VIDEO The Gift of God

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses. Colossians 2:13

Years ago, a man in the cemetery business was also a lay evangelist. When speaking to crowds, he would humor them by saying he was in the “underground condominium” business, then transition to how there is no life in cemeteries. They are filled with the bodies of people from whom life has departed until the end of the age.

Paul used the idea of death, and bringing the dead back to life, as an analogy of what it means to receive the gift of salvation. He said that all people, apart from Christ, are spiritually “dead in [their] trespasses.” But by a miracle of grace, we have been “made alive together with [Christ],” having been forgiven of “all trespasses.” Think what a gift of God spiritual life is! Can the dead bodies in a cemetery will themselves back to life? Of course not—and neither can those who are spiritually dead give themselves new spiritual life.

If you are in Christ, you have been given new life as a free gift of God (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8). Give Him thanks today for that gift!

Faith is not an achievement, it is a gift. Roland Bainton


Nailed to the Cross – Colossians 2:11-14 – Skip Heitzig

Drawn by Disaster

Lord, help us! Joel 1:19 nlt

In 1717, a devastating storm raged for days, leading to widespread flooding in northern Europe. Thousands of people lost their lives in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. History reveals an interesting and customary—for that time—response by at least one local government. The provincial authorities of the Dutch city of Groningen called for a “prayer day” in response to the disaster. A historian reports that the citizens gathered in churches and “listened to sermons, sang psalms, and prayed for hours.”

The prophet Joel describes an overwhelming disaster faced by the people of Judah that also led to prayer. A massive swarm of locusts had covered the land and “laid waste [its] vines and ruined [its] fig trees” (Joel 1:7). As he and his people reeled from the devastation, Joel prayed, “Lord, help us!” (1:19 nlt). Directly and indirectly, both the people of northern Europe and Judah experienced disasters that originated with the effects of sin and this fallen world (Genesis 3:17–19Romans 8:20–22). But they also found that these times led them to call out to God and seek Him in prayer (Joel 1:19). And God said, “Even now . . . return to me with all your heart” (2:12).

When we face difficulties and disaster, may we turn to God—perhaps in anguish, perhaps in repentance. “Compassionate” and “abounding in love” (v. 13), He draws us to Himself—providing the comfort and help we need.

By:  Tom Felten

Reflect & Pray

Why do people often turn to God when they face disaster? How can He use difficult times to draw us to Himself?

Heavenly Father, in the face of difficulty, help me to call out to You and find the hope You alone can provide.

David: A Picture of God’s Sovereignty

Even when life doesn’t make sense, we can trust our good and loving heavenly Father

Psalm 103:1-22

Sometimes it’s hard to understand God’s purposes for adversity. In the midst of a personal tragedy, the Lord’s sovereignty may seem like a harsh, uncaring theology. But the truth is, God works all things together for the believer’s good (Romans 8:28).

David’s writings illustrate the importance of trusting in God’s control of all things—no matter how difficult the situation. When he was running for his life from King Saul, the Lord repeatedly spared him and eventually made him king of Israel. And when David’s son died in an attempt to take the throne, God was the king’s support and comfort. Through every affliction, the Lord provided protection and guidance each step of the way. These experiences taught David to trust wholeheartedly in the Lord’s control and goodness.

God exercises perfect control over every event in your life as well—even situations that are difficult and make no sense to you at the time. When you’re going through such things, the psalmists’ writings can bring great comfort. As you read, focus on what each passage reveals about the Lord’s character and faithfulness. When you see the circumstances of your life through that lens, you’ll find great comfort in God’s sovereignty.

Christians and the World

“I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” (John 17:6)

In the wonderful intercessory prayer of Christ for His disciples just before His death, there are several important references dealing with the relation of the Christian believer to the world around him. In the first place, according to our text, they have been called out of the world and thus are not really a part of its system any more once they belong to Christ.

Yet, they necessarily must still live in the world. “These are in the world….I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:11, 15). They are not of the world, however, for they have been separated from the world and unto Christ, whom the world continues to crucify daily. “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (v. 14). Like Christ, they are bound to be hated by the world.

