VIDEO Being Accountable

11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. –Roman 14:11-12 KJV

And because of all this, we make a sure covenant and write it; our leaders, our Levites, and our priests seal it. Nehemiah 9:38

In 1776, 56 members of the (American) Second Continental Congress affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence. This was no mere formality. These men were choosing to publicly identify themselves, and their families and descendants, as being in favor of breaking away from Great Britain and forming a new nation. In doing so, they pledged “[their] Lives, [their] Fortunes, And [their] Sacred Honor”—and many paid a heavy price. Some lost their lives, most lost their fortunes, but none lost their sacred honor.

Signing one’s name to a public document means becoming accountable for what the document sets forth. When the leaders and Levites of Israel signed a “sure covenant” of allegiance to God after being restored from captivity in Babylon, they were aligning themselves publicly with God. They made commitments and promises and put them in writing; they made themselves accountable for their actions going forward.

Putting things in writing—on paper or by verbal declaration—is a serious act of allegiance. Every follower of Jesus, by confessing that Jesus is Lord, invites the world to judge his words by his actions.

A man has no time for which he is not accountable to God. Thomas Wilson


We’ve Failed…but God – Nehemiah 9 – Skip Heitzig

Hearing Us from Heaven

Hear from heaven their prayer and their plea. 1 Kings 8:45

At eighteen months old, little Maison had never heard his mother’s voice. Then doctors fitted him with his first hearing aids and his mom, Lauryn, asked him, “Can you hear me?” The child’s eyes lit up. “Hi, Baby!” Lauryn added. A smiling Maison responded to his mother with soft coos. In tears, Lauryn knew she’d witnessed a miracle. She’d given birth to Maison prematurely after gunmen shot her three times during a random home invasion. Weighing just one pound, Maison spent 158 days in intensive care and wasn’t expected to survive, let alone be able to hear.

That heart-warming story reminds me of the God who hears us. King Solomon prayed fervently for God’s attuned ear, especially during troubling times. When “there is no rain” (1 Kings 8:35), during “famine or plague,” disaster or disease (v. 37), war (v. 44), and even sin, “hear from heaven their prayer and their plea,” Solomon prayed, “and uphold their cause” (v. 45).

In His goodness, God responded with a promise that still stirs our hearts. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Heaven may seem a long way off. Yet Jesus is with those who believe in Him. God hears our prayers, and He answers them.

By:  Patricia Raybon

Reflect & Pray

What troubling situation can you pray about today, believing God is hearing you from heaven? What help from God can you thank Him for because He hears your plea?

Heavenly Father, during my toughest struggles and troubles, I thank You for hearing my humble cry.

God’s Plan for Our Life

We may wonder what God’s plan is for our life, but we can be certain it includes our spiritual development

1 Peter 2:1-12

Many Christians today want to find God’s plan for their life but, sadly, often overlook the one place it’s revealed—the Bible. His overall goal for each of us is that we would bring Him glory, and He uses both His Spirit and Word to accomplish this. 

Today we’re going to focus on three ways we glorify God. 

1. With our behavior. Righteous living stands out in stark contrast to lifestyles of the world around us. Godliness shines like a light pointing others to Christ and bringing glory to the Father.

2. With our character. God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son. As the Spirit’s fruit is produced in us, we display Christ’s likeness in our attitudes and responses to people and situations.

3. With our obedience. Scripture reveals what God has commanded and how He wants us to live. When we do what He says, we glorify Him.

We usually focus on finding God’s plan for our life with regard to circumstances, relationships, and other practical matters. But the Lord’s priority is our spiritual development. When we obey what His Word reveals to be His will, He’ll sovereignly direct our path in every other matter. 

Abram’s Obedience Test

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God….And he gave him tithes of all.” (Genesis 14:18, 20)

This is one of the more curious passages of the Old Testament. Abram had rescued his nephew Lot, along with the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, after a fierce running battle with a five-king federation led by Chedorlaomer, the king of Elam (Genesis 14:1-17).

As Abram returned victorious from the battle, he was met by Melchizedek, the king of Salem, who seems either to represent or actually be the pre-incarnate Person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 7:1-3). Melchizedek greeted Abram with words of victory and praise, to which Abram responded with a no-nonsense declaration of his service to the “most high God” (Genesis 14:22-24).

The king of Sodom offered to let Abram take the spoils of war. The custom was (and is) well established that the victor was due all the value of the conquered land. Abram’s response was most gracious. Not only would he take nothing for himself other than what was due his servants and confederates, but he would return everything outside of the tithe to the original owners. “Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils” (Hebrews 7:4).

It is here that tithing is established in Scripture, long before the Mosaic law. The event is so incidental that it seems the custom had already been in practice for some time. Whatever the case, Abram offers “tithes of all” to Melchizedek without a second thought. Centuries later, the Lord Jesus told the Pharisees that they ought to pay their tithes “and not to leave the [weightier matters] undone” (Matthew 23:23). It is interesting how much the tithing practice is still debated among God’s children. HMM III

The Majesty of Man

You made him little less than God and crowned him with glory and honor (Psalm 8 v. 5).

