VIDEO Keep the Faith!

Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons. 1 Timothy 4:1

The English word apostasy is made up of two Greek words: “away from” and “stand.” So it means to move away from a place where you previously stood (to depart). Biblically, it means to fall away from the beliefs one once held. The apostle Paul made clear that the return of Christ will be preceded by a “falling away” (an apostasy) from the true faith (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

Early in 2021, the Gallup research organization found that, for the first time since the late 1930s, fewer than half of Americans belong to a house of worship (of any kind). And for many years, the fast-rising religious demographic in the country has been the “Nones”—those who answer “None” when asked about their religious affiliation. These facts don’t necessarily signal apostasy within the Christian Church, but one of the purposes of the Church is to keep Christians grounded in “the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42, NIV).

Apostasy doesn’t happen overnight. Be on guard in your life for slow, subtle signs of weakness in your faith. Keeping the faith is a daily charge empowered by prayer, Scripture, and worship.

Unbelief is the root of apostasy. Thomas Watson


The Great Falling Away – Paul Washer | 1 Timothy 4:1-5

Wherever We Worship

A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

Intense pain and a debilitating headache prevented me from attending services with my local church family . . . again. Grieving the loss of community worship, I watched an online sermon. At first, complaints soured my experience. The poor sound and video quality distracted me. But then a voice on the video warbled a familiar hymn. Tears flowed as I sang these words: “Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart. Naught be all else to me save that Thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night. Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.” Focusing on the gift of God’s constant presence, I worshiped Him while sitting in my living room.

While Scripture affirms the vital, essential nature of corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25), God’s not bound within the walls of a church building. During Jesus’ chat with the Samaritan woman at the well, He defied all expectations of the Messiah (John 4:9). Instead of condemnation, Jesus spoke truth and loved her as she stood next to that well (v. 10). He revealed His intimate and sovereign knowledge of His children (vv. 17–18). Proclaiming His deity, Jesus declared that the Holy Spirit evoked true worship from the hearts of God’s people, not from a specific physical location (vv. 23–24).

When we focus on who God is, what He’s done, and all He’s promised, we can rejoice in His constant presence as we worship Him with other believers, in our living rooms . . . and everywhere!

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

Where do you enjoy worshiping God? How do you enjoy His presence and experience joy while worshiping Him?

Amazing God, please help me worship You as I rejoice in who You are, what You’ve done, and all You promise to do.

Praying in Jesus’ Name

John 14:13-14

Do you know what it means to pray “in Jesus’ name”? This isn’t simply a phrase to be thoughtlessly tacked on to the end of our prayers. On the contrary, it’s an amazing privilege given to those who know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. One way to think about it is that we’re praying something Jesus might pray. You must be His follower before you can do or say anything in His name.

Since God is holy and we are sinful, the only way to approach Him is through His Son, who paid the penalty for our sins and clothed us with His righteousness. That’s why we bring our requests in Jesus’ name—He’s the only way to the Father (John 14:6).

When we belong to Jesus, we approach God’s throne of grace not as beggars but as beloved children and co-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:16-17). Because the Son acts as our intermediary and high priest, we can draw near to God with confidence, knowing that we will receive mercy and find grace to help us in our times of need (Heb. 4:15-16).

The next time you’re about to end a prayer “in Jesus’ name,” remember what it means. Then ask yourself if your request is something Jesus would want for you.

The Dispensation of Grace

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.” (Ephesians 3:2)

So-called “dispensationalism” has had both its advocates and opponents among Bible-believing Christians. The Greek word translated “dispensation” (oikonomia), from which we derive our English word “economy,” actually means an “economy,” or also a “stewardship.”

The number and nature of the various “dispensations” or “economies” through which the Creator has dealt with His human creation during the course of history has been the subject of considerable discussion and variation among commentators. Possible distinct dispensations might include the post-Eden economy instituted after sin and God’s curse came into the world, the post-diluvian economy established by Noah after the Flood, and the economy begun by Abraham when God began to work especially with the nation of Israel. However, none of these are actually called “dispensations” in the Scriptures, so any such listing is bound to be somewhat arbitrary.

There are two dispensations, however, specifically called such in Scripture. One is the “dispensation of the fulness of times,” when God will “gather together in one all things in Christ” (Ephesians 1:10). This will be the eternal economy of the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 21-22).

Then there is this present “dispensation of the grace of God.” We, like Paul, have been called as “stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). So, like Paul, each of us could say that “a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me” (1 Corinthians 9:17), and that “I am made a minister [or ‘servant’], according to the dispensation of God which is given to me” (Colossians 1:25). Thus, the dispensation of grace is a real stewardship responsibility committed to each believer. HMM

I Will Speak Of Your Statutes

Vav

Let Your faithful love come to me, Lord, Your salvation, as You promised. Then I can answer the one who taunts me, for I trust in Your word. Never take the word of truth from my mouth, for I hope in Your judgments. I will always keep Your law, forever and ever. I will walk freely in an open place because I seek Your precepts. I will speak of Your decrees before kings and not be ashamed. I delight in Your commands, which I love. I will lift up my hands to Your commands, which I love, and will meditate on Your statutes (Psalm vv. 41-48).

