VIDEO The Intersection

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:5

John Koessler wrote, “You can expect to meet Jesus in the most unlikely place—at the intersection of Expectation and Disappointment. The Jesus you meet there is not the Jesus of your dreams. Nor is He the airbrushed Christ of popular Christianity. He is the enigmatic and unpredictable Jesus of the Bible. You will not forget Him.”[1]

Facing disappointment is hard, but it helps to remember the definition of disappointment. It’s God’s way of showing you a better plan. Someone once called disappointments His appointments, and there is truth to that.

When it comes to the Lord Himself and His future for us, there cannot be—and never will be—any disappointment. The world defines hope as something we would like to happen, but God’s hope is something guaranteed to happen. It is a sure and certain hope. His kind of hope does not disappoint. But when life itself disappoints you, you’ll find Jesus at the intersection ready to reassure and redirect you.

I infer that losses, disappointments…are God’s workmen.

Samuel Rutherford

[1]John Koessler, The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Chicago: IL: Moody Publishers, 2013), 15.


Our Benefits Package – Romans 5:1-5 – Skip Heitzig

You’re Not Alone

I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal. 1 Kings 19:18

“So great to see you!” “You, too!” “So glad you’re here!” The greetings were warm and welcoming. Members of a ministry in Southern California gathered online before their evening program. As their speaker, calling in from Colorado, I watched silently as the others gathered on the video call. As an introvert and not knowing anyone, I felt like a social outsider. Then suddenly, a screen opened and there was my pastor. Then another screen opened. A longtime church friend was joining the call, too. Seeing them, I no longer felt alone. God, it seemed, had sent support.

Elijah wasn’t alone either, despite feeling like “the only [prophet] left” after fleeing the wrath of Jezebel and Ahab (1 Kings 19:10). Journeying through desert wilderness for forty days and forty nights, Elijah hid in a cave on Mount Horeb. But God called him back into service, telling him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet” (vv. 15–16).

God then assured him, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (v. 18). As Elijah learned, while serving God we don’t serve alone. As God brings help, we’ll serve together.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What support has God recently sent when you were serving Him? Whom could you invite to serve with you to grow your ministry impact for God?

Dear God, when I feel alone while serving You, remind me that others are with me as we joyfully serve.

The Grace to Keep Going

Instead of asking God to remove a trial, ask for His strength so you can persevere through the difficulty.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

Would you rather be rescued from suffering and affliction or be given the grace to go through them? Our natural inclination is to escape. That’s why Paul pleaded with the Lord to remove his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor. 12:7-8). But when he understood what God was doing through it, he gladly accepted his weakness. That’s because Paul saw the value of relying on God’s all-sufficient grace and having Christ’s power dwell in him.  

Logically, you’d think that the Lord would want to make Paul’s life easier so his ministry would be unhindered, but that was not His priority. God’s goal was to humble Paul so his ministry would not be ruined by pride and self-reliance. 

Perhaps you’re struggling with your own “thorn” right now, when all you see is the pain and difficulty. And since God’s purpose isn’t obvious, you keep asking Him to rescue you from the situation. Maybe it’s time to begin asking Him for the grace and strength to endure. It’s through your weakness that the Lord proves Himself strong in your life. His goal is not your comfort but spiritual transformation—along with your increased trust and complete dependence upon Him.

Why God Allows Choice

And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

It is absolutely clear that God is love (John 3:16; 1 John 4:19). Therefore, many have suggested that such a unilateral love as is cited in the above texts would require that God eliminate any judgment for disobedience to His commands, or that He create such a condition that all humanity would naturally love God as part of their basic personality.

The apparent conflict is often repeated in the false logic “If God loves the world and is all powerful, why would He allow evil?” Simply put, the answer is this: God is love; God loves mankind; love requires that a choice be made; choice allows for the possible rejection of God’s unilateral love. God, therefore, created humanity with the ability to positively respond to His love—or to consciously reject His offer of love.

The simple truth of the Scriptures is inescapable.

God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:5-10)


God allows for the possibility of evil so that human love may exist. HMM III

Forgiveness

Out of the depths I call to You, Lord! Lord, listen to my voice; let Your ears be attentive to my cry for help. Lord, if You considered sins, Lord, who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness, so that You may be revered (Psalm 130 vv. 1-4).

When I think of God’s accounting ability, I cringe, much like the author of this psalm. Suppose every unkind word I have ever spoken, every lie I have ever told, every shortcut I have ever taken, every word of gossip that ever passed my lips, every lustful thought I have ever entertained, every sin I’ve ever committed were recorded on audio and videotape to be played back at will?

My fellow musician sums it up succinctly: “Who could stand?” (v. 3).

Though I am saved by grace, I am constantly engaged in a wrestling match between the old sin nature and the new man. As the apostle Paul complained: “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do” (Rom. 7:18-19).

There is a way out, however. It’s a one-word answer: forgiveness. In his infinite mercy, God chooses to pardon the penitent sinner (Isa. 55:6-7). If he did not, we would all be destroyed by his judgment. Because we have been forgiven much, we are able to respond in grateful praise. We will be moved to revere and respect him, to worship and adore him, to follow and obey him!

Personal Prayer

I cry out of the depths to you for mercy, O Lord! I need your forgiveness again and again.

“I Know I’m Saved”

He [Jesus] is always able to save those who come to God through Him.—Hebrews 7:25

Is it possible to know without any shadow of doubt that one is saved and ready to meet God? This question, says one writer, goes right to the roots of religious experience. Christianity says “yes.” Other religions are not sure. Without exception they will tell you that it savors of presumption to say one is certain that one is saved.

I know some Christians have difficulty here also. They contend that we can hope to be saved, or claim we are being saved, but that no one can state with any degree of assurance that they are saved. It is gross self-centeredness, they maintain, and a sign of self-absorption to claim here and now on this earth, “I am saved.” Yet John Wesley declared it. On May 24, 1738, he walked into a room in Aldersgate Street, London, where he heard someone read the Preface to Luther’s commentary on Romans, and as he listened there was given him “an assurance” that God had taken away his sins and saved him from the law of sin and death.

Millions all over the world can say as Wesley did that they have an assurance they are saved and know that when they die they will go to heaven. It is not presumption to say you are saved providing, of course, you have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Indeed, it is offensive for anyone who has given himself or herself to Christ not to say they are saved. As we see from our text today, Christ promises to save and save completely. I know I’m saved. How about you?

Prayer

O Father, thank You that not only do You save me from my sins and draw me to Yourself but You give me the assurance that I am Yours forever. How can I thank You enough for such wondrous grace? With my stammering tongue, however, I will try. Amen.

Further Study

2Tm 1:1-12; 1Jn 3:14; Jb 19:25

What was Paul able to write to Timothy?

What was Job able to say?

The Sacrament of Life

Isaiah 63:3

My life must be Christ’s broken bread,

My love His outpoured wine,

A cup o’erfilled, a table spread

Beneath His name and sign,

That other souls, refreshed and fed,

May share His life through mine.

My all is in the Master’s hands,

For Him to bless and break.

Beyond the brook His winepress stands,

And thence my way I take,

Resolved the whole of Love’s demands

To give, for His dear sake.

Lord, let me share that grace of Thine

Wherewith Thou didst sustain

The burden of the fruitful vine,

The gift of buried grain.

Who dies with Thee, O Word Divine,

Shall rise and live again!

Albert Orsborn, The Beauty of Jesus