From the desk of Taylor Pickup
"For not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them." (Psalm 44:3)
In this Psalm, the writer is remembering all of the amazing victories that Israel had experienced. The release from Egypt, the defeat of king Sihon and king Og, the battle of Jericho and the battle of Ai, the overthrow of their captors time and again during the period of the judges, and David's defeat of Goliath are all examples when Israel was gloriously victorious. But the Psalm-writer's point is that the Israelites themselves didn't accomplish these feats. It wasn't their might, or their experience, or their strategy that won the fight. It was God's power. God was the real victor. He was the real conqueror. And His motivation for bringing victory to His people was that He "delighted in them." God loved them, so He saved them.
This is a lesson for us today. It is a lesson that cannot be overstated. We were not saved from our sins because of our own might, or our own experience, or our own strategy. It wasn't our brains, or our wisdom, or our good deeds that saved us. It was God's power. God and His Son defeated Satan, Sin, and death. God conquered it all.
Furthermore, all of the success we have in life are also because of God. He grants us material blessings, comfort, joy, family, protection, and hope. These are not our doing, they are gifts from a God who "delights" in us.
From the desk of Joshua Creel
While preparing some material for a young people's class, I came across the following quote. The class was about how we can help those struggling with same-sex attraction, and the material referenced is focused on that issue. However, the quote can be and should be applied to any temptation. I offer it for your edification. “The truth about temptation is this: The lure to sin is as much an occasion for you and me to do the right thing as it is for us to do the wrong thing. God allows temptation in order to develop our spiritual life (James 1.2–3). Temptation provides the opportunity for each of us to choose between what is right and what is wrong. Every time we overcome and defeat temptation, regardless of what form it arrives in, we become more like Jesus! There are few things we will do in life to become more like Christ than to say “no” to sinful enticements. Temptation is a pivotal instant in time when the follower of Jesus will stand alone and have the alternative to do right or to do wrong based solely on their own choice. It is a key instant in time when God and his angels will stop to see whether the Christian will just 'talk' about being a follower of Jesus, or will actually 'walk' like Jesus. There will rarely be a more thrilling part in the disciple’s day than when they’re tempted and have this chance to declare to the universe to whom they will be truly devoted.” (Guy Hammond. Caring Beyond The Margins. Page 35)
Temptation is truly a struggle in the moment, but look forward to the joy that will come with overcoming! “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1.12)
Revelation Chapters 10-11
The outline for Revelation 10-11 can be downloaded here.
Revelation chapters 6-7
The handout for Revelation 6-7 can be downloaded here.