VIDEO Heavenly Love

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:4

A toddler is playing in the yard while his mother watches from the nearby porch when the toddler stumbles and falls hard on the ground. A split second later comes the predictable wail, the anguish of pain. That signals two things—the mother running toward the toddler and the child running toward the mother. There is the iconic scene: The mother’s love poured out like balm on her child’s fear and confusion as they meet.

In a way, our whole life is destined for the same eternal joining—where our lifetime of anguish meets the permanent and loving presence of God. King Solomon wrote that God has put eternity in our heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Whether we know it or not, the longing of our heart is to find love, comfort, and security in the presence of God. And in heaven we shall; the result of our faithful union with Christ is no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain.

The final consummation of God’s love for us is heaven, the eternal dwelling place He has prepared for us (Revelation 21:1-4). Thank Him today for the joy that awaits us in heaven.

I want to know one thing: the way to heaven. John Wesley

NO MORE TEARS – Revelation 21:4

Fighting “Flashy” Things

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

In the 1960s-era TV series The Andy Griffith Show, a man tells Andy he should let his son Opie decide how he wants to live. Andy disagrees: “You can’t let a young’un decide for himself. He’ll grab at the first flashy thing with shiny ribbons on it. Then, when he finds out there’s a hook in it, it’s too late. Wrong ideas come packaged with so much glitter that it’s hard to convince them that other things might be better in the long run.” He concludes that it’s important for parents to model right behavior and help “keep temptation away.”

Andy’s words are related to the wisdom found in Proverbs: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it” (22:6). Although many may read these words as a promise, they’re really a guide. All of us are called to make our own decision to believe in Jesus. But we can help lay a biblical foundation through our love for God and Scripture. And we can pray that as the little ones under our care mature, they choose to receive Christ as Savior and walk in His ways and not “in the paths of the wicked” (v. 5). 

Our own victory over “flashy things” through the Holy Spirit’s enabling is also powerful testimony. Jesus’ Spirit helps us to withstand temptation and molds our lives into examples worth imitating.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

Why is it helpful to remember that Proverbs 22:6 isn’t a promise but a wise principle? Who can you help to “train up”?

Dear Father, help me to instill Your values into the hearts of the children You’ve placed in my life.

Walking Away From God

Our heavenly Father will always lovingly and joyfully welcome repentant wanderers Luke 15:20-32

When we insist on going our own way, God will let us—much like the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Our heavenly Father will not force us to remain with Him. So, what happens if we move outside of God’s plan? 

Our fellowship with the Father is significantly affected. The prodigal son was no longer in close contact with his dad; their relationship was not as important to him as it once had been. If we wander from the Lord, we will also experience a disconnect with our heavenly Father. 

Our resources—time, talent, and treasure—are wasted. The wayward son squandered his money on frivolous things and ended up worse off than the laborers at his father’s house. In the same way, God gives us spiritual gifts, resources, and guidance to build His kingdom, but pursuing our own plan wastes what He has given us. 

Our deepest needs go unmet. Chasing after dreams that don’t align with God’s will lead to discontent. Only in Christ can we find true fulfillment. 

Poor choices have consequences, but they need not dictate our future. Our heavenly Father never gives up on his children. He will welcome us with great joy and love when we turn back to Him.

The Face of Jesus Christ

“And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.” (Revelation 22:4)

This is the last reference in the Bible to the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a glorious promise it is, with its assurance that all His servants will finally see Him face to face! Although they give us no specific description of His physical appearance (the only description of His appearance is in Revelation 1:13-16), the gospel writers do frequently mention His face.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John saw how “his face did shine as the sun” (Matthew 17:2) as He spoke of His forthcoming death. Shortly after this, “he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) to meet His death.

A few days after His entrance into Jerusalem, He was delivered into the hands of wicked men who took delight in desecrating that face which, in loving grief, had just wept over the city and its indifference to God. But first, in the garden just before His arrest, He “fell on his face” in agonizing prayer (Matthew 26:39).

Then the Roman soldiers began “to cover his face” (Mark 14:65) and to “spit in his face” (Matthew 26:67), and finally “they struck him on the face” (Luke 22:64). In fact, they abused Him so severely that “his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14).

But when He comes again, the Christ-rejecting world will cry out to the mountains to “fall on us, and hide us from the face…of the Lamb…from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away” (Revelation 6:16; 20:11). All the redeemed, on the other hand, will rejoice forever in “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). HMM

The Soil and the Seed

Matthew 13:1-9; 18-23

“AN honest and good heart”—Our Lord’s parable of the sower in Matthew 13 is fairly familiar as a Sunday school lesson, but not so real in actual appreciation of its searching message. Every preacher ought to remember that he has four kinds of soil before him when he preaches, lest he be unduly discouraged if all fail to bear fruit.

