The faultless assembly

 

“They are without fault before the throne of God.” Revelation 14:5

Suggested Further Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-22

We need not go far without seeing that there is, among Christians, a want of love to one another. There is not too much love in our churches; certainly, we have none to give away. We have heard that:

“Whatever brawls disturb the street,
There should be peace at home.”

But it is not always as it should be. We have known churches where the members can scarcely sit down at the Lord’s table without some disagreement. There are people who are always finding fault with the minister, and there are ministers finding fault with the people; there is among them “a spirit that lusteth to envy,” and “where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” We have met with people among whom it would be misery to place ourselves, because we do not love war; we love peace and charity. Alas! How continually do we hear accounts of disputings and variance in churches! O beloved, there is too little love in the churches!

If Jesus were to come amongst us, might He not say to us, “This is My commandment, that ye love one another; but how have you kept it when you have been always finding fault with one another? And how ready you have been to turn your sword against your brother!” But, beloved, “they are without fault before the throne of God.” Those who on earth could not agree, are sure to agree when they get to heaven. There are some who have crossed swords on earth, but who have held the faith, and have been numbered amongst the saints in glory everlasting. There is no fighting amongst them now; “they are without fault before the throne of God.”

For meditation: The very best of Christians may have fallen out with one another (Acts 15:39), but the Bible entreats disputants to agree in the Lord (Philippians 4:2). It is beautiful when brothers dwell in unity (Psalm 133:1), but perplexing when they wrong each other (Acts 7:26). May God help us to do “on earth as it is in Heaven.”

2nd sermon at New Park St.
28 July (Preached 18 December 1853)

 

July 27 Verse

 

Hebrews 12:1

 [God’s Discipline Proves His Love] Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.

 

Don’t Hurt Me

One who is married is concerned about . . . how she may please her husband. 1 CORINTHIANS 7:34

What usually happens when you and your spouse get into a disagreement? If you’re like most couples—according to the research of Dr. John Gottman, professor emeritus at the University of Washington—the wife does six times the amount of fussing and scolding, and the husband is 85 percent more likely to be the one who goes into stone-wall mode.

But as Emerson Eggerich told our radio audience recently, it’s not merely the amount of the wife’s talking that pushes her husband into silence and rejection. It’s the way she talks.

To every wife reading this, I know that this just seems to confirm that every man is overly sensitive and not willing to deal with the truth. But Emerson, who has over two decades of experience helping couples, asks you to take this challenge: “After you’ve had a fight with your husband, go into the bathroom, shut the door and reenact your responses as best as you can in front of the mirror. Look at yourself and how you’re coming across. Is there any man in your husband’s world who talks to him that way? Is there anybody in his world who talks to him that way?”

Usually, all you have to do to avoid his stonewalling is to soften the tone, brighten the facial expression and control the pointing finger. You can pretty much talk to him all day long—even with deep, impassioned emotion—if you avoid berating, dismissing and emasculating him.

Men are typically able to handle negative content. We do it all day long. We just can’t easily handle it when it comes across with the volume turned up on contempt. The disrespect drowns out the message from being heard. If the goal is communication, the gateway to his heart is through respect, even when you don’t think he deserves it.

DISCUSS

Is this pattern true of your marriage? What makes you want to attack verbally? What makes you want to clam up?

PRAY

Pray that you will better understand how to communicate with one another with mutual respect.

The Choice Is Ours

 

The Choice is Ours
Rachel Olsen

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” 1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)

I watch Samantha Brown, Travel Channel host, as she explores Old Town in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito. Watching her experience the charming hotels, mouth-watering food, and tropical adventures there, I’m slightly envious. But as she points out the sights of this South American city, my mind wanders back in time.

I’ve been to Quito. Not to enjoy the food or see the architecture, but to visit people there who Jesus loves.

As the camera pans over Samantha’s head, I’m looking for the spot where I visited a single mother, Maria. She and her baby lived in one room smaller than my home office. She had a twin size bed, a chest of drawers, and a small electric stove.

On the stove she fried plantains for me. I had trouble at first with the idea of eating them, knowing they were from her very limited food supply. As Maria happily served me, I wondered if I would choose to share my food so freely if it were as scarce for me as it is for her.

Maria told me she had received Jesus, and was now receiving training in child care, nutrition and child development through Compassion International. She’d received these South American bananas from them too. I noticed Maria had a visible hope that her life and her child’s life were now on a better path.

