VIDEO Cancel Culture

When [the two witnesses] finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them. Revelation 11:7

The church at Corinth took the drastic step of expelling a member because of his unrepentant, sinful lifestyle (1 Corinthians 5:). That was necessary to prevent sin from “[leavening] the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:9). Today, a form of excommunication called “canceling” is taking place on the basis of opinions, not sin. A canceled person is shunned or snubbed when he or she offends the sensibilities of some group for cultural, political, or religious reasons.

When Christians are canceled today for their biblical values and views, we find ourselves in good company. Jesus Himself experienced the ultimate form of cancelation by being crucified. The day is coming when those who hold biblical views will be canceled, even killed—as pictured by the persecution of the two witnesses in Revelation 11. The Antichrist will forbid the preaching of the Gospel during the Tribulation and “cancel” followers of Christ (Revelation 6:9).

If you experience being “canceled” for your faith, take heart. It is nothing more than what Jesus predicted (John 15:20).

It is better to be persecuted for having said the truth than to be favored for having flattered. Augustine


Revelation 11 – Jon Courson

Crumbled from Within

I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin. Psalm 32:5

When I was a teenager, my mom painted a mural on our living room wall, which stayed there for several years. It showed an ancient Greek scene of a ruined temple with white columns lying on their sides, a crumbling fountain, and a broken statue. As I looked at the Hellenistic architecture that had once held great beauty, I tried to imagine what had destroyed it. I was curious, especially when I began studying about the tragedy of once great and thriving civilizations that had decayed and crumbled from within.

The sinful depravity and wanton destruction we see around us today can be troubling. It’s natural for us to try to explain it by pointing to people and nations that have rejected God. But shouldn’t we be casting our gaze inwardly as well? Scripture warns us about being hypocrites when we call out others to turn from their sinful ways without also taking a deeper look inside our own hearts (Matthew 7:1–5).

Psalm 32 challenges us to see and confess our own sin. It’s only when we recognize and confess our personal sin that we can experience freedom from guilt and the joy of true repentance (vv. 1–5). And as we rejoice in knowing that God offers us complete forgiveness, we can share that hope with others who are also struggling with sin.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What’s the first step in identifying sin in your life? Why is it vital that you confess your sin to God?

Father God, I thank You for the gift of Your forgiveness that eliminates the guilt of my sin. Help me to first examine my own heart before I concern myself with the sins of others

God Is in Control of Our Salvation

God is the only One in control of our salvation, and He is all-powerful.

Ephesians 1:3-14

Because God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent, everything in both the natural and spiritual realms is under His complete control. That includes our salvation. No matter how many times we’ve tried to turn away from the Lord, He continues to seek us in His complete sovereignty and grace.

The Lord has issued a universal call inviting everyone to come to Him. Scripture says it isn’t His will that anyone perish, nor does He take pleasure in the death of the wicked (2 Pet. 3:9; Ezek. 33:11). He desires that all come to a knowledge of the truth—namely, that there is one God, sin separates us from Him, and only faith in Jesus reconciles us to Him (1 Tim. 2:4-6).

We can take no credit for our salvation; Scripture says that none of us seek God (Rom. 3:11). Instead, the desire to know Him comes through the Spirit’s work of convicting hearts and providing the faith to believe in Jesus as Savior. Every step of salvation—from first to last—is of God.

No plan of our heavenly Father’s can be stopped, so ask the Holy Spirit to help you grasp the immensity of divine grace, love, and mercy.

To the Animals

“Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.” (Proverbs 6:6-8)

Adam and Eve originally were given dominion over all the animal creation (Genesis 1:26), but sin came in and things changed. Then, after the Flood, God placed the fear and dread of man “upon all that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 9:2), and the primeval fellowship between man and his animal friends was broken.

More seriously, their fellowship with God was broken, and soon, in their autonomy, the source of true wisdom was largely forgotten. “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Romans 1:22-23).

Ironically, God now directs such foolish people to the animals they worship to find the wisdom they should have learned from God. “Go to the ant,” says the Lord, to learn industry and prudence. “There be four things which are little upon the earth,” the Word says, “but they are exceeding wise: The ants…the conies…the locusts…the spider” (Proverbs 30:24-28). “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isaiah 1:3).

“But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee” (Job 12:7-8).

