VIDEO Take It to Heart

My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves. Hebrews 12:5-6, NIV

God provides the discipline we need to become mature members of His family. This isn’t an easy teaching to understand. Sometimes we wonder if God is disciplining us whenever we get sick. If we suffer a misfortune, is it because we’ve committed a certain sin? Not necessarily. It’s often hard to know when a particular hardship constitutes divine chastening.

Often God whispers in our heart to tell us He is correcting us. Our conscience whispers, “The Lord is teaching you a lesson.” If so, take it to heart. He’s doing it out of love.

In a broader way, all the hardships of life are the means by which we develop the discipline of discipleship. There are lessons in every circumstance, and maturity can be gained in every hardship. Just like earthly fathers, our Heavenly Father demonstrates His love for us through discipline. Though we don’t like discipline, let’s learn to be thankful for this demonstration of God’s love in our life.

If God didn’t discipline His children He would be a negligent father. He would be displaying cruel disinterest if He were indifferent to whether His children obeyed or not. Erwin Lutzer

Weight that Hinders – A. W. Tozer Sermon / Hebrews 12

Heart Problem

The Sovereign Lord says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! Ezekiel 14:6

“Do you see it, brother Tim?” My friend, a Ghanaian pastor, flashed his torchlight on a carved object leaning against a mud hut. Quietly he said, “That is the village idol.” Each Tuesday evening, Pastor Sam traveled into the bush to share the Bible in this remote village.

In the book of Ezekiel, we see how idolatry plagued the people of Judah. When Jerusalem’s leaders came to see the prophet Ezekiel, God told him, “These men have set up idols in their hearts” (14:3). God wasn’t merely warning them against idols carved of wood and stone. He was showing them that idolatry is a problem of the heart. We all struggle with it.

Bible teacher Alistair Begg describes an idol as “anything other than God that we regard as essential to our peace, our self-image, our contentment, or our acceptability.” Even things that have the appearance of being noble can become idols to us. When we seek comfort or self-worth from anything other than the living God, we commit idolatry.

“Repent!” God said. “Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!” (v. 6). Israel proved incapable of doing this. Thankfully, God had the solution. Looking forward to the coming of Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit, He promised, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you” (36:26). We can’t do this alone.

By:  Tim Gustafson

Reflect & Pray

When stress hits you, where do you turn for comfort? What might you need to turn away from today?  

Father, show me the idols in my heart. Then help me destroy them and live in Your love.

Training Our Children

Intentional parenting can influence generations for Christ Proverbs 22:6

We can’t afford to overlook children or to think of them as unimportant; they are the future. Girls and boys are always observing the behavior of the adults in their lives, which means we have a wonderful opportunity to be examples of godliness and influence them for Christ. 

We start by investing our time. Whether it’s through outdoor activities, reading together, or playing games, we’re modeling Christian living. As we listen to them closely, we’ll understand the way they think and the struggles they face. Then we can offer scriptural guidance to influence them toward righteousness. By sharing something of our past and admitting our mistakes, we’re making it easier for them to identify with us and accept our counsel. 

Showing children God’s love is a great way to help them grow in godliness. Although we can’t do this perfectly, each time we love them unselfishly and unconditionally, we’re helping them realize how much the heavenly Father loves them.  

Born-again parents, family members, teachers, and friends can all help to raise godly Christ-followers. So whether it’s at home or in your neighborhood or church family, look for opportunities to spend time with children. Listen to what’s on their heart, and demonstrate Christ’s love for them. You may influence a young life for the Lord.

Passing the Scripture Test

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

Scripture begins with the historical account of the origin of the universe. The first verse of our God-breathed message opens with an unmistakable statement. In fact, Genesis 1 and 2 are so clear that even my four-year-old granddaughter comprehends without question that in six 24-hour days, God created everything.

The Hebrew verb bara means to bring something into existence out of nothing. The beginning chapters of Genesis have been the universal confidence of God’s chosen people down through history until the introduction of the erroneous theory of evolution and natural selection. In light of this, ask yourself a few simple questions.

Do you believe Scripture is the authoritative Word of God?
Do you believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis 1–2?
Do you submit to Scripture?

Some cloud the origins discussion with “modern science,” but this is not relevant to the question. True science necessitates verification by repetition, and creation cannot be repeated. Creation had only one observer, and He recorded exactly how He accomplished His creative task. Additionally, creation was supernatural—a series of instantaneous and inexplicable non-repeated miracles. Finally, the creation account is not to be messed with (Revelation 22:19).

How did you fare in the Scripture Test? Correctly answering means you believe in the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture and that it’s inerrant, authoritative, and complete. Incorrectly answering means you have a compromised view of Scripture.

Here’s a follow-up question for all of us: If Genesis can’t be trusted, exactly where do we start believing the Bible? CM

According to Your Faith,” II

Matthew 9:27-34

WORLDS of possibilities are wrapped up in our Lord’s statement to the blind men in Matthew 9:29: “According to your faith be it unto you.”

