Bro. Mark's Encouraging Word of the Day
"Instead of a red-dressed imp, Satan is a powerful being, portrayed in Scripture like a “roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” He can destroy, divide, and discourage using that which reveals his character: lies, counterfeits, and deception. He was given the name “devil,” diabolos, accuser, slanderer in Scripture because of his tactic of slandering us before God and slandering God before us. But for all his schemes and power, we do not need to fear him. For the God who is in us is greater than the devil who is in the world. Be ready for spiritual battle by submitting to God and resisting the devil and he will flee from you."
"Think about what the average adult would like to accomplish in the morning: showering, grooming, exercising, tending to pets, checking online traffic, weather reports, checking the morning news, dressing for work, eating breakfast. And if there are children involved, well…! So, if that’s a typical morning, how does the average Christian squeeze in rejoicing and being glad in the day the Lord has made? There’s only one, long-term way, by prioritizing the item missing from the list above: a daily quiet time. Christians who grow to maturity, who reflect authentic discipleship, are Christians who prioritize spending time with God in prayer, worship, and Bible study. Yes, it’s a challenge. Who can find the time? Somehow, we find the time for all the other items on our morning to-do list, so it really comes down to choices and priorities."
In recent years, concussions have dominated discussions of safety in American football. As a result, football helmets have become the most important part of a player’s “armor.”What about spiritual armor? Is there a most-important piece? Theologically, no, since to put on God’s spiritual armor is to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” And it’s impossible to divide Christ into “parts.” But it is interesting that in Paul’s description of the believer’s spiritual armor the girdle of truth gets first mention. Perhaps that’s why Paul compared the belt to truth. We can’t go anywhere without God’s truth. It is truth that informs us about all the rest of the spiritual armor. However the Helmet of Salvation is an important part as well since it protects us from Satan entering our minds permanently."
"When we receive Christ as Savior, God wraps us in the banner of the cross. Though we don’t become perfect or sinless the moment we receive Christ, hopefully we’ll grow in righteousness during our life, then we’ll be made totally pure and perfect in heaven, in God’s sight we’re wrapped in the flag of Jesus Christ and covered with His blood. The devil cannot have us. We belong to our Lord, and our citizenship is in heaven! Then there is now no condemnation!"
"All of us look back with regrets at our imperfections, mistakes, moments of failure, and times when we said or did the wrong thing. But we shouldn’t! God has erased all those from the ledgers. When we look backward, we should say: “Praise the Lord! Everything sinful is gone, and everything is working out for good through the mercy and grace of our God.” Our past is forgiven; our present is secure, and our future is forever. Live today for Him! If I had been guilty of all the sins of Adam and Eve, and of all their descendants to this day, yet believing in Christ I should be safe, because his blood cleanseth from all sin."
"When armies went out to battle, runners would be dispatched from the battle scene to return and inform the king as to the outcome of the battle. The prophet Isaiah wrote about the beauty of feet that came with good news. Isaiah was speaking prophetically of the good news that Israel would be returning to her homeland from exile in Babylon. How beautiful were the feet of those who would bring that message! And Israel’s return from exile prefigured the spiritual release from sin provided by Christ. Paul referred to the Isaiah passage when listing the believer’s armor: shoes that carry the Good News of the “gospel of peace.” How does the Gospel protect us? Because it is Good News! We are free from the captivity of sin. Make sure to carry the Gospel of peace with you daily. Be ready to share it with those who need and want to hear good news."
"In the first century, there were many religious groups with which one might identify and they were all known for something different. The Pharisees were known for their strict adherence to the Torah. Sadducees were known as the political party among the Jews. Samaritans would worship only on Mount Gerizim and considered only the five books of Moses to be from God. And then came Jesus and His followers. They had no geographical, political, or zealous agenda; they were mostly lower-class people. At first, they were known only as “the Way,”later they were known as “Christians.” Was that their only distinction a name? No, Jesus told them if they were His true followers they would be known by the love they had for one another. This was totally new! That “brand” of love still applies today. What ought to distinguish Christians from the world? Authentic love, love for one another, for enemies, and for neighbors."
