VIDEO Presence and Provision

Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. Luke 12:11-12

In 1517, the Protestant reformer Martin Luther prepared an outline of 95 complaints against what he considered to be ungodly church practices. By refusing to retract his complaints, he was called before a church council in Germany in 1521. Tradition says his final answer to his accusers was, “Here I stand; I can do no other.” In the end, he was excommunicated.

Luther’s persecution was nothing new. Jesus warned His disciples that they would be brought before civil and religious authorities because of their faith in Him. But He told them not to worry about how they would respond. The Holy Spirit, “in that very hour,” would give them the words to say to their accusers. Yes, we should be prepared to defend our faith “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV). But our best preparation is faith in God’s presence and provision.

In a non-Christian culture, your faith may be challenged. “Do not worry”—the Holy Spirit is with you.

He who has the Holy Spirit in his heart and the Scriptures in his hands has all he needs. Alexander Maclaren

The Unforgivable Sin (Luke 12:8-12) — A Sermon by R.C. Sproul

Grandmother Research

He will take great delight in you. Zephaniah 3:17

Researchers at Emory University used MRI scans to study the brains of grandmothers. They measured empathetic responses to images that included their own grandchild, their own adult child, and one anonymous child. The study showed that grandmothers have a higher empathy toward their own grandchild than even their own adult child. This is attributed to what they call the “cute factor”—their own grandchild being more “adorable” than the adult.

Before we say, “Well, duh!” we might consider the words of James Rilling, who conducted the study: “If their grandchild is smiling, [the grandmother is] feeling the child’s joy. And if their grandchild is crying, they’re feeling the child’s pain and distress.”

One prophet paints an “MRI image” of God’s feelings as He looks upon His people: “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will . . . rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). Some translate this to say, “You will make His heart full of joy, and He will sing loudly.” Like an empathetic grandmother, God feels our pain: “In all their distress he too was distressed” (Isaiah 63:9), and He feels our joy: “The Lord takes delight in his people” (Psalm 149:4).

When we feel discouraged, it’s good to remember that God has real feelings for us. He’s not a cold, far away God, but One who loves and delights in us. It’s time to draw close to Him, feel His smile—and listen to His singing.

By:  Kenneth Petersen

Reflect & Pray

How have you felt the pleasure of God? How does this make you feel?

Dear God, help me to feel Your smile upon me.

Worth the Wait

God’s call to patience, though difficult, brings great rewards Luke 2:21-35

We are pretty impatient these days. If you don’t agree, just think about the last time you warmed up a meal in the microwave. Did you calmly wait during those few minutes, or did you stand there tapping your fingers and sighing in exasperation?

No wonder Scripture includes so many examples of godly patience. Time and again, the Father made promises to His children, only to have them wait years—sometimes decades—for the promise to be fulfilled. However, the result of that patience was always blessing. 

Consider how long Simeon waited to see Christ—to hold the infant Jesus in his arms and prophesy over Him. For many decades he kept watch, holding firmly to the promise that he would not die before he beheld the Savior (v. 26). Imagine waiting day after day for such an amazing blessing. Some people might have found it challenging to continue believing the promise, but Simeon didn’t falter. And his reward was indeed great.

Shortcuts rarely lead to where God wants us to be. The long road, however, has been taken by countless faithful servants. So if you’re waiting on the Lord today, be encouraged because you’re in good company. 

Good Soldiers

“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)

From a Kingdom perspective, a good soldier has several responsibilities. Initially, we can expect challenges, wherein we might “suffer trouble as an evil doer” (2 Timothy 2:9), endure afflictions (2 Timothy 4:5), or even be afflicted (James 5:13).

Ultimately, a soldier has one purpose, “that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.” Put another way, “do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). Soldiers are called out of the normal life of a nation and dedicated to executing the will of the king.

Thus, from a spiritual perspective, “know ye not that friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). The source of that friendship is a focus on walking by the flesh, which has no good thing in it and cannot please God (Romans 8:8).

