VIDEO Bearing a Blessing

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Isaiah 52:7

When King David’s armies were victorious, a messenger was sent to bring the good news of victory to the king (2 Samuel 18:26). This was common practice in the ancient Near East—a messenger bringing good news. The prophet Isaiah foresaw just a messenger coming to announce the return of God’s people from exile in Babylon (Isaiah 52:7). And the apostle Paul picked up this image when he described the spiritual armor of the believer: feet ready to bring and proclaim the Good News of the Gospel of Christ.

Which do we consider more “beautiful”—the messenger who brings good news or the one who brings bad news? Even when bad news is truth, we would much rather see arriving a messenger who we believe is bearing good news and glad tidings. So it is with the one who brings the “gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15). What a blessing he or she is! What a blessing such news is!

Every Christian can be a bearer of Good News in a world that so desperately needs it.

The longing of my heart is to make known my glorious Redeemer to those who have never heard. William Burns


Isaiah 52 – 53 • The Suffering Servant

Healing for the Whole World

God . . . reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:18

Tucked into a remote gorge in western Slovenia, a secret medical facility (Franja Partisan Hospital) housed an extensive staff that tended to thousands of wounded soldiers during World War II—all the while staying hidden from the Nazis. Though avoiding detection from numerous Nazi attempts to locate the facility is in itself a remarkable feat, even more remarkable is that the hospital (founded and run by the Slovenia resistance movement) cared for soldiers from both the Allied and Axis armies. The hospital welcomed everyone.

Scripture calls us to help the whole world to be spiritually healed. This means we need to have compassion for all—regardless of their views. Everyone, no matter their ideology, deserves Christ’s love and kindness. Paul insists that Jesus’ all-embracing love “compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all” (2 Corinthians 5:14). All of us suffer the sickness of sin. All of us are in desperate need of the healing of Jesus’ forgiveness. And He’s moved toward all of us in order to heal us.

Then, in a surprising move, God entrusted us with “the message of reconciliation” (v. 19). God invites us to tend to wounded and broken people (like us). We participate in healing work where the sick are made healthy through union with Him. And this reconciliation, this healing, is for all who will receive it.

By:  Winn Collier

Reflect & Pray

Who are the people you think God won’t (or shouldn’t) heal? Where might He call you to be a reconciler and a healer?

God, I need healing. And so it shouldn’t surprise me that everyone else needs healing too. Help me be part of Your healing of others.

Unstoppable Love

God’s love for us never ends, but we must open our hearts to receive it.

Romans 8:31-39

God is love. It is His very nature to care for His creation unconditionally. This means that no matter what we do, the Lord will not stop loving us. After reading that sentence, many people are going to think of a dozen reasons why they are an exception. So let me make this clear: God loves each of us, and the only thing preventing us from experiencing that love is our own hesitation to accept it. 

The truth is, none of us deserve the Lord’s love, and yet He freely gives it anyway. Some people intellectually believe every word of the Bible but still feel unloved because they judge themselves unworthy. Their doubt acts like a dam, keeping the flow of God’s care from their heart—and the barrier will hold as long as the person believes divine love must be earned.  

Romans 8:32 tells the good news that “God is for us,” and the cross is a stunning example: Jesus died so we could be purified and enter into a relationship with the Father. The Savior’s atoning sacrifice is itself proof of God’s love, but there are many other expressions of it, including a unique purpose and plan for each of His children. And through His sovereign control, He works every situation—whether good or bad in itself—to our benefit. Won’t you ask the Lord to reveal and help you clear away anything that might be blocking the flow of His relentless love?

Call to Remembrance

“But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” (Hebrews 10:32)

Our American younger generation, like the Hebrew Christians back in the first generation after Christ, seems in grave danger of forgetting the great sacrifices of those earlier generations in this country who made our nation the land of the free. What seems almost a deliberate “dumbing down” of our great Christian heritage has been taking place in our public schools and universities ever since World War II ended.

Memorial Day should not be merely an occasion to give people a three-day time of leisure and pleasure, but rather a call to remembrance of those who suffered and died to ensure our political and religious freedoms—especially that freedom to believe and proclaim the saving gospel of Christ, which so motivated our forefathers.

