VIDEO Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition

My son, if you receive my words, and treasure my commands within you… then you will understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God. Proverbs 2:1

A family in Lansing, Michigan, was cleaning their aunt’s home when they found what seemed to be a live round of ammunition, something that looked like a torpedo. The bomb squad came and determined it was a World War I round that had been cleaned out and was stuffed with old money, silver certificates, coins from the late 1800s, and currency from the early 1900s. Their torpedo was a treasure![1]

The Bible is God’s armory, and it’s full of His commands. Sometimes we feel threatened by the commandments. We love God’s promises, and we relish His descriptions of Jesus Christ. However, Scripture also contains instructions for living. But within each commandment is a treasure, for God never tells us to do something unless: (1) It’s for our good, and (2) He gives us the enabling grace to obey it.

God’s commands are His words of love to us. We should treasure them.

Joy is like oil to the wheels, which makes a Christian run in the way of God’s commandments, so that they are not burdensome. Thomas Watson


Studies in Proverbs: Lesson 28 (Prov. 2:1-2) | Paul Washer

Rejecting Rationalization

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. Mark 7:8

An Atlanta police officer asked a driver if she knew why he’d stopped her. “No idea!” she said in bewilderment. “Ma’am, you were texting while driving,” the officer gently told her. “No, no!” she protested, holding up her cell phone as evidence. “It’s an email.”

Using a cell phone to send an email doesn’t grant us a loophole from a law that prohibits texting while driving! The point of the law isn’t to prevent texting; it’s to prevent distracted driving.

Jesus accused the religious leaders of His day of creating far worse loopholes. “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God,” He said, quoting the command to “Honor your father and mother” as evidence (Mark 7:9–10). Under the hypocritical cloak of religious devotion, these wealthy leaders were neglecting their families. They simply declared their money as “devoted to God,” and voila, no need to help Mom and Dad in their old age. Jesus quickly got to the heart of the problem. “You nullify the word of God by your tradition,” He said (v. 13). They weren’t honoring God; they were dishonoring their parents.

Rationalization can be so subtle. With it we avoid responsibilities, explain away selfish behavior, and reject God’s direct commands. If that describes our behavior, we’re merely deceiving ourselves. Jesus offers us the opportunity to exchange our selfish tendencies for the guidance of the Spirit behind His Father’s good instructions.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

In what areas of your life do you find yourself rationalizing? How do these rationalizations square with the wisdom of the Bible?

God, I need Your wise discernment. Rescue me from my denial of my own guilt. Help me live in step with Your Spirit.

Our Thought Life

True change starts with the Holy Spirit transforming our heart and thoughts

1 Corinthians 2:11-16

God calls His children to live holy lives. Yet in our attempts to obey this command, we often commit to change our behavior, only to fail a few days later. The problem is that we’re starting at the wrong place.

Ungodly actions flow from sinful thoughts and attitudes, like selfishness, greed, jealousy, anger, resentment, and unforgiveness. These can be changed only as our mind is renewed by the Holy Spirit. As we spend time each day in Scripture, the Spirit transforms our mind and strengthens our inner being. But when we neglect God’s Word, we leave ourselves open to the influence of the world and our “flesh,” both of which oppose godliness. Then, if we try to change our behavior without adjusting our thinking, we’ll find ourselves doing precisely what we want to avoid (Romans 7:15).

Holiness, on the other hand, encompasses our entire being, which is why Jesus said we should love God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength (Mark 12:30). It’s a lifelong process that requires learning God’s thoughts and adopting them as our own. Then, as the Spirit develops within us the mind of Christ, our actions will become increasingly holy.

From Disciples to Brethren

“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17)

It is interesting to note that our Lord never called His disciples “brethren” until after His resurrection, and our text, which identifies them as such, was the first thing He uttered after rising from the dead, at least as recorded in Scripture.

Until then He had referred to them in a variety of ways, including “little children” (John 13:33), “brethren,” in the sense of brothers in a family (Matthew 12:49), and even “friends.”

“Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). Certainly the disciples held a special place in Christ’s heart.

