VIDEO The Focus Of Our Message

I did not come to bring peace but a sword. —Matthew 10:34

Never be sympathetic with a person whose situation causes you to conclude that God is dealing harshly with him. God can be more tender than we can conceive, and every once in a while He gives us the opportunity to deal firmly with someone so that He may be viewed as the tender One. If a person cannot go to God, it is because he has something secret which he does not intend to give up— he may admit his sin, but would no more give up that thing than he could fly under his own power. It is impossible to deal sympathetically with people like that. We must reach down deep in their lives to the root of the problem, which will cause hostility and resentment toward the message. People want the blessing of God, but they can’t stand something that pierces right through to the heart of the matter.

If you are sensitive to God’s way, your message as His servant will be merciless and insistent, cutting to the very root. Otherwise, there will be no healing. We must drive the message home so forcefully that a person cannot possibly hide, but must apply its truth. Deal with people where they are, until they begin to realize their true need. Then hold high the standard of Jesus for their lives. Their response may be, “We can never be that.” Then drive it home with, “Jesus Christ says you must.” “But how can we be?” “You can’t, unless you have a new Spirit” (see Luke 11:13).

There must be a sense of need created before your message is of any use. Thousands of people in this world profess to be happy without God. But if we could be truly happy and moral without Jesus, then why did He come? He came because that kind of happiness and peace is only superficial. Jesus Christ came to “bring…a sword” through every kind of peace that is not based on a personal relationship with Himself.

WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS

We all have the trick of saying—If only I were not where I am!—If only I had not got the kind of people I have to live with! If our faith or our religion does not help us in the conditions we are in, we have either a further struggle to go through, or we had better abandon that faith and religion.  The Shadow of an Agony, 1178 L


What About Matthew 10:34? – Dr. David Wood

Remembered in Prayer

Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her. Genesis 30:22

In the large African church, the pastor fell to his knees, praying to God. “Remember us!” As the pastor pleaded, the crowd responded, crying, “Remember us, Lord!” Watching this moment on YouTube, I was surprised that I shed tears too. The prayer was recorded months earlier. Yet it recalled childhood times when I heard our family’s pastor make the same plea to God. “Remember us, Lord!”

Hearing that prayer as a child, I’d wrongly assumed that God sometimes forgets about us. But God is all-knowing (Psalm 147:5; 1 John 3:20), He always sees us (Psalm 33:13–15), and He loves us beyond measure (Ephesians 3:17–19).

Even more, as we see in the Hebrew word zakar, meaning “remember,” when God “remembers” us, He acts for us. Zakar also means to act on a person’s behalf. Thus, when God “remembered” Noah and “all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark,” He then “sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded” (Genesis 8:1). When God “remembered” barren Rachel, He “listened to her and enabled her to conceive. She became pregnant and gave birth to a son” (30:22–23).

What a great plea of trust to ask God in prayer to remember us! He’ll decide how He answers. We can pray knowing, however, that our humble request asks God to move.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

In what area of your life do you need God to remember you? How willing are you to pray with such intent and purpose?

Dear heavenly Father, grow my understanding of Your remembrance of me. Then, where I need You to act, please remember me.

Sunday Reflection: Freedom in Self-Forgetfulness

Our work should be a source of joy and liberation as we can use our God-given abilities to serve Him, so we can’t fall into selfish thinking

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the Scripture referenced throughout.

Though it might not always feel like it, jobs are a blessing. Our work allows us to utilize God-given talents, provide for our families, and grow both personally and professionally. (See 1 Cor. 10:31.) However, when we feel overlooked or sense that our contributions aren’t valued, emotions like anger or envy get in the way. What should be a source of delight and fulfillment becomes drudgery we avoid at all costs.

The trouble starts when we think of ourselves as individuals rather than as members of the community. We are here to serve and help one another, after all—not to be served (Matt. 20:20-28). That’s why God’s Word says, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility consider one another as more important than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3). Putting ourselves last allows us to lay petty concerns down instead of becoming defensive. Then we can experience freedom in the truest sense of the word.

Think about it

How do you feel about your work? Is it a source of joy and liberation? If not, how can you begin to think about it differently?

Faith, Self Defined

“These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.” (Hebrews 11:13)

Some have struggled with the word “faith,” desiring a succinct definition of it, but nowhere in Scripture does a working definition of faith appear. In places, however, the Bible gives a rather indirect definition of faith. Keeping in mind that the words “belief” and “faith” are translations of the same Greek word, let us look at several such texts.

Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, said of Mary, “And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord” (Luke 1:45).

Paul knew that God intended for him to be brought before Caesar and encouraged his shipmates as they were about to be shipwrecked with the words: “Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me” (Acts 27:25).

Speaking of Abraham’s faith that God would give him a son, Paul says that “he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:20-21).

Of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, it is said, “Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised” (Hebrews 11:11).

