VIDEO Breaking the Ice

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12

A motorist in North Carolina was charged with careless driving after she accidentally hit an elderly pedestrian because she had not adequately defrosted her windshield.2 When our windshields are covered with ice or snow, it’s tempting to clear a little patch and start out, hoping the defroster will take care of the rest before we get very far. But many states outlaw that shortcut because it limits our visibility.

Trying to read the Bible without the Holy Spirit is like trying to navigate the roads with a windshield coated with frost. We can’t discern the words, grasp the significance, or recognize the meaning of what we’re reading. The warm breath of the Holy Spirit clears our vision, allowing us to see all the mile markers, guardrails, and signposts of Scripture.

Because of the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, we can understand God’s Word. Whenever you open your Bible, trust the Spirit to make the words applicable to your life.

We should pray that the Holy Spirit would give us his illumination and thereby help us to understand rightly when we study Scripture or when we ponder situations in our lives. Wayne Grudem


God’s True and Complete Revelation (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)

Spotting Rainbows of Hope

Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him. Psalm 42:5

During an October vacation, another battle with chronic pain forced me to spend the first few days recovering in our room. My mood became as overcast as the sky. When I finally ventured out to enjoy sightseeing at a nearby lighthouse with my husband, gray clouds blocked much of our view. Still, I snapped a few photos of the shadowy mountains and dull horizon.

Later, disappointed because a downpour tucked us in for the night, I skimmed through our digital pictures. Gasping, I handed my husband the camera. “A rainbow!” Focused on the gloominess earlier, I’d missed out on God refreshing my weary spirit with the unexpected glimpse of hope (Genesis 9:13–16).

Physical or emotional suffering can often drag us down into the depths of despair. Desperate for refreshment, we thirst for reminders of God’s constant presence and infinite power (Psalm 42:1–3). As we recall the countless times God has come through for us and for others in the past, we can trust that our hope is secured in Him no matter how downcast we feel in the moment (vv. 4–6).

When bad attitudes or difficult circumstances dim our vision, God invites us to call on Him, read the Bible, and trust His faithfulness (vv. 7–11). As we seek God, we can rely on Him to help us spot rainbows of hope arched over the darkest days.

By:  Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

When have bad attitudes negatively affected your vision? How can you make sure your hope is centered on God?

Loving God, thank You for refreshing my spirit and turning my plea for mercy into hope-filled praises.

The Importance of Baptism

Through baptism, we can share the light of Jesus’ salvation with the world

Believers are to follow Christ’s example in all things, including baptism. Just before beginning His public ministry, Jesus came to John the Baptist, who was calling the Jewish people to confess their sins and demonstrate repentance through immersion in the Jordan River. Though Jesus was sinless, He chose to identify with sinful mankind by means of baptism.

When we enter the waters of baptism, we’re making a public confession of our faith in Jesus—and of our union with Him. At the same time, we’re also declaring unity with our brothers and sisters in the Lord, since all believers are members of Christ’s body and under His authority. However, it’s important to remember that baptism is not required for salvation. We’re saved by God’s grace through faith in His Son (Ephesians 2:8). For Christians, baptism follows redemption.

Belief in Jesus is not to be hidden away like a light placed under a basket (Matthew 5:14-16). Instead, it should be expressed in words and actions. Baptism is one way we publicly declare that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Lord. It’s part of His Great Commission to us (Matthew 28:19-20) and should be taken seriously. Have you followed your confession of faith with the act of baptism?

Secret Faults vs. Presumptuous Sins

“Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.” (Psalm 19:12-13)

David, the author of this majestic psalm of praise to God for His revelation of Himself and His nature, voices his own frustration at his inability to mold his life totally in accordance with God’s revealed plan. He recognizes and asks for God’s forgiveness for his failure to measure up, and asks for strength to avoid habitual sin patterns and willful rejection of God’s way.

God had already made a careful distinction between these types of sins. “The priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him….But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously…the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him” (Numbers 15:28, 30-31).

Paul also recognized such a difference. Keep in mind that all sin is abhorrent to God and must be repented of, resulting, of course, in His forgiveness. But Paul claimed that even his blasphemous, murderous persecution of the church was done “ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13). His plea of ignorance did not excuse his guilt, but through it he “obtained mercy” (v. 13) and “grace” (v. 14).

