VIDEO Once and Forever

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh. Romans 8:3

Bob Ebeling spent a third of his life consumed with guilt. He was one of the engineers connected to NASA, and he worried that cold temperatures would cause the 1986 Challenger space shuttle to explode. Ebeling was so concerned that he called his boss, and they assembled data that would demonstrate the risk. When NASA proceeded with the launch anyway, Ebeling watched in horror as the Challenger exploded. He spent nearly the rest of his life overwhelmed with guilt, thinking he could have done more to delay the launch. Shortly before his recent death at age 89, Ebeling said he had found peace.[1]

It’s terrible to live a life consumed with guilt. Few of us have to face the explosion of a spacecraft, but we all look back on our lives with our share of regrets. But God doesn’t intend for us to live any longer in the sins He has washed away by the blood of Jesus. Our Lord’s blood is an acid that eats away at the corrosive guilt that can rust out our heart.

In Christ, there is no condemnation.

Jesus’ death is the only real answer to our guilt.

Timothy Lane

[1]Howard Berkes, “Challenger Engineer Who Warned of Shuttle Disaster Dies,” NPR, March 21, 2016.


Giving Thanks to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-3)

Ring the Bell

Shout to God with cries of joy. Psalm 47:1

After an astounding thirty rounds of radiation treatments, Darla was finally pronounced cancer-free. As part of hospital tradition, she was eager to ring the “cancer-free bell” that marked the end of her treatment and celebrated her clean bill of health. Darla was so enthusiastic and vigorous in her celebratory ringing that the rope actually detached from the bell! Peals of joyous laughter ensued.

Darla’s story brings a smile to my face and gives me a sense of what the psalmist might have envisioned when he invited the Israelites to celebrate God’s work in their lives. The writer encouraged them to “clap [their] hands,” “shout to God,” and “sing praises” because God had routed their enemies and chosen the Israelites as His beloved people (Psalm 47:1, 6).

God doesn’t always grant us victory over our struggles in this life, whether health-related or financial or relational. He’s worthy of our worship and praise in even those circumstances because we can trust that He’s still “seated on his holy throne” (v. 8). When He does bring us to a place of healing—at least in a way we recognize in this earthly life—it’s cause for great celebration. We may not have a physical bell to ring, but we can joyfully celebrate His goodness to us with the same kind of exuberance Darla showed.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

How do you show your gratitude to God? What good work has He done in your life recently that merits celebration?

Thank You, God, for Your many gifts to me. I shout my praises to You and clap my hands in celebration of Your work in my life.

Changing Our Focus

Like Paul in prison, we may go through very difficult times, but if our focus is on God, we will be content and even joyful.

Philippians 4:10-13 

Even though Paul’s letter to the Philippians was written during a long and unjust imprisonment, it was filled with joy. The apostle never complained, blamed others, or felt sorry for himself—instead, he rejoiced in the midst of suffering because he knew and trusted God. By keeping his eyes fixed on the Lord instead of the problems, Paul was able to look beyond his chains to see how the situation was being used to teach him contentment. 

I know it’s difficult to shift our focus in times of overwhelming difficulty and intense suffering. The pain screams for our attention, and the troubles bombard our mind and emotions with anxiety. But that’s when we most need to sit down with Scripture and pour out our heart to God. He invites us to cast all our concerns upon Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). 

Do you believe that God cares for you? Every trial you experience is an opportunity to believe what the Bible says about God and to look beyond your circumstances to His loving wisdom and good purpose. And the more you learn to know your heavenly Father, the more content you will be. 

Biblical Accuracy

If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? (John 3:12)

Many who profess to be Christian intellectuals today are arguing that we should defer to the evolutionists in matters of science and history since the real message of the Bible is spiritual. The Genesis account, for example, is not meant to give us details of the events of creation, for scientists can give us this information. It merely assures us that God is somehow behind it all. But if this were all that God meant to tell us, its very first verse is enough for that! What is the need to describe all the days and acts of creation at all if the record has no real relevance to history or science?

As the Lord Jesus told Nicodemus in our text verse, if we cannot trust God’s Word when it relates “earthly things,” how can we possibly rely on its testimony of “heavenly things”? To some extent we can check for ourselves whether or not it is accurate when it records facts of history and processes of nature, but we have no means at all of determining whether it speaks the truth when it deals with heaven and hell, with salvation and eternal life, or with God’s purpose for the world in the ages to come.

The fact is that the Bible is accurate in all matters with which it deals, scientific and historical as well as spiritual and theological. It is a dangerous thing to listen to these modern “pied pipers” of evangelicalism whose self-serving compromises with evolutionary scientism have already led multitudes of young people astray in our Christian colleges and seminaries.