But it was not until He had risen from the dead, He who was “the firstborn from the dead” (Colossians 1:18), the “firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20), that His disciples, and indeed all who would “believe on [Him] through their word” (John 17:20), could be made “sons of God” (Romans 8:14). “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). This high standing comes as a fulfillment of His determination to “be the firstborn among many brethren” (v. 29).

He has relabeled the “great congregation” (Psalm 22:22, 25 quoted in Hebrews 2:12) the “church,” identifying the individual members as His “brethren,” and is not “ashamed” to do so (Hebrews 2:11). As we see in our text, His God is our God, His Father is our Father; in all ways, we who have believed on Him are His brothers. Oh, what a standing is ours! JDM

The Unpardonable Sin

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.John 3:17

There have been many backslidden Christians who have agonized over the possibility of having committed the unpardonable sin. I have discovered a very helpful rule in this matter. I believe it holds good throughout the whole Church of God around the world. Anyone who is concerned about having committed the unpardonable sin may be sure he or she has not!

Any person who has ever committed that dark and dread unpardonable sin feels no guilt and confesses no worry. Jesus dealt with the Pharisees…[b]ut His warning caused them no worry. They still believed themselves to be entirely righteous! They felt no need for repentance, no sorrow for sin, no guilt for unbelief. “Do not worry about us,” was their attitude. “We do not have any problem!”

Returning to our rule for Christians with guilt and concern, the very fact that a person is worried and concerned indicates that the Spirit of God is still working in his or her life. JAF103

God not only forgives great sins as readily as little ones, but once He has forgiven them He starts anew right there and never brings up the old sins again. FBR112

The Satanic Strategy

The Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas … to betray Him.—John 13:2

The “fiery darts” of the Devil are quite different from the thoughts that are generated by our carnal nature. These “fiery darts” come at us rather than from within us. A satanic attack can usually be differentiated from something that arises within by the force with which the thought hits us. Thoughts that arise out of the carnal nature are offensive, but the thoughts that come as “fiery darts” from the Devil burn.

Many Christians have told me that they often experience these attacks when they go to read their Bibles or to pray. When they read a newspaper, nothing seems to happen. But when they turn their attention to something spiritual, they find it almost impossible to concentrate, by reason of the shameful thoughts that occupy their minds.

The other thing one notices about these attacks is that they seem to come in cycles. They are not there permanently, but they come at certain times and seasons. I once counseled a man for one hour a week over a period of a whole year and got him to write down in his diary the times and dates when he felt under satanic attack. When we looked through his diary together at the end of the year, we discovered an amazing thing—every single attack took place immediately prior to his doing something special for the Lord, like leading a Bible study, conducting a service, visiting the sick, or giving a public testimony. I shall never forget the expression on his face as he looked at me and said: “Who says that Satan isn’t a strategist?”

Prayer

My Father and my God, I realize that even though Satan is a strategist, he is no match for You. You know how to outmaneuver his every move. Help me to stay close to You, that I might experience Your strategy and not his. Amen.

Further Study

Gn 3; Mt 4:1-10

How did Satan seek to penetrate Eve’s mind?

How does this correlate with the temptation of Christ?

Tempted As We Are

For since He Himself was tested and has suffered, He is able to help those who are tested.Hebrews 2:18

You will never face a temptation so strong that God has not made complete provision for you to overcome it. God, out of His love, has done everything necessary for you to be victorious whenever you face temptation. He has clearly revealed His will to you in Scripture so that you will not be confused about the right thing to do. He has placed the Holy Spirit within you to guide you in your decisions and to convict you when you make harmful choices. With every temptation God also provides a way of escape so that you never have to yield to it (1 Cor. 10:13). Everything is in place for you to experience victory over every temptation.

God in His infinite love, however, has done even more to safeguard you from temptation. He has allowed Himself to suffer the full brunt of temptation. The very Son of God humbled Himself, taking on all the limitations of frail human flesh, and was tempted in every way that we are. Jesus knew what it was like to grow tired, to be hungry, to experience the same limitations we have; yet He was without sin. It is to this One that we turn when we are facing temptation. Ours is not an unsympathetic God who is unconcerned with our struggle to live righteously, but we follow a God who knows how difficult it is to resist sin and withstand temptation. We can approach Christ with confidence, knowing that He understands our plight. He knows how to aid us when we are tempted.