Around the corner from Maria lived a young boy who has also been touched by Jesus. He is a sponsored child. When we met, Eduardo told me he hopes to be a pastor. He quoted scripture to me from memory—he was eight.

Our meeting wasn’t planned, he just happened to stop by Maria’s door while I was there. After talking with us briefly, Eduardo reached into his back pocket, pulled out a small New Testament and handed it to me. Said he wanted me to have it. And he wanted me to read it.

Said he hoped it would remind me of him, so I would pray that he could become a pastor.

I didn’t tell him I have plenty of full-size Bibles at home. Or I wouldn’t be able to read much of that one in Spanish. Instead I took the small red book, said “gracias,” and prayed over him and his future ministry. He smiled a smile full of possibility and disappeared out the doorway.

I’m certain that around the corner from Maria there are other single moms and young boys who don’t have this hope. They feel trapped, depressed, maybe hungry and short-changed.

It is my prayer they will find “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:3).

Samantha Brown discovered Ecuador’s luscious fruits, famous hat-making trade, and its romantic colonial architecture. Here’s what I discovered:

• We always have a choice between hope and despair – no matter what circumstance we are in.

• We always have a choice between fear and faith – no matter how bleak things look.

• And we always have the choice to give and serve – no matter how little we own.

It’s Jesus – and His church at work on the Earth – that affords us these choices.

Honestly, I wouldn’t trade my trip to Ecuador for Samantha Brown’s any day. Even if she did get to visit the stunning cloud forest. I’m thinking we’ll have cloud forests in heaven to enjoy. And I’d like to see as much of the Ecuadorian population there as possible.

I think my eight year-old friend would like to see that too. I’m certain he will do his part toward that end – will we also do ours? We have that choice to make.

Dear Lord, thank You for living hope. Thank You for living water that quenches our eternal thirst. Anoint young Eduardo to share this hope with others in Ecuador. Show me how I can share it with others too. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Compassion International has helped Maria, Eduardo and thousands of others. Visit here and click on the tab “Rescue Babies & Mothers” – choose a set to pray for or to support today.

Visit Rachel’s blog for a chance to win a copy of her book It’s No Secret: Revealing Divine Truths Every Woman Should Know

Reflect and Respond:
What can you give or share today?

What can you do to tell or show others about Jesus today?

Power Verses:
John 4:13-14, “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'” (NIV)

© 2012 by Rachel Olsen. All rights reserved.

 

The joint heirs and their divine portion

 

‘Joint heirs with Christ.’ Romans 8:17

Suggested Further Reading: Galatians 3:23–4:7

The apostle has proceeded through a simple but exceedingly forcible train of reasoning till he gains this glorious point—‘Joint heirs with Christ.’ He begins thus—‘Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ This is a fact which he takes for granted because he has perceived it in the hearts of believers. We do cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ From this he infers that if God has given us the Spirit whereby we call him ‘Father,’ then we are his children, which is plain, fair, and clear reasoning. Then he adds—‘If children, then heirs’—though this does not hold true in all families, because all children are not heirs; frequently the first-born may take all the estate; but with God so long as they are children they have equal rights—‘If children then heirs.’

He goes on to say, ‘Heirs of God;’ for if they are heirs they inherit their Father’s property. God is their Father; they are therefore God’s heirs! Well, but God has another Son, one who is the first-born of every creature. Exactly so, therefore if we be heirs, as Christ Jesus is the heir of all things, we are ‘joint heirs with Christ.’ I think you will see that, like links in a chain, these different truths draw each other on—the spirit of adoption proves the fact of adoption; by the act of adoption we are children; if children then heirs; if heirs, heirs of God; but since there is another heir, we must therefore be joint heirs with Christ Jesus. Blessed is the man to whom this reasoning is not abstract, but experimental. Happy is he who can follow the apostle step by step.

For meditation: Christ has been appointed ‘heir of all things’ (Hebrews 1:2). His joint-heirs inherit, among other things, the earth (Matthew 5:5), everlasting life (Matthew 19:29), the kingdom (Matthew 25:34; James 2:5), salvation (Hebrews 1:14), the promises (Hebrews 6:12), righteousness by faith (Hebrews 11:7), and the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7). Are all things yours in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:21–23)?

Sermon no. 402
28 July (1861)

 

No Guarantees

 

1 Sam 8:1, 3:  “When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel…  But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice” (NIV).

