VIDEO The 24-Year Quest

For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

Guo Gangtang spent 24 years looking for his son, who had been snatched at the age of two by human traffickers in China. Guo thought of nothing else as he traveled by motorbike throughout thirty provinces of his country, showing pictures of his little boy. He broke bones in accidents and was robbed by thieves. He spent his savings on the search, sleeping under bridges and begging when out of cash. In the end, police found the now 26-year-old by searching databases for images of the child enhanced to show his adult appearance. The emotional reunion earlier this year was broadcast across China. “Now that my boy has been found, everything can only be happy from now on,” Guo said.[1]

Oh, the happiness of being reunited with our Heavenly Father, who sought us and made us His own! Because of His love, we can embrace Him with our hearts and call Him, “Abba, Father.”

“Abba, Father”….The repetition indicates the warmth as well as the confidence with which the. Holy Spirit emboldens the people of God to draw nigh as children to a father able and ready to help them.

John Murray

[1]Vincent Ni, “Man in China reunited with son abducted 24 years ago,” The Guardian, July 13, 2021.


The Spirit of Adoption (Romans 8:14-16)

Sing Praise to God

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. 1 Chronicles 16:8

The heat and humidity of the Midwestern summer closed in on us all week at the discipleship conference, but on the last day we welcomed a front of cooler air. Giving thanks for the break in weather and the amazing work God had done, hundreds joined voices to worship God. Many felt liberated to sing wholeheartedly before God, offering hearts, souls, bodies, and minds to Him. As I think back to that day decades later, I’m reminded of the pure wonder and joy of praising God.

King David knew how to wholeheartedly worship God. He rejoiced when the ark of the covenant, which signified God’s presence, was placed in Jerusalem—by dancing, leaping, and celebrating (1 Chronicles 15:29). Even though his wife Michal observed his abandon and “despised him in her heart” (v. 29), David didn’t let her criticism stop him from worshiping the one true God. Even if he appeared undignified, he wanted to give thanks to God for choosing him to lead the nation (see 2 Samuel 6:21–22).

David “appointed Asaph and his associates to give praise to the Lord in this manner: Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts” (1 Chronicles 16:7–9). May we too give ourselves fully to worshiping God by pouring out our praise and adoration.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt free to worship God wholeheartedly? What led you to that sense of freedom and release?

Creator God, we proclaim Your name above all others. You’re worthy to be praised! We worship You!

Watch “A Song That Never Ends”.

Who Is Jesus?

On Earth, Jesus Christ was fully man and also the Son of God, our Savior, and God Himself—so He is worthy of praise

John 1:1-18

While most people are familiar with the name “Jesus,” few truly know who He is. Yet knowing Jesus’ identity and mission are important because the ramifications are eternal. And the best source of information about Him is the Bible.  

Scripture tells us Jesus is God. This means that He’s eternal: He existed before His physical birth and even before time began. Jesus, the Creator of everything that exists (Col. 1:15-17), is the perfect reflection of the invisible God. Our Savior had the power to forgive sins and was worshipped by His followers—both of which are appropriate only for divinity (Matt. 9:2-8; Matt. 14:33). 

Think about the omnipotent, eternal Son of God coming to Earth as an infant. Imagine Him lying in a manger made from trees He created and under the stars He Himself had strewn across the sky! Scripture makes it clear that this was no ordinary baby. The Word also says there is only one way to eternal life, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ as Savior (Acts 4:12). God has provided ample validation of His Son’s identity. Weigh the evidence, and then turn to Christ for salvation.

Should a Christian Get Angry?

But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matthew 5:22)

There are a number of Scriptures that, taken alone, would indicate that a Christian should never get angry about anything. For example, note Ephesians 4:31: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger…be put away from you.”

Yet, Jesus indicated only that anger “without a cause” was wrong and invited judgment. Many modern translations omit the phrase “without a cause” in this verse, but the phrase does occur in over 99.5% of all the Greek manuscripts and thus clearly should be retained.

If anger were never permitted for a believer, it would contradict even the occasional example of Jesus Himself. “And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts” (Mark 3:5). He was angered here by certain hypocrites among the Pharisees who were ready to condemn Him for healing a disabled man on the Sabbath.

We are never justified in getting angry over some personal injury or insult to ourselves. This is implied in context in such verses as cited above (Colossians 3:8, etc.). “Recompense to no man evil for evil…avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath” (Romans 12:17, 19). But if we do get angry in spite of ourselves, we are commanded, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26).

There may be some situations involving injury or insult to the name or work of Christ where anger is indeed “with cause.” Even then, however, God would warn us to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19), remembering that “vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). HMM

Deliverance

Since my youth they have often attacked me—let Israel say—Since my youth they have often attacked me, but they have not prevailed against me. Plowmen plowed over my back; they made their furrows long. The Lord is righteous; He has cut the ropes of the wicked (Psalm 129 vv. 1-4).

