“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.” (2 John 1:6)
Bible teacher Donald Grey Barnhouse told the story of a young son of a missionary couple in Zaire who was playing in the yard when suddenly he heard his father’s voice ring out, “Philip, obey me instantly! Drop to your stomach!” the boy did so immediately. “Now crawl to me as fast as you can!” the boy obeyed. “Now stand up and run to me!” Philip ran into his father’s arms. When the young boy looked back at the tree he had been playing near, he saw a large deadly snake hanging from one of the branches. His instant obedience had saved his life.
You can almost feel the intensity of this father’s love as he asks his son for complete trust and obedience in order to avoid impending danger. It’s no different with God; He sees what we cannot; and when our life is headed for peril, He cries out to us with the intense love of a father trying to save his child’s life.
So when you hear God’s voice commanding you to obey, remember it is the loving, caring voice of your heavenly Father who only wants the very best for you. Believe Him and obey!
“Heavenly Father, thank You for the love that You have for me. Thank You for showing me Your great love on the Cross of Calvary. My heart cry back to You, “Abba Father”. Amen
The Grateful Heart
Some things were not made to co-exist. Long-tailed cats and rocking chairs? Bad combination. Bulls in a china closet? Not a good idea. Blessings and bitterness? That’s the mixture that doesn’t go over well with God. Perhaps you’ve sampled it? Gratitude doesn’t come naturally. Self-pity does. Bellyaches do. Yet they don’t mix well with the kindness we’ve been given.
I attended a banquet where a soldier was presented with the gift of a free house. He nearly fell over with gratitude. He hugged the guitar player in the band, the woman on the front row. He thanked the waiter, the other soldiers. He even thanked me and I didn’t do anything. Shouldn’t we be equally grateful?
John 14:2 says Jesus is building a house for us. Our deed of ownership is every bit as certain as that of the soldier! The grateful heart sees every day as a gift.
PROCLAIM THE LORD’S DEATH
1 CORINTHIANS 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
In the Old Testament, whenever the children of Israel sacrificed a lamb for a burnt offering as they faced a strong enemy, victory was theirs. For example, in 1 Samuel 7:7–11, when the Philistines were coming against them, the prophet Samuel offered a lamb as a burnt offering. As it was being offered, the Lord came like a loud thunder on the Philistine army, confusing them. This led to victory for the Israelites.
Every time something bad happened to the children of Israel, by offering a lamb sacrifice, they were proclaiming the Lord’s death, and the battle would turn in their favor.
Today, when we are faced with an enemy, how do we offer our “burnt offering”? How do we proclaim the Lord’s death and come out victorious? Do we ask Jesus to come down to where we are at and die on the cross all over again?
Of course not. Jesus died once for all our sins—past, present and future. (Hebrews 10:12) His work is perfectly perfect and completely complete, so He doesn’t have to die for us again. Today, we proclaim His death simply by partaking of the Lord’s Supper.
Every time you partake of the bread and wine, you declare to the principalities and powers of darkness that the Lord’s death avails for you. Every time you partake, you are saying that because Jesus has been judged and punished in your place, you cannot be judged and punished. Because Jesus died young in your place, you will live long. And because He conquered death and stripped the devil of his powers, you will not be defeated. The victory is already yours!
That is why the psalmist David said, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…” (Psalm 23:5) The Lord’s table is prepared for you in the presence of your enemies because when you partake of the bread and wine, you will see your enemies tremble and scatter! Why? Because when you proclaim the Lord’s death through the Holy Communion, you are reminding the devil and his cohorts of their humiliating defeat at Calvary’s cross! (Colossians 2:15)
CHRIST IS OUR MERCY SEAT
PSALM 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
In the Old Testament, there was a place where God met with His people. In Exodus 25:22, God said, “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony...” This place was above the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, under the wings of the two cherubim. The psalmist calls it “the secret place of the Most High…under the shadow of the Almighty”.
The mercy seat covered the ark which contained the three emblems of man’s rebellion: the golden pot of manna—man’s rebellion against God’s provision, two tablets of stone on which God wrote the Ten Commandments—man’s rebellion against God’s standard, and Aaron’s rod—man’s rebellion against God’s authority. Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrificed animal on the mercy seat and so make propitiation for the sins of Israel.