Down through the ages some have dared to proclaim the Word of God at the risk of endangering their lives or reputations. In 1521, Martin Luther was excommunicated by Pope Leo X. Charles V, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, ordered him to appear before the Diet (meeting) of princes, nobles, and clergymen at Worms, Germany. They demanded that Luther recant his beliefs, but he refused.

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reasons (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well-known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures… and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything!

This psalmist vows to “speak of [Your] statutes before kings” (v. 46). In his day that would have been a dangerous thing to do, as it is in some parts of the world today. People like Georgi Vins and my friends, Earl Poysti and Bark and Carleen Fahnestock, boldly proclaim the Word in hostile environments and under adverse circumstances.

Several other bold personal assertions are made in these verses: “I trust in Your word” (v. 42). “I hope in Your judgments” (v. 43). “I will always keep Your law” (v. 44).”I delight in Your commands which I love” (v. 47).

Here is a person with a passion for God’s Word. He is obsessed with it. He thinks about it constantly. As the Word dominates his thoughts, it changes his life and frees him to face life unafraid.

Personal Prayer

O Lord, let me become so immersed in your Word that I share it freely wherever I go—whether in the company of colleagues or kings!

“Eccentric” Christians

God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers.—Isaiah 40:22

The man-centered focus that is creeping into today’s church must be resisted at all costs. Such matters as disciplining children, dealing with marital problems, and establishing proper priorities should be addressed also, but we must be careful that “market forces” do not mold our theology.

It could be argued that our problems are so acute because we are deficient in our knowledge of God. The context in which we think and feel is so limited that it is no wonder our souls feel stifled and claustrophobic. One preacher describes our condition in this way: “We are like Peter trying to walk on the water but becoming so engrossed in the winds and the waves that we lose sight of the all-sufficient Christ who is right there beside us. The immediate environment has blotted out the sense of the eternal.”

This is why I have chosen today’s reading from the magnificent book of Isaiah. The prophet does what a doctor would do upon visiting a patient with a minor sickness and finding the windows shut fast and the room lacking in oxygen. He would throw open the windows and invite the patient to inhale the purer air. “Take a deep breath of the oxygen of the Spirit,” Isaiah is saying in effect. “See how great and powerful God is. Set your problems in the context of His omnipotence.”

We become like the thing we focus on. If we center on man rather than God, then we ought not be surprised if we finish up off center—eccentric.

Prayer

O God, save me from being an off-center Christian and thus an eccentric Christian—the true meaning of that term. May my primary focus be always on You. Grant it, dear Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Further Study

2Co 4:13-18; Heb 3:1; 12:2; Ps 141:8

What was Paul’s focus?

What is the exhortation of the writer of Hebrews?

The Sanctity of the Family

Acts 16:30-34

It was Felix Adler who described family as “the miniature commonwealth upon whose integrity the safety of the larger commonwealth depends.” Pope John XXIII said simply, “Family is the first and essential cell of human society.” The breakdown of marriages and, therefore, families has a cumulative effect on the larger society.

Our families shape our value systems, hand down a religious heritage, create our work ethic and model how we view marriage and raise children. It is because of this that Salvationists commit themselves to uphold the sanctity of marriage and family life.

We speak of “the family of God” as an image of the Church, and of a “bridegroom and his bride” as a picture of Christ in relation to His Church.

The greatest evangelical potential is found in communicating the gospel through the family. Paul knew this when he promised the Philippian jailer:

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

By viewing marriages and families as a “sanctity” to uphold, we are saying that there is a holiness about these relationships. They are a gift from God and must not be profaned.

Our families are the communities of faith to which we first belong. Devotions, mealtime prayers and bedtime benedictions bind families together with spiritual strength. The International Spiritual Life Commission calls Salvationists to “restore the family to its central position in passing on the faith, to generate resources to help parents grow together in faithful love and lead their children into wholeness, with hearts on fire for God and His mission.”

In a world of shifting values, it is good to be reminded that the witness of a family is not passe. As Shaw Clifton writes, “Happy and successful marriages outnumber those that eventually break down. Marriage is as popular as ever.”

Fathers have a significant impact upon how their children will perceive God the Father, and mothers are without equal in influencing children to faith. Marriage and family life have a sanctity that must be protected.

If ever there is a fight worth fighting, this is it! This is the battle for the home. Let us fight the good fight with all our might.

Richard Munn, The War Cry