VIDEO The Difference James and Jude

For even His brothers did not believe in Him. John 7:5

When Jesus encountered people, His presence often made an instantaneous difference. On other occasions, it took time. Take our Lord’s family. Despite living with Him in Nazareth, His brothers didn’t believe He was the Messiah. Yet after His resurrection, how the Lord used them! 

Paul talked about the ministry of “the brothers of the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 9:5. His brother James became the leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17), and later wrote the epistle of James, which sounds very much like the teachings of the Lord Jesus. His brother Jude wrote a book exhorting us to contend for the faith.

If you’re discouraged about close friends or family members, remember the Bible tells us to “always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1, NIV). The Lord can make a difference in the lives of those we love, though it sometimes takes longer than we’d like. If His influence could transform His unbelieving brothers into soldiers of the cross, He can do the same for those we love.

Oh, for the eyes of our heart to be opened to see God working in ourselves and in others, and to see how blessed it is to worship and just to wait on His salvation! Andrew Murray


Keeping the Divine Timetable (John 7:1-13)

The Gift of Repentance

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate. Joel 2:13

“No! I didn’t do it!” Jane heard her teenage son’s denial with a sinking heart, for she knew he wasn’t telling the truth. She breathed a prayer asking God for help before asking Simon again what happened. He continued to deny he was lying, until finally she threw her hands up in exasperation. Saying she needed a time out, she began to walk away when she felt a hand on her shoulder and heard his apology. He responded to the convicting of the Holy Spirit, and repented.

In the Old Testament book of Joel, God called His people to true repentance for their sins as He welcomed them to return to Him wholeheartedly (2:12). God didn’t seek outward acts of remorse, but rather that they would soften their hard attitudes: “Rend your heart and not your garments.” Joel reminded the Israelites that God is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (v. 13).

We might find confessing our wrongdoing difficult, for in our pride we don’t want to admit our sins. Perhaps we’ve fudged the truth, and we justify our actions by saying it was only “a little white lie.” But when we heed God’s gentle yet firm prompting to repent, He’ll forgive us and cleanse us from all our sins (1 John 1:9). We can be free of guilt and shame, knowing we’re forgiven.

By:  Amy Boucher Pye

Reflect & Pray

How did you feel when you told a “little white lie?” How did the realization of what you did bring conviction and ultimately repentance?

Jesus, You died on the cross so I’d be able to live in harmony with You and the Father. May I accept Your gift of love as I speak truthfully

Be Content

Contentment doesn’t depend on what we have or what we lack; it is found in Jesus alone

Hebrews 13:5-6

Contentment is a quality seen in very few people today. Our society is always offering new items, gadgets, upgrades, and conveniences that promise pleasure, comfort, and satisfaction. But no material goods ever live up to that promise long-term. Yet many people keep falling for lies instead of being content with what they have. 

The book of Hebrews was written to people who were experiencing discouragement and persecution for their faith in Christ. Those believers faced many hardships, including public reproach, imprisonment, and property seizure (Hebrews 10:32-34). Yet in Hebrews 10:35-36, the writer urges them to endure because they have a better and eternal possession awaiting them in heaven. They may not have had tangible wealth or comforts, but in the Lord, they had all they needed—and He promised never to leave or forsake them, no matter what men did to them on earth. 

Most of us today have much more material wealth and security than those early believers did, but contentment is largely still elusive. That’s because the problem has to do with the heart. We love money and all that it provides. So while the Lord “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17), true enjoyment is possible only when our heart is set on Him rather than on worldly things. He alone is our hope.

Watching for Christ’s Return

“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come….Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24:42, 44)

Those who try to predict Christ’s return may become skeptical about biblical prophecy. But this would be a sad mistake. Regardless of just when it will happen, Christ will return, for so He promised, and He cannot either lie or fail. He has repeatedly made it plain that no one can determine the date of His coming. Not even He, while in His human limitations, knew that (Mark 13:32).

Again and again He urged us to watch and be ready for His return. He did not tell us to watch for the Antichrist or the revival of Rome’s empire or a great apostasy or a great revival or a world government or anything else—just for Him! Note some of His commands to do this (in addition to the two in our text).

