VIDEO Mother of Peril

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves. 2 Timothy 3:1-2

These verses give us three layers of truth: (1) There will be a period of history known as the “last days” of earth; (2) these days will be perilous, a word that means dangerous and savage; (3) the most dangerous thing about them will be a pandemic of self-love. When people love themselves, the driving forces for everything become ego, self-admiration, personal ambition, and a disregard for anyone else. 

Unmitigated selfishness is the mother of peril.

Without the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus, we are all selfish people, more concerned about ourselves than about anyone else. It’s Jesus alone who teaches us to love others, to care for someone besides ourselves, and to humbly obey God’s Word: “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4, NLT).

Sin makes the times perilous. When there is a general corruption of manners, and of the tempers of men, this makes the times dangerous to live in… [But] the coming of perilous times is an evidence of the truth of scripture-predictions. Matthew Henry


Compelling Reasons for Biblical Preaching, Part 1 (2 Timothy 3:1-4:4)

Set Apart

Paul was . . . set apart for the gospel of God. Romans 1:1

The three-wheeled taxis of Sri Lanka, known as “tuk tuks,” are a convenient and delightful mode of transport for many. Lorraine, a resident of the capital of Colombo, also realized that they’re a mission field. Hopping onto a tuk tuk one day, she found the friendly driver more than happy to engage in conversation about religion. The next time, she told herself, she would talk to the driver about the good news.

The book of Romans starts with Paul declaring himself as “set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). The Greek word for “gospel” is evangelion, which means “good news.” Paul was essentially saying that his main purpose was to tell God’s good news.

What is this good news? Romans 1:3 says that the gospel of God is “regarding his Son.” The good news is Jesus! It’s God who wants to tell the world that Jesus came to save us from sin and death, and He’s chosen us to be His mode of communication. What a humbling fact!

Sharing the good news is a privilege all believers in Jesus have been given. We’ve “received grace” to call others to this faith (vv. 5–6). God has set us apart to carry the exciting news of the gospel to those around us, whether on tuk tuks or wherever we are. May we, like Lorraine, look for opportunities in our daily life to tell others the good news that is Jesus.

By:  Asiri Fernando 

Reflect & Pray

What barriers do you experience in sharing your faith? What talents or interests can you use to present the good news?

Jesus, thank You for making me Your mouthpiece for Your good news. May Your Spirit give me the courage and love to share about You today. 

Wisdom for the Trials of Life

James taught that trials are inevitable, but through Christ, we can be ready to handle them with rejoicing

James 1:2-8

Have you ever looked at someone and thought, He’s so lucky or Her life is so easy? In reality, no one has a problem-free existence. Scripture describes life’s trials as universal—we all face times of trouble. 

James 1:2 is a small verse, but it contains tremendous insight about our trials. First, it is significant that James uses the word “when.” Undergoing trials is a matter of when rather than if

Second, James says we’ll “encounter” misfortune, implying that difficulties will arise unexpectedly. There may be no time to prepare for these dilemmas. 

Third, he uses the adjective “various” to denote the ever-changing, often surprising ways adversities appear. James has a specific message he wants to convey: “Get ready. Trouble is coming, so you must be prepared to handle it effectively.” 

“Effective” may not be a word you’d use to describe your response to trials. Too often, we hope for hardship to pass us by quickly. However, that would rob us of the opportunity for growth that each trial contains. 

Read today’s passage again slowly. Pray as you read, asking God to show you how to endure—and how to actually rejoice in your trials. He has a plan for your moment of hardship. Ask Him today what it may be and then trust He will accomplish His purpose in it.

When Christ Ascended

“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?)” (Ephesians 4:8-9)

This verse has been controversial but is nonetheless very important. The context is taken from Psalm 68:17-20: “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels:…Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive:…our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.”

The psalmist is apparently describing the Lord among His heavenly hosts, riding home as a mighty king returning with the spoils of battle. Evidently this battle prize consisted of His own people who had been held captive in an alien land but who now had been captured from the enemy by the returning King. To do this, the King (none other than the Lord Jesus Himself) “ascended up on high,” leading them to His own throne in the heavens.

