Rest Only in Christ

“But the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into the ark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark.” (Genesis 8:9)

Unlike the raven, which Noah had sent out first, the dove could not live on the carrion floating on the floodwaters. After nine months cooped up in the Ark, she had reveled in her freedom when Noah first released her from the window of the Ark. Unaware of the outside perils while safe with Noah, she flew gaily off into the open spaces beyond, just like many a professing Christian, eager to cast off the constraints of his or her parental religion. “And I said, Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then would I wander far off, and remain in the wilderness” (Psalm 55:6-7).

But the dove could find no rest away from Noah, whose very name means “rest”! His father, Lamech, by prophetic inspiration, had called his name Noah, saying, “This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed” (Genesis 5:29). So, she finally returned, finding rest once again in Noah’s outstretched hands.

Just so, the Lord Jesus, in His greater ark of secure salvation, is waiting at its open window with arms outstretched, inviting all those weary of the doomed world outside to return to Him. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). Christ’s message to the weary wanderer is: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions,…return unto me; for I have redeemed thee” (Isaiah 44:22). HMM

Song of the Suffering Servant

First Movement: The Eloquence of Darkness—Part 2

Many bulls surround me; strong ones of Bashan encircle me. They open their mouths against me—lions, mauling and roaring (Psalm 22 vv. 12—13).

Continuing the theme of suffering, David portrayed a fifth scene of darkness: Christ’s intense suffering on the cross. He pictured the mocking crowd as a menagerie of wild animals. They were like ravenous wolves closing in on their prey. Murder, sin, and hate filled their wild eyes.

Verses 16-18 describe in uncanny detail the Roman execution—piercing the hands and feet, counting the bones, people staring and gloating, soldiers dividing the garments and casting lots for them.

David pleads for immediate help (vv. 19-21). He prays intensely for God to come close and deliver him from these wild, murderous, unclean predators.

What a model for me to follow when I am called to suffer. Romans 8:17-18 says it all: “And if children, also heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ— seeing that we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.”

It is easy to live under the mistaken notion that if I do the will of God, my life will be a paragon of perfection, free from anxiety and trauma. But I need to recognize that I may suffer because I am doing the will of God. This happened to David, and it happened to Christ in Gethsemane and on the cross.

My goal in life should be holiness, not happiness. But grabbing hold of this concept in our affluent society is difficult at best. The fullest, most richly textured life is the holy life. Only the refiner’s fire produces pure gold. The holy life yields the richest, most enduring rewards.

Personal Prayer

Lord, though I live in a pagan, materialistic culture, may I commit my life to the higher value of holiness over happiness. Let me experience a deep wellspring of joy, no matter what happens.

A Gospel Chorus Lyric

Eternity’s Values in View

With eternity’s values in view, Lord,

With eternity’s values in view;

May I do each day’s work for Jesus,

With eternity’s values in view.

Words and music by Alfred B.

Smith © 1941. Renewed 1969.

Stirred, But Not Shaken

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.—Psalm 16:8

Whenever I have the opportunity to address Christian counselors, I try to urge them to put the glory of God before their client’s well-being. A good deal of “Christian counseling” today follows the client-centered approach, where the person is all-important. Thus more attention is paid to how the person has been hurt by others than how he or she may be hurting God by being unwilling to trust Him. This is a very sensitive issue, and I tell counselors in training that it must never be brought up until other issues have been explored and understood. But ultimately, however, this is the issue we must all face, whether we are in counseling or not.

Ask yourself this question now: Do I allow myself to be more overwhelmed by the wrong which people have done to me than the wrong I might have done (and may still be doing) to God by my unwillingness to trust Him? Putting the glory of God before our well-being does not go down well with some modern-day Christians brought up in the “me” generation. It means that we have to break away from the idea that life revolves around our desires, our ambitions, our self-image, our personal comfort, our hurts, and our problems, and embrace the fact that it revolves instead around the glory and the will of God. When we learn to apply the great text before us today to our lives, we will find, as did the psalmist, that when we set the Lord always before us, then no matter what happens, we will be stirred but not shaken.

Prayer

Father, thank You for reminding me that I cannot avoid my soul’s being “stirred” by life’s problems, but when I have set You ever before me, then I can avoid being “shaken.” Drive this truth deep into my being this very day. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

1Sm 4:1-22; Ex 33:12-18; Ps 29:1-2

Is there a parallel between this account and today’s church?

What was Moses’ request?

The Spirit-Filled Life

Galatians 5:22

What is a normal Christian? What picture comes to your mind? Perhaps you picture a person who attends church, gives to charity every now and again, lives a respectable life, and goes about his business no different from the average man in the street. Sad to say, our society equates the nominal Christian with a normal Christian. But in fact, the nominal Christian lives a sub-normal Christian life.

