VIDEO Here or There

We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:8

When a traveler took his assigned seat on an airplane, he realized he was seated next to a well-known celebrity. “I never expected to find you here,” the traveler said. “Well,” the celebrity replied, “everybody has to be somewhere!”

Christians can only be in two places. Either we are present in our body on earth or present with the Lord in heaven. The apostle Paul even wrestled with the fact that being with Christ would be better, but that God had called him to be on earth (Philippians 1:23). While it is an exciting prospect to consider being with Christ when we leave this earth, there is more! We will also be reunited with those loved ones who died in Christ and preceded us to heaven. “And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

If you have lost friends or loved ones who died as believers in Christ, your days of separation will come to a close. In God’s good time, you will be translated from earth to heaven where you will be with them and the Lord forever.

He whose head is in heaven need not fear to put his feet into the grave. Matthew Henry

47 2 Corinthians 5 – Pastor Chuck Smith – C2000 Series

God’s Embassy

When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Luke 14:13–14

Ludmilla, a widow aged eighty-two, has declared her home in the Czech Republic an “Embassy of the Kingdom of Heaven,” saying, “My home is an extension of Christ’s kingdom.” She welcomes strangers and friends who are hurting and in need with loving hospitality, sometimes providing food and a place to sleep—always with a compassionate and prayerful spirit. Relying on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to help her care for her visitors, she delights in the ways God answers their prayers.

Ludmilla serves Jesus through opening her home and heart, in contrast to the prominent religious leader at whose home Jesus ate one Sabbath. Jesus told this teacher of the law that he should welcome “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” to his home—and not those who could repay him (Luke 14:13). While Jesus’ remarks imply that the Pharisee hosted Jesus out of pride (v. 12), Ludmilla, so many years later, invites people to her home so she can be “an instrument of God’s love and His wisdom.”

Serving others with humility is one way we can be “representatives of the kingdom of heaven,” as Ludmilla says. Whether or not we can provide a bed for strangers, we can put the needs of others before our own in different and creative ways. How will we extend God’s kingdom in our part of the world today?

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How do you think the Pharisee reacted when Jesus told him to act differently? How do you like to make people feel welcome?

Jesus, thank You for looking out for those in need. Help me to be more like You, that I would care for others, showing them Your love.

Blessed to Bless Others

God meets our needs so that we can pass His blessings on to others

2 Corinthians 9:6-15

God’s blessings to us are not meant to end with us. His desire is that they flow to others. This principle applies in all areas of life, including finances. Did you know that our heavenly Father has plans for your money? 

The Lord graciously provides for our needs and even our wants. But He also wants us to use our money to achieve His plans. And one of His goals is that we share our resources with others. 

Just look at His extravagant promise in verse 8 of today’s passage: “And God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that, always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.” Sharing blessings with others will never lead to deprivation. In fact, the Lord promises to increase the harvest of our righteousness and enrich us in everything in response to our generosity. We can never outgive God. 

A hoarded blessing won’t ever be enjoyed as richly as a shared one. Using your gift to meet someone else’s need glorifies God by demonstrating His grace at work in your life. Don’t let His generous provisions end with you. Pass them on and discover the joy of a never-ending cycle of blessings. 

God of Peace

“Now the God of peace be with you all. Amen.” (Romans 15:33)

This short verse gives yet another New Testament name for God—the God of peace. The conclusion of this verse with amen tells us that what Paul said isn’t just a wish but a brief prayer. Paul uses this title again in another short prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And in Hebrews 13:20-21: “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”

This God title is also mentioned in Philippians 4:8-9 regarding the battleground of the mind: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

And let us remember that the Lord Jesus, the Prince of Peace, told us, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). JPT

Aria on Anxiety, Experiencing Discipline

Now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from all my transgressions; do not make me the taunt of fools. I am speechless; I do not open my mouth because of what You have done. Remove Your torment from me; I fade away because of the force of Your hand. You discipline a man with punishment for sin, consuming like a moth what is precious to him; every man is a mere vapor” (Psalm 39 vv. 7—11).

After experiencing the shattering cruelty of friends (Ps. 38), David felt the crushing severity of the Lord.

