VIDEO What a Blessing!

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1

When parents welcome a newborn child into the world, they are the ones who declare what a blessing they have received. What never happens is this: The newborn opens his squinty eyes, looks at the parents, and says, “I’m so grateful to be born into your family!”

No one expects a newborn to do that—obviously not. And yet that is what happens—or should happen—the moment of our new birth into the family of God. Yes, God as our Father rejoices at our entrance into His family (Luke 15:10). But the apostle John speaks for all who enter God’s family when he writes, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God!” It is as if John is reminding us of something we may fail to realize at the moment of our spiritual birth: God is our Father, and we are His children!

Nothing can compare to the experience of being born into the family of God. Pause and give thanks today for the blessing His love has bestowed on you.

The world takes its notions of God from the people who say that they belong to God’s family.
Alexander Maclaren


God’s Role in Regeneration (John 3:1-10)

A Worthwhile Wait

The Lord longs to be gracious to you . . . . Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18

Stuck in a stressful job with long hours and an unreasonable boss, James wished he could quit. But he had a mortgage, a wife, and a young child to take care of. He was tempted to resign anyway, but his wife reminded him: “Let’s hang on and see what God will give us.”

Many months later, their prayers were answered. James found a new job that he enjoyed and gave him more time with the family. “Those months were long,” he told me, “but I’m glad I waited for God’s plan to unfold in His time.”

Waiting for God’s help in the midst of trouble is hard; it can be tempting to try to find our own solution first. The Israelites did just that: under threat from their enemies, they sought help from Egypt instead of turning to God (Isaiah 30:2). But God told them that if they would repent and put their trust in Him, they would find strength and salvation (v. 15). In fact, He added, “the Lord longs to be gracious to you” (v. 18).

Waiting for God takes faith and patience. But when we see His answer at the end of it all, we’ll realize it was worth it: “Blessed are all who wait for him!” (v. 18). And what’s even more amazing, God is waiting for us to come to Him!

By:  Leslie Koh

Reflect & Pray

What prayer request has you waiting on God? How can you meditate on His faithfulness as you seek His answer?

Father, give me the patience to wait for Your answer. I know You’re a good and loving God whose timing and will are always perfect.

Learn more about waiting.

A Necessary but Challenging Lesson

Patience is a fruit that can be difficult to exhibit, but we must always seek God’s will and wait for His perfect timing

Psalm 27:7-14

There are many lessons for us to learn in the Christian life, and one of the hardest involves patience. When we have a problem, we want an immediate solution, but that’s not always God’s will for us. He wants us to trust Him and leave the timing in His hands. 

As you read today’s passage from Psalm 27, notice that David coupled the admonition to wait upon God with encouragement to be strong and courageous (Psalm 27:14). In our culture, people are quick to act because they’re afraid of missing out on something; it takes courage to go against this trend and be still while the world rushes past. There are even many believers who have bought into that attitude. Instead of waiting for God’s timing, they make a move and ask God to bless it.  

Are you asking the Lord for guidance or provision but hear only His silence? Jesus addressed this issue when He said that if we seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, then whatever we need will be provided (Matt. 6:33). As you wait, ask the Lord for His peace and patience. Then trust Him to take care of any remaining needs in His perfect time.

The Name of David

“Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.” (2 Samuel 23:1-2)

The name of David is uniquely important in Scripture. Except for the name of Jesus Christ Himself (of whom David is a remarkable type), no other name (not even Abraham or Moses or Paul) occurs nearly so often in the Bible. In the New Testament—again, other than Jesus Christ—David’s name is both the first mentioned (Matthew 1:1) and the last mentioned (Revelation 22:16).

As the “sweet psalmist of Israel,” David was largely responsible for this longest book in the Bible. As we see in our text, his claim to divine inspiration in the writing of his psalms is perhaps the most meaningful and clear-cut statement on this subject by any of the biblical authors. It was both “God’s Spirit” and “me” who spoke, giving “his word” through “my tongue,” said David in his last words shortly before he died.

David was not a perfect man. We remember his grievous sin, not only against Uriah the Hittite, but even more against the Lord (2 Samuel 12:9-14), thus giving “great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme.”

He had to suffer greatly because of this, but his repentance was genuine, and he was graciously restored by God to fellowship and service. The Lord’s own testimony concerning him was this: “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will” (Acts 13:22).

It is little wonder that so many loving parents over the many centuries—both Jews and Gentiles—have named their own sons David, for the very name means “beloved.” HMM

David In Combat: Anticipating Peace And Prosperity

Set me free and rescue me from the grasp of foreigners whose mouths speak lies, whose right hands are deceptive. Then our sons will be like plants nurtured in their youth, our daughters, like corner pillars that are carved in the palace style. Our storehouses will be full, supplying all kinds of produce; our flocks will increase by thousands and tens of thousands in our open fields. Our cattle will be well fed. There will be no breach [in the walls], no going [into captivity], and no cry of lament in our public squares. Happy are the people with such [blessings]. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord (Psalm 144 vv. 11-15).

