VIDEO No Hidden Thoughts

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things?” Mark 2:8, NIV

The U.S. Army is testing a new type of night-vision goggles that give soldiers the ability to see in absolute darkness, even the ability to see through walls using cutting edge camera technology. But with all our technology, we still don’t have the ability to see into the human soul and read the inner workings of the heart and mind. 

The Lord can do that, and He does. In Mark 2, Jesus knew exactly what His critics were thinking. And Hebrews 4:13 adds, “There is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” 

When we seek to hide our real selves or our sins from God, we don’t have a full understanding of who He is. We’re denying His omnipresence and omniscience. Let’s ask God to search us, to know our thoughts, and to sanctify us completely—in spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

Think about whatever is right; do not dwell on the wrong….Think about whatever is pure, not the sleazy. Think about the lovely, not the disgusting. D. A. Carson


The Unveiled Son (Mark 9:2-8)

Celebrating Diversity

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Psalm 133:1

At the 2019 graduation ceremony at a local high school, 608 students prepared to receive their diplomas. The principal began by asking students to stand when he read the name of the country where they were born: Afghanistan, Bolivia, Bosnia . . . . The principal kept going until he’d named sixty countries and every student was standing and cheering together. Sixty countries; one high school.

The beauty of unity amid diversity was a powerful image that celebrated something near to God’s heart—people living together in unity.

We read an encouragement for unity among God’s people in Psalm 133, a psalm of ascent—a song sung as people entered Jerusalem for annual celebrations. The psalm reminded the people of the benefits of living harmoniously (v. 1) despite differences that could cause division. In vivid imagery, unity is described as refreshing dew (v. 3) and oil—used to anoint priests (Exodus 29:7)—“running down” the head, beard, and clothing of a priest (v. 2). Together, these images point to the reality that in unity God’s blessings flow so lavishly they can’t be contained.

For believers in Jesus, despite differences such as ethnicity, nationality, or age, there’s a deeper unity in the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3). When we stand together and celebrate that common bond as Jesus leads us, we can embrace our God-given differences and celebrate the source of true unity.

By:  Lisa M. Samra

Reflect & Pray

When have you experienced the goodness of unity in Christ? How has it brought blessing?

Heavenly Father, help me do my part to live in unity with all of God’s people.

Learn more about loving those who are different from you.

A Small Matter of Obedience

If we obey God’s commands, we never know what may come of it, so we shouldn’t treat some sins as lesser than others

Luke 5:1-11

Do you consider some of God’s commands more important than others? For instance, most people would never commit murder, but many think it’s okay to harbor anger towards someone. Yet Jesus said that both actions are wrong because they flow from the same sinful attitude (Matt. 5:21-22). Nothing the Lord tells us to do is insignificant—though we may not always recognize the importance of obedience in what we consider small matters. 

Consider today’s passage about Jesus asking to use Peter’s boat as a speaking platform. After a long night of unproductive fishing, the future apostle could have seen the request as inconsequential and hardly worth the inconvenience. But he obeyed in this small matter, not realizing the impact that simple act of obedience would have on his life—it was the first step to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. 

As God’s children, we should seek His direction in daily situations. That’s why it is so important for us fill to our mind with His Word—then we can more easily discern what He desires for us. As we stay attuned to Scripture and heed the Holy Spirit’s promptings, we’ll be able to faithfully obey Him throughout each day. 

Help Me, O Lord

“Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.” (Psalm 109:26-27)

There is disagreement as to the proper interpretation of this psalm of David. Its center section (vv. 6-20) consists of a strong denunciation and curse, while the beginning and ending sections petition God for judgment and deliverance (vv. 1-5, 21-31).

Most hold that David is speaking in both sections. If so, it is a bitter and vindictive spirit finding vent. “Let Satan stand at his right hand….let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few….Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg:…Let the extortioner catch all that he hath….Let there be none to extend mercy unto him” (vv. 6-12).

Others would claim that David is quoting the curse of his enemy directed toward him and point to the use of the singular personal pronouns “he,” “his,” and “him” used 30 times in 15 verses. Indeed, if this is the proper interpretation, the psalm becomes the plea of a persecuted man of God who entrusts his enemies’ judgment entirely to the Lord. “But do thou for me, Oh GOD the Lord, for thy name’s sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me….I became also a reproach unto them….Let them curse….I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude. For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul” (Psalm 109:21-22, 25, 28, 30-31).

Like his master who had come after him, “when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter 2:23). JDM

David Prays For Justice

Rescue me, Lord, from evil men. Keep me safe from violent men who plan evil in their hearts. They stir up wars all day long. They make their tongues as sharp as a snake’s bite; viper’s venom is under their lips. Protect me, Lord, from the clutches of the wicked. Keep me safe from violent men who plan to make me stumble. The proud hide a trap with ropes for me; they spread a net along the path and set snares for me. I say to the Lord, “You are my God.” Listen, Lord, to my cry for help. Lord God, my strong Savior, You shield my head on the day of battle. Lord, do not grant the desires of the wicked; do not let them achieve their goals. [Otherwise,] they will become proud, (Psalm 140 vv. 1-8).

