VIDEO How Could Someone Be So Ignorant!

Who are You, Lord?Acts 26:15

“The Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand…” (Isaiah 8:11). There is no escape when our Lord speaks. He always comes using His authority and taking hold of our understanding. Has the voice of God come to you directly? If it has, you cannot mistake the intimate insistence with which it has spoken to you. God speaks in the language you know best— not through your ears, but through your circumstances.

God has to destroy our determined confidence in our own convictions. We say, “I know that this is what I should do” — and suddenly the voice of God speaks in a way that overwhelms us by revealing the depths of our ignorance. We show our ignorance of Him in the very way we decide to serve Him. We serve Jesus in a spirit that is not His, and hurt Him by our defense of Him. We push His claims in the spirit of the devil; our words sound all right, but the spirit is that of an enemy. “He…rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of’ ” (Luke 9:55). The spirit of our Lord in His followers is described in 1 Corinthians 13.

Have I been persecuting Jesus by an eager determination to serve Him in my own way? If I feel I have done my duty, yet have hurt Him in the process, I can be sure that this was not my duty. My way will not be to foster a meek and quiet spirit, only the spirit of self-satisfaction. We presume that whatever is unpleasant is our duty! Is that anything like the spirit of our Lord— “I delight to do Your will, O my God…” (Psalm 40:8).


The great point of Abraham’s faith in God was that he was prepared to do anything for God.  Not Knowing Whither, 903 R

Acts 26:1-18 – Standing Before Kings

Seven Minutes of Terror

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16

When the Mars rover Perseverance landed on that red planet on February 18, 2021, those monitoring its arrival endured “seven minutes of terror.” As the spacecraft ended its 292-million-mile journey, it went through a complex landing procedure it had to do on its own. Signals from Mars to Earth take several minutes, so NASA couldn’t hear from Perseverance during the landing. Not being in contact was frightening for the team who had put so much effort and resources into the mission.

Sometimes we may experience our own times of fear when we feel we’re not hearing from God—we pray but we don’t get answers. In Scripture, we find people getting answers to prayer quickly (see Daniel 9:20–23) and those not getting answers for a long time (see Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel 1:10–20). Perhaps the most poignant example of a delayed answer—one that surely struck terror in the hearts of Mary and Martha—was when they asked Jesus to help their sick brother Lazarus (John 11:3). Jesus delayed, and their brother died (vv. 6–7, 14–15). Yet four days later, Christ answered by resurrecting Lazarus (vv. 43–44).  

Waiting for answers to our prayers can be difficult. But God can comfort and help as we “approach [His] throne of grace with confidence, . . . [that] we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

By:  Dave Branon

Reflect & Pray

What are you praying for, but the answer doesn’t seem to be coming? How can God increase your faith as you wait on Him?

Loving God, You know what’s on my heart. Please help me trust You as I await Your answer.

Sunday Reflection: Ready and Waiting

God already loves you, and He always will–no matter what you’ve done or will do

To get the most out of this devotion, set aside time to read the scriptures referenced throughout.

Can you think of a pivotal moment that led to your relationship with Jesus? Most of us can name a special person or set of circumstances that helped us get to know Him. Or perhaps you’re reading this out of curiosity, and you don’t know Him at all. Regardless of what state your relationship with God is in, the fact remains: He loves you and will never give up on you.

Paul writes, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And John explains that the Lord doesn’t just love us, but He Himself is love (1 John 4:8). In other words, God doesn’t have to try to love or talk Himself into loving us—it’s simply who He is. 

No matter what we do, even if it involves deliberate sin against Him or drifting away in apathy, God won’t ever cease to be merciful and loving. He’ll never stop showing up, leaning in, and inviting us to the abundant life found only in Him—a life of peace, freedom, and joy. Whatever you were and are, God has great plans for what you will be, and He’s here for you.

Think about it

• Take a moment to imagine God’s open hand reaching out to you. How do you want to respond to Him?

