- Life Can Be
a Ride in a Basket by Kent Heaton
Christian's Relationship with Christ
Still and Know That I Am God by Jason Jackson
Faith Does by Warren Berkley
About God, Not About You by Allan McNabb
- Birds Don't Build Mansions by Kent Heaton
Life Can Be A Ride In A Basket
He could not imagine
how different his life would be. Growing up as a Jew in Tarsus in Cilicia, and in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel, taught
according to the exactness of the Law of the fathers (Acts 22:3), Paul was as zealous for God as anyone could be. He was “circumcised
the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews. As regards the Law, I was a Pharisee;
concerning zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness in the Law, blameless” (Philippians 3:5-6). Yet
now he found himself in the dark of night being let down through a window in a basket. A warrant for his arrest had been issued
by Aretas the king (2 Corinthians 11:32). The order had a death warrant attached as the Jews of Damascus intended to kill
Paul (Acts 9:23-24).
As Paul bumped along the wall enclosed in the basket, his mind turned to where
he had been not many days before. He was a man of position and power with letters from the high priest to take bound any who
followed Jesus of Nazareth. He had become a lightning rod for threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord
(Acts 9:1). Now he was leaving the city in a basket. His life was in the hands of those he had sought to destroy. As he came
to rest on the ground, friends quickly helped him up and they hurriedly ran away.
from the Damascus would become a prelude to the sufferings he would endure for the cause of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:22-33).
His life turned out so different than what he thought it would be. The only constant in his life was the devotion to Jehovah
God and that devotion would lead him to die for Jesus Christ.
Often we find ourselves in
a basket in the middle of the night being let down over a wall. Life takes many different turns. We have dreams and aspirations
that are overshadowed by events beyond our control. Plans are disrupted, hope dashed, joys lost and in a moment of time life
is never the same. Adam and Eve had a life in paradise that turned tragic in the blink of the eye (Genesis 3). Abraham was
75 years old when he found himself in a “basket” (Genesis 12). At the age of 17 the life of Joseph would never
be the same (Genesis 37). David, because of sin, would see his world fall apart (2 Samuel 11-12).
did not let the events of Damascus stop him nor deter his course. He went on to become one of the greatest examples of faith
and courage in the Bible. His ride in a basket was not a defeat but a opportunity to learn how to serve the Lord more fully.
Peter wrote, “So that the trial of your faith (being much more precious than that of gold that perishes, but being proven
through fire) might be found to praise and honor and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7). Baskets
can be used to carry bread for life (Mark 8:19-20) and sometimes they carry men who learn humility, dependence and devotion
to the cause of Christ.
Some baskets are larger than others. At times the baskets are let down over walls
of great height. We have to trust those who hold our lives in their hands like Paul did. But in the dark of the night as he
felt the wall press against him, Paul knew his life was in the hands of God. “For this cause I also suffer these things;
but I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard My deposit unto that Day”
(2 Timothy 1:12).
The Christian's Relationship With Christ
- He is crucified with Him! (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 2:20)
- He is buried with Him! (Rom. 6:4)
- He is raised up in a new life
with Him! (Col. 2:12)
- He lives with Him! (Rom. 6:8; 2 Tim. 2:11)
- He reigns with Him! (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. 1:56)
is a joint-heir with Him! (Rom. 8:16-17)
- He suffers with Him! (1 Pet.
4:12-13; 2 Tim. 3:12)
- He will share glory with Him! (Rom 8:17; Rev. 3:21)
Whit Sassar/"Exhortations and Stuff"
Be Still and Know that I Am God
By Jason Jackson
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). God’s people are commanded to “be still”
in this verse. The imperative gives a solemn duty to those in a covenant relationship with God — Israel in the Old Testament,
but today, it is given to Christians (cf. Galatians 3:26-29).
it mean when God’s own are commanded to “be still”? The injunction is not given to restrict the mobility
of God’s people. The duty represents a spiritual disposition that ought to characterize those to whom God’s unfailing
promises have been given.
