VIDEO Who to Call?

Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. Revelation 19:6-7

Whom would you call for financial advice? What if one of your children was struggling during adolescence? How about a crisis more critical in a practical way, like a car or household appliance repair? We all need help at different times in life and are blessed if we have someone we can turn to.

How about this situation: You’re in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee when a major storm suddenly threatens to sink the ship. The disciples of Jesus, in that exact situation, thought of Jesus. They found Him asleep in the back of the boat. But He rose to the occasion and stilled the storm (Matthew 8:23-27). If there was one person you could turn to, regardless of the situation, it would probably be Jesus. Is there any situation in which He could not help? At the end of the age, when life on earth is at its darkest, Jesus will return and restore peace (Revelation 19).

In your darkest moments, think first of Jesus and turn to Him in prayer.

We must take God’s word even in the dark. Robert Murray M’Cheyne


The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Engraved Grief

Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll, . . . inscribed with an iron tool on lead, or engraved in rock forever! Job 19:23–24

After receiving the devastating diagnosis of a rare and incurable brain cancer, Caroline found renewed hope and purpose through providing a unique service: volunteering photography services for critically ill children and their families. Through this service, families could capture the precious moments shared with their children, both in grief and “the moments of grace and beauty we assume don’t exist in those desperate places.” She observed that “in the hardest moments imaginable, those families . . . choose to love, despite and because of it all.”

There’s something unspeakably powerful about capturing the truth of grief—both the devastating reality of it and the ways in which we experience beauty and hope in the midst of it.

Much of the book of Job is like a photograph of grief—capturing honestly Job’s journey through devastating loss (1:18–19). After sitting with Job for several days, his friends wearied of his grief, resorting to minimizing it or explaining it away as God’s judgment. But Job would have none of it, insisting that what he was going through mattered, and wishing that the testimony of his experience would be “engraved in rock forever!” (19:24).

Through the book of Job, it was “engraved”—in a way that points us in our grief to the living God (vv. 26–27), who meets us in our pain, carrying us through death into resurrection life.

By:  Monica La Rose

Reflect & Pray

How can facing pain honestly bring healing? When have you experienced unexpected grace and beauty within great grief?

Compassionate God, help me to witness honestly to those who are experiencing pain and offer the hope You provide.

Read Out of the Ashes: God’s Presence in Job’s Pain.

The Power in Prayer

The true beauty of prayer is not a particular outcome but intimacy with the Father

Have you become disillusioned with prayer? Perhaps you’ve been persistently asking, seeking, and knocking, but God hasn’t answered your request. If that’s the situation, you may be wondering why so many Christians speak about the power of prayer when it seems ineffectual in your life. 

Verses 9-11 of today’s passage help us understand the bigger picture. Jesus draws a comparison between earthly fathers and the heavenly Father. He notes that a human father, who is flawed and limited, can give good things to his children. So it stands to reason that the heavenly Father, who is all-powerful and all-knowing, will give what’s beneficial to His children. 

Sometimes, however, we are like spiritual toddlers. In our limited understanding, we don’t realize that our requests aren’t always what God deems best for us. Prayer is powerful when our petitions are according to His will but not when they’re self-willed (1 John 5:14-15).

What’s amazing is that God uses the prayers of His people to accomplish His plans. He’s completely sufficient without us, but prayer teaches us humility, dependence, submission, and trust. Intimacy with God is built when we come to Him with our praises, thanks, confessions, and petitions. The profit of prayer is not that can we receive something but that we’re able to relate to the One who supplies all our needs.

A Test for False Prophets

“Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4)

Our text for today seems somewhat out of place, for it is tucked into a passage dealing with false prophets, instructing the people of Israel in ways to detect one who would lead them into false worship. The penalty was death, “because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt” (v. 10). The purpose was both purification and example, for “all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you” (v. 11).

The chief test of a prophet was not his ability to perform signs and wonders (v. 1). Elsewhere the test of total, lifelong accuracy was applied. “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously….that prophet shall die” (Deuteronomy 18:22, 20). A more immediate test lay in the absolute harmony of the prophet’s message and deeds with the revealed Word of God, and the wholehearted commitment to the Lord Himself. This test takes the form of the holy standard set forth in our text.