The Godliest parents in the world are not guaranteed Godly children.  Why?  Because children are free will creatures living in a fallen world just like their parents.  They have the choice to follow our example and the instruction we give them, or not.  Few would argue that the prophet Samuel walked with God as faithfully as most men.  Yet, his children turned out so poorly the people demanded a king to replace them as judges.  Samuel’s example and faithfulness were honored by God in many ways, but they were not reflected in the choices of his children.

Parenting is a journey with an uncertain destination.  We can’t count on a good result just because we are faithful.  There is no formula that will assure you your children will follow Jesus.  You must place your trust in God, surrender your children to Him, follow God’s will the best you can, and leave the results to Him.

You must trust the result of your parenting to God.

 

July 26 Transformation Garden

“They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4: 13 K.J.V.

“O hearts of love!
O souls that turn like sunflowers
to the pure and best!
To you the truth is manifest;
For they the mind of Christ discern
Who lean like John upon His breast.”
John G. Whittier

Today’s Study Text:

“When the Queen of Sheba heard of the constant connection of the fame of Solomon with the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.”
1 Kings 10: 1
Amplified Bible

EXPLORATION:

“Lessons Taught By the Lady From Sheba” Part 1

Lesson #1 – From the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves. For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you use to deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.”
Matthew 7: 1, 2
Amplified Bible

’’By what measuring stick do I judge those around me who do not have the same point-of-view as I have?

How do I judge those whose religious beliefs are not the same as mine?

How do I put into practice each day the words of Jesus found in Matthew 7: 1, 2?

“Be quick to judge yourself and not to judge others.”
Author Unknown

INSPIRATION:

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Mother Teresa

Today, we begin a 10-day study on the “Lady from Sheba,” as I like to refer to this foreign queen who came to visit the legendary King Solomon. To say there’s a lot we can learn from this gracious woman would be an understatement.

As we begin to dig deeply into the lessons God has for us from the life of the Queen of Sheba, I want to lay out for you what I have uncovered as I’ve researched this unique woman.

Biblical scholars and historians provide some illumination on the geographical location which gave this lady her name.

Sheba is considered to be a country in southwest Arabia, which in our current day is a country called Yemen. The region where the country of Sheba lay was the mountainous and fertile part of Arabia. Genealogists of the Bible regarded “Sheba”, (most likely one, two or three different individuals had this name), as the source of the country’s name as well as the descendents’ name which was the Sabeans.

The country of Sheba was known for gaining its wealth by controlling the perfume and incense trade. And as we delve into the generosity displayed by the Queen of Sheba, we’ll recognize the fact that her country of origin was flush with gifts which underscore what history shares with us.

It was in the 10th century B.C., when the Queen of Sheba, propelled by a longing to find out about, not only the wisdom of Solomon, but the God of heaven and earth who had bestowed upon Solomon such wisdom and prosperity, came to Jerusalem bearing gold, precious stones and spices which she exchanged with King Solomon.

It is here, for today, that I wish to stop for a moment to reveal the first lesson we find taught to God’s daughters and sons around the world in the 21st century, by the “Lady from Sheba.”

Throughout David’s reign as King of Israel, despite his moral failing, there was no question that the one and only God of heaven and earth was the Lord God of David’s life. In fact, there was no greater longing in David’s heart than to build a house of worship where his heavenly Father’s presence would dwell. But having been a man of war, or as the Bible tells us, a man of blood, God gave the task of building a Temple to David’s son, Solomon. As we studied several weeks ago, this became, in the first half of Solomon’s time on the throne of Israel, his all-consuming passion. Building a house of worship to God was the singular purpose of Solomon’s life. Knowing that this was his goal, we find that rather than excluding other leaders in surrounding countries from helping him with this enormous undertaking, King Solomon chose to engage King Hiram and other leading figures outside of Israel to bring the best the then known world had to offer, in completing the Temple to honor Jehovah. I want to add, this was initially for one reason only — and that was to bring glory — exceptional and unique glory — to the name of God. And this is exactly what happened!

We are told in our study text for today that it wasn’t just the brilliance of Solomon that drew the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem, but it was also Solomon’s connection with the “name of God.” How beautiful is that! After reading this fact I asked myself, “Would someone who is not a follower of the God of heaven and earth, be drawn to me because they had heard of my connection to my heavenly Father and of His special blessing on my life?” I ask you, “Could the same be said about your life — that you have a heavenly connection which others want to share in?”

King Solomon could have “shunned” the “Lady from Sheba.” She was from Arabia. She wasn’t an Israelite. She was a non-believer. A foreigner. A heathen, as some might call her. Yet, Solomon did not disregard this Queen. Instead, he welcomed her to the heart of Israel — Jerusalem — the city of David.