Only a survivor or a veteran of war in some strife-ridden part of the world can really appreciate the absence of conflict. Harry Bollback, Dad’s colleague, is an ex-Marine who fought in World War II. But some of the guys— including Ike Eickleberger and Pete Monfore, who saw duty in the Korean conflict—never made it back. They died on Heartbreak Ridge, Whenever I return to the USA after being out of the country, I’m overwhelmed by our freedom. We owe it to men like these!

In this psalm David is projecting into a future when worldwide peace will reign once more. In order to understand his point of view, I have to do just the opposite.

I have to think about the hot spots of the world—espeically the Middle East. Insulated from most physical violence as we are in America, I don’t have to be overly concerned that my family will be harmed by a flying bullet or will step on a land mine (v. 12), I don’t have to fear that bombs will destroy the farms of our country so that there will be no food in the supermarket (v. 13), I don’t spend too much time wondering if I’ll be captured and exiled by foreign invaders (v. 14). For his own reasons, God has blessed America … for now!

But David reminds us of the divine condition for peace and prosperity: “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord” (v. 15). There are definite signs of disintegration in our society: Families are in crisis, our economy is shaky, and our military strength is questionable. Could it be that we’ve forsaken the Lord?

Personal Prayer

O Lord, I long for your blessing of world peace. Take control of our economy, our national security, and international affairs, so that all nations will know that you are our God!

“Nutty” Is the Word

Your loyalty is like the morning mist and like the early dew that vanishes.—Hosea 6:4

A danger that we must acquaint ourselves with as we discuss the need to contemplate God more deeply is that of becoming more interested in godliness than in God Himself. Theologian Jim Packer puts the point effectively when he says that “moving in evangelical circles as I do, I am often troubled by what I find. While my fellow believers are constantly seeking to advance in godliness, they show little direct interest in God Himself. When they study Scripture, only the principles of personal godliness get their attention; their heavenly Father does not. It is as if they should concentrate on the ethics of marriage and fail to spend time with their spouse!” He goes on to say: “There is something narcissistic, and, to tell the truth, nutty in being more concerned with godliness than about God.”

I think “nutty” is the right word.

I knew a man who went to every seminar he could find on the subject of marriage, and whenever he came upon a new idea or a deep insight, he would reflect for hours on its wonder and profundity. The only trouble was he never got past the reflecting stage, and while he indulged himself in new and profound ideas, his wife was left languishing at home.

How sad that a man can take more interest in the principles that undergird his marriage than in the partner whom he has pledged to love, honor, and cherish. Let’s be watchful that we don’t care more for the principles of godliness than the God we are called to praise and please every day of our lives.

Prayer

Gracious and loving heavenly Father, forgive me, I pray, if I have been caught up more in the mechanics of my faith than in the dynamics of it. May nothing ever become more important to me than my relationship with You. Amen.

Further Study

2Tm 3:1-5; 2Ch 25:1-2; Isa 29:13

What is one of the signs of the last days?

What is said of Amaziah?

The Colossal Event

John 3:16

Something colossal, inexpressibly great, happened in a nondescript stable among the wrinkled hills of Bethlehem on that first Christmas night. Imagine! The infinite becomes the infinitesimal! The God who created all things, from grass to galaxies, clothing Himself in the garb of humanity. The Creator of the cosmos shrunk so small as to become a fetus inside a virgin teenager!

The Babe of Bethlehem was the heart of God wrapped in human flesh! God became man, and each Advent season it takes our breath away. “God’s infinity/ Dwindled to infancy” is the memorable phrase of the poet-priest Gerard Manley Hopkins.

We can gauge the size of a ship that has passed out of sight by the wake it leaves behind. The mighty life of Jesus Christ left a tidal wave of impact upon the world. His Advent became the hinge of human history.

Pope John Paul II, in Crossing the Threshold of Hope, poses a seminal truth and a rhetorical question: “In Christ the self-revelation of God in the history of man reached its zenith—the revelation of the invisible God in the visible humanity of Christ. Could God go further in His stooping down, in His drawing near to man, thereby expanding the possibilities of our knowing Him?”

Indeed, that Christ child, born in the feeding trough of Bethlehem’s cattle shed, has opened for us the glorious possibility of knowing God—His presence, power, purpose and peace in our lives.

God, in Christ, became the Son of Man, that we might become sons and daughters of God. Christ descended the steps of glory that we might ascend with Him to worlds unknown. Beneath all the trimmings, tinsel and trappings of the season, Christ is its true treasure.

Because of the marvel of the Incarnation—God becoming flesh—we are more than a drop in the ocean of creation, a leaf in the vast forest of beings, an atom in the cosmos of existence, a speck on a pygmy planet. We are more than a cosmic accident, enchanted dust, a fortuitous concourse of atoms, the playing of an inscrutable fate, a slave to self and sin.

The miracle of the Advent continues for those whose hearts become a cradle for His birth, endowing us with the potential to become a child of God, with an eternal destiny.

Henry Gariepy, The War Cry