VIDEO Above and Beyond Living: Love Others

And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

When it comes to relationships, consider sins and offenses like the multitude of marks on the walls. They remain permanent and visible until something erases them. And that “something” is love: “Love will cover a multitude of sins.” That’s why Peter wrote that we should have “fervent love for one another.” That doesn’t mean sins aren’t discussed, confessed, and forgiven. Painting over sins with love isn’t a way to ignore or hide them. Rather, love is the unconditional response to sin: “I love you in spite of anything and everything.” Of all the responses one might have to a personal offense, above all let love be the main response.

If you are offended, slighted, or hurt by another today, try this: Love them unconditionally. Cover that offense with a fresh coat of love.

Love is rightly called “the Queen of Christian graces.” A. W. Pink


Living Like There’s No Tomorrow – 1 Peter 4:7-11 – Skip Heitzig

Relinquishing Control to God

I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. Ezekiel 17:24

Picture a mighty oak tree that’s small enough to fit on a kitchen table. That’s what a bonsai looks like—a beautiful ornamental tree that’s a miniature version of what you find wild in nature. There’s no genetic difference between a bonsai and its full-size counterpart. It’s simply that a shallow pot, pruning, and root trimming restrict growth, so the plant remains small.

While bonsai trees make for wonderful decorative plants, they also illustrate the power of control. It’s true that we can manipulate their growth as the trees respond to their environment, but God is ultimately the One who makes things grow.

God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel this way: “I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall” (Ezekiel 17:24). God was foreshadowing future events when he would “uproot” the nation of Israel by allowing the Babylonians to invade. In the future, however, God would plant a new tree in Israel that would bear fruit, with “birds of every kind” finding shelter in the shade of its branches (v. 23). God said that no matter how much upcoming events seemed out of control, He was still in charge.

The world tells us to try to control our circumstances by manipulation and through our own hard work. But true peace and thriving are found by relinquishing control to the only One who can make the trees grow.

By:  Karen Pimpo

Reflect & Pray

How are you tempted to try to control your life? How does trusting in God’s control bring peace?

We praise You, loving God, as the all-powerful King. Help me acknowledge Your lordship in my life.

No Regrets for Obedience

God always rewards those who step out in faith to obey Him

Luke 5:1-11

Have you ever questioned the wisdom of the Lord’s commands? Sometimes doing things His way makes no sense to us. That’s what happened to Peter at the Lake of Gennesaret.

He and the other fisherman had toiled all night with zero success. They were weary and discouraged, and the last thing they wanted was to make even one more futile attempt. These men were professionals who knew this wasn’t the right time to catch fish. So they were probably skeptical when Jesus told them to push out and cast their nets once more.

What they had yet to learn was that apart from the supernatural involvement of God, all their self-effort was in vain. A short time later, as they hauled their bulging nets to shore, the men doubtless began to understand an eternal principle that many people have yet to realize: The Lord’s instructions are given with a specific, sovereign purpose.

Peter could never have imagined what kind of reward was in store for his obedience. The miracle he saw Jesus perform opened his eyes to the divinity of Christ. And the invitation to follow Jesus changed the entire course of Peter’s life. He had no regrets for obeying,

The Finished Work

“They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” (Psalm 22:31)

This is the last verse of Psalm 22, the marvelous prophecy that describes so graphically the sufferings of Christ on the cross, a thousand years before the fulfillment. The preceding verse promises that this great event will, literally, “be told about the Lord in every generation.” Fathers would tell it to their children, teachers to their students, generation after generation declaring His righteousness. “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).

This prophecy has been wonderfully fulfilled for almost 2,000 years as each generation of Christians tells the next generation the old, old story of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11), both of which are graphically foretold here in the 22nd Psalm.

But this final verse especially stresses the fact that the work has been completed. Its last word, “this,” is not in the original Hebrew, so the final statement actually should read “He hath finished!” The most glorious aspect of the gospel message is that He has accomplished all that was needed to assure eternal salvation to every one who would “remember and turn unto the LORD” (Psalm 22:27).

This last great prophecy was fulfilled when He cried out as He was dying on the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Just as He had, long ago, pronounced that “the heavens and the earth were finished” (Genesis 2:1), completing His great work of creation, so on the cross He had finished the still greater work of redemption. What is left for us to do? Nothing, for He has finished it all! There is nothing we can do, either to create the world or to save our souls. We can only receive, in thanksgiving, what He has done. HMM

Glorious Future, Blessed Tomorrow

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.Philippians 3:14

The normal Bible direction is not backward, it is always forward. Jacob returned to the altar, but in doing so he did not go back, he went forward. The Prodigal Son did not say, “I will go back”; he said, “I will arise and go to my father.”

From where he was, going to his father’s house was a forward step in his moral activities. It represented no retreat, but a distinct advance over his previous conduct.

The will of God is always the proper goal for every one of us. Where God is must be the place of desire. Any motion toward God is a forward motion. Even repentance is not a retreat toward the past but a decided march into a more glorious future. Restitution is not a return to yesterday but a step into a blessed tomorrow….

If we find that we have gone back, then we should immediately reverse the direction and again go forward. NCA024-025

God’s purpose in all His dealings with us is to make us grow into something higher. The greatest calamity that can come to a soul is to be satisfied with its present condition. CTBC, Vol. 5/015

Quiet Contemplation

For You have made me rejoice, Lord, by what You have done.Psalm 92:4

The contemplation of God humbles the mind, expands the soul, and consoles the heart.

How does it expand the soul? “The soul,” says one theologian, “is at home only when it is in God.” He meant, of course, that as the soul was made for God, it can only function effectively when indwelt by God. Contemplation of God is like breath to the soul; it inflates it and causes it to be fully actualized. “My body and my whole physiology functions better when God is in it,” said a doctor to me some years ago. I replied: “And so it is also with the soul, dear doctor, so it is also with the soul.”

Another benefit of contemplating God is that it consoles the heart. But how? It does so by focusing the heart’s attention on the greatness and goodness of the Eternal and also on His tender mercies and compassion. The more we know of God, the more we realize that when He permits us to pass through deep and dark waters, it is not because He is powerless to deliver us, but because a beneficent and eternal purpose is being worked out in that process. And what is more, we discover that God is not interested merely in working out His purposes in us, but in imparting to us a richer sense of His presence. In God there is a balm for every wound, a comfort for every sorrow, and healing for every heartache.

All kinds of remedies are on offer in today’s church to help the hurting (some of them more secular than sacred), but I know of nothing that calms the swelling billows of sorrow and grief as does the quiet contemplation of the Godhead.

Prayer

My Father and my God, forgive me if in times of trial and distress I look for comfort in the wrong places. You and You alone are able to meet my soul’s deepest needs. Help me to see this not merely as an opinion but as a conviction. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Ps 145:1-21; Dt 32:1-4; 1Ch 29:10-13

How did David express the feelings of his soul?

How did Moses express it?

A Jealous God

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.Deuteronomy 4:24

Our God is a consuming fire. He is satisfied only when His love totally consumes us. We usually think of a jealous person as someone resentful and suspicious, but the Lord’s jealousy on our behalf is something that should be precious to us! He has the complete right to our lives. He gave us life, and He wants to protect us from anything that could harm us. That is why He has commanded His children to worship no other gods, allowing nothing to distract us from His consuming love.

The Lord opposes anything that hinders our relationship with Him (Deut. 6:15). He knows the danger of other gods, how they will lure us away, deceive us, and leave us empty. He will tolerate nothing that takes precedence over our love for Him. Our faithfulness to God assures us of the abundant life He wants to give us. If we reject Him, He will pursue us until we return to Him.