Nevertheless, Christ has sent them into the world as His witnesses. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world…that the world may believe that thou hast sent me….I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (vv. 18, 21, 23).

And the most wonderful thing about all these relationships to the world we live in is that God planned them even before He created the world! “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (v. 24). HMM

Flowers and Fruit Do Not Grow in Thin Air!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.

Galatians 5:22-23

I would like to be able to ask every Christian in the world this question: Are you really interested in God’s producing in you the beautiful fruits and fragrances of the Holy Spirit?

For every affirmative answer, I would quickly recommend: Then look to your own willingness to be regular in the habits of a holy life—for flowers and fruit do not grow in thin air! They grow and come up out of a root and “the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit” (Proverbs 12:12).

For every beautiful garden that you see, whose fragrance comes out to welcome you, has its roots down into the hard earth. The beautiful flowers and blooms will grow and appear and flourish only when there are deep roots and strong stalks. If you take the roots away, the blossom and flower will endure perhaps one day. The sun will scorch them and they will be gone. WPJ015-016

What is the special likeness of Christ that He would reproduce in me? What are the features of His life that He calls me to imitate? What pattern would He set before me in my work, my circumstances, my difficulties? What are the inspirations of grace that He would urge me to cultivate and cherish? JAS188

Leave Nothing Behind

How can we who died to sin still live in it?Romans 6:2

If we are to stay spiritually fresh we must break decisively with everything of which Christ cannot approve. We must get rid of everything that mars our relationship with the Master. This means that we must make up our minds that anything the Lord speaks to us about must go. There is to be no trifling with Him.

A gardener who works in an evangelical conference center tells how, during the first two or three days of a conference, Christians are keen to obey the signs that say, “Do not litter.” They go out of their way to carry unwanted paper to the litter bins. After four or five days have passed, however, he finds that people grow tired of looking for the bins and hide their unwanted paper under the bushes. They have enough conscience to hide the paper, but not enough to get rid of it.

Do not let this matter of getting rid of the things of which Christ disapproves end in a compromise or a stalemate. Look down into the hidden recesses where your sins may have been tucked away, and bring them all out—every one. They will plead to be left alone, but bring them all out. Not a thing must be left behind. Don’t be content with a conscience that will hide sins but not get rid of sins. If I had to put into one word the biggest single barrier to maintaining spiritual freshness, it would be procrastination. So be decisive—beginning today.

Prayer

Father, I have put my hand to the plow, and I do not intend to look back. This shall be no halfway business. Help me to bring to You everything that needs to be dealt with today. Amen.

Further Study

Ac 24:1-25; Jr 8:20; Heb 3:7-15

What was Felix’s mistake?

What lesson must we learn from the children of Israel?

The Fragrance of His Knowledge

But thanks be to God, who always puts us on display in Christ, and spreads through us in every place the scent of knowing Him.

For to God we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.—2 Corinthians 2:14–15

Whenever the Romans won a major military victory they would celebrate with a spectacular parade. The commanding general would lead the procession in a magnificent chariot, followed by his soldiers, musicians, and other officials. Then, soldiers would lead the defeated enemies through the city in bondage. As a part of the celebration, the Romans would burn fragrances on altars, filling the entire city with a pleasant aroma. Even those who could not witness the triumphal procession could hear the victory music and smell the pleasing incense. Everyone would know that their army had been victorious. The special fragrance came to symbolize victory to anyone who smelled it.

Paul used this vivid imagery to describe the effect that Christians should have in the world. According to Paul, God permeates our lives with the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, our lives should demonstrate to others that Christ is victorious. As unbelievers observe our lives, they should become aware of the victorious power of Christ. As other Christians witness the victory Christ gives us over our sin, they can rejoice in the triumph of their Lord and gain confidence that Christ will bring victory in their lives as well.

The most compelling evidence that Christ is alive and triumphant is His activity in the lives of His people. It is a privilege to be the fragrance of Christ by which others learn of God’s life-changing power over sin. Your life ought to be convincing proof that God continues to work powerfully in the lives of His people.