What then is a normal Christian? A normal Christian is one who is filled with the Holy Spirit. The normal Christian, the Spirit-filled Christian, is one in whom the Spirit takes complete control.

At Pentecost, when the disciples received an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they gave vent to this power in them. Onlookers were amazed and mistakenly thought the disciples were drunk. Peter had to repudiate that charge, saying they were exuberant because they were filled with the Spirit.

The Spirit-filled life overflows with joy. It characterized the early disciples; it was a hallmark of the early-day Salvationists. The Spirit of God enables us to have joy and give thanks always and in all circumstances.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22). This ninefold fruit of the Spirit expresses the Spirit-filled life. These qualities are found in the life of our Lord, so to be Spirit-filled is to live the life of Christ. A Spirit-filled person is a reproduction of, or a manifestation of, the life of Christ.

We value the fellowship with believers in the place of worship, but if our faith is to mean anything at all it has to be expressed in life’s relationships outside the church as well. The effects of the Spirit-filled life are felt in our homes and in the society in which we live. It has its effects on the relationships of husband and wife, parent and children. Spirit-filled Christians apply Christian principles in the home, the office, the school, at work, in society.

For the Spirit to fill us, there first needs to be a self-emptying of self, sin and pride. Fullness comes at the point of full surrender. The Spirit of God, when He takes full control, revolutionizes us and the society in which we live.

Ah Ang Lim, The Salvationist Pulpit

VIDEO Who’s in Charge?

The preparations of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord. Proverbs 16:1

Every parent goes through the process of establishing with their toddlers—lovingly, reasonably, but firmly—who’s in charge. It’s built into human nature to recognize authority: There can only be one chef in the kitchen, one driver in the car, and one chairperson of the board. Most likely, the recognition of authority comes from the fact that we were created in the image of God who is, without question, in charge.

God made that clear early on: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3). The practical implications of God’s authority mean that His will and desires are more important than ours. Think of the innumerable plans and preparations we make in a day, not to mention a lifetime. Whether we consciously submit those plans to God or not, He weighs in. And the end result of our plans comes from Him.

If you are making plans today, submit them to God. If God’s answer is different from your plans, be ready to embrace the changes He makes.

God has no problems, only plans. Corrie ten Boom


Proverbs 16:1-18 – Jon Courson

Loving God

We know and rely on the love God has for us .1 John 4:16

The professor ended his online class in one of two ways each time. He’d say, “See you next time” or “Have a good weekend.” Some students would respond with “Thank you. You too!” But one day a student responded, “I love you.” Surprised, he replied, “I love you too!” That evening the classmates agreed to create an “I love you chain” for the next class time in appreciation for their professor who had to teach to a screen on his computer, not in-person teaching as he preferred. A few days later when he finished teaching, the professor said, “See you next time,” and one by one the students replied, “I love you.” They continued this practice for months. The teacher said this created a strong bond with his students, and he now feels they’re “family.”

In 1 John 4:10–21, we, as part of God’s family, find several reasons to say “I love you” to Him: He sent His Son as a sacrifice for our sin (v. 10). He gave us His Spirit to live in us (vv. 13, 15). His love is always reliable (v. 16), and we never need to fear judgment (v. 17). He enables us to love Him and others “because he first loved us” (v. 19).

The next time you gather with God’s people, take time to share your reasons for loving Him. Making an “I love you” chain for God will bring Him praise and bring you closer together.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

Why do you love God? How can you show others His love?

I’m grateful to know Your love and to be a part of Your family, Father. Show me ways to creatively express that love.

Developing Convictions

Learning the Bible is essential for Christians, but so is being able to explain why we believe its doctrines

Colossians 2:1-8

A seedling needs nutrients and time to grow into a tall, sturdy tree. In the same way, our convictions develop gradually through committed Bible study and prayer. In order to be firmly planted in biblical truth, we can’t simply hold up the Bible and claim we believe every word. We need to know why we’re convinced that the basic doctrines of the faith are true. 

Here are some questions to help you get started:

• Why do you consider the Bible to be true and trustworthy? 

• Why is Jesus Christ the only way to be saved? 

• What is the Holy Spirit’s role in the lives of believers and unbelievers? 

• What does the Bible say about stewardship of the earth?

• How should you think and act with regard to issues of justice and oppression? 

It’s my hope that these questions will cause you to contemplate how your personal philosophies have developed. Study the Bible and make it the cornerstone of your thinking. Evaluate what God says rather than looking at an issue through the lens of personal preference.  Ground yourself in Scripture. Then whenever a new philosophy comes along, you’ll be able to stand firm in the faith without wavering.

