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“It Is Well”

"It Is Well"

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man;
but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted
beyond what you are able, but with the temptation
will also make the way of escape, that you
may be able to bear it”
– 1 Corinthians 10:13 –

The brethren in Corinth thought their trials were the greatest. However, Paul tells them that their burdens were similar to everyone else’s. Therefore, he encourages them by having them remember that God’s faithfulness is the basis of our security. Trust in the promise is indispensable and not to enter into the reckless presumption of going into enemy territory, disregarding divine warnings.

The promise ensures that God will prevent the enemy from placing a burden beyond our strength. God is not the author of suffering; He came to put an end to it. He does not tempt anyone (James 1:13-14), but when He allows it, it is because He has a higher purpose than that pain. There are two types of pain: according to the world and according to God. The first is destructive, the second is constructive. It is a test of faith which draws the best from us. And God provides a way out. As Jesus showed us, that victorious escape route resides in the certainty of an “It is written.”

Horatio Spafford was a successful lawyer facing a number of adversities, such as his son’s death from scarlet fever, pressing financial situations, and a voracious fire that consumed almost all of his assets in 1871. Invited by his friend, the evangelist Dwight Moody, he decided to travel with his family with the goal of resting and visiting his friends in England. At the last minute, he had to stay and the family traveled without him. On the Atlantic, the ocean liner on which his beloved family was traveling collided with the English ship Lorchean and sank within twelve minutes. Most of the passengers and crew drowned in the ocean waters. Among the fatalities were Spafford’s four daughters. His wife survived and made it to Wales.

Once there, she managed to send this message by telegraph: “Saved alone.” Spafford took the first boat and traveled to meet his wife. In the area where the ship with his daughters had sunk, he began writing a hymn that has strenghtened thousands over the years: “It Is Well with My Soul.”

Both temptation and pain come from the enemy.
Man blames the Creator for the work of the corruptor.
God can allow it for a purpose of salvation.
God strengthens you and gives you a way
Even with tears in your eyes, you can sing,
“It is well; it is well with my soul.”

Vocation or Vacation?

Vacation or Vocation

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were
when you were called”
(1 Corinthians 1:26).

A vocation is a divine calling to carry out a mission. For Paul, it is the answer to the Lord’s call and the motivation that the person feels, coming from God, to press ahead with a religious life. So is vocation the call to do a one-time job or is it something that lasts a lifetime? It is a private matter, limited to our professional context, or is it complete and comprehensive?

Some understand vocation to be the inclination to be a pastor or a religious minister. But Paul was not only referring to pastors, but also to all the brethren considering their vocation regardless of their office, work, or occupation. All believers have, or should have, their vocation.

Since the vocation is God’s call, every believer has a vocation
as a missionary son or daugther of God.

A vacation, meanwhile, is a temporary suspension from work, studies, or other usual activities. If we are not involved in a vocation, then we are on vacation. It is as J. Packer says:

“Our highest and most privileged vocation is
to do God’s will in God’s strenght for God’s glory.”

For example, what was Joseph’s or Daniel’s vocation? Was it as rulers? Or did their life vocation stand out optimally while they exercised their roles, as children of God?

Vocation is not what I do from time to time, Sunday mornings at church, or at some isolated time when I bear witness to my faith. For Paul, vocation is both the call and the passion that direct and envelops our being at all times and in every place.

A new born baby once spent eighteen days of his life in a hospital, and when he was discharged it was because the doctors told the parents that medicine could not do anything for their baby anymore. They had to take the baby home, to die. The parents prayed all the way home, in their own way: “If You save our son, when he is older, we will dedicate him to You.” God miraculously healed the lung problem the baby had, and saved his life. Today, this baby is now all grown up, and always feels like he is a debtor on borrowed life.

He was told this story after he told his parents that he wanted to become a pastor. Then, the parents told him what God has done for him. God called him to this undeserved and sacred pastoral vocation, and by His grace, this same baby, has now been a pastor for more than four decades. He embraces his vocation with gratidude for the rest of his life.