If nothing else, the intricate design of even the lowest animal is eloquent testimony to the wisdom of its Creator and the madness of those who deny Him. HMM

My Lips Overflow With Praise!

Tav

Let my cry reach You, Lord; give me understanding according to Your word. Let my plea reach You; rescue me according to Your promise. My lips pour out praise, for You teach me Your statutes. My tongue sings about Your promise, for all Your commandments are righteous. May Your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen Your precepts. I long for Your salvation, Lord, and Your instruction is my delight. Let me live, and I will praise You; may Your judgments help me. I wander like a lost sheep; seek Your servant, for I do not forget Your commands (Psalm 119 vv. 169-176).

This magnificent psalm ends with a beautiful but humble prayer, encompassing a cluster of pleas for insight and help. Its tone is “the grace of thankfulness.”

Five requests rise before the Lord like Berlioz’s “Symphonie Fantastique,” each of the five movements more beautiful than the last: “Let my cry reach You, Lord” (v. 169). “My lips pour out praise” (v. 171). “My tongue sings about Your promise” (v. 172).”May Your hand be ready to help me” (v. 173). “May Your judgments help me” (v. 175).

The psalmist, awed by the magnitude and depth of the divine revelation, recognizes his own need for renewal and revival.

In some ways I’m like that other musician. He knows he’s not out of danger yet. He’s like a sheep that has strayed from the shepherd’s side (v. 176). Lost, he longs to be found and restored to the fold. At least he knows his weakness, and that’s the beginning of the strength.

The psalm concludes at the end of the Hebrew alphabet, but the song plays on … in overflowing praise to God for his exquisite, awe-inspiring, magnificent law!

Personal Prayer

O Lord, may my lips overflow with praise today, and may my tongue sing of your Word!

Precise Scripture

This is what the Lord said.—Jeremiah 13:1

Let us focus on what is meant by the phrase—”the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.” The sword is the Word of God—the Bible, the inspired Scriptures.

In Matthew 4:4 and 4:7, we see a perfect illustration of how Jesus used the sword of the Spirit when rebutting the temptations of the Devil when He begins His response, “It is written …” and “It is also written …” Notice how, prior to the temptation, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit (Mt 3:13-17). Next we are informed that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil” (4:1).

During the temptation, our Lord, filled with the Spirit, resisted every one of the Devil’s statements by using the precise words of Scripture. Follow me closely, for this is extremely important: Christ did not merely utter a newly formed statement or something that came to Him on the spur of the moment, but quoted a text which had already been given by God and written down. The weapon used by our Lord was the Word of God, the Scriptures.

Can you see the point I am making? Satan is not rebuffed by clever phrases that are made up on the spur of the moment and sound theologically sophisticated and refined. He is defeated only when we quote to him the precise words of Scripture. If this was the strategy Jesus had to use, then how much more you and I.

Nothing defeats Satan more thoroughly and effectively than the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Prayer

O God, open my eyes that I might see more clearly than ever the power and authority that lies in Your sacred Word, the Bible. Help me to know it better. For Your own dear name’s sake. Amen.

Further Study

1Pt 1:13-25; Ps 119:89, 103; Jr 15:16

What did Jeremiah do with God’s Word?

How did the psalmist describe it?

A Saving Faith

Romans 10:9

I am going to speak of faith in the evangelical or saving sense—not faith as used sometimes to denote the whole of Christianity, or to represent a system of truth, but faith when it is used to set forth that act of the soul which translates it out of the kingdom of Satan into the kingdom of God—that living, powerful, transforming principle in the soul of the believer which enables him to live in obedience to God—the faith that saves.

What is this faith? It is not a mere mental perception or conviction of the truth. Saving faith is not intellectual perception of the truth. There are hundreds of drunkards who believe thoroughly in sobriety. I have known of many who have believed that abstinence was the finest thing in the world; nevertheless, you found them drunk every Saturday night just the same. Their faith in sobriety had no practical effect on their lives! This is an illustration of a mere intellectual perception and approval of a truth without any corresponding effect upon the heart.

Saving faith is not mere feeling on the subject of religion. But if it is neither intellectual perception nor conviction of the truth, nor mere feeling about the truth, what is it?