This is a “pattern to [us] which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting” (v. 16). Let us not be guilty of willful, presumptuous sin, but on these occasions when we do fall, we can be thankful that our “longsuffering” (v. 16) Savior still affords us such mercy. JDM

What Would Jesus Do?

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another.Colossians 3:16

I have known people who seemed to be terrified by God’s loving desire that we should reflect His own holiness and goodness. As God’s faithful children, we should be attracted to holiness, for holiness is God-likeness—likeness to God!

God encourages every Christian believer to follow after holiness. Holiness is to be our constant ambition—not as holy as God is holy, but holy because God is holy. We know who we are and God knows who He is. He does not ask us to be God, and He does not ask us to produce the holiness that only He Himself knows. Only God is holy absolutely; all other beings can be holy only in relative degrees.

The angels in heaven do not possess God’s holiness. They are created beings and they are contented to reflect the glory of God. That is their holiness.

Holiness is not terrifying. Actually, it is amazing and wonderful that God should promise us the privilege of sharing in His nature. JAF089-090

To know Christ is the way to grow in holiness. Christianity is…the religion of the divine example….Ask yourself…what would [Jesus] do if He were here? Nothing else will so surely lead us into the way of holy living. JAS122

Life to its Fullest

I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.John 10:10

A nest which God seeks to overturn in our lives is spiritual complacency. Many Christians are content to live at a level far below the best. It might be comfortable in the nest, but it is far better to expand one’s wings, launch out into the clear, blue sky, and live life to its fullest potential. God’s desire is to get you out of the nest and up into the air.

I am thinking particularly of those Christians who, although soundly saved and fully committed to Jesus Christ, have never experienced all the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Although every Christian has the Holy Spirit (1Co 12:3), the Holy Spirit does not have every Christian. When you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit came in to regenerate you, give you a new birth, but now you need to experience another encounter with the Spirit that lifts you clean out of the nest and up into the air.

The text before us today claims that Jesus came not merely to give us life but to give it—abundantly. One writer says of this verse: “At conversion, Christ gives us life, but when we experience the fullness of the Spirit, we encounter not merely life but life that is abundant. In conversion, God’s life is imparted to us. In the fullness of the Spirit, God’s life inundates us.” A sign over a shop read: “Life Ltd.” A sign could be put over our individual and collectives lives: “Life Ltd.” And yet Jesus said that the purpose of His coming was to give life more abundantly.

Prayer

O Father, take me from life limited to Life Unlimited. I have lived far too long in the nest. Now I want to get up into the air. Amen.

Further Study

Ac 1-2; Jn 7:38-39; 1Co 3:16; Rm 8:11

What caused the disciples to soar to new heights?

What does the word “quicken” (KJV) mean?

Repentance

After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of God:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe in the good news!”—Mark 1:14–15

Repentance is one of the most positive of all words. John the Baptist centered his preaching on repentance (Matt. 3:2, Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3). Jesus also preached repentance, commanding His disciples to do likewise (Mark 1:14–15; Luke 24:47). The angel predicted that the Messiah would save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). The requirement for this salvation would be repentance.

To repent means to stop going one direction, to turn around completely, and to go the opposite way. Repentance involves a dramatic and decisive change of course. God urges us to repent when the path we are taking leads to destruction. Repentance will save us from disastrous consequences! What a wonderful word! How comforting that the Creator loves us enough to warn us of impending danger!

Our problem is that we think of repentance as something negative. When we recognize our sin, we prefer to “rededicate” our lives to God. We may even tell others we have resolved to be more faithful to God than we were before we failed Him. Yet the Bible does not speak of rededicating oneself. It speaks of repentance! Repentance indicates a decisive change, not merely a wishful resolution. We have not repented if we continue in our sin!

Repentance involves a radical change of heart and mind in which we agree with God’s evaluation of our sin and then take specific action to align ourselves with His will. A desire to change is not repentance. Repentance is always an active response to God’s word. The evidence of repentance is not words of resolve, but a changed life.