VIDEO Powerful Love

Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:39

A recurring plot of romance movies is a couple separated after high school or college who are then unexpectedly reunited years later. Predictably, their love is rekindled, and their romance is restored.

What the pair discovers is that nothing had dampened their original love. Nothing—not time nor distance nor careers—had managed to separate them when it came to love. This theme is biblical at its core. In Romans 8:35, Paul asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” And in verse 39 he concludes, “[Nothing] shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” In verses 35-38 he provides a list of more than fifteen circumstances and events which might seem powerful enough to separate us from God’s love. But nothing is as powerful as the love of God.

Don’t ever think there is something that can come between you and God. Nothing is stronger than His love.

None walk so evenly with God as they that are assured of the love of God. Thomas Manton


Nothing Can Separate Us (Romans 8:35-39)

Lost, Found, Joy

Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep. Luke 15:6

“They call me ‘the ringmaster.’ So far this year I’ve found 167 lost rings.”

During a walk on the beach with my wife, Cari, we struck up a conversation with an older man who was using a metal detector to scan an area just below the surf line. “Sometimes rings have names on them,” he explained, “and I love seeing their owners’ faces when I return them. I post online and check to see if anyone contacted lost and found. I’ve found rings missing for years.” When we mentioned that I enjoy metal detecting as well but didn’t do it frequently, his parting words were, “You never know unless you go!”           

We find another kind of “search and rescue” in Luke 15. Jesus was criticized for caring about people who were far from God (vv. 1–2). In reply, He told three stories about things that were lost and then found—a sheep, a coin, and a son. The man who finds the lost sheep “joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me’ ” (vv. 5–6). All the stories are ultimately about finding lost people for Christ, and the joy that comes as they’re found in Him.

Jesus came “to seek and to save the lost” (19:10), and He calls us to follow Him in loving people back to God (see Matthew 28:19). The joy of seeing others turn to Him awaits. We’ll never know unless we go.

By:  James Banks

Reflect & Pray

What joy have you seen when people turn to God? How will you point others to Jesus’ love today?

Thank You, Jesus, for finding and loving me! Please send me in Your joy to another who needs You today.

Becoming a Prodigal

In a world that lures us to always want more, we can easily drift into a self-centered mindset Luke 15:11-19

How did the Prodigal Son’s journey begin? Perhaps he wanted to leave behind the restrictions that come with living under a parent’s roof. Or maybe he wanted money to pursue life’s pleasures with friends. Whatever the case, the prodigal son’s desire emboldened him to prematurely ask for his inheritance and then to abandon home and the things he’d been taught. 

A Christian who has turned away from God might follow a similar path. First, we begin with a craving for something other than what we have. The longer we allow the idea to linger, the stronger our desire is to have it—and we eventually find ways to justify what we want. Then, based on that faulty reasoning, we move toward our own self-centered goals. Like the wayward son, we may enjoy the pleasures of the world for a time, but ultimately, we will find ourselves lacking certain essentials: unconditional love, security, and a meaningful purpose for living. 

We should understand the reality of our situation: You and I are up against an active Enemy, a world that doesn’t value God, and our own tendency to prefer pleasure over obedience. If we want to avoid self-deception, we must make Scripture the basis for our thought life and choices (Romans 12:2).

Loquacity

“He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.” (Proverbs 17:27)

The sin of loquacity (that is, talkativeness or chattering) is one of those “little foxes” that can “spoil the vines” of an otherwise godly lifestyle (Song of Solomon 2:15), and the Scriptures frequently caution us against it. For example, Solomon in his God-given wisdom warned as follows: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). In fact, Solomon frequently returns to this theme. “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

The apostles in the New Testament also stress how important it is for Christians to control their tongues. Too much talk can easily lead to gossiping or criticizing or even coarseness in speech. James reminds us to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath,” for he says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…set on fire of hell” (James 1:19; 3:6).

“Study [that is, diligently strive] to be quiet,” Paul says (1 Thessalonians 4:11), and avoid “foolish talking” (Ephesians 5:4). When we do speak, our words should center on “that which is good to the use of edifying,” “always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Ephesians 4:29Colossians 4:6). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself warned against this sin of talkativeness. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Such standards may seem impossible to meet, but we should always strive to meet them, for Christ is our example, and “hereunto were ye called…that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). HMM

The Sower

Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23

IN the thirteenth chapter of Matthew, our Lord reaches a turning point in His teaching. He had come to the Jew first, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and had presented Himself as the Messiah, and they had refused Him. He then presents in parable form the mystery of the gospel in the Church age—a truth that had not been revealed to the prophets, having been kept secret from the beginning, as our Lord plainly stated (Matt. 13:35). He spoke in parables that His disciples might catch the deeper meanings, while blinded Jews—as Isaiah had prophesied—would hear but not understand.

