VIDEO Same Scene, Different Purpose

For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13-14

Consider what these five painting masters have in common: Vincent van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Leonardo da Vinci, Johann Füssli, and Edvard Munch. They all painted multiple versions of a single scene. Van Gogh painted multiple pictures of sunflowers; Matisse painted two versions of Still Life with Purro; da Vinci painted two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks; Füssli painted four versions of The Nightmare; Munch painted multiple versions of The Scream. The same painter created the same scene but with different colors, emphases, and perspectives.

Think about God’s creation of humanity: the same Artist but billions of unique versions of the same “picture”—different colors, traits, appearances, and personalities. Like a human artist who creates multiple versions of the same painting for his or her own reasons, God has shaped every human creation individually for His own reasons. And that includes you! God “fearfully and wonderfully” created you and ordained the days of your life before they came to be (Psalm 139:14, 16).

Give thanks for who you are today. And ask God to direct your steps that you might fulfill His unique purpose for your life.

That God creates and ordains the days of each human life gives significance and value to each life. Steven J. Cole

The Unrivaled Power of God – Psalm 139:13-18 – Skip Heitzig

A Nesting Place

I am going there to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

Sand martins—small birds related to swallows—dig their nests into riverbanks. Land development in South East England reduced their habitat, and the birds had fewer and fewer places to nest when they returned from their winter migration each year. Local conservationists sprang into action and built an enormous artificial sandbank to house them. With the help of a sand-sculpting firm, they molded sand to create a space for the birds to take up residence for years to come.

This gracious act of compassion vividly depicts the words Jesus used to console His disciples. After telling them He’d be leaving and that they wouldn’t be able to go with Him until later (John 13:36), He offered them the assurance that He’d “prepare a place for [them]” in heaven (14:2). Though they were rightly saddened that Jesus said He would leave them soon and that they could not follow Him, He encouraged them to look on this holy errand as part of His preparation to receive them—and us.

Without Jesus’ sacrificial work on the cross, the “many rooms” of the Father’s house wouldn’t be able to receive us (v. 2). Having gone before us in preparation, Christ assures us He’ll return and take those who trust in His sacrifice to be with Him. There we’ll take up residence with Him in a joyous eternity.

By:  Kirsten Holmberg

Reflect & Pray

When have you felt you weren’t “at home” in this life? What do you most look forward to about heaven?

Thank You, Jesus, for preparing a place for me in heaven with You.

The Believer’s Transformation

The Holy Spirit is gradually shaping believers into people who live and love like Christ 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

The metamorphosis of a crawly caterpillar is amazing. It disappears into a chrysalis created from its own body, and before long a delicate and graceful winged butterfly emerges. 

Our change at the moment of salvation is even more radical and miraculous. From a death-bound, sinful, depraved heart, God brings about a brand-new creature—one that’s forgiven and made righteous, in whom His Holy Spirit takes up residence.  

But if we’ve been miraculously transformed after trusting Christ as Savior, why do we still struggle with sin? The answer is that even though we now have a new nature that’s “been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Ephesians 4:24), we remain in fallen fleshly bodies, which are subject to sin. As long as we’re on earth, there will be an ongoing battle between the Spirit and the flesh. 

Throughout our life, God is conforming us to the likeness of His Son. His indwelling Spirit helps us combat sin and teaches us to live righteously. This process, called sanctification, is something that will last until we’re called home to heaven. Thankfully, as we yield to the Spirit, our behavior and thinking will be transformed as well.

With God Salvation Is Possible

“For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

One week before Passover, Jesus entered the bustling city of Jericho and encountered Zacchaeus, a wealthy tax collector. Being “little of stature,” Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree “to see Jesus who he was” (v. 3). Looking up at Zacchaeus, Jesus commanded him to quickly come down. Why? Because that day the Lord was going to show Zacchaeus and His disciples that salvation comes even to the most undeserving.

Before entering Jericho, Jesus met a rich ruler (Luke 18:18-34). Despite his genuine interest, he ultimately rejected Jesus’ invitation, leading the disciples to ask, “Who then can be saved?” (v. 26). Jesus responded, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” (v. 27).

When Jesus called Zacchaeus, he joyfully (chairon) hurried to greet Him. And when Zaccheus gave half his possessions to the poor and repaid four times those he defrauded, the disciples saw the answer to their question. With this outward manifestation of Zacchaeus’ inward repentance, the Lord stated, “This day is salvation come to this house” (Luke 19:9).

What is the implication of this for you and me? It isn’t wrong to be rich and use our wealth for kingdom business (Hebrews 13:16). But like the rich ruler who walked away sorrowful after rejecting our Lord Jesus (Matthew 19:22), it’s wrong to cling tightly to our worldly possessions and forsake the offer of salvation. Like Zacchaeus, our salvation comes only through God, who does the impossible.

Are your material goods blinding you to the gospel? Have you repented of your sin? Are you trusting in the Lord solely for salvation? There is no other way. CM

The Beatitudes

Matthew 5:1-12

THE Sermon on the Mount has been twisted to suit more divergent views than any other portion of our Lord’s message. Some have made it the summary of His teaching, as though He said nothing else; while others have transferred it over into a future age with a purely Jewish application, as though it meant nothing for us today. It is true that His message has Israel primarily in mind and its literal fulfillment will be in the kingdom age to come when Christ rules over Israel, but it has a personal spiritual application for us now.