Cities of Refuge

“Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.” (Numbers 35:14)

When the Israelites entered the promised land, God told Joshua to provide six “cities of refuge” into which those who had slain someone could flee for refuge until a trial could ascertain the facts and render a proper verdict. As such, these cities are a type of Christ, through whom “we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18).

The names of the six cities are given in Joshua 20:7-8 as Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan. The meanings of these names seem planned especially to foreshadow this spiritual application.

Kedesh means “holy place,” and Christ in the New Jerusalem is the ultimate refuge, for “the Lamb [is] the temple of it” (Revelation 21:22). Shechem means “strong shoulder,” which answers to the “strong consolation” we have in Christ when we flee to Him for refuge.

Hebron means “fellowship,” and we who have come to Christ have been “called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9). Bezer means “strong hiding place.” The Scripture assures the believer that “your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3).

Ramoth means “high place,” and when we are hidden in Christ, God also has “made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Finally, Golan apparently means “enclosure for captives,” and this would speak of our being set free from sin and death to become captive to Christ. “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8). Thus, the cities are appropriately named both for their immediate purpose and as a picture of Christ as the Savior of sinners. HMM

Walking the Waves Toward Jesus

Matthew 14:22-33

PETER is the only mere human who ever walked on water. Probably he did not go very far, but he went farther than anyone else ever has gone.

It is a stormy night, and the disciples in the boat are “tossed with waves, for the wind was contrary.” Verily, we are in tempestuous times nowadays: the waves are boisterous, the wind against us. But Jesus is still walking the sea. Do not despair, however buffeted; in the fourth watch of your night He will come toward you.

The disciples are terrified when they see Jesus; they say, “It is a spirit!” They cry out with fear. How the old Book shows up the humanness of believers! It is a “spook”! Sometimes we do not know the Lord when He does come to our rescue.

Then comes the blessed reassurance: “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” No matter how dark the night, how nearly upset your frail bark, cheer up, the Lord is on the sea!

Peter speaks up: “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water.” He is throwing a challenge to the Lord. Yet I rather like his daring proposition. He is impetuous, venturesome, and it often gets him into trouble, but there is nothing dull and commonplace about Simon Peter. He does not say, “Lord, if it be Thou, come to our aid,” but, “Let me come to Thee.” He wants God to give him something to do, and God likes to give such men a dare. So Jesus says, “Come.”

Peter walks some distance at least, but his characteristic weakness shows up. “When he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid.” He got his mind on circumstances—and when a believer looks away from Christ to circumstance, sink he must. He must cry for help—and the Lord rescues him, saying, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

Are you alarmed in your boat and afraid to walk toward Jesus? You put first this foot, then that, into the water. “Yes, I know I should walk by faith and not by sight, but it looks so dangerous. I shall not hold out; are you sure He will keep me?”

What if you do have a sinking spell! Suppose you do weaken out there and think of the wind! Jesus is looking at you! Better to walk by faith a little way and have to cry “Lord, save me” than to live the smug, safe life of those who never step out on His promises! If you wait until you are sure that you never will sink, you will never walk by faith. But you can be sure of this: If you walk toward Him and call to Him when your faith grows small, you may sink but you will not drown! If only we faltering souls could see that and live by it, how we might tread triumphantly every stormy sea! He does not guarantee you that your faith will not falter, that you will not forget and begin to sink. But He has promised to lose no life committed to Him.

You are going through this world but once. Have you been up to now a poor, terrified doubter in a battered boat? Walk the waves toward Jesus! Friends may discourage you, the skeptical may laugh, smug and safe souls may rate you a crank, but resolve for yourself: “Live or die, sink or swim, I will take God at His word and Jesus at His challenge. I had rather sink a thousand times and have Him pull me up again than never to have stepped out on His promise.”

As with Peter here, there will always be for those who dare a happy ending. Like him, you will walk with the Lord on the waves; the wind will cease; and you and those in the ship—believers who would not dare—will be constrained to cry, “Of a truth Thou art the Son of God!”

“I have prayed for thee.”