Men go from book to book, from lecture to lecture, seeking a more abundant life. Weak Christians devour devotional literature, always expecting that the next page will unlock the mystic secret. But here is the key: Faith grows as we exercise such faith as we have. The measure of the life abundant is in proportion to our faith. God’s resources are ever available to faith. If we make our check small, we have only ourselves to blame.

Observe that it is not “according to your fate.” The Chinese have a proverb: “We make our fortune and call it Fate.” Some of us excuse our laziness under the guise of predestination and say, “What is to be will be.” Nor is it “according to your fortune.” Lands and goods are not the measure of life abundant, for “a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). It is not “according to your fame,” for celebrities are often most miserable. As Johnson said, “Fame usually comes when we are old and can’t enjoy it, solitary and can’t share it, independent and don’t need it.” Christ did not say, “According to your friends.” Popularity and “pull” cannot bring us life abundant. Too many friends are like shadows; they follow us only on sunny days. Nor did our Lord say, “According to your feelings.” Here is the commonest mistake in looking for a better life. We confuse it with certain emotional ecstasies and are discouraged when feelings rise and fall—and moods change like April weather.

It is “according to your faith.” But here we need to examine just what sort of faith this is, for faith itself has been made a fetish by those who think faith is sufficient no matter what we believe. The value of faith depends upon its object. If the object of confidence turns out unworthy, the one who believed is in worse condition than before, no matter how worthy his faith may have been. Popular teaching which puts the emphasis upon faith itself makes it purely subjective, while the real virtue lies in the object.

The only faith which brings eternal life and a more abounding daily experience is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, for only He is worthy of absolute trust and able to meet every need of the believer. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” was the early message of the apostles, and simple faith in Christ as Son of God and Savior is the condition of salvation. In addition, more abounding life and growth are “according to our faith.” If we believe only to a small degree, our experience will be commensurate to that faith. Every believer has experienced that as far as he has trusted, he has found the promises true.

So, do not look for something magical about this matter of faith. Your experience will be in proportion as you take God at His word, in spite of all appearances! But the value of faith lies in Him whom you trust, not on the quantity nor quality of your faith. “All things are possible to him that believeth”—if he believes in Him with whom all things are possible.

Here and here only is the way to life victorious and abundant, for “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).

“I am a stranger with Thee.”

Genesis 12:1-8

Genesis 12:1-3

God had elected Abram, and therefore in due time he called him, and so separated him unto himself. All the chosen seed must in this be conformed to the father of the faithful.

Genesis 12:4

The grace which chose him made him obedient, and he left all at the divine command. Only in the separated life could he inherit the blessing, and therefore he cheerfully forsook all to follow his Lord.

Genesis 12:5

It is not enough to set out, we must persevere to the end.

Genesis 12:6

Though the land was given to the patriarch by promise, yet he did not actually possess a single foot of it. Unbelief would have reckoned this to be a very shadowy inheritance; but faith is the substance of things hoped for, and makes us content to wait. The Canaanite is still in the land, yet we rightly reckon that all things are ours.

Genesis 12:8

The patriarch was careful to maintain the worship of God wherever he might be placed. Go where we may, let us not forget to render devotion and obedience to God.

Hebrews 11:8-10

The secret of Abram’s prompt action may be seen in—

Hebrews 11:8-10

Abram had to come out from idolatrous Chaldea, and so must we be separate from the world which lieth in the wicked one. He became a pilgrim and a sojourner, and so must we. This is not our rest, ours is a pilgrim’s life, we are wanderers till we reach the city which hath foundations. He pitched his tent and wandered up and down in the land as a stranger, but he was no Canaanite: here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. He who finds a rest here has none in heaven.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18

2 Corinthians 6:18

Oh, that the Lord may make us, as a family, separated unto himself.

We’ve no abiding city here;

Then let us live as pilgrims do:

Let not the world our rest appear,

But let us haste from all below.

We’ve no abiding city here;

We seek a city out of sight:

Zion’s its name—the Lord is there;

It shines with everlasting light.

The True Christian Is the Practicing Christian

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue. 2 Peter 1:3

The supreme purpose of the Christian religion is to make men like God in order that they may act like God. In Christ the verbs “to be” and “to do” follow each other in that order.

True religion leads to moral action. The only true Christian is the practicing Christian. Such a one is in very reality an incarnation of Christ as Christ is the incarnation of God; not in the same degree and fullness of perfection, for there is nothing in the moral universe equal to that awful mystery of godliness which joined God and man in eternal union in the person of the Man Christ Jesus; but as the fullness of the Godhead was and is in Christ, so Christ is in the nature of the one who believes in Him in the manner prescribed in the Scriptures.

Just as in eternity God acted like Himself and when incarnated in human flesh still continued in all His conduct to be true to His holiness, so does He when He enters the nature of a believing man. This is the method by which He makes the redeemed man holy.

The faith of Christ was never intended to be an end in itself nor to serve instead of something else. In the minds of some teachers faith stands in lieu of moral conduct and every inquirer after God must take his choice between the two. We are presented with the well-known either/or: either we have faith or we have works, and faith saves while works damn us. This error has lowered the moral standards of the church!