Altar Building

“And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.” (Genesis 12:7)

This is the first reference to Abraham building an altar in Scripture. Building an altar and making sacrifice to God denotes total dependence and reliance on Him. It implies saying no to self and yes to God—in effect presenting one’s self in submission to God as a sinner, trusting Him for gracious handling of one’s sin, and discounting one’s value apart from His work. Building altars became a habit with godly Abraham, the “friend of God” (James 2:23), and he practiced it many times during his life (see also Genesis 12:8; 13:4, 18).

We can surmise that at an early age, Abraham’s son, Isaac, was taught this same practice. It doesn’t seem that Isaac misunderstood or debated the situation, even when he himself was identified as the sacrifice to be slaughtered (Genesis 22:9). He fully trusted and worshiped the same God, and evidently agreed with Abraham’s obedient act. Later, Isaac himself practiced altar-building at least once on his own (26:25).

Compare Abraham and his family to Lot and his family. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that Lot built an altar and recognized God as worthy of worship. No doubt as a direct result, Lot’s wife, sons, and daughters totally rejected these ideas, preferring the sinful practices and mentality of Sodom. Lot was a true believer (2 Peter 2:7-8), but his lifestyle and lack of “altar-building” rubbed off on his family, to the detriment of himself and the people of God ever since.

Here is the question: Do we want to be Christians who ignore proper worship and total submission to God and have families who do likewise? We don’t build physical altars today, but we do need daily times of family prayer. JDM

Song of the Suffering Servant

First Movement: The Eloquence of Darkness—Part 1

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? [Why are You] so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? (Psalm 22 v. 1).

When I face an obstacle that I can’t go over, under, or around, I need to acknowledge my pain and helplessness. Denial and fantasy only compound my problem with dishonesty. I need to look squarely at my situation and admit my inability to resolve it.

The parallels between this psalm and Christ’s crucifixion are astounding. This exquisite lyric poetry portrays deep personal shame and intense suffering. Reading it makes me feel vicariously what Christ went through to win my redemption on the darkest day in history. Since Christ lived the experiences described here and quotes it in the New Testament, I believe this lament applies to him.

Throbbing with urgency and immediacy, the first movement of this psalm (vv. 1-21) eloquently portrays darkness in several related themes:

First, David cried out to God (vv. 1-2).“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” According to Gospel accounts, Christ said these exact words at the height of his agony on the cross (Matt. 27:46; Mark 15:34). As death closed in, Christ felt that his Father had turned his back on him and had withdrawn protection. He felt helpless, disoriented, and betrayed.

Second, David remembered history (vv. 3-5). He praised the Lord and affirmed his holiness by citing the experiences of his fathers who trusted God through adversity and were delivered.

Third, David described the suffering servant’s experience of shame (vv. 6-8). Scorned and despised, he was mocked by a blood-thirsty crowd that was cynical and cruel.

Fourth, David reflected on God’s care (vv. 9-11). The Hebrew word for trust means “to lie prone—completely helpless.” David trusted God from the beginning—even from birth. He pleaded for God to be close because there was no one else to help.

Personal Prayer

Help me, Father, to identify my suffering and need with the Savior. Help me, by faith, to become aware that when I participate in his sufferings, I also share in his glory.

To Look at You

They saw no one except Him—Jesus alone.—Matthew 17:8

When we gaze at Christ’s face and make Him the center of our attention and love, then we are gradually and continuously changed into the likeness of Christ. Thus we are transformed from one degree of glory to another, the Spirit within us being the silent Artist who makes us into His image. We become like Him in character and in countenance.

A young man was so much like his father in appearance that it prompted everyone who knew him to comment on the fact. The mother said: “It’s strange, because when Andrew was a small child, he looked so much like me. Then, when he was about five, he became intrigued with being with his father. He used to go into his father’s study and sit there until his father would say, ‘Is there anything you want?’ Andrew would reply, ‘No, I don’t want anything; I just want to look at you.’ He would sit there and lovingly gaze into his father’s face for such a long time that I honestly believe this is how he has come to look so much like him.”

Just as there is a law in photography that says: “The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection”—in other words, if you want a full-face reproduction, you must look full-face into the camera—so there is a law in life that causes us to become like that on which we gaze. If we look sideways on Christ, we get only a partial reflection. If we look fully at Him, we get a full reflection. We become like that on which we gaze.

Prayer

My Lord and my God, forgive me that so often I just give You a sideways glance when I ought to be continuously gazing into Your Face. Help me to behold You, so that I am transformed from what I am into what You are. Amen.

Further Study

Mk 5:1-20; Lk 23:44-49; Mt 27:55-56

What was the centurion’s response?

What did the demoniac do when he saw Jesus?