If your vocation is on vacation, the time is up today.
Receive the apostle’s plea to believers as God’s plea to you,
and live your life worthy of the vocation to which you have been called.

God bless you today…

Saving Others and Saving Myself

Saving Others and Saving Myself

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”
(Romans 16:24).

The apostle Paul ended his letter to the Romans by personally greeting the brethren and advising them to avoid anything and anyone causing offenses and divisions. In the conclusion, he sent greetings from other fellow missionaries and concluded with praise and gratitude for God’s powerful missionary actions.

Paul was a great theologian, a great leader, and a great pastor, but from the beginning of the Epistle, he presented himself as a servant and slave of the Lord. That is why he acknowledged and expresses his thanks for the help he had received from so many brethren, which helped better fulfill the mission.

The apostle called Priscilla and Aquila “my fellow workers,” who risked their lives for him; he called Epaenetus “beloved”; and Andronicus and Junia, “countrymen” and “outstanding.” Urbanus is called a “fellow worker,” and Stachys, “my beloved.” In addition, Paul acknowledged that Tryphosa “labored in the Lord” (Rom. 16:22).

No one is so good that he or she does not need friends or fellow workers, because all our achievements involve not only our efforts, but also the efforts of many people who always support us.

In January 2012, three buildings in Rio de Janeiro collapsed. A journalist interviewed firefighter Pinho, after he rescued Marcelo from under the rubble, saving his life. Everyone ran away from the danger, but the firefighter went into danger. “What is the passion that mobilizes you?” the reporter asked. He replied, “Whenever I run in the direction of tragedy, a single idea mobilizes my life; that is my passion: saving others and saving myself.”

How many, like Marcelo are on the brink of death under the rubble of this world of sin and urgently need decisive actions – actions full of courage, a sense of urgency, and real priorities – to be rescued. Like the firefighter, we have to live to save ourselves; this must be our passion and the mobilizer of our existence.

Saving others and saving ourselves are actions that are closely connected; they are aspects of the same experience. No one can selfishly enjoy salvation without making a commitment to save others. We receive grace; we share grace (see Matt. 10:8).

“You have nothing to do other than save souls.
Therefore, use what you have and use yourself in this work” (John Wesley).
“How do we fulfill our mission? Christ’s representatives will be
in daily communion with Him. Their words will be select,
their speech seasoned with grace, their hearts filled with love,
their efforts sincere, earnest, persevering, to save souls for whom Christ has died” (Ellen G. White).

May the Lord bless you today…

Perspiration or Miracles?

“They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city,
supposing him to be dead”
(Acts 14:19)

Perspiration is a liquid composed of carbon dioxide and water vapor that we secrete naturally through the pores of the skin, and in greater quantity when the ambient temperature is high. It can also be produced when the body generates heat, such as when we exercise, and in stressful situations. Among the functions of perspiration we can highlight bodily thermoregulation, the elimination of toxins, and cooling.

Beyond the physiological, we also use the expression to illustrate the degree of identification with an ideal or with a cause. If we say that someone “oozes commitment through their pores” it is because they identify with something and are passionate about it.

For its part, a miracle is a divine intervention. It is a supernatural act that is perceived or received through faith. For some, it is just a hypothesis that aims to explain certain phenomena that have no possible scientific verification. And for those who don’t want to believe, a miracle is a subjective perception or a weakness of the needy human heart.

Acts 14 mentions that Paul was stoned in Lystra, dragged out of the city, and left for dead. Assisted by some disciples, Paul got up and went to Derbe to continue preaching. The bloodstains had still not dried on his robes, but he was continuing on with his mission.

After proclaiming the gospel in that city and making many disciples, he returned to Lystra, Antioch, and Iconium to continue preaching, even in the midst of tribulations, in order to extend the kingdom of God.

In this way, Paul visited the major cities of the world at the time. It is true that many miracles accompanied Paul’s ministry, but it is also true that he gave himself completely to the cause. “Woe to me of I do not preach the gospel!” he exclaimed in 1 Corinthians 9:16.

