Turning Point

1 Peter 2:12 (nkjv)

12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.

It’s probably the most-frequently used reference in modern American politics—the reference to America as a “city upon a hill.” Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Obama all quoted it, as well as many other leaders. It’s a reference to the words of the Puritan John Winthrop based on Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:14-16).

The core of Jesus’ words on this subject are found in verse 14: “You are the light of the world.” The paradox of these words is that He later says that He is the “light of the world” (John 8:12). What He meant was that when His light is in us, we too become the light of the world. He lightens the world through us! We become like a brightly lit city on top of a hill, a guide and source for others. In the streets, our light is revealed by our good works which causes others to offer praise directed to God.

Do you want to be a light to the world? Make sure there is no cloud of sin or darkness blocking the light of Jesus Christ in you. 

Light reveals righteousness, and it also reveals sin. 

~ Theodore Epp

Turning Point

Ephesians 3:17-19 [NKJV]

17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

A medical research study analyzed post-traumatic responses of cancer patients, one of which was found to be “stronger faith in God.” One participant in the study said, “I am a Christian, believing that everything that God has allowed to happen in my life has a purpose. Since I was diagnosed with cancer, I was at first very confused and sad as to why it should happen to me. But I can only do what I can control and surrender the rest to God. Since then I really experience the real meaning of knowing how much He loves me and makes me worthy in His eyes (Ephesians 3:17-19).”

There are only three places to look in life: inward, outward, and upward. And trials can help us (cause us) to look in all three directions. Looking inward, we can check our response to the trial. Looking outward, we can see how our response is impacting others. And looking upward, we can renew our faith in the One who causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

If you are going through a trial or test, look in all three directions. What you discover may become a blessing, or possibly a correction, you hadn’t anticipated. 

Temptation provokes me to look upward to God.

Turning Point

Recognizing Jesus
saying with a loud voice:
~ Revelation 5:12 [NKJV]

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slainTo receive power and riches and wisdom,And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

More than one person was raised to new life in the Bible, but not permanent new life. Their earthly bodies were reanimated (they were resuscitated) and they were probably immediately recognized by people who had known them before their death. This was not the case with Jesus and His resurrection body.

After His resurrection, the two disciples Jesus joined on the Emmaus road didn’t recognize Him. His resurrection body must have looked human to the two travelers, but somehow different. Also after His resurrection, Jesus appeared in a locked room where the disciples were gathered. In other words, He “materialized” in the room rather than opening the locked door. But there was one thing about His resurrection body that was the same: the wounds in His hands, feet, and side. Those wounds will eternally mark Him as the Lamb who was slain for us.

Worship Jesus Christ today as the Lamb slain for your eternal redemption, and prepare to recognize Him by His wounds.

The Divine glory shone more out of his wounds than out of all his life before. 

~ Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Turning Point

I Never Felt Like Quitting
2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 [NKJV]

Warning Against Idleness

But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us.

For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.

But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary in doing good. And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Last December, Donzella Washington walked across the stage to receive her bachelor’s degree in social work at Alabama A&M University. She graduated magna cum laude. At eighty, she became A&M’s oldest graduate. “Even though there were a lot of tears and late-night studying at 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning, I was determined. I never felt like quitting,” she said. Now Donzella plans to work on her master’s degree and volunteer at nursing homes.

We should guard against the desire to quit. Sometimes we grow weary in the work, but we should never become weary of the work the Lord gives us to do. Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3 warns against becoming “weary and discouraged in [our] souls.”

God has done so much for us. We should never become weary in doing good for Him. Make up your mind to stay enthused, determined, and active in whatever task God gives you today. Never grow weary in doing good. It’s always too soon to quit.

Can we be casual in the work of God—casual when the house is on fire, and people are in danger of being burned?

~ Duncan Campbell

Turning Point

Don’t Stop Praying

Humility Cures Worldliness
James 4:7 (NKJV)

7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

In recent years there have been a number of books written by people claiming to have had “out of body” or “near death” experiences in which they saw heaven, hell, or eternity. Unfortunately, these “revelations” cannot be deemed as authoritative—but there is one glimpse of heavenly activity that can.

After Daniel prayed for three weeks for understanding of the vision he had seen, a “certain man” (angel) appeared before him with answers. He revealed to Daniel that he had set out from heaven on the first day of Daniel’s prayers, but that he had been obstructed by a demonic angel—the prince of Persia—for 21 days. That is, the entire three weeks that Daniel was praying, there was spiritual warfare between heaven and earth that delayed the answer to his prayers.

Jesus taught his disciples to “pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Let’s leave the timing of God’s answers to Him as we imitate Daniel—praying and not losing heart.
Days of trouble must be days of prayer.

~ Matthew Henry

Turning Point

Well Ordered

Divine coincidence is an economic theory referring “to the property of New Keynesian models that there is no trade-off between the stabilization of inflation and of the welfare-relevant output gap … for central banks.”