Note that an inward attitude will be expressed, as given in the six action verbs. If we are to please God, we must “walk after” or “pursue” Him, and “fear” or “reverence” Him in all things. Furthermore, we must “keep” His commandments, striving to “obey” Him on every issue He addresses. He expects such a one to “serve” Him: to do His bidding. Finally, we must “cleave” or “cling” to Him, holding fast to Him in an ever-deepening relationship. To do less is to fail the test used to discern false prophets, incurring at the least His displeasure, at the most His wrath. JDM

The Hour to Be Serious

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end. —1 Peter 1:13

The spirit of the prophet is always subject to the prophet. When the Spirit of God moves into a man’s heart, He will never make a fool out of him. He will make the man happy but He will never make him silly.

He may make him sad with the woe and the weight of the world’s grief but He will never let him become a gloomy cynic. The Holy Spirit will make him warm-hearted and responsive but He will never cause him to do things of which he will be ashamed later.

Peter was not promoting or predicting a cold and lifeless and formal spirituality in the Christian Church when he advised believers to gird up the loins of their minds and be sober. He was saying to the early Christians as he hopes to say to us now: “Brethren, if ever there was an hour when we needed to be serious about our Christian faith, this is the hour!” ICH135

There is nothing so delightful as this consciousness of the very life and heart of Christ within us, the trust that springs spontaneously within our breast, the prayer that prays itself, and the song that sings its joyous triumph even when all around is dark and strange. CTBC, Vol. 6/164

The Divine Example

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing.”—Luke 23:34

We can only ask God to forgive us our sins when we are willing to forgive those who have sinned against us.

Does this mean that before we can be converted to Christ and have our sins forgiven, we have to search our hearts in order to make sure that we hold no bitterness or resentment against anyone? No. There is nothing in the Scripture that states that a non-Christian receives forgiveness from God on the basis of claiming to forgive everyone else. Jesus is referring here, so I believe, to those who are already His followers. They have been forgiven for their sins, but they now need a principle by which they can deal with guilt that arises, subsequent to conversion, through the violation of some biblical standard. Paul says in Ephesians 1:7: “We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” Grace—that’s the basis of our forgiveness when we first come to Christ. But although we have received that forgiveness, we can never enjoy freedom from defilement in our Christian walk unless we are ready to extend the forgiveness God has given us to those who have hurt us.

This is an extremely important issue, for if we fail to forgive those who have offended us, we break the bridge over which God’s forgiveness flows into us.

Prayer

Blessed Lord Jesus, You who hung upon a cross, tortured in every nerve, yet prayed, “Father, forgive them,” help me this day to forgive all those who have wronged me in a lesser way. For Your own dear name’s sake. Amen.

Further Study

Lk 17:1-10; Mk 11:25; Col 3:13; Eph 4:32

What did Jesus teach on forgiveness?

What was the disciples’ response?

Success without God

“If Your presence does not go,” Moses responded to Him, “don’t make us go up from here.”—Exodus 33:15

It is possible to experience success and yet be void of God’s presence. If success is what is important to you, you may be tempted to choose accomplishments over your relationship with God. God offered to send an angel with the Israelites as they entered the Promised Land to ensure their success in every venture. No army could withstand them. No city wall could stop them. The wealth of the land lay before them. Everything they had ever dreamed of appeared to be theirs for the taking. The only thing missing would be the presence of God. God said they were an obstinate people, and He would not go with them when their hearts were far from Him.

The Israelites’ experience reveals that victory and great accomplishments are not necessarily a sign of God’s presence. Do not assume that your good health, your profitable business, or the growth of your ministry is due to the presence of God. It may be that you have inadvertently chosen success over your walk with the Lord.

Moses wisely concluded that success, no matter how great, is not a substitute for fellowship with God. Moses knew how quickly worldly achievements could disappear. His security came from his relationship with God. Success in the world’s eyes is not a sign of God’s blessing. It may, in fact, indicate that you have chosen a substitute for intimate fellowship with God. Would you be satisfied to have success, power, and wealth, but not a relationship with God? Do you value God’s presence in your life more than the greatest achievements you could experience in the world?