These verses and the verse in our text give us a working definition of faith. It is, therefore, a firm belief, a conviction, a judgment that God is both capable and faithful to perform what He has promised and that there will be such a performance. This kind of faith brings the future into present reality. JDM

Praising His Grace In Provision

Executing justice for the exploited and giving food to the hungry. The Lord frees prisoners. The Lord opens [the eyes of] the blind. The Lord raises up those who are oppressed. The Lord loves the righteous. The Lord protects foreigners and helps the fatherless and the widow, but He frustrates the ways of the wicked. The Lord reigns forever; your God, O Zion, [reigns] for all generations. Hallelujah! (Psalm 146 vv. 7-10).

The Lord is to be praised not only for his greatness in creation but also for his provision on behalf of his people. He shows his loving favor in many ways.

There are many prophetic allusions to the marvelous gifts of God’s grace (see Isa. 42:6-8). The New Testament records the fulfillment of this prophecy: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering the sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18 KJV). Indeed, the whole purpose of God’s redemptive plan in history was “to the praise of His glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6).

God’s grace was personified through his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is through him and him alone that we can be saved (Eph. 2:8-9). He is the only true hope for fallen man.

The psalmist concludes by reminding us that the Lord reigns forever. He ends as he began—with a paroxysm of praise, “Hallelujah!”

Personal Prayer

Dear Lord, I thank you for your “glorious grace” and what it has done in my life. I thank you for the Lord Jesus Christ who personifies your grace—your undeserved favor.

A Contemporary Praise Song

To the Praise of His Glorious Grace

Let us praise the One who chose us;

Let us thank the One who knows us;

Set apart, blameless in His sight;

Through the Son we have faith, we have life—

To the praise of His glorious grace.

May the God of our Lord, the Almighty Father,

Give you wisdom and peace, His comforting Spirit;

That you may know His love,

And you may know His riches, and you may know His mighty strength—

To the praise of His glorious grace.

Words and music by Michael W. Smith and Deborah D. Smith. © 1983 Meadowgreen Music Co.
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How to Forgive

Twisting a nose draws blood, and stirring up anger produces strife.—Proverbs 30:33

If difficulties concerning basic trust on a natural level can hinder our ability to trust at a spiritual level, how do we as Christians overcome this? The first thing we must do is demonstrate a willingness to forgive those who hurt us. “That’s hard,” you might say. My reply is: “Yes, in the case of those who have been badly let down, it is hard—but not impossible.”

Here’s how you do it. Focus first on how much you have been forgiven. The key to forgiving others is to enter into a realized awareness of how much God has forgiven you. When people say to me during a counseling session, “My problem is that I can’t forgive,” I usually respond by saying, “No, that’s not your problem. Your problem is that you don’t know how much you have been forgiven.” It may be difficult for some to see this, especially those who have gone through deep hurt, but nothing others have done to you is as awful as what you have done to God.

If you have difficulty with the last statement, it is because you do not understand the nature of sin. Sin is taking the Creator of the universe and relegating Him to irrelevance; it is saying to the One who made us—”I can run my life on my own terms.” Sin is insanity—and you and I have been guilty of that. Yet in Christ God has forgiven us, pardoned us, and bestowed upon us His royal favor. Having been given such forgiveness, can we, dare we, withhold it from anyone who has betrayed our trust, no matter how horrifying that hurt has been?

Prayer

Father, Your Word is frank and open—help me to respond to it in the same way. Take from me every biting hesitancy, every fear and apprehension, every refusal to accept responsibility. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Further Study

Col 3:1-14; Mk 11:25; Lk 17:4; Eph 4:32

How are we to forgive?

Do you need to forgive someone today?

There Goes the Neighborhood!

John 1:14

What a diverse and fascinating neighborhood we occupy on planet Earth in our little corner of the galaxy! Tribes and tongues and peoples and nations. This kind of wonderful diversity, this colorful mosaic of peoples and cultures, has moved much closer to home these days.

Sometimes people get nervous when a strange looking family from somewhere unfamiliar moves into the neighborhood. Who are they? Where did they come from? What are they really like? What do they believe? Someone fearful of change may mutter, “there goes the neighborhood!”

At Christmas, God came to us as a human person. “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14, The Message). He became part of our story. Part of our community.

He was born among us. He played in our streets. He worked there and laughed there. He was tempted and He taught there. We watched Him grow and get to know His neighbors—loving them with all their differences, caring for them, giving Himself to them in friendship and finally dying for them.

We saw the radiant glory of God in Him shining through His very human-ness. It made our hearts sing for sheer joy. It means our human story can never be the same again. Having seen Him, anything is possible.

God has moved into our neighborhood. And all the dark forces of ignorance, prejudice, violence and fear are sent scurrying for the cover of night. “The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out” (John 1:5 The Message).

And the neighborhood? All its dark alleyways and dead end streets of despair must yield to the light of His presence. “There goes the neighborhood!”

Christmas has come for you, for me and for all in our dark and weary world. Light and promise are everywhere.

Paul A. Rader, Young Salvationist