"Millions of people are building their lives on unstable ground in a spiritual and moral sense. Only the Gospel provides a worldview that will sustain us when our world shakes. Jesus made this point visually in His story of the two men in Matthew 7. Both men listened to His teachings. One man followed through with faith and obedience, and he built his life on solid ground. The other listened, then went his way without trusting or obeying what Jesus said. The ground beneath him collapsed.The Gospel brings steadfastness to those who trust it. Those who build on Jesus are on stable ground. As the hymnist said, “When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.”
"Faith is the foundation of our relationship with our Father, and with it we can conquer anything. God has an appointed time for every aspect of His will for us. On those occasions when we feel like a child tumbling from the crib, how wonderful to know we have no other choice but to trust Him. Beneath us are the everlasting arms. I can see God working through the heartache, and I have learned many lessons from what I experienced through the loss we just experienced. He needed to get my attention to show me where I needed to be."
"No wonder Paul used the Roman shield to illustrate the power of faith to defend us against the “fiery darts of the wicked one.” Why “fiery” darts? Because often arrow points would be dipped in pitch and set alight before being shot to set fire to whatever they struck. Roman soldiers would soak their leather shields in water to extinguish these fiery missiles when they landed. And why “faith”? How does faith extinguish Satan’s hellish attacks? Because Satan’s attacks are against the character of God, His words and works. When we have faith in God and His promises, as Jesus did when tempted by Satan in the wilderness, we can extinguish Satan’s attacks. How is your faith today? The stronger it is, the quicker Satan’s fiery attacks will be extinguished."
"Sadly, this idea of “multiple roads, one destination” has made its way into theology: “All roads lead to God.” Proponents of this idea suggest that all religions have the same ultimate destination. Said another way, “There are many ways to get to God.” However, the Bible doesn’t support this idea. The apostle Peter was clear when speaking to the Jewish elders after Pentecost. He stated clearly that the Name (Person) of Jesus is the only means of salvation. Paul echoed this position when he wrote that there is only one Mediator between God and man, “the Man Christ Jesus.” Don’t be confused by non-biblical positions on salvation. There is only one road to God and His heaven. That road begins and ends with Jesus. Nobody can call himself a Christian who does not worship Jesus."
In a society in which we prize instant everything, waiting for anything seems old-fashioned and maybe even distasteful. But patience is a deeply biblical concept, the practice of which has the potential to allow us to live wisely and well in a fallen world, trusting in the purposes and promises of our good God. The Bible instructs us to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Job is one of those highlighted in Scripture for his remarkable patience.
We all have one; many of us are one, a father, that is. As we honor the fathers in our lives this weekend, it’s a good time to ask: What is an authentic father like? There is one infallible source by which to evaluate fatherhood? We have the example of our divine Father, our Heavenly Father, who is the spiritual Father to all who believe. The Bible makes a clear point of saying we have been adopted into God’s family, the head of which is God the Father. So we do have a perfect example of the traits of an authentic father: God Himself. There are many traits of God revealed in Scripture, but how about the traits manifested by God the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Dads, the more you know and spend time with your Heavenly Father, the more like Him you will become."
The apostle Paul’s ship nearly sank in a terrific storm in the fall of A.D. 59, while Paul was being transported as a prisoner to Rome. The crew lost hope of being saved, but Paul had a word from God and he believed God, that it would be just as He said. In the storms of life, we not only have a word from God; we have the Word of God. No matter what storms are sent by Satan, there are verses to keep us afloat. Acts 27:25 gives us one of the simplest definitions of faith in the Bible, believing that it will be just as God has told us in His Word. His promises are unsinkable, and they will always keep our heads above water.
"When King David was running from a rebellion staged by his son, Absalom, he found himself in a desolate corner of the desert. But he said, “I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustained me.” When Paul’s ship sank in Acts 27, all the men were saved, some by clinging to timbers and pieces of wood. We can cling to God’s unsinkable promises, and they will sustain us. He will hold us up by His powerful promises. The Lord will sustain you today. I know, perhaps as well as anyone, what depression means, and what it is to feel myself sinking lower and lower. Yet at the worst, when I reach the lowest depths, I have an inward peace."
"When we face turmoil, we always have direct access to heaven through prayer. When we can’t control our anguish, we know God is in control of the answers. When we’re afraid of the outcome, we can pour out our soul to God, knowing He hears every plea, knows every cry, and cares for the need of every frightening moment. I firmly believe that God has something to teach us through every experience, every trial and every problem we ever face."