Are we today in need of more perspiration, more identification, and more commitment? Do we need more communion, more focus on mission, and more miracles? Don’t we need to detoxify ourselves from selfishness and pride, maintaining the ideal temperature of the first love, permanently refreshed by Christ, our Source of Life?

“The secret of success is the union of divine power
with human effort. Those who achieve the greatest results
are those who rely most implicitly upon the Almighty Arm”

The Lord performed many miracles out of nothing,
but He also performed many miracles on the basis of perspiration.
Let us act as if everything depended on us;
let us trust as if everything depended on God.

God bless you, and may you have a wonderful and miraculous day…

Isaiah 9:6 -KJV-

The Word Says:

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Verse Thoughts:

The Saviour of the world was to be undiminished deity, eternally united with full humanity in one Person, the Lord Jesus Christ, and this astonishing prophecy in Isaiah confirms this fact in a few short words.

As a member of the human race, the Saviour was the first born baby of the virgin Mary: “A Child is born,” for He shall save His people from their sins. As the second member of the triune Godhead, the Saviour was the only begotten Son of God: “A Son is given,” for God so loved the world that he gave the beloved Son of His love, Jesus Christ, to be our Redeemer.

And every name and every attribute that is ascribed to this unique Person has the seal of the eternal Trinity etched into its very fabric. No one else but God can qualify to be called ‘Wonderful’ for we read in the Bible that His name is Wonderful. And God alone is the perfect Counsellor, for in Christ dwelt all the wisdom of the Godhead bodily. And the Spirit of the Lord rested upon Him; the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and reverence for the Lord. Christ Jesus is indeed our “Wonderful Counsellor.”

God alone is omnipotent, and He alone has the authority to call Himself the “Mighty God.” God alone is eternal and so He alone can be entitled “Everlasting Father.” And God alone, in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, shed His lifeblood so that all who believe on His name would have peace with God, that perfect peace of God that passes all understanding. Oh Christ alone has the right to be called the “Prince of Peace.”

The Wonderful, Eternal, Almighty, God of Peace, the second Person of the Triune Godhead, set aside His glory to take on the form of a man and be born into the race that He created, the Son of Man. He was given by the Father as the Son of God, a gift of grace from God to a lost world so that all who believe on His name would be saved.

The Lord Jesus Christ is that Child that was born and He is that Son that was given. No surprise that His name shall be called: “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 40:31 -KJV-

The Word Says:

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Verse Thoughts:

Whether the promises of God are for Israel or given to the Church, God’s Word is true. His judgements are just, and His promises are “YES” and “AMEN”, for those that believe His Word, wait on Him, abide in Him, and He in us.

At the end of Isaiah Chapter 40, we read some well-loved verses that have encouraged generations of Jews and Gentiles, through many centuries of time, “Youths may faint and grow weary, and young men stumble and fall but those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will rise up high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”

There are difficulties in life that overwhelm the strongest of people, fears that gnaw at the stoutest of human hearts, and young men who grow faint and weary. They stumble and fall because they rely on their own, inner strength and human resources, which are not a sufficient shield in the storms of life. Only power from above is sufficient to sustain us. Only His protective hand can shelter us from the storms of life and not our own limited, human abilities.

These words of comfort were given to Israel after Isaiah’s repeated warning of approaching punishment if they did not repent of their evil ways, nevertheless, the Lord is a God of comfort and grace. He never goes back on His Word nor does He grow weary and in His loving-kindness He gives grace to the humble and renews the strength of those that wait upon Him, by faith.

Although these words were addressed to Israel they have an application in the lives of ALL God’s people. They are a call to us all to turn from any wrongdoing in our lives and live by faith and not by sight, to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not lean on our own understanding.

It is faith in His Word that is needed to soar with wings as eagles. It is trusting God to bring to pass all He has promised, even when our senses and logic seem to suggest the opposite or appear to contradict His promised truth. Those who wait on the Lord are those who have the assurance and inner confidence that the promises He has made to His people, and the things for which we hope, are a matter of fact and a present reality that cannot be contradicted by senses, emotions, reason or fear.

