VIDEO Lingering in His Presence

He left nothing outside his control. Hebrews 2:8, PHILLIPS


June DePriest, a Bible teacher in Jackson, Mississippi, faced a protracted burden over her husband’s health. On one occasion there were frustrating delays as they awaited word on a heart procedure. “All I could do, and yet the best thing to do, was spend time in God’s Presence,” June wrote. “I lingered there longer and longer. No answer. Heaven was silent. It is easy to fall prey to the darkness of doubt. What do we do when heaven is silent? Stay in His Word and cling tightly to the Father. Saturate your heart with His promises. Go back to Scriptures that have spoken to you in the past. We are to be confident that God is working behind the scenes on our behalf.”

The Old Testament heroes of Joseph, Ruth, Moses, and Elijah found themselves in places they didn’t understand. So did the twelve disciples, Paul, Silas, and a host more. God puts us all in places we don’t understand, but we can trust His sovereignty.

Be encouraged! He has left nothing outside His control.

Lingering in God’s presence will through prayer increase your faith in Him, provide a place for you to unload your burdens, remind you that God is always near, and help you not to panic. Elizabeth George

A Little Lower Than The Angels – Hebrews 2:1-9

Waters of Encouragement

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

I call it the “lean to green” miracle. It’s happened every spring for more than fifteen years. Coming out of the winter months, the grass in our yard is dusty and brown, so much so, a casual passerby might believe it’s dead. Colorado has snow in the mountains, but the climate on the plains—“the Front Range”—is dry, with most warmer months full of drought warnings. But every year around the end of May, I turn on the sprinklers—not huge amounts of water but simply small, consistent waterings. And in about two weeks, what was dry and brown builds up into something lush and green.

That green grass reminds me how vital encouragement is. Without it, our lives and our faith can resemble something almost lifeless. But it’s amazing what consistent encouragement can do to our hearts, minds, and souls. Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians emphasizes this truth. The people were struggling with anxiety and fear. Paul saw he needed to bolster their faith. He urged them to keep up the good work of encouraging one another and building each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11). He knew that without such refreshment, their faith could wither. Paul experienced this firsthand, for those very same Thessalonian believers had been an encouragement to him, building him up. You and I have the same opportunity to encourage—to help one another bloom and grow.

By:  John Blase

Reflect & Pray

What’s the most recent encouragement you’ve received? Whose heart could you water today or this week?

Father, thank You for the encouragement I’ve received, and help me to encourage others.

What Does It Mean to Be Saved?

Available to everyone and freely given, all the benefits of a relationship with God come only through Jesus 1 Peter 1:1-5

Christians often talk about salvation, but do we really understand what it requires? Too many of us think that being saved is our own responsibility, but it’s really the work of God. He causes us to be born again (1 Pet. 1:3). Our part is to respond to the gospel message in faith when His Spirit opens our heart to understand.

The path to redemption begins with the realization that it’s impossible to make ourselves righteous, because we cannot correct our sinful nature. To find favor with the Lord, we must trust in the sacrifice our Savior made on our behalf. His crucifixion was a demonstration of God’s hatred for sin and immense love for mankind. Jesus—the blameless One— bore the penalty for sin so corrupt people like us could be made righteous through faith in Him. 

Your good works and righteous acts can never earn God’s forgiveness and favor. The only way you can be forgiven of your sins is through Jesus Christ and His sacrificial, substitutionary atoning death at Calvary. No matter what you’ve done, you can be declared righteous if you’ll turn from your sins and trust Jesus as your Savior and Lord.

The Sin of Complaining

“And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.” (Psalm 106:15)

Christians who complain about their circumstances would do well to ponder this sobering verse and its background. God had greatly blessed His people, Israel, delivering them supernaturally from slavery in Egypt, protecting them against their enemies—even miraculously supplying daily bread and water for them in the desert.

Still they complained—about their food, about the imaginary luxuries they had left behind in Egypt, and against their leaders. “And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled” (Numbers 11:1). Finally, when they complained about the manna, “the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly.” He sent them quail to eat in such abundance as to last “even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you.” Then, “while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed…the LORD smote the people with a very great plague” (Numbers 11:10, 20, 33).

