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. 

Fellowship

“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

Much goes on in Christian churches today under the name of “fellowship.” Usually this consists of coffee and donuts, or church socials, or sports. As delightful as these functions may be, they should not be confused with biblical fellowship.

Nowhere in the New Testament do any of the Greek words translated “fellowship” imply fun times. Rather, they talk of, for example, “the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4) as sacrificial service and financial aid. (See, for example, 1 Timothy 6:18.)

Elsewhere, Paul was thankful for the Philippian believers’ “fellowship in the gospel” (Philippians 1:5), for he knew that “inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers [same word as fellowship] of my grace” (Philippians 1:7). This sort of fellowship may even bring persecution.

We are to emulate Christ’s humility and self-sacrificial love (Philippians 2:5-8) through the “fellowship of the Spirit” (Philippians 2:1). In some way known only partially to us, we have the privilege of knowing “the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10), and even “the communion [i.e., fellowship] of the blood” and “body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:16).

As we can see, this “fellowship” is serious business. As in our text and subsequent verses, fellowship should be accompanied by teaching, prayer, and ministry to the poor (Acts 2:45).

This kind of fellowship will be in “favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). JDM

Thesis: The Lord Is My Help

I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 121 vv. 1-2).

Awhile back, while on vacation in New York state, I decided to climb Mt. Colden, one of the steepest peaks in the Adirondacks. Along with several relatives, I started out, and by late afternoon we had covered approximately ten miles to the top and back! Even though I could barely walk for the next three days, the exhilarating rush of achievement and the view from the top of the mountain were worth a little temporary discomfort!

Mountains were significant in the life of Israel. Not only did they provide natural fortifications against invading armies, but the mountains were places of comfort and security. Since Jerusalem rested on a cluster of hills, the whole area came to be associated with the Holy City—the dwelling place of Yahweh.

On his way to Jerusalem, this pilgrim observes the surrounding mountains. “Where will my help come from?” (v. 1) he asks, then answers his own question: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (v. 2). Part of that creation was the thrusting up and heaving of the earth to form the rounded hills and majestic mountains. Noticing his dramatic creation prompts us to remember the Creator.

Vicarious exposure to nature doesn’t take the place of being there. Watching National Geographic documentaries on TV or videotape will never produce the same heady effect as breathing in fresh, clean air and seeing the view from the top! We need these reminders of the permanence of God’s creative care and his help.

Personal Prayer

Precious Lord, remove the cataracts from my eyes. May I be reminded of your comfort and security when I behold the grandeur of your mountains.

For New Christians

Stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Christians need to stand with their feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. The moment we begin to compromise on the Word of God and the great truths of the gospel, we shall not only slide in the understanding of our faith but also in its practice.

Permit me to say a word to those who have been in the Christian life for just a short time. Now that you are a Christian, take your stand unflinchingly on the Lord’s side. When you meet your old friends—those you used to hang around with in the days before you came to know the Lord—and they propose that you go on doing the things you used to do that you know are not in harmony with God’s Word, then be resolute and refuse. Take a firm stand, and watch that you do not slip toward them. Have your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.

The first thing that strikes everyone who comes into the Christian life is that it is entirely different from one’s former life. You must determine to take your stand with Jesus Christ, and when others tempt you, say: “I cannot betray my Lord. I am bound to Him for all eternity. My feet are shod and I am not moving.” You have to know what you believe and be resolute and determined to stand for it—come what may. If I had not done this in the days following my conversion to Christ, then I would have forfeited an adventure that has taken me deeper and deeper into God.

Prayer

O God, how can I have faith in You unless I have faith in the words You have spoken to me in the Bible? Help me stand firm in the faith—today and every day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Gl 5:1-13; Php 1:27; 1Pt 5:7-11

What did Paul say to the Galatians?

How should we conduct ourselves?

Transcendent Service

Matthew 19:19

During the Second World War a merchant ship on its way to Russia was

torpedoed. Sixteen men were in a lifeboat when it capsized. Somehow they

turned the boat right side up again but it soon became waterlogged. As they started frantically to scoop out the water with their hands, the captain, searching desperately for something better, suddenly remembered his briefcase stuffed with money for paying the crew. At once he emptied it and used it as a bucket.

When men are near to eternity their sense of values changes. Some things in life transcend all monetary value. Those who live for the material lose the spiritual. Of the shipwrecked man who had tied about his waist his bags of gold and went straight to the bottom, Ruskin asked, “As he was sinking had he the gold or had the gold him?”

The best work of the world, the noblest sacrifices, the greatest risks, are not done for money. What made Dr. Adrian Stokes, the English bacteriologist, go to Africa to study yellow fever, to catch it himself and to his last breath set down his symptoms, having his blood analyzed to supply data for future research? What could pay for that?

In the realm of clear moral vision, getting on, making money or winning fame profanes the noblest instincts. Kipling touched the ideal when, in speaking of celestial service, he said, “No one would work for money and no one would work for fame, but each for the joy of working!” It is the highest achievement of the human spirit.

To work only for wages destroys those finer qualities of character. Real life consists in developing our personalities and gifts by doing useful work for the joy of it and not for rewards. Materialism as a social force has its grip upon our civilization, and the only power that can break it is love expressed in transcendent service.

“Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19). These wise words of Jesus contain the motive force for genuine service to God and humanity. This kind of love through Christ is alone able to regenerate and unite society and is the answer to its international, national and domestic problems. The real test of our nearness to God is the way we feel and act toward one another.

George B. Smith, Meditations for the Ordinary Man