I like to let one Scripture explain another, so I want to remark that the word translated “faith,” or “belief,” as used in the saving sense, is, in several other places in the New Testament, translated “commit,” or “committal,” the giving of one’s self to another.

What is faith? It is giving myself up to God, “risking” myself, risking my all, for this life and for the next, on the truthfulness and the goodness of God, and daring to live and act contrary to everybody around me, as if all that God has said were true!

Faith is, all through the Scriptures, represented as a voluntary thing. It is a thing you can do or leave undone. Faith must be a voluntary committal of your heart to Him. God wants your heart. Then He will enlighten your intellect. Faith is a thing of the heart, hence the philosophy of the Scripture, which says, “For with the heart man believes unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10 KJV).

Dare you not pledge yourself to His throne and link yourself on to His almightiness? He waits for your choice. He knocks at the door of your heart. He woos your love.

Catherine Booth, Life and Death

VIDEO The Heavenly City

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:2

In the ancient world, Babylon had its hanging gardens, Jerusalem had its glorious temple, and China had its Forbidden City. In the modern world, Venice has her canals, and Rome has her Vatican City. And in literature, the Celestial City was the goal in The Pilgrim’s Progress, and Oz was the destination in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

But no city—ancient, modern, or fictional—is like the Bible’s New Jerusalem. This is the city the apostle John saw descending from heaven to be the eternal destination and home for the people of God. Its radiance and splendor are like nothing ever seen on earth—something befitting the glory of heaven. Indeed, the city is lighted by the glory of God and the lamp of the Lamb of God (Revelation 21:23). It is a city of purity in which those made pure by the blood of the Lamb will dwell for eternity.

If you haven’t already, take time to read Revelation 21 and meditate on the home that awaits you—if you belong to Christ by faith.

To properly envision Heaven, we must remove from our eyes the distorted lenses of death and the Curse. Matthew Henry


Surprising Facts about Your Eternal Home – Revelation 21-22 – Skip Heitzig

When to Sacrifice

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22–23

In February 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis was just beginning, a newspaper columnist’s concerns struck me. Would we willingly self-isolate, she wondered, changing our work, travel, and shopping habits so others wouldn’t get sick? “This isn’t just a test of clinical resources,” she wrote, “but of our willingness to put ourselves out for others.” Suddenly, the need for virtue was front-page news.

It can be hard to consider others’ needs while we’re anxious about our own. Thankfully, we’re not left with willpower alone to meet the need. We can ask the Holy Spirit to give us love to replace our indifference, joy to counter sadness, peace to replace our anxiety, forbearance (patience) to push out our impulsiveness, kindness to care about others, goodness to see to their needs, faithfulness to keep our promises, gentleness instead of harshness, and self-control to lift us beyond self-centeredness (Galatians 5:22–23). While we won’t be perfect at all of this, we’re called to seek the Spirit’s gifts of virtue regularly (Ephesians 5:18).

Author Richard Foster once described holiness as the ability to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done. And such holiness is needed every day, not just in a pandemic. Do we have the capacity to make sacrifices for the sake of others? Holy Spirit, fill us with the power to do what needs to be done.

By:  Sheridan Voysey

Reflect & Pray

When have you made a sacrifice for the sake of others? What needs around you call for the Holy Spirit’s fruit today?

Holy Spirit, fill me afresh today and make me a person of virtue

Trusting God’s Plan in Trouble

When difficult situations test our faith, God wants us to rely on Him for everything we need.

Genesis 12:10-20

Does your faith shrivel when you encounter trouble? Perhaps you prayed about a situation and expected God to act according to your desires, but He didn’t. Though you were hoping for a smooth path, He gave you one with bumps, twists, and turns, which left you wondering where He was. He promised to care for you, but instead you felt deserted.

These are situations that test our faith, and they are common to all believers. Abraham, a man with great faith followed God’s instructions to leave home and travel to Canaan. You’d expect the Lord to honor such bold obedience with blessings, but it wasn’t long before Abraham faced another faith challenge—a famine. This time, his trust faltered. Instead of believing God would provide, he fled to Egypt and made more foolish and costly decisions.

The next time you’re tempted to think that God has let you down, remember that trouble is one of the means He uses to strengthen your belief in Him. When circumstances seem to indicate He doesn’t care, stand firmly on the truths of Scripture and fix your eyes on the Lord, who is always faithful.