We desperately need to grapple with a theology of suffering. Many Christians are surprised and even shocked when they’re called upon to experience any degree of pain. This leads to a feeling of displacement, dislocation, even disinheritance. We may be confused and feel a profound sense of injustice. We may feel that more was promised than was delivered. Our doubt, anger, and resentment may even shake the foundations of our faith.

This psalmist laments, in a kind of summary, all of the national disasters that have befallen his people and prays for the overthrow of their enemies. Israel has suffered indignity, ignominy, and hostility for generations. She has been besieged continuously by the Canaanites, the Aramaeans, the Ammonites, the Edomites, the Philistines, the Assyrians, and the Chaldeans. He remembers many such attacks from his youth, but he also recalls that the enemy has never prevailed against him for long.

The literary figure is gripping! Israel is pictured as a poor wretch lying face-down on the ground as plowmen cut deep furrows in the tender flesh. This gives us some idea of the extreme suffering and severe pain that was commonplace for that nation.

But the psalmist does not dwell on these inhumane acts. He praises the righteous Lord who has delivered his people. He has ‘cut the ropes of the wicked” (v. 4).

Perhaps we need to learn about adversity from ancient Israel. Perhaps we need to remember that suffering is part of being human in a fallen world, that ungodly people suffer too. And perhaps we need to remind ourselves that our God is a righteous God. Justice will ultimately prevail. He has promised victory and deliverance—if not immediately—then in the world to come!

Personal Prayer

I thank you, Lord, for your righteousness. I pray that you will execute justice in my life and by your mercy cut me free from the ropes of wickedness.

Love with a “Stoop”

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness.—Hebrews 4:16

Grace is more than a synonym for love; it is a characteristic of the Deity which is quite close to love (and mercy) but yet deserves to be seen as different and distinctive. I heard an old Welsh preacher say: “Grace is a word with a’stoop’ in it; love reaches out on the same level, but grace always has to stoop to pick one up.” It was probably this same thought that an anonymous writer had in mind when he said: “Grace is love at its loveliest, falling on the unlovable and making it lovely.”

But it is to the great Puritan preacher Thomas Goodwin we must turn for the best clarification of the difference between love and grace: “Grace is more than mercy and love. It superadds to them. It denotes not simply love but love of a sovereign, transcendentally superior One that may do what He will, that may freely choose whether He will love or no. There may be love between equals, and an inferior may love a superior, but love in a Superior—and so superior that He may do what He will—in such a One love is called grace. Grace is attributed to princes; they are said to be ‘gracious’ to their subjects, whereas subjects cannot be gracious to princes.”

Grace then is God’s kindness bestowed upon the undeserving; benevolence handed down to those who have no merit; a hand reaching down to those who have fallen into a pit. The Bible bids us believe that on the throne of the universe there is a God like that.

Prayer

Loving and gracious God, help me understand more deeply than ever what it means to be a recipient of Your grace. I have some idea, but I long to realize it even more. Help me, my Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Dn 9:1-18; Dt 9:5; 1Pt 5:5

Is grace the result of righteousness?

Who does God give grace to?

The Uses of Trial

2 Corinthians 4:17

Affliction occupies a large place in the economy of salvation, for though suffering is the result of sin, God takes hold of it and transforms it into one of the richest blessings of His own people. From whatever secondary causes the afflictions of the righteous may arise, whether from the sins of their forefathers, the cruelty of their enemies, their own mistakes, or the mistakes of their friends, or the malice of Satan, it is their blessed privilege to realize that the Lord permits and overrules all, and that He has a gracious end in every sorrow which He allows to overtake them.

There is a sense in which trial reveals us to God and makes manifest to Him what is in our heart. Thus Abraham by his obedience to the painful command made his love manifest to God. In nothing is love made so manifest as in willing, cheerful suffering for the sake of its object.

Trial also reveals us to ourselves. Does your heart chafe, fret and rebel? Are you saying, “All these things are against me?” If so, this is proof that the work of grace is at a low ebb in your soul, that your faith is weak and your spiritual perceptions dim. It is high time for you to awake out of sleep and cry mightily unto God for a sanctified use of the affliction which has overtaken you. If God sends the cross, it is to brighten the crown.

Trial also reveals us to the world. As the greatest manifestation of God to the world was by suffering, so the most influential revelation of His people to the world has been by suffering. They are seen to the best advantage in the furnace. The blood of martyrs has ever been the seed of the church. The patience, meekness, firmness and happiness of God’s people in circumstances of suffering, persecution and death, have paved the way for the gospel in almost all lands and all ages. Patient suffering in affliction and anguish is the most convincing proof of the Divine in man which it is possible for humanity to give.

Sitting on a dunghill, apparently forsaken of God and man, and suffering the direst physical agony which Satan could inflict, Job attained his greatest victory and made that wonderful exhibition of trust in God which has been the comfort of God’s people from that day to this.

Dear reader, how are your afflictions revealing you to those around you? Are you adding your testimony to that of the cloud of witnesses who are gone before, to the sufficiency of divine grace to sustain and comfort? Is your patient endurance saying to those who are watching you, “I can do [and suffer] all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV).

Catherine Booth, Practical Religion