The well-known beatitudes set forth the characteristics of the citizens of His kingdom, and we who believe today should bear these marks of the Mount. The poor in spirit are those who know themselves to be nothing and that their only sufficiency is in Him. They are not necessarily the poor in pocketbook, though, doubtless, most of the poor in spirit are poor in purse. To be poor in one’s own spirit should be the counterpart to being rich in His Spirit: “having nothing, yet possessing all things.”

The mournful are not merely those who mourn in trouble, but rather those who lament their own spiritual weakness and poverty—whose cry is, “Woe is me, for I am undone.” Such tears precede great blessing unless one wallows in self-pity and gets no further.

The meek are the lowly and gentle, not milksops and dish-rag characters as some think. These shall inherit the earth in spite of those who say the only way they could ever get it would be to inherit it. It is the Lamb who finally prevails.

To hunger and thirst after righteousness is a lost experience with most professing Christians—who are too shallow and superficial, or else too fed-up with the lollipops of earth, really to crave deeper blessing. A deep spiritual feast must emanate from a deep hunger and a big appetite!

The merciful are those who are long-suffering toward others, considerate of human weakness, full of love which “suffereth long and is kind.” The pure in heart are those who follow holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. If the heart be pure there will be no trouble with the conduct, for out of the heart are the issues of life.

The peacemakers are not merely those who arbitrate and settle quarrels, although that is included, but those whose spirit creates an atmosphere of peace. Having peace with God and the peace of God, they make for peace wherever they go.

Few are the persecuted and reviled today for His sake. And, mind you, we are blessed only when we are evil spoken against falsely for His sake. “Falsely for His sake” brings in two important qualifications.

Christians are the salt of the earth, purifying, preserving, creating a thirst for the Water of Life. They keep the earth from putrefaction, as will be proven when the Church is removed. When it is without savor—an empty profession—it is trodden under foot in contempt. We are also the light of the world (Phil. 2:15) even as He is the Light of the world (John 8:12), and our business is not to uniquely shine our light but simply to let it shine that others, seeing, may glorify not us but our Heavenly Father.

“Jesus Christ is Lord.”

Psalm 8

Our last reading showed us man fresh from the hand of his Maker. It will be well to pause and consider the Lord’s goodness to our race. We cannot find a fitter assistance for our meditation than David’s joyful vintage hymn.

Psalm 8:2

It is a part of the excellence and glory of God that he magnifies himself by means of insignificant creatures. Though his name is excellent in all the earth yet babes may praise it, and though his glory be above the heavens sucklings may proclaim it. It needs a great orator to win men’s admiration for a doubtful character; but so surpassingly glorious is the Lord, that even a child’s tongue suffices to baffle his foes, and charm his friends.

Psalm 8:4

The heavens are so vast and he so small; the moon so bright and he so mean; the stars so glorious and he so grovelling; Lord, how canst thou stoop from the sublimities of heaven to visit such a nothing as man? The study of astronomy is calculated to humble the mind as well as to enlarge it: and at the same time it excites adoring gratitude when we see the Lord lavishing his love upon creatures so insignificant as ourselves.

Psalm 8:5

Since he is mortal and angels are immortal, man is a little lower than they; yet it is but for a little time and then man’s coronation with glory and honour shall have come. Then shalt it be seen that angels are but servants to the saints, and that all creatures work for their benefit.

Psalm 8:8

All these creatures he either tames to his hand, or slays for his use. His fear and dread are on them all. Marred as mans dominion is, he still walks among the inferior animals with something of that awe, which, as a poet saith, “doth hedge a king.” In Adam’s innocence man’s rule of. the lower races was no doubt complete and delightful; one imagines him leaning upon a tawny lion, while a fawn frisks at the side of Eve. In the Lord Jesus, however, we see man most eminently in the place of honour, exalted in the highest. We know that the position of our Lord Jesus is a representative one for all his people, for the members are like the Head. In Jesus man is indeed “crowned with glory and honour.” It is both our duty and our privilege to rise superior to all the things of earth. We must take care to keep the world under our feet, and the creatures in their proper place. Let none of us permit the possession of any earthly creatures to be a snare unto us; we are to reign over them, and must not permit them to reign over us.

Lord, what is man, or all his race,

Who dwell so far below,

That thou shouldst visit him with grace,

And love his nature so?

That thine eternal Son should bear

To take a mortal form,

Made lower than his angels are,

To save a dying worm?

Let him be crown’d with majesty

Who bow’d his head to death;

And be his honours sounded high

By all things that have breath.

We raise our shouts, O God, to thee,

And send them to thy throne;

All glory to the united Three,

The undivided One.

‘Twas he, and we’ll adore his name,

That form’d us by a word;

‘Tis he restores our ruin’d frame:

Salvation to the Lord!

The Interpreter: Or, Scripture for Family Worship.

Do Not Mistake the True Meaning of the Cross

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. Galatians 6:14

All unannounced and mostly undetected there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles.

It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial, the differences fundamental!

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life with encouragement for a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist tries to show that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. The modern view is that the new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him!

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere, but it is as false as it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. In Roman times, the man who took up his cross and started down the road was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life redirected: he was going out to have it ended! The cross did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more!

The race of Adam is under death sentence. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. Thus God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life!