The word translated “be still” comes
from the Hebrew term raphah. This word is found in various forms in the Old Testament, with different shades of meaning.
It refers to that which is slack, or to let drop, or in some instances, to be disheartened or weak. When used of a person
(as opposed to some inanimate object) it often has a negative connotation.
“be weak” is here commanded. In other contexts, those who let their hands “drop” from work are condemned.
Those who are disheartened are commanded to take courage. In contexts where “being still” is condemned, we find
that certain obligations were being neglected, and God’s people were admonished to take initiative to fulfill their
Sadly, there are those who are far from “still”; they
“do all the work” and give God none of the credit. They believe that by “lifting up their hands” and
by “taking courage,” they can survive and thrive by the sweat of their own brow. They can do it all on their own,
without any divine dependence.
Here is the irony in this term “be
still.” While we must take the initiative to fulfill our responsibilities and live our lives, the uncertainties of living
in a world of sin and woe will continually challenge us. Personal initiative is no substitute for reliance upon God (cf. James
This command — “be still” — forces us
to think on two things: that we are finite, and that God is infinite. That being the case, we need to drop our hands, go limp,
relax, and “chill out.” Christian people ought to “come, behold the works of Jehovah,” (v. 8) that
we may enjoy a calm confidence in him who gave us his Son.
he not also with him freely give us all things?” Paul reasoned (Romans 8:32). Psalm 46:10 encourages us to reflect on
what God can do in the face of what we are unable to do.
the psalmist admits, ought to be cultivated in spite of the shaking mountains and agitated waters (vv. 2-3; i.e., figures
for the difficulties we face in life). This spiritual calm, that God commands, does not come from a lack of troubles; it derives
from a steady, deep reflection on the ways God has intervened in history on behalf of his people (cf. Romans 15:4).
So as your world crumbles around you, the call from Scripture is: don’t flinch in faith
in God. Stand still — not because of a self-made confidence, not because you are the most composed person in the face
of disaster, not because “you’ve seen it all.” Be still because of what you know about God.
It is “God’s past” that provides calm for “our future.” Know
that he is God! Know it, not merely intellectually, but practically, spiritually, and emotionally. He is your God. He is the
ruler of kingdoms of this earth and the all-powerful Creator of the Universe.
you are the last man or woman standing, be still. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore
we will not fear, though the earth do change” (Psalm 46:1-2a). Hallelujah!
What Faith Does
Warren E. Berkley
I grew up learning
Hebrews 11:1 from the American Standard Version:
is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen."
One way to study this is: This is a statement of what faith does. When you learn what something does, that helps
you understand what it is. What does faith do? It assures us of those things we hope for, and convinces us of things we have
never seen. Think of this as a statement of what faith does, therefore helpful in understanding what faith is.
Beginning at the end of the verse, think about faith in relation to things not seen. Faith
convinces us of things not seen. As you think about this, make a mental list of things you believe, but have not seen: We
have not seen God through direct, visual contact; we did not witness creation; we did not observe the sin of Adam and Eve;
we have no visual knowledge of the exodus of Israel, or their entrance into the promised land; we did not witness the birth
of Christ, we were not with Him on the roads of Galilee; we did not see Him die on the cross, nor witness His resurrection.
These are things we believe, but have not seen. When we believe and affirm as truth that which we haven't seen - that's faith.
When we know something is true or something happened - on the strength of evidence we have been exposed to - that's faith.
Faith convinces us of things not seen. One translation says: "makes us certain of realities we do not see." (See
also 2 Cor. 5:7).
Now consider the first phrase of the verse, and focus
on - things hoped for. Now we consider faith in relation to the future; that is, things hoped for. This phrase, "things
hoped for" does not mean - just anything we want to happen in the future! Perhaps you want a promotion to advance your
career; a substantial financial inheritance; the strong desire for some problem in your life to suddenly and forever disappear.
These common desires are understandable, but not involved in the specific phrase in Hebrews eleven. "Things hoped for"
cannot be applied to just anything we want to happen.
