And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
Superstar DJ Avicii rose to fame as a teenager but never found happiness. He told Rolling Stone he stopped touring because, “I needed to figure out my life. The whole thing was about success for the sake of success. I wasn’t getting any happiness anymore.” He eventually took his own life at age 28.
Mental illness and depression are dominating youth culture, and the only lasting answer is the Gospel of Christ. It’s hard to reach a superstar with the Gospel, but it’s not so hard to reach a child who may one day rise to prominence. It’s not hard to invite a middle schooler to church or a high schooler to a youth event. It’s not hard to say “God bless you” to a store clerk.
Let’s work for the Master from dawn till the setting sun, doing our part to shine a light into dark hearts and sad souls. Let’s preach the Word with readiness and true faithfulness, helping people figure out their lives by showing them the wonder of the life of our Jesus.
Evangelism is not imposing anything on anyone; it is simply sharing the truth.Mark Dever
I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. Acts 20:24
As I enter the final few minutes of my forty-minute workout, I can almost guarantee that my instructor will yell out, “Finish strong!” Every personal trainer or group fitness leader I’ve known uses the phrase a few minutes before cool down. They know that the end of the workout is just as important as showing up for it. And they know that the human body has a tendency to want to slow down or slack off when it’s been in motion for a while.
The same is true in our journey with Jesus. Paul told the elders of the church at Ephesus that he needed to finish strong as he headed to Jerusalem, where he was certain to face more persecution as an apostle of Christ (Acts 20:17–24). Paul, however, was undeterred. He had a mission and that was to finish the journey he’d begun and to do what God called him to do. He had one job—to tell “the good news of God’s grace” (v. 24). And he wanted to finish strong. Even if hardship awaited him (v. 23), he continued to run toward his finish line—focused and determined to remain steadfast in his journey.
Whether we’re exercising our physical muscles or working out our God-given abilities through actions, words, and deeds, we too can be encouraged by the reminder to finish strong. Don’t “become weary” (Galatians 6:9). Don’t give up. God will provide what you need to finish strong.
God can use any testimony, no matter how mundane, to inspire people
Most of us have heard testimonies of believers who were saved from a lifestyle of horrendous sin. After listening to such accounts, have you ever felt that your less dramatic testimony is somehow not as valuable? In reality, the salvation God has worked for each one of His children is equally extraordinary. No matter how good or bad one’s life appears, every person is born sinful and in dire need of a Savior.
Psalm 26 is a testimony from David about his integrity and trust in the Lord. He walked in God’s truth, avoided the company of evildoers, and proclaimed His delight in the Lord. We would hardly call this psalm unimpressive. Few people can speak so honestly and confidently about their walk with the Lord, and it’s a great encouragement for us to hear from a lifelong believer.
David’s testimony reminds us to express what God has done and is doing in our life. A personal faith story is a powerful tool, both for arousing an unbeliever’s curiosity about spiritual matters and for motivating a believer to pursue holiness. No matter how commonplace our words may sound compared to someone else’s, the Lord can use them to impact listeners. You have no idea how far-reaching your “ordinary” testimony can be.
“But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3)
The Lord Jesus Christ has many wonderful attributes, not the least of which is His faithfulness. That is, He is believable and trustworthy, sure to do all He promises. He will keep us from the evil one and from being overcome by evil in our lives, as promised in our text. Also, “God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted [that is, ‘tested’] above that ye are able” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Why does He care for us so?
In the first place, He is our Creator and has a distinct purpose and will for our lives. Therefore all who are His can safely “commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19). He will keep us to the end; Paul said, “I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Then follows his confident assurance: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
Even when we yield to the temptations along the way, and fall into sin, He promises: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), because He has paid the penalty for all our sins, and He is “a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
With such a faithful Savior and Lord, we surely ought to trust Him fully. In spite of this, we often doubt Him and His Word, but even this does not change His love toward us. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Indeed, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called” (1 Corinthians 1:9), for His very name is “called Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11). HMM
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
—1 Corinthians 3:16
There is another kind of divine working that may occur without our being aware of it, or at least without our recognizing it for what it is. This is that wondrous operation of God known in theology as prevenient grace. It may be simple “conviction,” or a strange longing which nothing can satisfy, or a powerful aspiration after eternal values, or a feeling of disgust for sin and a desire to be delivered from its repulsive coils. These strange workings within are the stirrings of the Holy Spirit but are rarely identified as such by the soul that is undergoing the experience.
But there are two acts of God within the life of the seeking man that are never done without his knowledge. One is the miracle of the new birth and the other is the anointing of the Holy Spirit….
The workings of God in the hearts of redeemed men always overflow into observable conduct. Certain moral changes will take place immediately in the life of the new convert. A moral revolution without will accompany the spiritual revolution that has occurred within. WTA088-089
Try your heart by your practice, and your practice by your heart. DTC211
While they still were amazed and unbelieving because of their joy, He asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”—Luke 24:41
If we are to let nothing stand between us and the making of our feet into “hinds’ feet,” we must understand the nature of disappointment and how it hinders our pursuit of God.
All of us have been disappointed. Living in a fallen world means we have been subjected to experiences where we have been let down by others, even our loved ones at times. But this is not the problem—the problem occurs when we allow the hurts of the past to prevent us from reaching out to God and to others in an attitude of love.
A dramatic illustration of this is found in the passage before us today. It is the evening of the day of the Resurrection, and, without warning, Jesus suddenly enters the room where His disciples are assembled and makes Himself known to them. How did they respond? “They were still unconvinced, still wondering, for it seemed too good to be true” (v. 41, NEB). It was obvious that the disappointment of Christ’s crucifixion and death still reverberated within them. And now, faced with the reality of the Resurrection, they did not want to believe it in case it was not true—and they would be disappointed again.
They wanted to believe, but they had difficulty in doing so because they knew they could not cope with what would happen in their hearts if it turned out to be untrue. Rather than take the risk of faith, they preferred—for a little while at least—to withdraw into the safety of disappointment.
God, forgive me that so often I allow the disappointments of life to deter me from moving toward You—in case something might happen that would disappoint me again. Help me to put everything I am and have in Your hands—with nothing held back. Amen.
Lk 24:13-35; Jb 30:26
How did the disciples express their disappointment?
After He said good-bye to them, He went away to the mountain to pray.—Mark 6:46
What do you do after a spiritual victory? Where do you go after reaching a high point in your Christian life? Jesus went to pray. Jesus had just fed a multitude with only five loaves of bread and two fish (Mark 6:34–44). If there were ever a time to relax and bask in the glow of God’s power it should have been then. Instead, Jesus climbed a mountain to pray. When Jesus prayed, the Father clearly revealed His will and His ways to His Son. It eventually dawned on Jesus’ disciples that Jesus prepared for every major decision and difficult challenge with a time of prayer (Luke 11:1).
As Jesus prayed on the mountain that day, the Father knew His Son was about to face a fierce storm (Mark 6:48). The disciples raced headlong into the tempest unprepared, but Jesus entered the storm after communing with His Father in prayer. The Father had prepared Jesus for what was coming, and Jesus met the crisis with all the power of God.
It is tempting to relax after a spiritual victory, but a crisis could follow at any time. You must stand guard over your high points. It is at these times when you experience God mightily that you should immediately get alone to pray. Then you will not be caught unprepared when trials come. Have you experienced a spiritual victory? Follow your Lord’s example and go immediately to a place of prayer so the Father can prepare you for what is coming.