VIDEO Big Promises: The Promise of Power

sun and rain

But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

The 1956 film The Ten Commandments is the grand story of Moses leading the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt. One of the most dramatic scenes is the Hebrews fleeing Egypt—six hundred thousand men (Exodus 12:37), plus women and children. The feeble, old, and disabled were in carts, on crutches, or riding on donkeys.

But wait—were there weak and feeble among them? Psalm 105:37 says, “He also brought them out with silver and gold, and there was none feeble among His tribes” (emphasis added). Perhaps this summary view by the psalmist has to do with what the Hebrew slaves did the night before the Exodus: They consumed a Passover lamb in their homes. They entered into obedient fellowship with God and, for the first time in centuries, found hope in their redemption and liberation. Their weakness turned to certain hope and strength.

Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7). He has promised us the power of His Spirit (Acts 1:8) that we may have strength for our journey of faith. He will provide you with the strength you need for whatever you face today.

Christianity is the power of God in the soul of man.  Robert B. Munger


Verse of the Day – Isaiah 40:31 | Life Without Limbs

What’s Your Name?

Don’t call me Naomi. . . . Call me Mara, because the Almighty has made my life very bitter. Ruth 1:20

Jen remarried after her first husband died. The children of her new husband never accepted her, and now that he’s passed away too, they hate her for remaining in their childhood home. Her husband left a modest sum to provide for her; his kids say she’s stealing their inheritance. Jen is understandably discouraged, and she’s grown bitter.

Naomi’s husband moved the family to Moab, where he and their two sons died. Years later, Naomi returned to Bethlehem empty-handed, except for her daughter-in-law Ruth. The town was stirred and asked, “Can this be Naomi?” (Ruth 1:19). She said they shouldn’t use that name, which means “my pleasant one.” They should call her “Mara,” which means “bitter,” because “I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty” (vv. 20–21).  

Is there a chance your name is Bitter? You’ve been disappointed by friends, family, or declining health. You deserved better. But you didn’t get it. Now you’re bitter.

Naomi came back to Bethlehem bitter, but she came back. You can come home too. Come to Jesus, the descendant of Ruth, born in Bethlehem. Rest in His love.

In time, God replaced Naomi’s bitterness with the joyful fulfillment of His perfect plan (4:13–22). He can replace your bitterness too. Come home to Him.

By:  Mike Wittmer

Reflect & Pray

What name describes you? What does it mean for you to live out the name that describes who you are in Jesus?

Father, I’m coming home to find my rest in Your Son.

Liberated to Live

We can overcome sinful habits by trusting the Lord to meet our needs and asking Him for strength. Romans 7:14-25

Christ has set believers free from the condemnation of sin, but fighting against it is still a challenge. We can all identify with Paul’s struggle in Romans 7 because we too may feel enslaved to sinful acts, habits, or attitudes. So, how can you enjoy the freedom Christ has won for you? 

First, recognize that your problem is spiritual. When you were saved, you received a new nature created in righteousness, holiness, and truth, but you still live in a fleshly, fallen body that’s bent toward sin. That’s why you’re feeling an internal conflict. 

Second, examine your motives and desires. Ask yourself, Why do I indulge to the point that I am mastered by this temptation? 

Third, cry out to the Lord for help. Fill your mind with biblical truth. Then, believe that the Holy Spirit will enable you to deny your sinful desires and walk in obedience to God.  

The Lord is progressively setting you free from the power of sin. Although you will always battle it to some degree in this life, the outcome is certain. After death or when Christ returns, you’ll be completely free from sin and won’t ever struggle with it again.

Passing Over to the Other Side

“He saith unto them, let us pass over unto the other side.” (Mark 4:35)

After a long day of ministry, Christ commanded His disciples, “Let us pass over unto the other side,“ knowing full well what would come to pass.

The story after this verse is a lesson we should take to heart. We cannot expect everything to be smooth on the waters of life in our journey to heaven. In other words, sickness, loss, and disappointment afflict all His children in this fallen world. But through affliction, we are taught many important lessons.

As the story continues, “there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And [Jesus] was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?” (vv. 37-38). Indeed, though we might also be in a threatening place, Christ is right there in the boat with us.

In fact, this situation in Mark’s gospel must have been extremely threatening, because at least four of the disciples were experienced fishermen and had known the Sea of Galilee and its storms from their youth. But, “he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?” (vv. 39-40). By affliction, we are shown our weakness, which we need God to strengthen.

