VIDEO Race With Grace

I will run the course of Your commandments, for You shall enlarge my heart. Psalm 119:32

Jaime Chien of New York City began running for exercise in 2013 after watching a friend in a marathon. Now she’s a force to be reckoned with in the world of running. “What keeps me going is being able to motivate other people,” she told Runner’s World. “There are times I don’t feel like running…. But I lead a Monday night running group, so people are relying on me.”[1]

The Bible compares our Christian life to a running course. We’re to “run in such a way” that we’ll obtain the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), to “run with endurance” (Hebrews 12:1), to run without stumbling (Proverbs 4:12), to “run and not be weary” (Isaiah 40:31), and to finish our course (2 Timothy 4:7).

One thing that keeps us going is the ability to motivate and encourage the other Christian runners around us; God uses the act of encouraging others to bring us encouragement too. Next time you are discouraged, reach out and encourage a fellow believer in Christ; you will both end up being encouraged!

Discouraged people don’t need critics. They hurt enough already…. They need encouragement.
Charles Swindoll

[1] Joe Wuebben, “Candid Conversations: Motivating Others Is What Drives Me,” Runner’s World, October 7, 2022.

Psalm 119:25-32 (Daleth) – The Greatness and Glory of God’s Word

Like Our Great Teacher

The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. Luke 6:40

In a viral video, a three-year-old white belt karate student imitated her instructor. With passion and conviction the little girl said the student creed with her leader. Then, with poise and attentiveness, the little ball of cuteness and energy imitated everything her teacher said and did—at least she did a pretty good job!

Jesus once said, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher” (Luke 6:40). He told His disciples that to imitate Him included being generous, loving, nonjudgmental (vv. 37–38), and discerning about whom they followed: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?” (v. 39). His disciples needed to discern that this standard disqualified the Pharisees who were blind guides—leading people to disaster (Matthew 15:14). And they needed to grasp the importance of following their Teacher. Thus, the aim of Christ’s disciples was to become like Jesus Himself. So it was important for them to pay careful attention to Christ’s instruction about generosity and love and apply it.

As believers striving to imitate Jesus today, let’s give our lives over to our Master Teacher so we can become like Him in knowledge, wisdom, and behavior. He alone can help us reflect His generous, loving ways.

By:  Marvin Williams

Reflect & Pray

What parts of Jesus’ life are you seeking to imitate these days? When is it most difficult for you to imitate Christ, the Master Teacher?

Jesus, my Great Teacher, help my discipline and attentiveness to be worthy of You!

Sowing Spiritual Seeds

Be watchful today so you can notice opportunities to influence others for God 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

Think about everything that contributed to your salvation story. It’s probably not possible to count all the spiritual seeds God used to draw you to the Savior. And most likely, some of the people who sowed them never saw the outcome.  

It’s important to recognize the value and cumulative effect of how others have worked to expand the kingdom. When we do, we then realize our own opportunity: We can sow spiritual seeds in the lives of friends, coworkers, children, grandchildren, and even strangers. God uses what we plant and leads others to spread further seed or water the ground, but He alone causes the growth.  

When you display Christlike qualities and sow truth into others’ lives, God feeds their spirit, changes their heart, enlarges their spiritual understanding, and increases their desire to live for Him. Whether or not you ever see the results, the Lord is using you to accomplish His will. 

God is interested in more than the big things His children do for Him. He also sees all the small ways believers try to influence others for Christ. He values quiet manifestations of the fruit of His Spirit, for which no credit or praise is expected. Your love, kindness, patience, gentleness, and self-control are seeds that impact others.

Holy Conversation

“Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” (2 Peter 3:11)

The picturesque phrase “holy conversation” occurs only twice in the New Testament, both in Peter’s epistles; one in his very first chapter, 1 Peter 1:15, the other in today’s verse. The other is, “But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” This distinctive King James rendering does not really mean “clean speech” but assumes the older, more precise meaning of “conversation,” namely “behavior,” especially behavior that involves other people. The Greek word translated “holy” primarily implies “dedicated to God.” Thus, holy conversation simply means living in such a way that our entire manner of life is oriented to honor God and to influence other people to honor Him.

These two exhortations of Peter tell us why we should live this way. The first incentive is simply the holiness of God Himself: “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). We have become children of God through faith in Christ, and we should therefore behave “as obedient children, not fashioning [ourselves] according to the former lusts in [our] ignorance” (1 Peter 1:14).

The second incentive given just before the words of today’s verse is the ever-imminent return of Christ, following which, eventually, “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2 Peter 3:10). Incentives, both past and future, are thus given for holy living in the present!

Eight of the 13 occurrences of “conversation” (Greek anastrophe) are in Peter’s epistles, stressing his vital concern that Christians ought to demonstrate “all holy conversation and godliness” in their lives. HMM

“Why Reason Ye?”