Overcome by God’s heavy-handed treatment, David prayed to be released from the pressure. Despondent, he cried out to God, pouring out his soul about how brief and fragile life is.

Though nearly overwhelmed by his own mortality, David knew that salvation came from the Lord. He affirmed that faith by crying out, “My hope is in you!”

The year 1984 was one of profound loss for me. Norman Johnson, our senior editor at Singspiration Music, went to be with the Lord. Then shortly after his death, my mom died. A few months later, my pastor, Reverend George Gardiner, passed away. These losses caused me to realize how fleeting life is and how near eternity is. Just the time span of the twinkling of an eye separates us from God. “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last!”

God isn’t a sadomasochist, but he has built suffering and adversity into the mysterious nature of reality. God used pain and hardship to give David perspective—on his transient life on earth and on his hope for eternity. In other words, dissonance is an essential element of harmony. For it is the tension between consonance and dissonance that creates music.

Personal Prayer

Lord, no matter how dark and grave my circumstances become, help me to affirm my faith and trust in you. And I trust you to make music even out of the disharmony of my life.

Leave Vengeance to God

The Spirit of the Lord is on Me … to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.—Luke 4:18-19

Now and again I stress heavily this matter of grudges because I have found that this is the truth which always brings a positive response.

Following some remarks I made concerning an unforgiving spirit, a woman wrote: “I had often read in Every Day with Jesus your words about forgiveness, and I knew that one day I would have to face up to this challenge. Today’s reading demolished all my defenses.

“Intellectually I had always accepted what you said about the need to forgive and that I could not be whole until I had completely forgiven those who had hurt me, but I wouldn’t get down to actually putting it into words. I kept holding back my feelings, saying subconsciously: ‘I will forgive some day, and then my troubles will be over—but not yet.’

“Your words today came like a bolt from the blue: ‘There is usually a reason why we don’t want to give up our grudges and resentments. One reason is that we use them to feel sorry for ourselves.’ I certainly had done my share of that, but suddenly I let go. It was like a boil bursting. All the pent-up poisons gushed out of me, and I was a new person. I’m in the midst of a campaign now to overcome the misunderstandings of years.” What happened to this woman can happen now, today, to you. No matter how wronged you have been—forgive.

When Jesus announced His mission in Nazareth, He read from Isaiah’s prophecy until He came to the words, “the day of our God’s vengeance.” Then He closed the book. You do the same. Leave vengeance to God. Use only redemptive goodwill.


Father, help me to realize that nothing anyone has ever done against me compares to what I have done against You. You have forgiven me—help me to forgive others. And not grudgingly, but graciously. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Further Study

Mk 11:18-25; Lk 11:4; 17:4; Mt 18:21-22

What are we to do when we pray?

How many times should we forgive?

Wagging Heads

Matthew 27:39

Recording the crucifixion, Matthew’s Gospel says, “They that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads” (Matthew 27:39 KJV). Pondering this scene of the thorn-crowned head of Christ and the shaking heads of the scornful spectators, one remembers Job’s words about the reversal of jeering judgments: “I also could speak like you, if you were in my place; I could make fine speeches against you and shake my head at you” (Job 16:4).

He hung on a cross by the wayside. He was lifted up within sight and sound of the motley crowd. Men trample and push as they look, point, jeer and talk within the shadow of the cross. Maybe some few would weep, or recall His kindness, as the crowd went home to sup and to sleep.

As the most impressive part of the human body, the head plays a leading role in expressing man’s reactions to life. Doubt, questioning, agreement, denial, refusal, rejection and, indeed, almost the whole range of feeling and opinion may be conveyed without a spoken word by the head alone. These gestures at Calvary were the language of contempt.

And so the crowd passed by. They wagged their heads contemptuously at the Man whose ideals of love were so unworkable that they brought Him to a cross.

The cross says to man, “This is the way God loves and forgives.” The wagging heads say, “Love us if you like, but do not ask us to kneel and be forgiven.” It was the language of dismissal. God must keep His distance and not interfere in human affairs.

With the same mind and the same verdict of scorn, the world today parades past the cross. Without complete repudiation, is our impersonal view of the Savior declaring that though at times we think Him interesting, we do not really regard Him as relevant or important to the main business of living? Do we give Him a nominal acknowledgment without the least intention to own up that our sin had anything to do with Calvary?