Today, it is not the blood of animals that makes propitiation for our sins, but the holy blood of the Son of God. (Romans 3:24–25) The word for “propitiation” in the original Greek text is hilasterion, which actually means “mercy seat”. So Christ is our mercy seat. His blood speaks for us and puts God on our side. God does not see our rebellion. He sees the blood of His Son and accepts us!
That is why we can come boldly to the secret place of the Most High, in Christ, and feel secure that we have every right to be in God’s presence. We can come boldly to Him to obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)
And because Christ, our mercy seat, covers us with His blood, we are under God’s protection. We are in the secret place of the Most High, abiding under the shadow of the Almighty. Here, no evil will befall us, nor will any plague come near our dwelling. (Psalm 91:9–10) In the secret place of the Most High, we are favored and kept safe from all harm!
DEUTERONOMY 28:2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you…
God loves to bless you. He has even declared that “blessings shall come upon you and overtake you”. This means that you can’t run fast enough to escape them! When you turn one corner, there is a blessing waiting for you. When you turn another corner, you run smack into another blessing!
Now, you may think that you don’t qualify for God’s blessings because of the preceding verse which says that these blessings will come to pass only if you diligently obey God’s voice and keep all of His commandments. You know that no matter how hard you try, you just cannot keep all of God’s commandments. In fact, the Bible says that if you fail to keep just one commandment, you fail to keep all. (James 2:10)
My friend, I have good news for you: Jesus is the one who qualifies us for every single blessing because He has kept all of God’s commandments. When He died for us on the cross, He not only fulfilled all of God’s commandments, He also redeemed us from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13) Note that He did not redeem us from the blessings of the law, so the blessings are still ours today!
As you read the list of blessings in Deuteronomy 28, starting with “Blessed shall you be in the city…in the country…the fruit of your body…your basket…when you come in…when you go out…” (Deuteronomy 28:3–13), I believe that Jesus is saying to you, “Like the blessings? Then take them by faith!”
You may say, “But I don’t deserve them.” Yes, you don’t deserve them, but you still get them because of Jesus. That is God’s grace! The law says, “You must deserve the blessings.” But the law is no longer here. Grace is here. So take the blessings by grace through faith. Believe God for the blessings.
Today, it is no longer a question of how much or how well you have kept God’s commandments. It is a question of how much you canbelieve God for His blessings. All the promises of God in Christ are “Yes”, and because you are in Christ, you can say “Amen!” to His blessings! (2 Corinthians 1:20)
My friend Rob cried freely telling his story about his young son’s challenging life.
Daniel was born with a double cleft palate, dramatically disfiguring his face. He had surgery, but the evidence remains, so people constantly notice and occasionally make remarks.
Daniel, however, is unfazed! He just tells people God made him this way so, what’s the big deal? He was named student of the week, so was asked to bring something to show his classmates for show and tell. Daniel told his mom he wanted to take the pictures that showed his face prior to the surgery. His mom was concerned. “Won’t that make you feel a bit funny?” she asked. But Daniel insisted, “Oh, no, I want everyone to see what God did for me!”
Try Daniel’s defiant joy and see what happens. God has handed you a cup of blessings. Sweeten it with a heaping spoonful of gratitude!
From You’ll Get Through This
When we are young Christians, life is uncomplicated. We find it difficult to understand why older Christians cannot give simple and straightforward answers to questions. Yet, as we progress on the spiritual path, as we see and experience the pain, suffering and injustice of the world, we are confronted with situations where answers do not come readily.
This is when Christians ask questions, need answers, start having doubts and feel they have lost their faith. What I am about to say to you this morning has come through years of experience and studies.
There are times in our spiritual walk when God does not make sense in the strange ways He works with us. Ways that are not always accepted by us, because we do not expect, nor understand them. What I can tell you with assurance of faith is: keep following Christ and have complete faith in Him. Yes, it means that you will sometime have to just close your eyes, bite hard on your teeth and hold on.
The Bible says:
“But he who stands firm to the end will be saved…” (Matt 24:13)
Our lives as Christians is one of change and confusion, of great uncertainty where we find all principles under close scrutiny, our values put through the mill and merging into greyness. In these turbulent times we need to remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow” (Heb 13:8).
Keep reading the Bible, study the Word of God, keep them in your heart because they are what will keep you afloat when the storms of life hit. Wait for God to bring the best out of you, forget what you do not understand for now and get back to it later when you are ready.
JOINT HEIRS WITH CHRIST JESUS
ROMANS 8:16–17 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ...