All of our trials wean us from the world, make us long for heaven, and cause us to seek Christ’s help. Psalm 119:71 declares, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted.” JPT

“Thou Art the Christ”

Matthew 16:13-20

MARK relates the gradual healing of a blind man by our Lord (8:22-26). First he saw men as trees walking, then after a second touch he saw clearly. Is it not a lesson that not all are healed instantly, but that our Lord often uses a gradual process?

Three Gospels (Matt. 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21) record Peter’s confession of our Lord as the Christ, the Son of God. Men still differ concerning our Lord’s first question: “Whom do men say that I am?” To some He is one of the prophets or a great teacher or a great ideal. But Jesus comes down to the individual with “Whom say ye that I am?” It is because of who He is that the Master is what He is. Sadly, many speak kindly of Him today who will not confess Him as Christ and Son of God.

Much argument has raged about our Lord’s statement: “Upon this rock I will build My Church.” Of course, “this rock” has been made to mean Peter himself, a view utterly out of line with the Word, for Peter never claimed to be more than an apostle and elder. It has also been held that the Church was built upon Peter as “a foreshadowing of redeemed humanity confessing Christ as Son of God.” This, too, would make the Church rest upon man. Others hold that the Church is built upon the apostle’s confession, but the Church does not rest upon a creed or a doctrinal statement. It is more likely that by “this rock” our Lord meant Himself for Christ is the foundation of the Church as Peter himself says (1 Pet. 2:4-9).

Against this Church all the powers of hell shall not prevail! Then, our Lord gives to Peter the keys of the “kingdom of heaven.” Not the keys to heaven nor to eternal life, but to the kingdom in the sphere of Christian profession. It was Peter who opened the door of Christian opportunity to the Jews on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38-42) and to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:34-48). But let us remember that Peter was not infallible, for he himself later tried to close the very door which he opened (Gal. 2:11-18).

The power of “binding and loosing” was not authority to decide the eternal destinies of souls but authority to pass upon matters of discipline and doctrinal and moral issues. A rabbi received at ordination authority to decide upon what was lawful and unlawful. That which was allowed as lawful was said to be “loosed,” and that which was unlawful was “bound.” This is the terminology our Lord used here.

It is evident that we have here a delegated authority which the church today is failing to use. Of course, it must be used only under the Spirit’s guidelines, and it is there we fail because we are so little under the Spirit that when we undertake these matters we decide and act mainly in the strength of the flesh. The thought is well brought out in John 20:22-23 where authority to retain or remit sins is given, but this prerogative is first prefaced by Christ’s symbolic breathing out of the Holy Ghost. Unless the Spirit empowers and directs, we have no true authority and can only make matters worse.


“The just shall live by faith.”

Galatians 3:6-18

In this passage the apostle shows that Abraham’s righteousness was gained by his faith; that the covenant made with him was upon the tenure of faith; and that by the way of faith alone we who are sinners of the Gentiles are made partakers of covenant blessings.

Galatians 3:6-7

Not the trusters in works and boasters in circumcision; these, even among the Jews, are but his children by the power of nature, to whom no more belongs than to Ishmael. Abraham was the father of the faithful, or believing. In his grandest aspect he is not the sire of a rebellious nation, but of the believing seed.

Galatians 3:8-9

For in no other way can all nations share in the blessing, since they neither inherit it by descent, nor obtain it by circumcision, nor earn it by merit.

Galatians 3:10

Let us learn this verse well, and may it ring the death knell of all legal hopes. All that the law can do for sinners is to judge them, condemn them, and curse them. Let us flee from the vain hope of ignorant and proud men, and look to another way of salvation; which, indeed, is the only one.

Galatians 3:11

The only just men before God are the men of faith, and these do not live by their works, but by believing; hence it is clear that the law has nothing to do with their righteousness.

Galatians 3:12

Hence we cannot be saved partly by faith and partly by works. The roads are distinct. We must keep the whole law if we would be saved by it. Our only hope is in the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ received by faith.

Galatians 3:13, 14

His the curse, that ours might be the blessing. By the gate of Substitution all blessings come to us, and even that best of blessings—the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 3:15

Once made, a covenant cannot be justly altered by an afterthought, or affected by an unforeseen event. What consolation is here!

Galatians 3:16

Mark how the apostle believed in verbal inspiration, for he finds a meaning in so small a matter as the use of a singular word instead of a plural.

Galatians 3:17

Sinai and Leviticus cannot supersede the covenant of grace. Notwithstanding the law, the believer is secure in faith.

Galatians 3:18

And we by faith grasping the promise are made partakers of it, not at all by our doings, but by the simple act of reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

In vain we ask God’s righteous law

To justify us now;

Since to convince and to condemn,

Is all the law can do.