Don’t worry if you don’t understand that; economists don’t either!

Nor can we talk about “divine coincidence” in a biblical sense. The word coincidence implies randomness and chance. But there are no coincidences for God’s children.

Instead, let’s talk about divine ordering. God personally orders and arranges our steps. Nothing happens to us by accident. Even adverse incidents become part of His long-term strategy for our good. The God of the universe is keenly involved in our lives.

According to 2 Chronicles 8:16, Solomon built the temple of the Lord according to a master blueprint: “Now all the work of Solomon was well-ordered from the day of the foundation of the house of the Lord until it was finished.”

You are God’s temple, and His blueprint for your life leaves nothing to chance.

How comprehensive is the love of Jesus! There is no part of His people’s interests which He does not consider, and there is nothing which concerns their welfare which is not important to Him.

[Charles H. Spurgeon]

Turning Point

Luke 9:51-62 [NKJV]
A Samaritan Village Rejects the Savior

51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?”

55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 56 For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” And they went to another village.

The Cost of Discipleship

57 Now it happened as they journeyed on the road, that someone said to Him, “Lord, I will follow You wherever You go.”

58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.”

59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.”

But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.”

60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”

~ Dr. David Jeremiah

Turning Point

Do Not Rob God

[Malachi 3:8-12]

8 “Will a man rob God?Yet you have robbed Me!But you say,‘In what way have we robbed You?’In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,For you have robbed Me,Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,That there may be food in My house,And try Me now in this,”Says the Lord of hosts,“If I will not open for you the windows of heavenAnd pour out for you such blessingThat there will not be room enough to receive it.

11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”Says the Lord of hosts;

12 “And all nations will call you blessed,For you will be a delightful land,”Says the Lord of hosts.
In the final book of the Old Testament, the last of the Hebrew prophets urged the Israelites—those who had returned from Babylon to restore the nation of Judah—to make some improvements. The people were lapsing into complacency and apathy. One area that needed changing—their personal giving patterns. They failed to consistently give a tenth of their income to the Lord. Malachi put it as sharply as he knew how. They were robbing God!
“‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it’” (Malachi 3:10, NIV).
This is the only time in Scripture we’re invited to test or try God. When we give generously, systematically, and cheerfully to Him, He will open “the floodgates of heaven.” What a promise! What a challenge! Imagine the floodgates of heaven sliding open!
God loves a cheerful giver.
One of the reasons I tithe is because by doing it, every year and every month and every week, I am proving in my own heart that God’s truth is indeed trustworthy. He will take care of us.
~ David Jeremiah

Turning Point

Numbers 6:22-27 [NKJV]
The Priestly Blessing

22 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:

23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, ‘This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

24 “The Lord bless you and keep you;

25 The Lord make His face shine upon you,And be gracious to you;

26 The Lord lift up His countenance upon you,And give you peace.”’

27 “So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them.”

Fifty years ago, officials of Derry, New Hampshire, sealed items in a safe and deposited them as a time capsule at the old municipal building. When the time came to open the time capsule, several people gathered to see what memorabilia it contained. Some expected to find items connected to astronaut Alan Shepard, who was from Derry. But when the safe was opened, it was empty. “I was a little horrified there was nothing in there,” said the director of the town’s library. No one knows whether the contents were stolen or if the whole thing was a hoax.

How many people spend fifty years of their lives—or sixty or seventy or eighty—only to find they’ve been chasing empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. Satan’s philosophies are hoaxes, and he is a thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy.
We serve a great God who deserves to be first in our life. Seek Him. Let Him fill you with His blessings that will never disappear.
In contrast to the darkness and death, tears and trauma, sorrow and stress, the blessings of God drop like quiet dew… jewels from Heaven’s treasure store.
~ Anne Graham Lotz

Turning Point

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT]
Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord,“ 
Though your sins are like scarlet,They shall be as white as snow; 
Though they are red like crimson, 
They shall be as wool.

We’ve all met them: married couples who have been together so long they can finish each other’s sentences. They even give each other a sideways glance if one hears the other saying something that “doesn’t sound like you.” There’s no fooling people who know each other intimately.

God knows us intimately, but something else knows us just as intimately. And that is the Word of God. God is obviously “living and powerful,” but so is His Word. God can discern the “thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) and so can His Word. Which is one of the benefits of reading Scripture consistently—to show us who we really are on the inside. And when we encounter a verse that lets us know we have fallen short of God’s glory, we can immediately go to God in confessional prayer and be forgiven.

Let the Word be a mirror for your heart. And let God cleanse you of any thought or intent that is not pleasing to Him.
We can’t really tell how crooked our thinking is until we line it up with the straight edge of Scripture.
~ Elisabeth Elliot