As long as you are born again, you are no longer a “slave”, but a son of the Most High God. And God does not just call you His son. He also calls you “an heir” through Christ. (Galatians 4:7) In fact, Romans 8:17 says that you are “joint heirs” with Christ.
As a joint heir with Christ Jesus, you inherit everything that He is. How precious Jesus is to the Father, is how precious you are to the Father. The way the Father loves Jesus, is the way the Father loves you!
How accepted are you by God today? Look at Jesus. That is how accepted you are! Christ is the measure of your acceptance. How favored are you by God? Look at Jesus, who is seated at the Father’s right hand. You enjoy that same favor today because whatever Christ enjoys, you enjoy!
As a joint heir with Christ Jesus, you also inherit all that He has obtained from the Father. How much Jesus has, is how much you have. How prosperous is the one who made all things, and who put the gold, silver and diamonds in the earth? So are you in this world! (1 John 4:17)
I used to read the Bible to find out how to be a successful and victorious Christian. But now, I read it to find out more about Jesus because I know that when I find Him, I find my every blessing in Him. (Ephesians 1:3, 2 Peter 1:3)
My friend, all that Jesus is in heaven today, you are in this world. All that belongs to Him belongs to you. That is why it is in your interest to know Him more, to see Him in all His glory and beauty. And because Jesus is so glorious, it will take you a lifetime to discover everything that He has done for you and has for you.
Beloved, you are an heir of the Most High God. You are a joint heir with Christ Jesus. So find out all the blessings that your rich inheritance includes and start walking in them today!
If you’ve been waiting for a victory in any area of your life, I have good news for you today.
Whether you’ve been praying for victory in your finances, your health, in a relationship, for a child, on your job, or in a dream you’re pursuing . . .
Victory is closer than you think . . . much closer!
Here is a truth I want you to get down in your spirit: Victory isn’t a year away, a month away, or even a week away . . .
Victory is here!
You can experience it today!
God has already gone before you. He has already lined up the right people, arranged the right breaks, and put the right opportunities in place.
Even when you don’t know it and even if you can’t see it, God has already given you the victory.
Now, I know we all face situations from time to time that seem impossible. And I know it’s easy to become discouraged and think that things will never work out.
But in the Scripture, God gives us a promise of great hope. He says:
I will go before you and make the
crooked places straight . . .
That means the Most High God, the Creator of the universe, the One who controls it all has gone before you. He is fighting your battles. He will make the crooked places straight.
God is your guarantee of victory — He is your hope today!
You don’t have to know how it is all going to work out, and you don’t have to make it happen in your own strength. Your part is to just stay in faith.
If you’ll stay on the high road and keep being your best each day, you will see the hand of God at work in amazing ways.
God provides the victory before we even fight the battle!
Maybe you’ve lost a job or had your hours cut back. Maybe you’re going through a relationship struggle or a financial uncertainty. It’s easy to get negative and think nothing will ever change. But you have to realize this struggle is not a surprise to God. He has gone before you and has prepared your victory.
Before you ever had the problem,
God already had the solution.
Before you ever see it in the natural, victory has already been provided in the spiritual. Victory is here today!
streangthen our faith
“And it was so, as her soul was departing (for she died) that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.” (Genesis 35:18)
Many children are being saddled with strange names nowadays, such as the boy whose sport-minded parents named him ‘Espn’. In colonial time, parents sometimes opened the Bible at random and selected the first word they saw, which led one child to be named, “Notwithstanding Griswold.
There were some strange names in the Old Testament too. In Genesis 35, as Rachel struggled with childbirth, she named her son Ben-Oni, which means “Son of my sorrow.” Imagine having a name that would constantly remind you of that your birth had caused your mother’s death! Graciously the boy’s father, Jacob, discarded that name and called him Benjamin, which means “Son of My Right Hand”…a designation of honour in the home.
Often we suffer travail in life, times of trouble can leave us bitter, and we can go through life with negative emotions. But those are the times when we dare trust the Lord to bring honour out of suffering and triumph out of tears. By faith we see things in a different light. Faith in God’s promises is a winning strategy…it was the tribe of Benjamin that later produced Israel’s first king and the great apostle Paul.
“Heavenly Father I pray that You will help me see the bigger picture and strengthen my faith in Your promises for my life, in Jesus’ Name…amen
Ana & Andre Schoonbee
God uses us to motivate and encourage the body.
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