VIDEO House of Mirrors

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18, NLT

Perhaps you have a small mirror in your purse and a full-length mirror at home. Both reflect the light. It’s like the home and the Church. A godly home should be a miniature version of the Church, and the Church is a larger version of a godly family. In either case, a crack in the mirror mars the image. Broken relationships don’t reflect the Lord’s glory as well as healthy ones.

As much as possible and as far as it depends on us, we should live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18). At home and in church, that requires sanding off the rougher edges of our responses. Differences don’t have to become difficulties, and unity doesn’t require uniformity.

Is there a rough edge to your personality that needs smoothing before it leaves a scratch in the mirror of your home or church? Titus 2:7 says: “Let everything you do reflect the integrity and seriousness of your teaching” (NLT).

I have never known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord’s people were divided. D. L. Moody


2 Corinthians 3:1-18 sermon by Dr. Bob Utley

As Strong as Iron

Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall. Jeremiah 1:18

Ironclad beetles are known for their tough exterior which protects them from predators. One special variety, however, has extraordinary strength under pressure. The insect’s hard, outer shell stretches, rather than cracks, where it joins together. Its flat back and low profile also help it to resist fractures. Scientific tests show that it can survive a compression force of nearly forty thousand times its body weight.

Just as God made this bug extra tough, He gave resilience to Jeremiah as well. The prophet would face intense pressure when he delivered unwelcome messages to Israel, so God promised to make him “an iron pillar and a bronze wall” (Jeremiah 1:18). The prophet wouldn’t be flattened, dismantled, or overwhelmed. His words would stand strong because of God’s presence and rescuing power.

Throughout his life, Jeremiah was falsely accused, arrested, tried, beaten, imprisoned, and tossed into a well—yet he survived. Jeremiah also persisted despite the weight of inner struggles. Doubt and grief plagued him. Constant rejection and the dread of a Babylonian invasion added to his mental stress.

God continually helped Jeremiah so that his spirit and testimony weren’t shattered. When we feel like giving up on the mission He’s given us, or backing away from living faith-filled lives, we can remember that Jeremiah’s God is our God. He can make us as strong as iron because His power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

By:  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

Reflect & Pray

Which circumstances are threatening to crush you? How do the examples of Bible characters inspire you to exhibit faith in God?

Dear God, please strengthen me to meet the challenges I face today.

The Danger of Disobedience

There is never a good reason to disobey the Lord.

1 Samuel 13:5-14

We may be tempted to think that disobedience in a small matter really won’t affect us too much. Surely God isn’t going to be bothered by something so inconsequential, especially if our motives are good. But in reality, we never have good motives for any act of disobedience, and the consequences aren’t lessened by our attempt to diminish its size.

King Saul didn’t want to go to battle until Samuel was there to offer the burnt sacrifice. But when the prophet didn’t arrive on time and the army was beginning to desert, fear made Saul impatient. So he handled the offering himself, attempting to get God’s blessing by disobediently usurping the role of the priest. When confronted by Samuel, the king tried to justify his actions.

What Saul saw as a small, necessary disobedience, God viewed as a serious act of rebellion. As a result, Saul’s kingdom would end and the Lord would one day appoint someone else to Israel’s throne.

Are there any “small disobediences” in your life that you’re trying to justify? It could be something you’ve done or perhaps something you’ve refused to do. The only solution for any act of disobedience is to confess and repent.

Unanswered Prayer

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)

There are many wonderful promises of answered prayer in the Bible, some of which seem both unlimited and unconditional. On the other hand, there are also many warnings of unanswered prayer. This seeming anomaly merely cautions us again that every Scripture must be interpreted in context—both the immediate context and the broader context of all the Scriptures.

For example, Jesus said, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” But in the same upper room discourse, He also said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 14:14; 15:7). This is a very significant condition, attached to what—out of context—might have seemed an unconditional promise.

Our text indicates that overt sin in one’s life will certainly hinder God in answering our prayers. So will selfish praying: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3). And so will unbelief: “When ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Poor home relations also could be a factor. “Husbands…[give] honour unto the wife…that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

Even when we are confident that we are fully right with God, the desired answer must still be in His will. “If we ask any thing according to his will…we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

Finally, there is the question of timing. “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Therefore, the believing prayer of a man righteous before God surely will be answered in God’s time and way. HMM

From Within or Above

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth.1 Peter 4:11

The Church at this moment needs men, the right kind of men—bold men. The talk is that we need revival, that we need a baptism of the Spirit—and God knows we must have both; but God will not revive mice. He will not fill rabbits with the Holy Spirit.

We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul, who cannot be frightened by threats of death because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances; their only compulsion will come from within—or from above. OGM011

God does ask us and expect us to be holy men and women of God, because we are the children of God, who is holy….[T]he provision of God by His pure and gentle and loving Spirit is still the positive answer for those who hunger and thirst for a life and spirit well-pleasing to God. ICH068

A Lost Art

For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?Romans 11:34

A subject which is of great interest to many today is anthropology: the study of man. Although this subject is of great importance, for a Christian there is something far more important: the study of God. The great preacher C. H. Spurgeon said: “The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy that can ever engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father.”

The contemplation of God seems to be a lost art today. We appear to be more concerned about subjects such as church growth, the end times, signs, wonders, and miracles. I am not suggesting these issues are unimportant, but they must not be allowed to replace the supremely important matter of the constant, earnest, and continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. The more we know of God, the more effective will be our lives here on earth. Those who have given themselves to the study of God tell us that it humbles the mind, expands the soul, and consoles the heart.

It humbles the mind. When our minds grapple with other subjects, we feel a degree of self-content and come away thinking: “Behold, I am wise.” But when our minds engage with thoughts of God, we discover that there is no plumb line that can sound His depth, and we come away thinking: “Behold, I know nothing.” In an age that stresses the supremacy of the human ego, it is no bad thing to learn that there is something far greater.

Prayer

Gracious and loving heavenly Father, teach me how to focus on You and contemplate You so that all vanity and pride dies within me, and I go on my way no longer caught up with how wise I am but how wonderful You are. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Isa 40:18-26; Jb 11:7-9

What probing question does Isaiah ask?

What conclusion had Zophar come to?

The Poor in Spirit

Blessed are the poor in spirit,

because the kingdom of heaven is theirs.—Matthew 5:3

The Bible presents many paradoxes that challenge our human way of thinking. We think of the poor as possessing very little, yet Jesus said the riches of heaven belong to the poor in spirit. Self-reliance robs us of God’s good gifts.

Jesus insisted that in order to follow Him we must deny self. As long as we rely on our own resources, we will never place our trust in Him. As we acknowledge the poverty of our souls, we realize how desperately we need a Savior. Jesus declared: “Repent! For the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17). God has so much to give the one who recognizes his need and will call upon Jesus!

Jesus said it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God. He had just encountered the rich ruler, who valued his possessions so much that he could not give them up to follow Jesus (Luke 18:18–24). Jesus later encountered Zaccheus, a wealthy, notorious sinner (Luke 19:1–10). Despite Zaccheus’s material wealth, he recognized his spiritual poverty and found salvation. Jesus taught the disciples that true wealth is found in a relationship with God. Those who realize their inherent spiritual poverty apart from God will trust in Him, and He will enrich their lives immeasurably. Do not allow your resources, wisdom, talent, or abilities to prevent you from trusting the Person who can bring you abundant life.