VIDEO Bridging the Great Divide

God is on one side and all the people on the other side, and Christ Jesus, himself man, is between them to bring them together. 1 Timothy 2:5, TLB

Jesus came to this world knowing what it would cost Him. His body bore the marks of evil that we deserve. Inside His sinless soul He bore the weight of sin, so that we could be forgiven. His manly frame bore the hurt and the pain of injustice, that we might be understood. He became a Man so that God would become touchable and approachable and reachable.

The mystery of the ages that will be fully answered one day in heaven is incomprehensible to our finite mind. But it can be answered in one word—love. The love of God reached its consummation in the Person of Jesus Christ, who became a man. As God, He is able to forgive our sins and save us. As a Man, He died to make it possible.

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

You were placed on earth to know God. Everything else is secondary. Greg Laurie


The Mystery of Christian Unity

Trusting God in Opposition

But even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. Daniel 3:18

Raised in a tribe in the Philippines opposed to belief in Christ, Esther received salvation through Jesus after an aunt prayed for her during Esther’s battle with a life-threatening illness. Today, Esther leads Bible studies in her local community in spite of threats of violence and even death. She serves joyfully, saying, “I can’t stop telling people about Jesus because I’ve experienced the power, love, goodness, and faithfulness of God in my life.”

Serving God in the face of opposition is a reality for many today just as it was for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, three young Israelites living in captivity in Babylon. In the book of Daniel, we learn that they refused to pray to a large golden image of King Nebuchadnezzar even when threatened with death. The men testified that God was capable of protecting them, but they chose to serve Him “even if” He didn’t rescue them (Daniel 3:18). When they were thrown into the fire, God actually joined them in their suffering (v. 25). To everyone’s amazement, they survived without even “a hair of their heads singed” (v. 27).

If we face suffering or persecution for an act of faith, ancient and modern examples remind us that God’s Spirit is present with us to strengthen and sustain us when we choose to obey Him, “even if” things turn out differently than we hope.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

What are some ways you’ve chosen to follow God “even if”? What are ways He’s been with you?

God, thank You for loving me so generously. Help me to follow You with joy even in the face of opposition.

Trading Weakness for Strength

God always meets our needs, even if in different ways than we expect

Ephesians 3:13-21

Many years ago my son Andy and I hiked in the Grand Canyon. After a restless night on hard ground, we reached the bottom, only to discover that we couldn’t camp there without signing up in advance. So we headed for a lodge several miles away. Weary from the hike and lost sleep, we finally caught sight of the lodge and broke into a run as if we were well rested and had recently enjoyed plenty of food and water! 

Sometimes our spiritual life seems like an exhausting hike through the Grand Canyon. Daily life, suffering, and difficulties can sap our strength. But the Spirit of God supplies supernatural energy in our inner being so we won’t grow weary and lose hope (Isa. 40:29-31). 

The Holy Spirit is charged with many tasks. He illuminates God’s Word, helps believers in prayer, and points out sin. But one of His primary responsibilities is enabling us to become the people God wants us to be. He does this by strengthening us in our weakness, comforting us in our pain, and empowering us to persevere through hardship and suffering. 

If you are growing weary, call out to your heavenly Father and rely on His strength. His power is sufficient for every weakness and need

Works of Darkness

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)

What are these “works of darkness” that we must avoid? Some of these works are enumerated in Romans 13:12-13: “Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness…not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.” A Christian is thus to “cast off” all such works of darkness from his or her own life, to “have no fellowship” with those who practice them, and even to openly “reprove them.”

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4:17-19). Such works of darkness stem directly from a denial of God as sovereign: “When they knew God, they glorified him not as God…and their foolish heart was darkened” (Romans 1:21). This darkening of the heart is soon followed by a darkening of the life: “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness….Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Romans 1:24, 28).

In these days of moral confusion, with attitudes and actions once outlawed by society now being defended and favored (e.g., sexual promiscuity and perversion), and with once-honored attributes now ridiculed (e.g., chastity, spirituality), there are great pressures on Christians to compromise with these works of darkness. God and His standards do not change, however, and He still expects us to shun and reprove them. HMM

Second Movement: He Is Everywhere (Omnipresence)

Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I fee from Your presence? If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I live at the eastern horizon [or] settle at the western limits, even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will become night”—even the darkness is not too dark for You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You (Psalm 139 vv. 7-12).