Our old adversaries, the world, the flesh and the devil, are in evidence in this parable, but the order is reversed. The devil comes first, stealing away the seed sown by the wayside. He is the thief of sermons as well as of souls, and is ever at church. Those who do not understand the Word are simply those who make no effort to understand it! The trouble is not ignorance or inability to understand, for then the fault would not be theirs. They are not in earnest; they merely come to church and hear and go away. The message went in one ear and out the other, and often there is little between the ears to stop it! It is true that the Word is spiritually discerned, but these are not willing to be made spiritual; they do not give more earnest heed, and the Word does not profit them, not being mixed with faith. What booty they are for the devil, and how quickly he snatches away the seed!

Then there are those who hear the Word and receive it with joy. They not only hear, the Word makes an impression. They swallow it whole, but they merely “enjoy the sermon,” and while they may excitedly make a move, they have no real principle, and their profession fails for lack of perseverance. These lack “patient continuance” and fail to “continue in the perfect law of liberty,” though they joyfully look therein. Tribulation and persecution show them up, and they are soon offended. Theirs is weakness of the flesh.

Others hear the Word, but the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches are a problem. Just as it is not money but the love of money that God warns against, here it is not the world but love of the world that hinders the Word.

But, thank God, there is the good soil. There are those who with an honest and good heart receive the Word (Luke 8:15), and they bear fruit in different degrees. Some are more faithful than others, but the heart is honest and they mean business.

Along with this, one thinks of Hosea 10:12: “Break up your fallow ground.” Good ground must be broken. There is fallow ground that looks very solid and permanent, but it never can be productive until it has been plowed. Only weeds and thorns grow on fallow ground. There is much preaching today that is wasting the seed on ground that never has been prepared, and God tells us not to do that (Jer. 4:3). There is much prayer for showers of blessing that is amiss, for God will not waste showers on fallow ground. Christians and churches today do not like to be disturbed; they do not want the plow put in, but there can be no harvest without it! There is much talk about revival that overlooks this fact. The broken and contrite heart is God’s accepted sacrifice on our part. It takes broken clouds to give rain and broken clods to bear fruit. Do not look for harvest without first breaking up the ground.

“Christ is all.”

Romans 4:1-25

Paul was moved by the Spirit to explain to us the bearings of the solemn transaction which we considered in our last reading. Let us hear his exposition.

Romans 4:23-25

The argument is very clear and conclusive. Abraham was justified by faith, therefore by grace; and this justification was not given to him as a circumcised man, for he was not circumcised till years after; therefore the covenant blessings are not given in connection with the law and its work, but in connection with faith and grace. The covenant promise was made to a seed to be born not after the flesh but according to promise, and in that promise all nations had an interest, for out of them would come a blessed people whose badge should be faith, and not the deeds of the law. Jesus is the promised seed, and those believing in him are Abraham’s seed. Are we all in this family believers in Jesus? Who is there among us unsaved? Pass the solemn question round.

No more, my God, I boast no more

Of all the duties I have done;

I quit the hopes I held before,

To trust the merits of thy Son.

The best obedience of my hands

Dares not appear before thy throne;

But faith can answer thy demands,

By pleading what my Lord has done.

Walking a Tightrope between Two Kingdoms?

…For I do always those things that please him. John 8:29

We who follow Christ are aware of the fact that we inhabit at once two worlds, the spiritual and the natural.

As children of Adam we do live our lives on earth subject to the limitations of the flesh and the weaknesses and ills to which human nature is heir.

In sharp contrast to this is our life in the Spirit. There we enjoy a higher kind of life; we are children of God. We possess heavenly status and enjoy intimate fellowship with Christ!

This tends to divide our total life into two departments, as we unconsciously recognize two sets of actions, the so-called secular acts and the sacred.

This is, of course, the old “sacred-secular” antithesis and most Christians are caught in its trap. Walking the tightrope between two kingdoms they find no peace in either.

Actually, the sacred-secular dilemma has no foundation in the New Testament. Without doubt a more perfect understanding of Christian truth will deliver us from it.

The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is our perfect example and He lived no divided life. God accepted the offering of His total life and made no distinction between act and act. “I do always the things that please Him,” was His brief summary of His own life as related to the Father.

We are called upon to exercise an aggressive faith, in which we offer all our acts to God and believe that He accepts them. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there!