And it is even more important, every day, to call to remembrance the unfathomable sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ who died, not just to give us temporal freedom, but eternal freedom, providing everlasting life to all those who believe. We have a formal time for remembering this—whenever we observe the special supper He established, remembering His broken body and shed blood. “This do in remembrance of me,” He said (1 Corinthians 11:24-25), and Christians have been remembering Him in this way ever since He met with His disciples the night before He died for our sins.

But we need also to remember Him every day, not just on the days scheduled for communion, just as we ought to remember and thank God for those who died for our country, and to do so far more often than just once each year. As Paul said concerning the dedicated, but suffering, Christians in Philippi, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you” (Philippians 1:3). HMM

One Enemy, One Goal

Let us lay aside every weight, and…let us run with patience the race that is set before us. —Hebrews 12:1

All of us Christians have a common enemy, that old devil, Satan. As we stand together, pray together, worship together, we repudiate him and his deceptions. He is our common foe, and he uses a variety of manipulations to hinder us in our spiritual lives.

When by faith we have entered this lifelong spiritual course, the Holy Spirit whispers, “Do you truly want to be among the victors in this discipline?” When we breathe our “Yes! Yes!” He whispers of ways that will aid us and carry us to certain victory.

The Spirit tells us to throw off everything that would hinder us in the race. He tells us to be aware of the little sins and errors that could divert us from the will of God as we run. But here is the important thing: He tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus, because He alone is our pacesetter and victorious example. JAF076-077

The secret of victory is to recognize the Conqueror within and the adversary as a conquered foe….Satan has power only when he can make us dread him. He flees before the victorious faith and holy confidence. HS546-547

The Danger of Denial

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.—John 8:32

It may be difficult for you to admit that perhaps your heart and your head are not spiritually coordinated. Many Christians are content to live above the waterline and insist that it is quite unnecessary to wrestle and struggle with the things that go on deep inside us. Their motto is: just trust, persevere, and obey. This is fine as far as it goes, but in my opinion it does not go far enough.

The effect of this teaching is to blunt the painful reality of what the Bible says about the condition of the human heart: “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable—who can understand it? I, Yahweh, examine the mind” (Jr 17:9-10). It is possible for even mature Christians to be self-deceived, to not really know their own hearts. This is why we must live in constant dependence on God, inviting Him from time to time, as did the psalmist, to “search me, God, and know my heart” (Ps 139:23).

There is a word to describe the attitude of those who ignore what may be going on deep inside them and concentrate only on what they can see above the waterline, and that word is denial. In many Christian circles, maintaining a comfortable distance from what may be going on deep down inside is strongly encouraged. But nothing can be gained from denial. In fact, I would say it is one of the major reasons why our feet are not like “hinds’ feet” and why we slip and slide on the slopes that lead upward to a deeper understanding and knowledge of God.

Prayer

God, I realize I am dealing with something too devastating to pass over quickly or lightly. Help me be aware of the tendency that is in me to deny that I deny. Stay close to me at this moment, dear Father, for without You I can do nothing. Amen.

Further Study

Gl 6; Rm 6:16-23

What was Paul’s word to the Galatians?

How are we to walk?

Faith That Doesn’t Ask

“An evil and adulterous generation wants a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” Then He left them and went away.—Matthew 16:4

Asking God for a miracle may indicate a lack of faith. Some feel that they demonstrate great faith by continually asking God for miracles. They assume that in every situation God wants to do the spectacular. They presume, for example, that God wants to heal anyone who is sick or provide a miraculous escape from every difficulty they face. Jesus condemned those who insisted that He perform miracles, because He knew their hearts. He recognized that they could not believe Him without constantly undergirding their faith with signs. Their faith was not strong enough to survive without a regular supply of the miraculous. Jesus condemned this lack of faith and left them.

There are times when we prefer the miracle over the miracle worker. God calls this idolatry, and He discouraged it by refusing to provide miracles on demand (Jer. 2:11–13). Sometimes the greatest act of faith is not to ask for a miracle. One of the most amazing statements of faith in the Old Testament came from Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they faced the fiery furnace because of their obedience to God. They expressed true faith when they assured king Nebuchadnezzar: “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up” (Dan. 3:17–18). They were confident in God’s ability to deliver them, but they trusted Him so completely that they did not ask to be spared.

Does your faith need miracles to sustain it? Or do you trust God so totally that you can say, “But if not, I will still trust the Lord!”?