There are times when all the saints can do is to desire. We have a vast number of evidences of piety: some are practical, some are experimental, some are doctrinal; and the more evidences a man has of his piety the better, of course. We like a number of signatures, to make a deed more valid, if possible. We like to invest property in a great number of trustees, in order that it may be all the safer; and so we love to have many evidences. Many witnesses will carry our case in the courts better than a few: and so it is well to have many witnesses to testify to our piety.
The apostle Paul can be considered a freedom fighter. When he began spreading the Gospel of grace through Jesus Christ apart from the law, some Jewish believers attempted to impose the yoke of the law on Paul’s Gospel. His response? “To whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue.” Paul took the Galatian Christians to task for replacing freedom in Christ with an obligation to the requirements of the law. Once Paul tasted true spiritual freedom, he never looked back. If you have found freedom in Christ, “you shall be free indeed.” Join Paul as a spiritual fighter for the Gospel of freedom!"
"Faithfulness. It’s at the heart of every mission statement, military, business, family, or church. The apostle Paul said only one thing is required of stewards: to be faithful. Paul was a steward of Christ’s commission to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. But of what is every Christian a steward? The Great Commission, to begin with. But also, we are stewards of the love and grace of God that has been poured into us by the Spirit. Such love and grace was given at great cost, the life of Jesus Himself. Jesus warned the crowds that followed Him to count the cost before committing. Once committed, faithfulness is all that matters. Authentic Christians are true stewards; true stewards are faithful forever."
"We can never get to heaven on our own efforts. Only the good ship of grace can take us there. Many people try to live good enough to merit heaven, but we’re too flawed, too sinful, and too imperfect for God’s presence. The wages of sin is death. But through Jesus Christ, God offers us the free gift of eternal life. We can’t earn our salvation any more than we can swim across the seas, but Christ has done the work so that we might receive the gift. We don’t have to swim or struggle. We simply trust the Captain of our salvation."
"Have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone. A recent study found 77 percent of Americans sleep fitfully. Nearly half of us say we’re losing sleep because of anxiety about what’s going on around us. Many have trouble sleeping because of concern about their loved ones or loneliness. Take in a deep breath. Exhale the stress you are holding, and breathe in the peace of God, letting the promises of His Word flood your tired soul. And then, as you close your eyes and lay your head down, know that He is right there with you; He is your rock, your strength, your ever-present help in times of trouble, even in the quiet hours of the morning. God’s eternal peace will cover all our troubles in this world and carry us into eternal peace."
"Man’s purpose, along with all creation, including the angels, is to glorify God. Isaiah saw angels glorifying God in his vision, and John saw angels doing the same in his vision of heaven. John reckoned the number of angels he saw as “ten thousand times ten thousand” or one hundred million. It was probably not meant to be an exact number, but it was John’s way of saying “too many to count” the number of angels praising God in heaven. Mankind and angels have the same eternal purpose: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Let earth and heaven combine, angels and men agree, to praise in songs divine the incarnate Deity."
When we’re too weak to fight our own battles, the Lord sends His helpers to encourage, deliver, and empower us. Sometimes they are human helpers. Peter had much encouragement and support from his wife who traveled with him and from his fellow apostles and friends. His brother Andrew must have been a constant support. But none of them could be with Peter when he was imprisoned in Acts 12, facing execution. That’s when the Lord sent a helper from another realm, an angel, to deliver him. The Lord sends us human help as needed, and He gives us more angelic assistance than we know. You can trust Him in the difficult moments of life. You’re not alone. God has more ways of providing for us…than we can possibly imagine."
"Through God all things were created visible and invisible. They were created through Jesus and for Jesus. For His pleasure. For His praise. That includes the birds that sing, the crickets that chirp, the stars that twinkle, and you and me! Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below! He has made the universe with divine foresight!"
In Revelation 22:9, John fell at the feet of an angel, who said, “See that you do not do that. For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book.” If an angel appeared to you, you might be so startled you’d fall at his feet. But he would pick you up and reassure you of something. He would say something, like, “You and I are fellow servants. We are partners in ministry. We are here side by side to worship and serve God.” What a glorious thought! Angels, like us, are soldiers in God’s army, ready to march for His glory. How delightful it is to know that the angels are our fellow servants; that they are co-laborers with us in the Lord’s kingdom."