The Lord our God is faithful and true to His Word and He satisfies our years with good things so that our youth is renewed like that of an eagle. He is good to those who wait for Him and seek Him – trust Him and love Him. And He has promised that His grace is sufficient for us, no matter how weary we may become, for His power is perfected in our weakness.

God’s grace is sufficient for every circumstance of life. It is sufficient for every difficulty we may face or any challenge life throws at us. His grace is enough for all who place their entire trust and confidence in His mighty strength. His grace is enough for every eventuality in life and His provision comes through faith in His beloved Son. It is the strength of the Lord Jesus Who sustains those who do not rely upon their own abilities. He will provide strength to those who can admit to their own disability, for His grace is sufficient in all situations of life.

Those who confidently manage their Christian walk by relying on their own personal talents, skills, capacities, and capabilities, eventually discover that their strength is insufficient for their needs. In time they are brought to the very end of themselves until they can admit that the refreshment they desperately need has been drawn from the broken cistern of the old, Adamic-life and will eventually run dry, for the energy-source that is powered through the fleshly self-life, will in time be drained of all its self-induced efforts.

When a believer truly identifies with his Saviour and trusts in Christ’s capacities alone for his journey through life, it is then that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, it is then that the wind of God will lift us up on eagles’ wings and carry us through life’s stresses and strains, in the power of His Holy Spirit.

It is when the man or woman of God is prepared to admit their weakness and incapacitates, that they are enabled by Him to draw from the bottomless well of His everlasting supply, and drink deeply from the living waters of God’s super-abundant provision.

It is then that the spiritual battery is regenerated and renewed by Christ’s limitless power, enabling us to run the straight race – and in His strength, to run in such as way as to win the prize, for the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

John 1:14 -KJV-

The Word Says:

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Verse Thoughts:

The apostle John was one who saw the glory of the Word made flesh. John was one who gazed on Him in wonder and worshipped at the feet of Jesus Christ, his Lord and his God.

John lived with Him, walked with Him, talked with Him, and touched Him. John spent over three years of his life with Jesus, listening intently to His gracious words, astonished by His amazing truth, watching Him attentively as He fulfilled the prophetic Scriptures, and beholding His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

Yes, John could proclaim with authority: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.”

John saw His glory, the glory as of the eternal God shining in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. The sum total of the eternal, omnipotent, infinite glory of God was reflected in Jesus Christ. The combined attributes of the living God were reflected in the human person of the only begotten of the Father, the God-Man, Jesus Christ the righteous.

Over and again, John and the other disciples gazed on the perfection of the sinless Son of Man, and the glory that was seen in Him was a reflection of the exact image of the glory of the Father, full of grace and full of truth.

The eternal Son of God in the person of the sinless Son of Man was full of God’s grace and goodness, which alone qualified Him to become our perfect Saviour and sacrifice for sin. The incarnate Word of God, made in the likeness of human flesh, was also full of truth which alone qualifies Him to be the perfect source of God’s completed revelation.

Revelation, truth, from our Father in heaven, came through the eternal Son of God Who became the perfect Son of Man: “For in these last day, God has spoken to us through His Son Whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through Whom also He made the universe.”

Salvation, grace came through the only begotten Son of the Father, the unique God-Man, Christ Jesus the righteous: “For by grace are You saved, through faith in HIM and not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

John 13:35 -KJV-

The Word Says:

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Verse Thoughts:

The love of Christ is a supernatural love, a divine love, a love that streams to us from the heart of God, for God is Love. The Lord Jesus was soon to demonstrate how deep that love was for all who receive Him as their redeeming sin sacrifice, for greater love has no one than this, that the Man Christ Jesus, God incarnate, would lay down His life for His friends.

And so He gave us a new commandment, a command that sums up the perfect Law of God in one simple act: “Love one another as I have loved You,” for in so doing, we perfectly fulfil the requirements of God’s law and the will of God’s heart for all His children, for what is impossible for man is possible with God. When we live our life in spirit and truth, and in submission to the Holy Spirit, the life of Christ lives in us and the love of Christ streams from us, and God is glorified by this.