Jesus, how glorious is thy grace!

When in thy name we trust,

Our faith receives a righteousness

That makes the sinner just.

We Are Loved of God, for Jesus’ Sake

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Never while the stars burn in their silence can it be said that God loves the sin in the sinner. Never can it be said that the holy God loves an unholy thing—and yet God loves sinners!

God loves sinners for that which He sees in them of His lost and fallen image, for God can never love anything but Himself, directly. He loves everything else for His own sake. So, you are loved of God—but you are loved of God for Jesus’ sake!

God loves lost men, not because He is careless or morally lax, but because He once stood and said: “Let us make man in our image.”

Man was made in the image of God, and while sin has ruined him and condemned him to death forever unless he be redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ, mankind is a being only one degree removed from the angels.

But sin, God knows, is like a cancer in the very being of man. Although once made in the image of God, he is now a dying man, sick unto spiritual death, because of the poison of sin.

But extract and take out that sin and you have the image of God again! And Jesus Christ was the image of God because He was a man without sin.

God sees in Jesus Christ what you would have been! He sees that in His perfect humanity, not His deity—for you and I could never be divine in that sense. When Jesus Christ came to us, He was incarnated in the body of a man without embarrassment and without change, because man was an image of the God who made him.


VIDEO Turning Loneliness Into Love

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. Psalm 25:16, NIV

 

Loneliness is a global pandemic of sorts. The most vulnerable are people younger than 25 and older than 55. Also singles, those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, and those suffering from chronic disease. Perhaps you fit into one of those groups. Even if you don’t, our technologically advanced world is a lonely place. But God doesn’t want us to live in perpetual loneliness. He has given us a prayer to offer: Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

That prayer was originally composed by David, the man after God’s own heart. When you feel lonely, it helps to remember the biblical heroes who suffered bouts of the same affliction. But our ever-present God can show us how to turn our loneliness into love for others. Even something as simple as writing a note, smiling at passersby in the grocery store, or calling an ailing friend can help.

Cast out the temptation to move from loneliness to self-pity. Use your lonely feelings to push you toward someone lonelier than you are. The God who blesses you will make you a blessing!

There’s no better place to discover the healthiest possible response to loneliness than the Word of God. Ruth Graham


Psalm 25 – A Plea for Help from the Humble and Reverent

We Are Strangers

The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Leviticus 19:34

Everything felt drastically different in their new country—new language, schools, customs, traffic, and weather. They wondered how they would ever adjust. People from a nearby church gathered around them to help them in their new life in a new land. Patti took the couple shopping at a local food market to show them what’s available and how to purchase items. As they wandered around the market, their eyes widened and they smiled broadly when they saw their favorite fruit from their homeland—pomegranates. They bought one for each of their children and even placed one in Patti’s hands in gratefulness. The small fruit and new friends brought big comfort in their strange, new land.

God, through Moses, gave a list of laws for His people, which included a command to treat foreigners among them “as your native-born” (Leviticus 19:34). “Love them as yourself,” God further commanded. Jesus called this the second greatest commandment after loving God (Matthew 22:39). For even God “watches over the foreigner” (Psalm 146:9).

Besides obeying God as we help new friends adapt to life in our country, we may be reminded that we too in a real sense are “strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13). And we’ll grow in our anticipation of the new heavenly land to come.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

Who might God want you to look after? In what ways has He gifted you to spread His love to others?

Compassionate God, I understand a little what it feels like to be a stranger in this world. Lead me to be an encourager of other foreigners and strangers.

For further study, read Walk with Me: Travelling with Jesus and Others on Life’s Road.

Living in Bondage

When we stop listening to the Holy Spirit, the temptation can be strong to meet our needs with sinful options John 8:31-36

Freedom is one of humanity’s most prized treasures. Yet every human being is born in captivity to sin. Jesus said anyone who commits sin is a slave to it (John 8:34). The only way to be set free is if the Lord releases you. Salvation is the permanent liberation spoken about here, but the Savior also continually sets believers free from the sins entangle them.  

Ungodly habits typically begin as an attempt to fulfill a desire or need in the wrong way. If feelings of guilt come, we may quickly rationalize them away. Over time, we become desensitized to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, and the ongoing trespass becomes a comfort. Eventually it controls us, and we feel powerless to stop.

As believers, however, we’re never without strength, because the Holy Spirit indwells us. With His help, we’re no longer slaves to sin but instead become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:12-19). 

Take an honest look at your life. Are there any habits that own you? If so, it’s time to fight the good fight. As you submit yourself in obedience to God, He’ll begin to set you free.