One of the persistent follies and sins of mankind is the refusal to take Jesus Christ seriously—to wag the head and say, “A most interesting figure in history, but what a pity He was so idealistic, so set upon dying!”

The head laid in the manger, bending over the carpenter’s bench, anointed with spikenard, hurt by a traitor’s kiss, beaten with hand and rod, defiled with the persecutor’s spittle, crowned with thorns, bowed in death, will be raised in power and crowned with glory.

Albert Orsborn, The War Cry

VIDEO Owner’s Manual

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16

Owner’s manuals have gone through phases. In the days when tools and appliances had a little more than an ON/OFF switch, the owner’s manual consisted of verbal instructions from a salesperson. Then, in the digital age, when computers and software became exponentially more complicated, thick instruction manuals were delivered with products. Then, the Internet came along, and printed manuals gave way to online digital manuals and downloadable files. However instructions are delivered, they are still needed.

The same is true for the Christian life—instructions and guidance are needed once the “OFF” switch is moved to “ON.” And the Bible is our manual. It contains what believers need to know to follow Christ, glorify God, and live fruitful lives. Second Timothy 3:16 summarizes how the Scripture helps us: (1) doctrine: what is true and what isn’t; (2) reproof: telling us in no uncertain terms when we have missed the mark; (3) correction: guidance and direction; and (4) instruction in righteousness: how to live in a way that glorifies God.

Owner’s manuals must be read to be profitable. Make sure you are fine-tuning your life by consulting God’s Manual daily.

Never mind the scribes—what saith the Scripture? Martin Luther

“Rooted” 2 – Rooted In The Bible – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

God Cleans the Stains

Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

What if our clothes were more functional, having the ability to clean themselves after we dropped ketchup or mustard or spilled a drink on them? Well, according to the BBC, engineers in China have developed a special “coating which causes cotton to clean itself of stains and odors when exposed to ultraviolet lights.” Can you imagine the implications of having self-cleaning clothes?

A self-cleaning coating might work for stained clothes, but only God can clean a stained soul. In ancient Judah, God was angry with His people because they had “turned their backs on” Him, given themselves to corruption and evil, and were worshiping false gods (Isaiah 1:2–4). But to make matters worse, they tried to clean themselves by offering sacrifices, burning incense, saying many prayers, and gathering together in solemn assemblies. Yet their hypocritical and sinful hearts remained (vv. 12–13). The remedy was for them to come to their senses and with a repentant heart bring the stains on their souls to a holy and loving God. His grace would cleanse them and make them spiritually “white as snow” (v. 18).

When we sin, there’s no self-cleaning solution. With a humble and repentant heart, we must acknowledge our sins and place them under the cleansing light of God’s holiness. We must turn from them and return to Him. And He, the only One who cleans the stains of the soul, will offer us complete forgiveness and renewed fellowship.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

When the Holy Spirit reveals your sins to you, what’s your response? How does John describe the process of bringing your sin to God and repenting of it (see 1 John 1:9)?  

Father, forgive me for ignoring or trying to get rid of my own sin. I know only You can clean the stains of my soul. I acknowledge and repent of my self-sufficiency and turn to You.

Expressions of Praise

Singing at church isn’t the only way God is glorified—our whole life can bring Him honor

Psalm 34:1-3

Glorifying God isn’t limited to church. In fact, praise ought to permeate every area of our life. But how is that done?

One obvious way that we praise the Lord is with our voices. True worship flows from the mouths of believers who are focused on God’s attributes. They desire to honor Him because of who He is, what He’s done, and what He has promised for the future. Genuine worship allows the Lord to fill our hearts and minds with His presence anywhere. 

Our God is also praised when we serve Him. We were created for the purpose of bringing honor and glory to His name. Therefore, nothing should limit our willingness to work for the King, particularly when we have a chance to share Him with others. Christ is honored when His followers speak boldly about His grace and His work—believers’ testimonies are a remarkable and honoring form of praise that magnifies God’s name. 

Jesus Christ is worth more than any treasure this world offers. Loving Him and understanding what He has done for us should be all the motivation we need to praise Him with our life—no matter where we are