Again David vents his emotions, hence the title for this psalm. An imprecation is a curse on the wicked. An impromptu is a musical piece played extemporaneously. David is spontaneously engaging in an emotional outburst in song. The tone is harsh, strident, and dissonant.

In his opening prayer, David prays for justice and protection from the wicked. He then proceeds to curse them for their vicious character. Their tongues are poisonous; their hands do evil things; their minds devise all kinds of cunning plots to trap David and take him off the scene.

In verses 6-8, he praises God’s sovereignty, using military imagery to affirm his protective power, David then concludes this section by praying for the divine restraint of the wicked.

David’s prayer life is marked by honesty and openness. He never denies the reality of internal pressure. He is obviously fearful, and his emotions are churning, but he feels perfectly free to dump all of this junk on God. God is certainly big enough to take it!

The great psalmist was objective about his suffering, but because he acknowledged it and worked through it, he was able to cope with God’s help. I can do the same!

Personal Prayer

O Strong Deliverer, I pray that you will protect me from the cunning schemes of ungodly person’s. I pray also that you will protect me from myself and deliver me from unnecessary guilt and fear.

Logically Necessary

Give thanks to the God of gods. His love is eternal.—Psalm 136:2

The Trinity is implicit in the whole Bible from the beginning, though it might not be evident to someone unfamiliar with the Book who started reading at Genesis until they had reached the books of the New Testament.

Ian Macpherson, in his book The Faith Once Delivered, says that when the island now known as Trinidad was discovered by Columbus, he thought at first it was three islands, as all he could see were three hills silhouetted against the sky. When he got closer, however, he found that what he had seen was not three islands at all but just one island. From a distance it looked like three, but close up it was only one. Hence he named the island “Trinidad”—Spanish for “Trinity.”

That is the kind of experience you get when reading the Bible. At first it seems to be talking about three Gods, but as you go deeper into the Scriptures you discover there are not three Gods but one—one God in three Persons.

It must be noted, though, that it is not only in isolated texts that one encounters the doctrine of the Trinity. The very concept of God’s love presupposes plurality in the Godhead. Love, to be love, must have an object. Self-love is love’s opposite. Since God is eternal love, He must have had objects of eternal affection. The objects of His affection were the Son and the Spirit. The doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, is not only theologically but logically necessary to an understanding of the nature of the Deity.

Prayer

Father, help me understand that a being fully comprehended could not be God. In Your unfathomable depths all my thoughts are drowned. Symbolically I remove my shoes, for I sense I stand on holy ground. Amen.

Further Study

Eph 4:1-6; Dt 4:35; Ps 83:18; 1Co 8:4

What did Paul confirm to the Ephesians and Corinthians?

What was the psalmist’s conviction?

God’s Promise Is Kept

2 Corinthians 9:15

If ever there is a busy time, it is Christmas. I read about a woman who was busy buying Christmas gifts and preparing for her family’s celebration. Suddenly, she realized that she had forgotten to send Christmas cards to her friends. She dashed off to a card shop, chose one with a picture she liked and in haste bought 50 of the same type. Hurrying home, she quickly addressed and posted them—just in time.

What a shock she received some days later when, glancing at the few cards that remained, she read the verse inside. It said:

This card comes just to say

A little gift is on the way.

All those disappointed friends are still waiting for that promised gift!

Fortunately, it wasn’t like that with God’s promised gift. He promised a wonderful gift to all mankind, and He certainly kept His promise. The gift was His Son, Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem, given to the world to bring peace, justice, freedom and goodwill among men. He came to make the world a better place. To show men and women how to live life to the full. To bring reconciliation between man and God and between man and man.

God sent Jesus as a helpless baby born to an ordinary couple, Mary and Joseph. He grew up in a family, and shared our human life. He worked with His hands as a carpenter, and knew how hard it was to make ends meet. He understood what it was like to be poor. He faced all the trials and temptations that you and I experience.

Then, in obedience to God, He became the teacher of the good news, showing people that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. But He was misunderstood, mocked, criticized, rejected, and His enemies hung Him upon a cross. This shining, sinless man carried our sins and opened to us a way of forgiveness, hope and peace.

But He rose from the dead and is alive today. By His Spirit He is with us. He helps us to be the men and women that we ought to be. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

God’s promises about the Christ-child were more than fulfilled in Jesus’ life on earth. And the reality in our own lives today when we claim those promises for ourselves is even more magnificent.

No wonder the Apostle Paul could cry out with a note of wonder and praise; “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Eva Burrows, Salvationist