We yet may not have all the answers to alleged problems in the Bible, but we can be absolutely sure of God’s Word. When the answers are found, they will merely confirm what He has said all along. He is able and willing to speak the truth, and He means what He says! HMM

Prayer For Personal Integrity

Do good, Lord, to the good, to those whose hearts are upright. But as for those who turn aside to crooked ways, the Lord will banish them with the evildoers. Peace be with Israel (Psalm 125 vv. 4-5).

The term falsetto refers to “an unnaturally or artificially high-pitched voice or register, especially in a man,” In early music, prior to 1600, singers especially trained in falsetto sang the high parts of masses and motets. These tones, tending to be nasal and weak, are mostly used today for comic effect.

Here the psalmist contrasts the “upright” (straight as an arrow, honest, unswerving in principle) with the “crooked” (bent, devious, dishonest, untrue).

God calls me to “be real” in my relationship with him. He expects me to stay true and not deviate from the course he has assigned me. Genuine godliness will be blessed, while those who bend his rules or adopt a falsetto approach to life will “banish them with the evildoers” (v. 5).

I struggle to remain perfectly true to my calling as a Christian musician in a world that loves artificiality and pretense. The applause of the crowd, while sweet to the ear, is short-lived. On the other hand, God’s reward for arrow- straight, true-pitch living is eternal life in his presence and his “well done!”

Personal Prayer

Give me a vision of you, Lord—unshakable, unchangeable, and secure. Keep me true and straight!

A Meaningful Lyric

To Be What You Want Me To Be

To be what You want me to be, dear Lord,

I’ll live for eternity;

To be more like Your Son, dear Lord—

I’ve only just begun.

To be what You want me to be, dear Lord,

I’ll live for eternity;

To be more like Your Son, dear Lord, Until the race is won.

To be what You want me to be, dear Lord,

I’ll live so the world can see

The image of Your Son, dear Lord—

Unite our hearts as one.

Words and music by Don Wyrtzen ©1972 Singspiration.

Flaming Arrows

The Lord stood with me and strengthened me … So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.—2 Timothy 4:17

The main purpose of the Roman shield was to protect soldiers from the fiery darts thrown at them by the enemy. These darts, made either of wood or metal, were covered with inflammable material and set alight immediately before being thrown. Enemies would throw these at each other in great numbers and from all directions so as to produce confusion. When thus attacked, a soldier would hold up the shield in front of him, allowing the fiery darts to land on the fireproof metal surface, from which they would drop away harmlessly.

The apostle says that we Christians need a “shield of faith”—in order “to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.” An understanding of what these “flaming arrows” are is essential if we are to stand firm against the adversary. Have you ever gone to bed at night feeling perfectly happy, only to wake in a sad mood? If there was no obvious physical or psychological reason for this, the chances are that you have experienced one of Satan’s “flaming arrows.”

Sometimes they come as evil thoughts that intrude suddenly into our thinking, often at the most incongruous times. We may be reading the Bible, we may be praying, when all of a sudden some filthy thought flashes into our mind. It is a “flaming arrow” from the Devil. These do not come from inside us but from outside us. They strike us. Some thoughts do arise from within our carnal nature, but these of which I am speaking come from without—from Satan. And we are foolish if we do not recognize this and deal with them in this light.

Prayer

O Father, help me to be alert and able to recognize the “flaming arrows” of Satan when they are hurled at me. For I see that it is only when I recognize them that I can deal effectively with them. Give me insight and understanding. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Jms 1:1-22; 1Co 10:13; 2Co 11:3

What is the progression in temptation?

What was Paul’s concern?

Jesus is Lord

Romans 10:9-10

What do you suppose is the most important word in the New Testament? Love? Forgiveness? Grace? Perhaps faith? Or hope? Author Calvin Miller suggests that the most important word in the New Testament is “Lord.” Why? Because, “If you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

Jesus is up front with the claim He makes on our lives and loyalties. This is what salvation is about—to be rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7 KJV).

If there is no king, there is no kingdom. If Jesus is not Lord, who is? Either Jesus is Lord of my life, or I come under the sway of something far smaller and more sinister. The devil has no brief for human autonomy. He doesn’t allow us any freedom.

Jesus is Lord! Easy enough for us to say it. When the apostles said it, Caesar was Lord and brooked no rivals. Those who chose Christ anyway were in risk of their lives, and that is still true in many places around the world.

Mayor Kallelas, a committed Salvationist of Brazzaville in the Congo, was imprisoned nine times under the communist regime. Sometimes he was hung up by his feet. Time and time again he awoke in an emergency room of a hospital, all because of his commitment to Jesus Christ, his Christian testimony and his unwillingness to accept the dogma of an atheistic, communist government.

It’s easy enough for us to say, “Jesus is Lord.” But there may be a price to be paid. We must believe it in our hearts and enter into a loving, trusting relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God wants us to experience His resurrection life and power. It’s explosive. It’s liberating. It’s morally energizing. And enabling.

John MacArthur says the signature of saving faith is surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. May we bear that signature.

Paul A. Rader, The War Cry