“Take ye heed, watch and pray, for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33).

“Watch ye therefore:…Lest coming suddenly, he find you sleeping” (Mark 13:35-36).

“Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).

In addition to such exhortations by the Lord Himself, the apostles also sounded similar warnings.

“Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:28).

“Abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28).

Space limitations preclude listing others, but again in the words of Christ: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:37). HMM

Emotions under Control

And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. —Ephesians 5:18

Peter and Paul…join in urging us to practice and display the loftiest fruits of the Spirit of God with the Spirit Himself in control of our emotions and our affections, our worship and our praise. Yes, brothers, the Spirit will make the believing child of God generous but He will never make him foolish! He will make him happy but He will never make him silly! The Spirit will warm the inner life of the Christian’s being but he will never lead him to do the things that would cause him to hang his head in shame afterward.

I say, “Thank God” for the kind of enduring joy which comes to the believer whose emotional life is in the keeping of the Spirit. I stand with the dear child of God whose reason is sanctified and who refuses to be swept from his mooring in the Word of God either by the latest popular vogue in religious fad or the ascendence of the most recent sensational personality in gospel circles. ICH148-149

Even the Holy Spirit does not take away our mental poise or expect us to surrender our common sense and will or yield ourselves to any hypnotic influence. WCC102

The Great Triune God

The Word became flesh and took up residence among us.—John 1:14

Dr. W. E. Sangster tells the story of following three children out of church. One remarked to the others: “I can’t understand all this ‘Three in One and One in Three’ business.”

“I can’t either,” said another child, “but I think of it like this: my mother is Mummy to me, she is Mabel to Daddy, and Mrs. Douglas to lots of other people.”

Is that the answer? Is it just a question of names? Are we right in finding the doctrine of the Trinity in the text of Matthew 28:19, where the word “name” is singular, but three names are given—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?

No, that is just part of it; there is much more to it than that. God, we know, is one God. But there stepped into the world someone who claimed also to be God. His name was Jesus. He forgave sins, claimed to have existence before Abraham, and accepted worship as His right. Worship, remember, is for God alone. After Jesus was resurrected and returned to heaven, He sent back the Holy Spirit, who was also seen as God (2Co 13:13). He—the Holy Spirit—came into the disciples and brought with Him the resources of the Godhead, breaking the sin in their nature, pleading in prayer, and exalting the Savior.

Thus we see God is One but also Three in One: God above us, God among us, God within us. The Father in majesty, the Son in suffering, the Spirit in striving. This is the central mystery of our most holy faith. Together, and with all our hearts, let us adore the great triune God.

Prayer

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, though I cannot comprehend Your essential oneness and unity, I can worship You nevertheless. This I do now, in humble adoration. Glory, honor, and power be unto Your name forever and ever. Amen.

Further Study

Jn 1:1-14; 8:58; 10:30; 17:5

How did John describe Jesus?

What did Jesus declare of Himself?

Servants of Christ

“In the same way, when you have done all that you were commanded, you should say, ‘We are good-for-nothing slaves; we’ve only done our duty.’ ”—Luke 17:10

The servant carries out the master’s will. The servant doesn’t tell the master what to do. The servant does not choose which tasks to perform for the master, nor does the servant suggest days or times when it would be convenient to serve the master. The servant’s function is to follow instructions. The master, on the other hand, gives directions. The master does not tell the servant to develop a vision that will guide the master. The master is the one with the vision; the servant’s task is to help fulfill the master’s purposes.

We are the servants; God is the Master. We tend to try to reverse this! God’s revelation of Himself, His purposes, and His ways depends directly upon our obedience. He may not reveal today His intentions for the next five years, but He will tell us what our next step should be. As we respond to God’s revelation, He will accomplish what He desires, and He will be the One who receives the glory.

Our fulfillment comes from serving our master.

The world will encourage you to strive for positions of authority and power. God wants you to take the role of a servant. As God’s servant you should have no other agenda than to be obedient to whatever He tells you. God does not need you to dream great dreams for your life, your family, your business, or your church. He simply asks for obedience. He has plans that would dwarf yours in comparison (Eph. 3:20).