As I reflected on this gesture of kindness, my mind was carried to the words of Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, found in the book of Matthew in the New Testament. In a clarion call to suspend the harsh judgment we often apply toward others, Jesus asked His followers, especially, to “judge not.” I’ll add, there were no exclusions to this command. Jesus didn‘t say that you were off-the-hook if the people you disagreed with were not Christians or had some other behavior you deemed in-appropriate. He just stated, “Judge not!”

So often, I think that as Christians, we have somehow come to the conclusion that if we don’t “call-out” behavior we think does not follow the “guidelines” established by whatever religious banner we choose to fly over ourselves, that we are compromising our values. I’d like to turn this idea upside down and offer this perspective. If what I have to share with those around me, who may believe a different way than I do, doesn’t make them feel more loved, more included, and more accepted, then I‘ve completely missed the point of Jesus’ earthly ministry for His work was wrapping His arms tightly around those whom His’ society turned their backs on and tossed out like yesterday’s garbage.

Several months ago, here in Transformation Garden, a girl wrote me. She shared some very personal details about her life. And then she asked me this question, “Will you pray for a person like me?” I wanted to weep that she even felt she had to ask a question like this. But having been rejected by so many who wore the label of “Christian,” she evidently thought that perhaps I wouldn’t want to pray for her. Thankfully, I could tell her that here in the Garden, we pray for everyone — because the God of heaven and earth — your Father and mine — loves each of us as though there was only one of us. And when His Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth, He brought with Him His Father’s heavenly love that is big enough to embrace the worst of us!

Recently, I read a story that really hit home with me. I live in a town known for a great deal of New Age philosophy. In fact, over eleven years ago, when Jim and I moved here, a friend, rather mockingly asked, “Oh, are you New Agers now?” I told her, “No, we are Christians.” But then I went on to tell her about all the wonderful individuals God had led us to meet — and one of the women is a devout Buddhist.  Every time we go to lunch, inevitably, the conversation turns to things spiritual. But what took me by surprise was when I was asked, several years ago, to do a reading on Good Friday, at our local library from my book, When A Woman Meets Jesus. My friend showed up, unannounced. Furthermore, she was the last to leave, walking with me out to my car. And she shared that in her house, growing up as a child, there was no Bible. But she said to me, “You know, Dorothy, after hearing tonight about the way Jesus treated and loved women, if I had heard stories like that in my childhood, I would love Jesus like you do.”

As I told you, it was my experience with this friend that became the reason the following story struck such a cord in my heart:

“A mother living in Japan called the head mistress of a mission school.

‘Do you take only beautiful girls in your school?’ she inquired.

‘Why, no! We welcome all girls,’ was the reply.

‘But I have noticed that all your girls are beautiful,’ the woman exclaimed.

‘Well, we teach our girls to love our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and He gives them a look of holy beauty,’ replied the missionary.

‘I myself am a Buddhist,’ the mother noted, ‘I do not want my daughter to become a Christian. Yet, I should like her to attend your school to get that look on her face,’ was the reply.”

The first lesson we can take away from the “Lady of Sheba” is that when we choose not to judge another by our own standard, but instead, allow God’s heavenly love to radiate through us and around us, we will become an illuminating presence that draws others, as 1 Kings 10: 1 tells us, the Queen of Sheba was drawn to visit Solomon. Why? Because of his “connection with the Name of God” (The Message Bible).

“Do not be angry that you cannot make others as you would wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be.”
Thomas á Kempis

AFFIRMATION:

“I want that adorning Divine
Thou only, my God, canst bestow;
I want in these beautiful garments to shine
Which mark out Thy household below.”
Charlotte Elliott

“Here is a plain strip of canvas. Before it stands the master painter. ‘Do you see the golden sunset?’ he asks. ‘Trust yourself to me and I will paint its glory in your face.’ And the canvas says, ‘I am coarse in texture. I am scant in size. I do not see how you can fill me with the glory of that sunset sky.’ And the master says, ‘Yield and you shall see.’”
Author Unknown

Your friend,

Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
Dorothy@TransformationGarden.com

P.S. Just to let you know, Transformation Garden is now on FACEBOOK. Please come and see us and share the garden with your friends. The Daily Devotional is posted everyday, Monday through Friday on Facebook, too.

My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, and www.Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian.  You may also call Transformation Garden at 480-281-1508.