We are to “war a good warfare” (1 Timothy 1:18) and to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12) because “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Fighting God’s battles with God’s armor ensures the ultimate victory promised by our King, Creator, and “captain of the host of the LORD” (Joshua 5:14). “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it” (Isaiah 25:8). HMM III

Understanding The People We Are Seeking To Influence

How do we communicate the Gospel in a society where God is increasingly perceived as irrelevant and Jesus Christ is little more than a vacation school character or a swear word? A good place to start is to try to understand current cultural shifts and respond accordingly. Consider the fact that:

1. THE PEOPLE AROUND US ARE BUSIER TODAY THAN THEY WERE IN THE 1980’s ; working harder and longer for less.

Therefore: We need to declare the truth in short sound/time bytes. Like it or not, longwinded, complicated, or arduous approaches to communicating the Gospel no longer work.

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possibleI have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.“(1 Corinthians 9:19, 22)

2. THEY ARE MORE BROKEN AND “DYSFUNCTIONAL” – individually, socially, and in the family.

Therefore: The process of winning and healing will generally take more patience and a longer period of time then it did previously.

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.“(Romans 15:1, 2)

3. THERE IS A NEW INTEREST IN UNSEEN AND SPIRITUAL THINGS, and willingness to talk about them. However, this interest does not necessarily extend to the Bible or Jesus.

Therefore: They need to see in us the authentic love of Christ in such a way that validates true Christianity over New Age and other ideologies — particularly those in the metaphysical realm.

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.“(John 13:34, 35)


Therefore: We must model and proclaim Christ to them in their world, rather than expecting them to enter ours.

Therefore we are Christs ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christs behalf: Be reconciled to God.“(2 Corinthians 5:20)

“The Eternal God is thy refuge.”

Numbers 35:9-16, 19, 22-28

Numbers 35:9-11

The Israelites, in common with other nations, had among them the institution of blood-revenge, by which the nearest relative was bound to revenge a mans death. To meet the evils connected with this deep-seated custom, places were appointed to which the manslayer might flee, and be secure till the time came for a fair trial.

Numbers 35:12, 14

These were chosen on each side of the river, that a refuge might be accessible to every man; even so is Jesus a Saviour freely presented to all who desire him. The roads were repaired, and hand-posts set up to direct fugitives, and thus the gospel is made plain, so that he who runs may read.

Numbers 35:15

No sooner had the fearful deed been done than the unhappy manslayer hastened at full speed to the nearest refuge, for the blood-avenger was sure to pursue him and demand life for life. Oh! that sinners would up and away to Jesus, their sole and sure salvation.

Numbers 35:19

God provided no sanctuary for real guilt, murder was not winked at, else had the land become both polluted and unsafe. Mercy to murderers would be cruelty to the innocent. It was accidental or unpremeditated killing which here found shelter. The spiritual fact, however, far excels the type, for in Jesus, the real sinner finds pardon and safety.

Numbers 35:22-25

There he was safe, no avenging hand could touch him—Fair picture of the security of those who rest in Jesus, the refuge of guilty souls;

Numbers 35:22-25

The death of the high priest brought freedom to the man who had fled for refuge. The instruction here lies upon the surface.

Numbers 35:28

We are not now under the restraints and conditions which were imposed upon a dweller in a refuge city; for our Great High Priest is dead, we are liberated unconditionally, we have no avenger to fear, but may possess our inheritance in peace. This, however, is only true of believers—are we all such?

When God’s right arm is bared for war,

And thunders clothe his cloudy car,

Where? Where? Oh where shall man retire

To escape the horror of his ire?

‘Tis he, the Lamb, to him we fly,

While the dread tempest passes by:

God sees His Well-Beloved’s face,

And spares us in our hiding-place.

A Silent Christian: Is That Possible?

...and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10

The Bible links faith to expression—and faith that never gets expression is not a Bible faith. We are told to believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we shall be saved.

It is my opinion, brethren, that the silent Christian has something wrong with him!

Psychologists try to deal with abnormal human behavior, linked to deep depression, where people just go into silence. They will not talk—they will not respond. They just shut up, and that’s all.

There is something wrong with the mind that does not want to talk and communicate. God gave each of us a mouth and He meant for us to use it to express some of the wonders that generate within our beings.

Someone describing the Quakers said they did not talk about their religion—they lived it. That is a foolish simplification—for the things that are closest to our hearts are the things we talk about and if God is close to our hearts, we will talk about Him!

This quiet religion that apologizes: “I haven’t anything to say” does not square with the vision of the heavenly beings who say with their voices, “Holy, holy, holy!”

You may say: “Well, I worship God in my heart.”

I wonder if you do. I wonder if you are simply excusing the fact that you have not generated enough spiritual heat to get your mouth open!