Luke 13:1-9

We must not suffer the intercession of Abraham to pass away from our thoughts till it has reminded us of the yet more powerful advocacy of our Blessed Lord Jesus. We see him in one of his own parables describing himself as preserving the sinful by his pleadings, and the passage is a fit sequel to our yesterday’s reading.

Luke 13:3

See the need of repentance. Philip Henry once said, “Some people do not like to hear much of repentance; but I think it so necessary that if I were to die in the pulpit, I should desire to die preaching repentance, and if I should die out of the pulpit I hope to die practising it.”

Luke 13:4-5

When we hear or read of terrible judgments upon sinners, such as these here recorded, and that which befell Sodom of old, we ought not to congratulate ourselves as though we were exempted because of our innocence, but rather we should regard these events as warnings to ourselves; since, if we fall into the same sins, sooner or later a doom equally overwhelming will come upon us. If any enquire why it has not come already, let them pay special attention to the parable which follows. There has been an intercessor at work, or we should have perished long ere this.

Luke 13:6

It was in good soil, and under the gardener’s care; it would therefore yield fruit, or prove itself to be good for nothing.

Luke 13:7

Three years was long enough for a test: there might have been two bad seasons to account for the absence of fruit, but when a third time the tree was fruitless the fault must be in the tree itself. God gives us time enough for trial. All of us have been borne with quite long enough to prove us, and perhaps at this moment the Lord is saying, “Cut it down.” How very like are some of us to the barren tree! In itself it is of no use, it fills the place of a good tree, it draws the goodness from the soil, and hurts others near it. It is thus that men live useless lives, and meanwhile are occupying wastefully positions in which others would bring glory to God.

Luke 13:8

It is the voice of Jesus the Intercessor. He is unwilling to see the axe uplifted, for he is full of compassion. See how unconverted men owe their lives to Jesus. They are not preserved by their own worth or worthiness, but they live upon sufferance, and will die as soon as the voice of Jesus ceases to plead for them.

Luke 13:9

May we who have been without grace till now hear the word of God at this hour and live; for this may be our last year of grace, and when it is over we may be cast into the fire of hell. Jesus has pleaded that we may be tried once more; but there is a limit to his pleadings. Note the two ifs, “And if,” “and if not.” Upon these two ifs hang eternity. The Lord grant that none of us may be cut down and cast into the eternal burnings.

See how the fruitless fig-tree stands,

Beneath its owner’s frown:

The axe is lifted in his hands,

To cut the cumberer down.

“Year after year, I come,” he cries,

“And still no fruit is shown;

Nothing but empty leaves arise,

Then cut the cumberer down.”

Sinner, beware! the axe of death

Is rais’d and aimed at thee:

Awhile thy Maker spares thy breath,

Beware, O barren tree!

Discipleship: Saying Goodbye to World’s Toys

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation:… he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised…. James 1:12

There is one kind of human suffering which can be known only to the believing Christian, and that is voluntary suffering deliberately and knowingly incurred for the sake of Jesus Christ!

Such voluntary suffering displayed among us in these times is a luxury, a treasure of fabulous value, a source of riches beyond the power of the mind to conceive. And it is rare as well as precious, for there are few in this decadent age who will of their own choice go down into this dark mine looking for jewels.

But of their own choice it must be, for there is no other way to get down. God will not force us into this kind of suffering; He will not lay this cross upon us nor embarrass us with riches we do not want.

Some riches are reserved for those who apply to serve in the legion of the expendables, who love not their lives unto the death, who volunteer to suffer for Christ’s sake and who follow up their application with lives that challenge the devil and invite the fury of hell.

Such as these have said goodbye to the world’s toys; they have chosen to suffer affliction with the people of God. They have accepted toil and suffering as their earthly portion.

But where are they? Has this breed of Christian died out of the earth? Have the saints of God joined the mad scramble for security?

Are we now afraid to suffer and unwilling to die?

I hope not—but I wonder. And only God has the answer!