But first He had to descend to the earth, and then even to “the lower parts of the earth.” This unusual phrase must refer to the great pit in the center of the earth confining the souls of the dead—the place called Hades.

One of Christ’s purposes on Earth was “to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1). That is exactly what He did when He died on the cross for the sins of these very captives, then, in the Spirit, descended into Hades to set them free.

He returned with the very “keys of hell and of death” (Revelation 1:18), alive forevermore. The souls of those who had died in faith came with Him, finally ascending with Him into “paradise,” in “the third heaven” (note Luke 23:43; 2 Corinthians 12:2, 4) to wait with Him for His future return to reclaim the whole earth. HMM

Prayer For Peace

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you prosper; may there he peace within your walls, prosperity within your fortresses.” For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, “Peace be with you.” For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good (Psalm 121vv. 6-9).

Ancient Israelis were not only to take pride in their capital city but also to pray for it’s security, Jerusalem has been a focal point, a hot spot, for centuries. Here David prays for the welfare of his beloved city and for the personal security of others who love her. He prays that there will be peace within the walls and security within the citadels—the two outside limits of the city.

More important than the city or it’s inhabitants, however, is the house of the Lord, David prays for it’s prosperity. The King James Version phrase, “I will seek thy good” (v. 9), is rendered by Luther, “I will seek what is best for you.”

We live in a rootless society. Many factors contribute to rootlessness— mobility, industrialization, domestic upheaval, isolation, and alienation. The foundations are crumbling. We have downplayed community and stressed individualism. Our identities are threatened. We feel lost. We have become a society of vagabonds!

David’s roots were in his Lord, his nation, his city, his family. He was not a loner—isolated from culture and tradition, nor was he insulated from regular interaction with people. He was part of a congregation of believers, and his unselfish prayer stretches beyond the bounds of his day to embrace believers of all generations. We are reminded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem!

Personal Prayer

Lord, as I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, fill me also with your serenity and security.

Missing by Inches

You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.—Jeremiah 29:13

We are looking today at what I consider one of the greatest truths we can discover about receiving from God: “God does not just answer prayer—He answers you.”

The Almighty does not just listen to the words we weave into the air when we pray; He listens also to the attitude of our hearts. If the two are not properly correlated, then we miss out on many of God’s blessings. And this missing out is not because God is stingy about the way He dispenses His blessings, but because we short-circuit our own spiritual system and become imperfect receivers. To put it another way: our failure to receive isn’t due to the fact that God is not good at giving, but because we are not good at receiving. The fault is always in us, never in Him.

Are you a fully integrated person? When you present your requests to God, are your heart and mind as one? Is what you ask with your lips fully supported by what you are saying in your heart? If not, then when you attempt to climb higher with God, you will not have the precise coordination you need in order to scale the precipitous heights. The awesome fact that has to be faced by all those who want to climb the mountains of God is this—it is possible to miss your step on those steep slopes not by feet, but merely by inches. And it is in those seemingly trivial inches that our spiritual direction is often determined.

Prayer

O Father, I am seeing more and more the perils that come from being inwardly at cross-purposes. Help me, however, to see that although the challenge is great, the power behind me is greater than the challenge in front of me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Jl 2:1-13; Dt 6:5; Ps 119:2

What was God’s message through Joel?

When are we blessed?

I Come to Thee with Quiet Mind

Psalm 46:10

O Love, revealed on earth in Christ,

In blindness once I sacrificed

Thy gifts for dross; I could not see,

But Jesus brings me sight of Thee.

I come to Thee with quiet mind,

Thyself to know, Thy will to find;

In Jesus’ steps my steps must be,

I follow Him to follow Thee.

O Love, invisible before,

I see Thee now, desire Thee more;

When Jesus speaks Thy word is clear;

I search His face and find Thee near.

O Love, forever claim my eyes!

Thy beauty be my chosen prize;

I cast my load on timeless grace

That my free soul may run the race.

Catherine Baird, The Salvation Army Songbook