Matthew 16:1-12

AFTER the incident of the Syrophenician woman, Matthew (15:29-31) and Mark (7:31-37) record the healing of many lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others. Mark singles out the healing of a deaf man with an impediment in his speech. Alas, all of us are deaf to heaven, and only Jesus can loose our tongues in true testimony! He tried to avoid superficial sensationalism by charging that they tell no man, but His fame spread.

Next He fed four thousand, an entirely different miracle from the feeding of the five thousand, as Mark plainly tells us (8:19- 20). Not only can our Lord open our eyes and ears and loose our tongues but He feeds us with Himself, the Bread of life.

Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Him seeking a sign. It was an unholy union of two Jewish groups at odds with each other but here united in common cause against the Lord. He answers with a mighty declaration that they can read the signs of the weather but cannot read the signs of the times. How true today! Men scan the daily weather forecast for an uncertain prediction but make light of the sure word of prophecy in the Bible lying on the table. These very days through which we now are passing are unmistakably foretold in the Old Book, but when we preach them, men laugh at “excitable premillenialism.”

Our Lord left these inquisitors with no sign, according to Mark, but with the sign of Jonah according to Matthew—the sign of the resurrection (Matt. 12:39-41). Then He crossed the sea with His disciples, who forgot to take bread along. On the other side He, with His mind still on the Pharisees and Sadducees, said, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” The disciples, with their minds on the lack of bread, said, “It is because we have taken no bread.” No wonder our Lord said, “O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread?” Then He reminds them of the fact that He has just fed five thousand with a few loaves and fishes and declares that what He had in mind was the evil teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

For us the application is plain. How stupid of these disciples to be worrying over the lack of bread when they had just seen our Lord feed thousands with a few loaves! Would Jesus be bothered over the lack of a little bread when He could work such wonders? Yet we today profess to believe in a miracle-working God who spreads tables in the wilderness and supplies meal in the barrel, and then we reason among ourselves because we have no bread. We worry about daily needs; we gather in a huddle in our churches to devise plans to meet expenses; we forget the supernatural and become panicky in the face of a crisis. Theoretically we believe in a God who supplies all our needs, but when we find resources dwindling and an emergency on hand we reason among ourselves to meet the situation. A Christ who could take a few loaves and feed multitudes is ready to prove His power in our individual lives and in our churches when we quit reasoning among ourselves and let Him work.

“Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.”

Genesis 22:1-19

Genesis 22:1

This was at once the patriarch’s crowning trial and grandest victory, and it came after he had obtained the choicest blessing of his life. Great privileges involve great trial.

Genesis 22:3

His obedience was speedy, unhesitating, and complete. Think of that early hour, and the task of cleaving the wood for such a sacrifice. Could we thus obey the Lord?

Genesis 22:4

Those days of deliberation must have severely tried him. We can do in a hurry what we should shrink from if we weighed it calmly.

Genesis 22:5

Perhaps he feared lest the servants should interpose to prevent his obedient act.

Genesis 22:6-7

A touching question, but Abraham would not allow his feelings to master his faith.

Genesis 22:8

These were grandly prophetic words, and have been divinely fulfilled;

Genesis 22:14

Jehovah-jireh or the Lord will provide

Genesis 22:18

Thus was the covenant renewed in full, in connection with this great intended act of sacrifice: it is sweet to see the covenant of grace confirmed in the actual offering up of Jesus, the Only Begotten of the Father. O for grace to be in covenant with God in Christ Jesus.

My God and Father! while I stray

Far from my home, in life’s rough way,

Oh! teach me from my heart to say,

“Thy will be done!” “Thy will be done!”

If thou shouldst call me to resign

What most I prize—it ne’er was mine;

I only yield thee what was thine:

“Thy will be done!”

Faith Must Rest in the Adequacy of Christ

Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 1 Corinthians 1:25

Science and philosophy are more arrogant and bigoted than religion could ever possibly be, and still they try to brand evangelical Christians as bigots.

But I have never taken my Bible and gone into the laboratory and tried to tell the scientist how to conduct his experiments, and I would thank him if he didn’t bring his test tube into the holy place and tell me how to conduct mine!

The scientist has nothing he can tell me about Jesus Christ, our Lord. There is nothing he can add, and I do not need to appeal to him.

Studying the philosophers may clarify my thinking and may help me broaden my outlook, but it is not necessary to my salvation. I have studied Plato and the rest of them from the time I was knee-high to a rubber worker in Akron, Ohio. But I have never found that Plato added anything, finally, to what Jesus Christ has said.

You know what Jesus said: “I am the Light that lighteth every man. I am the Bread that feedeth every man. I am the One who came from the heart of the Father, and I am the Eternal Word which was in the beginning with God, and which was and is God, and that’s who I am.”

So, we are assured in the Word that it is Jesus only and He is enough! It is not Jesus plus a lot of other religions. It is not Jesus plus a lot of other philosophies. He is the Eternal Word, and so we must listen to Him!