In this regard, one
of the modern English translations misses the text completely. The Living Bible has: "What is faith? It is the confident
assurance that something we want is going to happen... ." That's not even a good paraphrase. The phrase "things
hoped for" in Heb. 11:1 is not about the personal wishes of people - it is about the divine promises of God. The earlier
context is definitive: "the hope set before us... this hope... the bringing in of a better hope... God providing something
better for us," (Heb. 6:17-20; 7:18,19; 11:40). "Things hoped for" in the Hebrew context is not about my carnal
wishes; it is about what God has promised to the just, who live by faith. For examples - we look forward to the second coming
of Christ, the resurrection and heaven. Faith assures us of those things!
things God has promised through the gospel are substantiated in my heart by faith (exposure to evidence resulting in belief,
see Jno. 20:30,31; Luke 1:1-4; Rom. 10:17). When we believe God - when we accept His promises as true, and we live by that
hope - faith is assuring us of things we hope for.
So, we learn what faith
is by considering what faith does: Faith convinces us of things we have never seen; and faith assures us of things we hope
for. Do you have the faith described in Hebrews 11:1? Have you acted on that faith? Do you walk by faith? Remember, faith
discovers its existence in obedience!
It's About God, Not About You
Bible study on inner
We concluded last Wednesday's Bible class with
this thought: It's about God, not about you! If you serve God as instructed in His word, He will give you the strength you
need as a Christian.
In this article, I want us to explore this principle
in various areas of our walk with God.
Meekness, Inner Strength
Meekness is inner strength (power) that's under control. It includes humility and gentleness, as a result of an "inwrought
grace of the soul; and the exercises of it . . . first and chiefly towards God. It is that temper of spirit in which we accept
His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting" (Vine's).
Our inner strength comes from God. He strengthens us "with power through His Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:16). He's "able to
do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us" (Eph. 3:20).
Meekness is about God, not about you! Although you are responsible for serving God as He commands, God is the one
who gives you the inner strength of meekness.
"No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will
not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that
you will be able to endure it" (1 Cor.
God is faithful.
He will not allow you to be tempted above what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He'll make sure there's a way to get
through it, so you can endure.
Overcoming temptation is about God, it's
not about you! God makes sure you have the strength to endure every temptation. He doesn't make you do the right
thing, but He gives you the inner strength to do the right thing.
Trials are different from temptations. Temptations are internal, and involve
sinful lust (Jas. 1:14). But trials are external, and do not necessarily involve sin.
are things that come upon us and "try" our faith. They can be anything that troubles us. They can be random acts
of nature, such as floods or hurricanes. And they can be the stresses of everyday life, as well as the sorrows we experience
If we handle trials correctly, good comes from them. Paul says,
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according
to His purpose" (Rom.
And James identifies
a good thing that comes from every trial. "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing
that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and
complete, lacking in nothing" (Jas. 1:2-4).
Paul tells us that God strengthens us to endure every trial,
rhetorically asking, "If God is for us, who is against us" (Rom.
He continues in Romans,
presenting evidence, proving that God will strengthen us to endure every trial. "He who did not spare His own Son, but
delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God's
elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised,
who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us" (Rom.
Then Paul concludes
with the fact that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ; therefore, no trial is too great to overcome. "Who
will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril,
or sword? . . . But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither
death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:35-39).
Overcoming trials is about God, not about you! As long as you faithfully serve God, He'll strengthen
you to overcome every trial.
This Principle Applies To Everything
No matter what you do in service to God, this principle is applicable: It's about God, not about you!
Jesus is the vine, God is the vinedresser, and you are a branch. Jesus says, "'I am the
vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing'"
As God's child and Jesus' disciple, you can do nothing apart from Jesus. Therefore, everything
you do is about God and about Jesus -- it's not about you!
Since it's all about God, you should depend on Him for everything.
Like the old song, Leaning On the Everlasting Arms, says:
have I to dread, what have I to fear, Leaning on the Everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, Leaning
on the everlasting arms.
So remember, trust in God, serve Him
faithfully, and don't be afraid or dread the things you must do as a Christian. Just lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus.
It's about God, not about you!