And there is a legitimate reason that we are called upon to live godly in Christ Jesus, to walk in spirit and truth, to submit to the teaching and training of the Holy Spirit, to learn obedience through suffering: “To love one another as Christ loved us, for by this all people will know that you are my disciples. A disciple is one that LEARNS of Christ. No surprise that early in His ministry Christ said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me,” so that at the end of His life He could give a new commandment: That we love others as He loved us.

When, in the power of the Holy Spirit, Christians put to death the lust of the flesh, the things of the world, and the pride of life, and choose to walk in newness of life, we walk in love. Only as we allow Christ to live in us, will His love stream through us so that by THIS will other people know that we are learning of Christ, that we are His disciples. 

Colossians 1:15 -KJV-

The Word Says:

“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:”

Verse Thoughts:

The Lord Jesus in His humanity is the visible revelation of the invisible God. This is a great mystery, but it is a truth that has been given to us from the Creator of the universe. The only way for sinful humanity to be reconciled to a holy God is through the shed blood of the eternal Son of God, Who died to pay the price for our sins so that we might be covered with His righteousness and reconciled back to the Father.

The only way to discover the invisible God is through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the visible image of the invisible God – God manifest in the flesh. The only way to know our Creator intimately is through His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the firstborn over all creation.

The word firstborn does not refer to time for the uncreated Son is from everlasting to everlasting. The word firstborn refers to His pre-eminent position in God’s creation, His superior standing, His predominant place, His supreme status. Christ is the firstborn over all creation because as the eternal Son of God He was born into our race as the perfect Son of Man. The incarnate Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us making Him first in significance and first in status. 

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – Jesus (the Word), is God the Son.

“He was in the beginning with God.” – God the Son did not have a beginning. He was not created, but with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, was from everlasting to everlasting.

“All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” – Jesus created everything and in Him everything holds together.

Jesus Christ is first in importance over all His creation, and at the name of Jesus every knee will bow for all creation is subject to His authority, and He died so that we might live.

Matthew 1:23 -KJV-

The Word Says:

“Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

Verse Thoughts:

Sometimes we are so familiar with the words of Scripture that we fail to see the enormity of their content. Sometimes the Word of God has become so commonplace in our lives that we have lost the eternal context and significance of God’s eternal plans and purposes.

So it is with the Scriptures that detail Christ’s birth. These Scriptures are some of the most well known and well loved, even with unbelievers as, year after year, they sing carols, attend nativity plays, and maybe even attend a church service celebrating Christ’s birth.

Let us look at these Scriptures with fresh eyes, and with the leading of the Holy Spirit, grasp some of the enormity of that moment, when God was made flesh, stepped out of eternity and into time, to fulfil the plans and purposes of the Father, laid before the foundation of the world.

God, the omnipotent, omniscient, infinite, eternal, omnipresent, immutable, holy creator of the world and the universe with all its visible and invisible elements, laws, and structures; Who set time in motion and flung innumerable stars into space, laid aside His great glory and humbled Himself to come to earth as a helpless and vulnerable newborn baby.

He came to live a life of humiliation, rejection, suffering, and pain, and finally to be cursed and condemned to the cruellest method of execution imagined by the evil minds of wicked men so that fallen humanity could be brought back into full fellowship with Himself and one day see God face to face, one day live with Emmanuel, God with us.

Let us cast aside this familiarity with Scripture that deadens our minds and numbs our perception of Who God is and take time to gaze in awe at God’s Word with a renewed freshness and a heightened wonderment of the amazing reality that God Himself should become Emmanuel, God with us.

Let us rid our commonplace apathy towards the Word of God, and view the reality of Christ as Lord of heaven and earth Who undressed Himself of His magnificent heavenly glory and covered Himself with a mantle of humanity’s flesh to became Emmanuel, God with us, so that we could shed our filthy rags and be adorned in Christ’s robes of righteousness and become sons of the most High God and joint heirs with Christ, our Emmanuel, God with us.