VIDEO Thank-Filled: For People

Is there someone for whom you are just filled with thankfulness? When Paul wasn’t chained in a jail somewhere, he was often enjoying the homes of wealthy friends like Gaius in Corinth (Romans 16:23) or Philemon in Colossae. The Lord provided little seasons of comfort in the midst of his arduous ministry. In Philemon, Paul told Philemon, “One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon” (Philemon 1:22, NLT). 

Twice in this letter, Paul spoke of Philemon as being refreshing (verse 7 and 20).

Has anyone refreshed you recently in body, soul, or mind? Has anyone offered you hospitality? Do you know someone who seems perpetually refreshed? Take a moment and thank the Lord for them. Let God’s gratitude flood over your spirit. Many people tend to drain us, so we should be filled with thanks for those who refresh us.

The Bible says, “Whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25, NIV).

Jesus, make me a much more refreshing person. Fill my heart with Your mercy. Scotty Smith


Alistair Begg–Philemon, Part 1

A Glossary for Grief

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46

When Hugh and DeeDee released their only child to heaven, they struggled with what to call themselves in the aftermath. There’s no specific word in the English language to describe a parent who has lost a child. A wife without her husband is a widow. A husband without his wife is a widower. A child bereft of parents is an orphan. A parent whose child has died is an undefined hollow of hurt.

Miscarriage. Sudden infant death. Suicide. Illness. Accident. Death steals a child from this world and then robs the surviving parents of an expressed identity.

Yet God Himself understands such devastating grief as His only Son, Jesus, called to Him while dying on the cross, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). God was Father before Jesus’ earthly birth and remained Father when Jesus released His final breath. God continued as Father when the still body of His Son was laid in a tomb. God lives on today as Father of a risen Son who brings every parent the hope that a child can live again.

What do you call a heavenly Father who sacrifices His Son for the universe? For you and for me? Father. Still, Father. When there are no words in the glossary of grief to describe the pain of loss, God is our Father and calls us His children (1 John 3:1).

By:  Elisa Morgan

Reflect & Pray

How does it shape your heart to realize that God remains your Father and calls you His child—always? How might this thought comfort you?

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for being my Father and claiming me as Your child.

Read Life After Loss.

Seek the Lord

Seeking the Lord takes time and sacrifice to achieve at a deep level, but the blessings are worth every second

Psalm 27:4-8

My life was radically influenced by the example of my grandfather, a man who wholeheartedly sought the Lord. I wanted the same kind of relationship with God, and I knew the only way this would happen was if I too earnestly sought Him. All these years later, I can truthfully say that the most exciting aspect of my life is coming before the Lord in intimate fellowship. 

This kind of relationship doesn’t happen automatically. It’s not something that can be achieved in an inspiring weekend conference, nor can it be accomplished by reading a chapter or two in the Bible and praying for 10 minutes a day. Seeking God is a lifetime pursuit.

Too many believers are satisfied by a shallow relationship with God. They’ll seek answers to prayer or relief in times of suffering but are unwilling to diligently seek Him—day by day—through His Word and prayer. Forfeiting this great blessing is a tragedy. 

Seeking the Lord simply cannot be hurried. It will cost you time and energy, but the rewards of knowing Him intimately are worth any sacrifice. Are you willing to make the necessary effort?

Yahweh’s Desire

For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it. (Psalm 132:13-14)

In these two verses, we are told that the Lord (Yahweh) has desired Zion, which He has chosen. The Hebrew verb used twice for “desired” is âwâ and occurs in a specific form called the Piel stem, which to the Hebrew reader would have added an intensively strong meaning to its action. In other words, Yahweh deeply, passionately, and intensively desires Zion as a place for His habitation.

So, what is this object of Yahweh’s intense desire? The name Zion is first used in the Bible for the pagan Jebusite fortress (“the stronghold of Zion”) in 2 Samuel 5:6-10 when David conquered Jerusalem and subsequently made it the capital of Israel. Thereafter, Zion was often equated with the City of David (Jerusalem) and was also used to refer to the inhabitants of Jerusalem or even the whole nation of God’s people of Israel.

In the new covenant, we are given the full revelation of Zion following Christ’s death and resurrection: “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).

It is this Zion of which we are now redeemed citizens that God deeply desires to make His habitation. Knowing this, let us look “for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10) and “desire a better country, that is, an heavenly” (Hebrews 11:16). JPT

Present Blessings

How happy is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways! You will surely eat what your hands have worked for. You will be happy, and it will go well for you. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house, your sons, like young olive trees around your table. In this very way the man who fears the Lord will be blessed (Psalm 128 vv. 1-4).