These parables do not teach world conversion but rather the saving of a few, and a final judgment and separation. The parable of the sower, interpreted by our Lord Himself, shows only one-fourth of the sown seed of the Word taking permanent root. Four types of human soil are presented: the superficial, upon whom no lasting impression is made; the emotional, making a fine start but not persevering; the preoccupied, soon choked out by earthly cares; and the truly receptive and productive. Here is encouragement in preaching, for at least one out of four will receive the seed and bear fruit. Yet here is warning against expecting universal acceptance of the gospel, for the three other types will last until the end.

The Word of God will not return void, for it will accomplish His purpose; but we must ever remember that it does not profit unless it is mixed with faith (Heb. 4:2). Seed falling by the wayside indicates that there are those who do not understand the message and who do not care or even try to understand it. They give no earnest heed to the things which they have heard; they go to church and sit politely as did the people before Ezekiel (Ezek. 33:30-33). They hear but heed not, and the devil, ever watchful, snatches away the Word before they get home from church.

Then there are those of the stony ground, who go further than the first group. They receive the Word, a good beginning is made, but they do not hold fast that which is good. They taste the good Word of God, but while they endure for a while, they do not endure until the end. When trouble—which works for the faithful a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory—arrives, these fall away.

The third kind also springs up; there is a beginning made, but worldly cares distract—as they did to Martha, so that she neglected the main thing. The deceitfulness of riches, the love of money which is the root of all evil, soon chokes the Word, and the young inquirer goes away grieved, having great possessions—and having nothing! It is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom because of the exceeding danger of earthly cares and fortunes.

The true believer hears the Word and understands it, being taught of the Spirit. He is also a fruitful believer although there are degrees of fruitfulness. Their hearts are honest and good, and they “bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). Therefore we should take heed how we hear; for “whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have” (Luke 8:18).


“I am thy shield.”

Genesis 15:1-18

Genesis 15:1

Let those fear who touch the Lord’s anointed, but as for those who trust in the living God they have no cause for alarm. Five kings or fifty kings may come against them, but while Jehovah defends them they are secure. Perhaps the Lord saw a rising fear in Abram’s mind, and therefore came to him with this word of comfort: God is not willing that his servants should be in bondage to fear.

Genesis 15:4

The strongest faith has its conflicts. Abram’s heart was set upon being the progenitor of the Messiah, and he believed in the promise of God that he should be so, but still it appeared impossible, for he had no son, nor did it appear likely that he would ever have one. It is wise always to spread our doubts before the Lord, for he can meet them for us.

Genesis 15:6

Over the head of every difficulty and physical impossibility he believed in God; and therefore he stood accepted as righteous before the Lord.

Genesis 15:7-11

The sacrifice ratifying the covenant is the most satisfying food for faith. Let us see Jesus confirming the promises and we are content. True, a few distracting questions like these ravenous birds will molest us, but by faith we chase them away. When the Lord covenanted with his servant over the bodies of the beasts slain in sacrifice, he gave him the strongest possible confirmation; and in the death of Jesus we have solid assurance that the promises shall all be fulfilled.

Genesis 15:17

This symbolised the history of the chosen seed: the furnace of affliction with its darkening smoke is often theirs, but the lamp of God’s salvation is never removed from them.

Genesis 15:18

Thus was the fear of Abram cured by the covenant: let us ever resort to the same remedy.

‘Tis mine the covenant of grace,

And every promise mine;

All flowing from eternal love,

And sealed by blood divine.

On my unworthy, favour’d head,

Its blessings all unite;

Blessings more numerous than the stars,

More lasting and more bright.

That covenant the last accent claims

Of this poor faltering tongue;

And that shall the first notes employ

Of my celestial song.

Our Lord the Object of Faith for Salvation

… Preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:). Acts 10:36

It is altogether doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention of obeying Him, for Christ’s saviourhood is forever united to His lordship.

Look at the apostle’s instruction and admonition: “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

There the Lord is the object of faith for salvation! And when the Philippian jailer asked the way to be saved, Paul replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Paul did not tell him to believe on the Saviour with the thought that he could later take up the matter of His lordship and settle it at his own convenience. To Paul there could be no division of offices. Christ must be Lord or He will not be Saviour!

There is no intention here to teach that our first saving contact with Christ brings perfect knowledge of all He is to us. The contrary is true. Ages upon ages will hardly be long enough to allow us to experience all the riches of His grace.

As we discover new meanings in His titles and make them ours we will grow in the knowledge of our Lord and the many forms of love He wears exalted on His throne!