God has blessed every Christian with forgiveness of sin and eternal life. He daily fulfills His promise to supply every need (not every desire, however), and we should live a thankful life in return, regardless of our particular lot in this world. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5). “Do all things without murmurings and disputings” (Philippians 2:14). Complaining about what we don’t have may well result in God taking away what we do have—and still worse, sending leanness into our souls. HMM

“For She Loved Much”

Luke 7:36-50

LUKE alone (7:36-50) records the anointing of our Lord in the house of a Pharisee. This man had perhaps invited Jesus out of curiosity or admiration, and our Lord, who received sinners and ate with them, being a friend of publicans and sinners, accepted the invitation. As He ate, a woman who had been a sinner, doubtless a harlot in the city, came to Him and anointed His feet. She had likely heard Him teach and came in a state of genuine contrition, godly sorrow and repentance. Such a state manifests itself in brokenness. There is much shallow repentance today because men have such a shallow sense of sin.

The Pharisee reasoned within himself that if Jesus were a prophet He would not have allowed such a contact and defilement. But our Lord, reading his thoughts, gave him the parable of the two debtors, one owing five hundred pence and the other fifty. Both were forgiven: now which loved his creditor most? The plain application, as He Himself gave it, was that those who are forgiven most love most; and this woman, being a grievous sinner and realizing it, was full of gratitude because much was forgiven. While all are sinners—and it is not the amount of sins committed that condemns the sinner—yet those who have offended most grievously in degree, though all offend in kind, usually are most grateful. That explains why men converted from terrible careers of vicious sin often are most exuberant in their testimony, and why those saved early and not conscious of years of vile transgression do not generally manifest the same sense of deliverance.

“Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” is not to be taken to mean that the woman was forgiven because she loved. She loved much because she was forgiven much. Her love was the expression of gratitude for sins already forgiven. Some think she had already been forgiven before this incident; others, that Jesus, perceiving in her genuine repentance, forgave her at the outset and announced it at the close of the incident.

Our smug and pale Christianity today shows little of that broken and humble gratitude for sins forgiven that marked this woman. Few alabaster boxes are broken in tearful joy over forgiveness. Sin has been glossed over; men do not regard themselves sinners and consequently feel no burden of guilt and, of course, no relief in His pardon. We bring Him verbal tribute, wordy compliments on Sunday, but few kneel weeping at His feet.

“Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” It is faith that saves, so far as our part goes. Of course, Christ the object of our faith, saves us, but faith looks unto Him and appropriates His pardon. And because we are forgiven and saved, we may go in peace—peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ and the peace of God that passeth all understanding.

“Thou art God alone.”

Job 39:19-30

The sublime language of Jehovah in his address to Job is far above all human eloquence. Let us take a second lesson from that divine discourse. First, let us read the unrivalled description of a war-horse.

Job 39:19-25

He who created a creature so noble, powerful, and courageous, is not to be summoned to our bar, or questioned as to what he does.

Job 39:26

We commonly speak of instinct. What is it but the teaching of God? He who has given so much wisdom to birds and beasts is full of wisdom himself. Let us bow before him, and rest assured that what he does is ever best.

Job 39:30

Far-seeing and terrible, the royal bird belongs not to the kings of the earth though they figure it upon their banners: it is but another incarnation of the sublime thoughts of God, a further illustration of his greatness.

Job 40:1-14

Job 40:9

If we fancy that we can vie with God in justice, we are challenged first to compete with him in power. All the attributes of God are equally great, and if we cannot rival one, it will be wise not to impugn another.

Job 40:10

Come thou poor glow-worm, put forth thy light, and see if thou art comparable to the sun.

Job 40:11-14

Until we can manage providence as the Lord has done, so as to abase tyrants and deliver the oppressed, we had better learn submission to the divine will, and cease for ever from all rebellious questionings.

In heaven and earth, in air and seas,

He executes His wise decrees:

And by His saints it stands confest,

That what He does is ever best.

Wait, then, my soul, submissive wait,

With reverence bow before His seat;

And, midst the terrors of His rod,

Trust in a wise and gracious God.

Effective Prayer: Letting All Our Pretenses Go

Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. Matthew 23:28

The basic artificiality of civilized human beings is hard to shake off. It gets into our very blood and conditions our thoughts, attitudes and relationships much more seriously than we imagine.

The desire to make a good impression has become one of the most powerful of all the factors determining human conduct. That gracious (and scriptural) social lubricant called courtesy has in our times degenerated into a completely false and phony etiquette that hides the true man under a shimmery surface as thin as the oil slick on a quiet pond. The only times some persons expose their real self is when they get mad.

With this perverted courtesy determining almost everything men and women say and do in human society, it is not surprising that it should be hard to be completely honest in our relations with God. It carries over as a kind of mental reflex and is present without our being aware of it.

Nevertheless, it is an attitude extremely hateful to God. Christ detested it and condemned it without mercy when He found it among the Pharisees. The artless little child is still the divine model for all of us. Prayer will increase in power and reality as we repudiate all pretense and learn to be utterly honest before God as well as before men!