Blessed (supremely happy) is the person who has meaningful work and a fruitful family.” This paraphrase of Psalm 128 reduces the abundant life to it’s simplest terms. Yet many in our contemporary society, including Christians, take such humble gifts for granted and expect more!

Solomon, in all of his brilliance and wisdom, takes us back to the basics. Fearing God (reverencing and obeying him) will bring blessing, he states. Then he enumerates the gifts of grace that follow: food to sustain life, productive work, and family. The wife and mother is depicted as a “fruitful vine”; the children, “like young olive trees” (v. 3). This metaphor of a bountiful table is God’s true picture of prosperity and happiness, not material wealth.

Personal Prayer

Lord, help me to fear you and walk in your way today. Give my wife and children a special touch of your grace so they may bask in the happiness of your presence with them.

A Gospel Song

Count Your Blessings

Count your blessings—name them one by one;

Count your blessings—see what God hath done;

Count your blessings—name them one by one;

Count your many blessings—see what God hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold:

Count your many blessings—money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

Words by Johnson Oatman Jr. Music by Edwin O. Excell.

Two Basic Fears

And free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.—Hebrews 2:15

Psychologists are at pains to point out that fear is different from anxiety. Fear has a specific object, whereas anxiety is a vague and unspecified apprehension.

What, I wonder, is your biggest fear? Benjamin Rank, a social scientist, says that there are basically two forms of fear: the fear of life and the fear of death. The fear of life is the fear of having to live as an isolated individual. The fear of death is the fear of losing individuality. He says: “Between these two fear possibilities, these poles of fear, the individual is thrown back and forth all his life.”

The first fear—the fear of life—is vividly illustrated by a small boy’s comment: “I suppose the reason for twins is because little children don’t like to come into the world alone.” The fear of life makes many retreat into illness. It is a refuge from responsibility. Freud found the cause of neurosis in the past—in childhood; Jung, a disciple of Freud, found it in the present. He said: “I ask, what is the necessary task which the patient will not accomplish?” Backing out of life’s responsibilities through fear of life is a major cause of problems.

But with many, it is the fear of death that paralyzes them. Our verse today reads, in speaking of Jesus, that He is able to “free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death” (Heb 2:15). Is it necessary to live under such servitude? Of course not. When Christ has all of you, then fear can have no part of you. It is as simple as that!

Prayer

Father, I am so thankful that You have made it possible for me not to be enslaved by fear. I can be free, gloriously free—and free now. Touch me in the deepest parts of my being this day and set me free from all and every fear. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

1Co 15; 2Co 5:1; Jn 11:25-26

What is the hope of every believer?

Is this your hope?

The Test of Holiness

1 Thessalonians 4:7

Next to the word salvation the word most often on the lips of Salvationists is the word holiness. Even before there was a Salvation Army, the two people destined, under God, to be its founders were concerned with this second word. They knew it to be a biblical word and longed to make the experience which it represented their very own. Their mutual concern intensified rather than abated after their marriage.

Catherine wrote to her mother: “I spoke a fortnight since at Bethesda on holiness, and a precious time we had. William has preached on it twice and there is a glorious quickening among the people.” Even within the limited context of Salvation Army life the word has had a lively past. What is of more concern: has it a future? For religious words and phrases can wither and die.

Are we to rate holiness as a word which aroused considerable interest in the past but lacks any future value? What is the difference, anyway, between a living word and a word that is dead? My own short answer would be that a word lives while it continues to answer a felt human need. The marks of a word that is alive is that it describes a present experience that is meaningful, purposeful and possible. How does this admittedly ancient word, holiness, stand up to these three tests?

There is in our bones this craving for rightness. I must get this chord right; this pattern right, this homework right. As the chorus says: “I want to live right”—another way of speaking of the experience of holiness. It is a meaningful word right enough.

And a purposeful word as well? Without any doubt! To enjoy the life of holiness is not a fancy of my own; it is God’s declared purpose for me. What can give sure direction for my indecision, ballast for my instability, a definite goal for present uncertainty, is the truth that I can identify with the eternal will of God—

which is my sanctification.

How does this word holiness pass the final test? Does it stand for an experience which is possible? Or are we tormenting ourselves with an unattainable dream? On this let two things be said. No believer should overestimate his difficulties and none should underestimate God’s power.

Frederick Coutts, The Splendor of Holiness