden?

The Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-12

The Sermon on the Mount is perhaps the best known part of the teaching of Jesus. It is also the least understood and certainly the least obeyed. Here we find Jesus giving instructions to the disciples. Many consider it the “Ordination Address” to the Twelve.

“His disciples came to Him, and He began to teach them” (Matthew 5:1-2). The Sermon on the Mount is a description of what Jesus wanted His followers to be and do. It describes an ideal that can never be reached by human strength alone.

Incorporated into the Sermon, we have what are commonly called “The Beatitudes.” If you ask the general public to name the ingredients that make for happiness, you will likely hear such things as money, fame, success or popularity. J. B. Phillips paraphrased the Beatitudes as the world would render them:

Happy are the pushers, for they get on in the world.

Happy are the hard-boiled, for they never let life hurt them.

Happy are the blase, for they never worry over their sins.

Happy are the slave-drivers, for they get results.

Happy are the knowledgeable of the world, for they know their way around.

Happy are the troublemakers, for they make people take notice of them.

How different was the response of Jesus. In the Beatitudes the word “blessed” is employed nine times. It is a translation of makarios, which refers to the bliss that belongs to the gods. It is thus an experience independent of outward circumstances. It is a joy which has its secret in itself.

The Beatitudes speak of a blessedness that exists in spite of events around us. The blessedness is completely untouchable and unassailable. In the Greek, there is no verb in the Beatitudes, thus they are not so much statements as exclamations. They are not promises of future happiness but speak of present bliss. In essence they are saying, “O the bliss of being a Christian.”

In the Beatitudes we have a description of what human life and human community look like when they come under the gracious rule of God. It has been said that “rejoice” is the standing order of the Christian.

Bramwell H. Tillsley, The War Cry

VIDEO God Is Good!: Power

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Lord Acton was a nineteenth-century British politician, historian, and writer. He is best known for these words: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” He had seen enough examples in the church and government to be confident that power can be a dangerous thing.

Thankfully, the only Person who has absolute power in our world is God. His use of power reflects His moral and loving character and traits. He shares His power with us which makes power a matter of our stewardship—using it in a way that will please the Owner. The Holy Spirit gave the apostles power to begin taking the Gospel into the world (Acts 1:8). God gives us power to counteract the normal human temptation to fear, as Paul wrote to the young pastor, Timothy (2 Timothy 1:7). God’s power is always to be used for His purposes.

Because God is good, He has given us the gift of His power. Rely on the power of God in your life to accomplish His will today.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. Abraham Lincoln


Verse of the Day – 2 Timothy 1:7 | Life Without Limbs

Wise Christians

The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. Luke 16:8

The coronavirus pandemic resulted in canceled schools around the world. In China, teachers responded with DingTalk, a digital app that enabled class to be held online. Then their students figured out that if DingTalk’s rating fell too low, it might be removed from the App Store. Overnight, thousands of one-star reviews dropped DingTalk’s score.

Jesus wouldn’t be impressed with the students shirking their responsibilities, but He might admire their ingenuity. He told an unusual story about a fired manager who on his final day slashed the bills of his master’s debtors. Jesus didn’t praise the manager’s dishonesty. Rather He commended his cleverness and wished His followers would be equally shrewd: “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).

When it comes to money, most people look at how much they might lose. Wise people look for what they can use. Jesus said giving to others “gain[s] friends,” which provides safety and influence. Who is the leader in any group? The one who pays. Giving also gains “eternal dwellings,” for our willingness to part with our cash shows our trust is in Jesus.

Even if we don’t have money, we do have time, skills, or a listening ear. Let’s ask God to show us how to creatively serve others for Jesus.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

Who does Jesus want you to serve today? How might you creatively use your skills, money, or time to bless this person?

Jesus, I want to give to others for You.

The Greatness of God

Scripture reveals that God is a person—but one who is unchanging, infinite, and good.

Isaiah 40:12-31

Some people think God is a force somewhere in the cosmos, while others picture a benevolent grandfather type who overlooks “little” sins. But these characteristics do not fully capture who Jehovah is. The real God might surprise you. 

As the Father reveals Himself in His Word, it’s clear He is a person. Throughout Scripture, He is named (Yahweh, Elohim, Lord) or spoken of using masculine pronouns (He, Him); “it” is never used to describe Him. He fits all of the attributes of personhood—intelligence to reason, emotions to feel, and the will to make decisions. 

At the same time, Scripture also shows God’s immutability, which means His nature and character never shift—He is always Spirit, and His love remains constant. Believers can expect that God’s principles and laws will hold true and He’ll act exactly as He has promised. While He responds differently to various situations, those responses (like delight, anger, and mercy) are nuances of His being, not new traits. 

God has no beginning or end, and He is always the same (Psalm 102:27). No one created Him; God simply is. That’s hard for humans to understand, but if the Lord were completely explainable, He would be unworthy of worship.