Upon learning that God knows the worst about him, David’s first impulse is to run! Fallen, sinful humanity always attempts to flee from the presence of the absolute holiness of God. But there is no place to hide, for God is everywhere! He’s omnipresent!

God is everywhere, but he is not in everything. That’s pantheism. He is infinite and personal, but he is self-contained and separate from his creation. Nothing escapes his notice.

The comforting thought is that, if he is everywhere, he is also immediately accessible! I can make contact with him instantly. He is right here! Distance between God and me is created, not on his initiative, but by my sin and guilt. Where God is, there can be no evil. Light and darkness do not coexist at the same place at the same time.

Martin Luther once said, “Music is one of the greatest gifts that God has given us: it is divine and, therefore, Satan is it’s enemy. For with it’s aid many dire temptations are overcome; the devil does not say where music is.”

I am newly encouraged to make music. For where God is, there can be no evil. Where God is, there is music!

Personal Prayer

O Lord, I’m happy that I can’t flee from your presence. I’m comforted by the fact that you are everywhere and that music is praise to your name!

Standing on Promises

He has given us very great and precious promises.—2 Peter 1:4

It is one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a clear biblical truth; it is quite another to act upon it. God has given us many great and precious promises, as our text for today puts it, but do we actually count on them being fulfilled?

We have to be careful that we do not hold God to promises He has not given. I have seen a good deal of heartache suffered by Christians because someone encouraged them to take a statement from the Word of God, turn it into a “promise,” and believe for it to come to pass. Then when nothing happened, they became deeply discouraged.

One woman told me that many years ago she had taken the words found in Acts 16:31, “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household,” and claimed them as a promise. When her husband and son died unrepentant, she was devastated. I pointed out to her that even God cannot save those who don’t want to be saved, and that the promise given by Paul and Silas was for the Philippian jailer, not anyone else.

There are hundreds of promises that God has given in His Word that we can claim without equivocation. Someone who has counted all God’s promises in the Bible numbers them as being over 3,000. That ought to be enough to keep you going if you lived to be a hundred. Be careful, however, that it is a general promise you are banking on, not a specific one.

Prayer

Father, I have Your promise that You will guide me into all truth, so my trust is in You that You will give me the wisdom to discern between a promise which is general and one that is specific. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Heb 1:1-12; 13:8; 2Co 4:18

Why is Jesus so dependable?

Where do we fix our eyes?

Why Should We Be Holy?

1 Peter 1:15, 16

We should be holy because God wants us to be holy. He commands it. He says, “As He which has called you is holy, so be you holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy'” (1 Pet. 1:15, 16). God is in earnest about this. It is God’s will and it cannot be evaded. Just as a man wants his watch to keep perfect time, his work to be accurate, wants his friends to be steadfast, his children to be obedient, his wife to be faithful, so God wants us to be holy.

We should be holy because Jesus died to make us holy. He wants a holy people. For this He prayed. “Sanctify them through your truth” (John 17:17). For this He died: “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people” (Titus 2:14). He “loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it” (Ephesians 5:25-26). Let not His precious Blood be spent in vain.

We should be holy in order that we may be made useful. Who have been the mightiest men of God of all ages? They have been holy men, men with clean hearts on fire with love to God and man. So long as there are any roots of sin in the heart the Holy Spirit cannot have all His way in us, and our usefulness is hindered. But when our hearts are clean the Holy Spirit dwells within, and then we have power for service. To be holy and useful is possible for each one of us.

Again, we should be holy so that we may be safe. Sin in the heart is more dangerous than gunpowder in the cellar. Before the disciples got the blessing of a clean heart and the baptism of the Holy Spirit they forsook their Master and fled.

Finally, we should be holy because we are most solemnly assured that without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

I bless Him that years ago He awakened me to the infinite importance of this matter, sent holy people to testify to and explain the experience, enabled me to consecrate my whole being to Him and seek Him with all my heart, and He gave me the blessing.

Will you have it my comrade? If so, receive Jesus as your Sanctifier just now.

Samuel Logan Brengle, The Way of Holiness