When compared to the vastness of the universe, I am infinitesimal. Yet even though I am dwarfed by the magnitude of God’s creation, I have profound meaning and significance because I am made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). Because his glory is revealed not only in nature but also in me, I possess majesty. Even though I may not like certain things about myself (my height, my weight, my age), I need to remember that I am a reflection of the image of God.

Humanism has deified man and attempted to make him the “measure of all things.” I sometimes overreact to this and think that I am nothing. But I am only a little lower than the angels in God’s hierarchy. I am crowned with glory and honor, I reflect God’s glory just as much as the starry heavens do.

Unlike the animals, which also reflect God’s incredible imagination, I have a sense of my own existence and I can experience community. But even more significant, I can pray directly to the Lord of hosts. Because I’m part of God’s family, the universe isn’t meaningless and empty; it is my home.

In size I may be infinitesimal, but in worth I am infinitely valuable because I reflect God’s glory.

Personal Prayer

Lord, help me to think soberly and objectively about myself. May I not get so wrapped up in my weaknesses that I forget that your glory and majesty are revealed in me.

Who Can Forgive?

The Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.—Matthew 9:6

Perhaps one of the most significant ways in which Jesus is unlike anyone else who has ever lived is that He has the ability to forgive sins. I am sure you will know the words of the famous hymn that refers to the forgiveness offered by Christ:

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,

He sets the prisoner free.

I know of no one else who can do that. Some psychoanalysts try to rid the soul of guilt, but though they may be successful with pseudo-guilt (guilt that is imagined rather than real), they are powerless to deal with the stain of sin that is deeply ingrained in every human soul. The secular therapist will examine the stuff of your dreams, invite you to answer a series of harmless questions, and then drag out from your forgotten past the source of all your trouble—some past transgression or sin. But even the most highly trained team of psychoanalysts cannot forgive. They may expose an old wound, but they cannot heal it. They may show you that your trouble is an ancient sin, but they cannot cleanse it from the system. And that is what our sick souls need most of all—forgiveness.

A man I talked to the other day said he went to a professional counselor, a non-Christian, who found the root of his trouble—an old and wicked sin. “Now,” said the man, “tell me the cure.” “Just forgive yourself,” said the analyst. Forgive yourself? It’s a lot easier to do that when you know that you yourself have been forgiven.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, not only have You forgiven me, but You keep on forgiving me. Help me realize, however, that though Your forgiveness is free, it is not cheap. For You had to die in order to bring me forgiveness. Help me never forget that. Amen.

Further Study

Mt 26:17-30; Ac 13:38; Heb 9:22

Why is forgiveness available?

Seek forgiveness for your sin today.

The Mind of Christ (cont.)

Romans 12:2

In response to Paul’s challenge in Philippians 2:5, we address the question,

“What is the mind of Christ?”

To have the mind of Christ is to love as He loved and serve as He served. Brigadier Josef Korbel was for ten years imprisoned in the communist labor camp in Czechoslovakia. He and the other prisoners were near starvation and issued but one piece of bread each day. When other prisoners devoured their food, Korbel divided his into three pieces. One he ate slowly and the other two he kept in his pocket. Later in the day as he ate his second piece, a fellow prisoner would eye him jealously and say, “Where did you get extra bread?” Korbel would reply, “Nowhere. I have kept some of my own back. Have a share of mine.” Then, starving himself, he would give his last piece to the ravenous fellow prisoner. No wonder his selfless love made such an impression on others that many of his fellow prisoners came to accept the Christ whom Korbel loved and served.

Finally, the mind of Christ had an awareness of evil. Jesus saw the world as a battleground between the forces of good and evil. The more holy the life, the more alert is the mind to the approach of sin and wrong.

Besides the Lord’s testing in the wilderness, Christ faced temptation throughout the whole of His life, right up to those agonizing moments when He hung on the cross, and the mocking Jews tempted Him to come down and prove Himself the Son of God.

As the power of the Holy Spirit enabled Him to resist every clever enticement of the devil, so the Holy Spirit will give us a conscience quick to feel the approach of evil, sensitive to the danger of rationalization, sensitive to the easy acceptance of the world’s standards and to those sins which so easily beset us and trip us up, sensitive to wrong relationships, self-indulgence, pettiness, greed and pride.

Let us ask ourselves, am I as sensitive to evil as I should be? Do I have the mind of Christ to resist every approach of wrong? Let this sensitive mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

We ask, how can I live like that? How can I have the mind of Christ—obedient to God, concerned for others, sensitive to sin? The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:2: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” It is the Holy Spirit’s work to shape our thoughts to the thoughts of Christ, to align our will to His will, to shed abroad His love in our hearts. The Holy Spirit transforms our attitudes to those of Christ.

Eva Burrows, The Salvationist Pulpit